Note: The first episode shown during the Third Quarter 2010 was #535 on June 21, 2010.
Episode #544: Techno-Fear
First Broadcast: 6/28/10
If you ask me, Falling Down is not a great movie. Also, "How I Met Your Mother" is not a very funny TV show. On the other hand, "The Big Bang Theory" is a very funny TV show (as is "Taxi"), and The China Syndrome is an excellent film (I know I didn't mention it during the show; I'm just thinking of another movie that Michael Douglas was in). Eat My Dust and Grand Theft Auto were also good for what they were. And Duck Soup might be the funniest film ever made. Anyway, after the movies, I talked about the recent Supreme Court decision that criminalized certain types of speech--a.k.a. "expert advice or assistance"--that could be considered "material support" to foreign groups designated by the State Department as terrorist organizations, even if that speech or advice has a peaceful intent. Aside from the repelling idea that instructing someone to do something non-violently can now be a potentially criminal act, Twitter member Daphne Eviatar raised an extremely relevent question:
If the US keeps funding warlords and Taliban to protect its supply convoys, can it be prosecuted for material support?
You all remember that, right? That the U.S. military is paying off the Taliban to not attack U.S. military caravans that are supplying arms to U.S. troops who are fighting the Taliban who are being funded by the U.S. military? Maybe that's more than enough of a reason why the U.S. should leave Afghanistan already? Also: have you seen the Smurfs movie around here lately? Nope, me neither.
Episode #545: Subway Designed by M.C. Escher
First Broadcast: 7/5/10
That's my impression of the station known as Delancey Street/Essex Street, served by the F, M, J & Z trains. As I say in the program, it looks like two separate stations were built using Legos, then dropped onto the floor and broken, then repaired together into one Frankenstein station. It was barely user-friendly before the latest round of MTA service cuts; now it's just abominable--especially if you need to transfer between the downtown M and downtown F. I hold out hope that everything will be fixed by the time the Second Avenue line reaches my neighborhood. However, don't let my rantings make you despair in the meantime. Why not listen to some Jesus and Mary Chain instead, and enjoy your post-holiday stupor?
Episode #546: Supersonic Chinese Food
First Broadcast: 7/19/10
So, some dumb-ass Tea Party group in Iowa puts up a billboard that equates Hitler, Lenin, and Barack Obama, implying that they are all purveyors of the same political philosophy (Socialism), when nothing could be further from the truth. For those of you who need a history lesson, Hitler was a proponent of Nazism, a.k.a. National Socialism, which was a specific brand of Fascism that was as close to actual Socialism as the Democratic People's Republic of Korea is to actual Democracy. Despite their anti-Capitalist rhetoric, the Nazis were seen by German businesses as being more corporate-friendly than the Bolsheviks and other Socialist and Communist parties in Germany at the time--parties which were quickly outlawed when the Nazis gained control of the German government. This makes sense, since Fascism in general follows a corporatist ideology of an elite governing from the top down, with all elements within the nation submitting to the state to maintain its preservation, and the state controlling production of goods but not expressly owning the means of production itself. In an almost complete contrast, Socialism promotes an ideology of people governing from the bottom up, with the workers (in the form of the state) owning the means of production essential to the state's survival, and--when Marxist Socialism is taken to its philosophical conclusion--the state itself ultimately dissolving in an international "dictatorship of the proletariat." Marxism also requires a nation to be fully industrialized and Capitalist in order for those subsequent events to occur--conditions that the Russian Empire did not meet when Lenin led the revolution which toppled the Tsarist government from power. Lenin theorized that a revolutionary vanguard could force a pre-industrial society to change into a Communist society without necessarily going through a Socialist stage in the process. In direct contrast to Fascism, Nazism, Socialism, Leninism, and Communism, the Democratic Party under Barack Obama has taken no small measures to reinforce Capitalism--not the least of which was signing into law the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, which totaled some $787 billion worth of tax cuts and spending with the aim of using the power of the state to pump money into American businesses large and small, without necessarily controlling those businesses outright. And even though the U.S. Treasury ended up owning about 60% of General Motors stock after G.M. declared bankruptcy in 2009, the company is still not completely owned by the Federal government, nor is the American auto industry nationalized as a whole, nor is the Federal government directly managing any particular auto company, so this doesn't quite meet the definition of state-owned means of production. The Health Care bill that Obama signed into law this year can be argued as being a huge gift to privately-owned health insurance companies, which is another far cry from "socialized medicine." The three figures of Hitler, Lenin, and Obama--and their accompanying ideologies--are like three poles on a magnet, if such a thing were possible; almost completely opposed to one another. So, for a branch of the Tea Party--or any party--to brand these three people as alike on anything besides being men who breathed air is just ridiculous, and further proof that no one who proclaims to be part of such an organization deserves to be anywhere near a government office, much less elected to one.
Episode #547: On Autopilot
First Broadcast: 8/2/10
Wikileaks released a ton of Pentagon memos about Afghanistan this week, all of which give us new reasons to get American troops out of that country immediately. Regardless of what some talking heads say, the Pentagon confirmed that none of the released documents put U.S. national security at risk. In fact, I think it's fairer to say that our continued neo-occupation of a country that increasingly does not want our presence there is a bigger security risk than any collection of documents could ever be--wouldn't you agree?
Episode #548: Not So Bad
First Broadcast: 8/9/10
Some relatively good news on the program, for once! The New York State Senate approved a moratorium on hydrofracking, a federal judge ruled that California's Proposition 8 (that banned gay marriage) was Unconstitutional, and the Landmarks Preservation Commission unanimously ruled that an Islamic community center containing a mosque could be built on the site of the former Burlington Coat Factory a few blocks from the site of the World Trade Center--all in the same week! Could this be a trend? I'd be pleased if it was.
Episode #549: The Crowd
First Broadcast: 8/23/10
All the people who oppose an Islamic community center on Park Place (mislabeled by right-wing racists as the "Ground Zero Mosque") can do me a favor and FUCK OFF. The community board approved it; the Landmarks Preservation Commission unanimously had no objections to it; the majority of Manhattan residents are in favor of it; and the CONSTITUTION specifically prohibits the government from interfering with its establishment. Here's a reminder of the First Amendment for you:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.If any government entity at this point tried to stop Park51 from being built, while allowing churches and strip clubs to remain in the same neighborhood, that effort would clearly be judged as Unconstitutional--as it should be. Besides, have all the idiots protesting Park51 forgotten that the entire point of this country was that it was founded by people who wanted to practice their religions in peace without government interference?!? Then again, if this is the same part of the population who also thinks President Obama is a Muslim, even though he's made it very clear that he's a Christian, maybe I shouldn't be surprised.
Episode #550: A Dozen Dead Horses
First Broadcast: 9/6/10
The idea that certain things shouldn't be built two blocks away from the World Trade Center site just because people died there is--with all respect to the dead--absurd. If that same rule was applied to every other part of Manhattan, then the entire island would be uninhabitable. It wasn't uncommon for hundreds of New Yorkers (and horses) to die during heat waves in the 19th Century: 925 died from the heat in 1892, and almost 1500 died from a heat wave in 1896. Should no one be allowed to live in the Lower East Side (a.k.a. "The Ghetto") again, because of all those deaths? Did people stop living in the East Village after 1021 people died when the General Slocum caught fire and burned in the East River? (And, unmentioned in the show: Should we no longer have classes in NYU's Brown building, just because that was the site of the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire?) New York City is a living, breathing metropolis that is here for those who are living. If we insist on turning every corner of this city into an untouchable memorial for those who are no longer here, in the end it won't be a city; it'll be a cemetery. And I think we all have better things to do than turn a perfectly good city into an unusable graveyeard.
Episode #551: Sui Generis
First Broadcast: 9/13/10
After a brief discussion of William Shatner, a profile about him in the New York Times, and his quintessential cover of Elton John's "Rocket Man," our conversation turns to the nonsense about that guy who threatened to burn all those Korans in Florida, and the duelling protests over the proposed Islamic Community Center on Park Place (or, as some troglodytes refer to it, the "Ground Zero Mosque")--which most Manhattan residents are in favor of building, by the way! People, in the name of love, "Can't we all just get along?"