A Life in the Neighborhood

Bob Bates — The brown wooden door opens and Mister Rogers enters, looking directly into the camera. Stepping over to the closet, he slips out of his jacket, hangs it up, and dons his zip-up cardigan (always knitted by his mother). He casually sits down to flip off his loafers and put on his blue canvas deck shoes—all while liltingly singing “It’s a beautiful day … Continue reading A Life in the Neighborhood

Celebrating the Viking Past

Jeff Berger — Two popular television series have recently appeared to reignite the public’s interest in the history of the Vikings. One is the History Channel’s Vikings, which just completed its fifth season. The other is The Last Kingdom, with the first season produced by the BBC, the second season co-produced with Netflix, and the third season by Netflix alone. These two shows have several … Continue reading Celebrating the Viking Past

Inequality of Disclosure: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

Tony Platt — In 2010, Rebecca Skloot was a little known science journalist on the faculty at the University of Memphis when her first book The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, an investigation into the ethics of medical research, was published. It became an instant crossover hit: translated into twenty-five languages, persistently near the top of The New York Times bestseller nonfiction list, receiving the … Continue reading Inequality of Disclosure: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

Bring Back the Buckaroo: Or “Shane, Shane, Come Back!”

Charles Cottle — When I was young there were heroes. They were on TV, in the comic books, and at the movies. It was the 1950’s, the heyday of the cowboy western. It was the age of the buckaroo. A man of few words, and often a loner, the buckaroo showed up whenever there was trouble. He always defended the weak in the name of … Continue reading Bring Back the Buckaroo: Or “Shane, Shane, Come Back!”

Making Science Fiction Sentient

Charles Ogg — The editors of Wise Guys invited me to write an article on science fiction (sf) and an online magazine I am planning to start called Sentient Fiction. Currently Sentient Fiction exists as a closed Facebook group that I administer. When I first considered using “sentient” for the magazine, I was surprised to discover the general use of this word is different from … Continue reading Making Science Fiction Sentient

What’s So Funny About Disability?

Ron Berger — In 2008 the action-comedy Tropic Thunder, written, produced, and directed by Ben Stiller, brought forth condemnation from more than a dozen disability advocacy groups, including the Special Olympics and the National Down Syndrome Congress. The plot of the film entails a film within a film—a group of struggling actors who are making a fictional movie about the Vietnam War. Stiller plays of … Continue reading What’s So Funny About Disability?

The Unlearned Lesson of the Savings and Loan Debacle

Ron Berger — In Michael Moore’s new film Where To Invade Next, he visits other countries to bring back good ideas to the United States. In one scene, he interviews a government official in Iceland about his country’s criminal prosecution of bankers after the global financial crash of 2008. No such prosecutions, Moore reminds us, took place in the United States (see my March 9, … Continue reading The Unlearned Lesson of the Savings and Loan Debacle

The Bernard Madoff Ponzi Scheme

Ron Berger — Last month ABC aired Madoff, a four-part television miniseries starring Richard Dreyfus in the leading role as Bernard Madoff, former chairman of the NASDAQ Stock Market and founder of Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities. Like The Big Short feature film (see my March 9, 2016, Wise Guys article), Madoff offers a glimpse into the corruption endemic to the world of finance capitalism. … Continue reading The Bernard Madoff Ponzi Scheme

Reflections on The Big Short

Ron Berger — The Academy Award nominated film The Big Short is an entertaining dramatization of Michael Lewis’s book The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine. Most people have not and will not read the book, and it is my impression that while the film conveys the general nature of the systemic corruption that is endemic to our financial system, the specific mechanisms and broader … Continue reading Reflections on The Big Short