Fake news. Who should be the judge?

ZOMG!!1! I saw this meme, or was it a tweet? Or a meme of a tweet? on the internet today, and it looked really urgent and seemed legit and everything, because it had quotes. And it told me to share, so here!! !

trump-bannon-quote

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Ben Carson

Fear and loathing in Ben Carson’s brain

I am Ben Carson’s guilty conscience.

Ben CarsonWith the way things have progressed recently, I have been feeling ever so worse than usual, and it was already pretty rough being me. People don’t know the things that eat at me. If they did, they would wonder how I could sleep at night. All they know is the image that I give them when I hold my head up high every day. All they know is what they believe of me. God bless them, so many of them seem to think the world of me. If only they knew. And then there’s the mockery. That really tears at me because it’s so much closer to who I truly am. I feel like a fraud, a fake, a phony. I feel like I have great talents, and so much to offer to the world, but then so many things I’ve done have gone wrong. I’ve had great responsibility and failed it time and again. I feel like I’ve been advanced way beyond my competence and my expertise. When that has happened before, people died. How many more must die? Continue reading

faux-journalism

Today in faux journalism: don’t look now, but did Fox just punk Breitbart?

The New York Times, Breitbart, FOX News and more: clown cars on parade.

fauxnewsUpdate 11/13/2016 11:26 AM MST: the letter has been found. Ms. Ember tweeted this morning, at 6:57 AM (probably unrelated to my post):

The letter was not an apology.

The link is indeed to nytimes.com. It’s now text, not graphical. Quote searches actually do turn it up in Google searches with NYT getting top billing.

At that level, this is a non-story. Maybe it was always a non-story. If that’s the only interesting part, then you may wish to enjoy your time browsing other content because this will take about 1600 words to disappoint you.

If, instead, you’re looking for a cautionary tale on the hazards of social media sharing, horse race reporting, poor sourcing in online news articles, and perverse misreadings of the same letter, then by all means read and share. It’s perfectly okay to tell your friends, “don’t be that guy,” while pointing in my direction. I’ll wear my scarlet letter with pride if it helps to stop smart people from doing dumb things just because the Internet is a free-for-all where, as with the polls, intelligence is no bar to participation.

As to whether the letter is an apology, that’s the job of the reader to decide. It doesn’t sound like one to me, especially coupled with the content of Sulzberger’s staff memo introduced herein. It’s a boast, a double-down, a strut, and a promise of more of the same.

Recently I urged readers to “buy a damned newspaper.” Today I add a caveat: “except that one.” Get all the free content you can out of them, but unless you’re a centrist who has been well served by the Old Gray Mare, one really has to wonder if keeping them in filthy lucre is really worth the political fallout of buying top-flight crossword puzzles and book reviews that are but props for pastel yellow journalism. Pastel? To the extent yellow journalism is characterized by crude exaggeration, that’s not NYT’s schtick. It’s what they underplay as part of their bias that makes them a menace to society.

—–

There is something fishy going on in the news at the moment. Surprise, surprise! Allow me to recount my Facebook adventure for your edification and amusement.

First, I noticed a Blaze article in my feed (yeah, I read all manner of stuff, but then I weigh it and note omissions…sometimes…because I’m fallible): New York Times publisher vows to ‘rededicate’ paper to ‘honest’ reporting after Trump’s big win.

They quote a letter, verbatim and in its entirety, from NYT Publisher Arthur O. Sulzberger, Jr, but without linking to it. Here’s the first graf of the article by Chris Enloe: Continue reading

Journalism

Action plan #1: buy a damned newspaper

Image1 for post Journalism in an era of onerous deadlines? Not so good anymoreUnless you’ve missed every headline and item in your social media feed, you might have noticed that there’s a lot of wailing and gnashing of teeth today. That’s okay. Get it out of your systems. But for the love of all that you hold dear, try to keep it brief, okay? We need action more than tears. And we need it sooner rather than later.

But what action? Where do we start? Well, as a person with a long history of bitching and moaning instead of acting, I’ve had enough. I don’t want to keep being the person who shows up only to complain. So I’m going to start pitching ideas for action. Some of them will suck. Some will be amazing. They should all be prompts for you, Dear Reader, to do the same. Come up with plans for action. Do them. And pitch them to your friends and anyone else that will listen so they can do them, too.

So what’s this great first idea I’m pitching? Buy a damned newspaper. Continue reading

Police Violence

What if cops were Skittles?

According to Vox, police have killed over 2,000 people since Ferguson. Their map of fatal encounters illustrates the point with red dots.

That made me wonder. What if cops were Skittles?
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Never forget…what, exactly?

Yesterday, Big Think posted an interesting collection of Gallup Poll results, along with some commentary: Obama Actually Made America Great Again. Here’s the Data. To hear the rabidly irrational Obama opposition on today, of all days, I can only say that these are funny numbers to describe how Obama has ruined America in eight years.

What’s truly deplorable is that, of all the ways Bush (with a boost from Dems) ruined America Continue reading

CATEGORY: ScienceTechnology

Good science. Bad blogging.

CriticalThinking300Bad science journalism is almost as bad as bad science, perhaps worse in some ways, insofar as it may popularize error where there had been none before. Carping about bad science blogging, on the other hand, should probably be beneath me, at least most of the time, because hey, at least there’s folks trying, right? Isn’t this just another case of XKCD’s “someone is wrong on the Internet?

Well, here’s two examples. I’ll let the critical reader decided for themselves whether or not they serve to engender better critical reading more generally speaking. Continue reading

Personhood

Pence and fetal funerals, all sturm, no drang

“Thinking” about personhood.

personhood-explainedMother Jones: Pence Signed a Law Requiring Burial or Cremation for Aborted Fetuses

Pence, whom Donald Trump announced as his vice presidential running mate on Friday, signed the law that made Indiana the second state ever, after North Dakota, to pass a ban on abortions carried out for certain reasons. The law also imposed liability for wrongful death on doctors that perform an abortion motivated by one of the prohibited reasons. And, as Mother Jones reported in March, the law also required that health care facilities inter or cremate the remains of an aborted fetus, and prohibited fetal tissue donation.

It is true that Gov. Pence signed this law. Continue reading

Pew Research, February data, and Trump’s assault on separation of church and state

ZOMG, it must be a right-wing plot!

Maybe.

But Pew Research posted this data on the relationship between U.S. religious groups and their political leanings not so very long ago. Consider this when considering the ramifications of Trump’s promise to make speech free at the pulpit again. Continue reading

Commies and Hillary and Satan, oh my!

There’s truth, and there’s truth.

Re: Ben Carson connects Clinton to Satan in convention address @ Yahoo News

“Her senior thesis was about Saul Alinsky,” said Carson. “This was someone that she greatly admired and that affected all of her philosophies subsequently. Now interestingly enough, let me tell you something about Saul Alinsky: He wrote a book called “Rules for Radicals.” On the dedication page, it acknowledges Lucifer, ‘the original radical who gained his own kingdom.’” Continue reading

What’s a little martial law between friends?

Wait, isn’t that what they’re asking for?

Cleveland Police Calling for Open Carry Ban at RNC After Baton Rouge Shootings

This just gets touchier and more complex as the hours roll by. I feel like I’m watching a tennis match. I’m seriously gonna get a crick in my neck at this rate.

Martial law, simplified: when the government suspends ordinary law for the sake of keeping things orderly and peaceful during the kinds of extreme circumstances the government claims warrant their entirely reasonable reaction.

Look out. We’re gonna get martial law! Continue reading

Donald Trump

New Yorker starts analysis of Trump with, “honestly…”

What have we learned about that?

Well, actually, the headline is just a hair away from that, “Being honest about Trump.” I think it qualifies, though. So would WSJ in this piece, I think.

For all of my complaints about Glopnik’s article, I love his description of the center:

“While the habits of hatred get the better of the right, the habits of self-approval through the fiction of being above it all contaminate the center.”

One has to love this much naive honesty. The problem with their fiction is that they’ve believed their own PR just a bit too much. Continue reading

BLM

#WhichCorpsesMatter

That’s what I want to know

Here’s my big reason to care about the #BlackLivesMatter versus #AllLivesMatter jousting match. I’m not the sentimental sort. I don’t have a deeply personal interest in the deeply personal pain countless families are feeling, whether by race, or by innocence of victim, or even the families of the police. If I spent time on those feelings, it would just be sadness. My sadness and $5 will get you a cup of fancy coffee somewhere. My reason is abstract, because any particular dead person is a particular case of a general phenomenon, and might not adhere to any particular script very well.

I’m even cynical enough to consider the striking possibility that both sides are “wrong” depending on how one defines the sides and defines what they mean by wrong. Continue reading

Cui bono: how did Berrien County, Michigan hit the headlines?

Horse race reportage, part umpteen. Special Edition: Not Election Coverage

I first spotted this tragic news at BBC, when there wasn’t yet anything world newsworthy about it, even from their own coverage perspective. One might notice the author was in such a rush to post they didn’t even bother to finish writing it first. The telltale error of haste that reveals the race to the bottom should embarrass an author not yet qualified to have their own byline.

Rule 1 of race to the bottom reporting: Be sure to include factoids that do not advance the non-story even a little, and don’t bother to edit it when done. Continue reading

BLM

Why does Roger Ailes want to see Mississippi burn?

Or Rudy Giuliani or the rest of the crew at Fox News?

Photography by Jonathan Bachman

Let me set this straight very simply. Someone punches me in the face. Repeatedly. I manage to get up and punch them back.

Ghouliani would have us believe that I am the instigator in that case.

Seriously, it is THAT simple.

Do I agree entirely with BLM tactics, rhetoric, source of funding, etc., etc., about a bunch of things I’m just not wasting my precious life fact-checking? No. Continue reading

#blacklivesmatter versus #alllivesmatter

White man ISO white people to explain something to me

I have yet to take a strong stand on this whole #blacklivesmatter and #alllivesmatter and #bluelivesmatter and #enoughwiththehashtagsmatter issue, and I’m fairly certain it’s a privilege thing that I, as a cisgendered white hetero man in farm country, have this luxury. I can’t help that. Continue reading

Can we just repeal the Fourth Amendment?

We’re not really using it anyway

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

DUI checkpoints. Stop and frisk. Racial profiling. Total Information Awareness. CIA. NSA. AT&T. Surveillance state. Cheek swabs. No-knock warrants. Civil forfeiture. More civil forfeiture. Border searches, subpoenas instead of warrants, metadata, facial recognition, medical records. Expanded background checks. Continue reading

Sexual Transgressions #5

ArtsWeek: Bringing up the rear with anti-art (NSFW)

What the hell is this art thing, anyhow?

This goes out to every tween with a feeling and a pen or a brush or a stick and a bucket and a bad attitude. It goes out to anyone who has ever created something that wouldn’t be denied, however stillborn and misbegotten. It goes out to every Duchamp who would of a urinal a fountain declare. It goes out to every primitive, every crafter, every maker, and especially every faker. Because, once upon a time, a guy named Zod told me not to kneel. He taught me the hidden wisdom of the artist. Continue reading

CATEGORY: BusinessFinance

On labor and survival of the species

I’ve had a political reckoning, of sorts.

CATEGORY: BusinessFinanceAs much as I hate boxes and labels, I think I’ve finally figured out where my political inclinations actually lean. I’m labor, but we have no party that I’d currently be comfortable with.

Basically, I think the workers should benefit equally with capital, and I’ll work with my own loosey-goosey definitions so I don’t get bogged down by not speaking fluent socialist or capitalist, and trust that a better-read reader will get the gist of what I’m saying. I’m open to correction, but it’s the point, not how I say it that matters. Now, if my gist is wrong, I need to know that for sure. Otherwise, this is what I’m going with.

Without labor, nothing happens. Our labor has worth. Push that idea far enough so that labor takes predominance and one lands somewhere in socialism or communism or some such -ism. But I’m not so quick to condemn the management and financial classes as I believe my comrades on the far left are wont to do. Continue reading