Sunday, January 29, 2017

A Sound-Bite Society

“Fake news!”

“Fact-check false!”

“Post truth!”

“Alternative facts!”

It doesn’t seem to matter the label, there is a war on what is considered real news. There have been cries that such false news even swayed the election. Facebook and Twitter are making claims of new methods to curb the onslaught. And the bastions of legacy media are madly wringing their hands over threats to their position of being the “Fourth Estate” - a.k.a. “The Protector of the People from Government Overreach”.

Even President Trump recently called CNN “fake news”.

Are we living in an “alternate-truth universe”? Maybe. But I’ll tell you this: this whole thing is the MSM’s (so-called MainStream Media’s) fault. They have performed a Deputy Barney Fife and shot themselves in the foot. Only difference between them and Sheriff Andy Taylor’s number one deputy, was that Barney only had ONE BULLET!

Let me explain.

When you turn on CNN, FOX News, MSNBC, or one of the other initialed news networks; or when you see an article from the New York Times, Washington Post, Cleveland Plain Dealer, or one of the other print news organizations, you will find yourself exposed to one of two things: news or opinions.

There is a big difference between news and opinions. For starters, when I hear “news” I think that it comes from a journalist, the information and sources have been painstakingly vetted, and that the information being presented consists of facts containing as little bias as humanly possible. Opinion is everything else.

Let’s say you turn on CNN. The person on the screen gives you a headline of something happening in the world. That could very much qualify as news. THEN that person turns to a panel of three guests (a.k.a. “experts”) to discuss that headline. THAT, my dear readers, is NOT news, but opinion. If you add up the amount of broadcast time devoted to providing news versus the amount of time devoted to discussions of the news, you will see that calling the network a news network is very misleading. Actually, there is more time devoted to advertisements than to news.

Now let’s say you open your browser to a news feed, or even go directly to the website of a print news organization. Unless that particular news feed groups the various articles into a section specifically called “Opinion”, you have nothing telling you that what you are reading is actually news or opinion. Oh, you can click on the article, and maybe at the very end of the article it might state that this was an opinion piece, but the majority of people do not read every article they encounter all the way through. Some will read the headline and the small blurb underneath, but most won’t even go that far.

When I see an article that comes from the New York Times, should I automatically assume that what I am being exposed to is legitimate news? The New York Times has both legitimate news AND opinion pieces in the same issue.

We can look at this two ways: either the MSM is incompetent (there is so much content out there that the news and opinion pieces are getting globbed together), or they are intentionally misleading.

Have you ever watched a crime drama where the story goes to trial? Ever hear one of the attorneys make a statement where the other attorney yells, “Objection!” and the judge either says, “Over ruled” or “Sustained”? Sometimes the judge will even say, “Strike that from the record.” Why does this happen? Because that first attorney KNOWS that once that statement is out there, and the jury hears it, it can never be retracted. True or false, they have planted the seed that they hope will produce a crop in their favor.

I think the MSM does the same thing. They bombard us with opinion pieces, with usually a lot of repetition, and when challenged (like President Trump did to CNN) they cry foul: “We are legitimate news organizations and demand said respect.”

As I write this, there is a big brouhaha in my Twitter feed of President Trump initializing a “Muslim Ban”. I turned to a couple of my different news feeds and see more of the same from LEGITIMATE NEWS AGENCIES. Truth? President Trump did NOT initialize a “Muslim Ban”. He initialized a ban on travel to and from seven specific countries. This is for a limited amount of time. JUST LIKE President Obama did in 2011 when he initialized a ban on travel to and from Iraq for a period of six month. No one cried “Muslim Ban” when President Obama did it. There has been so much vitriol from the MSM over President Trump (since even before he was President-Elect Trump) that the sound bites rule the day.

Is there a solution to this? Sure: they could label print articles with “news” or “opinion” at the TOP, and the televised media could display the word “news” or “opinion” during the broadcasts. IF they produce something labeled “news” that turns out to be “opinion”, they should be punished accordingly (for instance, libel and slander laws would apply instead of hiding behind a blanket of “freedom of the press” - just like the rest of us).

Or they could simply change their name to something more appropriate, like “My Humble But Accurate Opinion”.

©Emittravel 2017

Sunday, January 22, 2017


Unlike the hip-hop group Public Enemy who said, “Don’t Believe the Hype, Americans - and much of the world for that matter - bent over backwards when it came to the presidency of Barack Obama.

Before you start thinking this is going to be an anti-Obama / pro-Trump piece, relax; I voted for Gary Johnson. And no, I didn’t give the election to Donald Trump by denying Hillary Clinton the election. I’m from Cuyahoga County (Cleveland, OH), and this county went Clinton. My vote wouldn’t have changed anything, even if I would have voted for Trump.

What I want to talk about is “hype”.

I recently posted on Twitter: “Now that Obama's time is over, can we all get back to NOT worshipping 1/3 of the government? #reality”.

Actually, even prior to President Obama, there has been an almost obvious worship of the Office of the President. What we forget is that the President is only 1/3 of the government (remember the Legislative and Judicial branches?) and that his/her power is limited.

Because of that worship, the election process has turned from looking for the best person to hold this temp job, to looking for a messiah to deliver us from all our ills. And that, my friends, is our fault.

If you hadn't elevated the office of POTUS to king/lord/savior of the world, the transition to someone you dislike would be MUCH easier.” - me

President Obama was not a terrible president. Nor was he the best. At most I’d call him mediocre. He went in with the best of intentions, but found out that the Washington establishment was a little too thick in the skull to listen to “reason”. Unfortunately, the American people and even the rest of the world, were looking for Hyperborea and figured he would be the One to lead us to it.

Remember, there was so much hype around President Obama, that the Nobel Committee bestowed on him the Nobel Peace Prize - not for anything he had done, but for the POTENTIAL of what he would do.

And President Obama fed the hype: “...I am absolutely certain that generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick and good jobs to the jobless; this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal; this was the moment when we ended a war and secured our nation and restored our image as the last, best hope on Earth.”

It was believed that because of President Obama, a.k.a. “The first black President”:

the racial divide would dissolve, the economy would thrive, and the world would reach an age of peace (a.k.a. “Aquarius”). Instead, though there was a statistical decrease, there was an increase in reports of blacks being shot by white police officers;

the unemployment rate was the lowest it’s been since before the recession - if you, like the media and the White House, discount the large number of individuals either working at jobs paying far less than before the recession, or are no longer eligible to receive unemployment and therefore no longer counted;

and the American military was fighting more war fronts than the peak of the Bush/Cheney war machine years.

I wonder if the Nobel Committee wants their money back.

And now? We have Donald Trump. We don’t need the media to hype him; he is doing that plenty well on his own. Will he be a good President? For the sake of the country, I hope so. At worst, I can only hope he is also mediocre.

I think it would be best if we and the Office of the President followed the words of Christina Aguilera: "I don't want to believe my own hype."

©Emittravel 2017

Monday, January 16, 2017

The Song Remains the Same

Enough time has passed that I think I can write a non-spoiler-free post about a recent movie. If you haven’t seen the movie, and you don’t want to have your visual experience tainted, stop reading. If you don’t really care, go ahead.

I guess I should start off and mention the movie. The official title is “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story”. The concept of this is that this is a movie that is not part of the current Star Wars storyline, but actually an offshoot in the same universe.


Here are the two Tweets I sent immediately after leaving the theater:

Just saw #StarWarsRogueOne
Two things: Is this now the new Episode IV in the sequence? (1/2)

Not saying it's good or bad. Just that it did not pass the pee test.

Let’s address the first one.

Again, based on the title, this movie was supposed to be a separate story from the Star Wars we’ve all grown up with (regardless of which trilogy was YOUR trilogy). Except, it wasn’t.

My wife and I love going to bookstores. Especially small town bookstores. I love the big chains too, but there is something about that mom ‘n pop atmosphere. Same for restaurants. When in a bookstore, one of the areas I check out is the Home and Garden section - Nah! Just kidding. I check out the Science Fiction and Fantasy section!! Yeah baby!! In that section you will usually find a bunch of novels grouped together: Star Trek and Star Wars. I’ve read a couple of Star Trek novels, mainly because of my infatuation with all things time and time travel related. I haven’t read any Star Wars novels yet, but usually they way outnumber the Star Trek novels on the shelves.

When it came out that there were going to be these one-off Star Wars stories, I had really hoped that we would reach into that vast universe and pull out some really cool stories. Nope. What we got instead was yet another story of the SAME universe. I hear that the next Star Wars Story may be about a young Han Solo.

Just goes to prove that the studios are too scared to try ANYTHING new! (C’mon, you didn’t think “The Force Awakens” WASN’T a rehash of “A New Hope”?!?)

My first Tweet above asked where in the sequence Rogue One fell. Some fanboys pointed out that it didn’t fall anywhere, because it was a “Star Wars Story”. EXCEPT, this particular movie fell JUST BEFORE the first Star Wars movie (“A New Hope” or “Star Wars” as it was originally released.) It was more of a prequel than the prequels. Not only did it encompass the plans to the Death Star, but it included Grand Moff Tarkin, Darth Vader, Princess Leia, and several other cameos from the “real” Star Wars storyline.

So don’t tell me this was an offshoot. It wasn’t. It fell directly in the main storyline. As a matter of fact, the movie ended right before “A New Hope” started. Princess Leia was even wearing the same outfit.

Speaking of Princess Leia, let’s get to brass tacks here. We’ve come a long way from the erie looking kid in the original “Toy Story”. But to be honest, we’ve a LONG way to go before we can escape the uncanny valley of a CGI Princess Leia and Grand Moff Tarkin! That CGI work may “pass” now, but give the movie ten to fifteen years, and those characters will be the downfall of the movie. “And can you imagine them trying to pull off a CGI person back in 2016? You might as well have been working in 8-bit!”

Okay, the acting was really well done. Though, to be honest, I couldn’t give a rat’s ass about any of the characters. KNOWING this was a prequel to “A New Hope”, I knew that none of the main characters were going to make it out of the story alive. So I didn’t get emotionally invested in any of them - even the lead. Though to be honest, the movie didn't give us much to be invested in as it was.

The music was REALLY well done. That’s one thing I hope never becomes missing from the Star Wars movies, whether in or out of the main Skywalker/Vader/Solo storyline. Love, love, LOVE that music!

As far as my second Tweet, I judge movies on a basic scale. I call it the “Pee Test”. You can probably guess what I mean by that. I can’t remember the last movie I walked out on to empty my bladder. I usually just hold it until the credits end (thank you Marvel Studios for extending THAT bladder ache!)

As far as “Rogue One” goes, the morning coffee was more compelling than the movie.

(The title for this article comes from the song of the same name by Led Zeppelin.)

©Emittravel 2017

Monday, January 9, 2017

Stuff My Brain Says #79

Would someone please explain to me how someone who makes a lot of money pretending to be someone they are not, standing up in a room full of people who make a lot of money pretending to be someone they are not, during an award ceremony that celebrates them pretending to be someone they are not, and uses that platform as an opportunity to slam a person/political party they mutually hate, which is speech guaranteed them in the Constitution, can be considered brave and worthy of celebration?

When we all know that the very definition of "brave" is removing the headphone jack from your new smartphone . . . 

©Emittravel 2017