Monday, February 20, 2017

Islamophobe-in-Chief

For several years now there's been a virulent and thriving anti-Muslim industry that has worked hard to propagate their Islamophobic views in policy circles. Once upon a time, these people -- including former Breitbart editor-in-chief Stephen Bannon -- were largely consigned to the fringiest parts of the fringe by even their ideological fellow travelers. That is, until this past November, when the election of Donald Trump improbably ushered them right into the White House thanks to the president's political advisor: the aforementioned Stephen Bannon. Here's a piece by Abigail Hauslohner at The Washington Post that lays out how hardcore twisted these folks are, and how their vision of a "pure" America is one without Muslims. Any Muslims.

Holy Moley

Wow, so this is what it's like to have a tweet go viral! I feel like I'm breathing rarified air right now.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Nostalgia Theater: Ark II -- After the Apocalypse on Saturday Mornings

During the 1970s, dominion of Saturday morning kidvid was divided between production houses Hanna-Barbara and Lou Scheimer & Norm Prescott's Filmation. Both companies had a variety of offerings proliferating on the three broadcast nets, but while Hanna-Barbara tended to stay in the safe "funny animals, wacky teenagers" territory (with some exceptions), it was Filmation that tended to really swing for the fences in terms of experimenting with content, format, and putting a variety of different stuff out there, including live action kids' shows. One such effort was Ark II, which premiered on CBS in September of 1976. Here's the intro:

Friday, February 17, 2017

Zaki's Review: The Great Wall

When the promo campaign for Universal/Legendary's big budget opus The Great Wall first kicked into gear last year, it seems like almost all of the commentary focused on the fact that we had a Chinese-set film about China's past made by a Chinese director -- that centered on an American actor: Matt Damon. Here we go, Hollywood whitewashing history yet again, right?

Oh, the Lies You'll Tell...

Here's some facts (real, not alternative) about the many, many whoppers that President Trump tossed out in yesterday's bravura display of crazy.

From The Onion...

I think this describes a lot of people I know.
Open-Minded Man Tries To Get News From Variety Of Facebook Friends
PHILADELPHIA—Stressing the importance of hearing all sides of a story, open-minded man Brendan Kelly told reporters Friday that he always tries to get his news from a variety of Facebook friends. “For a long time, I’d just get news from my buddy Mark, but then I realized how much I was closing myself off to other perspectives,” said Kelly, adding that it is all too easy to get caught up in narrow ways of thinking, and that he now seeks out at least three or four of his friends’ posts on any given topic to ensure he’s getting the full picture. “I’ll check out high school friends, college friends, work friends—it’s important to get a good mix. I’d be doing myself a real disservice if I blindly believed claims my friend Kevin made without at least trying to verify them with comments from Heather or Dan. You can’t just accept whatever’s fed to you, you know?” Kelly went on to say that while it was essential to get his news from a variety of Facebook friends, it was equally important to avoid obviously fringe sources such as Doug.

About That Press Conference Yesterday...

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Wow.

This political cartoon on the right is by artist Glenn McCoy in response to the furor over Betsy DeVos being confirmed as Secretary of Education. I guess it's what passes for biting social commentary over in right wing world. I'll take "False Equivalences" for 500, Alex.


Sunday, February 12, 2017

More Recommended Reading

John Oliver returns to his HBO talker tonight, for his first show since Donald Trump took office, and man alive, if ever there was a need for the kind of cogent, fact-based comedy that Oliver has made his forte, this is it. Check out this extended interview with Rolling Stone as the Brit comedian ponders his program's role under the new order, and whether he'll even get to stay in the country given that he's here on a Green Card.

Recommended Reading

If you're not legit worried about Steve Bannon, President Trump's de facto top aide, and his outsized ambitions for this country now that he's been suddenly -- inexplicably! -- thrust into a policy role, you're not paying nearly enough attention. Read this overview by Michael Sifry at The Nation of Bannon's long record of public statements and pronouncements, and feel a chill travel down your spine.

Technical Issues

Nostalgia Theater: Star Trek's First Duty

I've been going through the entirety of Star Trek: The Next Generation with my kids, and we just watched the episode "The First Duty," which first aired in March of 1992, just over twenty-five years ago. The Next Generation always excelled when it staked the high ground in a moral argument and allowed Patrick Stewart the chance to speechify in his typical stentorian fashion as Captain Picard, and this episode's script by Ron Moore & Naren Shankar certainly gave him an opportunity for that.

The plot is devoid of the usual spacial anomalies and time-space distortions the Enterprise would typically encounter, and instead presents a moral quandary for guest star Wil Wheaton as Starfleet Cadet Wesley Crusher. This particular portion, coming in the third act, really shows off the show at its best. It's a vid that I show regularly in my Public Speaking classes not only for its exemplifying the uses of Ethos, Logos, and Pathos in persuasion, but also the underlying lesson about the importance of truth-telling in any context:

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

Whither Obamacare?

From almost the instant last fall that Republicans knew they'd be taking total control of government, the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, the Holy Grail they'd been questing for since the law's passage seven years ago, was finally within their grasp. And yet, from the moment they took power, the realities of governing ran headlong into the necessities of campaigning as they grappled with the negative polling associated with forcibly ripping healthcare away from millions of people. That's generally an unpopular position. This in turn might explain why we're not really hearing about Obamacare repeal much these days, and when we do, it's as a, "Yeah, we'll get there eventually" can being kicked down the curb. Why the switch? Jonathan Chait has some thoughts.

Sunday, February 05, 2017

Nightmare Sauce

If anyone's looking for me, I'll be over there in the corner never sleeping ever again.
Doctors discover live cockroach in skull of woman who says she felt ‘crawling sensation’

Legion of Dumb

Nostalgia Theater: Super Force Edition

During the early '90s heyday of syndication, we saw a whole host of original programming emerge on local stations from content providers hoping to take advantage of the flexibility of bypassing networks. Sometimes this paid off quite handsomely, such as with Paramount's Star Trek: The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine, which managed to be both creatively compelling and financially rewarding. And while it wasn't exactly Proust, Baywatch was still a huge syndicated success. Other times though, you ended with stuff like Super Force. Here, watch this:

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Left Shew Politics Podcast, Vol. 1 / Ep. 7

Click below to check out the latest episode of the Left Shew Politics Podcast, hosted by my buddy Rick Shew and featuring an interview with yours truly as we take a look at President Trump's first week in office, and try to make sense of the horrible, draconian immigration ban he's put in place via executive action. If you dig it, jump over to iTunes and subscribe!

New Interview!

The good folks at Al-Madina Institute and IMANWire talked to my partner Parvez Ahmed and myself a few months ago about all things Diffused Congruence: The American Muslim Experience, and the text and audio of the interview have just one up. Give it a listen below, or read some highlights here, as we talk the origins of the show, the aftermath of the election, and more!