World Press Freedom Index

A depressing report from the folks at Reporters without Borders.  It contains all the data undergirding the index,  which lets you dig into the specifics.  We are probably (Canadians and Americans) thinking we have nothing to envy in other nations, in terms of press freedom, but the methodology suggests no -- we don't even crack the top ten. The way I look at it is ... an open society cannot function without press/media freedom -- including full freedom to report without the need to 'obey government authorities.'  The most striking case for me is that of Turkey. It has a few insane-seeming laws that are based on the old concept of lèse-majesté  (roughly, this means 'wound/injury [of/to] majesty' from the Latin laesa majestas). In the Turkish system, any criticism of the President, the State, or Turkishness can be criminalized. As the RWB report indicates, this has the effect of making Erdogan the arbiter of what can and cannot be said about him, his policies, and the nation ... this is also the basis of the sad and disgusting extension of "terror" laws in Saudi Arabia, which nation is ... near the bottom of the index.



Reading: Freud, the Making of an Illusion

I've mentioned the author Frederick Crews a few times on OL** ... and now I am ploughing steadily through his book "Freud, the Making of an Illusion."  

It's the kind of book people reserve the word 'magisterial' for, so far.  The subject is Freud's story-telling, in essence, and the divergence from the actualities. Crew is the first to exploit the new availability of previously censored or suppressed materials.  He has previously rubbished mythic Freud in some earlier work referred to by the lesser term "tour-de-force." What will appeal to the Objectivist or Objectivish is the hard line, the hard line for reality trumping bullshit.  Crews was the first to achieve a kind of encyclopedic knowledge of the Freudian-derived Recovered Memory movement and its associated Satanic Ritual Abuse allegations, trials and injustices. He was able to 'wrap it up' like a good prosecutor, with an at-my-fingertips-knowledge of what went down where and when and how and why. A good taste of what would be to come were you to purchase or borrow the book comes from its Preface, which I quote from (you can also Look Inside at Amazon): Among historical figures, Sigmund Freud ranks with Shakespeare and Jesus of Nazareth for the amount of attention bestowed upon him by scholars and commentators. Unlike them, he left behind thousands of documents that show what he was doing and thinking from adolescence until his death at age 83. Although many of those records were placed under lengthy restriction by followers who felt both financial and emotional incentives to idealize him, that blackout has at least partially expired by now. More revelations will emerge, but they are unlikely to alter the outlines of Freud's conduct and beliefs as they appear in the most responsible recent studies. [...] Of course, hardcore partisans can be counted upon to dismiss this book as an extended exercise in Freud-bashing -- a notion that gets invoked whenever the psychoanalytic legend of lonely and heroic discovery is challenged. To call someone a Freud basher is at once to Shield Freud's theory from skeptical examination and to shift the focus, as Freud himself so often did, from objective issues to the supposedly twisted mind of the critic. Like other aspects of Freudolatry, the charge of Freud bashing deserves to be retired at last. The best way to accomplish that end, however, is just to display the actual record of Freud's doings and to weigh that record by an appeal to consensual standards of judgment. _________________________________ ** totalismCult Warning Signs william.scherk posted a blog entry in Friends and Foes ...One of the many astute chroniclers of this time wasFrederick Crews, whose "The Memory Wars" still stands out above the rest. I note in passing his most recent book, a stunning tour de force in my opinion. See Freud: The Making of an Illusion. I have mentioned his work a couple of times here...  January 12    30 comments Solving a Puzzle-- Understanding Some People's Reactions william.scherk replied to Philip Coates's topic in Objectivist Living Room ...ThenFrederick Crews saved me. He let me see that crashing through the Dominant Discourse of Freudian Bullshit was a dangerous job. Those who had peddled that shit all the years were deadly opposed to being pushed off their thrones, their departmental thrones, their kingdoms of influence and tenure...  January 30, 2012    358 replies Emotions as products of Ideas william.scherk commented on nealelehman's blog entry in neale's Blog ...readFrederick Crews on Freud/psychoanalysis, anything you can get by Allen Esterson, Mikkel Borch-Jacobsen, Frank Cioffi, and the very interesting current-philosophical-outrages site Butterflies and Wheels , a British site that is part of my regular reading. My favourite living philosopher is Susa...  June 30, 2007    6 comments



"Trolling" for food in Venezuela

This is a headline that needed an entry -- it is embedded within a story about, er, "cyber warfare" -- or whatever laden term best describes the augmented reality of propaganda, misinformation, and its effects. It's in a Bloomberg special report called A Global Guide to State-Sponsored Trolling. I can't wait till I get to the Canadian section. ________ ____ ____ ___ __ ________ __________ _____ / ____/ / / __ \/ __ )/ | / / / ____/ / / / _/ __ \/ ___/ /\ / / __/ / / / / / __ / /| | / / / / __/ / / // // / / / __/ ___ __ / .\ / /_/ / /__/ /_/ / /_/ / ___ |/ /__ / /_/ / /_/ // // /_/ / /__ |_ _| .| /_/\_\ \____/____/\____/_____/_/ |_/____/ \____/\____/___/_____/____/ |_||__| _____ _ _ _____ _ / ____| | | | / ____| | | | (___ | |_ __ _| |_ ___ ___ | (___ _ __ ___ _ __ ___ ___ _ __ ___ __| | \___ \| __/ _` | __/ _ \|___| \___ \| '_ \ / _ \| '_ \/ __|/ _ \| '__/ _ \/ _` | ____) | || (_| | || __/ ____) | |_) | (_) | | | \__ \ (_) | | | __/ (_| | |_____/ \__\__,_|\__\___| |_____/| .__/ \___/|_| |_|___/\___/|_| \___|\__,_| | | _________ _______ ________ ___ |_| ___ _______ __ __ ________ | || _ \ | || | | | | | | \ | || | |__ __|| | | | | _ || | | | |_ _| | \ | || _ | | | | |_| / | | | || | | | | | | \| || ||___| | | | _ \ | |_| || |___ | |___ _| |_ | |\ || ||_ | | | | | \ \ | || || || | | | \ || |_/ | |___| |___| \___\|________||_______||_______||_______| |__| \___||________|

The Best Days of the Trump Presidency

I have learned a few serenity lessons along the way, having been a typically shy-but-exuberant child and a normally anguished-at-times-by-love teenager. Emoting can be fun when it involves a bodily thrill short of nausea or panic or grief.  Outrage is then physical, in anger, disgust, just as with alarm, fear, and ever more physical as emotions heighten or become infused with more potent bodily energy -- to Rage, Revulsion, Terror.  How to keep your head when all around you are losing theirs.  The first lesson is 'suppress' ... try not to let the emoting of others influence your own unduly. Suppress 'triggers.' Anticipate loaded language and fallacious appeals, mentally diffuse their impact, try to extract salient details.   The second lesson is 'edit.'  Similar to suppress but you do it to yourself, doing your best to strip off an emotive overburden to the frame, the structure, the data, the theory. Needless to say, I may have learned a few beginner's lessons -- but don't always enforce the lessons in distance. Still, on a very newsworthy/peak-histrionic moment, following Helsinki it could be hard for most people to restrain their emotions, since hyper-loaded language has been dropped in such volume and spatter -- from treason to heavily-laden phrases about disgrace, embarrassment, shame, disgust, and so on. What a (moving) moment. As I noted elsewhere,  this is A Big Moment in White House Hoopla. Everyone talks about Mr Trump today.  In terms of getting everyone to talk about Mr Trump and Mr Putin, it's a Great Day.  From one point of view, rather relaxed, a powerful warrior went to Brussels, England and Scotland. He shook up the Old Order. He was undiplomatic, straight-talking, forceful and determined in the NATO meetings. In Britain he said what he wanted, America First.  Fiddle with a Hard Brexit, say bye-bye to a special trade deal. Round of golf, tea with Elizabeth Windsor in a palace, beautiful Helsinki, historic Helsinki. Joy. Power. Exhilaration. And he knocked it out of the park, crushed it, dominated, chided, controlled, set the agenda, mastered the fine details and the deep motives. Spoke of a new era of peace and strength, a new realism. Joy. Pride. Anticipation. Warmth of affection.  Having calmed everyone down for a moment, try to read this with no dander up-getting.  Your opinion is or may be an analogue to political reality.    

Bones (and flesh) of Contention

I will put the whole list of unremarkables and red-zoned claims/statements, perhaps regrouping them, and adding links where appropriate. I have been hungering for some kind of discussion with OLers on climatology's raging discourse. This may be the opening, a list of contentious contentions, and notes on same. Sharpen the dialogue, deepen the inquiry, get over the hurdles of shared knowledge. To the curb with unwarranted assumptions, as we dig. I do believe reasoned and reasonable inquiry can give us great tubers and fruits of reliable knowledge ... +++++++++++++++++++++++++++= Here's a helpful bit of exposition from a summary article at Wikipedia. This gives a little further edge to unremarkable science, but perhaps sharpens our focus on just what it is that Dennis May considers fraudulencing and hoaxeronony:   [T]he primary cause of ozone depletion is the presence of chlorine-containing source gases (primarily CFCs and related halocarbons). In the presence of UV light, these gases dissociate, releasing chlorine atoms, which then go on to catalyze ozone destruction. The Cl-catalyzed ozone depletion can take place in the gas phase, but it is dramatically enhanced in the presence of polar stratospheric clouds (PSCs).   In the rest of this comment, Emphases added. Bold for claims by Dennis May. Bold blue for unremarkable scientific findings. Red bold for iffy-ish statements IDed by Dennis's sniffs, clues from earlier statements on OL and Atlantis II, What we think we may know so far ... Ozone is a type of oxygen, three oxygen molecules bound together. Where Ozone comes from, where it lives, how it dies, where and how it travels in its life-cycle, this is generally understood. Today, in 2012, there just aren't any large Ozone mysteries Ozone is, like oxygen itself, a powerful, changeable, 'sticky'/repulsive, catalytic chemical under certain circumstances. Ozone is most heavily concentrated in a band of Earth's uppermost atmosphere (the stratosphere); Ozone concentrations can be measured. The heaviest concentration in the vertical column we call our atmosphere is in the so-called Ozone layer.' Ozone concentrations are not regionally diffuse; some areas of earth have stronger on average, some weaker. Ozone is most heavily "produced" in lower latitudes (the 'tropics' or equatorial latitudes) because of how most Ozone is produced -- photolysis. Ozone is made when solar radiation 'splits' a common atmospheric Oxygen molecule (two coupled O atoms). Ozone results when a 'single' O atom meets a twinned/couple Oxygen molecule. Solar radiation can also 'split' Ozone. Ozone effectively acts as a 'sun-screen' for Solar Radiation in several frequency bands, especially Ultraviolet B. Ozone 'absorbs' the energy of the Ultraviolet B, allowing less UV-b to strike living organisms on the earth's surface. Ozone concentrations in the stratsophere over the poles have marked seasonal variations. Stratospheric ozone levels will be changeable, from day to day, from season to seaon, and varying by latitude. The Ozone 'band' or layer can have differing 'thickness' as well as 'saturation.' Heavy Ozone layers can usually be found at the highest latitudes (ie, Canada, Siberia). There are essentially no remaining robust disagreements about the atmospheric chemistry of Ozone; how it is produced and how it is depleted is well-understood.
adduce some evidence showing robust disagreements about the atmospheric chemistry of Ozone, how it is produced and how it is depleted Current review of Atmospheric Science in re Ozone depletion Outlier arguments in re Ozone depletion: published; online rants; online corrections;crazy arguments; Ozone depletion can refer to two things. It can refer to: an observed decline (4%/decade) in the total volume in the Earth's upper atmosphere (stratosphere) a much larger 'springtime' decline of levels of ozone in the polar stratosphere. The seasonal 'springtime' decline over the Arctic and Antarctic is commonly referred to as the "Ozone Hole." This Ozone 'hole' (area of strong, persistent, seasonal depletion) depletion is characterized by 'destruction' of Ozone by the catalysis of Halogens. find some evidence against the discovery of 'destruction' of Ozone by the catalysis of Halogens. This is mainstream science. Two or three cites. Such as ... [*]Atmospheric halogens contain a marked proportion of 'atomic' halogens find research findings or observations that supplant the accepted measurements, that atmospheric halogens contain a marked proportion of 'atomic' halogens. Find 'measures' and 'definitions' of atmospheric halogens; contrast with proportions of 'atomic' halogens. Do they jibe? If yes, scour the literature for some differences regarding proportions/measurement If cannot find ... [*]Atomic halogens are derived from "Photodissociation" of human-made 'halocarbon' refrigerants. Evidence against the scientific finding that atmospheric Atomic halogens are derived from "Photodissociation" of human-made 'halocarbon' refrigerants. Again, this is atmospheric chemistry, a measurement and an observation. The claim is that human-manufactured refrigerents enter the atmosphere and leave catalytic derivatives (atomic halogens) that act to 'crack' Ozone. Two things must be disproved to disprove the conclusions of 23. I must find the studies and experiments that disprove the chemistry observed and predicted by photodissociation; the catalytic agents traceable directly to human production; those same catalytic agents' ability to crack Ozone via atmospheric chemical reactions in the PSCs (polar stratospheric clouds) [*]Halocarbons (human-made, refrigerents such as Freon, CFSs, Halons) have been determined -- through multiple, mutually-reinforcing scientific observation and experiment) to be 'Ozone-depleting substances' (ODS). multiple instances in which the halocarbons (Freon, CFSs, Halons) have been determined to have no role to play in the atmospheric chemistry of Ozone, and thus show evidence that the halocarbons should not be seen as Ozone-depleting substances (ODS). This will be difficult to knock over. Four or five cites from observation and experiment on the chemistry of halocarbons as ODSs. If there are no experimental evidence to be found to subvert the findings ... [*]Ozone layers or Ozone bands, or Ozone directly contributed to 'protection' of living things from excess, harmful UVB wavelengths of light. [*]The 'Monteal Protocol' is an international protocol that effectively banned ODS production (or banned their introduction into the atmosphere by propellants) world-wide. [*]The so-called Ozone Hole (properly holes, more properly, areas of Ozone Depletion) is a cause for concern, IF a demonstrated connection between ODS and declining Ozone concentrations worldwide can be demonstrated. If Ozone Holes do expose the surface of the earth (and its living biota) to increased amounts of UVB -- AND -- if a causal connection can be demonstrated between ODS and Ozone depletion in the stratosphere, sone certainly would argue that such increased harmful radiation is a cause for concern -- especially if the connection dials back to human-produced catalytic substances. This is perhaps the only one worth arguing about on list, on the main rink: first we have to look at current and recent (decadal) measurements and agree upon their utility. IF the survey says that the declines have paused, peaked or begun to reverse, let's speculate on why, according to standard atmospheric chemistry ... If the one went up, the chemistry is correct, the samples bear out the theory, then the time-lapse of Ozone depletion should make sense in the theory, and not in the counter-theory (which has not been advance anyhow) [*]In much of the world of climatology and atmospheric chemistry, etcetera, there is no particular scientific disarray or confusion in regard to the Ozone Hole(s). show something from the atmospherics and climatological literature that features clashes, disagreements, disarray and confusion with regard to Ozone holes. The fact is there isn't much confusion in re Ozone holes to be found. Where are the papers that would have pinpointed fraud or misrepresentation in a way that corresponds to Dennis's charge. If the mechanics are generally agreed upon, and the seasonal variations are fairly well understood, and if the mechanics of ozone-depletion are straight, then the final connection is the mechanics of ozone depletion, which is not much in discussion today, in the science. [*]Some overlapping concerns have been publicized that more fully engage ODS (especially CFCs) in the major concerns of present-day climatology: Anthropogenic Global Warming; some of the ODS have been rightly characterized as 'greenhouse gases' in their own right. notes overlapping concerns with CFCs in climatology. I have no idea what is wrong with that observation. That CFCs are part of what are called 'greenhouse gases' is hardly counterfactual. If Dennis can find otherwise, supercalifragilistic. Likewise a convenient detour into another discussion. Ellen has once or twice taken issue with this kind of 'GHG' uneasy-analogy manner of understanding AGW. [*]Some 'critics' have charged Hoax and Fraud with regard to Ozone Depletion. [*]It is up to the 'critic' charging Fraudulization and Hoaxering to provide evidence and warrants for such a charge makes me sigh for him, his wife, the local feedlot staff, and for the future of armchair de-hoaxerology. This one he will never answer to, sigh sigh sigh. Source: The Junk Science of Climate Change

C-SPAN, Strzok, live feed

Live, from Miami Beach, it's the Jackie Gleason Show! Actually, I wish. Today my Twitter feed was a go go with Peter Strzok answering questions from a combined committee of the House, ostensibly part of "Clinton Email Investigation.  I give but the link, since I don't have the knowledge or right to embed. [Added: yesterday's hearing has been made embeddable:] "JULY 12, 2018 FBI Deputy Assistant Director Peter Strzok on 2016 Investigations FBI Agent Peter Strzok, who was removed from the special counsel’s investigation of Russian involvement in the 2016 U.S. elections, testified before a joint hearing of two House committees responsible for FBI and Justice Department oversight."

Essay on the Deep State, by Mike Lofgren

Do you ever get slightly confused by the term "Deep State," or wonder if another person is sensing the same concept as you? Here's an interesting analytical essay by Mike Lofgren, author of the book "The Deep State."  Anatomy of the Deep State   -- who knew there was a website called  Here's a link to their page on Deep State, which uncovers the interesting provenance of the phrase ...

Test Bed -- brainstorming Weather Gods, or, a thrillah about the world's weather system and its manipulators

I thought Caroljane and Michael had some interesting  brainstorm results, laid out below. I also had some storms of creativity ... which I will add once I finish furiously scribbling notes on a break by the river. We have secretly kept everything green behind our fencing, despite the water-restrictions. I hate when Israel steals our clouds all summer. My basic notion is weather weapons, weapons of war, that is what the protagonists come to be up against, discovering and destroying the military-industrial-scientific projects that have been used to manipulate weather events in aid of endless war.  The thing is, it is a Deep kind of thing that our heroes have to get at. My favourite character-in-mind so far is a refugee from an intelligence agency. He is justifiably paranoid about his design of a master database. He knows too much, courtesy of his eidetic memory.  But which of his fears of rogue action are true?  Is he really just one of thousands on The List, the Kill the Designers list? In my flight of fancy we would get to fabulous settings, some of them mirroring or paying homage to Atlas Shrugged. Glaciers, underground CERN-style secret facilities. Low earth-orbit nuclear 'climate helper' satellites, that thousand screen command room deep underground. The 'database cities' of the INTEL surveilance future. On supersonic 'chemtrail' secret weapons. I'd also keep the political shenanigans sort of in your face but slightly out of focus, save that just as in Atlas Shrugged we are in a kind of alternate era where implausible events have already taken place.  One of the questions the protagonists learn to ask is, "Does the President Know?"   In my characters I want a 'rescue team slash commando force' to coalesce so I am looking to ex-military intelligence people, disparate people from a disbanded training unit, who have made the transition out of the forces for successful contract or independent careers. I want them to be bonded somehow conceptually, as a Protect Whistleblowers and Defectors unit, in the end. As if they all swore an oath and the oath comes in handy. Meaning the team our hero assembles or acquires should have a point of identity in common, to make the whole shelf of sinister secrecy and secret agent of technology stuff plausible. I need a bad-ass name for the Giant Computer Cloud that eats snow and steals clouds from nations and regions, thus 'false-flagging' weather manipulation events that may be possible in the next thirty-odd years. If Rand could have a free-energy motor, then we and the Frankensteins of CERN-7 can have gravity-enhancers, dark-matter sinks and sleeves and other theoretical devices almost ready to go. This on top of a semi-secret Space Programme where local weather is enhanced, altered, made wet or dry or whatever to punish Mexico. Somehow we got to stick the Vatican and on-three-continent catacombs in there. I want to avoid the nightmare pace of State of Fear, by having characters sleep and eat and so on. Not too much, just enough so that they don't seem freaky. So, plausible or wildly not -- Iranians can't get used to Israel-CERN-rogues-hidden-hands stealing their snow and clouds.  Things is gonna blow up if we don't stop the sinister secret organization from carrying out its plans. And Caroljane gets to write all the terse sex scenes.    

Reading: Dark Oasis

There is a reading festival in Chilliwack, including a lottery-style draw for fabulous prizes, accorded to a pool of readers.  You fill out a little reading report and you may be rewarded with ... weekly-distributed prizes, all around fifty bucks value, from Arts Centre/Playhouse events to Plants. Anyway, there was another little promotion going on when we visited the main library: local, small-press "Chilliwack"-keyed books aka "Local Indie Authors." I picked up .. Dark Oasis, A Self-Made Messiah Unveiled, by a guy named Jasun Horsley.  

It is a gripping tale told from the perspective of an almost-cult-member, the central figure being John de Ruiters, who now runs a "philosophy" empire out of an Edmonton "Oasis." The book will not be to the taste of those who want an extremely-skeptic take on de Ruiter; the author is somewhat reminiscent of the book published by Greg Mamishian and his wife, in that it examines a cult leader/philosopher, but this one is enlarged by the 'spiritual' beliefs of Horsley. So, if you don't want to read something by someone who identified with Carlos Castenada for a time, who is a "seeker" of spiritual truths, pass. But this seeker is able to describe the entire assembly of the present "philosophy" and its internal and 'intented' cultishness. The seeker and the skeptic in one. With a few wobbles along the way. Anyway, just a Reading:  note. I include a recent video of John de Ruiter, just to give a glimpse of the weirdness of his message. This is de Ruiter "on the road": -- for a sample of Jasun Horsley's writing style and format, see his series of smaller articles at Auticulture, especially The Casualties of “Truth”: Deconstructing John de Ruiter’s Sexual “Calling”.  That's right, Sex!

Top Twitter feeds

A Twitter List by wsscherk is my compilation of accounts our dear Leader follows. This post originally was a summer test of embedding such a thing on a page, which I did later do with both the Salon and anti-Salon lists elsewhere.  Sorry if Michael felt his privacy invaded -- this post was put on a "Publish later" schedule and forgotten about until it popped up.  In any case, Twitter Lists are a means to narrowly focus and sample tweets from interest groups, subject areas, kooks and crazies, and so on. Here is a link to how I organize my lists. Some are essential, some are works in progress. I like to dip in during my Twitter encounters ...    

All Polls Are Wrong

The phrase "all polls are wrong" was a cool hinge-point of argument last year, as the Trump train rolled on ... Yesterday a Democrat penned an interesting article at The Hill. It didn't say that "all polls are wrong," but that surveys of President Trump's popularity in the USA are flawed and in no way indicative. In other words ... Why the polls are still wrong.  Here's a few excerpts from the article: The Penn article also received some pushback, in this instance from Philip Bump of the fey canoes Washington Post: Why is a former Clinton pollster writing iffy poll analysis that panders to Trump supporters? Here's a snapshot from the folks at 538:

Killing NAFTA

Bloomberg has a short Trump-whisperer item on the President's supposed impatience with negotiations to "update" the North American Free Trade Agreement. Trump’s Impatience Emerging as Biggest Threat to Nafta Agreement Some of you may have read the earlier report in which he instructs General Kelly that he "wants tariffs" ... while his weepy loser staff won't bring him tariffs. That report could be 100% shit, and since said tariffs were to be imposed on China, not perhaps pertinent. The Bloomberg story could be shit too, yet the President has been clear since the campaign that NAFTA is the shittiest deal the USA has ever signed. The upshot of the story is his purported wish to withdraw from the trade deal. That kind of talk gets Canadians antsy, since these are among the biggest trade flows on the planet, somewhere around the trillion dollar mark. Or so the could-be-lying bean counters tell us. Whither NAFTA and the USA-Canada relationship? I don't believe Trump wants to punish Canada as much as he does Mexico, but in the end, why not? Why not punish Canada for fucking you guys over? This is a boring topic, trade between the two giant geographies, and my belief that compromise will occur may turn out to be falsified.  Is Bloomberg under the giant umbrella FallSnooze? Zzzzzzzzzz ...

2018 Mid-term Congressional Elections: 300 days of excitement

There are times when I miss the Objectivist Living stalwart "Adam Selene." I am definitely going to miss his wonkish, passionate opinions on the coming mid-terms. I put this blog entry up to have a place for OLers who are interested in tracking the campaigns, the shoddy and unconvincing polls, and the final night of returns.  With the disbanding of President Trump's "voter fraud" commission** we will have no executive guidance on where or how various states are vulnerable to rigging or other hinkiness. In among the news-hoopla today, a few reports that stand out. This from The Week: A record-breaking 31 House Republicans won't seek re-election in 2018 A whopping 31 House Republicans will not be seeking re-election in November, NPR reports, including Rep. Darrell Issa (Calif.), who announced his impending retirement from Congress on Wednesday. The 2018 GOP exodus is a new record: The last time there was such a massive departure from Congress was when 28 Democrats left in 1994, and Republicans subsequently seized control. Most significantly, Republicans in states won by Hillary Clinton are leaving in droves. "Vulnerable House Republicans would clearly rather call it quits than stand for re-election with a deeply unpopular agenda hanging over their heads," Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spokesman Tyler Law told NPR. [...] Democrats would need to flip 24 seats to take back the House, with the Senate being more of a long shot; in the upper chamber, Democrats have to defend 25 seats and pick up an additional three in order to take back the majority. A Washington Post/ABC News poll from November found that hypothetical Democratic candidates are favored by voters against their Republican counterparts 51 percent to 40 percent. One of my favourite election handicapping sites is Decision Desk HQ, a relatively-nonpartisan group of wonks and dweebs. Their DDHQ 2018 House Midterm Forecast is a good place to come up to speed on the challenges and excitement ahead. The 2018 House Midterm Election is bound to be one of the more interesting in recent memory. With Donald Trump in the White House, infighting on both sides of Congress, and an American public that is bursting at the seams we have a recipe for a perfect political storm. Keep your eye on this page, which houses our forecasts for all 435 congressional districts, and stick with us as we attempt to answer the ultimate questions: who will win majority control of the US House of Representatives? Here is an image from that page: Click on the image above to go to the fully interactive version of this image, where you can zoom in and examine each race's details and present-day forecasts. Eg,  -- another very good site is Ballotpedia. Here is a link to their comprehensive 2018 elections page. ___________________ ** a welter of reports on the controversial commission and its end can be accessed here. Click the following for a snapshot ... Prediction:  surprise surprise!

Friends and foes chatter [Updated]

Chat instructions via video! So, my new "livecasting" set-up is  coming along. Today I botched a brief video header for this topic. I insert it just for fun. The other voice you hear is young Jordan Sather; since I wasn't wearing the headphones, I didn't know he was talking. He is talking about the Toronto attack, obliquely,  via Qanon. I will replace this with a better version where the sounds make sense and I wear the headphones as I mix. I wanted to demonstrate how easy it is to add a question, comment, request to the chat box  below. You need not be an Objectivist Living member or 'sign in' or register to use the chatbox below. You need not claim a name or moniker.
Using this one is as easy as typing in an acronym (ME) and then banging out a short or long screed. If you know or can learn a little code,  you can add images, hotlinks, and add emphasis to your screed/line of tossed-off text: It's based on the old forum standard bbcode mark-up; where you use square brackets to do some magic:  You can click the ''help" button at the bottom of the chat box -- to see all the bbcode, options for registering an avatar image, 'claiming' your name ... otherwise do a Quick Start: Click in the "name" box, and enter a screen name. Click on "message" and type your message. Then hit Enter to post!  

SCIAM: "Cognitive Ability and Vulnerability to Fake News"

The article "Cognitive Ability and Vulnerability to Fake News" appeared at the Scientific American website on February 6th. Its subheadline is "Researchers identify a major risk factor for pernicious effects of misinformation."  The article makes for interesting reading, whether you consider 'fake news' a classifier for broad swaths of the information landscape, or whether you consider 'fake news' to be particular items that are inaccurate, infused with partisan bias, subject to grotesque editorial demands, or otherwise not adequate to your needs. Excerpts: ... you can guess what happened next. If you seek verity, verily you must verify ... To that end, that of critical appraisal, one dear to the heart of all Objectivish people, the magazine has another useful (or familiar) set of verification rules of thumb: Six Tips for Identifying Fake News  -- this is presented at the site as an MP3 sound file, which I link to here:   Note on audio files: the code to insert an audio file is dead easy if you have a little knowledge of HTML. Any modern browser will return a little player like that above -- given the code format below. All you need to do is make sure the file to be played is MP3, the web standard. <audio controls src=""> -- to insert similar audio file code on OL in your edit box, click on the "Source" button up under "Content" at the top of the edit box. This reveals the underlying HTML.  



Reading: "Suspicious Minds: Why We Believe Conspiracy Theories"

I want to recommend a book I just started reading last night: "Suspicious Minds," by Rob Brotherton. As is usual, I read first the chapter that stuck out -- Chapter 5, The Paranoid Fringe. It takes a useful critical look at the seminal article by Richard Hofstadter -- "The Paranoid Style in American Politics" -- and also runs to ground a plausible origin of 'tinfoil hats.'  The book is written in a wry conversational tone, and is not on the surface a ''scholarly" read thick with endless footnotes, but it also contains a very useful reference list by page number -- as well as a full index at the back.  (My copy is from our local library, but I am going to order it from Amazon so I always have it on hand as a reference book.) Here is an excerpt from the first page that might whet OLer's appetite for more ... In a fit of recursion, I include this bit of commentary from earlier this month. It suggests that I am bound by ingrained prejudice/s, which may or may not be true ... yet leaves the door open to further friendly discussion. -- for those who like to check out reviews before purchasing or borrowing from a library, here's a selection -- which I thought remarkable. Remarkable in the sense of "how many reviews do not mention Donald Trump?" New York Times review by Adrian Chen
Inside Higher Education review by Scott McLemee
Brief Scientific American review by Maria Temming -- for the benefit of Dear Leader, I found the book is available at his local library too!

Livestream test Feb 2

My second test is also awful ... long, choppy, echoey, but I fear not [added February 2] _______________________________   I have been fussing with technical impediments for a few days -- with the end of the fuss a more-success-than-fail test of streaming video live from Chilliwack. It is still awful, laggy, popping here and there, distorting audio, skipping frames, refusing to play video so I can hear it ... but with some more fussing and rehearsal, and more script cards, and more drilling, this can work. Expect this thread to be locked from time to time as I replace the content with the actual live event URL. This is a recording ... Yes, it is even more awful than I feared, but still a success. The echoes can be fixed by disabling the mic when listening to playback of embedded videos. And the awful disparities in volume can be finessed.  > I want to recommend a neat little standalone application that lets a podcaster/livecaster play various sound files. It's called Jingle Palette. A screenshot of the thing: As can be seen in the labels, I had audio excerpts from video, text-to-speech items, and some radio-stingers.  All at various wrong sound levels ...  




Release the MEMO

The Hill reports the 'breaking' news that the White House has approved the public release of the MEMO. The MEMO was crafted by staff of the United States House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI). From an earlier report ...  



Tribes, Tribalism, Tribulations

When Two Tribes Go To War ... Taking this topic out from the conspiracy thread here at Friends and Foes. I  want to look at how we discern tribalisms, membership, shibboleths and associated markers.    Define: William's tribe. Define: Michael's tribe.   List: core beliefs of Michael's tribe (sacred cows)
List: core beliefs of William's tribe (sacred cows) Once a core belief of Michael's / William's tribal affiliates is identified, plug the details into the above quote. Denote, clearly: a core premise/belief of each of the two tribes identified above. Provide at least one example from OL of each tribe's unquestioned core belief. Ask each of the tribe members whether or not they actually hold the identified belief. Once a/the "core belief/s" of the respective tribes are identified, set up a "premise-checking" operation. For another time.   Again, can we put a name to it? Can we define William's Tribe so that there is no mistaking what you mean?  




Ayn Rand Sightings -- The Fountainhead in LA Review of Books

I was alerted to this review by one of the folks I follow on Twitter, Robert Tracinski: A small excerpt from the offending review with a bit of Rand news that I missed highlighted: -- I am half-convinced that we already noted the Amsterdam theatre group's adaptation in an earlier OL post, but my attempts to find that note are foiled by the search facility, which has gremlins at the moment. [Edit: gremlins vanquished:; the link goes to Michael's note of the earlier sighting ... ]