American Television News Sucks In Large Part Because They Don’t Understand How Their Own Medium Works

To listen to Donald Trump speak, you’d think he had no idea how to speak English. Whatever lie he’s trying to convey can’t survive the whirling word salad of death spewing from his bloated orange pie hole. He’s a liar who can’t get that the rest of us won’t buy into his lies because he tells them so badly. America’s news media has a similar problem but with the visual language. Just as words befuddle Donald Trump so badly that they’ve limited his vocabulary, the visual medium befuddles American news producers so badly that they, too speak with a limited vocabulary. Trump’s inability to communicate reveals every single flaw in his character. That’s a good thing. The visual media’s inability to use their medium correctly undermines their ability to convey the truth — the very thing they’re supposedly in the business of conveying.

That’s a really, really bad thing.

Last night — the woman seated behind Trump — the one circled — repeatedly nodded and gave Trump’s ludicrous answers an enthusiastic thumbs up. The town hall concept NBC News insisted, would surround Trump with “uncommitted voters” whose questions he’d answer. Except Mayra Joli, the woman, was NOT an uncommitted voter. In fact, she’s an immigration attorney and pro-Trump activist. I’d love to know how SHE got THAT seat.

I didn’t watch NBC’s town hall live by the way. On principle. I switched between watching Joe Biden behave like an adult and the LA Dodgers behave like a minor league team facing major league pitching. Despite taking heavy fire for a very, VERY poor decision, NBC News and its apologists insist that they performed a public service.

I suppose if you focus entirely on Trump and his inability to communicate, you might think NBC News is right. But then, we knew this going in — that Trump isn’t a great communicator just like he isn’t a great businessman. You have to swallow a whole lot of bullshit before you can think Trump is either of those things. But then, that’s been the story the last four plus years — the news media’s stunning inability to see Donald Trump for who and what he is — despite all the evidence of it.

On television, the visual matters. The contemporary audience is incredibly sophisticated in its understanding of and ability to use the visual language. Anyone and everyone can be a filmmaker these days. Close ups and tight shots create a feeling of intimacy. Wide shots create a feeling of space. And 50-50 shots — where two people are presented in the frame with the exact same amount of screen space — suggest a discussion of two equal points.

It doesn’t matter if one person is arguing that the world is round while the other insists it’s flat or that climate change is absolutely real while the other insists it’s not or that the “science still isn’t complete”.

While our ears are hearing a nonsensical argument, our eyes are seeing something else entirely — a more equal argument between two equally valid points. They must be of equal value because that’s how they’re being presented onscreen — 50-50. That’s how our brains read it. That creates a conflict in our heads because we’re being fed two conflicting pieces of information. Bullshit is being given the same visual weight as the Truth — and we know intrinsically that that cannot be.

In a way, our news media is like a well meaning nitwit who uses high-falutin’ words that they really don’t understand. While they wrestle with the language, their audience grows increasingly frustrated with them and stops believing them. That’s already Donald Trump’s operating principle — make the news media unbelievable. The news media really doesn’t need to help him accomplish it.  

At the bottom of it all sits “both sides do it” journalism and its cynical, perspective-free assertion that everyone’s the same.

No, we’re not. Too bad our news media can’t see it.

Not Hyperbole: Portland Is The GOP’s Attempt To Turn 2016’s Soft Coup D’Etat Into A HARD Coup D’Etat

Since election day 2016, America has been living through an on-going soft coup d’etat. If the point of an election is to measure & then respond to the will of the people, what happened in 2016 accomplished the exact opposite. The election’s outcome represented the will of a white, Christian minority to exert permanent minority rule over a diverse and diversifying majority.

How did that happen? Let’s be clear about one thing up front: this was not some master plan drawn up in a boardroom somewhere. Well, part of it was — the part where the Koch’s & the Mercers made a conscientious effort to use their money to deny the majority of Americans the government they wanted. They spent their money to deny climate change and to keep the playing field in America tilted entirely toward white, Christian males. To do that, the Kochs, Mercers & the rest of the RW money put Mitch McConnell to work denying Barack Obama — and by extension We The People who voted PBO into office twice by significant majorities — the judges PBO would have nominated.

See how that worked? Mitch McConnell was actively standing in the way of what the majority of Americans voted for. Remember this — Mitch vowed (when he expected Trump to lose) that he would deny President Hillary Clinton a single SCOTUS judge — even if it left the Supreme Court with nobody on it.

This was the beginning of the soft Republican coup d’etat.

The rest of the GOP strategy pre-Trump was a perpetual stalemate — a perfectly acceptable conservative solution to their problem. No progress meant things stayed the same. It’s not quite as good as literal regression but maintaining a status quo that continues denying people of color political power or any means to acquire and build wealth will did for now. The whole point of voter suppression is to reduce the number of Democratic voters to a manageable opposition. The point of gerrymandering was to divide that manageable opposition into bite-sized tranches that can never vote Republicans out of power.

The whole point of gerrymandering is to deny the majority it’s voice by over-representing the minority. That, too, is a kind of soft coup d’etat against the Will Of The People.

Trump’s arrival changed the game. Plenty of Republicans knew from the get-go that Trump had Russian connections. Current GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy famously said out loud during a meeting of muckety-mucks at the 2016 GOP convention that “There’s two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump”. Then Speaker Of The House Paul Ryan replied (almost as famously): “No leaks. . . . This is how we know we’re a real family here.”

Plenty of Republicans — Mitch McConnell, Lindsey Graham, John McCain — have taken Russian money (via legalized means) into their campaign coffers. Money always comes with strings. Russian money comes with actual rope. “The Senate Leadership Fund, a super PAC run by Sen. McConnell’s former Chief of Staff, received a total of $3,500,000 ($2,500,000 in 2016 and $1,000,000 in 2017) via Access Industries and a subsidiary. Len Blavatnik is a Russian oligarch with US and UK citizenship who owns Access Industries and donated to Sen. McConnell’s 2016 Senate campaign vehicles.” International criminals (like Vladimir Putin) understand how to create layers between their crimes and themselves. Everyone seems to be following the letter of the law while violating the hell out of its spirit.

The Republic’s saving grace up until Bill Barr became Attorney General was that Jeff Sessions — corrupt as he was — recognized that recusing himself from the Russia investigation was sure to put him in prison (if not today then surely tomorrow). But then, that was still the early days of the coup when the Republicans were just beginning to reformat their thinking.

The GOP — like Trump — expected to lose in 2016. They knew damned well that their taking Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin had nothing to do with “Secret Trump Voters” suddenly showing up in just enough numbers to eek out a 77,000 vote win between the three states and everything to do with a full on Russian propaganda assault aimed at dissuading African American voters from going to the polls and pulling the lever for Hillary. Meanwhile the old Republican playbook of too few voting machines at Democratic precincts plus all sorts of other fraud (see North Carolina) did its part to literally steal the election’s outcome — the one the majority of Americans (by a lot) wanted.

The Russians played the Electoral College and its racist roots against us.

Their one shot in 2020 is to travel that road again — hoping Russian propaganda (now improved by Chinese, Saudi & Israeli propaganda) will make up the difference in a muddied election where some variation on the Comey Letter will have made the polling close enough for the election day cheating to work its magic. What’s happening in America’s streets is making that harder to pull off.

The Black Lives Matter movement stole a marketing march on the Republicans. The Trumpian non-response to the coronavirus stuck a shiv in the heart of Republican electoral hopes. But Republicans are living in a nightmare of their own making. The pundits — ever lacking in perspective — continue to deny that the GOP is as guilty of high crimes & misdemeanors as Trump is. They think a worsening Covid19 situation will force more and more Republicans — especially those in the Senate — to openly deny Trump as August drags toward the fall and the election.

But they can’t deny Trump because their connection to him isn’t philosophical (unless you consider corruption a philosophy). It’s criminal. If they turn on Trump, they know Trump will turn on them.

The second Trump stops being POTUS, he will be indicted. And indicted some more. And investigated and sued and then convicted and punished. And so will every one of them.

Bill Barr is sending a private army into Portland — and other cities because that’s the new election strategy: no election. Or some attempt to assert martial law because “violence”.

That’s horse shit. I’m being kind.

When Trump announces the next phase of sending law and order to our cities, the only response should be Americans taking to the streets en masse.

Go ahead, Donald — arrest us all. Tear gas us all. Beat us all.

Good luck running on that.

Good luck winning on that — in the long run or the short run.

This coup d’etat ends now.

Since “Republican” Is Now Toxic, What Should “New” Republicans Call Themselves?

From a purely branding point of view, it really sucks to be Republicans right now.

If you’re still a card-carrying member of the GOP, think of all the awful things your brand is now co-branded with — joined at the hip and head like the most freakish conjoined twins ever: overt racism, religious extremism, self-destructive intolerance, backwoods misogyny, Bond Villain corruption and the worst kind of treason — purely cynical treason without an ounce of ideology.

Wow. Pick a side of history and it’s guaranteed the Republicans will run toward the wrong side. That’s also the Republican Brand now: being wrong about everything. But then, this isn’t news to the GOP. Whenever it was that the Koch Brothers decided to use their money to alter American politics — the Will Of The People be damned — that’s really when 2016’s coup d’etat formally began. The extreme Right Wing Money saw demographic extinction on the horizon — white guys would become such a minority that even rich guys and their money couldn’t stop them from losing power. Rich white guys weren’t having it. They got the poor white guys riled up against all those “others”.

Been there, done this. Again and again and again.

The “Republican Party” is about to check into the sarcophagus in the History Of American Political Parties Graveyard right next to the Whigs’ moldy pavilion. I hear the view sucks.

It’s a “Republican Party” as a brand is finished. Its luster won’t improve between now and November 3. In fact, I’ll wager, the worst is yet to come.

Plenty of people with living, breathing consciences have shredded their Republican Party membership cards. In the media, there’s Nicolle Wallace, David Jolley, Steve Schmidt and Jennifer Ruben among others. They’ve all vocally disassociated themselves. They, somehow, can’t comfort themselves with the tax breaks they’ve gotten while the rest of the country is betrayed.

As much as those on the left might love to have a free ride here — where everything we want becomes a wish granted — that’s as unhealthy as letting the right run riot. We know what that feels like. This isn’t a question of compromising with lunatics. We’re talking to reasonable people after all. Even when we disagreed with them vehemently, they were still reasonable people.

This blog is called “How To Live Bullshit Free”. The trick to living bullshit free is understanding that each and every one of us has a mountain of our own bullshit to deal with before we even think about looking at anyone else’s. Some of us have whole mountain ranges of bullshit in front of us. And dealing with your own bullshit isn’t a “one n done” proposition. Bullshit’s like zombies: damned hard to kill. But if you don’t deal with your bullshit, your bullshit will deal with you.

No one wants to be at bullshit’s mercy. It has none. I don’t want to be at yours and, believe me, you do not want to be at the mercy of mine.

I wouldn’t recommend “conservative” because, like “Republican”, the brand’s been destroyed by the people who swore by it. We get it — as their name says, conservatives want to conserve. The problem is what conservatives want to conserve — America circa 1850 when white Christian men (especially those with money) did what they wanted to anyone they wanted.

We’re back to the America Republicans want us to be. Sucks that it’s an America the overwhelming majority of Americans reject out of hand. Throw in a stolen election and this is why even “Conservative Party” would just result in good people dealing with bad marketing when they should be defending their ideas and ideals.

What should these good people call themselves? Normally, I’d be brimming with “helpful suggestions”. Something about this assignment fails to inspire. “Moderate Party”? Sounds dull as dishwater — like a party that hates enthusiasm about anything. “Heal America Party”? Sounds too sanctimonious already — and the moment they craft a platform, they’ll contradict themselves because someone won’t feel “healed”.

What does one call modern “people without a country”? Immigrants.

Mmmmmm… Not seeing “The Immigrant Party”. Not that there shouldn’t be one — and not that such a party (if it really spoke from the heart of the immigrant experience) wouldn’t be a welcome addition as we attempt to make our politics more reflective of us. And it’s not to say that this new party couldn’t speak to or represent people wanting to come here and be new Americans.

This new party is more diverse than that. I bet guys like Michael Steele would join it (he used to run the RNC). If it was moderate enough, I bet a fair number of conservative Democrats would check it out — and feel a fair amount of camaraderie.

The truth is, plenty of older African American voters are “conservative”. That is, they’re skeptical first. They want change but they want to make sure it’s the right change; they’re willing to be patient. They, too, might like this new party.

The same is true of Latinos and Chinese Americans and pretty much every group I can think of. It’s this diversity thing. Politics wouldn’t divide along racial lines if racism hadn’t been one of the country’s founding principles. Not that we can ever completely vent racism’s stink, but now that we’re all staring at it, we stand a better chance of not succumbing to its poison.

You see what I’m seeing here? A party as diverse on the “right” as we’ll have on the “left”.

But I still haven’t answered the question I started with: what to call them?

Maybe it’s not on us to name them. Maybe that’s something they need to do for themselves — pick a word, a short phrase, an icon — that tells us who they are. That speaks from their hearts to ours.

That’s what they’re going to need above all — the capacity to speak to the rest of us because they relate to the rest of us. This new party, I suspect, will better understand that all Americans (minus the 30% – 40% who are Trumpian) understand that we’re pulling the cart in the same direction. The differences are far less than everything we have in common.

And often, our differences are more like “framing” issues. Perspective helps those.

Whatever this new party calls itself — whatever their mission statement — I look forward to sitting down with them and getting down to the hard, serious business of fixing what Donald Trump and the Republican Party did to America.

We’ve got a mountain ahead of us.

In Order For Us To Get That Cheap Pair Of Gym Socks, Some Other Human Has To Suffer

Our market-driven economy has taught us all to continue searching out the things we want for the cheapest possible price. Why not get the thing you want while keeping a few more kopeks in your pocket? Seems totally reasonable.

But, that assumes that the things we want — a good pair of white gym socks, say (currently available from Walmart at $6.99 for a package of 6) — can actually be created from start to finish and delivered to us for the price we’re paying. Obviously it can — we’re holding the package of gym socks in our hands. But what did those socks really cost — not just us — but the people who made them? What did growing, manufacturing and shipping those socks to us do to the planet? What did our cheap package of gym socks cost everyone else?

Organic, non-destructive farming methods are more expensive than normal factory farming methods. Our cheap pair of gym socks weren’t grown organically — count on it. The cotton in them was farmed elsewhere under environmental laws more lax than ours. We don’t know (as we pay for our socks) what sorts of pesticides were used. We don’t know how responsibly (or, more likely, irresponsibly) those pesticides were used. We don’t know if they ended up in a stream or a river — or someone’s drinking water.

Farmers and business people doing things for cheap tend to cut corners — like worrying about other peoples’ drinking water. That’s just experience and history talking.

Likewise, we don’t know what, if any, air pollution regs the factory that made our socks followed. It is entirely possible that making our socks contributed (in some small way) to global warming. Bravo, us.

The biggest cost in making our socks is the labor. Or should be. It isn’t. That’s the real problem. For us to get that cheap pair of gym socks, it’s simply a fact that the human beings who actually make them will have to get paid next to nothing. If they can be slave labor — that’s even better.

Cheap, cheaper, cheapest comes at a considerable cost.

As we all stumble forward now into our coronavirus-flavored Brave New World, we’ll have the chance to re-imagine a lot of how we did things. More people working from home all around the world will have a direct economic impact on lots of other businesses. Fewer people will now travel for business. That will mean fewer flights — that are more full (as full as social distancing will allow) — and cost more. The airlines won’t have a choice if they want to remain in business.

Fewer people commuting will mean fewer people need to buy cars. That’s fewer cars bought, financed and serviced. That will mean fewer cars made — not that people will be making them anyway.

Think about your job and what you get paid for it. None of us wants to be told that our labor isn’t worth much — that we’re lucky to have a job so shut up and do it. That’s what we’re telling every laborer who has anything to do with our cheap pair of socks.

Make my socks, bitch. Then die.

We’re going to need to readjust our thinking. Things will cost more than they do because, well, they cost more. We’re going to need to see the deep, profound connections between our economic circumstances and everyone else’s.

Greed never makes anyone smarter.

What “Both Sides Do It” Journalism Gets Especially Wrong: Both Sides Don’t Always Act “Politically”

It’s a simple fact: American journalism has, by and large, failed America. The press is the only job mentioned in the constitution. It’s obligated there to be the final check on power. Too bad they abdicated that responsibility eons ago.

I’d love to know at which J-School this virus first started. “Both sides do it” is the basis for every false equivalence that brought us to this catastrophe. It replaces healthy skepticism with outright cynicism — a very conservative thing to do. The only outcome is a bad outcome (it says) — so assume the worst of everyone regardless of the truth.

“Both sides do it” says that Bernie Madoff is a thief. And, so is Jean Valjean (the hero in Les Miserables). Madoff stole billions because he’s greedy. Valjean stole bread to feed the hungry. But — under “Both Sides Do It”, both men are thieves. So — both sides do it. The difference in scale and context means nothing. All information has equal weight — regardless of whether it’s true or false.

That’s the framing our press insists on. Fortunately, they’ve stopped giving air time to climate deniers (though they put Trump on their air, so I take that back). But, when they put climate deniers on their air regularly, they always sat the denier next to a climate scientist in a 50-50 shot. In the visual language, that means those two points of view are equal.

It’s true. We interpret visual images in very distinct ways. If you present two points of view in a way that says they’re equal regardless of whether they are or not, your framing has already undermined the truth.

Same token — if you present anything Donald Trump says without the context that he’s probably lying, then YOU are lying to your audience. You’re implying via your silence on the matter that, of course, he’s telling the truth. When he says things that (you know) are outright lies and you DON’T correct them immediately? They BECOME the truth. How can they not? No one contradicted their UNtruthfulness.

Each time a “Both Sides Do It” journalist gives the benefit of the doubt to someone or something undeserving (MSNBC’s Stephanie Rhule is especially guilty of this), they give credence to something that had none. “Yeah, but what if total bullshit were true…?” is not “journalism”. It’s indulging liars, fabulists and frauds.

“Both Sides Do It” journalists get suckered by job titles. It’s as if the moment Trump became POTUS, he became “infallible” to some of the press. NBC’s awful Kelly O’Donnell comes to mind. She’ll quote anything Trump says without an ounce of context. The president said it, Kelly insists. She’s just there to report what he says.

I’m curious… if Trump (for shits n giggles one day) said “And I know for a fact that Kelly O’Donnell kills puppies and eats them for breakfast every day”, would Kelly O repeat those words without comment — words that SHE KNOWS are not true? Would she suddenly decide then to be a little less “neutral”?

To be honest, I’m not entirely sure what Kelly O would do. She’s that terrible at being a journalist (hell, an open mic on a stand could do what she does).

When Mitch McConnell refused to give Merrick Garland so much as a hearing — THAT was a political act. Any Democrat reacting to Mitch’s abuse of his power is NOT acting politically. They’re pointing to an inappropriate political act.

Similarly — when Donald Trump violates the Constitution (say, by openly violating its emoluments clause every single day), it’s not a political act to point out that fact. It’s somewhere between law enforcement and patriotism. Similarly — when the Democrats called out the Republicans for working with the Russians to steal election 2016, that was not a political response.

It was a CRIME VICTIM trying to report that a CRIME had been committed — against them, against the American People, against democracy itself. FFS — it’s like a robbery victim calling the police — only to have them come and arrest HIM for being the crime’s victim.

That’s the most frustrating part of “Both Sides Do It” journalism. It constantly mischaracterizes what Democrats do, say and think.

Trust me, American Journalism, while my opposition to Donald Trump has a massive political element to it, another big element is purely patriotic. Both sides do not conspire with hostile foreign governments to undermine the integrity of an American election.

Both sides do not then cover up every aspect of that conspiracy in every way they can — out in the open even.

Both sides do not aspire to permanent minority rule.

Both sides do not — like the Kochs — intend to use their money to direct American politics how THEY want it to go.

Both sides do not think there are more important things (the economy) than living.

Both sides do not aspire to open up America’s economy — however many deaths it causes — because they need to win an election.

When this is all done and dusted — and we’ve buried the Republican Party alongside the Whigs — we must then turn our attention to the press.

We need to bury “Both Sides Do It” in the same cemetery.

Dear Conservatives: Thank You For Making Democratic Socialism Inevitable

A thousand years of great explainer videos couldn’t have done what a couple of months in Coronavirus World did: compellingly and undeniably make the case for democratic socialism over crony capitalism.

Make no mistake: crony capitalism brought us here. Conservatism brought us here. The two are flip sides of the same corrupt coin. We have only just begun to feel the hurt coronavirus and covid-19 are going to put on us. We’re the Whack-A-Mole who’s just stuck his head out. We haven’t gotten hit yet so we must be good, right?

At the end of the day, the “joke” will be on conservatism. There is literally no “conservative” way out of this mess. None.

If we force everyone back to work in some ignorant stab at “herd immunity”, we’ll sacrifice millions of people with no guarantee that, as the virus mutates (viruses are very good at mutating and quickly), that herd immunity will carry on. We don’t even know for sure whether people who survive covid-19 and develop covid-19 antibodies become genuinely immune. We think they might. But we don’t have a whole lot of data yet.

But then, conservatism doesn’t put much stock in data. Too much data equals too much information and too much information undermines the credibility of all their bullshit — which was never based on data. Conservatism wants to live in the past. Not a real past, but an idealized past where everything was good for them and less good for everyone else. The playing field conservatism dreams of is tilted horribly in their favor.

That is why conservatives always look askance at too many facts & figures. Climate science is good example. It’s expensive to deal with. It’ll be more expensive if we don’t, says science. Day traders that they are, conservatives will point at the bottom line as if it were a person. We can’t hurt money’s feelings, they say. What they mean is THEIR money. We can’t impact THEIR money — even if THEIR money is killing everyone else.

Conservatives don’t care if millions of Americans get sick and die with no real access to health care. Their in it for the for-profit insurance companies and the for-profit hospitals and the for-profit pharmaceutical companies. While we’re here — no one (repeat NO ONE) loves their “health insurance”. Health INSURANCE is not health CARE. Insurance companies have inserted themselves into our relationships with our health care providers as GATE KEEPERS. We don’t need any stinking gate keepers.

The gate keeper here has segmented the world of health care providers into people we’re allowed to see (cos they have a contract with them that pays an agreed upon price) vs providers we’re NOT allowed to see (unless we want to pay retail-retail entirely out-of-pocket). Other countries don’t have this problem. They don’t have doctors they can see and doctors they can’t — because the gate keeper says so.

Other countries don’t pay premiums (the cost of their health care is built into their taxes — they will absolutely pay more in taxes but the peace of mind alone in knowing you can never go bankrupt and lose everything just because you get sick more than makes up for the difference. In fact, socialized medicine is less expensive overall — by a lot — with far, far better outcomes.

In America, we pay more to get far less and think we’re effin’ brilliant. No, we are not.

But, again, that’s how conservatives “think”. They can’t back up “ours is the best health care system in the world” with data, so they go with “cos I said” instead. They think it therefore it must be.

There’s no conservative way out of here. Good thing there are Progressive ways out. If we had Progressive leadership at the start of this fiasco, the response would have been entirely different (Bill De Blasio’s lead-from-behind “leadership” notwithstanding). We would have followed the science wherever it took and whatever it advised us to do.

That would have put us in lockdown sooner — with all the same economic issues. But, Progressive leadership would have made staying at home a no-brainer by giving everyone a UNIVERSAL BASIC INCOME for the duration of their inability to make a living. We would have already been well on the road to socialized medicine — a single payer, medicare for all environment where everyone gets solid health care regardless of who they are, what they earn or who they love. That would have prevented the hesitation anyone had to USE the health CARE part of the system (the non-insurance part).

Progressives recognize that we are only as healthy as the least healthy person among us. I know — pretty Jesus-y. Do unto others and everything.

Progressives also would have federalized our response to the virus — using the federal government the way its supposed to be used — organize our various strengths into a unified strength, not like a mob boss keeping his underlings guessing.

Though we didn’t start out solving this progressively, we will, in the end. Or we won’t survive at all.

What If We Could Make Sports As Virtual As We’re Making Everything Else?

Back in the day, I was a Co-Executive Producer for two years on a Showtime sci-fi series called The Outer Limits (it was a re-boot of the sci-fi show that ran on ABC in the 1960’s). Thinking “sci-fi” comes naturally. Not being a hard core sci-fi guy though (like everyone else on the staff was), I tended to think character first, technology second (my favorite episode was sci-fi lite — it was about a neurotic, nosy woman who’s suddenly able to hear what all her neighbors are thinking; Jane Adams played the role & Helen Shaver directed the episode).

I once wrote a short story about a future world where war has been taken off the real battlefield and put into a virtual battlefield. By international agreement, the world’s countries have agreed to make their armies “imaginary”. They reflect all the manpower, machinery and dynamism that their country can realistically produce — and in what amount.

The threat of losing virtually — and being forced to either cede territory as a result or sue for peace (and have to negotiate a surrender) has made war rare except among rogue states. Among the first world nations though — virtual war is the only war. When America is forced to fight such a war — and loses, the General responsible commits an act of murder in the aftermath — an ironic (if heavy-handed) reflection of just how civilized humans can ever really be.

In a sense, the architecture already exists to make all war (old-fashioned bombs n bullets war, that is) virtual. The same goes for sports.

We know how to turn real world data into a virtual player whose skill sets and animation accurately reflect that data. With some tweakage to accuracy — and ways to bring in all the real-time data points that would reflect real time action (in a football game, that would be a minimum of 100 data points — 2 teams with 40-man rosters + coaching staffs + officiating crew) all producing real time assessments, predictions and animations that — with some additional tweakage to the humanization of the players characters — look and feel almost like the real thing.

So — in real time — both coaching staffs would call virtual plays in real time to virtual huddles from which the virtual players would all break to go run — or audible out of. Each player would be responsible for his own character (even if his character is sitting on the bench). If the Quarterback character runs an audible and calls the snap — all his players will have to do what they were going to do — which the massive server being used will animate in real time for a world-wide audience to see. All 22 virtual players (being run by their real counterparts) will have to react to the ball (which will have its own set of virtual real time rules to follow).

Now, keep in mind — the players won’t be able to live on their laurels. They’ll be training the whole time between games — just like they were going to do. There will be metrics and measurements that they’ll have to input (via devices that actually measure the data) so that their data and all opposing players’ data is always completely up-to-date and “real”.

Because the computer knows instantaneously what the play’s outcome will be, the computer also can visualize the play and how it plays out with perfect coverage that “just so happens” to always be in the right place at the right time — with multiple perfect angles. Because the computer knows for a fact what happened on the field and what didn’t — with its physics pretty much always perfect — there won’t be any call for “field officiating”. Refs will be left in (at first) mostly for nostalgia purposes. I’m not sure yet what (if anything) game related they could do, but — in time, their role, too, will be automated. You know Major League Baseball wants to go here already, don’t ya?

Want to watch the game? That will cost ya. We could do this in tiers. The more you pay, the more inside dope ya get. The closer to the actual flow of data you get. Perhaps there’s even virtual interaction with the players. Perhaps we create virtual stadiums with tweaks to view you get (and, at any time, you can also watch the basic “here’s the game” view the general, cheapest-tier-buying pubic will get.

The cheapest tier would be exactly like what we have today. It’s free — except there are ads. Buy a subscription and the ads go away — replaced by actual content.

The Giant “What-if” we’re going to have to solve — “what if we could never feel safe again in huge crowds where anyone in it could literally kill everyone else — without even knowing?” The venues, the teams, the networks broadcasting the games — everyone will have to worry about getting sued for contributing to all that death. It won’t matter how long it takes to snake through the system, the nuisance of it, the cost — it will all be burdensome and it will hang over everything.

Two years from now (at a minimum) when not only is a viable, safe vaccination created but is distributed and given in sufficient numbers to get us all headed back to whatever normal is, then we may begin to fill stadiums again. But, sci-fi being what it is, by then another unintended consequence may be threatening our health. Climate change has already melted parts of the perma frost, releasing organisms into the present that have been literally frozen into the past. We have no idea how our bodies will react to or handle these things.

Maybe that’s more horror movie than sci-fi. I’ll put my Tales From The Crypt hat on later.

If Every Human Could Be Merged Into A Single REASONABLE Human, Here’s What THAT Human Might Do…

If we were able to put out a “help wanted” ad on some cosmic Craigslist, but the ad stressed that the human we’re looking for MUST BE REASONABLE, we’d instantly exclude a third of humanity. I’ll own it — I’m extrapolating from this country onto humanity in general.

Trump’s approval ratings in America still ping-pongs somewhere in the mid-40’s. On the day he resigned from office — because of Watergate — Richard Nixon’s approval ratings sat at about 27%. So, dots connected, Trump’s mid 40’s approval probably includes every one of those right wingers who still thinks Nixon was a god.

Wasn’t it Steve Bannon who pointed out that if Dick Nixon had had a Fox News at his disposal — he would never even have been threatened with impeachment. Reasonable people see rules — the Rule Of Law — as essential to co-existing as fairly as possible. Unreasonable people see the Rule Of Law as something “in their way”. So — everyone surrounding Donald Trump? They won’t make the cut.

Hell, no one around Trump can even spell the word “reasonable”. That’s because they’re all bullies — and bullies don’t “do” reason.

Being as every Republican Senator except Mitt Romney refused to convict Trump — for reasons no one can argue about (as we watch Trump & Bill Barr bludgeon the Rule Of Law with everything they’ve got), none of them can claim to be “reasonable”. Same goes for every single Republican House member who stood in the way of the investigation and knew for a fact that they were obstructing justice in real time every goddamned day.

For the moment we have one, single Republican who qualifies — for the moment, I repeat — as “reasonable.

As we know, if there’s anything that separates people from reason, it’s religion. As readers of this blog know, I draw a distinction between spirituality (which everyone has in one way or another) and religion (which is really just some people trying to quantify & manage other peoples’ spirituality). No one needs rules or regulations — or a church for that matter — to tell them how to be spiritual. The unreasonableness always starts when some “church” claims to speak for a deity. Better do what (they say) the deity wants or (so they say the deity says), there’ll be “hell to pay”.

Man, are those dice loaded.

There is nothing reasonable about thinking people need to behave a certain way because YOU THINK a talking snake REALLY & TRULY convinced a woman to eat a piece of fruit from a tree she wasn’t supposed to eat from — which caused all the suffering on the planet. If YOU THINK a sky deity wiped out every creature on the planet because he was angry at ONE GROUP of creatures (and, hey — what about all the life that lived in water? Did all the fresh water destroy the ocean’s salinity? Where’d all that additional water go (since the amount of fresh water on earth is actually FINITE)? There is nothing reasonable about thinking anything written by men ignorant of germ theory, astrophysics, biochemistry or even rudimentary psychiatry has any value to a modern human outside its literary value — especially when we can prove that everything they thought WAS WRONG.

“Doing unto others”, by contrast — that IS a reasonable thing to do. Hell, “doing unto others” is reasonableness defined. Even a humble atheist can happily “do unto others” without harming his atheistic bona fides. Because even a humble atheist can be reasonable.

Ummmmmm, Mitt? Unless you want to let go of the fantasy that Jesus (we’ll give you “he existed” for argument’s sake) CAME TO NORTH AMERICA and a(nother) talking serpent revealed magical gold plates to Joseph Smith and when Mormons die they all get their own planets, then here’s where you and “reasonable” part ways.

So close, so far, eh, Mittens?

So, now that we’ve culled the herd of unreasonable people, let’s take a look at our Single Reasonable Human.

Ms. Reasonable wakes up one morning to learn the following things are happening in her world:

  • The climate is super-heating super-fast because of shit HE’S DOING.
  • Americans take it for granted that their children getting shot at their schools is normal.
  • Children are in cages at our border.
  • A cabal of men is protecting Jeffrey Epstein’s sex trafficking
  • A hostile foreign power (Russia) launched a successful-beyond-its-wildest-hopes intelligence operation against America’s 2016 election and managed to put THEIR GUY (Trump) into the White House.
  • The Entire Republican Party (save for Mitt Romney) is 100% complicit in a cover up meant not only to keep Donald Trump in power until the next election but to keep Trump (and the Republican minority) in power FOREVER.
  • The news media continue to mis-report the most important story in ANY of their lifetimes because they were convinced (from their journalism schools?) that “both sides do it” and so had spun a massive false narrative around election 2016 that Trump’s win was legitimate (all his projecting that it wasn’t aside) and that as abnormal as his presidency was, it still had to be “normal” cos they lacked the imagination to see what was happening in all its abnormalness.
  • Elections do indeed have consequences — but stolen ones have even BIGGER consequences.

So — having “learned” all these things, what would Ms. Reasonable do?

There’s a lot to deal with in lots of different directions. In short order, a reasonable person would do everything they could think of to stop the climate from crashing down around them first.

They’d stop buying products that hurt the environment — and they’d start demanding packaging that broke down quickly after its single use. Better, Ms. Reasonable would do everything possible to make single-use plastics a thing of the past. Reusable containers would take their place. Need new shampoo? Take your empty shampoo container to Target where Target happily sells you the shampoo itself — which you then put into your empty containers (which Target weighs — minus the weight of your container — and then charges you for).

Ms. Reasonable would take her own cup to Starbucks or Peete’s or she’d happily buy a new reusable cup or (just as happily) pay a premium to buy a single-use cup manufactured to break down quickly and decompose completely.

Ms. Reasonable would stop constantly thinking she needed new stuff. Not needing new stuff all the time would take a huge load off the environment. For real.

Ms. Reasonable would free everyone in a cage. She’d reunite children with their parents. She’d stop the inhumanity and deftly set in motion a system that mitigated the harm we’ve done while seguing into an immigration policy that actually resulted in sane, reasonable policy built above all on perspective.

Guns get the reasonable treatment, too. It’s unreasonable to think we’ll ever get rid of all guns in America. But, Ms. Reasonable will make owning a gun lots harder. She’ll remind everyone that the second amendment — with its well-regulated militia being the arbiter of who gets to “keep & bear” (not own) arms — is all about gun CONTROL and not gun proliferation. Want a machine designed to send a piece of hot metal flying through the air at a live target so as to kill it? Fine. But you will need to be trained in the use of that death machine and you will need to be fully licensed to “keep & bear” it. You will NOT “own” it as the Constitution does not give anyone THAT right.

Your weapon will have technology that allows ONLY YOU to use that gun. No one else may pull its trigger and cause death to hurtle from its business end. If anything bad can be traced to your gun? The onus is 100% on YOU, the “responsible” gun owner. Gun owners will, indeed, FINALLY be “responsible” when Ms. Reasonable is on the case.

All those men hiding behind Jeffrey Epstein? Ms. Reasonable exposes every last one of them. They all follow Harvey Weinstein to prison and ignominy.

Finally, Ms. Reasonable turns to Russia and what Russia has done and is doing.

Learning that her government was now being run by autocratic oligarchs, Ms. Reasonable would remind everyone how the Rule Of Law works. Doing that would take care of all but one of Ms. Reasonable’s most pressing problems. By making The Rule Of Law “a thing” again, all those Republicans guilty of UNDERMINING The Rule Of Law would have to stop undermining it and, instead, feel its wrath.

Reasonableness demands The Rule Of Law. It demands we follow it TO THE LETTER.

If The Rule Of Law suddenly becomes a thing, then Ms. Reasonable’s remaining problem — the News Media’s inability to do its job — might get solved incidentally.

With The Rule Of Law back in place, even our most dim-witted MSM-ers would understand that, no, both sides DON’T “do it” and never did. Perspective would replace “Both Sides Do It” at Journalism Schools and journalists would no longer equate Republicans acting politically to undermine the Rule Of Law with Democrats acting PATRIOTICALLY to STOP THE REPUBLICANS. Even Chuck Todd would grasp that the victim of a crime (having an election result STOLEN FROM YOU) cannot be the PERPETRATOR OF THE CRIME too.

Ms. Reasonable would get to watch cable news that featured Nicolle Wallace and Joyanne Reid and Rachel Maddow and broadcasters like them 24/7 — because even the news networks would — finally — have become REASONABLE.

Of course, when I woke up this morning, Ms. Reasonable wasn’t actually there. She had already been knocked the ground and trampled by Trump & Barr & McConnell and the inept MSM and every unreasonable dickhead with a Twitter account.

Am I crazy to put out a “help wanted” ad regardless?

Dear American Press: Please Get This – Truth Will Always Outweigh Bullshit

It seems so damned elemental it shouldn’t need explaining: Truth and lies are entirely different things. Being made of reality and real stuff, the Truth always has heft. The Truth can be unbearably heavy at times.

Bullshit on the other hand — while it looks like it weighs a ton — weighs nothing. That’s what it’s made of: nothing or one of nothing’s derivatives.

It’s galling as hell to watch supposedly informed members of the news media (MSNBC’s Chris Matthews is on my TV screen as I tap this out) give bullshit weight it doesn’t deserve. Chris Matthews — having just listened to five minutes of solid truthful reporting — instantly presented the (easily) anticipated Trumpian defense: bullshit.

But, Chris reported the bullshit as if it “could” have weight. What if? He false equivalenced five minutes of actual reporting with fifteen seconds of nonsense. Ummmmm, clean up on aisles three through infinity!

What makes it worse is, if you took Chris off set and shot the shit with him, he’d be the first to tell you (I sure hope) what a guilty traitor Trump is! Backstage, when no one’s worried about pissing off the Boss, you know a lot more nitty makes it into the gritty. On air, you have to double and triple source everything to pass muster. Off air — you heard what you heard.

Trust me — everyone’s “smarter” backstage. They know everyone else’s “play”. They know everyone else has a play.

But, on his air, Chris consistently (as he did today) presented Truth and outright bullshit as having equal weight. Truth could be true but, hey — so could the bullshit. That must be why MSNBC is putting it on its air — because it’s true, right?

It IS that simple. Media works that quickly, that efficiently, that effectively. I’m grateful most media has stopped presenting climate scientists & climate deniers in a 50-50 shot as if both sides of THAT conversation weighed the same. Keep in mind — in the visual language, a screen divided exactly in half has two sides of equal value. That’s how visual vocabulary works.

When that happens, the news media creates a “trompe l’oeil” — a visual trick — that makes empty, valueless bullshit look like it’s a dead ringer for stone cold Truth. A more truthful visual representation of a climate scientist debating a climate science denier would be the scientist taking 99% of the TV screen (maybe even 100%) and the denier getting the rest. Their mic volume would reflect the same proportions.

In other words, we would never see or hear from climate deniers because their bullshit had been properly “weighted”.

Truth’s problem is it isn’t sexy. It just is. Usually, the only reason anyone ever talks about “The Truth” is because someone else is questioning it — or denying it.

The Difference Between Bullshit & Horse Shit — And, Yes, There IS A Difference…

I think of “now” as A Golden Age Of Bullshit. And we are the mountaineers bravely climbing Bullshit’s highest peak — the Trump White House.

Humanity has invented and lived through countless Ages of Nonsense, Lies, Rubbish & Self-Delusion. Pick a religion. Add a little dogma. Bam! You have bullshit on your hands now. The Golden Ages are when religionistas take up arms against each other — killing on a grand scale in order to prove that their imaginary friend can kick the other guy’s imaginary friend’s ass.

Bullshit can kill people. Climate deniers use bullshit to justify doing nothing as if “doing nothing” would prove climate change isn’t real. But climate change will happen and destroy human lives regardless of what humans think. Only what humans “DO” can effect or even, hopefully, slow what we humans have done to our own freaking habitat.

We all know bullshit when we see it, smell it, hear it, right? It’s like they used to define pornography. We can’t say quite what it is (it covers so much territory), but we know it when we “experience” it. It’s that distinctive.

Horse shit, by comparison, is milder stuff. Horse shit is your idiot RW uncle at Thanksgiving “Yeah, but”-ing every argument, because he still thinks blaming the Clintons works.

Horse shit is your kid missing curfew and swearing they were caught in traffic.

Horse shit is 60% of all Cable News talking head panels. It’s rubbish — mostly harmless, masturbatory navel gazing done by second tier talent who keep getting air time because there’s so little first tier talent. The other panels are 10% worthwhile conversations (mostly via Nicolle Wallace’s Deadline White House) and 20% outright bullshit.

There are certain regular guests on some of these shows who are especially good at pointing out the dividing line between horse shit & bullshit. Dr. Jason Johnson is always good at laser-lighting it. Elie Mystal is amazing. So’s Zina Maxwell and Anand Giridharadas. Dr. Eddie Glaude articulates the dividing line beautifully. So does Maria Hinojosa.

Hmmmmm… Do ya suppose it’s a coincidence that those most skilled at seeing the difference between horse shit and bullshit have been most beaten up by bullshit? Slavery was/is bullshit. Racism is bullshit. All bigotry is bullshit. All misogyny is bullshit. I’m biased. I’d say pretty much all conservative thinking is bullshit (whereas people thinking conservatives and progressives could ever work together again — that’s just horse shit).