The Pursuit of Happiness

One more clip from Wednesday’s Report. Stephen interviewed Daniel Gilbert, author of Stumbling on Happiness. (Hat tip to a comment at the homeschooling blog As Cozy as Spring for pointing out the interesting take on children and happiness.) But watch, too, for the interesting point at the very end of the interview on the question of whether God or religion makes people happy. I sense a bit of a character break here. We definitely see “Stephen” early in the interview with the questions about money and happiness. At the end, I’m not so sure. And once again, this is what I love about watching the Report. It always makes me think.


Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s

I referred to this a couple weeks ago here, but I decided to put up the full clip, just because it’s so much fun. And in case those of you have joined us recently missed it. And I do love the line, “Render unto Caesar what it Caesar’s and to the private sector what is the private sector’s.” Stephen interviews Cullen Murphy about his book Are We Rome?: The Fall of an Empire and the Fate of America

What I didn’t know when I put the first link up was the backstory on Centurion Stephen’s armor. Hat tip, as always, to No Fact Zone for the amazing story. Finally, don’t miss the new clip in Reruns.

Magic, the Middle Ground Between Science and Religion

You never know when it’s worth staying awake through the last set of commercials for a trip to the bookshelf. On Thursday’s Report, Stephen paid tribute to TV’s Mr. Wizard (Don Herbert), who died last week, by recreating his famous egg-in-a-bottle experiment.

To this day when my kids ask how something scientific works, I say, “A wizard does it.” … watch and try not to learn … Now, here’s the science part. How did I do that? Well, I didn’t. The smoke from the fire alerted God, who pushed the egg into the bottle to put put the fire. Thanks, Big Guy.

The Wisconsin State Journal link above explains how it works.

Big Holiday Over the Weekend

Along with Fathers’ Day, Stephen celebrated the 800th anniversary of the conversion of St. Francis.Bonus: For a really intricate version of the chalice illusion, go here.

I couldn’t resist this snippet from the pope’s speech to youth. I kept thinking of Stephen’s shout out last week (“Hey, Carly Simon, thanks for writing that song about me!”):

The same biographical text tells us that Francis was quite vain. He liked to have sumptuous clothes tailored for him and sought to be original. (Comp 1, 2: FF 1396). In vanity, in the search for originality, there is something which touches us all directly. Today there is much talk about “taking care of one’s image” or “keeping up with appearances”. In order to have the slightest chance of success, we have to strike others with something new, original. In a certain way, this may be expressed in an innocent desire for acceptance. But all too often it is penetrated by a subtle pride, an excessive search for ourselves, egoism and the desire to outdo others. In real terms, a life which revolves around oneself is a death trap: we can only be ourselves if we open up to love, by loving God and others.

(hat tip to Amy’s Open Book. I always know I can find great coverage of the pope’s speeches over there.)

A couple other gems in last night’s episode, including the tip of the hat to the GOP candidates who don’t believe in evolution: “We’ve got science on the run. It’s time to press our advantage. So from now on , Senator Tancredo, you don’t believe in geology, either. Diamonds are just Jesus’ tears.”

St. Corbinian and the Bear

I often find myself waiting for Stephen to address the fact that Pope Benedict has a bear on his coat of arms. So I went to the Google to get more info on the coat of arms. The saddled bear is the symbol for St. Corbinian, an 8th-century saint:

A legend states that while traveling to Rome, Saint Corbinian’s pack horse was killed by a bear. He commanded the bear to carry the load. Once he arrived, he released it from his service, and it returned to Bavaria. The implication is that “Christianity tamed and domesticated the ferocity of paganism and thus laid the foundations for a great civilization in the Duchy of Bavaria.”[1] At the same time, Corbinian’s bear, as God’s beast of burden, symbolizes the weight of office that Benedict now carries.

And in fact, according to Wikipedia, Stephen made a very subtle (okay, the original quote called it “facetious”) reference to it back in January:

After engaging in traditional sports trash-talk about football teams he disfavored, the character then broke into “treasure-talk” delivered in the same exaggerated and confrontational style, but meant to encourage the teams or players he prefers. Speaking of an upcoming New Orleans Saints game, Colbert’s character said, “Hey, Saints! You “saint” gonna lose! Drew Brees is gonna tame the Chicago Bears like St. Corbinian tamed an actual bear in the eighth century!”

Ah, the subtle obscurity of the reference! But of course DB at NoFactZone caught it.

Happy Bloomsday

In which our hero, Dr. Stephen T. Colbert, DFA, reads the part of Leopold Bloom in a chapter from James Joyce’s novel Ulysses
at the Bloomsday on Broadway XXIV celebration in 2005. (For more on Bloomsday, go here.)

Here’s the audio for the Lotus Eaters chapter. (Tip o’ the hat to Truth at Colbert Heroes, where you can also find the audio for the Calypso chapter.)

I’m an English major from way back (Marquette ’83, Northwestern ’84) and studied both Joyce and Irish history in several classes. This is a masterful reading of the novel’s stream-of-consciousness June 16th day in the life of an Irish Jew named Leopold Bloom. In the Lotus Eaters chapter, one of his stops is into a church where Mass is going on. Written by an Irish Catholic, read by an Irish Catholic. Enjoy!

Here’s the lead from the Time Out New York article cited elsewhere on the site, just before this reading took place in 2005:

It’s not just his shtick: Stephen Colbert actually is smarter than you. The poker-faced correspondent from The Daily Show with Jon Stewart is famed for his wrongheaded but smarmily confident TV persona, but it turns out that Colbert, 41, is a devout Catholic with the intellectual firepower to back up his religious and political lampoonery. He quotes Shakespeare and Robert Hayden at the drop of a hat, and seems equally comfortable parsing theology and the foibles of media personalities. Burnishing his brainiac profile, Colbert will be performing in the 24th annual Bloomsday fete at Symphony Space, the celebratory reading of James Joyce’s Ulysses (“Bloomsday” refers to June 16, 1904—the date of the events of the novel).

Hearing Voices

I was hoping for Joan of Arc as an example, but I’ll settle for Moses. From Thursday’s show, the interview with Daniel Smith, author Muses, Madmen, and Prophets: Rethinking the History, Science, and Meaning of Auditory Hallucination. I really enjoy watching Stephen dial the intensity of his character up and down depending on the guest.