How Leonard Nimoy made Spock an American Jewish icon

Published: Salon (February 27, 2015)

Nimoy transformed the classic intellectual self-questioning archetype into a dashing “Star Trek” action hero

I suspect I can speak for most American Jews when I say: Before I’d watched even a single episode of “Star Trek,” I knew about Leonard Nimoy.

Although there are plenty of Jews who have achieved fame and esteem in American culture, only a handful have their Jewishness explicitly intertwined with their larger cultural image. Much of the difference has to do with how frequently the celebrity in question alludes to his or her heritage within their body of work. This explains why, for instance, a comedian like Adam Sandler is widely identified as Jewish while Andrew Dice Clay is not, or how pitcher Sandy Koufax became famous as a “Jewish athlete” after skipping Game 1 of the 1965 World Series to observe Yom Kippur, while wide receiver Julian Edelman’s Hebraic heritage has remained more obscure.

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My Top 3 Pet Peeves (That Are Actually A Big Deal)

Published: Good Men Project (February 26, 2015)

Matthew Rozsa shares the three pet peeves that bug him the most. Someone has to do it, right?

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It’s strange writing an article about pet peeves. Normally I try to write about topics that have significant consequence, and a pet peeve by definition is an annoyance that can be easily brushed off.

Except sometimes they can’t. There are certain habits that, though commonly regarded as pet peeves, can actually be far worse. This article is about the three that bug me the most.

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1. People who loudly whisper and/or text at a movie theater.

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Why old white Republicans keep mansplaining women’s vaginas

Published: Daily Dot (February 25, 2015)

When yet another old white man nationally embarrasses himself with his ignorance about how women’s bodies work, it isn’t enough to hold them up for richly deserved derision, as the Internet is wont to do. We must also learn a very important lesson: namely, that their poor understanding of experiences outside their own frame-of-reference demonstrates why we need more women in positions of power.

This may seem like a self-evident statement, but as both the controversial question asked by Idaho Rep. Vito Barberi (R) and the subsequent online brouhaha that it caused makes clear, it is anything but. As the state legislature continues to preside over hearings regarding a controversial anti-abortion bill, Barberi caused a firestorm on the Internet after a physician testifying against the bill told him that some colonoscopy patients swallow a small camera to get a closer look at their intestines. “Can this same procedure then be done in a pregnancy?” Barberi asked. “Swallowing a camera and helping the doctor determine what the situation is?”

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What John Oliver doesn’t understand about America’s justice system

Published: Daily Dot (February 24, 2015)

John Oliver’s eloquent rant about corruption from this weekend’s edition Last Week Tonight about the American judiciary has been going viral since the show aired Sunday night. “What he revealed was truly disturbing,” wrote Sarah Gray of Salon. Forrest Wickman of Slate echoed this sentiment, observing that “as a British immigrant, John Oliver has often demonstrated a knack for bringing fresh eyes to America’s absurdities. Kyle Whitmire of AL.com, an Alabama news website, captured the essence of this commentary with his proclamation that Oliver’s video “should be required viewing in pretty much any high school civics class.”

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February 2015 Has Been A Historic Month for Science

Published: Pixable (February 24, 2015)

This has been a historic month for science. Even if all scientific progress crawls to a stop this week, the knowledge we’ve already acquired since February 1, 2015 is likely to have a direct impact on all of our lives. Among the lessons we’ve learned:

1. The theory of the Big Bang may be false

(Source: Flickr/nasamarshall)

In a paper published by Physics Letters B titled “Cosmology from quantum potential,” researchers Ahmed Farag Ali in Egypt and Saurya Das in Canada propose that the universe is filled with a quantum fluid that expands space by exerting a slight but constant force on all matter. If correct, their argument could disprove the Big Bang theory, which has long been criticized due to its equations being unable to take scientists back to the universe’s origin point – one that, if the Big Bang theory is to be believed, would be an infinitely small and dense singularity. The Ali-Das model not only fixes this by positing a universe that has always existed, but even explains physical phenomena like gravity and the theory of relativity.

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Sean Penn’s Big Mistake and What We Should Learn From It

Published: Good Men Project (February 24, 2015)

Sean Penn forgot that behaviors which may seem appropriate in private are often inappropriate in public.

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For those of you who haven’t heard, two-time Academy Award-winning actor Sean Penn is under fire for a racist joke he made during the Oscars on Sunday. As he presented “Birdman” director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu with the award for Best Picture, he decided to crack wise at the expense of his long-time friend with this remark:

“Who gave this son of a bitch his green card?”

As many pundits have already observed, Penn’s quip was absolutely inappropriate.

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The biggest problem with virtual reality is us

Published: Daily Dot (February 23, 2015)

Are we approaching the dawn of the virtual reality age?

“You’re looking at the future,” declared Chris Cox, the chief product officer at Oculus VR, in reference to his company’s virtual reality headset being purchased by Facebook, “and it’s going to be awesome.” Recent reports indicate that the company is developing its own virtual reality version of the service, with the ostensible goal of “[bringing] social media to the world of VR” (at least according to Tech Times). But as virtual reality seems closer than ever before to mainstream viability, are we dreaming too big?

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When They Laughed at Rape…

Published: Good Men Project (February 19, 2015), Salon (February 22, 2015)

Matthew Rozsa discusses how an off-hand observation during a speech illustrated an important point about rape culture.

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Every so often, a single experience will instantaneously illuminate an aspect of the human condition to a person who had previously failed to viscerally grasp it. Such was the case for me earlier this month, when I joined Professor James Peterson in a round-table discussion with Lehigh University students and faculty about how to get published as an op-ed columnist.

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When one of the attendees asked us to elaborate on the type of negative feedback one can anticipate upon being published, I remarked that it often depends on the demographic profile of the author in question. “Figure out what aspects of your racial, religious, or sexual identity are most likely to be attacked, and then assume that a bunch of trolls are going to make the most vulgar comments they can think of based on them,” I pointed out.

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