Note: The first episode shown during the Third Quarter 2011 was a rerun of #569 on June 20, 2011.
Episode #576: All Out?
First Broadcast: 6/27/11
Repeated: 10/31/11; 3/12/12
This past Wednesday, President Obama gave a televised speech to the nation, in which he outlined a plan to withdraw several thousand American troops from Afghanistan within the next few years. According to him, "By 2014, this process of transition will be complete, and the Afghan people will be responsible for their own security." My question: Will Obama get all American troops and bases out of Afghanistan (and Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen, Libya, etc.) like the U.S. did with Vietnam? Or will some troops and bases remain in parts of those countries for the rest of the forseeable future, like they've done in Germany, Japan, Italy, Korea, etc.? Also: Am I the only one who's very uncomfortable whenever Obama refers to the assassination of Osama bin Laden as synonymous with being "held accountable"? Should we be offended with how Obama measured the cost of the Iraq War in 4500 American lives, without mentioning the considerably larger cost of 100,000+ Iraqi lives? When Obama said, "We stand not for empire, but for self-determination," was he directing that message towards Palestinians, or Kurds, or Timorese, or Lakota, or the Wampanoag, or Hawaiians, or any number of other groups I could mention? And--on a completely unrelated note--is the gentrification of the East village and the Lower East Side totally out of control? (As if I don't ask that question every other week...)
Episode #577: Break It Down
First Broadcast: 7/11/11
The national unemployment rate in the United States is hovering around 9%; but for young people, ages 16-24, the unemployment rate is around 18%; and for young black people, the rate is closer to 30%. None of these statistics are good news. One reason why young people are getting hit harder than the rest of the workforce is the recent scarcity of summer jobs due to the Great Recession; and the young people who are applying for the few summer jobs that are left are now facing unprecedented competition from older and more experienced people--many who used to have much higher-paying positions before the recession--giving younger people even less of an opportunity to start a work history and gain job experience. You can't even go door-to-door to apply for jobs anymore, since so many companies require applications to be made on-line instead of in-person. I suppose this is because of the general "security" fears many people in this city in general have had since 9/11--a fear exemplified, I think, by the proliferation of security cameras all over Manhattan during this time (especially what Mayor Bloomberg likes to call the "Ring of Steel"). But who's monitoring all these camera feeds? What happens to all the recordings police make with their cameras? Isn't this Nineteen Eighty-Four come to life? Why are police fighting so hard to keep people from recording them? I think that covers everything we talked about. I'm sure we haven't heard the end of any of it...
Episode #578: Call It a Day
First Broadcast: 7/25/11
This week, we talk about the end of the Space Shuttle program, the seeming end to NASA's ability to perform human spaceflight, the destruction of the Columbia, the explosion of the Challenger, the dangers of plutonium payloads, the commercialization of space, and what this might signify on the anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. Hint: The institutional memory and hands-on experience of sending human beings to another body in space and back to Earth is not something that should be abandoned lightly--or at all, frankly.
Episode #579: Flash Mobs of Zombie Truman
First Broadcast: 8/1/11
Repeated: 11/14/11; 6/25/12
Accidental Repeat: 11/21/11 Episode shown by MNN instead of the episode we submitted for that week, #589 "On a Clear Night."
If I remember correctly, in this episode we discussed the U.S. debt ceiling, President Harry Truman, zombies, a movie about zombie veterans, Batman villains, being trapped in a freezer, animated Clerks, flash mobs, Friends With Benefits, Mila Kunis's body double, R-rated sex comedies, and Porky's... not necessarily in that order.
Episode #580: Real Hustling Action
First Broadcast: 8/8/11
Why has The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson become the last refuge of the double entendre? Is it mostly gone from motion pictures because there's no longer a Hays Code to rebel against? Is it mostly gone from television because "Standards and Practices" aren't what they used to be? Do recent court decisions against FCC rules mean that, in theory, broadcast television in the U.S. could eventually feature as much nudity as movies (or at least as much nudity as movies had a few decades ago)? Do all the cable network victories at the Emmys in recent years prove that broadcast networks are taking less chances with scripted television these days? And do studios today make decisions about movies more based on the quality of the film or the possibilities for the merchandising? Too many questions!
Episode #581: Not That Barbarian
First Broadcast: 8/22/11
The Doors are a very good group. The Doors is not a very good movie, as Ray Manzarek would tell you. Seeing the Doors on television is a much better experience than seeing a reenactment of the Doors on television. In other news, "the people" are not a demographic for niche marketing, but they are a force to be reckoned with, whether they are fighting for their rights against deceptive governors, over-enriched HMO's, or undertaxed billionaires. Does that about sum it up?
Episode #582: Respect The Rights Of Lemurs
First Broadcast: 8/29/11
Did you survive the earthquake? How about the hurricane? Were you as prepared as the lemurs? Who would win in a fight between Superman and the Hulk? And who has two thumbs and completely botched the plot of Superman vs. Muhammad Ali? I'll give you a hint: he's the host of this program.
Episode #583: Back To Work, I Guess
First Broadcast: 9/12/11
This week, we discuss one anniversary, another anniversary, and briefly mention September 11th. Oh, were you thinking I was going to discuss something else? Nope. Didn't feel like it.