Living in a post-truth society

The so-called ‘pizzagate’ story gets weirder the more one delves into it. It has become a symbol of how social media has enabled fake new gets circulated widely. For those not familiar with it, the story was that Hillary Clinton and the Democratic party were running a child porn/sex trafficking ring out of a Washington, DC pizza shop. Just stating this will raise the eyebrows of even a marginally rational person, because it seems such an absurd claim on its face that it would require a high level of evidence to substantiate it. But apparently no evidence at all was necessary for the Clinton-haters, especially one person who went to the shop with a rifle to shut down this operation and shot up the place before being arrested. Fortunately there were no injuries.
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Haven’t Christians heard of the Streisand effect?

A billboard put by American Atheists in Monroe, LA that said “Make Christmas Great Again. Skip church!” was taken down within two hours because of local protests. I found it amusing that one of the critics said that it was because it is a community of “strong believers”. Actually this shows the opposite. People whose beliefs are strong would not care. It is because their beliefs are so weak that they are fearful of encountering a message that challenges it.

As a result of the resulting news coverage, more people locally and around the country heard about the billboard than if the locals had simply ignored it. American Atheists are now moving the billboard to another area, likely hoping for a similar reaction there. They can stretch their advertising dollars a lot by putting up billboards for just a short time.

What having an extreme narcissist as president is going to entail

Alfie Kohn* is a writer whom I have long admired for his passionate advocacy for public schools and for providing good and meaningful education for students and his condemnation of rampant standardized testing and the grade-driven, fact-driven, dehumanizing system that passes for much of schooling in the US. His background is in psychology and he has a post titled Narcissist-in-Chief: A Psychological Take on a Political Reality where he looks at what the consequences for the nation of having a person like Trump as president.
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Fidel Castro forbade any memorials to him

I have strong dislike for the practice of naming buildings and creating monuments in honor of politicians, especially when these things are done soon after their deaths. The most contemptible are those who have these things done while they are still alive and even attend the opening ceremonies. The US seems to be particularly prone to this practice. At one time I thought that every public building in the Washington, DC would be named after Ronald Reagan who has been elevated by Republicans to the level of sainthood.
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Ignore the squirrels released by Donald Trump

I remarked during the debates about how easy it was for Hillary Clinton to have Donald Trump chase after the squirrels she released to deflect from her own problems. But it seems like Trump has learned the value of squirrels and is now using them whenever he needs to distract the media from focusing on anything embarrassing. And now it is the media that is chasing after the squirrels released by Trump, usually in the form of absurd tweets.
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The Israel lobby’s campaign against Keith Ellison and progressive campus student groups

You would think that the recent debacle of the elections would persuade Democrats that they need new leadership that would be more attuned to the needs of ordinary voters than the neoliberal elites that they usually cater to. But it seems like they are determined to stick with their old path. The have re-elected Nancy Pelosi to be minority leader again and it seems like Charles Schumer is going to be the head of their senate minority.
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The other drug epidemic

The drug problem in the US has historically focused on marijuana and heroin and the like and it is relatively recently that people have realized the extent of other dependencies such as on pain-killers. The New York Times has a long article by a young, ambitious, hard-striving woman who attended an elite college about how she got hooked on a commonly prescribed prescription for Adderall, a drug that started out being used to treat ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder) for young children but now has become used by many adults to power their way through the day. About 16 million prescriptions were written in 2012 for adults between the ages of 20 and 39 and very little known about the long term effects of its use.
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‘Manuel’ of Fawlty Towers has died

The actor Andrew Sachs who played such a memorable role as the long-suffering Spanish waiter Manuel at the hands of the irascible Basil Fawlty (played by John Cleese) has died at the age of 86 after suffering from dementia for the last four years. As the foil for the more famous Cleese, he was a major factor in providing the humor in that series. He was by all accounts an extremely nice person who had a knack for farcical comedy.
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