Politics and Culture in the Comic Zone

Daniel Rigney

Daniel Rigney
New Texas, USA
August 01
free-range writer
In this writing workshop and citizen's blog I'm exploring various short forms, often from a satiric angle. My interests include politics, culture and the human comedy; old and new media; social theory and urban ethnography; the commercialization, corporatization and tabloidization of everything; sustainability; Unitarianism (UU); coffee; and writing (sorry, I mean providing content). Turtle stamp is from Tandy Leather. Interested in republishing a piece? Contact drigney3@gmail.com.


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By Daniel Rigney

So I began to notice this spreading verbal virus while attending a lecture series on recent breakthroughs in science and engineering at Nearby University.

So I noticed that speakers would often respond to questions from the audience by saying “So the question is …&rdqu… Read full post »

NOVEMBER 4, 2013 1:45AM

Our Precious Commercial Heritage

By Daniel Rigney

Just how complete is your knowledge of our precious television heritage?

How well-versed are you, for instance, in the classic marketing slogans created by that pioneering generation of ad artists portrayed fictionally in “Mad Men”?

How deeply have the parasitic little c… Read full post »

NOVEMBER 2, 2013 1:48AM

Misfortune Cookies

By Daniel Rigney

A venerable custom in Chinese-American restaurants is to complete a meal by cracking open a crisp and oddly-shaped cookie and examining its paper entrails for signs, portents, and words of wisdom.

Fortune cookie messages are typically upbeat and uplifting. “You see the best… Read full post »

OCTOBER 26, 2013 10:06AM

Are You Conservatively Correct?

By Daniel Rigney

Of all the weary clichés in American political speech, the most exhausted may be the phrase “political correctness.” Every time I hear it, I want to provoke thought by asking, “Which kind?”

When conservatives invoke the term, as they often do, they&rs… Read full post »

OCTOBER 24, 2013 2:10PM

Auto-Ethnicity: Houston’s Slab Parade

By Daniel Rigney


Houstonians have a paradoxical love-hate relationship with their cars. They curse the traffic other drivers cause, the potholes other cars have made, and the cost of fueling their thirsty vehicles for the daily 20-mile commute to their jobs in the carbon industry.

A… Read full post »

OCTOBER 17, 2013 5:13PM

Signs You’ll Never See

By Daniel Rigney

I rode the light rail downtown this afternoon, my eyes free to view the passing cityscape through my side window-screen. It was like watching a television documentary on urban life.

As I rode, I began paying attention to the constant stream of official-looking signs posted on… Read full post »

OCTOBER 14, 2013 3:56PM

Every Voter Is a Values Voter

By Daniel Rigney

The 2013 Values Voter Summit is taking down its revival tent in Washington, D.C. today after three days of conservative speeches. I’ve been watching highlights on CSPAN, and I was dubiously blessed to catch a few soundbits from Ted Cruz, Michele Bachmann, Gary Bauer and Rick S… Read full post »

By Daniel Rigney

Have you noticed that some cities are more comically gifted than others? People are drawn to New York and Los Angeles, in part, by their reputations as centers of comic consciousness. Houston, by contrast,  is a metropolis of measured mirth. No one has ever thought to describeRead full post »

By Daniel Rigney

Wishful thinker that I am, I see a glint of progressive hope admidst the gloom of political news coming out of Congress this week.

Huffington Post’s Jennifer Benderly reports that “less than a day after the government shut down, House Republicans are slowly but steadilRead full post »

SEPTEMBER 24, 2013 7:43PM

A Tea Party 'Declaration of Independence'

Satire by Daniel Rigney

I'm dreaming that the GOP's Tea Party wing will one day (soon, I hope) secede from the party of Abe Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, and Dwight Eisenhower and establish a separate far-right party of its own. If that day comes, the new party's Declaration of Independence mighRead full post »

SEPTEMBER 18, 2013 2:46PM

Invisible Objects

By Daniel Rigney

Just when you thought the 21st century couldn’t get any creepier, an international architectural firm has announced plans to build the world’s first invisible skyscraper in Seoul, Korea.

The concept is simple enough. Cameras take real-time images of the building’… Read full post »

SEPTEMBER 14, 2013 11:30AM

Redacting Ourselves

By Daniel Rigney

The armchair philosopher Archie Bunker observed that the very survival of civilization depends on our capacity to stifle ourselves. (He might have meant ‘censor ourselves,’ or ‘edit ourselves,’ or ‘redact ourselves,’ or simply ‘keep our mout… Read full post »

SEPTEMBER 12, 2013 8:34PM

Considering a Career in Secret Law?

By Daniel Rigney

From what I hear, this is a terrible time to be considering law school. Tuition rates are extortionary. Student loan burdens are crushing. Job prospects after graduation are dimmer than a flashlight when you need it.

There’s only one branch of law that’s booming these d… Read full post »

By Daniel Rigney

I confess I don’t know my Asimov from a hole in the ground when it comes to science fiction. Sure, as a kid I read a few sci-fi and futurist standards. Stranger in a Strange Land. 1984. Brave New World. I watched The Twilight Zone and… Read full post »

By Daniel Rigney

History is taking some creepy turns in this century. Wars and video games are becoming indistinguishable from each other. Robot bombs are killing people in undeclared attacks against non-states and unlucky bystanders. Meanwhile, mass surveillance agencies are recording and storing de… Read full post »

AUGUST 24, 2013 11:13PM

Carbon City! -- The Disaster Movie

By Daniel Rigney

Since Sharknado aired earlier this summer on cable, my muse has been urging me to develop a disaster movie idea of my own. I think I have it.

Get ready for your next bidding war, Hollywood. I don’t have a full script yet, but I do… Read full post »

AUGUST 21, 2013 11:21AM

The Poetry Lab

By Daniel Rigney

We live in an age of collaborative and computer-assisted creativity. Nearly every major scientific, technical, and even artistic project these days is accomplished through social networks rather than by individual leonardos.

Thus in English literature, for instance, William Shakesp… Read full post »

AUGUST 14, 2013 8:11PM

Headlines You’ll Never See

By Daniel Rigney

There may be a parallel universe somewhere in which the following headlines are metaphysically possible. In our own universe, however, they’re journalistic anti-matter:

Michael Bloomberg Stopped and Frisked in NYC

Washington Redskins Name Changed to Less Offensive “WashRead full post »

AUGUST 9, 2013 12:56PM

When I’m Sixty-Four

By Daniel Rigney

On recent birthday (I won’t say which) I was reminded of an old Beatles tune whose lyrics Paul McCartney composed when he was only 16 years old. The song was released in 1967 on the now-classic Sgt. Pepper album.

 You may recognize the opening lines.

 … Read full post »

AUGUST 8, 2013 3:04AM

Keep Calm and ___________

By Daniel Rigney

You've probably seen the inscription "Keep Calm and Carry On" emblazoned on a tee-shirt, a coffee mug, a tote bag or a poster recently. You may have wondered where this expression comes from, and what it originally referred to. More on this below, but first ... … Read full post »

AUGUST 3, 2013 1:17PM

Ted Cruz Jokes

By Daniel Rigney

Political satirists want to know: Is it too early to begin minting and circulating Ted Cruz jokes in preparation for Tailgunner Ted’s possible run for the presidency in 2016?

President Obama doesn’t seem to think so. He got this punch line in last week: “If… Read full post »

                      aspen eye

By Daniel Rigney

I'm on an anthropological field trip to Aspen, Colorado this week to study the lifeways of the American social elite, and to observe the customs and…

Read full post »

By Daniel Rigney

The North Pole is well on its way to becoming the North Pool as heat-trapping greenhouse gases continue to melt the polar ice caps. The world's waters are rising slowly, almost imperceptibly, around us. But don't be overly concerned. For every ecological problem there must… Read full post »

JULY 19, 2013 5:44PM

Are You a Selective Luddite?

By Daniel Rigney

The luddite, as you may know, is one who resists or opposes new technologies. The original Luddites were named for the legendary and possibly fabricated Ned Ludd, an early 19th century English weaver reputed to have smashed knitting machines in defiance of the coming of industrial a… Read full post »

JULY 17, 2013 3:04PM

Rio in Miniature

sugar loaf redeemer

By Daniel Rigney

If Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges had made Rio de Janeiro the subject of one of his mindbending metaphysical stories, he might have pictured it as a city that contains within itself a replica of itself. That replica would in turn contain… Read full post »