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Seven Big Names to Watch This Week

Stephen Colbert Goes Iraqi

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Stephen Colbert

Late night faux-newsman Stephen Colbert will be broadcasting four shows
from Baghdad, Iraq next week in a USO tour entitled, “Operation Iraqi
Stephen: Going Commando.” Colbert is usually known for his online punking
of various governmental agencies–think of the write-in contest
to name NASA’s new space module, which may end up being named after Colbert
thanks to an open online vote his fans dominated. But this time, he tells the AP, he’s
going to Baghdad for a nobler cause: To try to get people talking about
Iraq again. With discussions of Middle East policy reigning the news
cycle, that won’t be easy. Read the AP’s full interview at the New York Times.

Is
Oprah’s Brand Diseased?

Jenny McCarthy and Oprah

Oprah’s long been a titanic force in American media, and she’s often used it to promote her favorite things (witness the Kindle). But her recent endorsements of homeopathy, and her willingness to give
anti-vaccine crusaders like Jenny McCarthy (pictured) a platform on her show, may have finally inspired ill-will with viewers. Newsweek and other
outlets
are attacking her for promulgating what they say is pseudoscientific
and
dangerous “medical” advice to her legions of fans. Check out
Jezebel’s summation of the anti-Oprah sentiment.

Nintendo:
One with Your Body

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Satoru Iwata

VentureBeat cornered Nintendo CEO Satoru Iwata at the E3 video game
conference and asked him about the future of interactive gaming. Iwata doesn’t disappoint; the man who mid-wived the birth of motion-interactive gaming (as it’s iterated in the Wii) has plenty to
say about how body interfacing is going to change the way we play
games, and how they play with us. Next on Nintendo’s agenda: sensors
that read a gamer’s heart rate, enabling games to react to a player’s
level of excitement.

Yeah,
This Guy Again

You’ve probably heard about loopy technologist Ray Kurzweil, the
futurist and engineer who
is quite confident that the human brain will be one with the computer
within our lifetimes–something he calls the Singularity. When he’s not
ranting and raving about his cyborg visions, Kurzweil is
doing some useful studies of all sorts of data, showing how the
upcoming decades will bring technology that is both incrementally
cheaper and radically different than what we’re used to (think of
self-assembling molecular transistors). So why revisit this guy? He
just won financial backing from NASA and Google to start something
called the Singularity University, where students will study the
advancement of computer technology. Check out the video, courtesy of
TED, below.

Steve Jobs Barely Alive?

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Steve Jobs

We all knew Steve was too skinny when he walked on stage for his last
two Apple keynote addresses, but according to the Wall Street Journal, he was close to starving to death because of an inability
to digest protein. At the time, Jobs dismissed his thinness as the
result of a “common bug.” Read Valleywag’s recap if you
don’t have a WSJ subscription.

Zach Who?

Zach Galifianakis

You might recognize the wooly Zach Galifianakis from his bizarre
starring role in a recent Kanye
West video
that went viral. Now the unpronounceable comedian is back in a
slightly bigger role, as part of a dysfunctional trio of friends in The Hangover.”
This guy is funny, and this movie could be his foray into a Seth
Rogen-level of household recognition. Better learn how to say
“Galifianakis”; start by watching his interview with David Letterman here.

Big
Ben

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Ben Bernanke

While Obama’s Cairo speech has left-wingers caught up in adulation and
right-wingers outraged, the American economy has been quietly,
well, not
collapsing. An article in this week’s New York magazine
credits the bookish Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke for keeping the country
from devolving into depression, and predicts he might become the Alan
Greenspan of sustainable growth and recovery (or, less sardonically,
the “greatest Federal Reserve chairman in history.”) The article is
written by TV investing guru Jim Cramer, so take his incessant
bullishness with proper skepticism–but the article’s argument stands
on its own.

About the author

I've written about innovation, design, and technology for Fast Company since 2007. I was the co-founding editor of FastCoLabs.

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