Monthly Archives: July 2017

Jon Stewart’s best moment wasn’t on ‘The Daily Show.’ It was the day he eviscerated CNN.

Jon Stewart changed the way I think about TV news.

He’s always been a hero of mine. As he finishes his last week at Comedy Central, I wanted to reflect on the moment he opened my eyes to the way the world really works.

The most important thing he ever taught me wasn’t on “The Daily Show.”

It was on another show entirely. A horrible show. A show that represented everything wrong with our country’s political discourse. The show that was the precursor to all the worst things on cable news today.

It was the CNN show “Crossfire.”

All GIFs via CNN’s “Crossfire.”

“Crossfire,” a debate show where partisan hacks yelled past each other, was and is the epitome of everything wrong with cable news shows. But it was basically every other cable news show, just on steroids.

Prior to Stewart’s appearance on “Crossfire,” I had a pretty simplistic view of politics. My guys were good, their guys were bad, and there was nothing in between. Everything was their fault. Their side was lying to hurt America.

Jon Stewart helped me realize how wrong I was.

On Oct. 19, 2004, Jon Stewart broke “Crossfire.” For good.

Stewart had a history of making fun of “Crossfire,” as he did with all irresponsible television masquerading as journalism on every single TV network.

So when the guys at “Crossfire,” Tucker Carlson and Paul Begala, invited him to be on their show, Stewart seized the opportunity. And I grabbed my bowl of popcorn, sat back on my couch, and watched, transfixed.

What followed was 14 glorious minutes of television that eloquently expressed everything that had been in my head about the TV media (see “Crossfire,” above) that I hadn’t yet been able to express coherently.

For 14 minutes, Stewart held the media accountable for not holding politicians and corporations accountable.

You know how the pundits on these shows yell shrill talking points at each other, respond to questions people didn’t ask, and ignore each other, and then the host goes to commercial without fact-checking anyone?

Otherwise known as “every cable news show ever.” Politicians count on that.

Stewart pulled back the curtain for the viewers while pulling the rug out from under the hosts of the show.

Stewart shone a big ‘ol spotlight on a problem with the media that hadn’t been addressed so directly before: TV media works under the concept of “fairness,” he argued, meaning these networks give both sides of an issue equal time regardless of the validity of those positions or their level of expertise or authority on a subject.

And Stewart, like myself and millions of other Americans, was just plain sick of it.

In short…

It.

Was.

Glorious.

And throughout the segment, he reiterated a phrase that sticks in my brain even to this day:

Then a miracle happened. The best part of this whole story?

It happened a few months later. On Jan. 5, 2005, a couple months after Stewart’s “Crossfire” appearance aired, the show was cancelled.

And there was much rejoicing specifically in my living room, where I probably did some sort of awkward victory dance.

The NY Times reported that then-CNN President Jonathan Klein said its cancellation was in part due to Stewart’s appearance.

“Mr. Klein specifically cited the criticism that the comedian Jon Stewart leveled at ‘Crossfire’ when he was a guest on the program during the presidential campaign. Mr. Stewart said that ranting partisan political shows on cable were ‘hurting America.’

Mr. Klein said last night, ‘I agree wholeheartedly with Jon Stewart’s overall premise.'”

Disappointingly, CNN’s president didn’t agree as much as he originally implied. CNN brought back “Crossfire” again. And then cancelled it, thankfully, again. But its spirit lives on in every mediocre, divisive 24-hour news cycle.

Here’s the thing. Cable news shouldn’t be dividing us.

Jon Stewart’s appearance on “Crossfire” clearly explained that the media should be informing us and holding the people in power accountable.

All this time, I had been blaming the other side for our problems. But the reality is they wouldn’t be getting away with it if our media were functional.

I can’t blame the foxes for eating the chickens they guard in the henhouse when the media has a responsibility to make sure they don’t work there in the first place.


Every news network does it. CNN isn’t the only guilty party. Fox News does it. MSNBC does it.

Even today, every network lets their panelists say what they want without consequences. In the name of “balance.”

So how should cable news hosts do their jobs?

If the Democrat says the sky is green and the Republican says the sky is plaid, do you want the host to say, “We’ll have to leave it there”?

Or do you want the host to say: “Actually, that is factually incorrect. You both are either lying or misinformed. I won’t be bringing you back on my show if you mislead people again.”

Jon Stewart opened my eyes. We don’t need to get rid of the media. We need the media to their job.

Jon Stewart made me realize that the divide between most Americans is a false one.

Letting these pundits speak for us, allowing them to pigeonhole all of us as “left” or “right,” should not be allowed to happen. All of us have shades of gray.

Read more: http://www.upworthy.com/jon-stewarts-best-moment-wasnt-on-the-daily-show-it-was-the-day-he-eviscerated-cnn?c=tpstream

This Looked Like It Was Going To Be An Epic Fox Battle…Right Up Until It Didn’t

As is the case with most epic brawls, after the first punch is thrown, the violence doesn’t stop until one side is victorious.

Unfortunately for these feuding foxes, their bark is worse than their bite.

With tourists watching from the sidelines of the Miyagi Zoo Fox Village in Japan, these two frustrated red foxes took to violence to settle their dispute. After only a few seconds of wrestling, the pair decided to turn their physical fight into a screaming match.

Not only is this anticlimactic, but I’m not even sure how you’d determine a winner!

(via IFL Science)

Anyone else notice the third fox in the left corner looking like, “these two again?” If this gave you a good laugh, be sure to share it with your friends!

Read more: http://www.viralnova.com/foxy-screaming-match/

They tested a seat so people with disabilities could ride a camel. Here’s how it went.

On edge of the Sahara Dunes, a few miles outside of the Moroccan town of Merzouga, a camel named Omalise seems to suspect something is up.

On her back is a bulky contraption a tall fabric seat held in place by metal piping and tied down with a tangle of unfamiliar straps.

Image by Eric March via Morocco Accessible Travel Consultants.

It doesn’t hurt, but it’s not her usual saddle, and it’s definitely not heavy enough to be a rider. Unclear what the attentive crowd of rapidly chattering humans around her wants her to do, she tries to stand up.

Within milliseconds, three trainers hustle over to coax the confused camel back to the ground.

“Of course, right now, the camel is a bit uncomfortable with the situation, but shell get used to it,” says Mbark, Omalise’s handler, through a translator. Mbark has lived semi-nomadically around the pack animals his entire life. For the past 12 years, he’s worked in the country’s booming tourism industry, facilitating camel excursions for visitors who want an up-close-and-personal introduction to the desert.

Today, he’s spending his evening preparing his impatient camel to give tourists with disabilities the opportunity to experience the type of Hollywood epic-worthy trek through the desert sands they imagine when they dream of his home country.

Riding a camel has long been out of reach for travelers who lack full mobility, but Morocco Accessible Travel Consultants (MAT) hopes to change that with the advent of a custom saddle that mimics the action of a wheelchair on the animal’s back.

The seat is the brainchild of Erik Neufeld and Jeremy Schmidt, who purchased the tour company in 2016 with the goal of providing their disabled clients access to the country’s full range of historic sites, restaurants, markets, and natural attractions.

Getting a client onto a camel and over the dunes (a “classic Morocco” experience, according to the pair) is a problem that has perplexed them from day one and one they believe they’re finally getting close to solving.

Omalise. Image by Eric March via Morocco Accessible Travel Consultants.

“There were other parts of Morocco where we were like, ‘Yeah, we can see how this will work accessibility-wise,’ but the desert, that was constantly, ‘How do we make this work?'” Neufeld explains.

In a few weeks, a colleague from Eastern Europe who studies the effects of equipment on a person’s body is coming to test the saddle. To prepare for her visit, Neufeld volunteered to be the saddle’s first human guinea pig.

In an effort to meet the deadline, Neufeld, an aircraft mechanic by training, is working furiously with Mbark, a local welder, and Schmidt, a physical therapist by training to make sure it can support a disabled rider without discomforting or harming accommodating animals like Omalise.

An early stage version of the seat. Photo by Erik Neufeld.

“We have Moroccans, Americans, Eastern Europeans all working together to make it possible for someone to experience the desert in a unique way,” he says.

For the estimated 1 billion people worldwide living with a disability, traveling the globe is slowly becoming easier.

Beginning in 2014, the United Nations World Tourism Organization began holding conferences on accessible travel, establishing a set of guidelines and goals for nations to make their iconic sites more hospitable for disabled tourists.

In places like much of Morocco, where accessible infrastructure often coexists with ancient buildings, narrow streets, and impassable staircases, companies like MAT work to fill in the gaps.

“If we advertise something as accessible, people have certain expectations of what that is,” Neufeld says. The company designs itineraries for its clients to maximize the amount they can accomplish independently and organizes transportation and accommodation around their particular physical needs.

The camel chair is an ambitious step beyond MAT’s usual expertise. The centerpiece of the device is an articulating seat that adjusts with the rider’s body. Moveable armrests allowing for simplified transfer between wheelchair and seat, and a custom frame allows the rider to slide neatly into a traditional saddle.

Ultimately, Neufeld and Schmidt hope to make the chair available to Moroccan children with disabilities as well as their tourist clients, allowing many to experience the Sahara for the first time.

Still, it’s a work in progress.

On a second try, Neufeld attempts to hoist himself into the saddle from a raised platform.

In a rush to climb aboard, the platform tips under his weight and Omalise, spooked by the activity, stands up again.

Image by Eric March via Morocco Accessible Travel Consultants.

After wrestling her down, Mbark and his team work to calm the anxious camel, tying her at the knee to prevent further surprises.

“If [Neufeld] falls, no one cares, but if our client falls, thats a bigger issue,” Schmidt notes, wryly.

Before finding MAT, Jane Romm, a teacher from New York, was skeptical of taking any sort of organized tour of Morocco.

Like many independent travelers, she prefers setting her own schedule to traveling on a set guided itinerary.

Since her husband was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, she and her family have continued to travel the world, developing new strategies along the way.

“My sons and I, were like a well-oiled machine the way we handle the wheelchair,” Still, her husband’s declining mobility made exploring the North African country on their own a daunting thought.

Ultimately, having a trained physical therapist on staff at MAT, and a driver who refused to leave her husband in the van once, even spending an evening running from restaurant to restaurant attempting to locate an accessible restroom confirmed the value of a trip designed around their specific needs.

Jane Romm (C) and family in Morocco. Photo by Jane Romm.

“We looked at each other and were like, ‘Why didnt we ever do this before?” she explains. “Whats wrong with us? Why are we trying to conquer the world ourselves?'”

On his third attempt to test the chair, Neufeld finally slides from the platform into the seat. The handlers release the ropes and Omalise stands on cue.

As she trots nonchalantly along the sand, Neufeld rocks back and forth in the seat, trying not to engage the muscles in his core simulating the potential effect of the ride on a client who lacks upper body strength.

Image by Eric March via Morocco Accessible Travel Consultants.

He sways unsteadily, like an exhausted club-goer who’s had one too many, as Mbark and crew spot him from below. It’s hard to watch. But he finishes the ride without falling.

For Neufeld, the test run was a “wild cocktail of exhilaration mixed with some anxiety” a promising start, though a harrowing one.

“In many ways you could compare it to being on a roller coaster,” he says.

Meanwhile, Mbark, observing from the ground, continued to noodle on prospective modifications.

“Because we have a new saddle here, its very common with new saddles that they dont have good balance,” he explains. “Once we figure out the balance issues, it will work great.”

The crew hopes that adding more ballast to stabilize the seat, while making its metal frame less rigid and more adaptable to the fluid motion of the camel, will steady the chair.

After an exhausting hour of testing, Omalise sets off toward home on her own, as Mbark speeds off along a different route on his motorbike.

Neufeld, meanwhile, plans to make some modifications in the morning. Until then, he will continue risking his own body to make sure the project remains on schedule.

For those who live abroad, traveling to Morocco isn’t an essential experience, and it’s certainly not one available to everyone with a disability.

For those lucky enough to get the opportunity Schmidt and Neufeld are working to provide far more than access ramps and bars on the toilet for travelers to a place they feel fortunate to call home.

“To go see the desert, to go see the ocean, to see the mountains [in the U.S.], youre talking about multiple days and plane trips,” Schmidt says. “Here you can do it all in the same week.”

Riding a camel might not be something most people need to do. But life is more than things you need to do. So, yes, a few hours bopping around the desert is not necessarily going to make or break anyone’s life. But for travelers with disabilities, a working accessible saddle could open the world just a little bit wider.

With a little luck, the camels will learn to see it that way too.

Read more: http://www.upworthy.com/they-tested-a-seat-so-people-with-disabilities-could-ride-a-camel-heres-how-it-went

While the rest of the world wasn’t looking, Mongolia managed to achieve something kind of amazing.

Even though up to 40% of Mongolia’s population is nomadic, the country has found a way to achieve something wealthier nations can only envy: 98% of its girls and 93% of its boys are now getting a secondary education.



“Big Brother Walks by His Sister and Mom”

Since his family is nomadic, 14-year-old Munkhin Otgonbayar has gone to schools in Uvs Province, Ulaangom, and Mongolia’s capital, Ulaanbaatar.


“A Traditional Yurt, Now With Solar Panels and a Satellite Dish”

Mongolia has worked hard to preserve its cherished traditions in the face of modernization.


“Boys and Their Horses”

For school, Munkhdemberel Munkhbat leaves home and lives in a dormitory. Here he is hanging out with his friends at home he’s the one on the left.



“Doing Homework at Home”

Munkhdemberel hits the books in the family yurt.


“Two Boys Race Their Horses”

It’s a traditional Mongolian pastime. These two boys are prepping to race in the Naadam festival of the Three Manly Sports: horse racing, wrestling, and archery.


“A 37-Year-Old Mongolian Mother”

Years ago, Togtokh Buyanjargal had to leave school in first grade to become a herder. She looks to a better future for her kids thanks to education.


“A Little Girl Watches the Big Kids Do Homework”

A girl watches her siblings work on their assignments. She looks a little envious.



“Urangoo Bayartsogt, Proudly at Her School Desk”

15-year-old schoolgirl Urangoo Bayartsogt attends a boarding school. Even though she’s a long way from her parents and home, she obviously enjoys being there.


“Urangoo at the School Computers”

The good thing about [boarding] school is that … you can ask teachers to explain anything that you don’t understand at any time.”


“Dorm Life”

Urangoo has lived in a school dormitory since first grade. Her younger brothers, 8 and 9, live there with her.



“Teacher Gantuya Galkhuu”

The 29-year-old math teacher has been teaching at her boarding school for eight years. Mongolia encourages teachers to take jobs in remote areas, offering bonuses as incentives.


“Herder Battulga Dorjpurev”

35-year-old herder Battulga Dorjpurev has two kids at school in Bayankhangai Soum. When he was young, his parents weren’t able to provide him an education.



“A Schoolboy and His Parents Shear Sheep During a School Holiday”

When school’s in session, Dorjpurev’s wife (left) moves to town with the kids so they can attend. I guess everybody strives to provide their children with education,” says Battulga.

Read more: http://www.upworthy.com/while-the-rest-of-the-world-wasnt-looking-mongolia-managed-to-achieve-something-kind-of-amazing?c=tpstream