Facebook is, to its chagrin, part of the conversation about the outcome of the 2016 election. Here is a list of some special moments that…
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...
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 ...
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:
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?
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.
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.
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?
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.
“Quantum-based demons” sound like they'd be at home in 'Stranger Things.'
📗 Started reading Fletch and the Man Who by Gregory Mcdonald
The beginning of the book felt like an uphill battle to read. Perhaps it was too much set up and not enough character? The character shines through more brightly later on in the stories toward the end. The opening was also a lot more initial set up and seemed to be a beginning of a larger plot which didn’t turn into anything while the final chapters were more or less stand-alone vignettes with their own internal mini three act structures. I think I preferred these smaller self-standing stories to the beginning. In form and structure, the book was more like a collection of short stories about Paddington than it was a novel with its own three act structure, which is what I had expected. As a result of this, I’m surprised that Paddington was made into a movie instead of a television show.
Paddington gets himself into the same types of trouble a typical 3-6 year old would in not understanding the culture, mores, and standards around him. In this sense the book falls into a category similar to Amelia Bedelia, who perennially doesn’t understand colloquialisms and other homophones. The difference is that, because he’s a cuddlier small bear, he’s cuter and thereby one is prone to be more forgiving than they would be of a child or of a grown woman who’s so dense that she apparently doesn’t have any linguistic intelligence at all.
Because Paddington is a bear and not a young child, the family also allows him to do things by himself that no sane parent would allow a young child to do: go to the market by themselves, wander around in a crowded theater unattended, float out into the ocean without a keen eye being kept on them. It’s this slight change which allows our young bear to get into far more trouble than a human youngster might.
Toward the end, I began to read using rapid serial visual presentation (with Spritz), and the language and quirks came through just as well as any other parts of the book. I did find myself picking up my Kindle Paperwhite to highlight a few choice passages and funny parts for later reflection though. There was a nice prologue with some interesting observations by the author several decades after he wrote the original. With a bit of thought, some of these make great advice for budding authors.
In sum, an entertaining an charming book whose self-contained chapters lend themselves well to bedtime stories.
- 05/27/16 marked as: want to read; “I’d watched the recent film version during the late Spring and thought I’d circle back around and read this again to see how closely the film followed the story. I haven’t read it since I was a child in maybe 3rd or 4th grade.”
- 09/06/16 started reading
- 09/08/16 ??.0% done;
- 10/01/16 18.0% done;
- 10/02/16 22.0% done;
- 10/26/16 33.0% done; “The plot moves somewhat slowly and the action is mostly what one would expect from a 5 or 6 year old–except that it’s a bear–but the charming language and the way in which is told makes all the difference. Bacon in a suitcase–indeed!”
- 10/28/16 47.0% done;
- 10/30/16 70.0% done;
“Chapter 5: Paddington and the “Old Master”
The pledge and the turn are reasonably well executed, but the prestige is lacking a bit.
Chapter 6: A Visit to the Theater
It’s episodes like this that make me wonder why they turned Paddington into a movie instead of a TV sitcom.”
- 10/31/16 Finished book;
“Chapter Seven: Adventure at the Seaside
The set up for this was short and sweet and the ending was what we’ve come to love in a Paddington story.
Chapter Eight: A Disappearing Trick
This is just hilariously charming. I do wish the uncivil neighbor had been better set up in a prior story, but the short treatment done here is sufficient for the hilarity that ensues with Paddington attempting a magic show.”
Highlights, Quotes, & Marginalia
“You can’t just sit in Paddington Station waiting for something to happen.”
“How’s that to be going on with?”
“Things are always happening to me. I’m that sort of bear.”
“That’s the trouble with being small—no one ever expects you to want things.”
“I do,” exclaimed Jonathan. “She says it to me sometimes.”
“I’ll have one for worst if you like,” he said. “That’s my best one!”
“I think,” said Paddington, “if you don’t mind, I’d rather use the stairs.”
“I’m not mean,” said Paddington indignantly. “I’m just careful, that’s all.”
“I don’t mind him just thinking,” said Mrs. Brown, with a worried expression on her face. “It’s when he actually thinks of something that the trouble starts.”
“I think,” said Paddington to the world in general, “they might have stood it the right way up. It’s not every day a bear wins first prize in a painting competition!”
“Mind my marmalade sandwich!” cried Paddington as she placed it on the ledge in front of him. But it was too late. He looked round guiltily.
“Crikey!” said Jonathan. “It’s fallen on someone’s head!” He looked over the edge of the box. “It’s that man with the bald head. He looks jolly cross.”
“Oh, Paddington!” Mrs. Brown looked despairingly at him. “Do you have to bring marmalade sandwiches to the theater?”
“I expect it flew away when it saw your face,” said the man nastily. “Now, where’s my pound?” Paddington looked at him even harder for a moment. “Perhaps the bird took it when it flew away,” he said.
“He doesn’t even like having a bath much,” said Judy. “So I’m sure he can’t swim.”
Without stopping, the man looked back over his shoulder and shouted, “Chap just crossed the Atlantic all by ’isself on a raft. ’Undreds of days without food or water so they say!” He hurried on.
The lifesaving man looked disappointed. “Another of these publicity stunts,” he said. “We get ’em every year.”
Mr. Brown looked thoughtful. “I wonder,” he said, looking in the direction of the pier.
“It would be just like him,” said Mrs. Bird. “It’s the sort of thing that would happen to Paddington.”
“Just like the Queen,” said Mrs. Bird. “So you ought to consider yourself very important.”
“Perhaps you’d better leave them until tomorrow,” said Mrs. Brown hastily. Whenever Paddington wrote any letters, he generally managed to get more ink on himself than on the paper, and he was looking so unusually smart, having had a bath the night before, that it seemed a pity to spoil it.
“I was only joking,” he added hurriedly as Paddington turned an inquiring gaze on him.
Nevertheless, as soon as lunch was over, Mr. Brown hurried down the garden and locked up his tools. With Paddington there was no sense in taking chances.
“Oh, dear,” said Mrs. Bird as she hurried out to the kitchen, “I know something dreadful is going to happen.”
“Are you sure?” asked Mrs. Brown anxiously. “Wouldn’t anything else do?”
Paddington consulted his instruction book. “It says a watch,” he said firmly.
Mr. Brown hurriedly pulled his sleeve down over his left wrist. Unfortunately, Mr. Curry, who was in an unusually good mood after his free tea, stood up and offered his. Paddington took it gratefully and placed it on the table. “This is a jolly good trick,” he said, reaching down into his box and pulling out a small hammer.
“You ought to be ashamed of yourself, telling lies in front of a young bear!”
Guide to highlight colors
Yellow–general highlights and highlights which don’t fit under another category below
Orange–Vocabulary word; interesting and/or rare word
Green–Reference to read
Red–Example to work through
📕 Finished with A Bear Called Paddington by Michael Bond
Chapter Seven: Adventure at the Seaside
The set up for this was short and sweet and the ending was what we’ve come to love in a Paddington story.
Chapter Eight: A Disappearing Trick
This is just hilariously charming. I do wish the uncivil neighbor had been better set up in a prior story, but the short treatment done here is sufficient for the hilarity that ensues with Paddington attempting a magic show.
"True story," Matthew Lewis, a communications strategist based in San Francisco, told me recently over Twitter. "I put the 'k' in fracking." As best I can verify, he is correct. I'd always wondered how the term "fracking," which has dominated energy discussions for years, worked its way into our vocabulary. And the backstory turns out to be pretty interesting.
Interview with Greg Leppert. Founder of Reading.am. Co-founder of Svpply. Reads a lot.