Convincing People They Were Duped By Fake News

Me, from a Facebook thread:

I’m not sure that’s possible. Like the flat-earthers, it’s not a question of fact, but what they want to believe. Look at the science deniers. It doesn’t matter what they hell we tell them or show them. It doesn’t even matter if sea levels are rising and their homes are being destroyed by freak hurricanes, tornadoes, tidal surges and earthquakes (fracking).

Speaking for myself, I’m about done with “convincing.” The time I’ve wasted on Facebook alone has demonstrated, once again, an old adage I hated when I was a kid: “Those convinced against their will, are of the same opinion still.” We are trying to communicate with other-world beings with the best logic, facts, reason and standard English available. It is like shouting at a stone.

Sarcasm and humor seem a little more effective sometimes. The stone rolls a little way down the hill until it hits a bigger obstacle and again comes to rest, but a few loose flakes of dead weight chip off in every dangerous brush with the law of gravity.

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“Perfect In Every Way”

We hear these politicians whining “Obama’s trying to change America.” Tell us then, would this suggest America is already perfect in every way? If there’s any room for improvement however small, do they have a proposal for that? If they do, isn’t that ‘trying to change America?” More to the point, isn’t this why we elect them in the first place – to do their jobs?

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“They Are All Targets”

“We do not differentiate between those dressed in military uniforms and civilians; they are all targets in this fatwa” ~~ Osama Bin Laden May 1998, interviewed by ABC reporter John Miller.

“As the long roll call of mass shootings added a prosaic holiday party in San Bernardino, Calif., to its list, a wide expanse of America’s populace finds itself engulfed in a collective fear, a fear tinged with confusion and exasperation and a broad brew of emotions. ~~  New York Times N. R. KLeinfield Dec 3, 2015

Let’s make this clear once and for all: the distinguishing characteristic of terrorism is mass murder for the purpose of inciting demoralizing fear and disarray. We should not not differentiate between terrorists who are white, black, Muslim, Christian, left-wing, right-wing, KKK, Neo-Nazi or “other.” They are all targets, not to be feared, but to be identified and neutralized by any means acceptable in free societies.

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New Posts for 2015

It’s not a full-fledged “new year’s resolution,” but I neglected this site in December, with only two posts – an all time low, I believe, since 1995. I can do better!

I had cataract surgery in November, the fastest and safest procedure in the world. All went well, but any such procedure seems to take the wind out of my sails. I pampered myself, slept outrageously (but it was glorious), and re-thought how I’d been pursuing a massive Perl project I’ve had on my mind for some years. You know what that means!

430PM Update: new Quotes database installed. Links updated!

It involves our venerable “Quotes” database, accessed from the front page of this site for years. I don’t have a counter on it, so I have no idea who else uses it, but I use it all the time. With about 6,000 quotations amassed over the decades, the database has only one keyword field.

Take this quote, for example:

Bumper sticker seen on "Support our Teachers" auto: 
"Why is money always available for war, not for education?" 
Our guess: there's four whole syllables in 'education', 
only one in 'war'.

With only one keyword, I’d assigned the keyword “war.” Should that have been “teachers?” Or “education?” Why not all three?

No, no, the NEW quotations database and app is not available yet. It will be, much sooner than I’d expected:

A former manager used to tell us, Simplicity comes at the end, not the beginning.”

I rewrote all the Perl code and supporting libraries in connection with the project, in addition to adding four keyword fields. I created two new apps for my own use, Entry and Update (so I can add keywords, among other reasons). The first two months of coding were a minefield of unsatisfactory trials, mistakes, and “almost pretty good” results. I took the core program apart and worked on each piece again, then put them all back together. Voila, mon ami!

So it took about 2-3/4 months to work up the three prototype apps that finally worked perfectly. And then, only an hour or so each to convert them to “production” apps. That’s “portable!” You should see the new Quotations database version 81 in a few days.

In the meantime, as if this makes up for December’s lapse, I’ve today posted a new photo by my friend Swan, and a short personal recollection of a remarkable candlelight dinner in the Mojave Desert. You can see the short excerpts and links to the post pages below.

May 2015 bring happiness, laughter and friendship your way!


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“The Interview” and Hacking of Sony

We’re getting a little tired of reading harebrained opinions by pundits and experts about Sony’s decision to yank its movie “The Interview” after Sony was hacked, apparently by the petulant North Korean regime.

1) It’s Sony’s movie. There is no “right to be shown a movie.”

2) By all accounts this was a B-grade comedy with very little artistry or other redeeming merit. There are very few right-to-free-speech issues here.

3) The movie is Sony property and Sony’s decision to run it or not, not the media’s, and not the so-called cybersecurity experts’.

4) If Sony decided to run the movie anyway, and even one of 18,000+ theater outlets had been victimized by a terrorism bombing attack, the media and the public wouldn’t be screaming “capitulation,” they’d be screaming for Sony’s head on a platter for risking public safety by inviting a terrorist response.

5) The only appropriate response to North Korea is beyond Sony’s expertise, and hopefully Anonymous is working on that now.

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Respect the Office

I had lunch with a very old friend earlier this week. He is an old-school (1960’s) conservative. I mentioned how the media, including a channel he watches, savages the President with smears and lies. His answer surprised me. He said: “I don’t care WHAT party a person is from, the President of the United States is OUR PRESIDENT and he should be treated with respect, dammit!”

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Taking Back the ‘Redskins’ label

Patent office cancels Redskins trademarks

The U.S. Patent Office has canceled trademarks belonging to the Redskins football team, saying they are offensive to Native Americans.

“‘When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.'”

Might we fancy ‘Redskin’ as a neutral or even positive label just because we always have? Think about history. We can recall usage as defamatory pejoratives, in funny popular songs like “Please Mr. Custer,” as stereotyping generalization, and as an epithet. We can’t recall one case where a speaker used the word in high praise and tribute. In America, we’ve already “taken back” the N word, G word, Q word and many others. I say, time for Native Americans to “take back” the R word.

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Good show, America, what’s happening to us?

Recommended reading, from Bill Moyers:

Study: Politically Engaged Liberals and Conservatives Don’t Want to Be Neighbors

Me: Well now, there we have it, don’t we?

We invite our neighbors belonging to the “other” Party over for drinks and BBQ, and we smile sweetly and thank them ever SO much for coming, just as if they were “real” human beings. And then we trot down to the polls and vote to expropriate their property, curb their speech, deny them civil rights and liberties, jail them on trumped-up charges in Soviet-style courts, steal their privacy, and then we scratch our heads and wonder why we all demonize each other. Good show, America, what’s happening to us?

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Net Neutrality in a Nutshell

The problem here, in the EFF’s eyes, isn’t so much dedicated broadband for streaming providers, as the FCC itself …

Read on the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) website:

Net Neutrality in a Nutshell

Also, organizations such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) have a more fundamental problem with the Net neutrality proposed policy, since the EFF just doesn’t trust the FCC at all: “Historically, the FCC has sometimes shown more concern for the demands of corporate lobbyists and ‘public decency’ advocates than it has for individual civil liberties.”

Wednesday, May 11, 2011
Ecommerce Times
Related Issues:

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Retired Old Folks Union (ROFU)

It is important to take days off. We owe it to ourselves. In fact, it is an important duty and function of the Retired Old Folks Union (ROFU) Rules. When a friend is considering working on a given day, it is our civic duty as Members to talk our friend out of it. Anybody can work (well, almost), but it takes experience and talent to become truly proficient in the art of relaxation. Low Work Motivation (LWM) is essential. We have a fund to send High Motivation individuals to special deprogramming rehabilitation farms, where we’ve planted special varieties of wild grasses for watching, owing to their slow growth rates.

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Happy New Year

We’d like to wish our readers a happy new year, and also to thank you for visiting our pages.

We’ve had a good 2013 at Summitlake. We posted perhaps the same number of articles as 2012, but with shorter, crisper prose and a cleaner graphics format. We’ve been on the WordPress web platform since 2004. This “blog” engine has matured into a versatile and very attractive interface with a robust and customizable feature set. We moved to a new and faster server at our WestHost web hosting facility in May. It was a lot of work, but it offered us an unprecedented archiving opportunity, and a convenient transition to reorganize and consolidate our content.

I’d especially like to thank our guest content creators who continue to contribute fine photographs and articles, as most have for many years. They offer us different perspectives and pleasurable viewing. I’ve been writing and web-mastering this site since 1995, but having a variety of content contributors is what makes my unpaid title really fun.

As the world watches clocks tick toward midnight, and calendars roll to 2014, we wish you and yours the very best for the new year.

All the best,

Alex GIF

Alex Forbes

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COMRADE PUTIN EN DER TAR-BABY (with apologies to Joel Chandler Harris): “En den Brer Fox, he look kinder sly, he does, en den he says to Brer Rabbit, he do, lookit here Rabbit, you don no way know how to hit dat dere Tar-Baby. See here Brer Rabbit, efn only you let ME show you how!”
Works for me!

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Happy Fiscal Cliff New Year

Happy New Year. It’s a bit early to pat ourselves on the back for the midnight Senate compromise bill. We have yet to reckon with the real hurdle, Boehner’s House.

The American people are deeply divided along party lines on fiscal priorities. No president is going to “negotiate” these differences away. Like the market collapse after the 2008 meltdown, no one knows how seriously the world economy would have been impacted if the US had simply defaulted to the recession option.  It is arrogant to say that Obama “caved,” because it’s arrogant to elevate the “winning” mantra over fiscal responsibility.

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Rossini the Procrastinator

Heard on KBAQ:

Composer Rossini (of William Tell Overture or ‘Lone Ranger’ fame) was notorious for being a procrastinator. He’d been commissioned to write an overture. There remained just one more day before the performance, and Rossini had not even started writing it. The producer locked him in a room, saying “I’m not letting you out until you finish it.” Rossini wrote out one page of music at a time, it was passed out the window to waiting musicians, and the musical performance started on time. But just barely!

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Who’s To Blame?

Mini-ed (from my recent Huffington Post comment):

The collapse was a two-decade bipartisan collaborative effort in partnership with private enterprise. The root of the collapse of the economy and average family wealth also goes, causally but perhaps coincidentally, back to 1992, the year to which family net worth was reset. That was also the year the real estate bubble really started to take off. We all said, “this can’t last.” Remember?

On paper, homeowners were worth more. Republicans and Democrats alike clapped and cheered. Relaxed and ultimately crazy lending requirements fueled a genuine American Tulip Mania. The whole economy became dependent on future growth for today’s prosperity. ARM’s, derivative speculation and toxic assets were the icing on the cake.

The $1.3 trillion war debt would certainly have helped our recovery effort. Once again, a divided America supported that effort on both sides of the aisle.

It’s time to stop the finger-pointing, roll up our shirtsleeves, and work together to fix this thing. That may require political compromise, something we used to be good at. The only thing that’s stopping us is ourselves.


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“Fire in the Hole!”

As we all know, the new, more highly invasive TSA screening procedures are causing an international furor. I couldn’t track down a source, but the following idea was attributed to an American teenager.

Rather than subjecting air travelers to invasive body pats, or cumulative lifetime x-ray dosages, this proposal suggests that queued passengers simply step into concrete-lined screening booths for a free one-step, five-second, pass/fail screening.

If the scanner detects explosives in body cavities, tennis shoes, underwear or elsewhere, it simply detonates the explosive. We like the elegant simplicity: the prospective terrorist becomes his own counter-measure.

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