Jon Stewart spreading misinformation about the Jew

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On last night’s The Daily Show, Jason Jones and Jessica Williams got a little carried away while they Monday Morning Quarterbacked Bowe Bergdahl’s failure to escape from Taliban prison. Their rendering of what he should have done got off to a realistic-enough start when Jones summoned his karate training to take out 20 guards, but quickly devolved into the absurd:

There she stands. A totally hot Taliban lady played by Sofia Vergara. And I think you know what that means [Jessica sings what the caption describes as "porn music"] — that means we bang. Respectfully. Through a sheet.

Stewart, who plays (for those who don’t regularly watch the show) the straight man to his army of senior correspondents, was quick to interject:

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How badly did Bill O’Reilly miss the point in his attack on Beyoncé?

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Bill O’Reilly has rightfully drawn criticism for his recent efforts to blame Beyoncé for teen pregnancy. Behold, the offending quote, excerpted with the help of FOX’s ever-helpful transcription service (wish Stewart and Colbert had one of these):

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Airport spas now drawing inspiration from crazy Nepali truckers

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Trucks in Nepal are a lot more personalized than they are in the United States. Here, the degree to which trucks vary from one another is helpful only if you’re playing the license plate game on a long road trip. But in Nepal, studying trucks can make for a good way to keep entertained under any circumstances.

I’ve previously shared one of my favorites, courtesy of Michael Grumer:

Punk is not dead
Relax.
Be relax.
Do relax.
Sexy, sexy, sexy.

So you can imagine my delight when I came across the following in Boston’s Logan Airport:

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Does Facebook intentionally limit who you can love?

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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?

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[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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Is anyone really surprised by this morning’s fire at Cosi?

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Because I seem to make my way back to Philadelphia every other semester, I’m inexplicably still friends with on Facebook/follow The Daily Pennsylvanian and Under the Button (which inexplicably didn’t earn even one mention in Kate Taylor’s piece).

So this morning I was treated to the following blow-by-blow account of Big News on Campus:

As you can see, big happenings by the Bookstore are good for a lot of tweets. But after examining the chain’s logo, I’d have to say the real story is that this sort of thing doesn’t happen more often:

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Kate Taylor’s piece about hook-ups on Penn’s campus eerily reminiscent of her own life

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Kate Taylor published a long piece in the New York Times this weekend, and because it was written about Penn, I haven’t been able to escape it. It’s everywhere:

Apparently, over the past year, so was Kate. According to one account by a current student, Taylor was a “ubiquitous campus figure — spotted at bars, at frat parties, [and] at downtown clubs.” The author used these opportunities to conduct a series of focus groups and interviews for the sake of vindicating her main thesis: that women are important drivers of “hook-up” culture at Penn.

Of course, what better place than the home of Wharton to turn up gems like these:

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The more subtle irony of Orscon Scott Card’s plea for tolerance

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Ender’s Game is coming out later this year — not to be confused with Hunger Games II, which comes out three weeks later — and I’m pretty excited. I first read the book for fun, then I read it for an assignment in high school, and then I read it again for an assignment in college. But not everyone – including some fans of the book – share my sentiment. And it’s not just the usual litany of concerns, like “Will your movie be as good as the book?”, “Why did you pick a 16-year old actor to play 6-11 year old Ender?”, and “Why did you show the movie’s epic conclusion at the end of the first trailer?” [I trust my readers are astute enough to recognize that clicking on that last link is just asking for a spoiler.]

Instead, Ender’s Game has gotten some flak because the book’s author, Orson Scott Card, is — according to one online petition — “an anti-gay activist, writer, and board member of the National Association for Marriage.” It’s unclear why “writer” qualifies for strike II, but questions of sentence structure aside, I have to admit: I couldn’t care less about who wrote the book and what he thinks about gay marriage. We’ve all read books written by people we disagree with, and I’m hardly the only one who feels this way. Get over it, grab some beans, and get ready for Ender on the big screen on November 1.

Still, there are some people upset about the whole thing, and movie studio Lionsgate publicly distanced itself from Card and promised to host an “Ender’s Game”-themed benefit for the LGBT community, so Card felt the need to respond to his critics. He wrote in Entertainment Weekly:

Ender’s Game is set more than a century in the future and has nothing to do with political issues that did not exist when the book was written in 1984.

With the recent Supreme Court ruling, the gay marriage issue becomes moot.  The Full Faith and Credit clause of the Constitution will, sooner or later, give legal force in every state to any marriage contract recognized by any other state.

Now it will be interesting to see whether the victorious proponents of gay marriage will show tolerance toward those who disagreed with them when the issue was still in dispute.

Headlines seized on the irony of the author’s plea for tolerance regarding his own intolerance:

Orson Scott Card Responds to Ender’s Game Boycott With Ironic Plea for ‘Tolerance’ – Wired

Poor Hateful Homophobe Orson Scott Card Is Tired of Being Picked On – The Stranger

But I want to point out another irony: Card’s work is part of a long line of science fiction authors who have taken it upon themselves to reimagine marriage in future societies. In The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, Heinlein introduces us to the line marriage. In The Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula le Guin imagines a society without any real conception of gender. Kim Stanley Robinson’s Mars Trilogy, if my memory serves me correctly, has all sorts of freaky things going on socio-biologically. And these are just the examples that popped into my head first.

Orson Scott Card’s work is no exception. In Children of the Mind — the third book in the post-Ender’s Game trilogy that follows the story of Ender himself — he envisions what opponents of gay marriage would characterize as the inevitable outcome of the legalization of gay marriage: the marriage of man and machine (though to be fair, George Lucas almost got there first).

I haven’t read the trilogy in a while, but I remembered the story in broad outline and knew just where to turn to to fill in the details: Wikipedia. These scattered excerpts should do:

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Eliot Spitzer faced a decision he isn’t used to

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As you’ve probably heard, Eliot Spitzer would like to become New York City’s next comptroller. Like many of you, I didn’t quite know what a comptroller is, so I looked it up. According to Wikipedia, “A comptroller is a management level position responsible for supervising the quality of accounting and financial reporting of an organization.” In other words, someone who watches over finances.

And now, leading the polls, Spitzer faces his first comptroller-like financial test:

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This is an all-new situation for the disgraced politician. I know in his old position, he’d just pay for an activity that involved both.