Big Bang Theory presents: top ten reasons men should pursue careers in the sciences

Hey boys – what should you be when you grow up?

I know a lot of young men out there are trying to decide what to do with their lives. Fireman? Policeman? CEO? Doctor? Lawyer? Low-level marketing manager?

Great ideas, all, but here in America it’s important to take your cues from our alpha arbiter of social possibility, network television. So, let’s have a look at what CBS has to say on the subject.

First: this is a scientist.

Now, here are some reasons to be a scientist, based on his experiences over the past few years of his life: Continue reading “Big Bang Theory presents: top ten reasons men should pursue careers in the sciences”

Those were the days: RIP Jean Stapleton

Jean Stapleton is dead at 90. She was most famous for her portrayal of the longsuffering Edith Bunker in All in the Family, one of the most important shows in television history. As the tragically underappreciated wife of arch-conservative, verbally abusive, racist blowhard Archie Bunker, Edith may well have been be the most patient woman in the history of TV. The show itself aged so poorly because of how intimately it captured the controversies, the conflicts and the essential identity of the most turbulent period in recent American history as it played out in living rooms across the country. Archie’s battles against a rapidly … Continue reading Those were the days: RIP Jean Stapleton

Five reasons why soccer will eventually surpass football in the US – #3: Soccer is already blowing up in America

Part three in a series. Thanks to expanding TV deals, smart entrepreneurs in the MLS and a Millennial-fueled supporter culture, soccer is the fastest growing spectator sport in the country.  There has been a good bit of talk over what … Continue reading Five reasons why soccer will eventually surpass football in the US – #3: Soccer is already blowing up in America

Good night, Andy

I suspect I am not alone in saying that for me, Andy Griffith was like family. It’s not just that he was from North Carolina, my native state, or that Mayberry was based on his hometown of Mt. Airy, maybe an hour up the road from my little burg. It’s not just that he wove an idyllic little haven off the highway, secure from the encroachments of an dangerously accelerating world, and brought it into our homes each week.

I guess it has more to do with the fact that he never once seemed to lose sight of his moral compass. He went to Hollywood and it didn’t seem to change him. The result was a show that had more pure heart than just about anything in television history, and I have through the years suggested that The Andy Griffith Show might be the greatest sitcom ever produced. Continue reading “Good night, Andy”

Imagine there’s no boycotts: that sounds like Communism to me

Following up on yesterday’s post about how unfair it is when progressives fight fire with fire

One of the architects of the modern conservative boycott movement back in the day was the now-deceased Rev. Jerry Falwell, founder of the “Moral Majority.” His strategy was simple. Identify those television and radio stations whose programming “promoted” a “liberal agenda” or “secular humanist” values, then leverage the purchasing power of the congregation to bully offenders into changing their programming. Sadly, this brand of thuggery (remember, this is generally the same crowd screeching right now about how “liberals” are “censoring” the “free speech rights” of the richest, most successful, most widely heard man in political talk radio) proved effective enough that it has now become a go-to weapon in the arsenals of interest groups across the partisan spectrum. Continue reading “Imagine there’s no boycotts: that sounds like Communism to me”

Parents Television Council pitches hissy over the use of the word “fudge” in prime time

Can’t make this stuff up, folks. I mean, you could, but everybody would think you were, well, making stuff up.

On tonight’s episode of Modern Family (perhaps TV’s best sitcom), one of the storylines deals with what happens when a young child starts using curse words. One of America’s more prominent gatekeepers of the public morality, the Parents Television council, immediately lurched into a galloping conniption. That they haven’t actually seen the episode, and hence, have no fudging idea what they’re screeching about, is beside the point.

“It’s not suitable language for a child that young in the real world, and it’s not suitable language for a child that young on television, either.” Continue reading “Parents Television Council pitches hissy over the use of the word “fudge” in prime time”

Jesus wept: Sports, reality TV and those embarrassing public displays of piety

Some people think I hate Christians. My occasional comments on Tim Tebow probably have something to do with that perception, although you have to aggressively project a hater stereotype on me to make that work. Which a lot of Christians are happy to do, make no mistake.

I won’t lie, though. I’m very much not a Christian myself and I’ve read my Dawkins and my Harris. I’m a persistent fan of evidence, and I’m not idiot enough to think that we know all there is to know. In particular I’m intrigued by the study of energy and the question of whether perhaps it coheres once we die. But this is a question of science, not blind religion. I feel no particular need to believe in a “higher power” or in the existence of a spirit realm. I’m certainly spiritual, but since spiritualism as expressed by humanist awareness is more than I’ll ever unravel, I have no need for superstition. Continue reading “Jesus wept: Sports, reality TV and those embarrassing public displays of piety”

The lie detector is a lie, the polygraph is my bitch, and Americans should stop acting like slack-jawed yokels

Last week I found myself in a doctor’s waiting room for a few minutes, and the staff had the TV tuned to one of those daily Dr. Phil/Maury/Jerry/Montel type freak circuses where the host knows everything and fixes all human problems in 30 minutes. I tried to read my book and ignore it, but you know how hard it is not to look at a trainwreck. I was sort of doing okay up until I heard the host use a term that has griped me for years: “lie detector.” Yes, somebody is lying. We’ll find out who right after these messages.

[sigh]

I’d have thought we’d have this polygraph nonsense well behind us by now. Continue reading “The lie detector is a lie, the polygraph is my bitch, and Americans should stop acting like slack-jawed yokels”

Hell no, Chaz Bono should not be on Dancing With the Stars. Wait – never mind…

Sweet hell – can you believe they’re going to let Chaz Bono compete on Dancing With the Stars? What a travesty.

Oh, no. Not because of that. We’re perfectly down with a transgender competitor. That couldn’t bother us less. No, the issue is more essential: since when did Chaz Bono become a star? His Wikipedia entry calls him a “transgender advocate, writeractor, and musician.” Yeah, he has earned a profile for the advocacy work, which is great, but if we’re being honest here, we have to admit that Chaz’s main claim to fame was being born to famous parents.

I mean, this show is about dancing with, you know, the stars. Continue reading “Hell no, Chaz Bono should not be on Dancing With the Stars. Wait – never mind…”

Survivor: who is the greatest player of all time?

Part two in a series.

Yesterday I explained why I think Survivor is the ultimate game. Today I want to talk about the players – and to solicit your opinion on the subject.

On the reunion show the other night the question was quickly raised: does this victory make Sandra Diaz-Twine the greatest player ever? Sandra says yes. Russell Hantz says that if Sandra can win the game twice then the game itself is flawed.

Maybe he’s right, or maybe she is, or maybe they’re both wrong. It’s certainly a good topic for sparking arguments. As I noted yesterday, the game beats anything we’ve ever seen for complexity. It’s part physical challenge, part endurance/attrition marathon, part strategic duel and part cocktail party. And being the best player in the game at all these dimensions doesn’t even assure victory. Continue reading “Survivor: who is the greatest player of all time?”

Survivor: the greatest game ever played

Part one of a series.

The 20th season of Survivor, Heroes vs. Villains (or, if you prefer, Revenge vs. Redemption) is now in the books, and Sandra Diaz-Twine is the game’s first two-time champion. Many fans regarded HvV as one of the best seasons ever, if not the very best.

I don’t believe I’ve ever written about Survivor before, but in the entire decade-long run I think I’ve missed a total of two episodes. Maybe that makes me a fan, but in truth I’m as much a student of the game as I am a fan of it. Continue reading “Survivor: the greatest game ever played”

Qwest/CenturyTel merger: do you, Triceratops, take this Brontosaurus to be your lawfully wedded wife?

It was announced yesterday that Louisiana-based CenturyTel is buying Qwest, marking the second major takeover in ten years for the Denver telco. I have some history with the US West iteration of the company, having worked there from 1997 until the ill-fated Qwest “merger” in Summer 2000.

I was fortunate enough to be a part of USW’s PR group, which remains the best large corporate communication division I have ever seen (and in that role I got to do some interesting, groundbreaking work). I’ve continued to watch the company fairly closely through the years, especially as the unfortunate Nacchio affair unfolded (and am proud of the repeated stompings we here at S&R have administered to that amoral cur along the way). I have hoped for the best over at 1801 California for a number of reasons. Continue reading “Qwest/CenturyTel merger: do you, Triceratops, take this Brontosaurus to be your lawfully wedded wife?”

The S&R Interview: 22 questions with Sarah Lewis of Jag Star

I remember distinctly how I first discovered Jag Star. I was snooping around on eMusic for new bands and was using the old triangulation method – who sounds like band X? One of my favorite bands is VAST, and Jag Star turned up as a “Similar Artist.”

That was both a great moment and a confusing one. On the one hand, I immediately liked Jag Star’s music. I’ve long loved Power Pop, and while you wouldn’t exactly slot Jag Star in with other bands in the contemporary disciples of The Beatles / Raspberries / Who / Big Star / Badfinger Pop Underground scene, they write great hooks, play really well and aren’t at all afraid to turn up the volume. Not only that, they’re doing it on their terms, the establishment and labels be damned.

On the other hand, I can’t for the life of me figure out how they got into the “Sounds Like VAST” queue. Continue reading “The S&R Interview: 22 questions with Sarah Lewis of Jag Star”

Closing credit wisdom from a dumb sitcom

If you’ve ever watched a Chuck Lorre produced show (Grace Under Fire, Dharma & Greg, Two and a Half Men, The Big Bang Theory) you may have noted the text cards at the end of the credits sequence. They flash by so quickly it’s impossible to read them, but fortunately they’re all archived online.

At the conclusion of this evening’s Two and a Half Men rerun they displayed vanity card #135 and we paused the TV to read it. What fortuitous timing, given all our recent carping here at S&R about the decline of the press. Here’s what it said: Continue reading “Closing credit wisdom from a dumb sitcom”

Predicting the 21st Century: Nostraslammy’s ten-year review

Ten years ago, at the turn of the millennium, Nostraslammy took a stab at predicting the 21st Century, with a promise to check back every ten years to see how the prognostications were turning out. Odds are good I won’t be able to do a review every ten years until 2100, but I figure I’m probably good through 2030, at least, barring some unforeseen calamity. And if you’re Nostraslammy, what’s this “unforeseen” thing, anyway?

Let’s see how our 22 articles of foresight are holding up, one at a time.

1: Researchers will develop either a vaccine or a cure for AIDS by 2020. However, it will be expensive enough that the disease will plague the poor long after it has become a non-issue for the rich and middle classes (although this is one case where political leaders might fund free treatment programs). The end of AIDS will trigger a sexual revolution that will compare to or exceed that of the 1960s and 1970s (unless another deadly sexually-transmitted disease evolves, which is certainly a possibility). Continue reading “Predicting the 21st Century: Nostraslammy’s ten-year review”

In racist technology wars, HP closes on Veridian Dynamics

In Episode 4 of Better off Ted (a fantastic show that you really need to tune into now before it, like so many other shows that make the mistake of being intelligent, gets axed), Veridian Dynamics encounters a small problem. It has installed new motion sensors in the building that turn the lights on and off as employees enter and leave the room. They already had a sensor system, but this one is better, somehow. The official ABC synopsis sets the stage:

Meanwhile, Lem and Phil have their usual morning quarrel, this time over coffee and microscopic organisms. (Trust us, folks—it’s hardly as sexy as it sounds.) When Phil leaves to get a cup of joe, everything in the lab suddenly shuts off. Lem is confounded by this, even more so when everything springs back to life upon Phil’s return. Continue reading “In racist technology wars, HP closes on Veridian Dynamics”

Democracy & Elitism 3: burning down the straw man, and who are these out-of-touch “liberal elites,” anyway?

Let’s begin with a quick trivia question. What legislator’s Top 20 donor list includes the following?

We’ll have the answer for you at the bottom. Continue reading “Democracy & Elitism 3: burning down the straw man, and who are these out-of-touch “liberal elites,” anyway?”