Aziz Ansari, for those of you recently emerged from your post-Obama-reelection survival bunkers, is a very funny comedian, known mainly as Tom Haverford on NBC's now defunct Parks and Recreation, as well as approximately 17,000 stand up specials. His new series Master of None, a half hour "dramedy" (Can we replace this term? How about Dram-Com? No, actually, that's worse) premiered November 6 on Netflix to much acclaim. Taking a page from Louis CK's groundbreaking FX series Louie, Master of None is a sort-of-autobiographical series, about a guy named Dev (Ansari), a sort–of-working actor in New York who's sort-of having a hard time. Much like Louie, it abjures the traditional sitcom format.Read more
The Obama administration—easily the most ideologically progressive in modern American history—has been accompanied by both liberal triumphalism and liberal outrage.
Three major protest movements have marked the Obama era: Occupy Wall Street, Black Lives Matter, and the as-yet-unnamed campus protests that began at the University of Missouri and Yale and have now spread across the country. The Occupy movement failed utterly. The Black Lives Matter movement has been on a fast track to irrelevance, its only success having been to discipline Democratic presidential candidates to deny that "all" lives matter, while insisting that "black" lives do.
The campus protests are different.Read more
Are you watching Scream Queens? Me neither. But I did catch a scene of the FOX slasher-comedy and was surprised to see that my father, Justice Antonin Scalia, made a cameo appearance. Sort of.Read more
As much as one loves Bob Dylan, it is always best to resist the temptation to write about him. He is a slippery fish, who is routinely put-off by the industrial-level attempts to access his soul through the interpretation of his lyrics.Read more
I see no reason why the decay of culture should not proceed much further, and why we may not even anticipate a period, of some duration, of which it will be possible to say that it will have no culture.
Notes Toward the Definition of Culture
—T. S. Eliot
I’m a sophisticated guy. A deep thinker, even. Shallowness’s scourge, you might say.
At least that was my line 10 or so years ago, as my family embarked on a trip to Southern California. My younger sister, then around 14, proclaimed before our departure that she hoped we would see a celebrity on our trip.Read more
Don’t take this the wrong way, but are you offended? I know I haven’t said anything yet, but it’s never too early to be aggrieved. Studies I’ve invented, since we’re all entitled to our own facts these days, show that 4 out of 10 Americans are offended by something at all times. Ten out of 10, if they’re taking a course containing the word “intersectional” at Swarthmore.
With so many Republican candidates announcing their bids for the presidency these days, one our most hallowed election-year rituals can’t be far behind. I refer, of course, to when fading musical acts attempt to prove their progressive bona fides by making a stink when a candidate they disagree with plays their music at a rally.Read more
Once upon a time the world was run by preppy Wasp men and well-tended sylph-like women. The rules were clear: casual was OK for men so long as they had a crocodile sewn over their hearts, and desert was OK for women, some known as “social X-rays” -- once a month, if that.Read more
We're living in a transgender moment in America -- which is a little odd, when you think about it. For transgender people are not exactly new to the news: The British travel writer James Morris became Jan Morris as long ago as 1972, and the ophthalmologist Richard Raskind became tennis pro Renee Richards in 1975. Nor are they new to American celebrity culture: A young ex-GI named George Jorgensen traveled to Denmark in 1951 and, after surgery, returned home as night-club entertainer Christine Jorgensen.Read more
Clinton Makes Trouble For Cuomo
Until Hillary Clinton decided to destroy 33,000 allegedly personal e-mails, all was quiet on the document-retention front in her selected home State of New York. Governor Andrew Cuomo was quite happy with the secrecy provided by his own refusal to send written memos or e-mails, and the practice followed by his staff and state agencies (at his insistence) of destroying e-mails older than 90 days. No footprints. Which is the way the famously secretive Cuomo likes it.Read more
President Obama offered this taped public service announcement at the Grammy Awards:
Artists help shape American culture, Obama said in the taped remarks, which is why "together we can change our culture for the better by ending violence against women and girls. "Read more
The Council of the Princeton University Community voted on Monday to gut due process for students accused of sexual misconduct. The week before last it was the turn of the faculty to genuflect as the hearse bearing the remains of due process rolled past. This unsavory episode highlights two parlous issues. First, there is the problem of sexual misconduct on campus, which was always at unacceptable levels and appears to be getting worse. Second, there is the dangerous license federal agencies have to rewrite law.Read more
Florida Polytechnic “University” (it isn’t accredited) is making headlines this week by opening a bookless library. Instead of checking out traditional codex books, students will be forced to read class material on tablets, e-readers, and/or laptops. According to the middle-aged librarians and bureaucrats who run the school, a bookless library will appeal to the youth.Read more
Islamic State terrorists, formerly known as ISIS, have killed at least 500 members of Iraq’s Yezidi religious minority in and around the city of Sinjar and taken hundreds of women as slaves. Some of the victims were buried alive. Their only crime: not being Muslims.Read more
In an interview with President Bush's daughter, Jenna Bush Hager, President Obama said that "a lot of young men of color aren't doing well." He also talked about his own childhood, growing up without his father in his life.
Watch here:Read more
This week the Factual Feminist takes on the “rape culture” panic that is riling college campuses with help from the media, radical feminists, and too many politicians. Just as in the shameful panic over alleged child abuse at day care centers that sent innocent people to prison in the 1980s, false statistics, mob tactics at public meetings, and disregard for the principle of “innocent until proven guilty” hold sway among today’s accusers.Read more
Richard V. Reeves has written in The Atlantic a confident and illuminating account of the state of marriage in America today. College-educated American men and women “are reinventing marriage as a child-rearing machine for a post-feminist society and a knowledge economy.” On this front, the Americans have once again shown their superiority to the Europeans, who, in their socially self-destructive way, remain ambivalent at best about the value of being married. But a European might respond that only an American could be content with such a self-consciously mechanical view of a relational institution. It’s easy to hear the French man Alexis de Tocqueville laughing between the lines of his deadpan description of American men describing marriage in terms of “self-interest rightly understood.”Read more
In an article published a couple days ago, Time magazine endorses "Polyandry," which Merriam-Webster defines as "the state or practice of having more than one husband or male mate at one time."
"It Makes Economic Sense for a Woman to Have More Than One Husband," reads the article's headline. The sub-headline reads, "By pooling male resources, polyandry improves household incomes and combats child poverty."Read more
Amiri Baraka, New Jersey’s controversial one-time poet laureate, died yesterday, aged 79. The poet, essayist, and playwright’s body of work will be remembered, if at all, as among the least humane in the history of American letters. An early 9/11 denier—a notorious 2002 poem suggested Jews were responsible for the attacks—Baraka embraced many of the last century’s worst ideologies.Read more
The federal agency that oversees the Voice of America is seeking someone to produce a TV entertainment show to be broadcast in Iran in the Farsi language that includes "Hollywood news" and "other interesting aspects of life on the West Coast of the United States." The Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), whose board members include Secretary of State John Kerry, isRead more
While everyone else has spent the last few days obsessing about Gravity, the government shutdown, and the real possibility that the NFC East division champ will have six wins, it’s quietly been an interesting week for sociology nerds who think about marriage.Read more
The Supreme Court’s rulings on gay marriage effectively leave the issue very much alive in state and national politics. The four justices appointed by Presidents Clinton and Obama clearly would declare a constitutional right to same-sex marriage in a heartbeat, if they were to get a fifth vote.Read more
The website Jewish Ideas Daily has been, for quite some while, a star of the web, featuring interesting original material as well as links to other worthwhile writing embodying a lively, serious, and committed approach to Jewish issues and ideas. Today, Jewish Ideas Daily has re-launched as Mosaic.Read more
Senator Mitch McConnell said Harry Reid is bringing the "culture of intimidation that we've seen at the IRS" to the Senate:Read more
At a Jewish American Heritage Month reception last night in Washington, D.C., Vice President Joe Biden talked about Jews, power, and influence.Read more
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