Headlining It

As promised, President Trump signed an executive order on Tuesday that calls for a full review of the H1B visa program — that’s the highly-skilled immigration visa program — and include more language for government agencies to buy from US companies. The way different media players chose to spin it in the headlines is interesting:

NYTimes: Planned Trump Order Will Discourage Hiring of Low-Wage Foreign Workers
Recode: Trump will sign an executive order reviewing high-skilled H-1B immigration visas
USA TODAY: Trump to sign ‘Buy American, Hire American’ executive order
CNNMoney: Trump administration moves to combat H-1B visa fraud

The quoted headlines did come from the White House briefing. Each took a different fact and emphasized it.

That was yesterday. Today, the visa kerfuffle is forgotten in favor of a congressional seat up for grabs in Georgia.

CNN: Ossoff falls just short in Georgia special election
NYTimes: Jon Ossoff, a Democrat, Narrowly Misses Outright Win in Georgia House Race
WND: Republicans force runoff in Georgia race

It’s true. Jon Ossoff received almost half the votes. But that’s less than half the story.

From the NYTimes: “Jon Ossoff, a Democrat making his first bid for elective office, narrowly missed winning outright in a heavily conservative House district in Georgia on Wednesday, throwing a scare into Republicans in a special congressional election that was seen as an early referendum on President Trump.

“Ossoff received 48.1% of the vote, just short of the 50% threshold needed to win the seat, and he will face Karen Handel, the top Republican vote-getter, in a June runoff.”

[Blah blah Stuff about Mr. Ossoff blah blah]

From the NYTimes, paragraph #127: “As Mr. Ossoff faces Ms. Handel in a head-to-head race on June 20, it is unclear whether he will be able to sustain the success he enjoyed on Tuesday, in an 18-person field.”

Wait. What?

An 18-person field?

And that wasn’t the second lede?

Both sides shot themselves in the foot; Republicans just used a bigger gun. 192,084 people voted. In addition to Mr. Ossoff and Ms. Handel, the ballot included three candidates — Republican Bob Gray, Republican Dan Moody, and Republican Judson Hill — who pulled 28.4% of the vote between them. Seven other Republicans, four Democrats, and two Independents split the remaining 7,100 (3.7%) votes.

The real story here?

1. Democrats came close in a nationalized race about the first 100 days of Donald Trump, all in a now-tightly split district.
2. Out of state progressive activists led by the ultra-liberal blog Daily Kos pumped $8.3 million into Mr. Ossoff’s campaign; out of state conservatives did the same for the top three Republican contenders. $14 million was spent on advertising in the race, most of it fueled by that out-of-state money.
3. 18 people ran in what one consultant called a “bar brawl.”
4. CNN quoted Daily Kos founder Markos Moulitsas.

I had to read 11 different reports to assemble even that information.

The mainstream media takes the facts on the ground and “presents” them in a way that will rile their readers or at least get them to “click through.” And then they wonder why we don’t trust the news any more.


Two-Faced Lying Liars

The 24-7 “Muslim Ban” reportage should remind us of the first rule of Journalism:

Tell the truth, then quit.

The Mainstream Media lies, but maybe not for the reason we think.

The yellow press of the 19th Century set a pretty low bar for truth culminating when Joseph Pulitzer’s New York World and William Randolph Hearst’s New York Journal battled to drive up circulation.

Yellow Journalism presents “little or no legitimate well-researched news and instead uses eye-catching headlines to sell more newspapers. Techniques may include exaggerations of news events, scandal-mongering, sensationalism” and outright falsehoods. We us the term today “as a pejorative to decry any journalism that treats news in an unprofessional or unethical fashion.”

Today, there’s talk that the low bar is set for political reasons.

Journalism transformed itself from making stuff up and muckraking to the investigative reporting of the mid-century. American reporters have discovered and reported on individual and corporate and government wrongdoing, secret practices, corruption, and witch hunts.

The iconic news organizations had a golden age. Murrey Marder exposed Sen. Joe McCarthy. Edward R. Murrow, the most distinguished figure in broadcast journalism, simply gathered news completely and then broadcast it. Walter Cronkite assumed the mantle of investigative journalism as a watchdog who delivered the facts as a CBS anchor. Woodward and Bernstein may be the last of the modern era “complete, factual” investigative reporters.

Reading the NewsNews writing and journalism transformed again in the 60s and 70s. The so-called “new journalism“ driven by writers including Tom Wolfe and Hunter S. Thompson moved the bar to the long-form narrative that uses novel-like scenes in stories instead of straight reportage of facts.

That’s where we come in today.

“Political reporters” in particular want to tell a story rather than tell a fact. That story is often not true. Let’s look at some examples.

Mark Hertsgaard wrote that press coverage of the Reagan Administration was “extraordinarily positive.” The media “abdicated its responsibility” to report accurately what the government was doing. Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee himself said the media had been “kinder” to President Reagan than to any other President in his time at the Post. Prominent journalists and news organizations, Mr. Hertsgaard wrote, “allowed themselves to be used” by the President’s political operatives. The media told at least some of the truth but the stories excused it.

The Teflon™ didn’t stick (heh) around for George H. W. Bush. From the reports about the grocery store scanner to Bill Moyer’s insistence that the first Iraq war was based on lies, the media abdicated again but this time chose to report inaccurately what the government was doing. The media told at least some of the truth and the stories blamed the president.

“Read my lips. No new taxes,” may be the most famous line that sank a presidency.

“I did not have sexual relations with that woman” may be the most famous line that didn’t.

The press narrative covered Bill Clinton’s lies and none-the-less forgave him. They played by the Clinton rules. The media told at least some of the truth but the stories excused it.

The Internet — Facebook, Twitter, Bloomberg, Google and YouTube, WikiLeaks, blogs, thousands of digital news and information sites — has pushed the media icons even farther away from the truth.

The botched 60 Minutes piece on George W. Bush’s National Guard service defined the tone for press coverage. It was, purely and simply, a lie. “The story we reported has never been denied by George W. Bush, by anyone in his close circles, including his family,” Dan Rather continues to say. In fact, Bush spokesmen have repeatedly denied it. In the other Bush narrative, the MSM to this day claims Saddam Hussein had no weapons of mass destruction. The truth? Iraq certainly had chemical weapons but the MSM denial lives on. The media told at least some of the truth but the stories pilloried the president.

NBC News correspondent Lisa Myers found this statement in the 2010 Obamacare regulations: “A reasonable range for the percentage of individual policies that would terminate is forty percent to sixty-seven percent.” Did you know that? From lies about health care to lies about the deficit to lies about tax cuts to lies about terrorism, to lies about scandals, Mr. Obama’s lies are legion but excused or buried by the mainstream media. The media told at least some of the truth but the stories excused it.

This weekend, a protest lawyer told ABC News “the immigration ban is unconstitutional.” The network treated that as fact. When a lawyer said the same about ObamaCare, the network immediately cut to “experts” explaining why the program was indeed constitutional. The media tells at least some of the truth but the stories blame the president.

Since the press chooses some Republicans and some Democrats for praise and different Republicans and other Democrats for excoriation, I can’t simply point to “liberal bias” or even “conservative bias.” Liberal papers like the New York Times were nice to Mr. Reagan. Conservative papers like the Wall Street Journal were (relatively) nice to Mr. Clinton.

I love news and data but I am ashamed of what I see happening in this most important bulwark of democracy.

I have long thought the media was star-struck by Mr. Reagan but hated Mr. Bush 41’s class. Since Democrats love to play the race card, perhaps the press excused Mr. Obama because they were afraid of racial accusations. Perhaps they simply hate Mr. Trump.

A lot is our own fault dear reader.

Facebook, Twitter, Bloomberg, Google and YouTube, WikiLeaks, blogs, and thousands of digital news and information sites means We the People read less real journalism today than ever before. And sadly, that means the “real journalism” we do read or watch tells us more lies by commission or omission than ever, just to try to get our attention.

We pay attention. And we believe the stories.

Can you hear the shades of Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst chortling?


Florida Dreamin’

Dreaming? I’m pretty sure this would keep me awake at night.

“You remember your dreams in a lot of crazy detail,” my friend Diana Bauer said. She lives up where the air is thin and dreams find it harder to escape.

I pretend mine are interesting but I have trouble remembering them. Often a lot of trouble.

She suggested a dream journal.

Night 1: I wasn’t particularly tired but I got to sleep as quickly as usual and remember waking just once around 2:00 local time. I may have awakened somewhere in the middle of a weird traveling dream because it got split into two different episodes.
Night 2: More normal except for a wackadoodle dream in which I really did think I was in a different house/apartment/hotel suite when I got up to pee and was completely surprised that I knew where the bathrooms were.
Night 3: I had trouble getting to sleep and think I woke early. The worst came when I dreamed I woke an hour ahead of the alarm. I was in North Puffin, in my study, when I realized I was up so early. I spent some of the extra time vacuuming. Now I feel as if I slept only about two hours all night.

Wait. I want to remember that?

A dream diary (or dream journal) is simply a log “in which dream experiences are recorded. A dream diary might include a record of nightly dreams, personal reflections and waking dream experiences. It is often used in the study of dreams and psychology. Dream diaries are also used by some people as a way to help induce lucid dreams. They are also regarded as a useful catalyst for remembering dreams. The use of a dream diary was recommended by Ann Faraday in The Dream Game as an aid to memory and a way to preserve details, many of which are otherwise rapidly forgotten no matter how memorable the dream originally seemed. The very act of recording a dream can have the effect of improving future dream recall.”

Dreamin'We humans average five sleep cycles per night with a period of REM sleep at the end of each cycle. Most people dream for 100 minutes each night. The closer it is to morning, the longer your REM sleep is and the closer to remembery your dreams become.

Keeping a dream journal or dream diary seems a little woo-woo to me but if it does make it more possible to remember your dreams…

“If you have trouble remembering dreams, you can use a lucid anchor. Anchoring comes from the fascinating branch of psychology called Neuro Linguistic Programming. Just before you go to sleep, choose an object that you can see clearly from your bed. This is going to be your anchor” the World of Lucid Dreaming tells us.

I’m hoping I don’t have to sleep with a night light.

I’m also hoping I don’t have to hang a photo of a grizzly bear on the wall. If I looked at grizzly every night before sleep, when wake up to pee, and first thing in the morning, I’m pretty sure my first thought won’t be “I will remember my dreams.” I’m pretty sure I would dream about blood and gore and veins in my teeth and I’m pretty sure my first thought every time would be, “Holy s**t, there’s a bear in my room!”

I was awake out of an action-adventure dream for both our South Puffin trash trucks 20 minutes before the alarm.
At the end of the dream I was defending a storefront from a gun attack by people we probably knew but knew we wouldn’t recognize. Somehow I twigged that it would be a Bonnie and Clyde team and that the bonnie looked like Johnny Depp. Then I was snuggling with SWMBO, trying to get some rest before the attack, when I woke.

Creative people commonly have stronger dream memories.

Wait. I’m not (particularly) Freudian, nor do I play a shrink on TV. Why do I want to?

I can’t repeat my pornographic dream in this family-friendly forum but strong men expressed surprise and women left wailing.

OK, besides that.

I have always had the idea that once, just once, I’ll dream a story I can write and sell. Awake or asleep, we writers are dreamers. I want to forge a link between the imagery and symbolism of my dreams so perhaps a story or a novel will spring “fully found” onto the page with no work beyond transcription on my part.

It’s not so far-fetched. Stephen King told Naomi Epel In Writers Dreaming, “… I had a dream about leeches inside discarded refrigerators. I immediately woke up and thought, ‘That is where this is supposed to go.'” That took his novel, It down the road to the publisher. Ms. Epel discussed dreams and the roles they play in their work with Maya Angelou, William Styron, Art Spiegelman and 22 other writers.

I’ll be satisfied, though, with “just” a plot point or a look at a character’s back story.

It was a two-memorable-dream night. I don’t know why I keep having traveling dreams but this one was fairly realistic except for the hotel part.
I was at a hotel trying to get the truck packed for a road trip. Anne and a couple of others kept distracting me. She wanted to look at this, pack that, go here, do the other thing. In the middle, an arts council sponsor called me and I had to talk him into running a TV story about the Rotary Home Show. I had accomplished that and it was only 3:00 in the afternoon when one of the gang traveling with me told me the camping trailer I was towing was on the road, ready to hook up. I was to take it to Watertown NY on my way to South Puffin. Watertown is west, and nowhere near anywhere I might have been going.

I have always had the idea that once, just once, I’ll dream a story I can write and sell. This Dreaming piece may be it, but I’ll keep trying anyway.


How to Lose an Argument with the Left

The Water is Rising
Let us not forget: South Florida, like New Orleans, is a swamp.

In Uber Tides, I made the point that the Man-Did-This Community would assert that Anthropogenic Global Warming caused the high tides we experienced last week, not the spring tide conjoined with a Supermoon.

Here’s an example.

Dissenter: But of course rising sea levels wouldn’t have anything to do with a super high, high tide I’m sure.
Me: It would be good to actually read the piece and the comments before quoting your mantra.
See, I live right in the middle of where I have to worry about my pedicure in this unusually high tide. Want to tell me how much the rising sea levels have raised the water at my sea wall? I want an actual number. Did actual mean sea level rise an inch or a foot? Did it rise a tenth of an inch or ten feet? Actual sea level, not the height of the tide.
Dissenter: You know, if you bothered to read something other than what suits your prejudice, you’d know that the coastal communities in many parts of Florida are busy raising the level of the streets because storm surge is a lot higher than it used to be. The ocean isn’t a bath tub.
Me: Data please. How much has the mean sea level risen? An inch or a foot? Did it rise a tenth of an inch or ten feet? Actual sea level, not the height of the tide, not the amount of storm surge.
Dissenter: sad…you can’t figure out this is the same thing….I’m not your librarian, go find out for yourself. You don’t want to know. You’ve already got your gospel.

Braaaaap. Typical wrong answer.

Calvin ArguingSee, folks making this kind of argument make an assertion. They refuse to back it up with data. They blame the other guy for not being willing to do their homework.

That’s not the way to play. If you claim rising sea levels partly cause a super high tide, you must have data on rising sea levels, right? You do have the data, right?

OK, I guess not.

It shouldn’t be hard to find, particularly for a scientist. But all I have ever seen from the general AGW argument is “the sea is rising.” I have never seen anyone say “the sea in the Florida Keys has risen by x inches since 1991.”

I do have some interesting data from climate.gov but finding a definitive measurement of sea level value has escaped me.

That seems odd. I can tell you with certainty that Lake Champlain is exactly 94.18 feet and a chilly 47 degrees as measured at the USGS gage in Burlington Harbor. I can tell you with certainty that Lake Okeechobee‘s current lake level is 14.98 feet. And I can tell you with certainty that searching for “Atlantic Ocean Water Level at Miami” or “Florida Straits Ocean Water Level at Marathon” or any of a number of other terms turns up 4-500,000 results warning of Tidal Flooding and Sea Level Rise but not one single actual data point for the current average sea level at Sombrero Key (Hawk Channel), or Miami Beach, or any other coastal location.

I can only posit that the AGW alarmists are afraid to publish the data because it would contradict their story line. Because it wouldn’t sell newspapers. Because it wouldn’t fund government grants.

And that’s how you win an argument today: make up a crisis and then tell the other guys to prove you’re wrong.

Show me the numbers. Until then, let us not forget; South Florida, like New Orleans, is a swamp. Storm surge, high tides, and other weather events will continue to inundate the land we humans kind of stupidly live on.

Rug Chewing and Other Epithets
In another recent discussion, I mentioned that I did not like it when “a right wing rug chewer” called me a “baby killer” back in the 90s (I’m pro-choice) and that I don’t like being called a “racist” or worse by the anti-Trumpers today.

The first, very first answer? “Rug chewer? Really? No… you’re not a racist. You’re just an as***le.”

No discussion of why the lefty loons love to play the race card for anyone who might (might) vote against Mr. Obama or vote for Mr. Trump. Just an epithet.

Gekko discussed slang, cant, idiom, argot, code words, and the like, the special words that people use to make it explicitly tough for outsiders to understand.

That first answer deliberately took a non-traditional meaning of one phrase to twist the discussion away from the Left consistently playing the race card.

And that’s how you win an argument today: make up a politically correct disparagement and divert all attention from the facts so no one notices how wrong you were.

Invoking Hitler
“Who is posting this crap?” a friend asked. She had found page after page of Obama-and-Hitler-similarities.com links.

Good question.

She had asked after I made the point that there are still a lot of “Trump is Hitler” comparisons floating around from my uber-Left friends and commented that one official corollary to Godwin’s Law is that, once the Nazis are invoked, whoever played the Hitler card has fallen straight into horse puckey and lost.

Friend: “Where do you see this plethora of Hitler? What media do you base this on. Please give references.”
That is the way to run a discussion. I had made a claim. My friend not only hadn’t seen what I referred to, she didn’t really believe it.
Me: “Where? Facebook. Here’s an example from today; there were plenty more before the election.” [link omitted; it’s easily found in this thread]
Friend:, referred to a NYTimes article about Protests of Mr. Trump’s Election: “Read it–very little unruliness. No Hitler references, but I see some parallels on my own…”
Me: “It’s interesting that the ‘All the News That’s Fit to Print’ NYTimes is so often the ‘All the News That Fits Our Politics’ NYTimes. I found the references to arrests and violence in the Wall Street Journal.
“And, no. You won’t find the Hitler references in the Mainstream Media unless they happen to appear on protester posters. It is very much a social media phenom. In fact, Godwin’s Law specifically refers to Internet discussions (it was formulated back in newgroup/BBS days).”
Friend:Please send links so I can make my own assessment.” [Emphasis added]
Me: “Search on ‘trump compared to hitler on social media’ no quotes. Lotsa cites. [That search turns up about 1,130,000 results in 0.74 seconds, including stories from NPR, the Washington Post, and even the oh-so-politically-conservative Newsbusters.]
“And just read the rest of this thread if you want to see the Hitlerian examples up close and personal.”

Perfect. I had made a claim. My friend wanted me to back up my claim. I did. She looked for other examples. We both learned stuff. The whole discussion could have ended right there.

The thread got away from us, though, as my uber-Left friends

• Blamed the messenger (“are you trying troll liberals, because you think we’ve never heard of Godwin’s rule?”)
• Suggested that “Godwin’s Law does not apply if they really are Nazis.”
• Called me names for bringing it up (no, I’m not going to repeat that part).
• Claimed that no one ever made the comparison.
• Claimed “it was nonsense against Obama” but isn’t when used against Trump. (“The comparisons are too blatant to miss.”)
• And used the perfect counterclaim that “I know a Nazi when i see one.”

One of the great dissents in the thread was, “Well. It *did* start out with several misrepresentations. First, it implied that people on the ‘uber left’ are comparing Trump to Hitler. Not true. People in the middle are making that comparison.”

And that’s how you win an argument on the Left today: make up a diversion or make up some facts or blame the messenger. If you noticed, nowhere in that discussion did anyone actually refute the fact that my uber-Left friends still make a lot of “Trump is Hitler” comparisons.

And all we can do is shake our heads.

I hate hate hate fighting these same alligators over and over again when all I came to do was drain the darned swamp.


On Your Mark…

It was the perfect storm of Harper Factor and Hurricane Matthew but the truck is packed and I’m ready to hit the road, just six days behind schedule.

The Truck Is PackedTruth be told, the weather here has been about perfect these last few weeks so I haven’t minded hanging around. Frost on the pumpkin tonight, though, even right here on the shores of Lake Wannabe, so it is time.

I’ve been spending money since our last installment. I ordered and configured a fuschia footlocker to be my mobile office. All the camera gear I’m going to take fits in it plus a laptop and its auxiliaries as well as a power strip, chargers for the phone and tablet and iPod and laptop and cameras and …

The new truck didn’t have a backup camera. That seems like a first world problem and, since American truck stylists all think their products have to “stand tall,” it is. You simply cannot see a small car in a parking space or a person under 4-feet tall within 10 feet of the back of a truck. I replaced the inside rearview mirror with the stock model that includes a display screen and installed an OEM camera mounted in the tailgate bezel.

I also built a handy new mezzanine in the bed. Better storage allocation.

OnStar sent me a come-on for three years of free coverage so I turned that back on you betcha. I don’t much care if they email me that my left front tire is down three pounds but I would like it that someone will answer if I’m hanging downside up by my seatbelts.

I bought a genuine Motorola car charger, a Hunda (really) 3-way socket splitter with dual USB, a 30-amp switch, a couple of Marinco 12V receptacles, two six-volt DieHard golf cart batteries, and a Whynter 12V/110V “portable” RV freezer.

The new truck also has just one 12V (“cigarette lighter”) port and almost everyone has a bunch of stuff to plug in. I installed a Power Center in the console I didn’t even know was there. While I was between the seats, I also built a nice trash can/sunglasses/pens and crap tray to keep all of the above from sliding all over the cab.

It’s nice to be able to carry food on long trips and I’ve gotten tired of the ice makers in motels. I will run the freezer on the truck system when I have to and on plug in to a handy outdoor outlet where I can.

I had planned to install a “house” battery under the hood of the truck. GM puts a nice battery tray there right from the factory and, for about the price of the backup camera, will wire it in to the system, complete with an isolator so camper loads won’t draw down the starter battery. Unfortunately, the new smart charging systems mean you can’t mix deep cycle and starting batteries on that circuit. Oddly, you can put deep cycle batteries on the battery charging circuit at the long end of the trailer connector. So I did.

I built a battery box for the pickup bed and paralleled it with the trailer connector. Nice, 40 amp circuit. That will keep the 195AH house batteries up to snuff while I’m underway and the charger will bring them up if I park next to an outlet for a while.

Now, if my replacement freezer would just get here.

See, I plugged the new freezer into AC to do a cold cycle test of the pull-down time and to freeze eight, 1.5 quart canisters of water. The average ambient temperature was 58F. After 8 hours, the LED readout still showed 45F. After 16 hours, the LED readout showed 23F and the canisters were slushy. After 24 hours, the LED readout still showed 22F and the canisters were less slushy.

Amazon ordered up a replacement. It shipped from Jacksonville. Thursday.

UPS is in some disarray. I know the freezer was Departure Scanned at 11:31 a.m., ahead of Hurricane Matthew’s arrival. From there is anybody’s guess.
            Severe weather conditions have delayed delivery.
            We’re working to deliver your package as soon as
            Scheduled delivery information is not available
            at this time. Please check back later.
Anybody have any board games? And a blanket wrap?