Friday 26th of February 2021

alternative facts...


Sales of George Orwell’s dystopian drama 1984 have soared after Kellyanne Conway, adviser to the reality-TV-star-turned-president, Donald Trump, used the phrase “alternative facts” in an interview. As of Tuesday, the book was the sixth best-selling book on Amazon.

Comparisons were made with the term “newspeak” used in the 1949 novel, which was used to signal a fictional language that aims at eliminating personal thought and also “doublethink”. In the book Orwell writes that it “means the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them”.

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the best stats and information...

Of course Gus uses many sources of information other than useless blogs and slanted "news"... But the grand guru of stats and data I have looked at and used, has just died. May he rests in numbers heaven:

Data-Guru Hans Rosling died on February 7, 2017. His organization Gapminder sent out a tweet with the information late Tuesday evening Swedish time.

Rosling was a scientist who made an art form out of explaining the world to us while never losing his hope for humanity.

Rosling's relatives explained the circumstances of the professor's death: He was suffering from pancreatic cancer - a very treacherous form of tumor. Rosling was diagnosed with the disease roughly one year ago. The statistics expert, who was teaching international health at the Karolinska-Institute in Stockholm, lost the fight against the tumor at the age of 68. He spent his last day with his family in Uppsala.

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an oscar ! give her an oscar for...


... Give the woman an Oscar for best fake performance in a fiction of alternative facts:



In an interview scheduled to be broadcast on CBS Sunday Morning, the senior White House adviser compared her remark, which she said was a conflation of “alternative information and additional facts”, to the error last weekend that saw the Oscar for best picture given to La La Land instead of Moonlight.

Her experience under fire from the media, she said, had taught her women must have “bile in your throat” if they are to run for office or be involved in national politics.

Conway has been at the centre of several successive news storms since Donald Trump’s inauguration on 20 January. First, she said in a TV interview that when Trump press secretary Sean Spicer repeated falsehoods about inauguration crowds and protests across the country, he was presenting “alternative facts”.

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See fake toon at top


the post-truth fake news alternative fact syndrome...

THE arrival of the “post-truth” political climate came as a shock to many Americans. But to the Christian writer Rachel Held Evans, charges of “fake news” are nothing new. “The deep distrust of the media, of scientific consensus — those were prevalent narratives growing up,” she told me.

Although Ms. Evans, 35, no longer calls herself an evangelical, she attended Bryan College, an evangelical school in Dayton, Tenn. She was taught to distrust information coming from the scientific or media elite because these sources did not hold a “biblical worldview.”

“It was presented as a cohesive worldview that you could maintain if you studied the Bible,” she told me. “Part of that was that climate change isn’t real, that evolution is a myth made up by scientists who hate God, and capitalism is God’s ideal for society.”

Conservative evangelicals are not the only ones who think that an authority trusted by the other side is probably lying. But they believe that their own authority — the inerrant Bible — is both supernatural and scientifically sound, and this conviction gives that natural human aversion to unwelcome facts a special power on the right. This religious tradition of fact denial long predates the rise of the culture wars, social media or President Trump, but it has provoked deep conflict among evangelicals themselves.

That innocuous phrase — “biblical worldview” or “Christian worldview” — is everywhere in the evangelical world. The radio show founded by Chuck Colson, “BreakPoint,” helps listeners “get informed and equipped to live out the Christian worldview.” Focus on the Family devotes a webpage to the implications of a worldview “based on the infallible Word of God.” Betsy DeVos’s supporters praised her as a “committed Christian living out a biblical worldview.”

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Why be shocked? Religions have been about fake news since the beginning as shown in the fake cartoon at top...

the talking mirrors of the internet...


“Print did as much to perpetuate blatant errors as it did to spread enlightened truth,” the cultural anthropologist Renato Rosaldo writes. “Never had scholars found so many words, images, and diagrams at their fingertips. And never before had things been so confusing with, for instance, Dante’s world view achieving prominent visibility at the same time that Copernican views were making their way into print. Nonsense and truth seemed to move hand in hand with neither made uncomfortable by the presence of the other.” Sound familiar?

The difference this time is that nonsense flows in both directions. On social media, the users are the audience and the performers, the readers and the ones being read about. This is, in part, what makes sites like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter so addictive. They provide us with the voyeuristic pleasure of watching others, along with the narcissistic pleasure of watching ourselves. Whether we can handle the kick of this digital speedball remains to be seen. One reason the gun massacre in Christchurch, New Zealand was so disturbing was that it seems to have been a pure, unadulterated product of online speech. The suspected killer, Brenton Tarrant, was not only radicalized on sites like 4chan and 8chan, but actually appears to have performed the massacre for them, live streaming his assault on Facebook and leaving a meme-laced manifesto for his fellow white supremacists to read online. It’s a frightening example of speech both leading to violence and, in the case of Tarrant’s live stream, being itself a kind of performative violence. One suspects that even John Stuart Mill would have hesitated to defend that kind of expression. In one section, Tarrant posed a series of self-directed questions and answers. Where did he research and develop his beliefs? he asked himself. “The internet, of course,” he replied. “You will not find the truth anywhere else.” 

Graham Daseler is a film editor, animator, and writer. His articles have appeared in The Times Literary Supplement, The Los Angeles Review of Books, 34th Parallel Magazine, and numerous film periodicals. 


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This afternoon, driving along, minding my own business in the left lane (I am a communist), I spotted a brand new Mini with all glowing chrome trims, bells and whistles that was behaving strangely in the right lane. The driver was a beautiful chick, dressed like going to an uptown party in Vaucluse — unless she was a contestant on The Bachelor (I am sexist here) — who was with one hand on the steering wheel holding her phone with two fingers, texting with her thumb very proficiently, while her other hand was holding a lazy cigarette, as she kept both eyes on the phone, despite the traffic that was moving quite briskly... Obviously she did not have Siri: "Hey Siri, send a message to Buggalug... Meet me at three..."

This addiction by young people to the little tablet has already cost me two cars that have been rear ended... Sure the insurance paid up, but this is not the panacea. 


Whether the information is true or not, is irrelevant. The point is the mix of technologies which can confuse or distract from the mundane task at hand. Driving a car is like driving a weapon. I know some cars are fitted with crash avoiding radars — I drove one recently — and it's a bit strange as the cruise control is overridden by the radar. 



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