I became insane with long intervals of horrible sanity.
Edgar Allen Poe
The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one's time defending scoundrels. For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all.
- H. L. Mencken
Many people would sooner die than think; In fact, they do so
What I have been telling you, from alpha to omega, what is the one great thing the sigil taught me — that everything in life is miraculous. For the sigil taught me that it rests within the power of each of us to awaken at will from a dragging nightmare of life made up of unimportant tasks and tedious useless little habits, to see life as it really is, and to rejoice in its exquisite wonderfulness. If the sigil were proved to be the top of a tomato-can, it would not alter that big fact, nor my fixed faith. No Harrowby, the common names we call things by do not matter — except to show how very dull we are ...
-James Branch Cabell
June 28, 2017 - 11:36 a.m.
I'm in a dry spell in terms of doing things worth writing about. I really have to try to get myself out to take a walk today I live right by New York City's biggest park and haven't explored it. Wish me luck
I had an adventure last week that I forgot to write about. It happened on the block and a half walk from the bus stop. I heard somebody screaming behind me. He was verbally abusing someone. There were many expletives and something about an old fag. I turned around to see what was happening. The guy was going into one of the houses. He saw me turn around and said, "Don't turn around you fag or I'll kick the shit out of you!" Or something to that effect. I was the one being verbally abused. I have no idea what brought this on. I have never interacted with this person. I have no idea who he is. I was just walking down the street and he verbally assaulted, then threatened me. I didn't want to provoke him by turning around but I wanted to know he wasn't coming after him. So, I just kept my ears wide open. I must have been coming home from shopping, I was worrying about my eggs breaking if I had to fight back. If I knew the address I might have called the police when I got home but I didn't. Now I know it because I recognized the house next time I walked past it. If he gives me trouble again I will call the cops. My guess is that he was high on something. Years ago, I'd have said PCP; I'm not sure what gives that kind of high nowadays.
Yesterday I went to my PO box. I had four letters than weren't addressed to me and they were all addressed to different people. Three were at my box number, one wasn't. I don't know what's going on but this has been happening every week. I think people are giving my box number as a fake address.
When I change trains at 59th street I often buy churros. Wikipedia says they are common in the Southwest. New York isn't the Southwest but it's common street food here. Do they have them where you live? Let me know. Do you know what they are? They are a wonderful fried dough confection. They are cylindrical with a star shaped cross section to increase the surface area. The outside is crispy and covered in sugar. The inside is creamy. They are one of the things that makes life worth living.
This story; A Time magazine with Trump on the cover hangs in his golf clubs. It’s fake.; gave me the signal that it's time to write about fake news.
Fake news started as a term for stories made up from whole cloth to get people to click on links to them. Many were produced from one small town in Macedonia where it became a cottage industry. Though they were political the purpose wasn't politics, it was attracting readers. They proved more effective when appealing to right wing audience so most fake news attacked people on the left, especially Hillary Clinton. These stories were then picked up by domestic partisan sites like Breidbart. The term fake news was broadened some to include other stories from partisan sites that were not verified or vetted. These fake news stories helped propel Trump to the Whitehouse. He hated that notion so he co-opted the term and hurled it at legitimate news sources, especially the New York Times and Washington Post. He would equate any inaccuracy with the deliberate falsifications and spreading rumors. Did the Times and Post print stories that weren't true? Yes, they are created by people, people under tremendous time pressure to beat the competition. When they find their mistakes the correct them as quickly as possible.
Sadly, Trump's usage has been picked up by others to such a point that the new term "fake news" has already lost its meaning. I'm going to make it clear. Fake news is not the same as printing something untrue. It is printing something that you knew was untrue or that you didn't bother to verify. Fake news is written to make money or further political ends. It's not simply a mistake. Fake news is also not exercising news judgment as to what is important. Burying one article on page 12 while making a headline of another, when you think it should be the other way is not fake news, it's editorial judgement. It can be misplaced. Legitimate news sources like the Times worry about things like that and review their decisions and try and do better in the future. Fake news sites don't do that. They just move on to the next lie.
As much as I hate Fox news they aren't a fake news site. They simply have totally different values than I do. They do sometimes report on fake news and help spread it. They too often cross the line. But it's highly biased reporting, not making things up.
Because fake news has been used to mean "news that doesn't fit my worldview" it has lost its usefulness. Hell, people are using fake news to describe Snopes, the debunker of fake news. You can't argue that something is not true with a Trump supporter by pointing at Snopes, they'll just say that Snopes is liberal fake news. This is where I usually try and come up with a new term. I've been doing this since 2001 and none of my neologisms have ever caught on so I'm not going to bother.
George Orwell wrote on how abuse of language can be used to control people. It's been an essential part of the toolkit of Totalitarian and authoritarian states. It's antithetical to democracy but is used for political purposes in democracies. We must be vigilant for it and speak out against it. We must speak out against it even if it supports causes we agree with. My decrying Trump for his abuse of "fake news" carries no weight. It would from his supporters. They are the ones that need to say something.
Wise Madness hasn't been much fun of late on days when I'm not writing about doing fun things. It's not because there is so much bad news. That's more reason for me to be silly. Tomorrow I'm not going to use something depressing from my ideas bin. I'll come up with something funny or silly or maybe beautiful
The Fault Dear Readers Lies Not in the Stars But in Ourselves - July 03, 2017
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