Categories
Edutainment Learning

5 Childhood Shows With Hard-Hitting Lessons

Photo by Victoria Borodinova from Pexels

We have all grown up with cartoons. At some point, we all fell in love with at least one cartoon and wanted nothing more than to be a part of its world. Many of us still go back and rewatch some of our favorite cartoons from back in the day, and I am one of them.

That is why I wanted to write this article. Watching some of our favorite childhood shows and cartoons as an adult is different; it’s easier to not only laugh at some adult humor that the animators put in but also notice some very hard-hitting lessons that come to light.

Childhood Shows With Lessons

It happens quite often that showrunners put themes, metaphors, and lessons in their cartoons that children do not understand consciously, but adults do. However, children subconsciously pick up these lessons without any knowledge.

For instance, an episode that shows what an abusive relationship looks like (I will discuss that) subconsciously plants the idea of this is evil in a child’s mind. A child might notice something similar happening in his own house or at the neighbors, and he will understand it as being a “bad” thing.

Many childhood shows that tackle these adult themes (No, I am not going to be talking about BoJack Horseman; it’s not a childhood cartoon), and I am going to list some of them here.

Pokémon

S1 Ep11: Charmander. The Stray Pokémon

Pokémon in its first season was something else; there are episodes that criticize school systems, episodes that talk about animal abuse, sexism, failures due to laziness, etc. To call it one of the best childhood shows out there would not be an overstatement.

However, this episode is a standout, as it tackles abusive relationships, while also commenting on how difficult it is for someone in such a relationship to leave the abuser behind. The episode does all this through the perspective of a Charmander.

The Charmander is abandoned on a rock and waits patiently for its trainer. Its trainer, however, does not want Charmander since he believes that it is weak. Consequently, the Charmander shows its true strength and the abusive trainer suddenly wants it back.

The episode also does a great job of showing how hard it becomes to help someone who is in such a situation through the perspective of Ash and the gang.

Overall, the episode serves as one of the best of not only the Original Series but the entire franchise.

Here is a video that analyses the episode in great detail.

Courage the Cowardly Dog

S4 Ep7: The Mask

RIP Thea White, The voice of Muriel.

One of the childhood shows that gave us all nightmares might also have been responsible for introducing many to the concept of how Love is not bound by Gender.

Again, in a great episode that thrives more on psychological terror than the many monsters, it is famous for, the show tackles multiple sensitive topics. Love, Abusive Relationships, Prejudices, and how Anger and Hate spreads; all in one a very entertaining episode to watch.

The mask that the episode is named after in a sense represents the mask that all of us have that hides the real us from the world. The show explores the concept of people hiding behind the mask and how it just causes hurt and nothing more.

The episode also features some very dark and twisted metaphors and images, which I am not going to discuss. It also shows in its ending how Love triumphs all and how prejudices are often unfounded and are a result of one’s upbringing and/or surroundings.

It is a great watch; don’t worry it also delivers on plenty of scares and comedy.

Here is a great article that does a deep dive on this episode.

Gravity Falls

S2 Ep 17: Dipper and Mabel vs The Future:

Gravity Falls presented a very refreshing take on a kid’s show that even adults can enjoy. It had a lot of adult-centered content, and this episode features themes that every adult can relate to.

The episode is split into two halves, Dipper and Mabel. Dipper’s half serves as the adventure and action part whereas Mabel’s is the emotional core of the episode.

Mabel spends the entire episode wrestling with the reality that they are growing up. Soon everything will change; she fears that Dipper (her brother) will become distant to her, and she will lose her friends.

The episode really goes hard on this message with Mabel’s fears of her brother becoming realized; which kicks off the final three episodes of Gravity Falls.

In these three episodes, the siblings accept that they will grow up and that things will change; but the truth is that they will always have each other. Some people will go but some who care will always stick around because the more the things change; the more they stay the same.

Gravity Falls is very highly recommended; it is an example of something that is so well made that it deserves at least one viewing.

Transformers Prime

S1 Ep12: Predatory:

One really wouldn’t think of deep themes and messages when it comes to Transformers, but this is where we were wrong.

Transformers Prime had an excellent version of Arcee, one who deviated from her previous incarnations and one which the show really fleshed out and developed.

The entire first half of season-1 and bits of season 2 deals with Arcee’s trauma from losing her partner, and the problems she faces when trying to deal with her new partner Jack.

This episode in particular dives into her character, as old wounds are opened and histories are revealed. The entire show was excellent in displaying how people/transformers are affected by their past and how one should try their best to live in the present.

What happened in the past cannot be changed; it can only be accepted, and it is hard to do so. It is very hard to come to terms with reality sometimes, but what is most important are the people who are there for you in the present.

Please don’t confuse Transformers Prime with the Transformers Movies. Please!!

Avatar The Last Air Bender

A little heads up! Talking about the entire series here.

Avatar is definitely Nickelodeon’s best work; one of the most well-told stories with stylish animation, amazing visuals, and a beautiful soundtrack; rounded by one of the best cast of characters that also hides some incredibly dark themes.

One of these being Child Abuse.

The show displays this by drawing a contrast between two characters; siblings Zuko and Azula. In the show, both are victims but we see Zuko recover over time due to his loving uncle Iroh, whereas Azula’s past and her pain turns her into a monster.

The show does an excellent job showing how people can recover with love and patience, while displaying the horrors of Child Abuse and how it affects children.

 The final battle between Zuko and Azula is not considered a triumph of good over evil but rather a tragedy of a family torn apart with nothing left to salvage.

Here is a video that does an excellent job explaining this, a much better job than I can do.

Conclusion

These are just some of the examples of childhood shows with dark/adult themes. A lot of these shows had multiple episodes that dealt with these dark topics, which I haven’t mentioned. I guess it is justifiable to say that cartoons are not just for children.

I personally like animators who go out of their way to put messages like these in their shows because it is hard to write scripts and get past the censors.

And yes, this was not a conventional topic but, in my opinion, a very important one. Safe Travels, Friend.

Categories
Edutainment Learning

10 Must-Read Books For Every Learner

Photo by Eliott Reyna on Unsplash

You do not need me to tell you that books are important, and reading books is a very healthy habit. I am not talking about course books (those are important too!) but novels.

Books help us become educated as well as help familiarize ourselves with a language, not to mention help us learn new words. In fact, the motivation to read can also make you want to be more productive. A win-win, isn’t it? So, I am here with a list of 10 books that every student should read.

I have made it a point to make sure that these books are not overly long and some of the entries are short story collections. So, let’s jump into it.

1.Short Story Collection-Ruskin Bond

Ruskin Bond is an author who gives depth to all his characters (another reason his stories do not appear in many textbooks). He creates some of the most beautiful fictional worlds in his stories and his ability to write short stories is godlike.

Bond is an author whose work is universally loved, and every reader must do themselves a favor and read some of his works.

2.My Big Book of Questions and Answers/My First Encyclopedia

This book has been a very important part of my childhood. It is a big book of answers supported by beautiful illustrations. The encyclopedia does an incredible job answering questions from all parts of life; ranging from animals and plants to cars and historical facts.

The book might be big but it is one that I feel is very important for improving knowledge.

3.The Time Machine-H. G. Wells

H. G. Wells is one of the most popular authors in the sci-fi genre, and The Time Machine is him at his best. The book is a classic and has inspired countless authors and filmmakers with how visionary it is while retaining the ease of reading.

Every sci-fi fan needs to read this author’s works; if not The Time Machine, then maybe The Invisible Man or perhaps the Diamond Maker.

4.Three Men in a Boat- Jerome K. Jerome

Jerome K Jerome is a magician because he is able to translate jokes into pages and still make the reader belly laugh.

What’s more, is that he knows how to write likable and enjoyable characters. Three Men in a Boat pulls you in and is one of the funniest grand adventure novels that you will ever come across.

5.Diary of a Young Girl-Anne Frank

The era of Nazis is one of the darkest chapters of Human History. The Diary of a Young Girl does what other history books can; make you feel as if you are there.

Kitty (the name that Anne Frank gave to her Diary) shows us the unrelenting spirit of a Young Girl. How things around her crumble and yet she maintains a positive outlook on Life. The book is heartbreaking and empowering at the same time.

6.Grandma’s Bag of Stories-Sudha Murty

Sudha Murty is an author who writes simple stories with a simple writing style. However, her stories are so engaging that you can’t help but fall in love.

This book probably represents some of her best stories compiled into one book; with a lot of them being real stories. Lovingly crafted, Sudha Murthy books, especially this one, demands at least one reading.

7.The Last Lecture-Jeffrey Zaslow and Randy Pausch

The Last Lecture is a computer science professor’s memoir. It contains his teachings as well as lessons that any student will find helpful. The book includes stories of his childhood, lessons he wants his children to learn, and things he wants his children to know about him.

It’s a great read and I recommend students to pick up this book.

8.Murder on the Orient Express-Agatha Christie

If you haven’t read the works of the Queen of Crime Fiction herself, have you even read crime fiction? Agatha Christie recently surpassed Shakespeare, becoming the world’s most successful selling author, with around 2-4 billion books sold.

She was genuinely one of the most brilliant and captivating authors to have ever lived. Her writing style was simple and easy to understand. Even if you didn’t enjoy 5 of her books, there are 7 others you will enjoy. Murder on the Orient Express is just an example to showcase her brilliance.

9.Rich Dad Poor Dad-Robert Kiyosaki

Rich Dad Poor Dad advocates the importance of financial literacy, financial independence, and building wealth through investing in assets and real estate investing; starting and owning businesses; as well as increasing one’s financial intelligence.

The book does this by using the example of two fathers who are different not only in wealth but also in mentality, thus very effectively showing the reader the importance of its themes.

10.The Alchemist-Paulo Coelho

What have you even read if you have never discovered Paulo Coelho’s books? Coelho is an author that makes you think and is a must-read for all students.

The Alchemist follows the journey of a shepherd named Santiago, and how a prophetic dream leads him to a journey. The book was originally translated from Portuguese and remains a go-to novel for people interested in reading about adventures.

The central theme of the book revolves around how all individuals should live in the singular pursuit of their individual dreams.

Conclusion

Okay, my job is done here. There is not much left for me to say; novels help us deepen our creativity and imagination as well as grow the budding writer in all of us. Are you excited to give your mind a treat with these books? I am ready to re-read these, so I’ll leave you guys to it. Cheers!

Categories
Edutainment

Understanding The Game of Life by John Conway

Life is full of unexpected twists and turns!

Jeba Philip

The Game of Life by John Conway advocates the aforesaid statement. Looking at the initial patterns or configurations, you will not be able to see what will happen in future. You just have to patient and stick to the rules of the game.

Devised by the famous British mathematician John Horton Conway in 1970, The Conway’s Game of Life or simply Life is a cellular automaton with a group of cells that takes place in an infinite two-dimensional grid. The cells can be alive or dead as determined by the “rules of the game”.

The patterns follow the specifications of the initial configuration and evolve from iteration as the clock ticks the next generation. Conway defines it as a “Zero player game” as it requires no further human input. Though, the game of life is not a game in its conventional sense as there are no players.

Rules of the game

The rules of the game are simple. You have to place any pattern of cells on a grid and observe the cells evolving based on the laws that govern the game. Each cell in the grid has eight neighbors in all directions including the diagonals.

  • The Birth Rule: A dead cell or an empty cell with exactly three neighbors becomes live on to the next generation, as if by reproduction.
  • The Survival Rule: A live cell needs two or three neighbors to survive i.e. a cell with two or three neighbor lives as the clock ticks to the next generation.
  • The Death Rule: A live cell having 4 or more neighbors dies of overcrowding and a live cell having 0 or 1 neighbor dies of solitude on to the next generation.

Every time the clock ticks to the next generation, some cells evolve, some survive and the others die. These transitions represent the process of life and death and hence, precisely named the “Game of Life”. The initial configuration forms the seed of the game and every generation is a “Pure function” of its’ previous generation.

Conway tried and analyzed various combinations to satisfy the following three criteria:

  1. There should be initial patterns or configurations with unpredictable results.
  2. The initial configurations shouldn’t ensure explosive growth.
  3. The rules should be as simple as possible.

Undecidability of Game of Life

Although the rules of the game are pretty simple, the game can generate a wide range of configurations as the generation clock ticks. Some patterns evolve and become stable (Still life), some oscillates in the loop (Oscillators), some travel across the grid (Gliders or Spaceships) and the others keep growing and generate other patterns (Guns).

Hence, it’s very unpredictable to guess the fate of the game. However, the Game of Life (GoL) isn’t the only system that’s unpredictable. We cannot decide the fate of several other systems including Quantum Physics, Wang tiles, Set Theory and more.

Patterns in the Game of Life

Based on their behaviours, the patterns are classified into three broad categories: Still life, Oscillators and Spaceships.

Still Lifes

It includes those configurations which do not change from one generation to the next. You can also define it as an oscillator with Period 1.

The most common examples of still life include a Block and a Beehive.

  1. Block

2. Beehive

The Still Life configurations can also be eaters i.e. they collide with other configurations and return back to their initial state after the collision. Eaters are extremely important as they control the debris resulting due to complex reactions. Also, the Block is the first discovered eater and it is capable of eating the beehives.

Oscillators

These configurations return to their initials state after a finite number of generations. The number of generations a configuration takes to return back to its initial state is called the “Period” of the oscillator. The Blinker was the first oscillator that was discovered in 1970 and is known to be the smallest oscillator. A finite number of oscillators exist in each period. Let’s look at a few of them:

  1. Blinker (Period 2)

2. Star (Period 3)

3. Cross (Period 3)

4. Pinwheel (Period 4)

5. Pentadecathlon (Period 15)

Spaceships

These are the patterns that translate themselves throughout the grid and return to their initial configuration after a finite number of generations. We can calculate the speed of the spaceships by dividing the number of cells by the period length. We categorize the spaceships on the basis of their speed and direction.

  1. Middleweight Spaceship

2. The Copperhead spaceship

Discovering “The Glider”

Richard Guy, a member of Conway’s research team discovered “The Glider” in the year 1969. The glider is a five celled organism that moves diagonally across the grid at a speed of c/4 and is considered the best to transmit information. However, it can collide with other cells to form more complicated patterns.

Soon after the discovery of Glider, the first known gun i.e. the Bill Gosper discovered the Glider Gun at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. It follows a definite pattern with unbounded growth.

Game of Life applications in real life

A cellular automaton is an important tool in science that can be used to model a variety of natural phenomena. Cellular automata can be used to represent the interactions of species vying for environmental resources in ecology. By creating a 3-dimensional map of the brain and progressing cellular development through time, cellular automata may be utilized to mimic brain tumor progression.

However, these are only two of the many disciplines of study where cellular automata can be used. There are multiple areas where the rules of Game of Life can be applied including operational research, biology, hydrodynamics, ecology, dermatology, chemistry, environmental science, cognitive science, agriculture and many others. The Game of Life is used in a variety of musical composition approaches. There are a number of applications that can produce sound from patterns formed in the Game of Life.

Biological and mathematical data can travel through a game-space formed by Game of Life, in which some thoughts and facts are turned off while others are turned on, allowing new connections and hypotheses to develop. Without heuristic procedures like GoL simulations, research may be unable to verify and uncover the fresh findings that have historically been science’s greatest justification.