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Seven Big Names to Watch This Week

Stephen Colbert Goes Iraqi

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

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?

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

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.