The Atlantic’s latest clickbait piece is an essay asking “Why Are There So Few Ramadan Marketing Campaigns?”

And then, in the third graph, the author answers her own ridiculous question:

In the U.S., the growth of the Muslim population is projected to climb from 2.6 million in 2010 to 6.2 million in 2030.

So the reason Ramadan doesn’t get marketed to is because because only 0.8 percent of the American population is Muslim and of that tiny sliver we have no idea how many American Muslims actually observe Ramadan in a meaningful way. There are more than twice as many Mormons. Heck, there are more Buddhist in America, too. Islam in America is an incredibly small niche.

On the other hand, you can see why Muslims might be a little put out by the lack of mainstream discussion of Ramadan. After all, the percentage of Americans who self-identify as gay is only twice as large as the percentage who are Muslim, yet the United States has generally acted as though radically changing the 5,000-year-old institution of marriage to accommodate homosexual unions was the Most Important Issue Ever.

In that context, you might think a commercial about Ramadan during Big Bang Theory is perfectly natural.


It’s a Comic-Con giant Avengers: Age of Ultron poster.

And it is awesome.

(Santino deadpanned to me: “Black Widow is punching so hard right now.”)


Holy. Fucking. Shit.




July 25, 2014

The new trailer for Interstellar was just shown at Comic-Con, and the general impression seems to be that it feels a bit like Contact.

Why is it that people don’t revere Contact? For me, it’s one of the two great under appreciated sci-fi movies of the last 20 years.

I suppose part of the reason it gets overlooked is that to really appreciate it, it has to be on a giant screen with big sound. It suffers from the home video experience as much as movies such as Gravity and Avatar do.

Update: My other candidate is The Fifth Element which, in addition to being a weird, great sci-fi movie–it’s Brazil, but with a heart!–is also probably the Frenchiest movie ever made. The vaguely Moorish thugs are troublesome immigrants, but they’re foiled by government bureaucracy; the real villain is from Texas; even in space, in the distant future, opera is still the highest form of art; oddball American comedians can be misunderstood geniuses; all beautiful women should be as nearly naked as possible, at all times; the Catholic Church is a pleasant cultural relic; and the most powerful force in the universe is amour. This is Luc Besson’s worldview in The Fifth Element.

I don’t know that Godard or Truffaut ever made a statement du Francais more comprehensive than that.


Reason has a trollish essay up arguing that we should stop segregating sports by gender. Like a lot of libertarianism itself, it’s a superficially interesting argument that would lead to practically terrible outcomes with no actual benefits, to anyone.

The piece is hung entirely around the success of a single female contestant on the show American Ninja Warrior, which leads to the following conclusion:

If a woman can play basketball or baseball well enough for a men’s team, then it’s hard to think of even marginally credible arguments for not letting her. Likewise, it’s hard to think of a good reason for separating male and female golf, or track and field, and so on.

The only plausible explanation for keeping women out of men’s sports is that it also keeps men out of women’s sports. If you let women compete against men, then you have to let men compete against women, and gender physiology makes it likely that a lot of women’s teams could soon become JV men’s teams instead. Men who couldn’t quite make the cut in the NBA, for instance, could try out in the WNBA — and some of them would elbow women aside.

Here’s what would happen if you “desegregated”–which in all practicality would mean merging–gender differentiated sports: The number of women playing those sports would approach zero at every single level in which the sports were desegregated. About a dozen years ago I looked into this question for a piece which isn’t online today. Some highlights:

Take the 2000 Olympics in Sidney. Marion Jones went into the games as the most ballyhooed female sprinter in history, and she made good on her promise, winning gold in both the 100 and 200 meter events. But how do Jones’s times stack up against high school boys from, say, New Jersey?

In the 100 meters at last year’s state championship meet, Jones would have finished fourth (At the Olympics Jones won in 10.75 seconds; the boy who was state champ in New Jersey last year ran a 10.30. In the sprint world, a 0.45 second difference is like winning by three touchdowns.). She would have fared no better in the 200 meters–her Olympic time would have put her, again, fourth in the state.

What we didn’t know back then was that Marion Jones was juiced up and she still couldn’t hang with a bunch of male high school sprinters.

Tennis gives you pretty much the same result. Back in 1998, the Williams sisters decided to play a full set against their hitting partner, a guy named Karsten Braasch, who was ranked #203 in the world. It was 6-2 against Venus, 6-1 against Serena.

Which means that if you merged Olympic track and field, there wouldn’t be a single woman at the Games. If you merged the tennis tours, it’s unlikely that there would be a single woman playing professional tennis. Ditto for the NBA and WNBA. Ditto for soccer. Ditto for pretty much anything except, possibly, motorsports, billiards, American Ninja Warrior, and a few other obscure activities where technology sufficiently mediates physical gender differences. And this would happen at every level where the sports were merged: Semi-pro, college, varsity, and JV. It would mean the end of women in anything other than recreational sports.

Now, maybe some people might view this as a positive good, A=A and all that. But while women’s sports don’t especially interest me, I like that idea that female jocks get a pretty good chance to experience athletic life, except at the professional level. And I think we’d be worse off, in general, if we destroyed those opportunities in the pursuit of some crazy notions about gender equality and the meritocracy.


Cops defy stated public policy and harass a reporter trying to take pictures of public buildings in the nation’s capital.


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Dept. of Bait and Switch

July 16, 2014

Newsflash: 96.6 percent of Americans identify as straight. Which is kind of surprising since America has been told, over and over, that 10 percent of the country is gay. This figure was trumpeted so relentlessly that eventually people kind of thought it was a low-end estimate. Which is why, two years ago, Gallup found that the […]

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Another Data Point on VOXDOTCOM

July 16, 2014

Refusal to correct an “error.” Though in Vox’s defense, it’s really hard to sort out what is and isn’t true if the “facts” aren’t on Google.

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Archie? Nooooooooooooooooooo!

July 15, 2014

The news of the “‘death’ of Archie” (as they put it on the CGC slabs) shocked–shocked–America yesterday. And not just because Archie is now “dead”–the publisher, Archie Comics, announced that he was going to buy the farm back in April. No, the real shock was that it turns out Archie was assassinated. Gunned down while valiantly […]

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The Pregnancy Pre-Nup

July 13, 2014

A 36-year-old Slate writer who’s not sure that she wants to have kids says that she thinks what might get her over the hump is having a “pregnancy pre-nup” with her husband specifying exactly her do’s,  don’ts, won’ts, and can’ts. This is a capital idea and I encourage her to be as rigorous and detailed as […]

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You know who else is really racist? Wrestling.

July 10, 2014

Over at the Reparations Atlantic Monthly there’s a piece up about how racist the WWE is because they’ve never had a black WWE world champion. Which is slightly problematic because of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. But the point here isn’t just another example for the “media ignorance” tackboard. It’s that the actual history of race and […]

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You know who’s really racist? People who do yoga.

July 8, 2014

I’m pretty sure (?) this isn’t a joke. But you never know: “Racism is so implicit that you never even notice that it’s a white girl on the cover every single time,” added Amy Champ, a PhD from the University of California, Davis, who wrote her dissertation on American yoga. “But when you begin to […]

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