Tagged: cultural analysis

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Derren Brown’s “Sacrifice”

The British mentalist, magician and showman Derren Brown has long created television specials of enduring power and controversy. Much of his work concerns psychological manipulation and social coercion. In our view, shows like “Russian Roulette” (filmed live on a 15-minute delay) and “The Push” (in which an average member of the public is convinced to...

The Fable of the One-Handed Pianist

Every person with an email inbox and an enthusiastic mother has seen the video by now. No doubt your mom sent it to you, subject line: This Is SOOOO Inspiring!!! Thanks to mothers like ours, it didn’t take long for the clip, a five-minute segment from “America’s Got Talent,” to go viral, amassing more than...

Wasting Your Vote

With elections looming this week, it seems as good a time as ever to revisit the badly misunderstood concept of Vote Wasting. The standard lie, perniciously attractive to uncritical thinkers, is: When you vote for someone who “can’t win,” someone from, say, the Green Party, you’re wasting your vote. Therefore, the flawed reasoning goes, one should...

One Unofficial Version of Events, Inspired by Terence McKenna

Moko the Hunter possessed all the attributes an early proto-human hominid needed for success. He was strong, strong enough to choke a wild boar with his bare hands. He was stealthy, able to blend into foliage and tree canopies like a biped chameleon. And he could wait patiently for hours, standing still as a birch...

“Nothing But Gifts,” by Edwin Dobb

Published in the current issue of Harper’s Magazine, the essay “Nothing But Gifts,” by Edwin Dobb, is one of the most beautiful pieces of writing we’ve lately had the pleasure of reading. Discursive and tangential in form, the essay nonetheless always returns to the author’s central inquiry: What does it mean to choose to love? The adoptive...

Endorsement: Brett Kavanaugh for Supreme Court!

This space has previously offered ringing endorsements of candidates for Sheriff of Los Angeles, and Pope of the World. Today, we proudly add to that list the Honorable Brett Kavanaugh, soon to be the newest member of the Supreme Court of the United States of America. Our reasons for supporting his nomination are copious and...

Mad Respect to Dave Chappelle

Last week we attended a concert at the Hollywood Bowl. Ms. Lauryn Hill was celebrating the 20-year anniversary of her seminal album “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill,” and she had De La Soul opening, followed by her special guest Dave Chappelle. Before the event, we received several emails from the concert promoter reminding audience members...

Better, From Several Perspectives

When a business owner replaces employees with automation — machines, robots, computers — the effects radiate in two opposite directions. On one hand, the employees (and their families), have less, since they no longer draw a paycheck. On the other, the owners (and their shareholders) have more, because lower payroll means higher profits. A dear...

Space Force: An Open Letter from the Intergalactic Federation

Dear President Trump and Vice-President Pence and Other Inhabitants of Planet Earth, It has come to our attention — and sorry for the delay; light can only go so fast — creatures from the planet Earth wish to establish a so-called Space Force, militarizing areas of the universe that are not currently part of planet...

Let Us Now Praise Our Bi-Partisan War Leaders

You may have been distracted by more important Current Events — like something rude our President said, or a lie that was uttered on a news entertainment program. Not long ago our elected representatives in Congress and the White House passed a bill authorizing $717 billion in what’s comically called “defense” spending. This massive payday...