Challenger: The Final Flight

Netflix recently released a 4 episode documentary called Challenger: The Final Flight about the Challenger disaster and the stories around the seven astronauts, the decision makers behind Launch/No Launch decision, a brief history into the infamous O-ring and then a very brief intro on the role of the Rogers Commission.

Overall, I think the video editing is fantastic and very slick. The producers leave you at “cliff hangers” between episodes. I say “cliff hangers” because everyone knows what happened to the shuttle. The way the first episode ended was amazing. It leaves you momentarily silenced with the shuttle exploding mentally but I’m seeing the credits roll. I literally went “whoa, what just happened there” because I didn’t expect the sudden fade to black and fade to credits as someone was talking about the Challenger launch and seeing it go up into the clouds. The other fascinating part of this show were about the stories behind the decision makers to continue with the launch as well as the emotions of the family members who literally watched their loved ones die in the explosion. Some of the decision makers didn’t seem to show any remorse on the show when talking about the launch. Although I wonder if they kept up the appearance as a matter of principle, I don’t know how one could not show any emotion or remorse after 40 years. I felt a bit of disdain and anger towards the two NASA engineers Mulloy and Lucas with their actions around the decision to launch and their subsequent attempt to justify the launch.

If there’s a lesson to be learned… the value of human lives is more important hitting some artificial timeline and budgets

Netflix’s Battle of the Real Estate Reality TV Shows

A new Netflix series series called Million Dollar Beach house recently got categorized under “something I may be interested in.” The show follows around real estate agents around selling multi-million dollar houses in New York’s The Hamptons. Million dollar houses… why does that sound familiar!? Oh… is it because I recently finished watching the new season of another Netflix series Selling Sunset?

I finished the first episode and I have to say… I’m not really liking the show. My biggest complaint is actually about the agents of the show. I don’t like any of them. One has this “bro” aura that I suspect is being carefully curated through editing magic. Another has the “down on my luck” kind of guy where at best you know he’s going to succeed because he’s a white male. Then you have an ambitious black guy who wants to succeed. And to round out the cast, there’s a high-spirited opinionated female agent. Second, I’m not familiar with The Hamptons so hearing the agents talk about how rich, expensive, and selective their clientele are really means nothing. In Selling Sunset’s Hollywood, you have similarly rich, expensive, and selective clientele that the Selling Sunset agents work with. If anything, the Selling Sunset’s expansion into San Fernando Valley gives small glimpse into the more “affordable” price point offerings as well too. Third, I will admit… the catfights on Selling Sunset are much more interesting than the “bro fights” that were displayed in the first episode and hinted at in subsequent.

Asian Enough: Kamala Harris

I posted sometime ago about LA Times’ Asian Enough podcast.  This past week they interviewed California’s US Senator Kamala Harris.  For those that might not know, Senator Harris is half Asian (Indian) and half Black (Jamaican).  She was also one of the many Democratic candidates for the 2020 Presidential race.

This podcast gives great insight into Senator Harris as a person as opposed to a presidential candidate or senator.  It’s worth listening to.



Jimmy O Yang Comedy Special

With the success of Crazy Rich Asians (great movie) and Silicon Valley (I haven’t seen), I’ve known Jimmy O Yang more as a comedian though I haven’t seen any of his stand ups on TV/stream platforms.  Many of his other Asian peers (Ronny Chieng, Ali Wong, Ken Jeong, Russel Peters, Aziz Ansari) seems to have broken into the streaming and now I’m glad to see him also have is special but on Amazon.  Go watch it… it’s funny and is pretty indicative of growing up Asian American.


Asian Americans Documentary on PBS

PBS has this new documentary about Asian Americans.  It’s a 5 hour long documentary.  The first 2 hours just details the rise of the early Asian Americans starting from why Asians immigrated (some would say enslaved/indentured) to work as cheap labor on the gold mining and then rail roads; the difficulties these early Asians facing societal racism and stereotypes; the suffering faced from general exclusion laws/property rights/civil liberties; and ultimately the question of American loyalty.

There’s so much to unpack in this first 2 hours of the documentary too.  Everyone can learn much from the difficulties of trying to get break out of the ethnocentric American viewpoint… or really just how racist Americans were and still are today.  Ironically though, racism in American isn’t just confined to non-whites.  When Italians immigrated due to poverty and Irish immigrated due to famine, many of the Americans who already lived in America also thought of these immigrants as low classed, dirty and the dregs of society (hey doesn’t that sound familiar?)  Have we not learned anything?  Interestingly enough, the difference between these groups of people and the current crisis… about 50-75 years and the color of the skin.  Nowadays, whether or not you have Irish or Italian ancestry is irrelevant because of you’re white skin.  If I put it in a pessimistic way, if you don’t look like 80% of the US Congress, then you realistically aren’t going to be treated equally even under laws of the US Constitution.

The following 2 hours talks about the stereotype of the “good Asian american”, continued immigration struggles, cultural and political awakenings, the “Asian” identity in times of war (Korean War/Vietnam War), and Asian American movement.  What I didn’t know was this “Chinese Confession Program” where fear of Communism spurred investigations into illegal Chinese immigrants.  Illegal because they paid for fake paperwork in order to post as a citizen’s son… similar to what you might here today regarding Green Card Marriages.  What I also didn’t know is the immigration flow of Asians really started in 1965 after many of the illegal racist exclusion laws were repealed.  Known as the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, one key aspect of the law allowed new immigrants to enter and gain citizenship via the “specialized skills” and allowing those who have citizenship to sponsor relatives for immigration.  I think the unintended consequence (it’s a fascinating quick read but it is left leaning) of the law was the massive migration from Hispanic and Asian countries into the US.  This literally changes the demographics of America.  Have you heard of the term “Minority Majority“?  It’s basically a term where no ethnic group will represent US as a majority sometime around 2050.

The last hour starts out with the race relations surrounding the LA riots, transitioning into the future of immigration and ending in some sort of positive note.  Regarding the riots, I remember seeing TV footage of the riots as well as clips of the Rodney King trial as a kid.  I didn’t know what was happening but I remember that a lot of Asian parents where I was growing up were closely monitoring the situation.  Growing up, I always thought the riots in Koreatown were related to the Rodney King verdict.  It never really occurred to me that race relations between Blacks and Korean Americans were so tense at the time.  This documentary revealed one of the sparks of the tension to stem from the killing of Latasha Harlins.  In a dramatic shift from race relation into immigration, the last half hour of the show discusses some of the recent immigration issues such as DACA. Apparently DACA was first proposed back in 2001 as the DREAM Act.  That’s 19 years ago.  And now we are in 2020.

If viewers achieve any insight after watching this documentary, I would hope that being a student of history is as important as being a student of morality.  Watching the documentary, I was struck how “fear” drove people to act irrationally: losing jobs to immigrants; losing the cultural identity to foreign cultures; and distrusting those that don’t look like yourself.  Yes this last one also applies to immigrants too.  But recognizing fear is just a first step to healing and educating those who are afraid.  We need more people who have the courage to stand up and become the voice of reason.  Or at the very least, a voice that forces people to stop and think.

Frank Abagnale at Google

The first  time I heard about Frank Abagnale was for a book report in 9th grade English (I think I got a B+?).  Since then, he’s had a movie produced about him and a Broadway musical too.  Google invited him to speak a few years ago.  Listening his story is pretty fascinating.  But I think the Q&A portion is much more interesting since two of the topics he discussed are very relevant today.

Here’s the full talk.

Age of AI

Artificial Intelligence is an area of huge scientific advancement, wonder and personal interest.  This includes automation, computers that mimic the cognitive thinking process, and machine learning.  This 2-hour PBS documentary about AI reports on on the current state of AI… both the benefits and harms from utilizing the technology.  Discussion includes productivity and wealth impacts; privacy concerns (surveillance); economic effects (job loss/creation); machine learning benefits (early cancer detection); and political and social impacts.


As all documentaries go,  the show looks at what is in store for the future and more importantly how to use AI for civilization’s benefit.


Frontline PBS Documentaries

I recently noticed Frontline PBS put out documentaries on YouTube.  I’m not sure how long they’ve been doing these documentaries but it only recently popped up on my YouTube suggestions.  This documentary about Jeff Bezos and Amazon is pretty interesting.  It’s worth a listen if you have 2 hours.



Netflix Explains COVID-19

Netflix has a new documentary on what is COVID-19 disease.  It’s a nice synopsis of everything the scientists currently know about the disease COVID-19 as well as the SARS-COV-2 virus that causes this disease.  And… there’s still a lot the scientists do not know.  If you still don’t think this pandemic is not “really that bad” and you want to “open up for business,”  this should be a mandatory watch for all of you.  I hope you change your mind after this.

However if you insist on still wanting to get out and open for business, please do everyone a favor and decline ANY AND ALL medical attention.  If you openly defy sound scientific advice, then naturally you should also not seek these scientific based medical attention that could save your life.  After all, the limited resources should be going to those essential workers (healthcare, grocery, restaurant workers) who were taking all the necessary precautions and were infected by the dummies who believed their freedoms were being “trampled on.”

There is no freedom from death.  There is no freedom when dead.

Asian Enough Podcast

To have LA Times support a podcast called Asian Enough where celebrity Asian Americans are interviewed about their unique experience and background while growing up Asian American is very remarkable.  It’s very refreshing to hear how these Asian celebrities describe their childhood difficulties of not being American enough in US while simultaneously not being Asian enough from their country of cultural origin.  Doesn’t that sound familiar?