Remembering the War Dead

I hate war.

But honour those who served.

St. James Park, London
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the BUSINESS of American Politics

I’ve followed politics in the USA since G.W. Bush was elected a second time in 2004. I had one question:

Why are so many Americans so stupid?

And why are Americans so close to a 50/50 split in so many elections.

Here’s one possible explanation. Many, MANY make a lot of money when American elections are close: lobbyists, consultants, media, broadcasters. They have incentive to try to keep it close.

In the most recent two-year election cycle, the political industry generated roughly $16 billion in revenue. Meanwhile, customer satisfaction — that is, from voters — is at a historic low. (Photo: Bill Pugliano/Getty)

Freakonomics audiocast:

Some say the Republicans and Democrats constitute a wildly successful industry that has colluded to kill off competition, stifle reform, and drive the country apart.

America’s Hidden Duopoly (Ep. 356)

Ben Franklin by Walter Isaacson

Isaacson is a bit of a genius himself.

Recently he’s written biographies. I enjoyed his biography of Leonardo da Vinci (2017). And loved his biography of Steve Jobs (2011).

Benjamin Franklin: An American Life is good too. But not as good.

Ben’s life story was simply not as controversial as either Jobs or Leonardo da Vinci. As a result I found Isaacson repetitive regarding his few faults.

Ben Franklin regarded himself as a working class man. A printer. Yet became one of the most glamorous and famous people of his time. (1706-1790)

I admire him as an American polymath and one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. A leading author, printer, political theorist, politician, freemason, postmaster, scientist, inventor, civic activist, statesman, and diplomat. 

He founded many civic organizations, including the Library CompanyPhiladelphia‘s first fire department and the University of Pennsylvania.

Like Gandhi, his real goal was to make life better for as many as possible.

Franklin was foundational in defining the American ethos as a marriage of the practical values of thrift, hard work, education, community spirit, self-governing institutions, and opposition to authoritarianism  …

He’d be horrified by the GOP and their toddler President in 2018.

Re-emergence of American Anti-Semitism

One of my favourite podcasts is The Daily.

This is one of their best. Listen here:

Re-emergence of American Anti-Semitism

American Anti-Semitism is a much more complicated issue than I thought.

The racist President clearly encourages anti-Semites. Recall how Trump defended these A-holes.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

Yet he consistently defends Israel. Why is that?

I finally learned that white extremists want Israel to survive so American Jews will flee there.

BEST ways to reduce misinformation online

There has always been misinformation. Older, less-educated men have always been grumpy as their privileged lives eroded. #curmudgeons

The internet gives voice to their wrongheadedness. Businesses like FOX News found a way to make money off them. The Republican Party and others around the world found ways to motivate them to vote.

Axios CEO Jim VandeHei offers 4 ways to reduce #FakeNews:

  1. Politicians … Stop using the term “fake news.”
  2. Media … Ban your reporters from doing anything on social media — especially Twitter — beyond sharing stories. Snark, jokes and blatant opinion makes people skeptical of your factual stories.
  3. Social Media companies … Radically self-regulate, or allow government regulation to stanch, the flow of disinformation …
  4. One thing is for sure: The current self-policing isn’t cutting it.
  5. YOU … Quit sharing stories without even reading them. Quit tweeting your every outrage. Quit clicking on garbage. Spend a few minutes to verify the trustworthiness of what you read.

Charge of the Light Brigade

Tennyson wrote this patriotic poem under a pseudonym, based on news reports he’d read about great casualties in the Battle of Balaclava (1854) in the Crimean War.

Lord Raglan, overall commander of the British forces, had his commands mis-communicated. He had not wanted a suicidal frontal attack.

War is Hell. Don’t go to war.

Opposing Russian forces slaughtered the attackers with Lord Cardigan out in front. He somehow survived the battle.

… All in the valley of Death
   Rode the six hundred.
“Forward, the Light Brigade!
Charge for the guns!” he said.
Into the valley of Death
   Rode the six hundred.
   … Theirs not to reason why,
   Theirs but to do and die.
   Into the valley of Death
   Rode the six hundred.

Charge of the Light Brigade by ALFRED, LORD TENNYSON

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

Homeland season 7

Though I loved the first few seasons, I had to psych up to download season 7 of the world’s worst bipolar Mom.

Authorities should have taken that kid away for good long ago.

However …

… it is still must watch TV. The issues are the real issues of today. Russian disruption of the American politic.

Season 7 was the weakest so far, but still worth watching.

Click PLAY or watch the trailer on YouTube.