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I Took a University Course On The Meaning of Life; Here’s What I Learnt

Kal's Cartoon. The Economist. 17 January 2015.

Kal’s Cartoon. The Economist. 17 January 2015.

I am alive. Hear me roar; for after death, I will not soar.

F O R E W O R D 

Throughout these past few months, I found myself repeatedly compelled to ponder beyond my zone of comfort by the many great authors we have discussed. However, there have been two quotes that I kept coming back to, whether it was when reading, or listening to you, Prof. LePage, discuss various themes. I had originally intended to include these in my final paper, but I see no place where they may be appropriate. Therefore, at this risk of being crass, I decided to include them here, for they resonated with me for months, and well worth repeating.

The first comes from, oddly enough, a rebooted television series, Battlestar Galactica based on the premise of a bloody war between humans, and their evolved humanoid robots called cylons, who do not die, but simply resurrect whence killed in a ship called the Resurrection Hub. In an episode called “Guess what’s coming to dinner,” the cylon number six, in rebellion, admits to her human hosts:

“To live meaningful lives, we must die and not return.”

And the second, comes from the Persian astronomer, mathematician, and philosopher, beautifully translated by the late Edward Fitzgerald:

Then to this earthen Bowl did I adjourn

My Lip the secret Well of Life to learn:

And Lip to Lip it murmur’d — “While you live

Drink! — for once dead you never shall return.”

I can only hope that this work may attempt to crouch on the shoulder of these giants.


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A Republican goes on the tail of a friend’s ancestor, arguing against immigration

Try and eat these. I dare you.

When we let the television make our arguments, disaster ensues.

This anecdote is being published without the knowledge of the person to whom I interacted with. As such, her name, and any attributing information will be withheld.

So I’m sitting down in a New England hotel bar, excited that I finally found some time to take advantage of the restaurant’s Happy Hour. I order an appetizer and a cold stout confident that my bank account will be both happy with the fact that the drink hadn’t cost more than a whole case’s worth at Costco, and that I am collecting precious points, damn it. The appetizer, as a side, happens to be grilled artichoke hearts, which, it turns out, are ridiculously hard to eat but nonetheless delicious. More on this later. Read more

Hate, Repent, Excommunicate, and Turn It Into Profit

Sell Anything.

On the February 15th edition of CBC Radio’s excellentDay 6” program with Brent Bambury, there was an interview with one Lauren Dain, an ex member of the Westboro Baptist Church hate group. Day 6 is known for interviewing all kinds of people from interesting societal, religious, cultural, and activism backgrounds. So I, as a listener, was not surprised that this interview had been secured by Mr. Bambury. In-fact, when I heard the teaser at the beginning of the show I was looking forward to it.

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Impact of Late Night T.V. IV

Give me truth. Freedom will follow.

A 2004 study by Jonathan S. Morris captures the essence of Jon Stewart:

“[e]ven if The Daily Show is not purposefully attempting to influence viewers, it is the nature of the message (self-effacing humor) that gives it persuasive power” (R. Fox, Koloen, and Sahin 213-227).

Another 2006 study also added

“increased cynicism associated with decreased external efficacy may contribute to an actively critical orientation toward politics. This may translate into better citizenship, because a little skepticism toward the political system could be considered healthy for democracy”(Baumgartner, and S. Morris 341-365).

One need not look far to find examples of this on the show. While there are many light-hearted interviews with personalities that are not part of the daily news, Jon Stewart manages to spend time with many policy makers and politicians as well. And although humour is never far, substance seems to have a prolific front seat. On September 21, 2011, Jon Stewart interviewed the former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm. Below is an excerpt from the exchange, transcribed: Read more

Impact of Late Night T.V. III

Serious News vs. Satiric News: Fight!

Throughout the reference material that study different attributes of The Daily Show on the electorate, some, in the opinion of the author, propose and test hypothesis that do not study the full impact of Jon Stewart’s work. This of course, is by no means a critique of the methods done by the peer-reviewed research presented to the author. Rather, it is a proposition for a different outlook in examining questions such as “whether there will be more substance in the broadcast television networks coverage or in The Daily Show with Jon Stewart’s coverage.” In a 2004 study, a series of mixed samples were used by “all newscasts from ABC’s World News Tonight with Peter Jennings, CBS’s Evening News with Dan Rather, and NBC’s The Nightly News with Tom Brokaw and all The Daily Show with Jon Stewart programs that covered the [2004 presidential conventions]” (R. Fox, Koloen, and Sahin 213-227). The study goes on to present statistically significant evidence done by various polling and surveys that conclude both network news and The Daily Show contained more humour than substance. In a 2006 study by Jody Baumgartner and Jonathan S. Morris, 4 hypotheses were presented, two of which stand out. In the case of “[y]oung viewers’ evaluations of presidential candidates will become more negative with exposure to campaign coverage on The Daily Show” the study found statistically significant results supporting the claim. The same results were obtained on another hypothesis: Read more

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