Zod and Shapiro: Episode 1

Zod & Shapiro are Neil Waytowich (@WaytowichNeil) and Ari Shapiro (@ari_shapiro).

They’ve finally combined forces to address the chronic and existential imbalance of societal lies, government misinformation and political hypocrisy that’s permeated our world endlessly.

We welcome our shared glorious followers, recent admirers, and fellow soothsayers interested in our philosophical musings on life, the universe and everything.

This is episode 1 of many to come. Please enjoy.

This show’s quotes and segments:

1:01 – Ontario MPP Rick Nicholls opens his mouth on a national stage and what flies out will leave you as crestfallen as we are.

5:21 – Fund-raising deception , CPC style; Ford’s donors get their rude awakening through snake oil style shenanigans

7:40 – Trudeau gambles on an early election that’s high on political opportunism and completely bereft of any sensible consideration

16:12 – Rob Ford and the awesome perks of governance with little accountability or oversight (aka raiding the coffers)

19:51 – Will Trudeau’s scandals come back to haunt him? WE Charity, SNC Lavalin, the Two Michaels and a history of oddly timed Blackface appearances…

22:35 – Spavor and Kovrig in the Phantom Zone; what’s to be done when it comes to defending the significance of being a Canadian?

24:48 – O’Toole’s mantra still sounds like it should have been Peter MacKay

Whiskey and Cream: Episode XXI

Whiskey & Cream for July 14th, 2021

Host: Ari Shapiro

0:40-10:05: “We have to remember to stop because we have to stop to remember”

There was a time before the days of pandemic entropy and woe where the celebration of a traditional monotheistic reason to gather at the end of the week and drink wine while surrounded by loving friends and family was considered to be as symbolically celestial as it was psychologically necessary. The Sabbath has always stood the test of Judeo-Christian time in that its very existence is a testament to the need for human socialization and cathartic release. But in an increasingly volatile and beleaguered world where eight-second attention spans mixed with crushing rates of anxiety and despair tend to prioritize the work week, it has become more vital than ever for us to consider why the holy day of rest might be the last bastion in taking a precious moment and remembering why our history, values and identity deserve to be honored with a reason to gather and celebrate life – even when the candles have long dimmed and the future remains uncertain.

Judith Shulevitz is an American journalist, editor and culture critic who has written for The New Republic, New York Times Book Review and The New York Times. When she wrote “The Sabbath World: Glimpses of a Different Order of Time” over a decade ago and considered the question of what a holy day of rest represents to human culture and our sense of tradition, she unwittingly stumbled upon a powerful narrative that looks at the importance of gathering around the hearth and relishing in the flickering flames of family unity and interpersonal growth that allows us to find solace in a brutally unforgiving world filled with historical revisionism and lonely hearts.

Music: “Paranoid” performed by 4Tune Quarter

10:07-21:41: “Vulgo superiorum suffugit”

It’s hard enough to chart a path towards a successful post-secondary educational journey that ends with the promise of a financially sustainable career let alone identifying which area of life one wishes to become a proverbial subject matter expert capable of garnering respect and self-worth. Gone are the halcyon days of considering a college or university that is as affordable as it is established in its tenured professors, course flexibility and prestigious value. Instead, the United States has led the western world in revealing an inherent crisis in the very nature of how we learn, what we’re taught and where we use our acquired skills and tuition experiences to create a prosperous life amidst all this societal disarray. Until we start unpacking the twin beasts of insurmountably crushing debt caused by over-zealous for-profit public institutions and the increasingly diminished scholastic freedom of speech and critical-thinking on campus, the prospect of a bona fide higher learning education that’s worth pursuing will continue to remain precisely what it’s become: a mug’s game in a fool’s paradise.

Dr. Mike Nietzel is president emeritus at Missouri State University and holds a Ph.D. In clinical psychology. He’s authored and published books on higher education and contributes regularly to Forbes magazine while remaining a champion against the perils of an academic system that’s floundering mightily and absolutely trending in the wrong direction. For him, it’s all about looking at the scales of systemic unfairness and balancing them against a generational reckoning that’s changed the way students and parents look at how higher learning is considered from both a political and existential reality.

Music: “School’s Out” performed by Alice Cooper

21:45-29:18: “A Russian, a Canadian, and an American walk into a hockey rink…”

True to form – and really, this is how it should have ended – the NHL’s best team, The Tampa Bay Lightning, captured their second Stanley Cup in a row thus earning the title of being the best pandemic team in the sport of hockey. And although their victory was sublime and came with major accolades from their peers and fans alike, there’s still the bigger issue of why players like Nikita Kucherov and Andrei Vasilevskiy aren’t given their due as not only the best in class, but also the finest talent that the league has to offer considering the decades-long anti-Russian sentiment which permeates to this very day. While fans in Toronto continue to lament a 54-year old tradition of losing and being known as losers, the rest of the league needs to make sure it takes the time, effort and investment of honoring international contributions from athletes whose penchant for winning is reflected in their multicultural roots.

Michael Mazzei is a graduate of the Ryerson journalism program and sportswriter whose work can be found on The Leafs Nation, Maple Leafs Hotstove, CBC and The Fan 590. His passion for the NHL and Canadian hockey has become both a blessing and a curse in a modern culture that rationalizes mediocrity in a manner that’s left him coldly analytical when it comes to the future. Being a Maple Leafs fans for the better part of one’s life will do that, as does accepting the fact that NHL is as flawed a business organization as one can find when it comes to understanding the strange manner in which it often treats their players who aren’t born in North America.

Music: “The Sound of Silence” performed by Charlie Melodia

29:20-35:59: “There’s no punishment for bad journalism in the world”

Before the Rachel Nichols controversy jumped the shark and revealed to everyone that high-octane gonzo journalism has become less about the story and more about who’s framing the narratives, ESPN was already in a heap of serious trouble. The network has steadily destroyed whatever credibility was constructed over years of dominant sports media by wading into a litany of controversies encompassing racism, sexism and nepotism at breathtaking levels of banality; just ask Doug Adler or Bob Costas or Maria Taylor how they feel. And although ESPN President Jimmy Pitaro joined the organization to bring forth less politics and more sports into the equation, it’s abundantly clear that they’ve got a long way to go in addressing a culture where substance is devalued in the face of click-bait shenanigans.

Marshall Auerback is a fellow of Economists on Peace and Security who writes for international publications ranging from Muck Rack to American Compass to Forbes magazine. As a seasoned and literary critic of sports teams and narratives, it should come as no surprise that the contempt he holds for a time-honored leader in sports journalism is born elegantly out of the fact that there’s no accountability for bad writing, horrible stories and incorrect takes in a world where polarized views of so-called industry propriety and morality dominate the underlying need for cold, hard transparency.

Music: “Pigeon Lake” performed by Daniel Steidtmann

“Whiskey & Cream Theme” written and performed by Chris Henderson.

Whiskey and Cream: Episode XX

Whiskey & Cream for June 19th, 2021

Host: Ari Shapiro

0:38-8:15: “”Canada and Islamophobia: Hypocrisy lives here”

How quickly so many have forgotten that a deranged, hate-filled gunman stormed a Quebec City mosque back in January 2017 and brutally murdered six men while injuring 19 others, splintering a close-knit Muslim-Canadian community already grappling with xenophobic prejudice in their neighbourhoods. By March of that year, a Liberal MP (Iqra Khalid) tabled a crucial parliamentary motion following the attack that directly condemned the “fear of Islam” as a form of religious discrimination and source of racism across Canada. Although Motion 103 was subsequently adopted and heralded as a progressive triumph of social and cultural solidarity over political grandstanding, it also resulted in 91 Conservative and Bloc Quebecois members voting against it, including the current leader of the opposition Erin O’Toole.

Karim Kanji is a celebrated political and cultural podcaster whose “Welcome To The Music” show has earned him legions of fans who appreciate his disarming candor and real honesty with guests. For him, the London, Ontario attack on a Muslim family that left a nine-year old boy orphaned remains a powerfully tragic reminder that Islamophobia is alive and well in a country that’s always been high on good intentions and low on political results – especially when it comes to growing communities and embracing the multicultural nature of this country.

8:21-15:45: “A disease does not fully exist in America until it has a business model”

Biogen’s Aduhelm has arrived like a bolt out of the blue and changed the way the world is looking at Alzheimer’s disease. Suddenly, a horrific condition which has had little or no medical progress in treatment for decades and is the sixth leading killer in the United States has met its match and been challenged by the marvels of a pandemic world where science lifts us away from sheer futility and into the realm of endless possibility. However, three members of the FDA’s advisory board resigned in protest when it was discovered that the drug had been approved for far broader use and without any substantial consultation. In fact, 10 out of their 11 members voted to reject the application and yet here we are. At $56,000 a year for treatment that doesn’t even begin to address how badly a burden it will place on medicare or socialized medicine if you factor in physician, imaging and infusion center expenses that will more than double the overall cost. Many industry experts believe it’s only worth around $8,000 in raw manufactured costs, leading many to seriously wonder: is this the latest snake oil from big pharma?

Dr. Jason Karlawish is an American physician and researcher in the field of bioethics, aging and the neurosciences. He’s also written a series of critically-acclaimed books on the subject, including: Open Wound, Treating Dementia, and The Problem With Alzheimer’s – How Science, Culture and Politics Turned a Rare Disease into a Crisis and What We Can Do About It. For him, it all comes down to trusting and believing in medical regulatory agencies that have traditionally held the best interests of their patients in mind well before aggrandizing their voracious need for profits, and to have government protect their citizens from the exploitation of big pharma and the scourge of false hope.

15:23-21:02: “Say it ain’t so, Robby: the gradual extinction of the modern day baseball hero”

To be banned from Major League Baseball is a terrible thing – especially considering how morally, ethically and existentially the game has gone to rot. Fairly or not, the list of “undesirables” includes Shoeless Joe Jackson for dubiously cheating, Pete Rose for unrepentant gambling, Marge Schott for virulent racism, and Brandon Taubman for being a lying, cheating misanthrope whose conduct shamed the entire sport and a whole generation of disbelieving fans. And now we can add Roberto Alomar’s name to the list as a reminder that fame, fortune and influence is fleeting when humility and decency are lacking, leading us all to a place where the emperor has no clothes.

Shi Davidi is an MLB columnist and insider with Rogers Sportsnet. As someone who’s covered the Blue Jays legend for years, it comes as no surprise to him that fan nostalgia would cloud the reality of what unfolded to a man who’s become synonymous with those glorious World Series championship years. Alomar’s troubles are less about the “woke” culture we live in and more about a rapid disintegration of respect for the national pastime and their fans. For him, the struggle to reconcile a hero’s fall from grace is never easy when the game is running out of role models for the next generation.

21:11-28:30: “An inspirational league for inspired players”

Basketball in Canada might single-handedly solve our collective problems with bigotry and prejudice. That might sound like hyperbole, but when measured up against other professional sports leagues (and most contemporary western governments for that matter), there’s a community-first reality to the NBA that you don’t find with football, baseball or even hockey. It’s a business mentality that started with the belief that their players remain the most important facet of their success and that everything else is secondary when it comes to the welfare and integrity of the sport.

Dashawn Stephens is a Canadian journalist and social media influencer. In 2019, he founded PRSVRE, an athlete-empowered brand and sports-media platform based in Toronto that sheds light on the inspiration derived from collegiate sports and grass roots storytelling. In doing so, it’s shaped an appreciation for the trials and tribulations that underprivileged youth and marginalized athletes face in their quest for excellence and made him into a true crusader for the importance of community-oriented and culturally vibrant philosophies in life.

“Whiskey & Cream Theme” written and performed by Chris Henderson.

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