Pop Culture References in The Colbert Report May 2-5, 2011

Pop Culture references from the Colbert ReportWelcome to No Fact Zone’s weekly roundup of cultural references on The Colbert Report. From Darcy to Danger Mouse, String Theory to Shakespeare, we’ve got the keys to this week’s obscure, oddball, and occasionally obscene cultural shout-outs (hey!).

Howdy again, Zoners! What a week this was, filled with all sorts of news, and humorous moments from Stephen and the folks at The Report. I didn’t realized how much time had passed since we first began to search for Bin Laden until Stephen pulled out that cake. The Weakest Link? Seems like yesterday we saw that show come and go. What were your favorite segments?


Long Awaited “We Got Bin Laden” Party

What’s up Bin Laden, you are the weakest link. Goodbye!

Talk about a trip in time machine, I’d forgotten about this game. Weakest Link was a show that aired in American for a little over a year from April 2001 to July 2002. It was based on a British show of the same name, with Anne Robinson as the “Queen of Mean” host. The object of the game is is to create a chain of consecutive correct answers during each round to earn an increasing amount of money for the players (those who remain, that is). At the end of each round a contestant is eliminated by a group vote, and the host makes a snarky remark about why they ansered the question wrong and subsequently informs them that they are “the weakest link.” Although it ended abruptly in the U.S., Robinson continues to host the show in the United Kingdom and will do so until 2012, when her contract expires.

Francis Fukuyama

Osama Bin Laden as a member of mujahideen, funded, backed by the U.S to fight the Soviets.

Mujahideen translates from Arabic as the plural for mujahid – “strugglers” or “people doing jihad.” In 1978, the People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan seized power in Afghanistan in reaction to a crackdown against the party by their government. By late 1979 an internal power struggle caused the breakdown of Afghanistan’s leadership, and Soviet troops entered the country to prevent the new government’s fall, which caused further conflict from radical factions within the country. Over the course of 14 years, the United States (under Carter and Reagan) Between 1978 and 1992, the US government poured an estimated 6 to 20 billion dollars worth of arms, training and funds to prop up the mujaheddin factions. China, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and some Western European also trained and funded the group Reagan described as “freedom fighters.” Osama Bin Laden is said to have received training under the Reagan Doctrine at this time.


Osama bin Laden is Still Dead

I’ve just been handed this exciting news, Bin Laden is still dead.

When I heard this I was instantly reminded of the bit from Saturday Night Live’s Weekend Update with Chevy Chase where he statesGeneralissimo Francisco Franco is still dead.” In fact, the phrase was the first catch phrase of the show, which originated in its first season. Francisco Franco was the head of Spain from 1936 until his death in 1975. News of his lingering illness and imminent death was a news topic for weeks until his death, and Chase turned this into parody and comic gold. The phrase is still found in popular culture and used especially when discussing topics that should be considered common knowledge or are over analyzed.

Your dad, famous coach Buddy Ryan, you’re Rex Ryan, tell me, is everyone in the family named after a dog?

Actually, Rex Ryan is the only Ryan member whose name sounds like a popular pet name. His father Buddy – former head coach of my Philadelphia Eagles (1986-1990) and The Arizona Cardinals (1994-1995) and former defensive coordinator for the Minnesota Vikings (1976-77), Chicago Bears (1978-1986) and Houston Oilers (1993) – was born James David Ryan, Buddy is his nickname. Rex Ryan’s twin brother Rob Ryan ( a defensive coordinator for the Dallas Cowboys) was born Remus, named no doubt for one of the twin founders of Rome (who were said to be suckled by a wolf, so maybe we can find the dog connection there). He also has a brother Jim. Interestingly enough, although it seems like a common name, Rex is not in the top 50 most popular male dog names, but Buddy is (at #2).


Movies That are Destroying America: Saving America Edition

Ayn Rand, whose philosophy of self interest states that the purpose of life is pursuing one’s own happiness with no regard for others. I’d explain it further but why should I care if you understand?

Rational self interest or rational sefishness is a tenet of Ayn Rand’s objectivist philosophy. According to Rand (in The Virtue of Selfishness), it’s not the individual’s duty to sacrifice their self interest to the benefit of others, the purpose of one’s life is the pursuit of one’s own happiness, and not that of others.

Amy Farrell

In the 19th Century people would study body signs for what your character was –
-phrenology, skull bumps.

Phrenology saw its popularity wax and wane in the early 19th century. It was developed in the late 18th century by german physician Franz Joseph Gall, who considered the brain to be the source of all mental activity. He also believed that the brain was made up of 27 ‘organs’ that created one’s personality, and by feeling the bumps in the skull one could determine an individual’s psychological attributes.


Bill James

The only case for whom I have any sympathy for is Winnie Judd from 1932.

Winnie Ruth Judd a.k.a the Trunk Murderess, was the wife a a physician Dr. William Judd, and a medical secretary at a medical center in Phoenix, Arizona. While her husband was busy opening a new practice in Los Angeles, Winnie stayed behind in Phoenix with two roommates, one of which she met at work (Anne LeRoi) and the other (Hedvig Stephenson) was Leroi’s friend and roommate at the time they met . After a fight between the three roommates (allegedly) over a man (Jack Halloran) they were all interested in, Judd shot the two women and (with help) dismembered Samuelson and stuffed her head, torso, and lower legs into a black shipping trunk. The legs were placed in a beige valise and hatbox. Anne LeRoi’s body was stuffed into a second black shipping trunk and carried onto a train to Los Angeles, where Judd attempted to disappear. Although she maintained that she shot the two in self defense, she was found guilty of first-degree murder on February 8, 1932. Initially sentenced to death, she was later committed to the Arizona State Asylum for the Insane, where she escaped 7 times before finally being paroled and released in 1971.

What’s the Honus Wagner card of murder?

The Honus Wagner card is considered the “Mona Lisa” or “Holy Grail” of baseball card collections. The “almost mint” condition 1909 Honus Wagner tobacco card (created and released by the American Tobacco Company) was once owned by Wayne Gretzky, but sold in 2007 for 2.35 million dollars.

wagner card

The Honus is on someone else to cough up more millions for this baby.


  1. lockhart43 says:

    Thanks for the Ayn Rand links. Like I said before, I don’t know a lot about Ayn Rand, but I can safely say I do not agree with her philosophy of rational self-interest. I can understand selfishness in the form of strict survival. It’s understandable that one would pursue their own self-interests when they are literally fighting for their own life; you could even argue individualistic duty and egoism when your life is truly in danger. But that doesn’t mean you should be malicious. On a larger scale, people are good. And even when times are hard, people will do whatever they can to help someone they don’t even know. As a human being, it’s my duty to care for other people, not just myself. Knowingly being selfish when there are others who are way worse off than I am isn’t rational to me.

    And RE: the Amy Farrell interview: Farrell also mentioned the “size of your ears showing criminal tendencies,” a practice which comes from Cesare Lombroso. Lombroso is the founder of the positivist school of criminology (which has, over the years, evolved and rejected his methods as outdated), and held the belief that criminals could be distinguished from noncriminals by their physical characteristics, such as the size of their head or ears, or the length of their arms.

    Great post, Toad! Any post that gets me thinking about philosophy and ethics is a good one. :)

  2. “The cigarette of quality.” Awesome. Those were the good ‘ol days.

    Also, I can’t claim to have read any of Rand’s work either, but I do have interest in her perspective from an evolutionary standpoint, per lockhart43’s comment. An animal’s genes aren’t concerned in the slightest with the social contentedness or survival of other species, but only focus on evolving and adapting such that the species it serves can “win out” over others. Now, if we want to extrapolate this conversation to include more contemporary (if young and less researched) views on evolutionary psychology, we might ask or try theorizing to what extent animal knowledge or sentience (of this genetic selfishness) affects said social contentedness/influence… or something like that (I’m only halfway through a book on the topic).

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