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Moving Pictures ('05)

A band of Garage CGI Spielbergs, a Machinima movie and Hollywood's establishment

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Trojan Horses ('03)

P2P networks, portable digital media, the MPAA, Brooklyn Technical High School, the US government and terrorism

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The Art of the Possible. Commentary. Writing. Miscellany.
- - - - - - - - - - - -=[ Sunday, September 12, 2004 ]=- - - - - - - - - - - -

REVIEW: America (the Book) by Jon Stewart & Co.
Any book whose foreword (penned, post-humously, by Thomas Jefferson, who, so very amiably, refers to himself as "TJ" here) manages to smoothly integrate Google, the declining job market for Declaration writers, and Halle Barry, promises very good things.

This fine effort by Jon Stewart and the writers of The Daily Show does not disappoint. Consistently, and smartly, funny, while never resorting to cheap, or overtly partisan, rhetoric, America (The Book) entertains thoroughly while implicitly, and explicitly, indicting America for its apathetic attitude towards the democratic process it so overtly espouses and drapes itself with in front of the global community (starting with the book's subtitle: "A Citizen's Guide to Democracy Inaction").

An excerpt from the first chapter (read, in the audiobook, by Jon Stewart himself):
"It is often said that America invented democracy. This view is, of course, an understatement. America invented not only democracy, but freedom, justice, liberty, and timesharing. The representative democracy is unquestionably our proudest achievement. The creation most uniquely our own. Even if the rest of the Western world would have come up with the idea themselves by the late 1820's.

So, why then has participation in this most wonderous system withered? As heirs to a legacy almost two centuries old, it is understandable why present-day Americans would take their own democracy for granted. A president freely chosen from a wide open field of two men every four years. A Congress with a 99% incumbancy rate. A Supreme Court comprised of nine politically appointed judges whose only oversight is the icy sight of death. All these reveal a system fully capable of maintaining itself.

But our perfect democracy, which neither needs, nor particularly wants, voters, is a rarity. It is important to remember there still exist many other forms of government in the world today. And that dozens of foreign countries still long for a democracy like ours to be imposed on them."
BOTTOM LINE: If you're a Jon Stewart and/or The Daily Show fan, this one is a must-have. If you're only Jon Stewart-curious (and, really, aren't we all?) then jump in. And if you're just looking to be consistently entertained, even though you have no interest in Jon Stewart, or, for that matter, American Democracy, this one is for you, too. At $7.95, incidentally, the Audible audiobook version at iTunes is a decent value.

PS: For those longing for more Jon Stewart goodness, check out his May 2004 Commencement address at William & Mary (he was Class of '84).

His opening line:
Thank you Mr. President, I had forgotten how crushingly dull these ceremonies are. Thank you.
And something a little more poignant:
And the last thing I want to address is the idea that somehow this new generation is not as prepared for the sacrifice and the tenacity that will be needed in the difficult times ahead. I have not found this generation to be cynical or apathetic or selfish. They are as strong and as decent as any people that I have met. And I will say this, on my way down here I stopped at Bethesda Naval, and when you talk to the young kids that are there that have just been back from Iraq and Afghanistan, you donít have the worry about the future that you hear from so many that are not a part of this generation but judging it from above.

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