Category Archives: Humor

John Oliver tackles, destroys charter schools

Charter schools, those private institutions so beloved by Republicans, have been judged and the results are mixed.

One recent study [open source] concluded:

We estimate the impact of charter schools on early-life labor market outcomes using administrative data from Texas. We find that, at the mean, charter schools have no impact on test scores and a negative impact on earnings.. . .Moving to school-level estimates, we find that charter schools that decrease test scores also tend to decrease earnings, while charter schools that increase test scores have no discernible impact on earnings.  In contrast, high school graduation effects are predictive of earnings effects throughout the distribution of school quality.

More on the study from Education Week:

Texas charter schools on average have a negative effect on students’ future earnings, according to a new working paper by two economists.

Although attending a “no excuse” charter school, which the study describes as having stricter rules, uniforms, and longer school days and years, leads to higher test scores and four-year college enrollment, it has no meaningful effect on earnings.

Other types of charter schools, however, stumble on all three measures: hurting test scores, four-year college enrollment, and earnings.

These findings are almost the opposite of another study of Florida charter school students released in April from Mathematica Policy Research. It found that attending a charter school had little impact on test scores, but students went on to earn higher salaries than their peers in district schools.

Enough with the prefacing, and one with the show.

From Last Week Tonight with John Oliver:

Charter Schools: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver

Program notes:

Charter schools are privately run, publicly funded, and irregularly regulated. John Oliver explores why they aren’t at all like pizzerias.

And now for something completely different. . .

Would you believe the best photobomb ever?

Judge for yourself, when a smiling youngster with some smooth moves upstaged Louisiana television reporter Justin Jaggers when he was covering the floods in the Pelican State.

Via SupremeGamer:

Louisiana Kid Cheers Everyone Up By Busting Dance Moves Behind Flood Reporter!

Program notes:

A kid brought a brief moment of hilarity amid the Louisiana flood devastation by dancing in the background of a reporter’s live broadcast.

Footage shows the little boy throwing down some serious dance moves while a WMC Action News 5 journalist updates everyone on the latest flood news from Baton Rouge.

As soon as the studio cuts to reporter Justin Jaggers, the kid is on screen — he’s ready. The dance floor didn’t stand a chance.

The kid photobombs, dabs, gets on his bright-green bike and leaves.

Trump’s racist idiocy and the Baltimore police

Following up on the previous post comes a blistering takedown of the latest idiocy from Donald Trump, with the Daily Show‘s Trevor Noah contrasting a call by the Donald for black support and his declaration that more police was the solution for black community problems with the brutal reality of embedded in culture and policies of the Baltimore Police Department.

It may be the best thing Noah’s done thus far.

From The Daily Show with Trevor Noah:

The Daily Show – Uncovering Discrimination at the Baltimore Police Department

Program notes:

After Donald Trump calls for heavier policing in African American neighborhoods, Trevor examines racial bias within the Baltimore Police Department.

On the death of humor in American politics

Everyone seems to agree that Campaign 2016 marks a turning point in American politics, a moment when the old order is shattering and something, that “rude beast” of Yeats’ memorable poem, is slouching towards a new Bethlehem.

Simon Doubleday, Professor and Chair of History at Hofstra University, dissects the humorless state of the candidates in historical context in an essay for The Conversation, an online open access journal allowing free reproduction of its contents

And do continue after the jump for the a clip from the 1999 comedy film featuring a certain democratic socialist playing  rabbi:

Are U.S. politics beyond a joke?

“I really do respect the press,” President Barack Obama joked at the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner in 2013, shortly after his second successful election campaign. “I recognize that the press and I have different jobs to do. My job is to be president; your job is to keep me humble. Frankly, I think I’m doing my job better.”

Obama’s comedic skill has, itself, been a key ingredient of his political success. Yet neither of the current presidential candidates appears to have much interest in following in his footsteps. “Wit and humor have been drained from our politics,” the Washington Times lamented earlier this month.

The emptying of humor in the current U.S. election campaign is striking, reflecting both the personal limitations of the current candidates and the exceptional gravity of the moment. Whether or not we are witnessing the rise of American fascism, the end of the Republican Party or the disintegration of freedom in the Western world, there is clearly a crisis in U.S. democratic culture.

In this dark political climate, displays of humor – for centuries, a mainstay of leadership – have become increasingly out of place.

A serious turn

Hillary Clinton, it is true, has attempted the occasional humorous barb. Donald Trump, she observed wryly this June, “says he has foreign policy experience because he ran the Miss Universe pageant in Russia.”

But – Saturday Night Live appearances notwithstanding – she has hardly been distinguished by her comic touch. Confronted with deeply embedded prejudices against women in politics (and in comedy), it’s understandable that female candidates may find it shrewd to display gravitas. Nonetheless, Clinton’s ventures into humor seem manufactured.

Equally, Trump’s particular brand of populism is scarcely to be confused with comedy. While he has sometimes been treated as a buffoon, and Trevor Noah has hailed his stand-up’s sense of timing, Trump’s appeal to voters rests less on humor than on the performance of anger.

The “serious turn” in U.S. presidential politics marks a break from the past – from Reagan’s cinematic smile, Obama’s skilled performances at White House Correspondents’ Dinners and American political norms that, according to one study, value smiling much more than the Chinese.

There’s more, including Bernie’s Hollywood moment, after the jump. . . Continue reading

John Oliver tackles used car loan sharks

The latest episode of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver tackles predatory used car lending, complete with abducted babies, annoying beeps, and warnings that yet another lending bubble is about to burst.

As usual, it’s both amusing and omnious, and, as always, well worth your time.

From Last Week Tonight:

Auto Lending: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver

Program notes:

Auto lenders can steer vulnerable people into crushing debt. Keegan-Michael Key and Bob Balaban help John Oliver show exactly how.

And now for something completely different. . .

Ikea furniture, as most everyone knows, comes packaged in kites, and assembling your oddly [and sometimes seemingly obscenely] named desk, nightstand, bookcase, or whatever, is as challenging as make an Erector set creation [do they even still make esnl‘s favorite childhood possession? Yes, they do!]

The assembly instructions are sometimes arcane, and putting the things together usually involves using an Allen wrench [included] and a hammer or mallet.

Frustration often ensues.

Now imagine trying to assemble you Ikea creation whilst under the influence of, say, a powerful psychedelic drugs.

Never fear, the folks at Hikea Productions have the answer.


Program notes:

Giancarlo and Nicole try to build an Ikea dresser after both taking LSD. The acid complicates an already difficult task, but after hours of false starts, laughter and deep introspection, they just might be able to work together and finally complete “Step 1.”

And the second episode:


Program notes:

Disclaimer, because first upload was removed: Drugs are bad, don’t do drugs. Please be over 18 to watch this video.


The Hikea folks, if nothing else, seem to be having lots of fun.

And now what about tackling Ikea furniture when you’re snockered on America’s favorite legal drug?

Homestarkevin has the answer, and it ain’t pretty:

How to Assemble IKEA furniture When You’re Drunk.

Program notes:

Me putting together my new konsmo nightstand after a few drinks

A Taiwanese take on California’s pot referendum

Those playful Taiwanese Animators have turned their attention to the November ballot measure that could turn California into the Acapulco Golden State:

California recreational pot: Can Sean Parker puff puff pass recreational buddha with AUMA!?

Program notes:

Looks like California might get high on its own supply after an initiative that would legalize recreational bud officially took its place on the Nov. 8 ballot. AUMA, the Adult’s Use of Marijuana Act, is backed by Napster co-founder Sean Parker and Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom.

AUMA would allow adults over 21 to possess, transport and blaze up to an ounce of buddha for recreational purposes and would allow individuals to grow as many as six plants. Problem is, if you have more than an onion, it’s a $500 fine and up to six months in jail.

The 62-page initiative is filled with dense legalese, but it’s basically about who gets all the green. All chronic revenue, including taxes normally meant for cities and counties, will get dumped in a special trust fund controlled by the Bureau of Marijuana Control.

A licensing regime will also be created for cultivators, distributors and retailers. Anyone licensed to sell booze or cigarettes will not be allowed to participate.

Opposition to AUMA is being led by law enforcement groups who benefit from the war on drugs. The teamsters are also opposed because they won’t be a part of the distribution system.

Supporters hope the presidential cycle will draw more young voters, but will they remember?

Note that Hollyweed sign

Back on 1 January 1976, a few weeks after esnl had moved from Oakland to Los Angeles, we lived in Hollywood, with the famous sign visible just outside our front door.

That morning we looked up at the hills and discovered the handwork of a student and some pals.

We burst out laughing:

BLOG Hollyweed

Dangerous Minds takes a look back in time:

On January 1, 1976, Tinseltown’s iconic sign read “Hollyweed” after art student Danny Finegood and 3 of his college pals used $50 worth of dark fabric to transform the famous Hollywood landmark temporarily. They had practiced it first on a scale model Finegood had crafted.

It was more than a simple practical joke, Finegood considered it a statement on the relaxed California marijuana law that went into effect that day.

He also turned it in as a school assignment which earned him an “A.”

Their stunt even inspired a folk song you can hear here.

And another song, just for the fun of it. . .

And if you’re wondering about that Acapulco Golden State reference in our first paragraph, here’s an explanation in the 1967 Rainy Daze hit, “Acapulco Gold,” with a vision of life in a pot-infused California. Billboard pulled it from the Hot 100 chart after they realized it was, shudder, a song about pot: