See also: Index of all Social Media Posts
I suspect that within 48 hours, the hilarious Donald Trump takedown video by John Oliver will be shared thousands (if not millions) of times on social media. Up to now, talk show hosts and political satirists have used Trump as an object for humor, not really an object of contempt. Oliver (and his predecessor John Stewart) satirize with overt political purposes. Just laughing at the video clip is not enough; you have to take action. Two reactions: 1)Why hasn’t the partisan Fox channel tried to pull off their own John Oliver show? (Is it somehow incompatible with the sensibilities of their conservative audience?) and 2)do political critics in China/Russia/Iran view this kind of satire as something peculiar to the U.S. or something that could also work in their own country? The assumption behind John Oliver’s “satirical advocacy” is that citizens can be persuaded to change their minds and take action. I’m just not sure this is true in closed political systems (and I don’t just mean that a government could block Youtube). Even if a Chinese version of “John Oliver” produced an effective takedown of Xi Jinping, a Chinese citizen might be able to enjoy it, but never think that it could make any difference politically. In contrast, the US political system may be rigged, but at least it be occasionally unrigged during moments of political clarity.
It’s behind a paywall, but New York Times wrote a feature article about Ukrainian protest songs and music videos.
Here’s one of my favorite moments from the Oscars: Kristin Chenoweth and Seth MacFarlane singing, “Here’s to the Losers!” (Strangely, this clip keeps getting removed from Youtube).
When I taught in Albania and Ukraine, I was both amused and surprised to learn how popular “Gone with the Wind” was in those countries. I made it a point to see “Gone with the Wind” film in 1998 at the movie theatre; (fun fact, I also saw Titanic at the theater on the same day). But I have never actually read the book! Since then, I have seen multiple critics praise GWTW for its literary qualities — so today I decided to read it myself! I just read the first chapter and found it entertaining, multilayered and full of complex characters. Can’t wait to read more!
Here’s an amazing song which was chosen to represent Ukraine in this year’s Eurovision contest. Ostensibly about Stalin’s genocidal deportation of Crimean Tartars in 1944, the song is sure to resonate in the current European political climate. Eurovision has had rules against songs with overt political messages, but this song’s lyrics are more nuanced and abstract than particular to current politics; it’s hard to label this song as political without seeming to erect a censorship regime. It would be a shame if Eurovision decides to disqualify it, because it may be the most interesting (and beautiful) entry for the contest in decades.
People who know me already know that I’m quite good at doing math in my head. Two weeks ago at the supermarket I took a guess about the grocery bill — and my guess turned out to be EXACTLY RIGHT! Since then I have tried to guess my bill (this time with bigger and more complicated orders with fruits and vegetables), and each time I have been right within a dollar. It’s a fun game to play, but you have to remember that junk food is taxable — you should separate taxable and nontaxable in the cart. Also, you need to doublecheck your numbers — dividing your groceries into piles of about $15-20 to make them doublecheck. Once a math geek, always a math geek, I guess.
“Trump is an attention-craving parasite, and such creatures are powerful only when indulged and paid attention to. Clinton will be forced to pay attention to Trump because of his constant evocation of her scandals. She will attempt to go after him. She will, in other words, feed the troll. Sanders, by contrast, will almost certainly behave as if Trump isn’t even there. He is unlikely to rise to Trump’s bait, because Sanders doesn’t even care to listen to anything that’s not about saving social security or the disappearing middle class. He will almost certainly seem as if he barely knows who Trump is. Sanders’s commercials will be similar to those he has run in the primary, featuring uplifting images of America, aspirational sentiments about what we can be together, and moving testimonies from ordinary Americans. Putting such genuine dignity and good feeling against Trump’s race-baiting clownishness will be like finally pouring water on the Wicked Witch. Hillary Clinton cannot do this; with her, the campaign will inevitably descend into the gutter, and the unstoppable bloated Trump menace will continue to grow ever larger. Sanders is thus an almost perfect secret weapon against Trump. He can pull off the only maneuver that is capable of neutralizing Trump: ignoring him and actually keeping the focus on the issues.”
In this amusing article, a marketing pro talks about how to game the Amazon ratings to win the “Best Seller” label. He does it with a book consisting solely of a picture of his foot.
Now’s a good time to boycott Sony Products because of the way they treated the singer Kesha. They should have negotiated a reasonable way for Kesha to terminate her contract in a way that respects her rights as an artist and a (potential) victim. These sort of disputes happen all the time in the music business (with or without criminal allegations). Artists frequently have to buy back their rights or release some perfunctory album to end their contract with a company they don’t like. But in this case, Kesha made credible ground for misconduct on the producer’s part. I’m sure Sony’s lawyers wrote the contract in a way that guaranteed Sony’s financial participation in her career. But they could have certainly negotiated a payout or percent of her future profits that would have allowed Kesha work independently. The fact remains is that Sony’s strategy was to intimidate Kesha with a contract which was unconscionable under the circumstances and left her no path but extinguishing her career. I know emotions are high here, but lawyers on both sides could have easily settled this; the fact that it did not happen suggests intransigence (probably on Sony’s part). In the meantime, we have an artist caught in the middle, whose artistic career is now over because she refuses to work with a man she believes has ruined her life. Sony claims to be great about marketing; why then did they let this suit drag on to the point where the media product has essentially lost its value?
” TxDOT has noted that 97% of the Texans currently drive a single occupancy vehicle for their daily trips. One could conclude that our state agencies should therefore focus their resources to support these kinds of trips. However, this approach is actually exacerbating our congestion problems. We need a paradigm shift in order to achieve the kind of mobility outcomes we desire. The Katy Freeway, or Interstate 10 west of Houston, is the widest freeway in the world, with up to 26 lanes including frontage road lanes. The 2008 widening had a significant impact on the adjacent businesses and communities. Yet, despite all these lanes, in 2015 the section of this freeway near Beltway 8 was identified as the eighth most congested roadway in the state. This was only seven years after being reconstructed! This example, and many others in Houston and around the state, have clearly demonstrated that the traditional strategy of adding capacity, especially single occupant vehicle capacity on the periphery of our urban areas, exacerbates urban congestion problems. These types of projects are not creating the kind of vibrant, economically strong cities that we all desire.”