Chris Aldrich is reading “West Virginia mayor resigns after racist Michelle Obama Facebook post”

West Virginia mayor resigns after racist Michelle Obama Facebook post by John Newsome (CNNPolitics.com)
The mayor of Clay, West Virginia, has resigned and another county official is out following their exchange over a racist Facebook post that compared first lady Michelle Obama to an "ape in heels." The county employee, Pamela Taylor, worked as director of the Clay County Development Corporation and wrote on Facebook: "It will be so refreshing to have a classy, beautiful, dignified First Lady back in the White House. I'm tired of seeing a (sic) Ape in heels," according to a screengrab obtained by CNN affiliate WSAZ.
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Chris Aldrich is reading “Want to keep fake news out of your newsfeed? College professor creates list of sites to avoid”

Want to keep fake news out of your newsfeed? College professor creates list of sites to avoid by Jessica Roy (latimes.com)
During the election, many people fell prey to fake news stories on social media -- even the president-elect ended up retweeting fake statistics. A professor of communication has created a list of unreliable news sites to help people do better.
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Chris Aldrich is reading “Facebook Restores Iconic Vietnam War Photo It Censored for Nudity”

Facebook Restores Iconic Vietnam War Photo It Censored for Nudity by Mark Scott and Mike Isaac (nytimes.com)(5 days 21 hours 14 minutes 10 seconds)
The social network was criticized for removing the image of a naked girl fleeing napalm, renewing questions about the company’s role in what can be published online.
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Chris Aldrich is reading “Why use MarsEdit for posting to WordPress?”

Why use MarsEdit for posting to WordPress? (quora.com)
One big reason is the ability to compose your entries while offline. WordPress does not (yet) allow for the web interface to be used offline. Also, if you po...
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Chris Aldrich is reading “How Journalists Failed in 2016—and What We Must Do When Trump Takes Office”

How Journalists Failed in 2016--and What We Must Do When Trump Takes Office by Isaac Chotiner (Slate Magazine)
Donald Trump's catastrophic victory on Tuesday night poses the single greatest threat in generations to what we Americans quaintly call our way of life ...
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A miss bigger than a missed story: my final reflections on Trump and the press in 2016 | PressThink

A miss bigger than a missed story: my final reflections on Trump and the press in 2016 by Jay Rosen (PressThink)
A shift in political culture away from journalism’s grasp.

I just finished reading Jay Rosen’s fantastic piece on his reactions to the 2016 Presidential election which he wrote just before the election itself. It has a stunning take on what was going on before the election and indicates to a great extent why things have gone so drastically wrong. For those who are heavily concerned with what has happened, it also directly indicates a large part of what was missed and therefore provides the base problem so that we might all do a better job of protecting against it in the near future.

In part, he discusses the concept of fact checking and why Trump didn’t appear to care if anyone was fact checking his statements. Personally, the blatant lies that he was telling on a regular basis were even more disconcerting to me than some of this less than civil behavior. Rosen goes into some reasonable depth on this particular issue and its recent history which is very illuminating. Sadly it doesn’t make me any more happy about our present situation.

Yesterday I read something by a philosopher, Jason Stanley, that illuminated what I mean by “a miss bigger than a missed story.” Beyond Lying: Donald Trump’s Authoritarian Reality. Stanley made the point that fact checking Trump in a way missed the point. Trump was not trying to make reference to reality in what he said to win votes. He was trying to substitute “his” reality for the one depicted in news reports.

“On a certain level, the media lacked the vocabulary to describe what was happening,” Stanley writes. And I agree with that. He compares what Trump did to totalitarian propaganda, which does not attempt to depict the world but rather substitutes for it a ruthlessly coherent counter-narrative that is untroubled by any contradiction between itself and people’s experience.

I find large portions of the Trump narrative similar to the story of “The emperor with no clothes.” Reality may be what you can manage to get others to believe, but in a reasonable democracy truth must manage to win out. While I think that it’s almost certainly the case that a small minority of the populace really wanted to vote for Trump, how did he manage to capture the remainder? The “I won’t vote for Hilary segment” certainly gave him an additional fraction of the vote. Then people who were traditional Republicans who couldn’t bring themselves to vote Democrat added another piece of the pie. (Sadly, some of those who repudiated him during the end of the campaign seem to be falling right back in line for their piece of patronage.) Many are simply hurting and want to believe anyone who will give them someone to blame for it and a possible glimmer of a solution. Sadly, I expect these last people to be hurt the most at the end of the day when they realize too late that the emperor is naked.

But other than outright lying, how did Trump connect with some of the electorate? I’ve written before on Trump’s use of doubletalk, which I still feel is a significant factor in his capturing a large part of the populace. See also: Complexity isn’t a Vice: 10 Word Answers and Doubletalk in Election 2016 for this argument. Rosen’s discussion of facts is, to me, the other major missing piece.

I also wonder if it’s possibly the case that in an ever sub-specializing world that people have somehow lost the time, effort, or even inclination to attempt to put all of the facts together themselves to create a cohesive whole? Instead they rely on others to manufacture these stories on their behalf and thereby make it easier for such totalitarian propaganda to insert itself.

Perhaps the working men and women of the country aren’t spending time reading the paper anymore? It’s certainly easier to read third and fourth party stories on Twitter, Facebook, or listen to infotainment in the later hours on Fox News, MSNBC, or CNN. Why try to follow more direct sources when we can read Facebook and worry about who’s going to win this season of The Voice or The Bachelor?

As the workforce of the world continues to subspecialize, we’re going to need to be able to trust our political leaders more and more, not less and less.

[Totalitarian propaganda]’s open distortion of reality is both its greatest strength and greatest weakness.

The question is: how can we exploit the weaknesses to make the problem apparent to those who are too easily willing to believe?

What’s unusual about Trump is he’s a leading candidate and he seems to have no interest in getting important things factually correct.

It’s one thing to lie for political advantage. It’s another to keep lying to prove you have the power.

I’m hoping that some of the electorate realizes that things aren’t improving for them any time soon before too much significant damage has been done.  Just because you believe a thing doesn’t make it true or even a fact.

I’d highlighted the concept before, but perhaps it’s a good time to remind people again:

No, It’s Not Your Opinion. You’re Just Wrong. | Houston Press

Before you crouch behind your Shield of Opinion you need to ask yourself two questions: 1. Is this actually an opinion? 2. If it is an opinion how informed is it and why do I hold it?
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Chris Aldrich is reading “Clinton’s Substantial Popular-Vote Win” | New York Times

Clinton’s Substantial Popular-Vote Win by David Leonhardt (nytimes.com)(3 hours 3 minutes 7 seconds)
She won by more than Gore in 2000, Nixon in 1968 or Kennedy in 1960, it seems. And therein lies a dilemma.

When are people going to come around and fix the electoral college? There’s lots of math to support different methods.

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Chris Aldrich is reading “Hillary Clinton Blames F.B.I. Director for Election Loss”

Hillary Clinton Blames F.B.I. Director for Election Loss by Amy Chozick (nytimes.com)(1 day 23 hours 17 minutes 10 seconds)
Mrs. Clinton said on Saturday that the announcement by James B. Comey 11 days before the election that he had revived the inquiry into her use of a private email server caused her to lose.

Nothing brilliant or illuminating in this article, but I suppose it was something that at least needed to be said even if it doesn’t really further the conversation.

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Chris Aldrich is reading “Marginalia | Parallel Transport”

Marginalia | Parallel Transport by Kartik Prabhu (kartikprabhu.com)
I write margin notes while reading books. They help me keep my thoughts on record and within context. But how do I do that on a website or an ebook?
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Chris Aldrich is reading “How To Have Paragraph Commenting Just Like Medium”

How To Have Paragraph Commenting Just Like Medium by Chris Knowles (WPMU DEV Blog)
Paragraph commenting, or annotations is not exactly new. Readers have been scribbling in the margins of books, magazines and uni assignments for years. The online world has been slow to adopt this approach which is perhaps why Medium caused a stir and no shortage of admiring looks when it went the annotation route. Well, admire forlornly no more because I'm going to show you how to add paragraph commenting to your WordPress site. There are existing annotation solutions for WordPress but they are generally theme dependent, or in the case of CommentPress actually provide a theme.

This has some great advice and code for potentially adding marginalia.

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Chris Aldrich is reading “Department of Energy May Have Broken the Second Law of Thermodynamics”

Department of Energy May Have Broken the Second Law of Thermodynamics by Joe Carmichael (Inverse)(2016 years 10 months 6 days 1 hour)
“Quantum-based demons” sound like they'd be at home in 'Stranger Things.'
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