Culture Articles

The Younger, Hipper, More Successful Louis CK

TV review: Master of None, starring Aziz Ansari.
12:01 PM, Dec 17, 2015

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.

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It's All About 'Muscle'

Understanding the campus unrest
Dec 14, 2015

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.

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Antonin Scalia, Bogeyman of the Liberal Imagination

The justice stars in Hollywood revenge fantasies.
7:49 AM, Nov 25, 2015

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.

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Tangled Up In Green

What explains Bob Dylan's commercial endorsements?
12:31 PM, Nov 12, 2015

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.

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Whatever Happened to High Culture?

An inquest
Nov 09, 2015

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

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Boris in the Flesh

Ethan Epstein’s celebrity crush
Nov 02, 2015

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.

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The Cocked Fist Culture

Crossing the microaggressions minefield
Oct 05, 2015

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. 

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'Thoughts From the Ammo Line'

9:51 AM, May 29, 2015

One reason to look forward to Friday is that "Ammo Grrrll" always graces us with some "Thoughts From the Ammo Line" over at Power Line.

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On Campaign Songs, Don't Be Petty

11:04 AM, May 27, 2015

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.

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Change Is Ever With Us

Gleanings and observations.
2:29 PM, Apr 30, 2015

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.

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Bruce Jenner, Republican, Human Being

10:14 AM, Apr 29, 2015

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.

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The Culture War Goes Nuclear

12:31 PM, Apr 08, 2015

While everyone else was concentrating on Indiana and Iran last week, a much smaller piece of news broke that was of little interest to the wider world.

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Gleanings and Observations

March 18, 2015, edition.
10:03 AM, Mar 18, 2015

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.

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Obama to Grammy Awards: Don't Abuse Women

10:34 PM, Feb 08, 2015

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. "

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Due Process under the Twinkle of a Fading Star

12:21 PM, Oct 03, 2014

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.

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Librarians Against Books

A worthless initiative in Florida.
3:08 PM, Aug 25, 2014

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.

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Who Are the Yezidis?

3:05 PM, Aug 11, 2014

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.

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Obama: 'A Lot of Young Men of Color Aren't Doing Well'

7:37 AM, Jun 12, 2014

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: 

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Against the 'Rape Culture' Panic

11:31 AM, May 19, 2014

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.

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The Thoroughly Modern Marriage?

4:51 PM, Mar 04, 2014

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.”

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Harold Ramis, 1944-2014

2:31 PM, Feb 26, 2014

Harold Ramis died on Monday morning. Having written, directed (or written and directed) five of the funniest movies of the last 40 years, I think it's safe to put him on the short list for Funniest Guy of His Generation.

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Time Magazine Endorses 'Polyandry'

'It Makes Economic Sense for a Woman to Have More Than One Husband.'
8:22 AM, Jan 20, 2014

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."

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Amiri Baraka, 1934-2014

1:28 PM, Jan 10, 2014

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.

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Voice of America Seeks Farsi Language 'Hollywood News' TV Show to Air in Iran

7:37 AM, Jan 10, 2014

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, is 

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Not All Marriages Are Created Equal

1:06 PM, Oct 09, 2013

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.

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Shocked—Shocked!—to Find Gayness in Wrestling

1:02 PM, Aug 16, 2013

Big deal on Drudge yesterday about WWE wrestler Darren Young possibly breaking kayfabe and coming out to TMZ. (Although the timing of this suggests at least the possibility that this is a work and not a shoot.) Whatever. It’s been months since Jason Collins and the media is thrilled.

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Marriage Politics After U.S. v. Windsor

4:20 PM, Jun 26, 2013

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.

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You Don't Have to be Jewish ... to Read Mosaic

8:05 AM, Jun 03, 2013

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.

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McConnell: Harry Reid Bringing 'Culture of Intimidation that We've Seen at the IRS' to Senate

Reid "blowing up this institution."
10:11 AM, May 23, 2013

Senator Mitch McConnell said Harry Reid is bringing the "culture of intimidation that we've seen at the IRS" to the Senate: 

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Biden Talks of 'Outsized Influence' of Jews: 'The Influence Is Immense'

6:28 AM, May 22, 2013

At a Jewish American Heritage Month reception last night in Washington, D.C., Vice President Joe Biden talked about Jews, power, and influence.

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