British and American humor

If there is one difference that I have noticed between American and British sketch comedies, it is that the former depend on more jokes with the set-up and punchline formula, while the latter often have an absurdist element that does not have even any identifiable gag but simply careens from one place to another using just language and non sequiturs to great comedic effect.
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Filling a gap in racial slurs

Racial slurs are horrible things (as are gender and sexual ones) and cover a wide range of people. But Michael Mark Cohen, a professor of American Studies and African American Studies at the University of California Berkeley and who describes himself as white and middle-class, noticed that there is one group of people who do not suffer from having one assigned to them.
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Catholic synod declines to put out welcome mat for gays and divorcees

The Catholic church is like an aircraft carrier. When it turns around, it happens so slowly as to be almost imperceptible. We see this once again with its latest ‘Synod on the Family’ of bishops convened by pope Francis to discuss the church’s attitude towards homosexuality and divorced people. Their current intolerant attitude has long been recognized as a source of alienation, especially for young people, and cannot last and this meeting started the process of change.
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When the US had universal childcare

The US is rightly criticized for being one of the most backward countries in the developed world when it comes to providing health care and social benefits. So I was surprised to read that at one time, it actually provided universal child care through what is known as the Lanham Act. The law was designed to fund war-related infrastructure projects but got reinterpreted when a new need arose in 1943.
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How (not?) to move a couch

There is a phenomenon that often occurs when a few guys get together to do some chore. One of them will get an idea that on the surface seems ingenious and save labor and everyone jumps on it because of its novelty. As they try to implement the idea, it becomes clear that the novel way of doing things involves much more work than the straightforward one. But once guys are committed to the idea, they will overlook all such problems and stick with the original plan.
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Film review: Kill the Messenger and the Contra-cocaine-CIA scandal

I saw this yesterday and it was excellent. The filmmakers wisely decided to make the entire film cover the two year period 1996-1997 which saw Gary Webb break the series of stories titled Dark Alliance for the San Jose Mercury News that exposed the shady links between the US-backed Contras in Nicaragua, the CIA, and the drug dealers who were ravaging the black communities in the inner cities of the US by flooding them with crack cocaine. (See my earlier posts on this story and film here and here.)
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