The Godfather of Fake News

Before there was the web as we know it, there was fake news – thanks to Stephen Glass. The New Republic was stung worst by Glass, the journalist who will go down in history as the craftiest pathological liar. If you’re unfamiliar with who this man is, you can look up the movie, Shattered Glass, which sprung from a Vanity Fair article of the same name.

Of course the film is a somewhat fictionalized version of the true story about the journalist who sold lies as factual articles to multiple national publications, including Rolling Stone. (Yes, that does mean there were fabrications in print from that magazine long before the University of Virginia gang rape debacle.)

As for Stephen Glass, he can be credited with creating the glass ceiling on lies in journalism. It would be nice to say that the journalistic world learned a long-standing and important lesson from this pathological liar, but any lessons learned didn’t necessarily lead to greater integrity in the vocation. Whether or not current editors are consciously aware of it, Glass set the limits for fabricating “facts” for print. That’s readily apparent from the apology interview Glass had with 60 Minutes.

The previous video is just under 13 minutes, but if you are really wanting to understand the motives behind creating fake news, it’s worth the time. Glass attempts to explain himself, and his habit of creating stories that were completely fabricated. Today’s “half-truths” and “exaggerations” have slightly more complex motives, but at their core, are the same. The bottom line is getting the “home run” as Glass put it. He destroyed his own career in journalism in the pursuit of constant attention, adulation, and a record of seemingly perfect stories.

He wanted fame.

Today’s fake news is driven by the desire for “hits” online, and unfortunately, the desire to manipulate the masses. Because neither Glass nor the purveyors of fake news today are concerned with presenting factual information, it is just an exercise in building egos. Glass got away with his lies because he gamed the system – he could get past the fact-checkers because he had done their jobs already. He knew what they would look for, and gave them it.

Sites and publications that offer fake news are no different. They just rely on the public being stupid.

They rely on the public not taking the time to check facts.

They just are very talented at manipulating readers by playing to the emotions of their intended audiences.

In military speak, they are propagandists who are well-versed on the tools of psychological warfare.

Glass was the same type, but instead of needing to manipulate large masses of people, he just had to keep offering “perfect stories” to his editors. The editors were duped because they wanted to believe that it was possible for a single journalist to consistently deliver exciting stories for their readers.

Today’s publishers of fake news have far more sinister desires, and all of them have to do with controlling their audiences as opposed to entertaining them.

Of course, this is all in reference to “fake news” that is really offering lies as truth – not news sources that are accused of being “fake” simply because someone disagrees with them.

Glass got away with his lies because people wanted his stories to be true.

Fake news flourishes today because the people have become too lazy to bother making sure that what they are reading is accurate.

Either way, it boils down to the public believing lies. What has changed is that believing the lies today involves falling prey to the agendas of others, instead of just feeding the ego of one pathological liar who managed to get a job as a journalist.

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Source: Literat Politik

The Godfather of Fake News

Do Trump Supporters Oppose the First Amendment?

Not very long ago, people on the right were upset about the fact that many (mostly left-wing) college students thought that the First Amendment doesn’t (shouldn’t?) protect hate speech. Now, thanks to Donald Trump, it looks like there’s some lack of understanding about our freedoms when it comes to speech and the press.

Yes, that was the president suggesting that our nation needs to take a step closer to state-run media. There is no way to call it anything but that, since the reason the president is giving for revoking broadcast licenses has everything to do with the fact that he didn’t like what the stations in question were broadcasting.

That’s like taking a page from the book of this guy:

Senator Ben Sasse called it right on his personal Twitter account:

And that brings us to the question at hand: Do Trump supporters oppose the First Amendment?

It’s likely that they will all say “no” to that, but if they are defending the president’s statements about revoking broadcast licenses of television networks that happen to “hurt his feelings” by reporting news in ways he doesn’t like? That is censorship.

Also, it is essentially a toddler-style temper tantrum.

Perhaps we have to agree with Trump supporters about one thing: Trump definitely is beating Obama on a couple metrics. He’s got a thinner skin, and he’s more a narcissist.

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Source: Literat Politik

Do Trump Supporters Oppose the First Amendment?

Birth Control, Conscience, and Choice

Several groups on the left have gotten upset over the fact that Donald Trump is rolling back the “free birth control” clause of the Affordable Care Act. Theoretically, that’s justified, since millions of women have been taking advantage of the program. How many of those millions honestly couldn’t afford birth control in the first place is probably up for debate.

Also, it’s debatable whether or not the new battle front for these groups should involve petitioning for the FDA to allow some more birth control options to end up available over the counter. (Don’t expect to see that, even though it theoretically would make the pill available to more women, because if it’s over the counter, there wouldn’t be any subsidies through any kind of prescription coverage.)

But, no matter what, it’s disingenuous to suggest that great numbers of women who want to use birth control will no longer be able to have it because their employers refuse to pay for it. Before the birth control mandate, birth control was generally treated like any other prescription, which meant that prescription drug coverage partially subsidized the cost of the pills. Without the mandate, it’s fairly safe to assume that it will go back to that standard. Also, insurance companies aren’t going to be forbidden from offering birth control coverage directly to women, even those who are employed by companies that do not want to pay for the drugs. Remember, the issue is about companies not wanting to pay for a particular type of coverage, not forbidding women from having that coverage on their own.

These organizations that are upset about this would be better served by starting to cut deals with the birth control manufacturers themselves, and make coupons or other discount programs available to women who can’t afford the full cost of birth control themselves. (Again, this number isn’t as high as they would have people believe, thanks to multiple generic options.)

If they were really serious about increasing access for women, they would be asking pharmacies with clinics to start offering birth control services.

The primary problem with this issue is that people are focusing on the emotions, as opposed to the money. The bottom line remains that insurance companies didn’t complain about this mandate in the first place because keeping women on birth control is cheaper for them than covering care for pregnant women or women who would have other health problems if they did not take birth control. Insurance companies will find a way to keep the status quo, because it has been helping their balance sheets at least a little. The same goes for the pharmaceutical companies manufacturing the drugs. If anyone believes that they will easily give up their sales over this, they need to rethink their position.

If we’re lucky, the solution to the issue will involve removing both government and employers as brokers between women and access to birth control. Maybe it’s time for women to stop demanding that employers and government hand them their pills, and start demanding better options directly from insurers and pharmaceutical companies?

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Source: Literat Politik

Birth Control, Conscience, and Choice

I am right – you are wrong – right?

“You won’t change my mind.”

This is a statement that is used as a quick stop to just about any debate – political or otherwise. In the American political sphere, it is said by people on both sides of the aisle, and members from both sides regularly accuse the other side of saying it more often.

Which isn’t true.

Both are equally guilty, and usually the statement involves holding onto political “principles,” or otherwise showing complete loyalty to the concepts being promoted by the pundit du jour. And both sides are guilty of holding onto long-standing political philosophies simply for the sake of loyalty, in spite of changing facts on the ground.

For example, on the left, there is the “settled science” of climate change caused by man – an oxymoron on its face, since there is no such thing as “settled science.” Also, in all of the documentation about our changing weather patterns, there is barely (if ever) any mention of other relevant forces, like our sun. When there is talk about reducing carbon emissions, there is no talk about recycling carbon, to create bio-fuel. Perhaps that is somewhat fair, since the “fuel” that can be created like that isn’t particularly suitable for making fuel for our cars, but petrochemicals are everywhere in our society. It is difficult to think that bio-fuel made by algae that is fed with carbon emissions cannot be used to produce something, even if it’s packaging for our “never touched by man” drinking water.

On the right, there is the general thought that the US has too many immigrants. They are taking up all of our jobs, and bringing crime to our shores. Statistically speaking, neither statement is correct, but we still need a wall. The saddest part of this political thinking is that it is assuming that our nation has a cement ceiling restricting economic growth – no matter what we do, there will always be a finite number of jobs and businesses, and sooner or later, we will reach that limit. Presumably, we must reserve that limited resource for people who were born here, and ignore the fact that historically, our nation has enjoyed the greatest levels of economic growth when we have allowed or encouraged immigration.

The problems that we’re facing today as a nation are not simple, but more often than not, solutions to problems lie somewhere in between the political lines we have drawn to divide ourselves. Environmental problems like carbon emissions are more likely to be solved by capitalism, through scientific innovation that is focused on reducing emissions through recycling. We have done a great deal to reduce emissions at this point, and the next step is to find ways to use waste to make something else of value – like plastics from algae. The left won’t suggest that, but people on the right have occasionally been suggesting it.

Fear over job losses and immigrants have been brewing for years, with a steep increase starting after 9/11. While both sides have been battling over this issue, the primary problem with immigration has been largely ignored. Our legal immigration system is broken. There is no point to saying “people need to enter this country legally” when the bureaucracy involved is so flawed, it is nearly impossible. Before we talk about illegal immigrants, we should be demanding that our elected officials fix the legal immigration system, since there’s no point to tackling illegal immigration before that is done. We also need to remember that safety and freedom are not good bedfellows.

Above anything else, we need to stop dismissing potential solutions to problems simply because of the sources. People have political ideologies. Good ideas are non-partisan. Dismissing roughly half of the potential solutions to a given problem only increases the probability that no solution will be found. This radical notion is not about accepting “all” the ideas of anyone on either side of the aisle. It is stating that there is nothing wrong with taking the best bits and pieces of ideas from wherever they are found.

When we were young, we were taught to search for answers from multiple sources. That was meant to be a life-long skill – something all adults should do when faced with a problem to solve. Somewhere along the way, Americans stopped doing that. They chose sides, and allowed the leaders and pundits from their respective places on the political spectrum to spoon feed them information to regurgitate on demand. They created multiple generations of “You can’t change my mind” people. That has left us with massive debt, government as the largest employer (when adding all levels together), and freedom and innovation choking bureaucracies. It’s also left us sitting on one side or the other of a political divide, which only serves one group of people – the professional politicians.

Maybe it’s time to rethink how we’re doing things?

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Source: Literat Politik

I am right – you are wrong – right?

Title IX, Kink, Women and the Loss of Individual Rights

Title IX has been under fire by the right since the “Dear Colleague” letter, but there’s a compelling reason why denizens of “kink” world should be highly concerned about the creeping definitions of “rape” and “abuse” on campuses.

Hypocrisy is breeding on campus when it comes to acceptance of diversity, at least in the realm of sexuality. While student unions and administrations sponsor “Sex Week” seminars, those same groups are stepping into the territory of defining what is acceptable practice in intimate relationships, thanks to Title IX.

Consider the case of Zoe Katz, the 22-year-old girlfriend of Matt Boermeester – both had been students at USC. Katz had been engaged in consensual activity with Boermeester which involved something that appeared to be abusive to some observers. Boermeester was ousted from USC over this incident, primarily because instead of school officials taking Katz at her word, it was assumed that she was suffering from some form of denial about being abused.

Katz definitely did report feeling that she had been victimized, but not by her boyfriend, Boermeester. The perpetrators were the school officials, who continually ignored her statements that she had never been in danger in the first place. She characterized the activity as “horse-play” from the start, and never wavered from that contention. In spite of that, the USC administration insisted that she was actually the victim of abuse, and was incapable of determining exactly what happened.

The actions of the USC administration were definitely out of line, but they wouldn’t have been able to do what they did to Katz if it wasn’t for Title IX. It is laudable that they are trying to make it easier for true victims of sexual assault to report what happened to them, but Title IX has reached the point where it’s beyond just suspension of due process for individuals who are accused of rape (something that is categorically wrong as well.) Now, it’s reached the point where schools are telling women when they are victims, even in circumstances where the women are saying that they were consenting.

Since a great deal of what people from the world of kink could be considered abusive by outsiders who are unfamiliar with it, this new development should be highly concerning. In spite of the relative mainstreaming of BDSM, school officials in colleges apparently are unaware of the meaning of consensual kink – ironic since these same officials may have been defending the fact that seminars on BDSM are often included in their “sex week” activities.

Also, it should be disturbing to realize that self-proclaimed feminists apparently have no problems with Katz being ignored, and treated as though she is incapable of making decisions about her intimate relationships without the guidance of USC Title IX officials.

Maybe it isn’t such a terrible thing that the current administration is looking to scrub Title IX altogether. Now that it’s reached the point where it is infringing on the individual rights of women, it’s time to go back to the drawing board. There has to be a better way to deal with rape on campus. Maybe the universities need to take a page from the book of kink – start teaching empowerment, consent, communication, and the importance of trust in intimate relationships.

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Source: Kinksanity

Title IX, Kink, Women and the Loss of Individual Rights

Sleek Blush is a Dupe?

 The Sleek blush I have in Rose Gold looks like Nars Orgasm. The color in the pan looks darker, but once on the face they look identical. They both have the same golden sheen, peachy tone, and lasts just as long. I will say this very pigmented and a little goes a long way. I have not noticed any real difference between them. I got this off of Amazon for $5.99. So that is great for anyone on a budget.


Source: The Sensitive Shopper

Sleek Blush is a Dupe?

Congress needs to take part of a cue from Taiwan

Public officials behaving badly in the US usually means something to do with sex or money, but we’re slowly getting into an international trend of misdeeds that involve violence. So far, we haven’t gotten to the point where Taiwan has (and a few other countries) since our lawmakers haven’t started all-out brawls… yet.

I guess the stress of the job can get to lawmakers, but water balloons? We’ll get back to that in a moment.

The problem lies in the fact that we have warring factions working with each other daily, and they never stop fighting. That wasn’t always the case, especially in the US. Back during the Reagan and Clinton years, members of the House and Senate used to socialize with each other, and not based on party politics. So, you could see two senators who were practically screaming at each other on the floor of the Senate during the day drinking together in a DC bar that night. That doesn’t happen anymore, at least nowhere near as often as it did.

We’ve all been warned to leave work at the office, and decompress at home, right? And that’s because the experts who tell us to do that know that people need to leave the stress of work behind to keep sane.

So, why are we telling politicians to do the absolute opposite, by demanding that they live and breathe on the politicking?

Apparently there are a lot of people out there who think that it’s a good idea to have less-than-sane people running things, because we’re making insane demands. Think about that the next time you see someone complaining about politicians talking nicely with their colleagues on the other side of the aisle.

Seriously, it’s surprising that we haven’t seen anything like what happened in Taiwan on the Hill.

Now, back to those water balloons.

While I have no idea why in the world there were water balloons in the hands of Taiwanese lawmakers, I do know why the airmen in the photo here have them. They were celebrating an “excellent” rating on an inspection back in 2012. It was a well-deserved break, and shows that there’s nothing wrong with cutting loose to relieve stress (without brawling.)

Maybe Congress needs to do the same thing, but not as a reward – as a pressure relief. I’m not joking.

Congress needs to have a water balloon fight. They need to get out their frustrations on each other in a way that is generally harmless. Adding a few kegs of beer, and maybe a few cases of hard liquor would help, too. If they keep it on private property in DC, why not throw in some pot – it’s legal there.

And the people need to stop thinking that the warring factions need to be at war at all times. It’s funny, but both sides look back on the Reagan and Clinton years respectively as their party’s time to shine – their president got so much done! What did those two men have in common? They really did know the “art of the deal” since they knew how to reach across the aisle. The “my way or the highway” garbage is just a half-step from a dictatorship or fascism. That’s not us – that’s not the US.

So, commence the water battle and revelry, to prevent a brawl!

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Source: Savannah Snark

Congress needs to take part of a cue from Taiwan

Evil conservatives hate disabled people

…or something.

USA Today must have been desperate for articles today, or they’re just another media outlet that’s willing to fall victim to the outrage train.

Ok, I’ll give them the fact that it’s despicable for authorities to end up grabbing disabled people out of their wheelchairs over a protest.

As for the rest of it, well…

Sure, there are conservatives out there who would like nothing more than to totally dismantle Medicaid. Most of them are not holding office right now in Congress.

That means the few who really want to do it, and happen to be able to vote on the issue, are in a severe minority on the Hill. It’s political suicide, because one other thing that was right in that particular rant (it’s not an article), is that most Americans really don’t want to hurt people who really need the services provided by Medicaid.

But, I digress.

Yes, opinion contributor Jason Sattler did suggest that the deep cuts to Medicaid that are on the wish list of a select few members of Congress are somehow related to the pro-life movement?

Uh, talk about conflating issues?

Also, Sattler is making me about as angry as the kitty here, since he’s literally forcing me into a corner where I have to (almost) defend the pro-life movement. (I mean beyond defending their right to have their say.)

This rant was just going after the “feels” of course, so why not bring up the idea that the pro-life movement has often painted itself into a corner where it appears like it doesn’t really care about what happens to human beings after they’re born?

Anyway, it doesn’t make much difference anyway, since the health care “repeal, reform, rinse, repeat” maneuvering seems to have stalled anyway.

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Source: Savannah Snark

Evil conservatives hate disabled people

Afghan Girls Robotic Team Denied Visas to US Because?

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As we’re having a relatively heated debate about the merits of Trump’s travel ban, headlines are telling us about yet another problem with our existing foreign travel bureaucracy. A group of teenage girls from Afghanistan have been denied visas to come to the US to attend a robotics competition.

Let that sink in a moment.

Remember all the talk about encouraging girls in the US and around the world to get involved in STEM? Well, apparently that is at least partly lip service.

The girls are participating in a global robotics competition sponsored by First Global, and their team page there talks all about how the girls are trying to increase educational opportunities for girls in their country. So, yes we are talking about group of girls like Malala Yousafzai, the youngest Nobel laureate.

Before anyone gets the bright idea to blame this on Trump, it honestly isn’t him – this time. However, it is a symptom of a larger problem that we have when it comes to foreigners visiting the US. The robotics team was denied visas because someone thought it would be a good idea to severely limit business related visas granted to anyone coming here from Afghanistan. No, that isn’t a joke.

Yes, our bureaucrats have decided that we shouldn’t encourage Afghani citizens to visit the US for business while we are theoretically trying to help that nation stand on its own without relying on “bad” things, like perhaps the opium trade that has been funding radicals in that region for years. If you’re confused, don’t feel bad. You should be.

Now we can get back to Trump and his travel ban, since it’s creating more of the same problems elsewhere. Radical Islam offers people in many nations things that they can’t get from anywhere else. Whether it’s state-sanctioned or not, these terror organizations don’t just go around the world raising hell – they provide infrastructure needs that we take for granted here in the US. They help the poor, provide jobs, and offer the people hope for something better. When they start killing the locals, they aren’t viewed as kindly, of course. However, if we really want to defeat these radicals, we need to help the people in these countries have what those groups give them. That doesn’t mean throwing money at them, because they typically end up in dire straits because of corruption – money would just be stolen by the bureaucrats and religious leaders. They need business opportunities, so they can be independent of their corrupt governments and the terror organizations.

While we don’t hear politicians say that outright often, that doesn’t mean that they don’t know that. They do. Since we’re so busy jumping from one scandalous tweet to the next, and the press is too busy making itself part of the headlines, no one is asking about that.

Why isn’t the US literally begging regular people from nations with terror organizations to come to the US to communicate with business leaders here? Why aren’t we making it very easy for US businesses to invest in start-ups over there? Yes, it’s a high risk investment, but there are always some investors out there who take those chances, especially here in the US.

Since the Washington Post decided to point out exactly why the Afghan girls were denied visas to come to a robot competition, maybe we’ll see a few intrepid journalists who will decide to really track down this issue, and put it in the spotlight. It might happen, if there’s a lull in the manufactured mayhem from Twitter.

Otherwise, just a little advice for First Global – next time, hold the competition in a country that will welcome competitors from every nation that has a team. Sadly, that probably won’t be the US.

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Source: Subculture

Afghan Girls Robotic Team Denied Visas to US Because?

Musings on Writer’s Block

Lately I’ve been coming across more and more people who have been searching for solutions to writer’s block. Whether it’s on Facebook, Twitter, or in my inbox, the issue seems to be more prevalent than usual. Of course, my standard advice is to write. It seems counter-intuitive, or even mean. How dare I suggest that someone sit down and write, when they’re telling me that they are unable to write?

The issue of writer’s block really isn’t about an inability to write at all. It’s really about not being able to write what we want at a specific moment in time. Our brains are keeping us from being able to concentrate on a specific bit of work that we want to do. For the fiction writer, maybe that means the characters he wants to write about aren’t “speaking” to him right then. For non-fiction writers like myself, maybe it’s a matter of missing the correct angle, or missing pieces to a puzzle we want to solve for our readers through words. Either way, the problem isn’t an inability to put coherent words together in sentences and paragraphs. It is simply a matter of our brains being too stubborn, and unwilling to focus on what we want at that moment.

So, why would writing in general be useful at that point? How can writing something random (or not so random but on another topic) be useful?

Simply writing helps to clear the mind, and usually makes it possible to focus on what we really want to do. Forcing our minds into submission, and putting words on paper (or the screen) helps. They may be useless words, or they might lead to something that we really want to share. No matter what, it’s training our brains to start producing words on command. Writers who talk about waiting for the muse to appear usually end up producing far less than writers who regularly force themselves to write even when the muse is absent.

The silly, counter-intuitive and mean advice is that writers need to own what they are. Their purpose in life is to write. Writing is not just a job, it is a vocation. The difference between the two is a deep emotional attachment to the work at hand. If you don’t love writing, and consider the concept of forcing yourself to write even when your brain objects a horrible chore, perhaps you should rethink things. You really may not be a writer after all.

Yes, that might seem harsh, but consider the reality. Writing involves dealing with editors, criticism, and often defending what you do in the eyes of the masses. There are rejection letters, rewrites, and all manner of obstacles to face from first draft to finished product. If you’re dealing with writing in the world of media, there is fast-paced work that can sap the creative soul out of the best of us. Writing is not an easy vocation by any stretch of the imagination, and becoming great at it requires a great deal of work and dedication.

Most people are not made for the life of writing, pure and simple.

So, the next time you see someone asking for advice about how to get beyond writer’s block, take a look at the responses. How many of the people offer advice that includes anything but writing? I’m willing to wager that you will see a pile of people suggesting a calm walk, a day off from writing, television binge watching, music (without a keyboard or pen nearby), and any number of other things. They mean well, and very well may be writers who have managed to convince themselves that anything but writing can resolve writer’s block. Of course, you won’t see anyone asking those people how many days they’ve gone without writing, by using all those other activities to break writer’s block. I get tempted to ask sometimes, but I never have. Maybe I will one day.

*The previous has a raw word count of 658 words, written in 15 minutes, using an iPhone timer – to break writer’s block.


Source: Liz Harrison

Musings on Writer’s Block