I found the highest resolution photograph of the clock I could. Instantly, I was disappointed. Somewhere in all of this – there has indeed been a hoax. Ahmed Mohamed didn’t invent his own alarm clock. He didn’t even build a clock. Now, before I go on and get accused of attacking a 14 year old kid who’s already been through enough, let me explain my purpose. I don’t want to just dissect the clock. I want to dissect our reaction as a society to the situation. Part of that is the knee-jerk responses we’re all so quick to make without facts. So, before you scroll down and leave me angry comments, please continue to the end (or not – prove my point, and miss the point, entirely!)
For starters, one glance at the printed circuit board in the photo, and I knew we were looking at mid-to-late 1970s vintage electronics. Surely you’ve seen a modern circuit board, with metallic traces leading all over to the various components like an electronic spider’s web. You’ll notice right away the highly accurate spacing, straightness of the lines, consistency of the patterns. That’s because we design things on computers nowadays, and computers assist in routing these lines. Take a look at the board in Ahmed’s clock. It almost looks hand-drawn, right? That’s because it probably was.
Computer aided design was in its infancy in the 70s. This is how simple, low cost items (like an alarm clock) were designed. Today, even a budding beginner is going to get some computer aided assistance – in fact they’ll probably start there, learning by simulating designs before building them. You can even simulate or lay out a board with free apps on your phone or tablet. A modern hobbyist usually wouldn’t be bothered with the outdated design techniques. There’s also silk screening on the board. An “M” logo, “C-94” (probably, a part number – C might even stand for “clock”), and what looks like an American flag. More about that in a minute. Point for now being, a hobbyist wouldn’t silk screen logos and part numbers on their home made creation. It’s pretty safe to say already we’re looking at ’70s tech, mass produced in a factory.
So I turned to eBay, searching for vintage alarm clocks. It only took a minute to locate Ahmed’s clock. See this eBay listing, up at the time of this writing. Amhed’s clock was invented, and built, by Micronta, a Radio Shack subsidary. Catalog number 63 756.Ahmed's clock may be junk, but the Narrate-o-Matic is working fine; bullshit goes in, narrative honey comes out. So yes Ahmed, do bring your clock when you report to the White House; it doesn't matter if it's any good, it needn't actually tell time even (the President knows what time it is, I assure you). But after you, it's the second most important prop for this presidential photo-op.
But here’s a different, more relevant kind of Flash Mob:
But then. A writing staff is, in many ways, the soul of a show. The 19 people Colbert selected for The Late Show will decide much about how his influential platform will do its influencing. And Colbert himself, furthermore, is someone who—based on interviews he’s given as himself rather than the characters he has played on The Colbert Report and, now, The Late Show—seems to think deeply about the structures and systems that make the world what it is. He seems to understand, in a way many comedians don’t, that even the most innocuous kinds of “entertainment” play a role in defining culture.What progressives don't seem to understand is that these white, overwhelmingly male (and Jewish, but who's counting?) writers are doing advocacy on behalf of "women and minorities" that they, and their humorless advocates in "serious" journalism are incapable of doing for themselves. If these shows were to yield completely, and make their comedy staffs resemble Bennetton ads, they wouldn't survive to then to take their (dubious) role "defining culture" for the rest of us rubes. Unless of course they adopt the corporate model many of us who work for a living know: have the white guys do the heavy lifting and place the diversity hires in harmless, window-dressing positions. This is hard to do when your job is to sit in a room and compete to see who has the best ideas. Indeed, putting a token-hire discrimination-lawsuit-in-waiting in that humbling environment has the potential to be much more than the standard cost of doing business it is for corporate America. Colbert knows, even if he won't allow himself to learn from it, that his writing staff, like Tom Wolfe's protagonist in Bonfire of the Vanities says of the similarly non-diverse bond room at the fictional Pierce & Pierce, is "no place for empty gestures."
And Colbert himself, furthermore, is someone who—based on interviews he’s given as himself rather than the characters he has played seems to think deeply [read: correctly] about the structures and systems that make the world what it is. He seems to understand, in a way many comedians don’t, that even the most innocuous kinds of “entertainment” play a role in defining culture.
thumbnail: Look magazine cover (1/27/1970), featuring article title "Transsexuals: Male or Female?" You say dysphoria, I say di...