Sunday, February 20, 2005

Numb3rs: a hallmark of an age of optimism

For all those who see pop culture as a wasteland, as proof that we are facing apocalypse now, I always like looking for signs of optimism.

I was reading today about McDonalds and their new apple slices that replace fries in happy meals. As society has become wealthier, we face new problems, but though it takes time, institutions exist to deal with them. The media hype over obesity worked, the trend has reversed.

The ever increasing crime of the 70's and 80's has reversed. Amazingly, New York is the safest city in the country.

The cold war solved itself without nuclear winter.

Democracy unrelentingly has spread across the globe.

Science and technology continues its inexorable advance.

Harry Potter (despite its flaws) has reinvigorated reading for children. Has made it cool again.

On television, the highest rated show is CSI, a show that reifies science. West Wing made a good run, idealizing government. Even the Apprentice, which makes business exciting.

Things to get kids excited, to inspire.

Numb3rs is particulary exciting. Though I felt it can't possibly last, and I still don't expect it to last the season, it is somehow the highest rated Friday night show (which doesn't say that much). It totally feels like a public service show, but good for CBS.

Eric and I are annoyed that the main character is a mathematician rather than an economist, but the principles are the same.

If the show can get kids excited about math, especially the "girls of Summers," then I dunno. Good things. We live in exciting times.

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