Do As Many

Click right up! Test your knowledge and acumen:

Is the Robert Mueller testimony as popular as the Final Four™? Why, or why not? Explain your answer, include examples supporting your argument.

If an assessment of current knowledge about happenings relevant to the health and future of the planet and/or the republic was a test, how many could we leave blank and still pass? The desire to know, to want to know, creates a fickle predilection for desired outcomes. If a question (or an investigation of the facts surrounding a question) doesn’t turn out the way we want, we probably would rather not know, thanks anyway. We’re all set! Continue:

Is Puerto Rico a state? Then why does it have a governor? Bonus question: why is he resigning?

Self-driving cars are self-refuting. Not a question, though perhaps a tautology.

Why are people being locked in camps at the Southern U.S. border, and it is this a more important, equally important, or less important question than why are they leaving their country of origin? Show your work.

The Earth’s Moon has been an object of fascination for millennia. When we conquered it by going there, did we simply decide it could now be reasonably ignored, or had mystery and imagination reached its zenith? Hint: Remember the corollary based on the rubber/glue axiom.

True or false: Paper straws signify a convergence of elegance, utility and mindfulness.

Requesting anonymity so as to ensure against retribution in order to make known a crime or misdeed makes a source more or less believable? Keeping in mind that asking questions bears a direct relationship to having the questions answered, at what point (if at all) is the journalist’s culpability in protecting an anonymous source outweighed by the need for transparency about the source’s motives and intentions?

Identity Hong Kong on a map.

Finally, what is the prevailing direction of the trade winds?

Image: Author photo, Park Ave at 125th street

The Oscars’ Lack of Diversity

oscar_0Not exactly a punchy title but… my own reaction to the monochromatic handing out of the little gold guys doesn’t feel so cheeky.

Is it the lack of good movies with stars of color? Decent roles for any other than white actors? The more questions you attempt to formulate, the more perverse this choosy reality seems. I will agree that it is positive that consensus seems to be congealing around the fact that something is wrong with this picture these pictures. But still, why is it that in 2016 only white actors are being recognized for their efforts in mass-marketed motion pictures? Even writing that sounds intentional and stupid.

Are we putting too much on the Academy?

“We absolutely are. This is not really about the Academy. The Academy is a reflection and a symptom of a very deep problem in Hollywood and, I would say, in American popular culture generally. I am fortunate enough to do a lot of my work in Los Angeles. I go to many meetings at studios in L.A. and you see, by and large the decision makers at the top of departments and organizations are almost uniformly white and largely male as well. The demographics are not the only story. The key there is not just the color of people sitting behind important desks, it’s the thought process. It’s what are deemed important stories. It’s what are deemed merely entertaining stories. I think when ‘Straight Outta Compton’ was green-lit and produced, people saw it only as an entertaining movie, not as an important movie because it was only about a hip-hop group. As opposed to seeing it as telling a story about a defining chapter in recent American history, which it actually does. It’s not just about hip-hop, which is important in and of itself, but it’s about the Rodney King riots, racial conflict and police brutality and all of these things make it important. Same with ‘Creed’.”

SMH, as the kids say (walking out of the theatre).

What does Project Greenlight mean?

Good grief. As a writer and filmmaker, I’ve got at least two dogs and three cats in this fight (never attempted to get on this show, but all other conflicts apply). But still, come on:

Last night was the fourth season premiere of HBO’s Project Greenlight—a Matt Damon and Ben Affleck passion project where they give first time filmmakers the chance to make a movie. It also provided a platform for Matt Damon to deliver a masterclass in whitesplaining—a whitesplaining sermon, if you will.

They enlist a group of producers to help them choose their finalists—the group included a bunch of white guys and one white woman.

The finalists are flown to Los Angeles to meet in person with the producers. At these meetings, they introduce Effie Brown, an experienced Hollywood producer and a black woman. She has produced seventeen feature films, including Dear White People and boy, the Irony Gods are working overtime today.

As the only person of color in the group, Effie clearly understands that any attempt at diversity will be on her shoulders. She recalls growing up in the 1970s where most of the time when she saw black people in films, they were playing gangsters, criminals and prostitutes. She also explains that she is passionate about making films where marginalized people are recognized.

You would have to buy a Brooklyn Bridge-sized benefit of the doubt to just turn around and give them in order to believe this sequence was included in the episode to show the transparencies of inherent bias in Hollywood. No, I don’t believe that either. Come on, Matt. This is embarrassing.

Diverse views on the news

What does it mean when everyone delivering the news and discussing it on the electronic television is the same hue? Same gender? Are we looking too deep when notice this? Are we ignoring the obvious when we don’t? Media Matters has some interesting charts on this, a grand total of zero of which will shock you:

White Guests Hosted Most Often On Cable News. Fox News had the largest proportion of white guests — 83 percent. African-Americans were the largest non-white group on all networks, representing 19 percent, 10 percent, and 5 percent of guests on MSNBC, Fox, and CNN, respectively.


As a completely white dude with a TV show, I have responsibility as part of the problem here. Why does this even matter? We have a guest this week (another white dude) who talks about a concept called cross-cultural competency – how comfortable we are interacting with people who are different from us. When it comes to integration in public schools, interested parties aka major corporations are coming down on the side of this sort of competency as a good in a society like ours. Now there are a zillions reasons why that is, but the subject itself sheds some new light on how we see ourselves – and others – and how that prism shapes our views about the world.

And if you set that aside for an instant and think about how you get the news and who decides what is news, you’ve got all kinds of reasons to be suspect of this heavily skewed arrangement. The situation in these charts breeds its reality in our society, one in which existing fears and biases must be constantly and always re-enforced, even before any ‘news’ stories get presented. When you contextualize everything first in how it fits the interest of one race or ethnic group, of course you’ll have trouble getting an accurate sense of anything. And we have plenty enough of that already.