Many people only read the headline before forwarding articles

In an age when we are inundated with information from all sides with little time to carefully digest all of it, it should not be a surprise to find that people often read just the headline and the opening sentences of an article before deciding that they agree with the contents and forward it to others. Twitter is making an attempt to discourage this practice.
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The Republican ‘suburban housewives’ strategy

Every election cycle, the media fixates on two demographic groups that they claim are central to the success of either political party and towards whom they should pitch their messages. One is white working class men and the other is white middle-class women. Why these two groups are singled out for special attention is a mystery to me but seems to be based on the assumption that they are the most persuadable to switch from one party to another and hence worth targeting. I am not fully convinced that they are more persuadable than other groups since such analyses are usually based on historical data and may not be currently applicable.

For example, the conventional wisdom is that white working class men used to be a strong Democratic constituency that switched to the Republicans following the civil rights era of the 1960ss while white middle-class women used to be strongly Republican but now are peeling away from them. But the key fact is that both targeted groups are white and not poor, which explains why the concerns of the poor and minorities tend to get put on the backburner during election time, which in the US is pretty much all the time.
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Michael Moore sounds warning on election

According to the polls as of today, Donald Trump would lose handily to Joe Biden. But Michael Moore warns that Democrats may be getting suckered into complacency like they were in 2016, and that there is a real risk of them losing again.

The documentary film-maker Michael Moore has warned that Donald Trump appears to have such momentum in some battleground states that liberals risk a repeat of 2016 when so many wrote off Trump only to see him grab the White House.

“Sorry to have to provide the reality check again,” he said.

Moore, who was one of few political observers to predict Trump’s victory over Hillary Clinton in 2016, said that “enthusiasm for Trump is off the charts” in key areas compared with the Democratic party nominee, Joe Biden.

“Are you ready for a Trump victory? Are you mentally prepared to be outsmarted by Trump again? Do you find comfort in your certainty that there is no way Trump can win? Are you content with the trust you’ve placed in the DNC [Democratic National Committee] to pull this off?” Moore posted on Facebook late on Friday.

Moore identified opinion polling in battleground states such as Minnesota and Michigan to make a case that the sitting president is running alongside or ahead of his rival.

“The Biden campaign just announced he’ll be visiting a number of states – but not Michigan. Sound familiar?” Moore wrote, presumably indicating Hillary Clinton’s 2016 race when she made the error of avoiding some states that then swung to Trump.

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Yet another challenge to Chomsky on language

Learning a language is not easy, as I can personally testify. So the ease with which children all over the world learn the language of their environment, despite the fact that the languages are very different, has always been a source of great curiosity for researchers. Linguist Noam Chomsky’s theory revolutionized the field. To the extent that I understand it, he argued that there was something known as a Universal Grammar, common but deep rules that all languages shared, and that our brains were hardwired and coded to be receptive to them. As children heard adults around them speaking, various switches were thrown in the brain that converted these general rules into the specific ones for that particular language, enabling children to quickly pick up the syntactic structures of that language.

Over time, the question of what constituted those basic rules of grammar has shifted but the basic idea of some kind of universal grammar has remained. But there have been periodic attempts to upend the Chomsky model as the dominant paradigm and this article is one such attempt, though the author Vyvyan Evans, while claiming to target Chomsky, seems to be aiming his fire more at Stephen Pinker’s interpretation and popularization of Chomsky’s ideas. Another article critiques Evans’s arguments.

While I find the subject fascinating, I simply do not have the expertise to evaluate the competing theories or to judge whether Chomsky’s or any of the alternative view is correct but I pass along the articles because they discusses the issues involved fairly clearly.

US loses at the UN on Iran sanctions

During the Obama administration, the US was one of the six signatories to the deal signed with Iran regarding its nuclear program. Once Trump came into office, his goal seemed to be to repeal everything that his predecessor had done and so the US walked away from the deal. But now the US wants to invoke one of the provisions of the deal that requires the UN to re-impose sanctions on Iran after they expire on October 30 that would be obligatory on all member states.
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Stephen Colbert gives an impassioned monologue

He talks about what is going on right now as Trump and his lackeys stoke fear and racism during the RNC convention. He shows how the Kenosha police department was in league with the heavily armed white militia that went to Kenosha. The murderer who killed two people and injured a third was one of those people and the police just ignored him as he walked towards them, even though people were yelling that he had just killed a man.

So to sum up: an unarmed black man who has not committed any crime can be shot multiple times in the back and killed by the police as he walks away, but a heavily armed white man who has just killed someone will be ignored by the police even as he walks towards them.

This is Trump’s America.

Here is Colbert letting loose.