Monday, January 18, 2021
Friday, January 15, 2021
“We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality — judiciously, as you will — we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.” ― Karl Rove
The mainstream news cites court rulings and election officials to defend its claim that the 2020 election was fair. Those who claim it was stolen typically consider mainstream news to be fake. In some of their minds a cabal of leftist pedophiles has infiltrated powerful institutions and gained control. Less than five percent of men are estimated to be pedophiles. No matter how perverse lefties might be, it’s likely that fewer than one in 20 is a pedo. How did so few pedos manage to gain control of everything?
Regardless, both sides can’t be right. One side must be lying. The First Amendment, of course, guarantees Americans’ right to lie their asses off. Or does it? Actually, telling some types of lies can bring legal problems. But many other types of lies are legally bullet proof. Perhaps it’s time to change that up a bit.
Between the years 1949 and 1987, TV and radio stations were bound by the “Fairness Doctrine.” This policy required broadcasters to devote a portion of their programing to issues in the public interest. It also required them to air opposing views.
With no policy like the Fairness Doctrine to restrain them, some broadcasters now freely spew bullshit. With no rules at all, bullshit rules the internet. Take “likes.” When a user likes a Facebook post, that signals Facebook to feed the user other posts offering the same viewpoint. Social scientists say many innate biases influence our behavior. One of these is called “confirmation bias.” This bias describes a human tendency to look for information that confirms what one already believes. Facebook willingly feeds us what we already believe. When we don't consider other viewpoints we cannot grow.
When Russia tries to influence our votes and when its users make hateful statements, Facebook responds with too little too late and promises to do better next time. Suppose instead, Facebook stopped manipulating its feeds and provided its users a stream of mixed viewpoints? That might work somewhat like a Fairness Doctrine. This alone wouldn’t restore a common, more-or-less factual news narrative, but along with fresh, well-conceived laws, Americans might once again share the same reality.
Friday, January 08, 2021
Poor Donny Two Peaches. All at once he lost his Twitter account, his Facebook account, Cabinet members, the respect of many supporters, and now he might be forced into early retirement. Perhaps even prison.
His good buddy Mike is so upset that he hasn't been answering his phone.
Nancy and Chuck no longer want to play with him. Even his buddy Mitch doesn't want to hang out with him anymore.
When will this sad story end? Perhaps on January 20. Perhaps somewhat sooner. Another bad boy, Tricky Dick, got asked to leave. And he did. But this time it's different. Only the other team is saying he should leave. The teammates of Donny Two Peaches haven't asked him to leave the game because they've lost their balls. Only Lisa found her balls. None of the boys. Isn't that silly? Bye-bye balls. Bye-bye integrity.
“This could not be more Orwellian. Simon & Schuster is canceling my contract because I was representing my constituents, leading a debate on the Senate floor on voter integrity, which they have now decided to redefine as sedition. Let me be clear, this is not just a contract dispute. It's a direct assault on the First Amendment. (Yada, yada, yada) We'll see you in court.”
Let’s take a closer look at this. Hawley mentions “Simon & Schuster,” “they” and “sedition” all in the same sentence. But, publisher Simon & Schuster has not accused Hawley of sedition. Hawley’s chief accuser is a PAC called The Lincoln Project which represents disgruntled current and former Republicans. Is his grammatical ambiguity Hawley’s attempt to write in Orwell's Newspeak? It's certainly Orwellian to contest votes for which there’s no evidence of voter fraud, but I digress.
Anyone who occasionally glances at publishing news will know that publishers regularly cancel contracts. They do this for a variety of reasons, but the chief reason is future profits. Publishers are capitalists you see. They’re in business to make money. Perhaps we'll never know the 'true' reason S&S made its decision. Whatever the reason, it's not fair to say, “It's a direct assault on the First Amendment,” because once it passes through a publisher, speech isn’t free anymore, but sold at a profit. At various points in my career I’ve met people who say this sort of thing. Most have an inflated sense of self-entitlement. That seems to be a characteristic of the ruling class, people who like Hawley, attend expensive colleges, suffer from affluenza, and threaten to sue people. The ruling class has a name for those who stormed the Capital naively believing that taking selfies and destroying property will somehow change election results. They’re called sacrificed pawns. They're meant to be lied to, cheated, used and discarded.
Tuesday, December 22, 2020
Fiction, 291 pages
"It's a drag being a cop" ~ Frank Zappa, "Help, I'm a rock"
George Orwell was brainwashed. This happened in Myanmar (formerly Burma) during his five years as a policeman. He was brainwashed by the pukka sahibs’ code. The code of imperialist occupiers. The code of colonial hypocrisy. A code similar to the one currently protested by the BLM movement.
The protagonist of "Burmese Days" is not a policeman. However, John Flory has seen through the code and now belongs nowhere--not in Burma, nor back in England.
"It is a stifling, stultifying world in which to live. It is a world in which every word and every thought is censored. In England it is hard even to imagine such an atmosphere. Everyone is free in England; we sell our souls in public and buy them back in private, among our friends. But even friendship can hardly exist when every white man is a cog in the wheels of despotism. Free speech is unthinkable. All other kinds of freedom are permitted. You are free to be a drunkard, an idler, a coward, a backbiter, a fornicator; but you are not free to think for yourself. Your opinion on every subject of any conceivable importance is dictated for you by the pukka sahibs’ code.
In the end the secrecy of your revolt poisons you like a secret disease. Your whole life is a life of lies. Year after year you sit in Kipling-haunted little Clubs, whisky to right of you, Pink’un to left of you, listening and eagerly agreeing while Colonel Bodger develops his theory that these bloody Nationalists should be boiled in oil. You hear your Oriental friends called ‘greasy little babus’, and you admit, dutifully, that they are greasy little babus. You see louts fresh from school kicking grey-haired servants. The time comes when you burn with hatred of your own countrymen, when you long for a native rising to drown their Empire in blood. And in this there is nothing honourable, hardly even any sincerity. For, au fond, what do you care if the Indian Empire is a despotism, if Indians are bullied and exploited? You only care because the right of free speech is denied you. You are a creature of the despotism, a pukka sahib, tied tighter than a monk or a savage by an unbreakable system of tabus."
John Flory's story isn't a pleasant one. It's a story of a conflicted man wanting, but unable, to do the right thing. I wonder how many good cops feel this way, wanting to improve society but hampered by their coworkers. At any rate, it's a good read. This essay about Orwell and BLM is another good read.
Thursday, August 27, 2020
The Republican Convention this week has been a fibbers festival. You needn’t take my word for it however. News organizations including the New York Times, The Washington Post, and NPR are saying so. I don’t remember any news organization ever calling a president a liar before the current one took office. But there you go. It’s the new normal. Consider the words of U.S. Rep Matt Gaetz who said Democrats would try to, “disarm you, empty the prisons, lock you in your home, and invite MS-13 to live next door.” Gee, I don’t remember the last Democratic president doing those things.
I want to focus on one Big Lie. Trump says he’s a “law and order” president, but that doesn’t mean what one might think. In this case, “law and order” is code for preserving a status quo that keeps a Jim Crow legacy alive. Protests against police victimizing and killing blacks have continued for several months. During daylight hours, these protests have been largely peaceful. During the nights, some of those in much smaller gatherings have acted criminally. These people are not necessarily the same ones who protest peacefully. The Washington Post reports that most of those responsible for deaths related to the protests have not been protesters themselves. Some were white members of the far right.
Since the protests began, the president has lumped peaceful protesters with rioters, ignoring the fact that peaceful protest is a right, rather than a crime. This is dangerous. Once peaceful protest becomes identified with criminal behavior, Americans’ right to free speech will end. The cause is just. The protest is needed. Untruths have no place in democracies.