One of the big buzz words being thrown around these days is "Fake News," which is a perfectly-descriptive term for an all-too-frequent occurrence these days, and it became a significant factor in the United States' most-recent Presidential race. As a brief description "Fake News" is when hearsay, rumor, conjecture, propaganda, conspiracy theories, or even outright dishonesty is passed off as legitimate news correspondence. This behavior is currently in practice on hundreds of websites, and by lackeys from both the liberal and conservative sides of the country. (Note: This does not count satire from websites like The Onion or The Babylon Bee.)
The real danger that arises from "Fake News" websites (or Facebook pages) is that, to put it bluntly, many people are far more gullible than they think they are. And as a result, these beguiled patsies see an article with which they agree, and rather than establish the article's veracity through a reputable news outlet, they share it to Facebook or post it to a blog, and in so doing they perpetuate the inaccuracy. To be fair, in recent years the number of "reputable news outlets" has decreased significantly as the major news sources like NBC, CBS, ABC, CNN, NPR, and FOX have all resorted to pushing articles which meet their underlying political agendas at the expense of honest reporting. (Note: For this reason I prefer the BBC, which has a slightly left-leaning take on the news, but its generally pretty unbiased and blunt where the United States are concerned. Besides, no one with an English Accent would ever lie, would they? [Snicker])
In any event, after today's inauguration ceremony, the following image popped up from the folks at Occupy Democrats, which is one of the most-nefarious "Fake News" websites in existence:
This is a perfect example of "Fake News" in action; the two photos in this image are taken from opposite sides of the mall in order to exaggerate the crowd sizes. In addition, there is no indication that they were taken during the same hour of the respective inauguration ceremonies; the photo from 2009 might be an hour after the ceremony began, and the photo from 2017 might be an hour before the ceremony began. We have no context, but considering the source (the O.D. website) and the fact that the photos were already falsely utilized in order to support an opinion rather than an accurate portrayal of the facts, it's pretty easy to dismiss this image. And yet, I have seen dozens of people posting this image to Facebook with comments of overwhelming approval.
In this specific instance, it is far too simple for anyone to discredit the image. The video listed below from CNN shows an actual side-by-side comparison of the crowds during each inauguration ceremony:
Inaugural crowd sizes: Trump v. Obama
It is evident that there was a larger crowd for Obama's inauguration, which is as it should be; the nation's first African American president is considerably more-significant to history than Trump's election. However, the disparity was nowhere near the level of imbalance which that image was trying to convey.
Returning to my earlier point, this particular example of "Fake News" perfectly illustrates why the acceptance of these sorts of deliberately inaccurate images and stories do so much damage; these hoaxes replicate like viruses through social media, and they rapidly enter the collective psyche of those who eventually believe that these images and stories are true simply because they want them to be. This where another new term needs to be defined: "Post-Truth," which describes an all-too-common situation where opinions are formed and defended based on emotions rather than factual evidence.
Through honest self-examination, I think everyone can agree that we have all let our emotions get the better of us, (on more than one occasion), and we have all agreed with something simply because we wanted it to be right, even when common sense would argue otherwise. This philosophy led to a situation which was all-too prevalent during the election: everyone who was passing along inaccurate information created their own false reality, with which many of their friends actively participated, and yet no one was anywhere near the truth. After the election this syndrome was referred to as an "Echo Chamber," where people were simply hearing others repeat back what they said or wanted to hear. One such example was the poll numbers which everyone kept sharing on social media, which always seemed to indicate that Clinton would win the electoral college by a landslide, and yet on election day she lost the electoral college in a humiliating defeat. Of course, the 24x7 news coverage from all of the media outlets added a never-ending supply of fallacious data to the debate, but still - there were plenty of indicators that the election was a lot closer than the false narrative which everyone kept repeating; people just needed to take the time to look.
Nevertheless, we should all try to do better where "Fake News" is concerned. As a general rule, if you see something which seems too good to be true - or too bad to be true - please check with other news sources before posting anything to social media.
I think the following image sums up that sentiment quite nicely:
POSTSCRIPT: The following blog contains a small list of "Fake News" websites which everyone should avoid:
Please Stop Sharing Links to These Sites
There are many more, of course, but it's a good place to start.
01/21/2017 UPDATES: As another example of "Fake News," there was a bogus story making the rounds over a year ago about the Obama administration ordering guillotines in order to perform executions. On the one hand, I hate to include the link because I don't want to drive traffic to their website; but on the other hand, I want to show an example...
Obama Orders Guillotines To Be Used For Executions
There are hundreds of thousands of stories just like this on the Internet, so don't believe everything you read.
One additional point which I should mention is something that a good friend said to me earlier today: a fabrication isn't real just because you agree with it, and something isn't fake just because you disagree with it. (Wise words, my friend.)
After the recent long-awaited and highly-anticipated death of Fidel Castro, I must admit that I was shocked at the number of "famous people" who were emanating never-ending streams of revisionist history drivel about Castro's many "accomplishments," while falling over themselves in futile attempts to outdo each other with undo praise for this despicable despot. Make no mistake - Castro was a terrible, wicked, horrible dictator who sent thousands of innocent people to their graves.
However, on a completely related note is the number of misinformed idiots who walk around wearing t-shirts emblazoned with the following logo:
For those who are too stupid to know better, wearing a t-shirt like this in public is exactly like wearing a t-shirt with Adolf Hitler or Josef Stalin printed on it. The subject of this ridiculous memorial attire is Ernesto "Che" Guevara, who was one of the worst mass-murders in the 20th century. Countless multitudes of gullible and easily-swayed malcontents read books like Guevara's "Motorcycle Diaries," and they fall victim to his knee-jerk deceptions about how much he cared for the plight of the poor in South America. While I completely agree that the corruption in South American politics is pervasive and often horrific, most people do not realize that the terrors which were brought about by Guevara were far worse than anything about which he had complained.
That being said, I recently discovered the following article which illustrates some of what I mean; this is a great article, and you should take a few minutes to read it:
The Truth About Che Guevara
To put it mildly, Guevara was a spoiled, upper-class brat who became one of the worst mass murderers in Communism's long history of putting innocent people to death simply for having a college degree and/or being able to think for themselves. There are no two ways about it - if you lived in a country where Guevara had helped to overthrow your government, you simply would have been killed. No trial, no appeal - just executed.
All of this is to say - there is nothing admirable about wearing a t-shirt with Guevara's faced printed on it; the only thing that it signifies is that the person wearing the shirt is an idiot.
Well, suffice it to say that 2016 was a weird year. The United States endured one of the worst presidential elections in decades, in which Americans were forced to choose between two utterly non-presidential candidates. (And of course, everyone on the planet knows how that turned out.)
Nevertheless, one of my favorite traditions each New Year is to read Dave Barry's Year in Review, which examines all of the newsworthy items for the past 12 months. Dave's reviews always remind me that no matter how stupid things seemed to be during the previous year, we should each take a moment to step back and thoughtfully contemplate just how stupid things really were...
And with that in mind, here is Dave's year-in-review for 2016:
Remember how I was running for President?
Well, it turns out that I would have won both the electoral college in a landslide AND the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who didn't actually vote for me.
For people who are either unhappy or ecstatic about this year's election, consider the following statistics:
The figures collected by United States Elections Project show that of the 231,556,622 people who are eligible to vote in our nation, only 131,741,500 actually participated, meaning that an estimated 99,815,122 people did not vote.(1) In other words, 43% of the population refused to contribute to this year's presidential race.
Think about that for a moment. That's almost 100 million people who could have made a difference.
With that in mind, let's look at some additional statistics from the election:
As of this writing, the New York Times' election website lists 60,071,781 popular election votes for HRC versus 59,791,135 votes for DJT, which is a difference of only 280,646 votes.(2) This means that even a tiny fraction of the tens of millions of votes which were not cast could have easily made the the difference between winning or losing for either candidate.
Just 0.003% more of the population would have given DJT a popular majority, although it would have taken much less than that for HRC to have swung a few of the Midwest states in her favor. For example, DJT won the state of Pennsylvania by only 68,236 votes, and he won the state of Florida by only 119,770 votes.(2) If those two states had gone to HRC, the election results would have been dramatically different; HRC would have had 277 electoral college votes on election day versus 241 for DJT. In other words, less than 200,000 votes could have elected HRC.
We all really need to let that concept sink in, regardless of whether you are satisfied or distraught by the results of this year's election.
What all this means for you personally is - you really need to mobilize your fellow party members to get out and vote for the next election. The participation of your fellow citizens will either swing the election in your candidate's favor, or it will widen the gap so that your candidate has a clear and uncontested victory.
- United States Elections Project (http://www.electproject.org/2016g)
- New York Times (http://nyti.ms/2fAyEAv)
Many years ago, I used to think that abolishing the electoral college was a good idea. To be honest, I felt that way for the majority of my life. But that was until I studied more about the history and purpose of the electoral college, and then I slowly came to realize that even though situations like 2016's election debacle are a distinct possibility, our existing electoral system actually makes a lot of sense.
The following videos came out over a year ago, and they explain not only why the electoral college is essential when trying to prevent a candidate from only focusing on specific states with high populations, but also why the abolition of the electoral college would have drastic outcomes.
Do You Understand the Electoral College?
The Popular Vote vs. the Electoral College
To summarize these two videos - doing away with the electoral college sounds like a good idea when you're upset at the results of an election, but it's really not.
That being said, the word which best describes most Americans after this year's election is "angry." And I get it. You're probably angry. I'm angry. Millions of people are angry. This year's election sucked.
But that being said, impassioned and uninformed responses are not the best way to bring about the changes which our electoral process so desperately needs. If people really want to make a difference, they need to encourage the Democratic Party to abolish their ridiculous system of "Super Delegates," which is what helped HRC to unfairly steal the DNC's nomination from Bernie Sanders, who most-likely could have defeated the Drumpf.
An acquaintance of mine recently posted the following image to Facebook, which has rapidly become the central repository for all sorts of stupidity:
Just for perspective, I have traveled to other countries where its citizens cannot build a house - ever.
Or drive - ever.
Or go fishing - ever.
Or do pretty much anything they want - ever.
These unfortunate souls often have to work 7 days a week for less money per month than our minimum wage workers make in two hours. But most-importantly, these citizens cannot speak their mind about how messed up their country is - ever.
Unlike the dude who created that meme.
The schmuck who created that image has no idea just how many personal freedoms he actually has; so now he takes his over-privileged life for granted and believes that a few inconveniences in a free society are some sort of bondage.
What an ungrateful idiot.
UPDATE: See 7 Harsh Realities Of Life Millennials Need To Understand for more information; especially point #4.
In an effort to quell the rumors, I have to be honest; I did run a private email server in my basement...
But it's okay, I deleted all the emails when I was done with it.
I have decided to run for President...
On day 1 of my campaign - I promise to institute mandatory siestas every afternoon.
My new campaign slogan: "Make America Snooze Again."
Alternate campaign slogan: "A Tired Man for Tiring Times..."
|Facebook Person 1: ||"My terrible candidate is nowhere near as terrible as your terrible candidate!" |
|Facebook Person 2: ||"No way! Your terrible candidate is more terribler!" |
|Facebook Person 1: ||"Not a chance! Your terrible candidate is the terriblest!" |
|Facebook Person 2: ||"Whaddabunchacrap! Your terrible candidate is the most-terriblest terrible candidate EVER!" |
Blah, blah, blah... Can we get back to people posting hideously-insecure "If you're my friend you'll repost this" drivel and ridiculous urban legends which are easily refutable on Snopes? Isn't that really what FB is all about?