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Trevor Noah, mass shootings, gun violence

Trevor Noah has his finger on the pulse of American culture.

Trevor Noah's scripted comedy is great, but his off-the-cuff commentary during commercial breaks is often where he truly shines. The comedian has a way of sensibly framing hot topics and getting to the heart of important issues. For someone who didn't grow up in the U.S., he also seems to have his finger directly on the pulse of American culture and is able to accurately describe us to ourselves.

In a "Between the Scenes" segment, Noah expressed his bafflement at how America is the land of the possible when it comes to everything except stopping gun violence.

"One of the strangest things about conversations involving guns in America," he said, "is how quickly America goes from being the most hopeful and almost impossible-chasing nation to a nation that just believes nothing is possible all of a sudden."


Send a man to the moon? Let's do it. Go to Mars? Totally possible. Cure for cancer? Always working on it, and actually making some decent strides.

But mass shootings happening at an astronomical rate compared to other developed nations? Nope. Can't do anything about those.

He's right. It's a weird reaction for a people who are so "can do" about everything else. But as Noah points out, it's actually a small group of people who resist action on this issue and have convinced us that the situation is hopeless. Most Americans, including many gun owners, believe there should be more regulations on gun ownership.

Noah also pointed out that there's not one big solution that will solve all of our gun violence issues.

"What really frustrates me is how people try and make it a game of whack-a-mole when it comes to solving problems," he said. "You propose any type of solution and they go, 'Well that wouldn't have solved this one. This wouldn't have stopped that.' But that's not how solutions work. There is no problem that is going to be solved by one solution. A lot of the time big problems require a multitude of solutions, and what you do is you try to fix it incrementally, step by step."

He pointed out that people will pull the "slippery slope" argument and ask which guns to ban.

"Just start with the ones people seem to be using over and over again to go into schools to kill a bunch of children at one time," he said. (Then, if people start using other kinds of guns regularly for the same purpose, we can deal with those at that time.)

"It's a lot harder to commit these mass shootings when you don't have certain types of weapons," he said. "Nothing fixes everything, but you've got to start somewhere."

And, as he points out, we have to maintain hope that change is possible, just as agents of change have always done. So much good stuff here. Worth a watch:

Marlon Brando and Sacheen Littlefeather.

Nearly 50 years after Sacheen Littlefeather endured boos and abusive jokes at the Academy Awards, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is issuing a formal apology. In 1973, Littlefeather refused Marlon Brando's Best Actor Oscar on his behalf for his iconic role in “The Godfather” at the ceremony to protest the film industry’s treatment of Native Americans.

She explained that Brando "very regretfully cannot accept this very generous award, the reasons for this being … the treatment of American Indians today by the film industry and on television in movie reruns, and also with recent happenings at Wounded Knee."

Littlefeather is a Native American civil rights activist who was born to a Native American (Apache and Yaqui) father and a European American mother.

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via Pixabay

A father cradling his infant son.

It's almost impossible to be handed a baby and not immediately break into baby talk. In fact, it seems incredibly strange to even consider talking to a baby like one would an adult. Studies have shown that babies prefer baby talk, too.

Researchers from Stanford found that babies prefer to be spoken to in baby talk or “parentese” as scientists refer to the sing-songy cooing we do when talking to infants.

“Often parents are discouraged from using baby talk by well-meaning friends or even health professionals,” Michael Frank, a Stanford psychologist, told Stanford News. “But the evidence suggests that it’s actually a great way to engage with your baby because babies just like it–it tells them, ‘This speech is meant for you!’”

The big question that has eluded scientists is whether parentese is a universal language or varies by culture.

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Bobby McFerrin demonstrated the power of the pentatonic scale without saying a word.

Bobby McFerrin is best known for his hit song “Don’t Worry Be Happy,” which showcased his one-man vocal and body percussion skills (and got stuck in our heads for years). But his musicality extends far beyond the catchy pop tune that made him a household name. The things he can do with his voice are unmatched and his range of musical styles and genres is impressive.

The Kennedy Center describes him: “With a four-octave range and a vast array of vocal techniques, Bobby McFerrin is no mere singer; he is music's last true Renaissance man, a vocal explorer who has combined jazz, folk and a multitude of world music influences - choral, a cappella, and classical music - with his own ingredients.”

McFerrin is also a music educator, and one of his most memorable lessons is a simple, three-minute interactive demonstration in which he doesn’t say a single word.

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