John Oliver interview with Edward Snowden.

John Oliver has been knocking it out of the park ever since he left The Daily Show to start his own comedy news show on HBO. Last Week Tonight manages to both entertain and inform and, in some ways, is a better show than TDS. Best of all, HBO and Oliver makes full length segments of the show available on YouTube so you don’t have to pay for HBO to see it.

Each week Oliver picks a topic and does a deep dive on it and this week he’s tackling surveillance and Section 215 of the Patriot Act and how we’re not having the debate we should be about the NSA and domestic spying. It’s a great segment, but it’s even better because he managed to score an interview with the man who arguably made it possible to have this debate, Edward Snowden, and he doesn’t pull any punches with his questions:

Once again I have to marvel at how a comedy news program manages to do better journalism than the supposed news channels. It also breaks things down into a context that is not only funny, but which the average person can comprehend.

As Oliver points out, part of the reason we’re not having this debate is because the subject matter is so highly technical and hard to understand for most folks. It’s doesn’t help that too many people barely pay attention to what’s going on around them. Ask them who Taylor Swift is and they can recite lyrics from her latest single, but ask who Edward Snowden is and too many don’t have a clue. These programs need to be seriously revised and given more transparency, but that’s not going to happen so long as we don’t bother to talk about them.

Finally, this gives me a chance to make use of this:

Would've been funnier back when it was still winter, but fuck it.

Would’ve been funnier back when it was still winter, but fuck it.

The Doctor in “Regeneration Carol.”

This Christmas will be a bittersweet one for fans of Doctor Who as it will see the end of Matt Smith’s incarnation of The Doctor. The folks at Not Literally decided to see him off with an adaptation of Baby It’s Cold Outside:


If you’re not watching “Your Bleeped Up Brain” then you should be.

your-bleeped-up-brain-square-logoI’m a big advocate for skeptical thinking. It’s one of the best tools you can have in life for determining truth claims and avoiding being scammed. We can’t be experts in everything so being skeptical is your first line of defense. To be really effective at it you need to understand how your brain works.

That’s where shows like Your Bleeped Up Brain come in handy. Each week they pick a theme — Lies, Superstition, Deception, Memory — and then they show you why your brain is susceptible to each one. Developed with the help of Richard Wiseman, the show delves not only into why your brain fucks up, but how it has had an impact on history on everything from world wars to belief in vampires. After each concept is explained they demonstrate by running experiments on the street with random folks passing by. It’s not only informative, but hugely entertaining.

Alas, there’s only four episodes in the series and they’ve already aired three of them. However, all is not lost as you can rent them through Amazon Prime or you can watch full episodes on the official site for free. I’m hopeful that it does well enough that they decide to pick it up for a full season later.

Happy 49th birthday Doctor Who!

On this day back in 1963 The Doctor first graced television screens. It would be years before I’d first see him, but fortunately he hung around for quite awhile. He disappeared for a bit in 1989, but he’s back now and better than ever.

What’s really amazing is that he doesn’t look a day over 30*:

*Current actor Matt Smith is 30.

“The Newsroom” on the Tea Party.

I don’t subscribe to any of the movie channels, but I have to admit that I’m sorely tempted just so I can watch the HBO series The Newsroom. In part because I’m a huge Jeff Daniels fan, but also because of scenes like this one:

For being fiction, there’s a lot of truth in that segment. I’ll bet the Tea Party isn’t very happy with that show right about now.

Doctor Who Season 7 trailer hits the net!

Can’t wait for this to get underway. I mean, just look at this:

Oh my! The Dalek episode alone looks like it’s going to be amazing. Every single Dalek ever created for a past episode through the original series will be present and accounted for. It’s also the last hurrah for the Ponds and word has it they don’t have a happy ending.

New teaser trailer for “Doctor Who” season 7.

Gonna be a long wait:

More Christian persecution: GSN announces Bible based game show.

Christians have it so hard in America. Persecution rains down upon them from all sides with Big Media being one of the worst offenders. Godless shows and constant attacks on Christian principals abound and now the ultimate offense has arrived: The American Bible Challenge.

GSN said the questions will be “designed to acknowledge and celebrate the Bible’s continuing importance in contemporary life and culture.” Can’t wait for the stoning-of-adulteresses question.

It appears contestants will be selected on the basis of their backstories, because GSN says contestants are going to share them with viewers at home and the studio audience.

And teams of contestants will represent “worthy faith-based organizations,” said GSN, without elaborating as to how it planned to weed out the unworthy ones.

via Jeff Foxworthy to host ‘The American Bible Challenge’ – The Washington Post.

These poor Christians are going to be tasked with demonstrating actually knowing something about the Bible? How unfair is that! Everyone knows you don’t actually have to read the book, that’s what the clergy are for! They do the reading and then tell us how gays are destroying America every Sunday. Isn’t it enough that they get up early on a weekend day and go to church? As if being asked to actually know something about the Bible isn’t enough, the show is going to be hosted by Jeff Foxworthy! Haven’t they suffered enough?!?!

Depending on their screening process (do they weed out the idiots who haven’t actually read the book or not) this could be a highly amusing show to watch. It’d be particularly interesting if they allow atheists to participate given that the average atheist tends to be a bit more well read on the topic than the average Christian tends to be. Foxworthy seems to agree:

“It will be interesting to find out what people really know, and an opportunity to present the Bible in a fun and entertaining way,” Foxworthy added.

What surprises me, however, is that there isn’t at least some outcry on the part of many far Right evangelicals about the show literally trivializing their holy book. I wonder why that is?

Among the show’s consulting producers are members of Odyssey Networks, a nonprofit organization that features on its Web site a video addressing, “Is America Ready to Vote for a Mormon President?”

Oh, I see. Because they had a hand in making the show in the first place. They must be thrilled that they’ve managed to get a Bible-themed show on a non-religious cable channel. Now the question is: Will anyone watch it?

“Doctor Who” tribute video spans the entirety of the show.

If you’re a fan of the revived Doctor Who series then you probably know that the show has a long history — this November with be its 50th anniversary — but may not have seen much, if any, of the originals series. If you’ve got 9 minutes to spare then you can get a taste via the this tribute video that counts the stories from 1963 through the 2011 Christmas special plus various spin-offs and specials:

Probably one of the more comprehensive overviews I’ve seen considering that there’s still 106 episodes missing from the BBC archives. Spotted many of my favorites from both the old and new series. Will have to make a point of hunting some of them down. surveys which shows are popular with Democrats and Republicans.

If you’re a member of one of the two predominant political parties in this country then a good guess can be made as to which television programs you like to watch. Or at least, that’s what this survey done for Entertainment Weekly seems to indicate.

Here’s their list with my notes as to whether or not I’m a fan of the show named:

– The Daily Show With Jon Stewart and The Colbert Report (Comedy Central): As you might expect.

I do watch both of these shows though, as mentioned in the last podcast, I’m a bigger fan of TDS than Colbert.

– 30 Rock and Parks and Recreation (NBC): Literate media-savvy comedies score high among Dems in general, notes Experian-Simmons senior marketing manager John Fetto. “Sarcastic humor is always a hook for them,” he adds. 

Don’t care for either one of these, but then there are very few sitcoms I do care for. The Big Bang Theory being one of them.

– The View (ABC): Shows that skew female tend to do better among Dems, while male-friendly shows tend to do perform higher among Republicans.

Can’t stand The View, but then I’m not really its demographic.

– Glee (Fox)

Fuck no.

– Modern Family (ABC): Last year, the progressive Glee and Modern Family scored surprisingly strong among both political leanings. Among conservatives this year, the shows still do fairly well, but have dropped out of their top ranks.

Nope. Watched one episode. Didn’t care for it.

– It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (FX)

Again, not a huge fan of sitcoms and this one is just strange in a way I don’t find particularly funny.

– Treme (HBO): GOP Kryptonite. Not only a Dem favorite, but so unpopular among Republicans that the report scores the show with a “*”  because not enough conservatives in the study group had actually watched it.

Never seen it because I don’t subscribe to HBO or any of the other premium movie channels.

– Cougar Town (ABC)

Another fuck no. I’m surprised that this show and others like it (e.g. Desperate Housewives) do well at all, but I suppose watching people be shitty to each other, especially rich people, has always been popular.

– The Late Show With David Letterman and The Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson(CBS): Dems favor late-night programming, with one big exception that we’ll see below.

Well, one out of two ain’t bad. Don’t watch Letterman anymore. He hasn’t been particularly funny or interesting for years, but I record Ferguson nightly to watch the next day.

Also in the mix: The Soup (E!), Aqua Teen Hunger Force (Adult Swim), Raising Hope (Fox), Saturday Night Live (NBC), The Office (NBC), Project Runway (Lifetime), Shameless(Showtime), Parenthood (NBC), Conan (TBS).

No, sometimes, no, no, no, fuck no, no, no, no.

Of that short list I’ll watch ATH every so often, but I rarely understand it. Probably because I’m old.

– Swamp Loggers (Discovery) and Top Shot (History): Gritty documentary-style work-related reality shows on cable index really strongly with conservative Republicans. Swamp Loggers is particularly polarizing.

No and no. Does it surprise anyone that these two shows are hot with Republicans? Rednecks swinging axes and gun owners showing off shootin’ skills. If you could somehow work NASCAR into that mix the orgasms some folks would have would give them aneurysms.


– The Bachelor (ABC): They also tend to gravitate toward broadcast reality competition shows.

No. And I have to say that I’ve very surprised that this is popular with Republicans given that it seems to be somewhat denigrating of the whole marriage thing.

– Castle (ABC): Ranks fairly high among Dems, too.

I will sometimes watch Castle simply because it has Nathan Fillion in it, but I don’t make a point of it.

– Mythbusters (Discovery)

I’m a huge fan and I find it very surprising the it’s popular with Republicans given i’s very pro-science, anti-bullshit bent. If I had to guess I’d say it’s because they blow shit up on a regular basis and the Republicans sit through all the science-y shit just so they can see stuff explode. They probably watch it with the sound turned off so they don’t accidentally learn something.

– Only in America With Larry the Cable GuyAmerican PickersPawn StarsSwamp People (History): If you’re a Republican candidate looking to raise money, put ads on History.

No, no, no, and no. Not at all surprised at the popularity of these shows among Republicans.

– The Middle (ABC): Does well among libs, too. 

Never even heard of it before.

– The Tonight Show With Jay Leno (NBC): “Did you hear about this? Yeah, this is true: Jay Leno is the late-night choice among conservatives…”

Not a fan. Not sure why Republicans would be.

– The Biggest Loser (NBC)

Nope, though not surprised the Republicans like it.

– Hawaii Five-O, NCISThe Mentalist (CBS): Popular crime dramas — except the left-wingLaw & Order franchise — tend to draw a conservative crowd.

No, no, YES! Again, very surprised The Mentalist is a hit given that the lead-character is big on tearing down people’s delusional beliefs in psychics and other supernatural phenomena.

Also: Dancing With the Stars results show (ABC), Man vs. Wild (Discovery), Auction Kings(Discovery), Wheel of Fortune (syndi), Top Gear (BBC America).

No, no, no, no, and no. Only surprised by Top Gear being popular with them as it’s a furriner show. Granted, it’s a car show, but not of the sort that most Republicans seem enthralled with.

This probably explains why I’m an Independent. I just can’t seem to conform to either party’s expectations.