I have had an ambivalent view of Bill Maher. He seems to enjoy controversy and prefers creating it in ways that I am not sure I entirely agree with. However, he is actually an incredibly honest pundit, and does a great job of bringing incredibly difficult conversations to the forefront. For every moment I want to thank him, he gives me a moment of pause. His latest blog post is a moment of pause, as he completely goes after Stan Lee almost immediately after his death. It was pointless, and he would go onto trash comic books as a medium and claim that people need to grow up.
To me, every medium has the capability of great storytelling, and for him to blame comic books of all things is absurd. For every mind numbing comic book there are stories like Watchmen and Maus that use the medium to tell something beautiful and impactful. Many look down upon video games, and yet The Last of Us has affected me more than any movie ever will. All genres have the ability of being great, and while it is we should be critical of art that we do not like, to desecrate Stan Lee like this just a few days after his death.
To be fair Stan Lee’s empire definitely took away some of the beauty behind its art in order to make money, as did Star Wars and Harry Potter. However, all three of these works of fiction have expanded the imaginations of many and given many courage and strength to go on. The idea that comic books are somehow uniquely bad as a form of literature, is a dishonest suggestion. All forms of art have the capability of being bad or good, but to blame the art form and somehow tie that into a Donald Trump world makes absolutely no sense.
While I have not heard from him yet I assume he will respond as he usually does, saying that he is not the problem but in fact the “snowflakes” who cannot handle him are. He is entitled to his opinion, but at some point he should take some responsibility for his endless provocations and maybe try to change. Knowing Bill he will not change his ways, and part of what makes him great is his willingness to disagree and go in directions no one else will. I just wish he would think twice before saying certain things.
In better news, if you are in a need of something to make you laugh, this video of Bundesliga commentary reimagined as daily life animations is hilarious.
The world thought it could change China, and in many ways it has. But China’s success has been so spectacular that it has just as often changed the world — and the American understanding of how the world works.
This is from the terrific New York Times profile on China’s rise as a world power and its future as it heads toward a more autocratic future with President Xi Jinping in charge. It raises interesting questions about the value of nationalism and the conventional wisdom of economics and of free expression. It is certainly remarkable that China has been able to last as long as it has, and how it can survive into the future.
Thanksgiving is coming up and one thing I can say I am thankful for is the friendships and people I have met at the University of Michigan, and thankful that my family is safe after the Woolsey Fire roared through my hometown, and after the shooting at Borderline Bar & Grill. I am eternally grateful that they are safe, and my thoughts are with all of those affected. I will be back in town this week, and it will be devastating to see the effects of these devastating events. I can only hope for the best for the future, and with that I would like to wish all of my readers a happy early thanksgiving.
At 95, Stan Lee has been pronounced dead. I was never a huge comic book nerd, but I loved the Marvel movies and enjoyed the fantastical powers many of his protagonists were given. What Stan Lee did for so many young children was dare them to think big, to dream farther, and to use their wild imaginations. For many today, it is hard to imagine the world of movies and comic books without thinking of Stan, and his endlessly hilarious cameos. We will miss you Stan, and you beautiful imagination. Thank you for everything, but especially for Captain America. He was such a terrific superhero, and the only reason he was ever there in the first place was because of your imagination. Rest in peace, Stan Lee.
Borderline Bar and Grill is all of 15 minutes from my home in California. While I now live in Michigan, it is still incredibly shocking and heartbreaking to hear of this happening not far from my home. How and why is so hard to understand, but the raw feeling of anger and closeness to this event make it more than a news story. I pray for the victims and their friends and families during this awful time, and am only glad to know that many of my friends who go to Borderline are safe.
So often we want to make a policy subscription after an event like this, and yet I cannot in this moment. It is too close, too real, and too painful to do so. All I can do is give everyone back home my love and support, and hope that everything will be okay.
Having an event happen like this in a more personal way gives perspective when these events happen in the news in other places. Thousand Oaks and the surrounding areas are incredibly safe, so safe that many of my friends and others viewed the area as “boring.” Yet, even with this in mind, the event happened regardless. I do not claim to have the answers, but I hope we can at least think. For those who want to politicize this event immediately, know that there are people who died and people who are affected by this. For some it is not just another mass shooting, it is an attack on our home.
Most of yesterday’s elections failed to surprise me, as the “blue wave” did well everywhere except the senate, as it was simply bad math for anything serious to happen. One thing that was fascinating was that in terms of percentage, the youth only made up 13% of the electorate, which is around the same for the last midterm elections. However, it would not surprise me if more people voted overall, due to all of the political discourse over the past few years. Nevertheless, the sun still shines and the world still spins.
One thing I was surprised about was how many people were encouraging others to vote, so long as they did not disagree with them. I received a Voter Guide from NextGen America, which advertised itself as “non-partisan” despite clear partisan appeals to the democrats. It claimed that certain candidates were “against Devos’ plan” and would “stand up to trump” while others would not. “Voter guides” are supposed to educate the population on who is running, not on who they want you to vote for.Voting is a good thing, and getting others’ registered to vote is a great thing that I encourage people to do. However, make sure you respect people’s decisions to vote their conscience, rather than downgrading them for disagreeing. It is antithetical to what the right to vote is about, and I hope that behavior ends.
This was my third time voting and only my second voting in Michigan, and I was nevertheless impressed with the motivation of many to vote. I was throughly impressed with how many busy college students made the effort to vote. It shows that for many voting is important, which is a good sign for our future.
Hopefully, we can combine this enthusiasm for voting with an ability to respect individual’s and their reasons for voting a specific way. We have a long way to go, but I still have hope.
I haven’t been as good about podcasts this school year, but I did a little podcast binging and these are my top 5.
1. Waking Up with Sam Harris- Of the intellectual dark web members, Sam is the most honest, reasonable and fascinating. He finds ways to engage a myriad of subjects on issues ranging from politics to philosophy and AI. It is always fascinating and sam is incredibly engaging with all of his subjects. The conversations can be longer but they are always worth a listen.
2. Conversations with Tyler – Tyler Cowan is one of the biggest reasons why I started this blog, someone who finds ways to make everything fascinating. His Podcast brings fascinating subjects such as Malcolm Gladwell and Paul Krugman, and asks questions that are incredibly poignant and insightful. It brings about a fascinating conversation, and a highly intellectual one as well.
3. 99% Invisible – I am not an engineer, an architect, or anything in between. However, host Roman Mars always finds a way to make design and architecture absolutely fascinating. From Sears catalog homes, to be the Toronto Raptors NBA jerseys, there is no subject not touched. Unique insights and a terrific voice guide you into some utterly terrific territory. Definitely a listen for all of the beautiful nerds.
4. Colin’s Last Stand: Fireside Chats – Colin Moriarty seemed to have hit rock bottom when he was left his own company Kind Funny. He could have given up, but instead he created his own company, and boy am I happy. A conservative in games media, he has found a way to incorporate politics, and anything else he finds fascinating into a series of great conversations.From small town mayors, to shelter volunteers and political pundits; he seems to always keep his show varied and interesting. If you want a great perspective from those on the conservative side of the aisle and just a fascinating human in general, give this show a listen.
5. This American Life – What else? Ira Glass could read the phone book and I’d want to hear every fax number. Not to mention terrific reporting and content. Zoe Chase and others make this program the staple it is. If you are breathing and haven’t listened to this program, you’re doing something wrong.