Episode 66: Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Cultural Anticipation

I also feel like movies speak to a human desire, if not need, to congregate and to experience stories communally. They’re experiences that allow us to feel that connectivity, which is truly what ‘Star Wars’ is all about — the Force and the idea that we’re all connected. In whatever format it is, whatever screening, whatever the best available version is, I would just argue that, if possible, to try to see it with a crowd.
— J.J. Abrams, director of Star Wars: The Force Awakens
I was in the same room as all these legends and all these new people who I’m sure will go on to be legends.
— Domhnall Gleeson (General Hux) on set of Star Wars: The Force Awakens

The upcoming release of Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens offers an unprecedented opportunity to discuss the historic, popular and influential film series as a greater whole. In anticipation of the climactic return to the franchise after 10 years, we welcome Sam Whipple to examine the impact Star Wars has had on global, cultural and generational levels.  We explore the past of the franchise and talk about our hopes and expectations of The Force Awakens, as well as the excitement, controversy and mysteries surrounding it. We would like to thank Trevor Hailey, Chris Katzmann, Nico Hargreaves-Heald and Haleh Kanani for their written contributions which are available to read below.

Episode 65: The Abolition of China's One-Child Policy

The abandonment of the one-child policy in China is a momentous change, and there is much to celebrate in the easing of restrictions on human freedom in a particularly private sphere of life. But we need to recognize that the big fall in fertility in China over the decades, for which the one-child policy is often credited, has, in fact, been less related to compulsion and much more to reasoned family decisions in favor of a new norm of smaller families.
— Amartya Sen, New York Times Op-Ed, November 2nd, 2015

Established in the 1970's to control population growth, China's One-Child Policy is likely to be repealed in coming months. The decision to end the restriction followed a four-day strategy meeting of senior Communist Party officials at a Beijing hotel in late October. This policy and its potential conclusion have had profound economic, social, psychological and personal effects on the Chinese people. We discuss our opinions on its impact and possible futures it might create. Of course, our primary lens is as Americans living on the outside and we acknowledge this.

Episode 47: The World of Online Relationships

Above all, Internet dating has helped people of all ages realize that there’s no need to settle for a mediocre relationship.
— Mark Brooks, consultant to online-dating companies, 2011
Let’s be real, there’s nothing wrong in a distant relationship that is honest but we must live in a realistic fact that phone calls are cool, texts are alright, tweets are chill, a Facebook message is okay, but nothing...I mean nothing beats seeing someone in person!
— Kemmy Nola
The market is hugely more efficient … People expect to—and this will be increasingly the case over time—access people anywhere, anytime, based on complex search requests … Such a feeling of access affects our pursuit of love … the whole world (versus, say, the city we live in) will, increasingly, feel like the market for our partner(s). Our pickiness will probably increase.
— Mark Brooks, consultant to online-dating companies, 2011

We're very happy to welcome Phoebe Lewis this week to discuss the nature of online relationships in the modern age. Not restricted to digital tales of romance, we wanted to examine how people behave both online and in reality as it parallels happenings on the Internet. We share our experiences, anecdotes of academic studies and offer insight on how to best navigate the ever-expanding realm of cyber-socializing.

Episode 39: Issues with Multitasking

When we think we’re multitasking we’re actually multiswitching. That is what the brain is very good at doing - quickly diverting its attention from one place to the next. We think we’re being productive. We are, indeed, being busy. But in reality we’re simply giving ourselves extra work.
— Michael Harris
We are the generation capable of doing many things at once, without enjoying any of them.
— Dinesh Kumar Biran
How often have you heard people brag about what great multi-taskers they are? Perhaps you’ve made the same boast yourself. You might even have heard that members of “Gen Y” are natural multi-taskers, having lived their whole lives constantly switching their attention from texting to IMing to Facebooking to watching TV— all supposedly without missing a beat. We even see training classes designed to teach managers how best to multi-task their Gen Y staff, the implication being that asking someone to focus on a single task through to completion has now become ridiculously old-fashioned for, if not downright heretical to, the new world order.

Don’t believe it.
— Michael Hannan

This week we wanted to consider something all of us do in this day and age: multitasking. Several studies and experts conclude that it has detrimental effects on both our mental processing abilities and our productive potential. Certainly it does not originate from one source in particular and we address several responses to the issue which permeates various aspects of our lives.