john oliver

8 Days to Celebrate Italian-American Heritage Besides Columbus Day

While living in New York, I learned that there was a parade on Columbus Day, and that parade was to celebrate Italian-American heritage. Prior to living in New York–at least that I can remember–I had never thought of Christopher Columbus as an Italian hero. I was mortified. There are plenty of Italians and Italian-Americans who have contributed to civilization and society who weren’t genocidal maniacs. In case you’re new to this discussion about how Christopher Columbus is awful and Columbus Day makes no sense, I’ll let my best friend John Oliver catch you up. This clip was aired a year ago but is just as relevant and to the point.

At about the 2:00 mark, Oliver suggests alternate days to celebrate Italian heritage starting with Frank Sinatra Day. This got me thinking. Why don’t we celebrate our heritage on any other days? Italians (the ones in Italy) don’t even celebrate Columbus Day!

To help get the conversation started, I’ve pulled together a list of people, moments, and days worth celebrating. (more…)

This Week in John Oliver: We All Waste a Ton of Food

I’ve been thinking about food since high school. Not in the “I’m hungry, what should I have to eat” sense, but in the “Where does it come from? How did my food get to me? Who is involved in the production of my food?” sense. I was probably not much fun at the cafeteria table. I don’t remember exactly when, but I learned some time ago that America’s hunger problem is an issue of distribution, not of supply. We’ve got enough food to feed everyone, but the food is not getting to people.

In this week’s episode of Last Week Tonight, John Oliver zeroes in where all that leftover food might be going. The totally heartbreaking answer is that it’s going straight to the dump. Food gets thrown out and it gets thrown out for stupid reasons. Some of it is due to culture: we have bizarre shopping habits and misconceptions about food on the shelves. Some of it is due to law and tax codes: for-profit entities have no incentive to give away what they don’t/can’t/won’t sell. (more…)

Me and My Shadow Government

It’s no secret that I love John Oliver. He’s brilliant, he’s funny, he makes me laugh, he makes me cry. That is, he makes me laugh as he reveals awful truths about our nation and government that make me cry. I somehow missed this gem from last November in which he discusses state legislatures. Unlike the senate and congress, these folks are getting things done, a lot. But, we have no idea who they are or what they’re doing. Spoiler: lots of them are awful people doing awful things in our name. John appropriately labels it a shadow government. Watch the segment below. (more…)