Category Archives: Humor

John Oliver wins: FCC endorses net neutrality


It’s not very often that a singular political victory can be ascribed to a few minutes of air time, but that seems to be the case in today’s three-two Federal Communications Commission vote mandating rules to ensure net neturality.

From the the Christian Science Monitor:

Net neutrality’s stunning reversal of fortune: Is it John Oliver’s doing?

  • A year ago, few outside the telecom community had ever heard of net neutrality, despite extensive news coverage. Here’s how a comedy program made the general public care about a topic considered ‘even boring by C-SPAN standards.’

Less than a year ago, when a wonky policy debate over the principle of net neutrality and prioritized Internet “fast lanes” seemed to interest only telecom company suits and nerdy open Internet advocates, a comedian’s 13-minute segment may have helped turn the national conversation’s tide.

At the time, Tom Wheeler, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission and a former top lobbyist for the cable and wireless industries, was mulling new rules to allow broadband companies to provide “fast lanes” for content providers who were willing to pay for it.
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“Yes, the guy who used to run the cable industry’s lobbying arm is now running the agency tasked with regulating it,” said John Oliver, host of HBO’s “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” in June. “That is the equivalent of needing a babysitter and hiring a dingo…. ‘Make sure they’re in bed by 8, there’s 20 bucks on the table for kibbles, so please don’t eat my baby.’” He then urged his viewers to contact the FCC.

Tens of thousands did, crashing the agency’s website and flooding it with comments the next few days, with millions more to come – the vast majority calling for net neutrality. And Chairman Wheeler, appointed by President Obama to lead the commission in 2013, was a good sport about it, telling reporters, “I would like to state for the record that I am not a dingo.”

From HBO’s Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, here’s the segment, posted 1 June 2014 and attaining 8,063,173 views by the time we reviewed today:

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Net Neutrality

Program notes:

Cable companies are trying to create an unequal playing field for internet speeds, but they’re doing it so boringly that most news outlets aren’t covering it.

John Oliver explains the controversy and lets viewers know how they can voice their displeasure to the FCC.

Four months after the segment aired, David Bauder of the Associated Press wrote:

Oliver has journalists who worked at the New York Times Magazine and ProPublica on his writing staff.

Robert Thompson, director of Syracuse University’s Bleier Center for Television and Popular Culture, calls Oliver’s work “investigative comedy.” Thompson has played the net neutrality segment for his students.

Research indicates that young people are much more likely than their elders to take a deeper dive into news stories that interest them, searching for more information online, said Tom Rosenstiel, executive director of the American Press Institute. What Oliver is doing responds to that desire, he said.

“There is a natural link between committing journalism and committing comedy,” Rosenstiel said. “They’re both in the uncovering and unmasking business, but with different approaches.”

So congratulations to John Oliver for stepping on some powerful toes and accomplishing — aided by a wide range of activist organizations and individuals — a defeat, at least for now, on yet another attempted by media monopolies to pick our pockets.

John Oliver strikes again: Justice for sale


We spent some of our most interesting years covering the American judicial system, and we’re even featured in a documentary about one of the most corrupt court cases in California’s recent history.

So it was with great interest that we watched this segment from John Oliver’s HBO “investigative comedy” series, about the corrupting power of money [including Koch brothers cash] in American judicial elections.

From Last Week Tonight with John Oliver:

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Elected Judges

Program notes:

The vast majority of US judges are elected, forcing many judges to pander to the electorate and accept campaign money in order to keep their jobs. This seems slightly troubling…

Our Homeland Security paranoia joke of the day


From Just An Earth-Bound Misfit, I:

Alarm System

I’ve disconnected my home alarm system and de-registered from the Neighborhood Watch.

I’ve got two Pakistani flags raised in the front yard, one at each corner, and the black flag of ISIS in the center.

The local police, sheriff, FBI, CIA, NSA, Homeland Security, Secret Service and other agencies are all watching my house 24/7.

I’ve never felt safer and I’m saving $49.95 a month.

Quote of the day: America perfectly defined


By comedian Louis C.K., who says [via News Corp Australia]:

“America is like a terrible girlfriend to the rest of the world. Because when somebody hurts America, she remembers it forever … but if she does anything bad, it’s like, ‘What? I didn’t do anything!’”

No comment needed: Michael Moore requests


His Tweet of the Hack of the Year:

BLOG hahahaha

And now for something completely different


American foreign policy explained in 73 seconds, courtesy of Comedy Central’s Key and Peele:

H/T  to Just an Earth-Bound Misfit, I.

Dave Brown: Tony knows how to Save the Children


For British Prime Minister Tony Blair dove into the limelight to scoop of Save the Children’s Global Legacy Award, which we can only presume was given because the endless wars he enabled have killed a lot of parents, thereby leaving so many children to save.

The irony of the award was noted by 200 or so of the NGO’s staff who have signed a petition calling on the award to be withdrawn because not only was the bestowal “morally reprehensible, but [it] also endangers our credibility globally.”

Editorial cartoonist Dave Brown of the Independent took up the tools of his trade and came up with this:

Blog Blair

An implicit reference in the cartoon is the remark of esnl‘s favorite musical satirist, Tom Lehrer, who famously declared that “political satire became obsolete when Henry Kissinger was awarded the Nobel Prize.”

And having mentioned our favorite songster, how can we not append a telling example of his craft, written at the height of the Cold War’s nuclear terror, via The Tom Lehrer Wisdom Channel:

Tom Lehrer: We Will  All Go Together When We Go