Links and Comments: 11 May 2015

Contrast the right’s paranoid claims of a war on religion with their very real war on abortion (NYT). When laws are being passed demanding a 48 hour waiting period before being let into church, then I’ll believe there’s a war on religion.

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Mary McNamara in the LA Times discusses the approaching conclusion of Mad Men, along the way pondering why it is we (or some people at least) obsess over certain shows. It goes back, in a way, to Star Trek.

Now that ‘Mad Men’ has changed the TV landscape, what does it all mean?

Not since “Lost” has a show been so combed through, picked over and commented on. “What Would Don Draper Do?” became a cultural construct. Gothamist began a standing feature called “Unpacking Mad Men,” which details the show’s historical references in alarming detail and more general tea leaf reading quickly became ubiquitous. Aided by social media, Easter egg hunts followed virtually every episode: Was that a secret reference to “MASH” (Esquire.com)? Did someone on Reddit find the Rosetta Stone of Sterling Cooper (Uproxx.com)? Was that a dream sequence in reverse, and what did it mean (slate.com)?

Audience speculation and detailed exegesis drove certain shows before “Mad Men” —”Star Trek” built an ancillary industry on symbolism and trivia, as did the soon-to-be-resurrected “The X-Files.” Indeed, the foundation of geek culture, now a dominant force in pop culture, is careful reading, painstaking cataloging and wild theorizing.

Something here about the necessity of narrative, and of teasing meaning out of things that do not necessarily have any meaning.

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NY Times Book Review: review of ‘Speak Now’ by Kenji Yoshino, part memoir and part account of a past Supreme Court decision concerning same-sex marriage.

It’s an expression of gratitude for his own growth, from a troubled young man for whom “common milestones — falling in love, marrying, raising children — seemed unattainable,” into a happily married father of two as a result of remarkable changes in the law beginning in 2003. That year, the Supreme Court outlawed criminal bans on sodomy and the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts became the first American court to legalize same-sex marriage. He writes, “My own life has deprived me of any capacity to be cynical about the law.”

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NY Times Magazine: John Herrman’s Letter of Recommendation: ‘X Minus One’, about a 1950s radio show that adapted science fiction stories of the time into radio plays. It’s an insightful look into how SF has regarded the future, and how that regard may or may not have changed since then.

Fiction about the future doesn’t often age gracefully. Its predictions harden, inevitably, into claims. At its worst, “X Minus One” is dated drama told well, but its better episodes have matured into half-hour exercises in a peculiar and intoxicating form of temporal eavesdropping. They let us watch, with great ease and clarity, people who are straining much harder to see us. Usually they’re looking just slightly off to the side. Sometimes they’re looking the wrong way entirely. But occasionally, in the show’s most thrillingly prescient moments, it’s as if they were staring straight at us.

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Friendly Atheist: Conservative Christian Comedian Doesn’t Realize His Critique of Islam Also Applies to His Own Faith

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And the latest from Jeffrey Tayler: The left has Islam all wrong: Bill Maher, Pamela Geller and the reality progressives must face

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