Recommended June 4 2013

The Onion catalogued to the twitter war between President Obama ans the Audubon Society.

Obama Audobon

Obama Audobon 2

A study looks at the workplace related costs of smoking. Even with the higher rates of death, it doesn’t save money.

Many studies have shown that smokers cost the health care system more and that they cost health insurers more. Because many companies self-insure – meaning they pay for health care costs even if a health insurance company manages the benefits for them – that means smokers cost their employers more.

There’s also the lost productivity of workers stepping away for a smoke break – and those breaks take longer as more employers ban smoking anywhere in the office or workplace.

Charles Cooke of the National Review criticizes Oprah’s Harvard commencement address to offer a different view.

Chris Cilizza ponders the effect of new media on the traditional neutral news media.

A reminder for aspiring writers: We probably suck, and the world is harsh and merciless.

I’m saying it in the “you will try and are far more likely to fail than to succeed” sense. In the time it took you to read the last paragraph some 48-year old was laid off by The Village Voice, and they’re smarter than you and have lived ten times what you’ve lived and can write so much better than you I actually almost feel bad for you, and now they’re on the same job market trying to scramble for the same shitty 10-cents-a-word gig recapping a show about couponing for the AV Club in the hopes that they can bang out some soul-destroying tedious bullshit so that a pack of talentless losers in the comments can pick their words apart from the safety of their beige plastic cubicles as they try to distract themselves with pop culture for long enough to keep their all-devouring self-hatred at bay. You might get that gig over them but if so it’s only because you’re young and cheap and stupid and the scuzzy editor thinks he might be able to fuck you after the Christmas party.

On the topic of AV Club reviews of reality shows, I have no interest in ever seeing Pretty Wicked Moms, but the takedown of it is fantastic.

Described in promotional materials as an “unscripted comedy series,” Lifetime’s Pretty Wicked Moms is merely another reality show in which viewers are invited to sneer at a lineup of vapid people whose willingness, if not ravenous desire, to be humiliated for a season’s worth of tabloid TV infamy isn’t even their worst quality.  And while Lifetime’s once-groundbreaking design to create a “woman’s network” has long ago curdled into a roster of weepy “problem” movies, this exercise in carefully crafted misogyny seems especially ironic: If it were discovered that this depiction of the petty, insipid catfighting amongst a sextet of monied Georgia mothers was actually the creation of a rabid men’s movement hell bent on turning public opinion in favor of repealing the 19th amendment, it would make more sense than a network at least nominally vested in women’s issues choosing to air a show that makes the entire gender a dispiriting, hateful laughingstock.

The critic builds on that last point.

Throughout the first three episodes, the signature reality show infighting, backstabbing, and pervasive, jabbering awfulness runs parallel with an insidious added level of misogyny in the fact that, to a man, the husbands (and one father) of these women are seen as superior in every way. Whether bro-ing out on the golf course and complaining that one wife prefers to sleep with their daughter every night while he crashes in the guest room, or commiserating over beers about how their wives spend too much and can never get ready on time, these husbands are portrayed as the sensible, responsible, put-upon, forbearing voices of reason in a world of frivolous, superficial, mean-spirited spendthrifts. When Emily’s father comes to town and lays down some folksy wisdom about getting her shit together (she is unable to cope with her daughter when the nanny unexpectedly quits), he comes across less like a loving dad offering some good advice, and more like the embodiment of the patriarchy scolding incapable womanhood on how to behave.

Sean Phillips was almost the only nominee for the British Fantasy Award’s Best Fantasy artist.

I heard the Sam Cooke song (Ain’t That) Good News for the first time today.

Abstruce Goose was funny, more for the questions about the assumptions inherent to math classes than anything else. I just like the question “Isn’t mathematics just a man-made construct constrained by the physiological limitations of human cognitive abilities?”

The Fort Hood shooter is looking to argue that the Taliban needed protection. I can understand the media habit of referring to him as the “accused” shooter, but there doesn’t seem to be any question about whether he did it.

The New York Post will soon have a comics/sci-fi blog.

New York magazine has one of the worst headlines I’ve ever seen.

Chris Christie has called for a special election in October to replace Frank Lautenberg. This isn’t the best outcome for Cory Booker, as it allows Democratic congressmen to run for the seat without losing their House seats. Jim Geraghty of the National Review recalls Booker’s reason for not running for Governor: his pledge to finish his term as Mayor of Newark. Lautenberg was the last World War II veteran in the Senate. Two are left in the house: Michigan Congressman John Dingell and Texas Congressman Ralph Hall.

Rogerebert.com has a new editor-in-chief. Matt Zoller Seitz recalled what made Ebert special.

The idea, I told her, was that the critic’s great calling — beyond reviewing movies and putting them in a wider context — was to stir the reader’s interest in learning more, and in so doing, deepen the relationship between the medium and its audience.

When you read Roger, you wanted to learn more. More about that director. More about that actor or screenwriter. More about the genre that the film exemplified. More about the nation whose culture birthed the people who made the film. More, more, more.

A debate between the Brooklyn District Attorney and his challengers was interesting.

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About Thomas Mets

I’m a comic book fan, wannabe writer, politics buff and New Yorker. I don’t actually follow baseball. In the Estonian language, “Mets” simply means forest, or lousy sports team. Currently, I’m writing a few comic books about my grandparents’ experiences in Soviet Estonia for Grayhaven comics. You can email me at mistermets@gmail.com
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