Chris Aldrich is reading “Marginalia | Parallel Transport”

Read Marginalia | Parallel Transport (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?

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

Read Hillary Clinton Blames F.B.I. Director for Election Loss (nytimes.com)
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.

Chris Aldrich is reading “Clinton’s Substantial Popular-Vote Win” | New York Times

Read Clinton’s Substantial Popular-Vote Win (nytimes.com)
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.

A miss bigger than a missed story: my final reflections on Trump and the press in 2016 | PressThink

Replied to 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?

Chris Aldrich is reading “How Journalists Failed in 2016—and What We Must Do When Trump Takes Office”

Read 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 ...

Chris Aldrich is reading “Why use MarsEdit for posting to WordPress?”

Read 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...

Leonard Cohen Hallelujah Covers | Spotify Playlist

I hadn’t noticed until now because of a head cold that’s taken me out of commission this weekend, but because of the passing of Leonard Cohen at the end of last week and possibly the cold open of Saturday Night Live, a growing number of people are following/using a Spotify Playlist I had made earlier this year in January.

If you need almost five hours of all the extant Hallelujah covers on Spotify to soothe your soul (for any reason), please feel free to save yourself the time of building it and enjoy my playlist. If you’re aware of any missing covers (that exist on Spotify), please let me know and I’m happy to add them to the collection.

Keep your chin up!

Leonard Cohen (), a Canadian singer, songwriter, poet and novelist
in Various Positions (Recorded June 1984; released December 1984) for Columbia Records, produced by John Lissauer

 

Chris Aldrich is reading “Facebook Restores Iconic Vietnam War Photo It Censored for Nudity”

Read Facebook Restores Iconic Vietnam War Photo It Censored for Nudity (nytimes.com)
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.

Kevin Smokler author event for Brat Pack America in Los Angeles Tonight & Tomorrow

My friend (and brilliant writer) Kevin Smokler will be appearing tonight and tomorrow here in Los Angeles as part of the tour for his new book Brat Pack America: A Love Letter to 80s Teen Movies published by Rare Bird Books, based right here, downtown, around the corner from the Last Book Store.

Event #1 Echo Park, Wednesday November 16th, 8pm

Special guest Daniel Waters, screenwriter of Heathers
Kevin will be appearing at Stories Books & Cafe with special guest Daniel Waters. 80s trivia, games and fruit roll ups included.
(1716 W. Sunset just east of Glendale Blvd in Echo Park)

Event #2  Culver City, Thursday, November 17th, 7:30-9:30 pm

Kevin will be part of an event called “Romantic Comedy” at The Ripped Bodice Bookstore at 3806 Main Street (Corner of Main and Venice Blvd) in downtown Culver City. “Romantic Comedy” is great comedians riffing on romance novels. He’s on the bill with Laurie Kilmartin, who is a writer for Conan O’Brien.

Here’s how they lay it out…

Funny people. Sexy books. Free wine.
This month we’re grateful for 80s movies, instagram superstars, and the return of one of our all-time faves, Laurie Kilmartin!

All at the best venue imaginable: the Ripped Bodice, America’s first romance-only bookstore, in Culver City.

Festivities begin when seating opens at 7:30. Come early, drink up, and get 10% off everything in the store. Comedy starts at 8pm, but come early to reserve your spot!!!

This month’s guests:
Laurie Kilmartin
Gaby Dunn
Toby Muresianu
Alison Lieby
+ Kevin Smokler, author of Brat Pack America

Hosted by Erin Judge and Jenny Chalikian.

The Facebook event is here: https://www.facebook.com/events/1852329114986550/

I hope to see you at one (or both) of these.

Chris Aldrich is reading “Want to keep fake news out of your newsfeed? College professor creates list of sites to avoid”

Read Want to keep fake news out of your newsfeed? College professor creates list of sites to avoid (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.