Hey guys. For this Wednesday, I wanted to share some news I missed from the worlds of Entertainment and Science.
In Science & Technology News …
I just have one science story from a couple of weeks ago.
Will We Be Able to Turn Air Into Water?
Two weeks ago, a group of American scientists said they found a way to convert low-humidity air into water. Writing in the journal Science, the researchers said they had developed a box which can “pull” air at 20% to 30% humidity and use the energy of the sun to release and condense water molecules.
The delivery system is in the prototype phase and it’s being tested at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). In a recent test on the roof, the apparatus was able to produce about 1 glass of water every hour.
The researchers hope the final product could have wide-use and be affordable. If successful, the device could be used on farms, in arid regions, and allow individual homes to produce water off-grid.
In Entertainment News …
I have a couple of news items about some right-wing commentators. But first, I wanted to pay my respects to two comedians who passed earlier this month.
I Want to Remember Charlie Murphy and Don Rickles.
This month, we lost a couple of beloved comedians.
Don Rickles died on April 6 at from kidney failure. He was 90 years old.
Rickles built a reputation as a caustic insult comic. He might not have been the first, but he serves as an inspiration for many comics after him. No one was off limits at Rickles’ shows, including members of his audience.
However, none of his comedy was serious. In interviews, Rickles made it clear that he only relied on sarcasm and exaggeration; if at any point, his insults were real, it wouldn’t be funny.
Rickles first got his start as a comic in 1951, when his agent found him a $25-a-night gig “at a third-rate club in New Jersey.” Rickles would play other small clubs a quite a bit of strip joints.
The comedian gained more attention when he played at the Slate Brothers Club in Hollywood. That’s where he came into contact with celebrities, including Frank Sinatra.
Rickles’ big break might have come when he appeared on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson in 1965.
Eventually, Rickles was able to parlay his comic shows to the big (and little) screen. The comedian appeared in shows like The Andy Griffith Show, the Lucy Show, and The Twilight Zone. Rickles also tried his hand at heading his own, self-titled shows in 1968-1969 and in 1972. Some of his movies included “Pajama Party” and “Casino.”
Rickles was also able to reach new generations with his voiceover work in the Toy Story movies. He voiced Mr. Potato Head.
Don Rickles is survived by his wife of 52 years, Barbara; their daughter, Mindy Mann, and; two grandsons named Ethan and Harrison.
This past week, the entertainment world lost another comedian/actor, Charlie Murphy, from complications from leukemia. He was the older brother of comedian/actor Eddie Murphy. Charlie Murphy he appeared The Chappelle Show and Black Jesus, a few movies in which his brother starred (including “Harlem Nights”), and he did voice work in such things as The Boondocks.
Many people first saw Charlie Murphy when he appeared on The Chappelle Show, named after comedian Dave Chappelle. The iconic second season of the series was made all the more memorable by Murphy’s stories about Rick James and Prince. The first story had Rick James’ partial narration shortly before his death and the other story was later confirmed sometime after Prince’s death.
On The Boondocks (Adult Swim), Charlie Murphy portrayed Edward Wuncler III, Ed Wuncler I’s irresponsible grandson. The younger character was the best friend of Riley Freeman (voiced by Regina King) and Gin Rummy (voiced by the ever emotive Samuel L. Jackson).
On Black Jesus (also on Adult Swim), Murphy portrayed the cranky neighbor and main antagonist named Vic.
In 2009, Charlie Murphy mourned the death of his wife, Tisha Taylor, who also died of cancer. Hers was cervical cancer and Murphy said he and the couple’s two children, Xavier and Eva, were never the same. Murphy never remarried.
When he died, Murphy had gigs scheduled.
Charlie Murphy was 57 years old.
Is Alex Jones Really ‘Playing a Character’?
Conspiracy theorist and snake-oil salesman Alex Jones is currently involved in a custody battle in Austin, Texas. Kelly Jones, Alex Jones’ wife, claims he is unstable because of the opinions he expressed on his Infowars program. In pretrial testimony, Mrs. Jones said:
He’s not a stable person. He says he wants to break Alec Baldwin’s neck. He wants J-Lo to get raped. I’m concerned that he is engaged in felonious behavior, threatening a member of Congress [California Rep. Adam Schiff].
Kelly added that Mr. Jones does his broadcasts from home and in front of their children.
In Mr. Jones’s defense, his lawyer Randall Wihite said his client was “playing a character” and was “a performance artist.”
The couple is going to court to decide who will have custody of their three children: a 14-year-old son and two daughters, who are 12 and 9 years old.
The case is being presided over by District Judge Orlina Naranjo. Naranjo said the case should not be about Infowars.
However, that’s very hard to do given the types of opinions Alex Jones expressed over the years. Also, he once had the couple’s son participate in at least one of the broadcasts.
Kelly Jones’ attorney showed a clip from a July 2015 broadcast in which Jones had his 12-year-old son play some of the videos he made for InfoWars, saying that the team has taken the child “under their wing.”
“He is undoubtedly cut out for this, and I intend for him to eclipse what I’ve done. He’s a way greater person than I was at 12,” Alex Jones said to his son in the video. “I love you so much, and I didn’t mean to get you up here, sweetheart, and tell people how much I love you, but you’re so handsome, and you’re a good little knight who’s going to grow up, I know, to be a great fighter against the enemy.”
But then again, there are many frauds out there (like right-wing “documentary” maker James O’Keefe) who still keep getting work despite being outed as frauds numerous times.
Additionally, we should not forget Inforwars’ (and thus Alex Jones’s) role in promoting the “Pizzagate” conspiracy theory.
On Sunday, Dec. 4, 2016, 28-year-old Edgar Maddison Welch of Salisbury, NC was arrested after he brought a gun into a Washington, D.C. family restaurant. Police said the man was carrying an AK-15 rifle into the Comet Ping Pong pizzeria. Maddison claimed he went to the restaurant to “self-investigate” rumors about the restaurant. He was arrested by police after a 45-minute standoff.
Near the end of the 2016 presidential election, rumors swirled that Comet Ping Pong, a restaurant visited by numerous politicians including Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, was really a front from a child sex ring. Due to the “Pizzagate” controversy the owner of Comet Ping Pong, James Alefantis, and his employees faced numerous death threats online and by telephone. That same was true for a number of businesses in the area.
Like I mentioned before, “Pizzagate” was based on fake news. It served as an example of how dangerous lies can be when disturbed individuals decide to take matters in their own hands.
On Friday, March 24, Alex Jones read an apology on the behalf of Infowars for its role in pushing the “Pizzagate” conspiracy theory. In a nearly 6-minute video entitled, A Note to Our Listening, Viewing, and Reading Audiences Concerning Pizzagate Coverage, Jones read an apology that was also posted on the Infowars website.
In his statement, Jones implicated other media outlets and a former Infowars employee for pushing the narrative. He said Infowars moved away from the “Pizzagate” conspiracy theory months ago and connected videos were taken down. Jones also said he and his media company acted at the behest of James Alefantis (the owner of the Comet Ping Pong Pizzeria in Washington, D.C.) and because “we think it is the right thing to do.”
Comments on the video were disabled, but the ratings system was not. As of April 26, 2017, there were no ratings on the video.
On the same day Infowars issued its apology, Edgar Maddison, the 28-year-old North Carolina man who brought an assault rifle into Comet Ping Pong, pleaded guilty to federal and local charges. He pleaded guilty to the federal charge of the interstate transport of firearms. The local charge was assault with a deadly weapon.
Now, it has been said that Alex Jones actually believed much of what he was spouting. That is the crux of the issue here and if Jones actually wants to go the route of saying what he does is theater, it could endanger his livelihood.
New York Magazine’s Gabriel Sherman originally reported on Bill O’Reilly’s expected ouster from Fox News. It was made official shortly afterward.
O’Reilly, who recently faced a large advertiser boycott due to revelations of payouts for sexual harassment allegations, was “on vacation” shortly before the announcement was made.
Bill O’Reilly got his start as a CBS News reporter. He also worked on Inside Edition before moving over to Fox News. O’Reilly was the most popular personality on Fox News and he pioneered the bombastic political commentator format.
The Murdoch family, who owns Fox News’ parent company, 21st Century Fox, ultimately found it hard to shake the news of a culture of sexual harassment. Considering Roger Ailes’ ouster and the mounting allegations he still faces, it was time to let O’Reilly go.
As O’Reilly departed the network, executives had to decide who would be fit enough to replace him at the 8 pm Eastern Time slot. Tucker Carlson, who enjoyed decent ratings at the 9 pm Eastern Time slot, stood out as the leading candidate.
O’Reilly’s replacement hosts included Dana Perino, Greg Gutfeld, and Eric Bolling. Only Perino, a former George W. Bush press secretary, was able to top ratings for The O’Reilly Factor on Monday, Apr. 17. Overall, ratings for the show dropped by 25% in O’Reilly’s absence.
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