Monday, January 30, 2023

How to Vet the News

Fox News and its ilk have been pumping a fog of fascist propaganda in the national atmosphere for more than 20 years now. You see the results all around you.

Real journalists are professionals who understand their responsibilities to the public and take them seriously. In other words, journalists are reporters who don’t lie.

Many half-awake members of the American public seem to think that the significant facts they require to live their lives will simply continue to arrive in their newsfeed somehow, without idealistic professional journalists clawing for them. They will not. The quality of truth requires some strain. It does not fall from the heavens like the gentle rain.

Unfortunately, many in this society always regard useful, verified facts as insider-trading information, material to be hoarded and used to blindside the suckers at the right moment.

Without some trustworthy source of professional journalism, a society will not, finally, stand, any more than bridges will stand without the honest efforts of professional engineers.

Friday, January 27, 2023

Duck and Cover, 2023

For safety's sake, let's stay out of all schools, all synagogues and churches, all movie theaters, malls, supermarkets and Walmarts, out of Vegas and Dallas and New York. 

Let's hide and cower at the approach of every stranger. I'll dash for groceries while you give me covering fire. 

But above all, let's never, EVer do anything about the guns. THAT would interfere with our FREEEEEE-DUMB.

Wednesday, January 18, 2023

Tippy-toeing around Stupid People

“The ideal subject[s] of totalitarian rule …[are]… people for whom the distinction between fact and fiction (i.e., the reality of experience) and the distinction between true and false (i.e., the standards of thought) no longer exist.” ― Hannah Arendt

Factor long-term exposure to Fox News and its ilk into the equation, and you do the math. 

Wednesday, January 11, 2023

Why Hannity Rhymes with 'Insanity'

Fox News displays its open contempt for facts because it is a right-wing authoritarian propaganda machine, and I mean that literally. Fox News does not practice journalism. It SUBVERTS journalism. 

It is the Fourth Estate's Fifth Column. 

Sunday, January 8, 2023

A Biography and a Fable

Bart and I went to see The Fabelmans, a masterly and heartfelt effort. 

The theme of filmmaking is intricately and adroitly woven into the plot about decent, ordinary people trying their best in the 1950s and 1960s. I guessed how the movie was going to end — based on a biographical anecdote I once read — and it ended exactly that way. 

The Fabelmans is by the talented Tony Kushner, and another guy who’s spent the last half a century making famous fables for us.

Thursday, December 29, 2022

Align with a Lion


Art by Peter Pharoah
“If we were to interpret the lives of animals with a human eye, we would conclude that they are in flow most of the time because their perception of what has to be done generally coincides with what they are prepared to do,” observed Hungarian psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi in his book Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience.

“When a lion feels hungry, it will start grumbling and looking for prey until its hunger is satisfied; afterward it lies down to bask in the sun, dreaming the dreams lions dream. There is no reason to believe that it suffers from unfulfilled ambition, or that it is overwhelmed by pressing responsibilities.  Animals’ skills are always matched to concrete demands because their minds, such as they are, only contain information about what is actually present in the environment in relation to their bodily states, as determined by instinct. So a hungry lion only perceives what will help it to find a gazelle, while a sated lion concentrates fully on the warmth of the sun. Its mind does not weigh possibilities unavailable at the moment; it neither imagines pleasant alternatives nor it is disturbed by fear of failure.

“Animals suffer just as we do when their biologically programmed goals are frustrated. They feel the pangs of hunger, pain and unsatisfied sexual urges. Dogs bred to be friends to man grow distraught when left alone by their masters. But animals other than man are not in a position to be the cause of their own suffering; they are not evolved enough to be able to feel confusion and despair even after all their needs are satisfied. 

“When free of externally induced conflicts, they are in harmony with themselves and experience the seamless concentration that in people we call flow.”

The Four Colors of Liberation

Umberto Eco on being a 13-year-old in Italy in 1945: "A few days later I saw the first American soldiers. They were African Americans. The first Yankee I met was a black man, Joseph, who introduced me to the marvels of Dick Tracy and Li’l Abner. His comic books were brightly colored and smelled good."