Post-eclipse reflections

As I said, I was not that excited about the total solar eclipse that passed over sections of the US yesterday. Maximum totality occurred some distance south of where I live and was reached at 2:30pm Eastern Time. It turned out that I had to take my car in for some recall work and so I was in the waiting room from 1:00pm onwards. The TV set in the room (you cannot escape the pervasive presence of TV in any public area it seems) was tuned to CNN and I was astounded that they talked about nothing but the eclipse for the entire 75 minutes while I was waiting.
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I really do not understand this

I came across this BBC news item about Lele Tao, a 24-year old Chinese woman who reportedly earns about $450,0000 per year live streaming. What does she do? This is not a porn site nor is there any nudity or sex. Instead she talks, she sings, she eats, and chats to her fans, and in return her fans, mostly male, send her gifts. Apparently this is a huge business in China.
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What is the matter with these people?

Fox News seems to one ghastly pit of sexual misbehavior and harassment. Now comes yet another story alleging that Eric Bolling, Fox News host and ardent fan of Donald Trump, sent photographs of his genitals to co-corkers. I must admit I find such actions hard to fathom. If these were adolescents, I could understand. Young people do risky and foolish things all the time, oblivious to possible negative outcomes. It might also be understandable behavior by an adult if it was sent to an intimate partner who expected or asked for such things, though even there one would expect prominent people to hesitate given the fact that emails are hardly confidential anymore.
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How and why reporters self-censor when it comes to Israel

We have seen how the Israel lobby dominates the US government. The lobby is aided in this by the way that it can also intimidate journalists. Philip Weiss writes about how reporters from the major western press admit that they self-censor reports from Israel so as not to be ‘savagely targeted’ by both the Israeli government and the Israel lobby that exists not just in the US but in other countries like the UK and Australia a well.
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John McCain is “The perfect American lie”

The news that John McCain was diagnosed with brain cancer seems to have given people another bout of selective amnesia, resurrecting once again old tropes about his courage and goldarned maverickyness. His performance yesterday on the senate floor lamenting the lack of deliberation and bipartisanship in the workings of that body was immediately followed by voting in lockstep with his party leadership to ram through a motion to debate Obamacare even though senators did not even know what bill would be brought to the floor. All we can be sure of is that whatever legislation that is brought to the floor will deprive tens of millions of poor and middle class people of affordable health insurance and benefit the rich because that is the Republican dream. In other words, he voted to start the process to deny ordinary Americans the kind of health care that is keeping him alive, courtesy of the taxpayers. How brave and mavericky!
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How do you tell if leaked emails are genuine?

In this day and age, leaked emails have become one of the means by which information is released about the machinations of government. ProPublica was recently the recipient of emails that revealed unflattering information about Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Marc Kasowitz, The publication of these emails set in motion a sequence of events in which Kasowitz let loose a tirade against an ordinary citizen. Since then, Kasowitz has become one of the many people who has been cast out through the revolving door that characterizes the Trump administration.
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Does a threat of doxing constitute blackmail?

Merriam-Webster defines ‘dox’ to mean to “publicly identify or publish private information about (someone) especially as a form of punishment or revenge” and the practice is generally frowned upon. Some of you may be familiar with the recent case involving CNN and the person who modified an old video clip of Trump engaging in a phony wrestling fight with someone. This person had superimposed the CNN logo over the head of the person getting ‘pummeled’ by Trump and Trump had (of course) re-tweeted the clip. CNN uncovered the identity of the person who had created the video and in the process found out that he had also posted racist and anti-Semitic content on the web.
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Great moments in punditry

Clinton partisans among the Democrats are providing their own overheated rhetoric as they seek revenge for what they see as an election victory that was stolen from them by Russians. Paul Begala is a top Democratic insider and close confidante of the Clinton family who served as counselor to Bill Clinton when he was president. He is now a commentator on CNN. On Anderson Cooper’s show, he actually suggested that Donald Trump should “blow up” Russia’s KGB, GSU, or GRU (the intelligence services of that country) because “we were and are under attack by a hostile foreign power” and “should be retaliating massively”.
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Why are these books worth so much?

I have written before of my puzzlement at the huge advances paid by publishers for books by politicians and celebrities because I could not see how these books could possibly be interesting enough to recoup in sales what the publishers seemed to expect. At least when it comes to politicians, there is a ready-made market of their own political parties and partisan groups that may buy these books in bulk as gifts to be given out to loyalists. And when it comes to celebrities in the arts and sports worlds, there does seem to be a fascination with what they are ‘really’ like, an appeal that completely eludes me.
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