Scanlyze

The Online Journal of Insight, Satire, Desire, Wit and Observation

Liberals are unconsciously mirroring and enabling Trumps arbitrary skepticism of the media

I’m seeing a lot of my friends who think they are critical thinking intellectuals and think they oppose Trump, falling victim to imitating his tropes and memes.

Let’s take, “You can’t trust the mainstream media.”

I’ve been a thorn in the side of the New York Times and Guardian for decades now. I guess my high point as a loyal opposition came when the then-current editor of the NY Times, Bill Keller, called me on the phone because Art Sulzberger told him to and I got to tell him for three hours what I thought was wrong with the Times and how to restore it to its former greatness of the 1970’s.

It is fine and good to criticize wrong facts. To criticize the framing of a story. False equivalence. Errors in logic. Lack of historical perspective. Acting as stenographers for State and Defense. Paid content. Trivial articles pandering to the rich and privileged. Ridiculous reasons offered for anonymizing sources. Crappy clickbaitish “reviews” of video games which would never pass muster for books, movies or even TV reviews. Lots to talk about and speak to them about.

But what I am seeing now from a fair number of very smart friends who think they are critical thinking intellectuals and think they are opposing Trump is quite concerning.

“You can’t trust the mass media,” which is Trump’s trope, is spreading far and wide. This is the opposite of critical thinking. It is ad hominem argument.

Having so to speak thrown out the baby with the bath water, and arbitrarily rejecting information from the most trusted and reliable news sources, I see many of these folks posting memes and factoids because they agree with them. Many of these are either obviously false on their face from my perspective or have obvious errors in logic or framing and attribution, or lack thereof.

Okay so far not so bad, we all get fooled by trollish disinformation from time to time. Confirmation bias is rife. When I post false/wrong information and I learn otherwise, I acknowledge my error and correct it. If it is egregious, I remove it.

The problem I am seeing is folks who, when given evidence that their post is false, refuse to correct or remove it.

“I didn’t write it.”
“I never said it was true”
“People will be able to tell it is false.”
“I don’t care I like the meme.”
“I think it’s funny.”

No, no, no, no, and no.

This is the opposite of critical thinking. It is “I say it once, I say it twice, what I say three times is true.” It is Trump’s rhetorical answer to facts and logic. Blocking rational thought with solipsism and arbitrary skepticism without a reasonable critique of the facts presented in refutation, ignoring logic and reason because the other fellow is bad. Ad hominem argument. Or they challenge you to disprove their belief. Another fallacy, argumentum ad ignoratiam.

We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality.

–Karl Rove, Republican operative

Is that what its come to? The Nazi Big Lie technique normalized and contextualized for all Americans now

1984 knocking at your door.

scanlyze1

Copyright © 2017 Henry Edward Hardy

1 March, 2017 Posted by | ad hominem, argumentum ad ignoratiam, disinformation, Nazi, news, Newspeak, politics, scanlyze, solipcism, Trump | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Thoughts on the TV show Vikings

Vikings is the tale of the semi-historical Ragnarr Loðbrók and two of his wives, Lagertha and Aslaug, and their children, Bjorn Ironside, Ivar the Boneless, Hafdan Whitecoat, Sigurd Snake-in-the-eye and Ubba.
Ragnar is a wealthy farmer at the start of the show. He is a clever and brutal warrior, a combat pragmatist. But he is more, a visionary, a charismatic leader, intellectually curious, a technological innovator, shrewd judge of character, and a Machiavellian magnificent bastard of the first degree.
The show exists in a kind of magical realism where magic is believed in but whether it is ‘real’ is always up to the eye of the beholder.
The show is well grounded in the Norse culture and presents a lot of values dissidence through the vehicle of Æthelstan, a monk from Lindessfarne who Ragnarr makes captive during the first Viking raid on England.
The sets and costumes are reasonably accurate. In order to be more identifiable on the battlefield to the viewer, nobody wears helms in battle, which given the number of head wounds suffered is obviously quite stupid in-world. The depiction of viking and Anglo-Saxon and Frankish tactics is quite good.
They make hash of the topography. They have fjords in Kattegat, they have mountains by Uppsala, they have people crossing from Denmark to Sweden dryshod on land.
And being the we-used-to-be-a-history channel, they make hash of the history. For instance, Ragnarr did not succeed Horik I and king of Denmark, his son Horik II did.
The ships and houses and costumes are very nicely done and era-appropriate generally.
I’m curious to see if Rurik and Dyre will come in season 4 as the viking (varangian) founders of modern Russia were contemporaries of Ragnarr and his sons. Dyre’s companion Askold was the son of Hafdan Hvitsark Ragnarrson and thus grandson of Ragnarr and Aslaug and thus Ragnarr’s grandson.
Someone above scoffed at ‘conquering a new land with 30 guys’ well yes they didn’t have thousands of extras on set. But dark ages battles did not involve thousands of people either. The Great Heathen army of Ragnarr’s sons invaded and conquered most of England, the Isles, and northern Ireland with according to some scholars, less than a thousand men. Although Crusader Kings II gives them 15,000.
The show is very violent. It is about the events leading up to the Great Heathen Army which led the Christians of Europe to make special prayers for protection from them such as:
Pity [us] the highest favor by preserving and guarding our bodies, free us from the savage Norman tribe who devastates our realms.
They aged and young would have their throats slit, and maidens and lads too, and the multitudes also. Repel the evil from us, we altogether implore [thee]. Bring thee the ruling realm, we plead on our knees, to the king of glory, who pity us with true peace, soundness, hopes and strength. Give us peace and harmony. Bestow us unmitigated hope, genuine faith also; concede us continual charity and let completed be. Sanctify our prayers that we be availed in achieving this, that we be rejoiced in glorious measure. Praise be peace and glory, to the Trinity who [is] wholly most-magnificent for the people. Amen
–Charles the Bald
870
I give Vikings high marks for:
Music
Choreography
Values-neutral presentation of medieval Christianity vs Norse paganism. They are all anti-heroes at best except the Anglo-Saxon monk Aethelstan who is a viewer reference in that he is moral and isn’t murderous, Machiavellian, or batshit crazy. Well, he is Machiavellian, actually.
Acting, especially Travis Fimmel as the snarky, reserved, observant, calculating and ruthless Ragnarr and Katheryn Winnick as the stalwart shield-maiden Lagertha.
World-building set design and costumes are well thought out and authentic-ish. Such as the clinker-built ships they use.
Not so good for:
History, however Ragnarr isn’t acknowledged by all historians to be a historic character, although all his sons are. How could he not be real if his sons exist?
Ragnarr and Lagertha’s and Aslaug’s stories are caught up in the great cycle of Norse myths and legends such as Aslaug/Kraka/Ranhildr is the daughter of Sigurd the dragon-slayer and the shield-maiden Brynhildr. Her early story corresponds to “Clever Peasant Girl” folk tale, Aarne-Thompson no. 875, so either it nicely fit that pattern of changed with retellings to fit it.
Nevertheless the script has Ragnarr become King of Denmark, which for sure did not happen.
Geography as mentioned. Locations have been picked for their visual appeal and way of framing establishing shots, but have nothing to do with the actual geography of the places depicted in most cases.
There’s a lot more analysis at tvtropes but better not to read it yet because spoilers.
Overall, Vikings is a great show and well-worth watching.

5 June, 2015 Posted by | history, History Channel, media, review, scanlyze, television, Vikings | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Glass, the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Glass, the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Good:

1. Heads up display is readable and clear if finicky to get it set right. Even with my prescription lenses. Despite being nearsighted and able to read up close, I can’t read anything on glass without my glasses. Glorious indeed compared to all previous efforts I have seen (probably not including some military HUDs). There is this little 640×480 screen floating in your field of view up toward the top. Rearview mirrror territory which is one more reason not to drive with this thing on.

2. Sound quality is fine on earbuds, so-so too soft on built in bone conduction speaker.

3. Interface is understandable. It is a timeline. Each event is a card, and it has certain functions associated with the card type. This is very much work in progress. You can port an android app to it, or even debian/ubuntu packages, but its up to you to make them work. A wireless keyboard and mouse will be a necessity until someone makes a workable virtual keyboard. Then the glassheads will be walking down the street like sleepwalkers. Well, typing, so sleep typers. Will see if I can get one of my Logitech 850s and Logitech MX mouse working.

4. Killer app. Make a broad wink and take a picture. Picture quality is very good compared to my nexus 4.

5. The motion, orientation and acceleration sensors’ potential is barely scratched. The potential exists for fully virtual worlds, or “enhanced reality” that changes with your headmotion and field of view.

6. Getting live video of breaking news from CNN is cool.

7. Voice recognition and speech synthesis are scary good, HAL 9000 quality or better.

Neutral:

1. What if people updated shots of their location to google maps and did google street map full surround environments everywhere all the time. Like Open Street Map or OS Opendata but so much more.

Bad:

1. Web browser is limited to google search, which almost always takes you to wikipedia. Selecting a link and going there is difficult and of course entering text without a keyboard is currently impossible.

2. Gmail integration is barely there. You can only see messages as they come in, and reply to them. That’s it.

3. SMS is useful but a picture a friend sms’ed to me ended up in my gmail, but I didnt get paged about it on the glass so I had no way to retrieve it.

4. Battery life is nowhere near the claimed 24 hours. More like 1.5 to 2 hours as I use the thing.

5. They seem to be trying to make this a standalone device. That’s a mistake. For one thing people need to stay near where they can charge it either a plug or a computer or laptop. Also most of the time people are going to have it tethered to their phone for calls, sms and often for wifi bridging also. There is your mouse and keyboard device if google would get a clue and enable that synergy.

Ugly:

1. MAJOR COMPLAINT They make you enable location for every app. They make you enable google plus, even if you earlier cancelled your account. This is not good for the user, it is merely to try to use this to make a walled garden where customers will buy all their media and game content through google play. Of course, the open source nature of android goes totally against this, but they are building a legal bulwark and I can see android being “delinuxized” as VMware was in a couple years and becoming fully proprietary and closed. The money men are winning at Google and something beautiful is being destroyed there.

Copyright © 2014 Henry Edward Hardy

23 June, 2014 Posted by | scanlyze | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

To: His Lordship, the Right Honorable Richard John Carew Chartres, Bishop of London Re: Occupy London

To: His Lordship, the Right Honorable Richard John Carew Chartres,
Bishop of London
Re: Occupy London

Your Lordship,

I read with concern in today’s New York Times* that you were quoted
regarding the Occupy London camp outside St. Paul’s, “the time has
come for the protesters to leave, before the camp’s presence threatens
to eclipse entirely the issues that it was set up to address.”

I respectfully assert that this is a morally and ethically incorrect
approach to this issue.

You are not behaving as a follower of Jesus; rather, you speak like a
Pharisee. Are you more concerned with making money than with serving
and advocating for the needs of the poor and oppressed?

If Jesus is among us today, he is outside on the lawn at St. Paul’s,
where you have shut the doors of the church against him.

3 Defend the poor and fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and needy.
4 Deliver the poor and needy: rid them out of the hand of the wicked.

Psalms 82:3-4 KJV

sincerely,

Henry Edward Hardy
Somerville, MA USA

* http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2011/10/26/business/AP-Occupy-Glance.html?hp

Copyright © 2011 Henry Edward Hardy

26 October, 2011 Posted by | media, news, politics, scanlyze | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Regarding the Wall Street protests

Dear Ms. Bellafante,

I read your article in the Sunday New York Times website with great interest:

Gunning for Wall Street, With Faulty Aim

It is a remarkable piece of right-wing propaganda masquerading as a news story.

You pretend to have had difficulty discerning what the message of the groups involved is.

Please allow me to summarize for you.

The message is that the USA is becoming more and more a plutocracy.

They decry that this growing economic inequality is accompanied by growing political inequality, the destruction of the middle class, and social and economic disenfranchisement of the poor.

They criticize, as you pointed out in a backhanded way, the doctrine of corporate citizenship, wherein corporations are given “rights” covalent with, and contrary to, the rights of citizens.

They point out the injustice of a legal system which mandates the judicial killing of a poor black man in the name of justice even though the evidence against him is largely now discredited.

If you were having trouble taking seriously the criticism of corporatism as antithetical to popular democracy, I suggest you read Prof. Joel Bakan’s “The Corporation: The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power“.

As Robert Reich pointed out in his piece, “The Limping Middle Class” in the New York Times on September 3, 2011, the 5 percent of Americans with the highest incomes now account for 37 percent of all consumer purchases, according to research from Moody’s Analytics. As Reich noted,

“When so much income goes to the top, the middle class doesn’t have enough purchasing power to keep the economy going without sinking ever more deeply into debt — which, as we’ve seen, ends badly… The economy won’t really bounce back until America’s surge toward inequality is reversed.”

Your article was not objective coverage. You made your lede not the “5 w’s and h” of a real news story. Instead you chose to focus on the most freakish and unbalanced participant, from the perspective of normative values, that you could find. Your entire piece was belittling and apparently intended to “otherize” and isolate the participants.

You seem to have the opposite idea of the duty of the news media from that articulated by former CBS News President and Edward R. Murrow producer Fred Friendly, “Our job is not to make up anyone’s mind, but to open minds — to make the agony of decision-making so intense you can escape only by thinking.”

Your article seems to have been deliberately constructed to belittle, to obscure the message, and to give people reasons not to think, and not to question authoritarianism and greed as organizing principles of society.

You made no mention of the shocking and illegal police-state tactics being used against these brave and principled, nonviolent protestors.

Shame on you, Ginia Bellafante. Shame, shame, shame.

sincerely,

Henry Edward Hardy
Somerville, MA, USA

PS This letter and your entire unedited response may be posted on my social media platforms and on my blog, https://scanlyze.wordpress.com

Copyright © 2011 Henry Edward Hardy

25 September, 2011 Posted by | media, news, politics, scanlyze | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments