The latest trailer for “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” has hit the net.

And suddenly I’m 9 years-old all over again. For all I know the movie might be as bad as the prequels, but for the moment I couldn’t be more excited.

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.

And now: A cute story about a little girl and her pet fish.

 

A small video primer on why vaccines work.

Joe Hanson over at the It’s OK To Be Smart YouTube channel has a great video on vaccines and why it’s important to get them for yourself and your kids:

The rise of the anti-vaxers has resulted in the resurgence of diseases we had all but eradicated and a lot of people are going to suffer needlessly and die because of it if the trend continues.

Right now it’s measles and whooping cough which are bad enough, but there’s a very real danger that polio could make a return. We had it on the ropes world-wide until last year when it appeared to be on the rise in several countries. With today’s ease of travel that could make an American outbreak just a plane ride away.

Still one of the best Christmas songs ever…

Guy with portable mistletoe gets loads of kisses.

You wouldn’t think this would work, but it appears to work amazingly well:

How to make a hit Christmas Pop Song.

Brett Domino is a musical genius. I am now fully prepared for making my own hit Christmas Pop Song despite a total lack of talent in the songwriting or the instrument playing normally associated with music creation. That’s how amazing this instructional video is.

Check it:

That song is going to be stuck in my head for the rest of the day now.

Things IT people never say.

Here’s a cute video. Many of these, but not all, are truth.

Many of these are things I have said — “submitting multiple tickets actually does get it done faster” — though in a much more sarcastic fashion making it clear that I am not actually suggesting that approach. I have said that I love Windows and not in a mocking way. Of the available options these days, it’s grown to be one of the best and its flaws do keep me employed.

Several of the lines literally made me laugh out loud. “It’s not about the money, I do it for the chicks” and “I can’t find any guys to play video games with me” being two of them.  I have sincerely said that I feel very appreciated here rather recently. The folks where I work today really do show their appreciation for the job that I do. Though that’s admittedly a rare thing in my career. I have also said that something took less time than I expected it to, but that’s because I often overestimate how long something will take just in case something unexpected pops up during the process. I’ve also said thank you and thanks for being patient, especially when I didn’t overestimate how long something was going to take and something unexpected popped up.

That said, it’s a cute video with much truth in it.

Today’s Now I Feel Old Moment: Kids React to an Old Camera.

It’s easy sometimes to forget that I’m nearly 50. That there are children alive today who have never known the trials and tribulations involved in taking candid photos of your birthday or vacation that I had to endure in my youth. Things like having to buy a camera and then having to buy film and buying flashcubes and then not being able to see how the pictures turned out until after having paid to have them developed. Kids like these kids:

My first camera that I actually owned myself was a Kodak Pocket Instamatic 10 first introduced in 1972. I doubt I got one that year as I was 5 years old, but I somehow ended up with one eventually. Not sure if it was new or a hand-me-down from a relative, but it was my first introduction to taking pictures. Back in 1972 it was “less than $28″, which works out to about $160 today. It was a pretty easy camera to use in part because there wasn’t a lot of options to fiddle with. The biggest choice was whether or not to use a flashbulb and the second biggest was whether or not to use the flashbulb extender thingy to avoid giving your subjects red eye.

Things like loading the film was ridiculously easy as you can see here:

Bonus points for the commercial featuring Dick Van Dyke.

I think the most amazing thing about the 110 format is that the film stock is still being produced and some companies are still making cameras that use it. Apparently the flaws of the format that were an annoyance back in the day are now sought out by artists looking to add character to their photographs.

Anyway, watching the kids trying to use an older 35mm camera had me feeling old and crotchety so I thought I’d share the pain.

John Oliver on the ongoing problems in Ferguson, MO and the militarization of police.

If you’ve been paying attention to the news at all over the past week you’re already well aware of the problems in Ferguson where police officer Darren Wilson shot unarmed black teenager Michael Brown six times resulting in his death. The people of Ferguson rose up in protest and the initial response from police was not handled well and things have gone from bad to worse since then. Events there have brought into focus several issues not the least of which is the long-standing legacy of racism in America, but also a newer problem in regards to the ongoing militarization of America’s police forces.

John Oliver on Last Week Tonight did a segment on both of these issues that is well worth watching:

This whole situation has been poorly handled from the start and it looks only to get worse before it gets better. With any luck, all of this will bring about some much needed changes not just in Ferguson, but across the country.