Sunday, November 20, 2016

Whom do you trust?

The New York Times has a piece on how just one uninformed tweet about supposed busing-in of anti-Trump protesters went viral. The buses, it turned out, had been chartered for a tech conference.

The guy who made the original tweet claimed he was a busy man who couldn't be expected to check every little fact, and he seemed genuinely surprised his tweet went viral. Um, okay. Tweet in haste, repent at leisure.

Still, the people who made the tweet viral aren't exactly blameless. In this day of so-called "citizen journalism", you're responsible for what you share.

It's popular in some quarters to deride the mainstream media as untrustworthy and biased. In the strictest sense it's true that big-name news outlets make mistakes and have implicit (or explicit) biases. However, it's also true that they have policies in place to keep them from intentional errors, and for the most part the people who work at these outlets don't do it for the money: they do it because they believe in reporting the truth.

The guy who tweets out a random observation may believe he's reporting the truth, too. But does he really care whether he's doing so? The guy who tweeted about the buses didn't care.

If you don't trust the mainstream media, whom do you trust to tell you what's going on in the world? Anyone, whether you know his motives or not? Only those who say things with which you agree?

In that case, you might as well be talking to yourself. And in fact, if you take your distrust far enough, that's exactly where you'll wind up.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

The day after

I remember thinking, after George W. Bush finally won the contested 2000 presidential election, "Well hell, maybe this coke-sniffing intellectual lightweight won't be as bad as everyone's worst fears." Less than a year later we had 11 September 2001 and W's reaction to that is still resonating, with disastrous consequences, today.

I do not want to think about the consequences of today's election down the line, especially since the GOP has control of both houses of Congress as well. Teh Donald is very much on the record as thinking climate change is a hoax. Humanity might well survive climate change as a species, but I guarantee you that human civilization won't if Trumpian (and Inhofe-ian) head-up-ass syndrome persists. I'm glad I don't have kids.

London was taken aback by Brexit; the American bicoastal elites have now been taken aback by Donnie. Reactionary, xenophobic rage is now in charge of the oldest English-speaking nations.

The year started with the loss of Bowie and Prince, among others. Now I'm feeling even sorrier for myself: not only are we without these still-vital artists, but they don't have to witness the triumph of the barbarians.

Monday, November 7, 2016

"How Trump Diagnosed American Politics", Andy Kroll

I've been sparing in how much election coverage I've read these past few weeks: I decided that paying too much attention to this year's election is unduly punishing. But Kroll's piece isn't so much about this election as how we conduct all our campaigns — and how flawed that is. From the obscene amounts of money legally permitted to flow into the process, to the truly asinine (or corrupt?) media coverage, to the insipid lack of honesty in candidates' rhetoric, we've got a lot to fix. On the lack of honesty, Kroll grudgingly thanks Trump for bluntly calling that out early in his campaign. That seems a bit much: we don't thank a heart attack for alerting us to our cardiovascular disease. Moreover, Bernie Sanders also was blunt in his criticisms, and he actually made sense and spoke truthfully.

This isn't a piece that needs to be read before the election's over, but it certainly deserves to be pondered afterwards.