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underpants's Journal
underpants's Journal
December 10, 2016

Fake News

When I first heard about fake news on the Facebook "News Feed" I thought it was some feature of Facebook that I wasn't aware of. Then I looked down and saw that the little blue icon was the "News Feed". I never imagined that Facebook would be seen as a source of news. I just took as the daily postings and random thoughts of people I've met along the way in life. Some funny, some informational, many with links to clickbait multi-page lists, but not news. I had a couple of people (mostly guys I served with in the Army) who'd tag me on the latest spin from C-league conservative sites. The odd part about that is the lists of the most influential fake news websites didn't include any of the sites they posted. I figured that youngcons/ijreview/etc were near the top of the lists. Nope. There's a giant pile of these fake news sites out there and a lot of it comes from Macedonia of all places.

Personally most of the mainstream news to me seems fake anyway. I don't mean this in terms of the "6 corporations that control everything you see" (which they do), I mean this as my reading of the major news organizations -print and television- that instigate fights and division and then sit back and report on it. We have no large news operations in this country. Their product, especially on television, is drama not news.

A short list of fake news we've seen:
WMD and the other reasons given for the war on Iraq
PFC Jessica Lynch - that was actually a staged fake news story
The toppling of the Saddam statue -also staged
The "Mission Accomplished" speech and it made for TV reporting imagery
IRS scandal
Birtherism- any reporting on that was promotion
The daily promotion of The Tea Party in its infancy
The list goes on and on

Oddly the root of fake news goes back to "60 Minutes" which was considered the gold standard of TV news. The reporting was great but it did something no other news show had ever done, it made a profit. Walter Cronkite didn't have commercials on his evening news when 60 Minutes debuted. He wanted to be free of sponsors complaining to the network chiefs and controlling what and how stories we reported. The repeal of the Fairness Doctrine then made news subjective. The opinion pieces no longer were at the end of the newscast in the form of a point-counterpoint or a clearly labeled editorial usually by the old guy who used to be the anchor. U2 prophetically sang "When fact is fiction and TV reality" on their 1983 album "War". The Fairness Doctrine was repealed in 1987.

The next big leap was the creation of entertainment "news", specifically "Entertainment Tonight". At one point in the mid 90's a survey came out that something like 10% of the public thought ET was "the news". I've had several co-workers who confirmed this. They didn't watch or read anything that would normally be considered news. Mary Hart's legs were insured for $1 million which in itself actually became a news item. They'd moved the desk so you could see her legs and the "news personality" became part of the news.....which, you could see this coming, lead us to Fox News. Flashy graphics and BLONDES AND LEGS!!!! As Annie Savoy said in "Bull Durham", "a guy will listen to anything if he thinks it's foreplay". Sex sells. It brings people into listening range of any nonsense Fox News was putting on the air. Fox News became number one in cable news and the other networks followed them down rabbit hole after rabbit hole trying to keep up or increase ratings. Profit in what used to be a required public service until 60 Minutes.

We now have the ability to choose our own news and apparently people choose to lie to themselves. They create their own reality. An actual news story from this week sadly ties in with people deciding to escape reality and live in a fantasty dream world - there have been more drug overdoses this year than people killed in car wrecks or (separate) by guns. We've simply checked out so falling for something as ridiculous as the pizza-prostitution story is almost understandable.

I guess I'm just a news junky (sorry not meant in jest to the above) who's developed an ability to read/watch "the news" and filter it back to something that makes sense. Or, rather, I just do what people used to do - read a story with a critical eye, weigh the validity of the source, and cross check it to other sources.

The "Information Age" has become the mis-information age.

"Post-Truth" is the Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year.

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May 25, 2016

Email from a 5th grade teacher about the girls in her class

I cannot express to you how absolutely wonderful this group of girls has been. I feel like I’m usually sending home e-mails about “girl drama,” but these eight ladies have been just the opposite. They are empathetic and patient and genuine. I always have girls that want and try to be this way; they are very tolerant of others who are different or don’t fit in. These girls are way beyond tolerant. They are accepting. They value everyone and they are leaders that encourage others to do the same. It’s kind of surreal and I am so thankful for all of them. They have read books about all kinds of different disabilities and have used that knowledge to help younger friends in our special education programs. At lunch they found every child that was sitting alone and invited them to eat with our class. This was not just a do-something-nice-feel-good idea. They befriended these children ALL year. One of the girls, who really struggles with social skills, remarked that she had never had a friend before this year. Another said that no one ever talked to her outside of class. I can’t imagine what those girls used to feel, and I don’t think your girls have any idea the lasting mark that they have left on the lives of others. Thank you so much for raising such amazing young ladies.

May 20, 2016

A favor - as a 15 year DU member I ask you to read this. BIG PHARMA "Pharma Bro" & Chariites

Source: Bloomberg Businessweek.

I was contacted about this story and did not comment. Ben Elgin is a top notch researcher/writer and you should Google his articles - oil, pharma, etc. - if he found me connected to this issue he is really top notch. We had a Facebook message conversation and he sent me a hand written letter. I used to work for one of these charities.

How Big Pharma Uses Charity Programs to Cover for Drug Price Hikes

Bloomberg Businessweek

That’s just a fraction of the total cost. Turing’s new price for an initial six-week course of Daraprim is $60,000 to $90,000. Who pays the difference? For Medicare patients, U.S. taxpayers shoulder the burden. Medicare doesn’t release complete data on what it pays pharmaceutical companies each year, but this much is clear: A million-dollar contribution from a pharmaceutical company to a copay charity can keep hundreds of patients from abandoning a newly pricey drug, enabling the donor to collect many millions from Medicare.

When Turing bought Daraprim and sought to boost its annual revenue from $5 million to more than $200 million, the use of patient-aid funds was considered essential, internal company documents show. Last May, as the company did its due diligence before the purchase, one executive warned in an e-mail that new, high copays would force toxoplasmosis patients to seek alternative drugs.

A year’s supply of Gleevec can be produced for less than $200, according to Andrew Hill, a researcher at the University of Liverpool. When the drug was introduced, in 2001, its U.S. price was $30,000 a year. At that level, it would have recouped its development costs in just two years, according to a letter from 100 cancer specialists, published in the medical journal Blood in 2013. The price is now up to $120,000 a year in the U.S. (It’s priced at drastically different rates around the world: $25,000 a year in South Africa, for example, and $34,000 a year in the U.K.)

In December the inspector general gave a favorable advisory opinion to Caring Voice Coalition, a charity that attracted $131 million in contributions last year. Five former managers and employees say Caring Voice favored drug companies that were donors over those that weren’t. Patients who needed donor companies’ drugs got help quickly, the former staff members say, while patients who had the same disease but used another company’s drug were sometimes steered away or wait-listed. The former employees asked that their names not be used because they signed nondisclosure agreements or they feared backlash from the charity’s executives.

April 9, 2016

The "Mad Scientist" (SMU Physics major actually) at The Masters - golf

Videos here

DeChambeau is a U.S. Amateur champion – like Jones was once – and the 22-year-old rookie's debut may be the most anticipated since Jordan Spieth's a couple years ago. DeChambeau also won the NCAA title last year, a double accomplished previously by only Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Ryan Moore.

What makes his entry more tantalizing still is his unique iron set. Unlike a traditional set, where each club from the 3-iron through the wedges gets shorter and more lofted, all 10 of DeChambeau's irons measure 37 1/2 inches, the length of a typical 6-iron.

DeChambeau became intrigued by the idea of equal-length clubs in 2009, not long after his golf coach, Mike Schy, introduced him to an esoteric swing manual called "The Golfing Machine." The book was written by Homer Kelley, a Seattle aircraft mechanic determined to lay out the engineering specs of the golf swing on a page. It offers students a chance to build their own swings by choosing between 24 different components, each offering between three and 11 variations.

DeChambeau settled on a swing that keeps the club on a single plane from start to finish, and that his interest in physics led him to conclude the easiest way to accomplish that was to use a set of irons all of the same length. That concept was tested and employed by Jones, but it never caught on with golfers or the big equipment companies.

PGA. com

March 12, 2016

President Obama explains -March 12th 2016- you should read this.

Obama said he was unsurprised by the billionaire businessman and reality TV star’s rise.

“How can you be shocked?” he asked to laughter from the crowd, according to a transcript. “This is the guy, remember, who was sure that I was born in Kenya — who just wouldn’t let it go. And all this same Republican establishment, they weren’t saying nothing. As long as it was directed at me, they were fine with it. They thought it was a hoot, wanted to get his endorsement. And then now, suddenly, we’re shocked that there’s gambling going on in this establishment.”

What is happening in this primary is just a distillation of what’s been happening inside their party for more than a decade. I mean, the reason that many of their voters are responding is because this is what’s been fed through the messages they’ve been sending for a long time — that you just make flat assertions that don’t comport with the facts. That you just deny the evidence of science. That compromise is a betrayal. That the other side isn’t simply wrong, or we just disagree, we want to take a different approach, but the other side is destroying the country, or treasonous. I mean, that’s — look it up. That’s what they’ve been saying.

So they can’t be surprised when somebody suddenly looks and says, you know what, I can do that even better. I can make stuff up better than that. I can be more outrageous than that. I can insult people even better than that. I can be even more uncivil. I mean, conservative outlets have been feeding their base constantly the notion that everything is a disaster, that everybody else is to blame, that Obamacare is destroying the country. And it doesn’t matter whether it’s true or not. It’s not, we disagree with this program, we think we can do it better — it’s, oh, this is a crisis!

So if you don’t care about the facts, or the evidence, or civility, in general in making your arguments, you will end up with candidates who will say just about anything and do just about anything. And when your answer to every proposal that I make, or Democrats make is no, it means that you’ve got to become more and more unreasonable because that’s the only way you can say no to some pretty reasonable stuff. And then you shouldn’t be surprised when your party ultimately has no ideas to offer at all.

Washington Post

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