“It is dreadful to observe…

“…how long a bad example will be followed; but it is encouraging to know that a good example is never thrown away.”

–Charles Dickens, A Child’s History of England

Posted in 2020 presidential campaign, The Facts of Life | Tagged | Leave a comment

The secret to acquiring herd immunity

Today’s Times re-introduces me to an explosion of online “news networks” which are not news. They’re propaganda.

In one of the last chapters of How I Learned The Facts of Life — a summing-up of what kind of fakery would be assaulting us before our imminent election — I’d picked up news (factual news) about one right-wing operative who was busily creating “local newspapers” to prep voters on all the fakes fit to print.

Sadly, the Times points out how these fake maestros are opportunistic, jumping into the void left when so many local newspapers have died.

Here’s what I wrote:

The “alternative facts” folks are not giving up, and today there are more of them – predominantly “conservative,” i.e., paranoid fact-shifters with digital platforms.

Websites (and even TV “stations” posing as network affiliates) with distinctive political leans, designed to look like brand new local digital newspapers, are springing up around the world. Web design programs make creating these things really easy. One person can lay out and operate them, on behalf of a political candidate and/or against one.

And, like the “entrepreneurs” who pitched anti-Hillary garbage in 2016, the 2020 versions may manage to extract subscription fees from credulous people. Call one of these things “New Rochelle Dispatch,” say, and there you are, manufacturing fake news at your leisure and maybe for your profit.

On November 21, 2019, The Times’s Nicole Penroth reported that an ex-Fox News executive, Ken LaCorte, has branched out into bi-partisan fakery.

LaCorte is the maestro of two new websites, Conservative Edition News and Liberal Edition News. Both of them attempt to raise the hackles of readers with fake news stories.

I’ve got a sad message for LaCorte. The only hackles he’s going to raise are conservative hackles, already pumped sky high by ugly conspiracy nonsense. Because, as I discovered and earlier reported, liberal hackles seem to be unassailable.

Remember the jobless computer science graduate student in Georgia – the country, not our state – who decided to make a living from publishing extreme political “news” for Americans, in fulsome support of Hillary Clinton?

“I don’t know why, but it did not work,” said the student, Beqa Latsabidze, 22, who was savvy enough to change course when he realized what did drive traffic: laudatory stories about Donald J. Trump that mixed real — and completely fake — news in a stew of anti-Clinton fervor.

And, even more pointed, is that little tale of fake news entrepreneur Jestin Coler, who discovered that when his writers tried to write fake news for liberals, they never took the bait.

So, Mr. LaCorte, you might think about folding your Liberal Edition News because liberals don’t bite.

Two things to say further.

First, support your local newspapers.

Second, if you’re a liberal, you’ve acquired herd immunity to fake news.

 

Posted in 2020 presidential campaign, How I Learned The Facts of Life, Politics, The Facts of Life, Trump Stuff | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Animal news? Belly laughs from LoweringTheBar and…a shark song?

Read the whole thing by Kevin Underhill, for the full belly laugh experience:

Jailers Who Subjected Inmates to “Baby Shark” Face Cruelty Charges

Oct 16, 2020 05:00 am | Kevin

The Oklahoman reports that two former detention officers and a supervisor at the Oklahoma County jail have been charged with cruelty after an investigation found they forced inmates to listen to “Baby Shark” for extended periods of time.

I’m happy to say I’ve never heard “Baby Shark,” nor did I listen to it for purposes of writing this piece. I mean, there are limits to what you can ask of me for doing this, believe it or not. But according to the report, “Baby Shark” is a children’s song that became somewhat popular beginning about two years ago, as those of you who are parents most likely know, given that the YouTube video has now been viewed more than 6.5 billion times. While I haven’t heard it, I did make the mistake of clicking on the “Baby Shark lyrics” link The Oklahoman provided, which yielded this:

Baby shark, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo.
Baby shark, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo.
Baby shark, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo.
Baby shark!
Mommy shark, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo.
Mommy shark, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo.
Mommy shark, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo.
Mommy shark!
Daddy shark, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo.
Daddy shark, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo.
Daddy shark, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo.
Daddy shark!
Grandma shark, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo.
Grandma shark, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo.
Grandma shark, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo.
Grandma shark!
Grandpa shark, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo.
Grandpa shark, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo.
Grandpa shark, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo.
Grandpa shark!
Let’s go hunt, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo.
Let’s go hunt, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo.
Let’s go hunt, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo.
Let’s go hunt!
Run away, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo.
Run away, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo.
Run away, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo.
Run away!
Safe at last, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo.
Safe at last, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo.
Safe at last, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo.
Safe at last!
It’s the end, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo.
It’s the end, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo.
It’s the end, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo.
It’s the end!

Just reading that caused me to black out, or at least I assume that’s why I woke up the other day under a highway bridge, covered in blood and what appear to be donut sprinkles, so I can only imagine what it would do to someone forced to actually listen to it.

According to the report, the jail employees subjected at least four inmates to this, also forcing them to stand with their hands cuffed behind them while listening for up to two hours as the song played repeatedly. This of course meant they would be unable to cover their ears to block out the hellish tune with its nonsensical lyrics and brutal doo-doo-themed refrains.

The employees were charged with “misdemeanor cruelty,” according to the report, which the district attorney recognized was not adequate given the conduct. “It was unfortunate that I could not find a felony statute to fit this fact scenario,” said District Attorney David Prater. “I would have preferred filing a felony on this behavior.”

This appears to mean they were charged with “cruelty to prisoners,” an offense in the Prisons and Reformatories title (57 Okla. Stat. § 9) that can result in a jail term “not exceeding 12 months,” making it a misdemeanor. That might be appropriate depending on how loud the music was played. “Baby Shark” or no, subjecting someone to loud noises for extended periods of time could obviously damage their hearing, which might mean this could qualify as aggravated assault and battery under Oklahoma law. (It can also be torture under international law.) That’s a felony.

Or it might qualify as “maiming,” which is defined as intentionally inflicting an injury that “disables any member or organ of [the] body or seriously diminishes [the victim’s] physical vigor….” 21 Okla. Stat. § 751. That’s also a felony, though it seems to require actual injury, which wouldn’t necessarily be a requirement for aggravated assault and battery. (It’s also a crime to maim yourself if you do it to “disable [yourself] from performance of any legal duty, existing or anticipated” (21 Okla. Stat. § 752), but it’s not clear what the penalty would be for that.)

Hopefully the failure to charge the jail employees under one of these felony statutes means the volume wasn’t so loud that it could potentially have caused injury. Physical injury, I mean, not the psychological injury that would likely result from having to hear “Baby Shark” more than once in any two-hour period. But while it isn’t a felony, the cruelty-to-prisoners statute still requires, not too surprisingly, “cruel or inhuman” treatment, and I think we need more facts to know whether that’s what happened here.

No, you know what? I just glanced at those lyrics again. I think we have all the facts we need.

Posted in Law, suits and order, The Facts of Life | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment