Jon Stewart still doesn’t understand why his take on Israel and Gaza earned so much criticism

jon stewart gaza

Jon Stewart walked into a minefield.

Last week, the Daily Show aired a brief segment on the conflict between Israel and Hamas, and the show’s position drew an inordinate amount of friendly fire, including from this site.​ Stewart clearly wasn’t happy with the way his original segment was received.

So what did he learn from the experience? On Monday night, he let us know.

Stewart returned to the conflict, in a widely-disseminated segment titled We Need to Talk About Israel. Every time he tried to bring it up, Daily Show correspondents popped up from behind his desk and drowned him out with shouted slogans and epithets.

The takeaway was clear: it’s literally impossible to sit down and have a calm, rational discussion about politics in the Middle East. You simply can’t have a constructive conversation about what’s going on in Gaza. Any attempt to do so will surely end in quagmire.

Here’s the problem: Jon Stewart is wrong. And I know that thanks to Jon Stewart.

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Another significant Facebook translation fail


I’ve given Facebook and Bing a hard time in the past for their inability to translate anything — indeed, as recently as just this past week — or, at least, translate anything from Hebrew. I can’t speak to their translations into English from all the languages I don’t speak, but I imagine they do a similarly terrible job.

So I’ll consider that ground already covered like Kenji Yoshino — this post exists only to document another instance where their combined futility makes for epic failure. Never trust translations you read on Facebook.

The status in question was posted on the Facebook profile of Tomer Persico, a lecturer at the department for Comparative Religion in Tel-Aviv University (here’s his blog). I’ve never heard of him, but he has nearly 6,000 followers on Facebook, so he’s clearly kind of a big deal in certain circles — and one of them brought the following to my attention:

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My mom told me to study so I wrote a short Mother’s Day post instead. Happy Mother’s Day!

the plural of moose is meese

Google gets all the buzz (pun intended) for its creative and whimsical doodles that often celebrate special occasions and people. For instance, here’s how the search engine decided to mark Mother’s Day:

Google Mother's Day

But Google isn’t the only website that updates its otherwise-static home page on the daily. Ostensible rival search engine Bing hosts a rotating cast of photographs each day, which I happen to see because it is featured on the search screen of my Windows Phone.

Like Google doodles, these images are sometimes chosen to celebrate special occasions. Here’s what Bing has on display this Mother’s Day:

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Your obligatory post-atrocity reminder post, Part II

High School Stabbings

Newtown made headlines again recently when it was revealed that the most recent shooter who killed three people and injured sixteen more at Fort Hood was known to have vented about Adam Lanza, the individual who — as you well know — brought an assault rifle to Sandy Hook Elementary School and shot 26 people and then himself. Some people blame easy access to guns for enabling these tragedies. Other people blame this country’s treatment of mental illnesses. I think they’re both right — but I also don’t think that the existence of one problem excuses dealing with the other.

What follows is a selection of statuses that appeared in my Facebook newsfeed following the events of that fateful December event. I’m citing them as a representative sample, since I’m way too lazy to search the internet for others. But I’m sure you’ve seen this sort of thinking before, so I’m not going to lose too much sleep over being somewhat less than scientific:

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Facebook gifts the world a brand new religion


When last I wrote about Facebook and religion, it was to note that the website seemed to be consciously restricting its users’ expressions of faith to a small number of preset choices. What you’re about to read takes this practice one step further.

I wanted to document it before it inevitably gets fixed — and also, perhaps, provide some free advice to those of my friends interested in maintaining the integrity and accuracy of the information shared on their Facebook profiles.

I was on a friend’s Facebook page — I’m supposed to be writing a memo so I was procrastinating, plus I had a good reason (I probably should have led with that last thing) — and specifically on his About page, when I noticed said weird thing. See if you can spot it:

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Does Facebook intentionally limit who you can love?

Facebook Sex

I have better things to be doing, and I’m really behind on a lot of serious topics I want to write about, but Facebook doesn’t give its users fifty six different ways to describe their gender identity every day. My first pass, titled Are Facebook’s relationship status options a little bit sexist?, garnered the following comment on — appropriately enough — Facebook:

Let’s be real here: what the author’s upset about is the third gender, and is using the widow thing as a pretense B)

I wasn’t sure if this was a fair characterization, so I took the opportunity to interview the author and evaluate his true intentions for myself. As it turns out, the widow thing was, indeed, a pretense – however, the commenter got the rest of his/her/variant assertion wrong. The author is not upset that Facebook added a “third” gender — assuming he is “upset” at all — but simply miffed that the service deigned to limit its options to a mere fifty six.

Since when does Mark Zuckerberg get off on being the arbiter of what qualifies as a legitimate gender identity? The author’s point, he told me, is that if Facebook can give fifty six options for gender, why not do the same for relationship statuses? Better, why straightjacket us into those preselected categories? Why not just let everyone choose whatever the hell gender they want?

In the course of our interview, the author admit that he felt a shred of remorse about the article — not because he felt it belittled or diminished the tremendous achievement of the gender-interested community, but because his focus on relationship statuses as a foil to gender was a strategic and rhetorical blunder. A better option would have been to highlight the strict binary Facebook foists upon its users when it comes to their sexual preferences:

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Are Facebook’s relationship status options a little bit sexist?

Facebook small

[Editor's note: Granted, everyone's a little bit sexist. But because the headline might imply otherwise, I should really tell you upfront I'm only talking about one of them.]

Facebook made a lot of headlines today with the announcement that it will now allow its users to choose from among fifty different descriptors of gender:

In a nod to the “it’s complicated” sexual identities of many of its users, the social network on Thursday added a third “custom” gender option for people’s profiles. In addition to Male or Female, Facebook now lets U.S. users choose among some 50 additional options such as “transgender,” “cisgender,” “gender fluid,” “intersex” and “neither.”

[Editor's note: Gender fluid certainly does sound like it would go nicely with a seafood dinner and a box of chocolate.]

The new options appear to be quite progressive, but is Facebook really just trying to cover up some of the other ways in which it is insensitive to gender differences? Just take a look at the various relationship statuses from which the service asks its users to choose:

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The worst article about Seattle sports ever written


It’s nice to have your team land in the Superbowl. For two wonderful weeks, your city attracts media attention from every corner of the internet. Especially in Seattle, we don’t get a lot of it — which is why it’s important the national media get the facts right: They might not check in again for a while,

Many failed. Unfairly or not, I’m going to single out one egregious example, just to make Richard Sherman proud of me. In my own preemptive defense, this article has been up for five days now, and FOX still hasn’t managed to correct even the most basic egregious errors I noticed in my initial read-through. A few examples.

1. The headline: “Seattle hoping Seahawks bring home elusive championship.”

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Gut-checking American math

dome of the rock in snow

About ten days ago, headlines proclaimed that U.S. students are worse at math than their counterparts in Vietnam. This development hardly qualifies as surprising. But forget verifiable statistics – I’ve got anecdotes!

I couldn’t avoid learning of the storm that buried Jerusalem this week – at one point, it seemed every single photograph on my newsfeed was a mixture of snow and sandstone.

But not everyone has the same direct access Israelis through social media, so the American media has to cover it for them. And sometimes, something gets lost in translation — and I don’t mean from the Hebrew.

Here’s Newser’s account of what’s going on:

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The Great When-was-Jessica-Chastain-a-baby Mystery of 2013

jessica chastain

According to the The USA Today, Jessica Chastain allegedly has a birthday — but she’s never gonna tell:

Age is a sensitive topic for actresses. Jessica Chastain has gone on the record saying that she will never reveal her age because she’s an “actress.” (It’s widely speculated she is 35 years old.)

If true, I would certainly consider this secrecy somewhat regrettable. I, for one, had been planning to play her a powerful piano (oxymorn?*) rendition of Deutschland über alles** to mark the anniversary of her birth.

*Not a typo

**In honor of my favorite (brief) scene in The Debt, in which Ms. Chastain receives star billing.

Despite the potential for personal disappointment, as a (somewhat) notorious birthday grinch*, I was also (somewhat) intrigued: Chastain wasn’t born in a third-world country and the year is 2013. It should be next-to impossible for famous people to get away with these shenanigans in this day and age.

*See, Paranoia doesn’t mean Facebook isn’t really out to get you for the story of how Mark Zuckerberg outed my birthday decoy

So I decided to take a look for myself:

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