Pundit Wire

If Norman Lear at 92 is what 92 is, I’ll have what he’s having

Norman Lear It is not widely known that Norman Lear and I have the same mother.

Norman once called his mother in Bridgeport, Conn., and said, “Mother, I just got this call. The Television Academy is forming a Hall of Fame. And the first inductees are going to be General Sarnoff and Edward R. Murrow and William Paley and Milton Berle and Paddy Chayefsky and Lucille Ball — and me.”

There was about a two-second beat, and she said, “Listen, if that’s what they want to do, who am I to say?”

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Please manipulate me

opi_fb-marty_71414_539_332_c1 What do you call it when media try to manipulate your feelings without first asking for informed consent?

Tuesday.

Example: The average Facebook user sees only 20 percent of the 1,500 stories per day that could have shown up in their news feed. The posts you receive are determined by algorithms whose bottom line is Facebook’s bottom line.

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The Magic Formula

Sorcerer Houston’s Gilbert and Sullivan Society is staging six performances of the Sorcerer at the Cullen Theatre between July 18-20 and July 25-27.

The Sorcerer is not as well known as H.M.S. Pinafore, the Pirates of Penzance, or the other operettas that followed. But without it, we might not have had its successors. Because it was with the Sorcerer that Gilbert and Sullivan hit on the magic formula that would plant their distinctive brand of musical comedy firmly in public favor, in their own time and to the present day.

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Brat — The protesting Protestant?

dave brat There’s an early Philip Roth story about a bunch of Jewish kids in Hebrew school trying to figure out whether Jesus lived or not.

“The Catholics,” Itzie Lieberman says, “they believe in Jesus Christ, that he’s God.”

Lieberman, Roth adds, “used ‘the Catholics’ in its broadest sense — to include the Protestants.”

I confess, when I was a kid in a largely Jewish town, I was similarly confused. I think I have it straight, now. But I was confused again this week, reading about Dave Brat’s surprising primary election win over Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA)…

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Also posted in Campaigns & Elections, General, Political Rhetoric, Politics, Religion, U.S. | Tagged , , , , , , , | Comments closed

Not Just a Pretty Face

prettyface Last week I was in New York to attend the founding meeting of the Professional Speechwriters Association. While there, I managed to take in a play at Manhattan’s Irish Repertory Theatre. Sea Marks: An Irish Love Story, tells of two middle-aged people: Colm, a fisherman who has lived all his life on a small rocky isle on the west of Ireland, and Timothea, a Liverpool divorcee who works in publishing.

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In Defense of Student Commencement Protesters

graduation Has America entered a Bizarro world in which money equals speech but speech itself gets labeled intimidation?

That’s not a far-fetched conclusion to draw in a political culture that has unleashed campaign spending and given it First Amendment protection while at the same time branding the supposed free speech of college students as bullying, tyranny, censorship, and intolerance.

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Also posted in Civil Rights, Education, General, History, Media, Politics, Supreme Court & Judiciary, U.S. | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

In Search of Scotland

SearchScotland On September 18, the people of Scotland will have the chance to vote on whether or not they want to remain part of the 307-year-old United Kingdom, or whether they want to reclaim their ancient status as a sovereign nation.

Anyone curious as to how the Scots could have held on to their sense of nationhood for more than three centuries in tandem with England could do worse than consult In Search of Scotland, by H.V. Morton.

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What if We Really Knew What Media Does To Us

media What if we knew that the fictional rapes in HBO’s mega-hit “Game of Thrones” caused real rapes in the real world?  What if we knew that the portrayals of gay characters in “Modern Family” caused actual states to legalize same-sex marriage?

The catch, of course, is causation.  Medical research can prove that cigarettes cause cancer, but the best social scientists can do is to say whether there’s a “correlation,” or not, between media and behavior.

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