After a series of missteps, including their Jeremy Lin-branded ice cream with fortune cookie pieces in it, it’s nice to see Ben & Jerry’s getting something right. In response to the beginning of a debate in the UK about legalizing marriages between same-sex couples nationally, the company’s named their apple pie flavored ice cream Apple-y Ever After?and decorated the container with a gay couple standing on a cake with rainbow-piped icing. It’s a nice little assertion that a straight couple doesn’t have to be the default image that comes to mind in conjunction with that phrase?and a suggestion that the world’s grown beyond the law.
During their school’s NCAA Tournament game against Kansas State University today, members of the Southern Mississippi University band chanted, “Where’s your green card?” at a Puerto Rican Kansas State player. Kansas State guard Angel Rodriguez, who was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico and played high school basketball in Miami, Florida, was fouled while shooting during the first half of today’s game in Pittsburgh. As Rodriguez stepped to the foul line, the chants, reportedly started by Southern Miss band members, began.
Watch it, courtesy of BuzzFeed:
Puerto Ricans, it’s worth noting, are American citizens. Rodriguez scored 13 points to his Wildcats to a 70-64 victory, making four crucial free throws late in the game.
Community returns tonight after NBC unceremoniously put it on hiatus halfway through its third season, and it's a television event you would have had a hard time not knowing about if you spend any time online. While few expected the low-rated cult hit to see a fourth season, fans at least felt they needed closure, and far more for this show than for other single-camera critical darlings like it, such as 30 Rock or possibly even Arrested Development. Why? Because despite its well-deserved reputation for kooky, abstract humor, Community has some of the best-developed characters on television. More importantly, they?re characters who have evolved and changed as people, giving the audience a deep need to see how our beloved study group at Greendale Community College finally ends up.
Ever since Arrested Development ushered in the era of single-camera sitcoms that get more critical ink than viewers, the form has tried to distinguish itself from the traditional three-camera soundstage sitcom?eliminating the laugh track, introducing edgier humor, and borrowing the plotting and continuity strategies of better dramas. The continuity demands force writers to come up with more sophisticated characterizations, which in turn provoked divergent characterization trends. Some shows?like 30 Rock and Curb Your Enthusiasm?take a cynical view of human nature, portraying their characters as deeply flawed human beings whose attempts to overcome their worst tendencies usually end in failure. But other single camera sitcoms have started to experiment with characters who change and grow in a way reminiscent of dramas, instead of the two-dimensional clowns of traditional sitcoms.
Community, like Parks and Recreation and even The Office, has taken this approach. Indeed, a sitcom about community college students really sets the stage for change-and-growth characters, because going to community college is something people choose because they want to change and grow as human beings. This may be why Community is more successful at portraying character growth than other sitcoms that have tried; we have an easier time believing that people can grow when they?re given an explicit reason to try. Unlike other sitcoms, where tender moments can drain the humor out of a situation, the sweetness of Community anchors the show, allowing it to spin out ever more absurd situations and jokes.
It helps that the characters grow without losing who they are at their core. Britta learns she can grow up and let go of her adolescent passions without giving up her desire to help people. Jeff becomes more compassionate, but doesn?t lose his fundamental shallowness. Shirley learns to deal with her rage issues by letting go a bit of her desire to suppress and control her emotions. Troy becomes a happier person by embracing the geek inside, and Annie learns that she can relax a little and still be a straight-A student. Only Pierce?who exists as the villain and foil?and Abed, whose role as the Greek chorus gives Community an extra layer of post-modernist credibility, refrain from real change. They?re already the best versions of themselves (or I suppose worst, with Pierce), and so change would be meaningless.
All of this made it incredibly painful when NBC reacted to the low ratings by yanking the show mid-season without any word of when?or if?it would come back. Sure, much of the reason the audience went nuts with anger was that we desperately want the pitch-perfect satire of other genres, forms, and story-telling devices. (Ironically, while the show has found ways to parody everything from Lord of the Rings to Glee, they?ve never done a send-up of the three-camera sitcom.) But what made it hurt the most is that we?ve come to believe in these characters, in a way that?s elusive for other sitcoms. We want to know how their lives turn out. Will Annie transfer to a state school and eventually recover to the point where she can consider grad school? Will Jeff return to his corporate law firm or will he put his legal skills to better use now that he?s grown some semblance of a heart? Will Britta get over her pedantic phase to become a professional psychologist? Will Troy figure out a way to both have his friendship with Abed and occasionally get laid? Never finding out the answer would be like reading Dickens, only to find the last few chapters of the book have been torn out.
Now the show is definitely coming back to finish the season, and fans can expect that show-runner Dan Harmon is clued into our genuine concerns for the characters, and our hope to see the characters reach the end of their journeys. Interestingly, the hopes of fans were played for laughs on an earlier episode, when Britta introduces Abed to British television shows that have predetermined lengths, instead of the going-until-the-ratings-drop method of American shows. The other characters scoff when Britta defends the British method, saying, ?That?s the great thing about British TV. They give you closure.? The other characters sneer at Britta, as they usually do, but we fans know Britta has a point.
Since Community is unlikely to see a fourth season, they only have ten more episodes to give us this closure. I trust Harmon and crew to do right by the fans on this one.
Ho hum, outspent again, probably won't matter. (Steve Nesius/Reuters)Mitt Romney and his Super PAC have committed $3.4 million to the Illinois air war, you know, those ads that talk about how horrible Santorum is while making no effort whatsoever to get people to like Romney.
Now, Rick Santorum and his Super PAC sugardaddies are finally engaging?and like everywhere else, it'll be a fraction of what Romney's camp is spending.
The super PAC supporting Rick Santorum Thursday bought $310,000 worth of air time in Illinois - fresh evidence that both his campaign and allies see the state as a key battleground.That's $422,000, or about 12 percent of Romney's spending?par for the course. In fact, Romney can't compete without swamping his opponents with cash, and even then, he often can't win anyway.
Santorum's campaign had already purchased $122,000 of statewide cable time for ads beginning Thursday.
Romney's camp outspent Santorum close to 6-1 in Mississippi and Alabama, 4-1 in Super Tuesday states, and a crap-ton to peanuts pretty much every where else. The grand total is now somewhere in the neighborhood of $110 million for Romney versus $25 million for Santorum.
And yet he still can't close the deal. So if history is any indication, Illinois will offer much of the same?drastic Romney overspending, all in the pursuit of either a narrow victory or a narrow loss. The only poll in the race (weirdly enough) gives Romney the early lead?35 percent to Santorum's 31 percent. Those numbers look pretty familiar by now, don't they?
By the way, Gingrich got 12 percent in that poll, but he'll get even less given that he's skipping the state. At least for that night he won't pretend to still be a candidate.
Jonathan Kirshner (Cornell) in the Boston Review, on the days when movies were real movies, and critics were real critics.
The New Hollywood was a cinema of moral ambiguity. The notorious Production Code Authority, in ruins by the close of 1966, had insisted on movies about right and wrong, with right winning in the end. By contrast, in the world portrayed by the ??70s film? (and in tune with the tenor of the times) choices are not always easy and obvious (Klute, The King of Marvin Gardens), authorities and institutions are compromised (Medium Cool, The Friends of Eddie Coyle), and, finally, the ?hero? rarely wins (Chinatown, Night Moves). Individually ?70s films offer character-driven explorations of troubled, imperfect protagonists and complex interpersonal relationships, with no obvious solutions or clean resolutions proffered (or expected). Collectively they reflect a thriving and identifiable film culture?movies that ?don?t supply reassuring smiles or self-righteous messages,? but share ?a new openminded interest in examining American experience,? as the critic Pauline Kael put it at the time. ?Our filmmakers seem to be on a quest?looking to understand what has been shaping our lives.? These were movies to talk about, and fight about, and accordingly it was also the decade when the critics mattered. An ambitious cohort of film critics, shaped by new sensibilities, expectations, and experiences, led a tumultuous public debate about the movies, their meaning, and their relationship with society. Of these critics, the argumentative, bohemian Kael was the most influential.
Kirshner writes about 1970s film-makers? willingness to embrace ambiguity ? a good reading, perhaps, to assign for ?Movies and Politics? classes
They're not senators, they're insurance salesmen.
You?re a Republican senator. How do you sell a plan to privatize Medicare?Okay, they're lying insurance salesmen.
One way is to fashion the massive overhaul as an extension of the private system members of Congress enjoy?the Federal Employee Health Benefits Plan?and then trumpet the merits of that system over existing Medicare.
?We have to convince [seniors] this is something better,? said Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC), flanked by Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Rand Paul (R-KY), authors of a new Medicare privatization plan, at a Capitol press conference on Thursday. ?If we thought Medicare was better, we would be on it as senators.?
DeMint is 60 years old. Graham is 56. Paul is 49. Medicare eligibility age is 65.
They admit the plan "Obamacare" is for seniors, which even though they hate Obamacare and want to repeal it for everybody else, they think is fine for seniors. Whatever, as long as traditional Medicare eventually dies.
And die it would under their plan, which would shift Medicare patients into private plans with subsidies, starting in 2014. The program would be means tested, and the eligibility age would gradually rise. Whether or not subsidies to seniors would keep up with the rising costs of health care is a question, but what's not a question is that it likely wouldn't actually save money, since Medicare continues to be more cost effective than private insurance.
These salesmen have a big job on their hands, convincing seniors that the Medicare they know and love would be better if they were once again thrown to the private industry insurance wolves. Considering the traditionally high satisfaction of elderly Americans with Medicare, they're really going to have to pull a fast one there.
I learned two useful things that are central to American life today, yet which I have never once heard stated on the radio or TV or read in a newspaper: I learned about the labor shortage that fueled the 150-year period of rising wages in the United[...]
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Too many news outlets seem to consider it their job to tell the competing sides of any given story, instead of focusing on reporting the truth. No matter how unsupported by the facts one side may be, this widespread "he said, she said" journalism is how, for example, climate change deniers are treated seriously in the media.
In a positive move, National Public Radio recently issued new editorial guidelines rejecting this false balance. Disavowing the worst excesses of "he said, she said" journalism, NPR's new code of ethics states that "if the balance of evidence in a matter of controversy weighs heavily on one side, we acknowledge it in our reports." This is an important step to curing what has become an endemic plague of false "fairness" in American journalism.
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Are Ron Paul and Mitt Romney about to do a deal?
The Texas Representative might also be enticed, says campaign chairman Jesse Benton, by the prospect of serving as a presidential adviser, a Cabinet position for someone in his orbit or ?perhaps a vice presidency.?It's been obvious to anybody who has watched the debates or followed the campaign that Ron Paul has some sort of deal going with Mitt Romney. And now, perhaps, we know why.
Not for himself, but rather his son. Rand Paul, the junior senator from Kentucky and a Tea Party icon, is expected to launch his own White House bid in 2016. Being on the ticket now ? or even being mentioned for it ? would be a helpful step. Says one Paul adviser: ?If you?re talking about putting Rand on the ticket, of course that would be worth delivering our people to Romney.?
Question is: will anybody put Mitt Romney on the spot and ask him how he feels about the trade?
Point to Rick Santorum.
Add Megyn Kelly to the list of Bret Baier and Chris Wallace, all FNC anchors who have made Mitt squirm.
After Santorum accused Fox News Channel of “shilling” for Mitt Romney, the uncomfortably weak frontrunner was caught in his own ramblings.
The voters Mitt Romney isn’t winning over watch Fox News Channel exclusively, so seeing this debacle play out had to confirm their deepest ambivalence.
For the Frum, Will and Noonan wing it has to make them wish it was all over.
After a two-state loss, regardless that he won more delegates, which blows over the average person’s head, once again Romney goes on the right’s favorite cable outlet to stumble, stammer and get caught in mid-sentence as Megyn Kelly goes to commercial break.
It made Mitt Romney look like a rank amateur, which is the exact opposite image of competence that has kept him as the electable candidate from the start.
Once again Mitt Romney is revealed to be very thin-skinned, having little connection to humility or any political gamesmanship that would endear him to voters.
Watching this guy as president would be as bad as George W. Bush in the oh-my-god-what-will-he-say-next category. But considering Bush won twice against smarter men, Democrats shouldn’t get comfortable.
But then again, Barack Obama is a much better political athlete and campaigner than either Al Gore or John Kerry.