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VOLUME 16 NO.4

EXAMINE THE NET WAY OF LIFE

DECEMBER, 2016

©2016 Ski

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FAKE NEWS COMMENTARY

The biggest fall out from the U.S. election was that Fake News is the paradigm. Fraudulent. Arrogant. Kismet. Envy.

The freedom of the internet allows the easy distribution of information. It also allows the free flow of misinformation. Destructive rumors, gossip, hate speech, lies, scams and biased opinion fly around the net like close combat mortar volleys. With no gatekeeper to verify fact from vicious fiction, these bundles of misinformation get spread like an infection before antibiotics.

Facebook was the epicenter of the wrath of critics in the post-election rubble. But everyone had a hand in friendly fire of untruth and biased reports. The national news media was pro-Hillary. It gave Donald Trump the early primary spotlight because he was the joke candidate - - - someone who could destroy the Republican establishment so badly the Democrats could seize total power in D.C. Trump did vanquish the GOP establishment, but he also galvanized the blue collar middle class against the Democratic elitists.

The main networks relied too much on their own fake news engines, the polls, to ride themselves into kindling starter in the post-election dumpster fire. A telephone poll of 700 people a week does not make the results news. Instead of spending millions of dollars on pollsters and new TV election sets with puffy chest pundits (political consultants), the media could have hired thousands of journalists to go out into the nation and actually see what was happening in the country. The middle class in Middle America had been left behind, holding billions of public debt while their jobs left for overseas factories.

And then the fact checkers, the hoard of interested and invested voters on the net, decided it was easier to bash an opponent than find the truth. Finding the truth requires work and skill. Finding the truth requires an open mind. Find the truth takes time - - - something most people find useless when they click a few keys to tweet or post. Opinion has supplanted the value of fact in news events.

America was once warned about the industrial-military complex destroying the American democracy and the American dream. Only a few writers forewarned its replacement, the academic-government complex, from destroying American capitalism and imposing a new world (globalization) order on citizens. In the past year, there has been a fury of political correctness on college campuses and the lack of common sense tolerance rules in elementary and high schools. Safe spaces, trigger words, mandated diversity training and PC police state enforcement of social rules finally hit the boiling point from conservative and libertarian thinking silent majority who found the college tuition bills skyrocket to the price of house per year, with their children learning falsehoods.

When the protesters began screaming about a rigged election for Trump, they lacked a basic grasp of American history. Clinton may have won the popular vote, but that does not mean she won the election. Protesters, especially college students, had no clue what the Electoral College was or what voters actually were voting for in November. The cry for the Democrats to go the Supreme Court to reverse the electoral college by the popular vote was not naive ramblings but utter, clueless stupidity. Academia and government got bloated by their own self-importance to seize the public treasuries for one new social program after another.

So there is an army of partisan content creators to fill the web with their opinionated spin in the hope that a little snowball turns into an avalanche.

CNET reported after the election that fake news was haunting the two biggest Internet sites: Google and Facebook. Google listed a false Trump winning the popular-vote story prominently on Google News for those searching for election results. Other fake stories made the rounds, unchecked, on Facebook, where they racked up likes, shares and views. Facebook and Google are now two of the largest and most popular sites on the Internet As CNET remarked, they are also “the Hungry Hungry Hippos of digital ad dollars. Between them, they draw billions of visitors a day. So if Facebook and Google have a fake news problem, there's an argument to be made that the Internet itself has a fake news problem.”

The Pew Research Center believes that since most of the general public's research is through digital search engines and social media links, the net plays a significant role in developing (bad) habits in America's knowledge base. Facebook has said that the social network needs to be careful about becoming an arbiter of truth. In some ways, there is a little hypocrisy in that statement since Facebook had been accused in promoting stories in line with the owners personal political views. Google, meanwhile, has said it will only remove search results if they contain things like illegal content or malware. That means fake news continues to have a free range to populate news feeds.

The Washington Post reported that an Internet hoax creator was claiming he caused the Trump victory. Paul Horner claimed to have spread a viral slew of stupefying news hoaxes over the years, including one dozy about how a 3 million Amish voters in Ohio helped propel Trump to the White House. His tall tales spread like wildfire, and caught the attention of Trump's political team who posted links to his reports as if they were legit. Horner said Trump's followers did not fact-check anything - - - they would post everything as it was true. He was quoted as saying, “Honestly, people are definitely dumber. They just keep passing stuff around. Nobody fact-checks anything anymore Ń I mean, thatŐs how Trump got elected.”

Perhaps, in some segments of the voter rage against the status quo, fake news stories had an impact. But the disturbing trend is that fake news stories are becoming a mainstream constant. Legitimate news organizations in the quest to be first on a breaking story will go live with speculation, rumor or false witnesses. But even the most thorough back-up to the truth will not erase the original wrong facts from the original report.

The irony is not lost on the journalism profession. With 40 percent of America finding their news solely on the net, traditional media outlets like newspapers are losing ground to non-professional posters and unchecked standards of care. The First Amendment was created as a check against runaway government abuse of the people. An informed electorate is the foundation for American democracy. An ill-informed or apathetic electorate are sheep for the powerbroker wolves.

But with Google and Facebook capturing the vast majority of media advertising dollars, professional fact finders, reporters, are being an endangered species. People have begun to accept falsehoods as truth. One of the seeds for this change was from the satire programs of Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert's Report which twisted comedy into a crack cocaine applesauce that their viewers relied upon for their news content. But at the Cartoonist and Satire Festival at Duke University in September, writers from the Daily Show and Samantha Bee held a panel which included how detailed their fact-checking procedures are before any joke gets the green light. The detail in facts in a comedy show was required because if they made a critical mistake, the credibility of the comedian would lose impact on the viewers. The best satire is based on mockery of the truth. But now, the mock truth was been created in the lazy mind of the Internet viewer.

The 2016 election was the high water mark of fake news, insults, diversions and bombastic opinions that caused friendships to end and journalism put on life support for being caught up in the hype. It may be a cancer that will continue to grow with the Twitter-in-Chief Donald Trump and an entire army of unemployed Democratic strategists who will fill the cable airwaves for the next four years with daily rants.

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HAPPY HELLIDAYS CULTURE

A five hundred dollar VR headset or an epi-pen with the antidote for an heroin overdose . . .

the 2016 holiday season streaks in overdrive without a must-have toy or gadget.

But on-line Black Friday sales topped $3.45 billion, up 12 percent from 2015. People are buying things.

However, brick and mortar retailers found sales drop by more than 3 percent. This follows a trend of where people go to physical stores to inspect certain items (like clothing), then select a brand item and shop the net for the best on-line deal. Most retailers cannot counter this shopper bait and switch. Unless a store commits a large amount of capital for an exclusive inventory item, stores are at the mercy of the combat shopper - - - the person who likes the drama, crowds and pressure of making it through the stampede of crazy post-Thanksgiving bargain hunters. The culture of surviving a Black Friday hand to hand fight for the last in toy is a medal of honor in some households.

But all retailers decided to jump the gun with their Black Friday sales. Some have gone as far to start discounts weeks before Black Friday. It is a simple pie chart logic. There is a finite amount of dollars that will be spent on the holidays. It is the best move to try to get as many dollars early as possible.

The holiday sales are driven by three major areas: electronics, clothes and toys. Electronics is fueled by the annual smart phone push or the newest game console. Everyone still needs clothes as a basic staple. And children will always demand toys under the Christmas tree. But this year there has been a lack of burning buzz over any one product. As a result, the spending environment seems to be tempered this year.

Have the materialistic side of the American experience hit its peak load? Have most people purchased enough stuff to last them a lifetime? Or as the election inferred by its results that there is a vast swath of America that has been left behind in the slow recession recovery?

The latter probably has more to do with the lack of grandeur during the year's hottest shopping markets. The under 26 demographic is turning into the slash generation; people are working multiple part time jobs in order to pay their weekly bills. When you are running pay check to pay check in a tight credit market (and anchored by large student loan debt), things that were basic annual items like new clothes become now expensive luxuries. If you are living in your parent's basement, the choice of a car payment or a new game system is the new definition of thrift. If you pick the former, you still have the drive and hope to better yourself. If you pick the latter, you are dooming yourself to the path of being part of the doomed generation.

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FOUND BUT NOT LOST ON THE INTERNET

 

Nobody likes being blinded by the high-beams of the car behind you. China has harsh punishments for this and

now even stickers designed to reflect high-beam light and turn it into scare-rays,

haunting images to get the attention of the inconsiderate driver. (From Jalopnik)

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THE WHETHER REPORT

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STATUS

Question: Whether the US election surprise will lead to disruption in international trade?

* Educated Guess

* Possible

* Probable

* Beyond a Reasonable Doubt

* Doubtful

* Vapor Dream

Question: Whether the US election surprise will lead to reversals in US government policy toward regulation of the net and communication services?

* Educated Guess

* Possible

* Probable

* Beyond a Reasonable Doubt

* Doubtful

* Vapor Dream

Question: Whether the US election surprise will lead to the demise of the traditional parties in favor of realigned third parties?

* Educated Guess

* Possible

* Probable

* Beyond a Reasonable Doubt

* Doubtful

* Vapor Dream

 

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THE STEAM PUNK SPECIAL EDITION featured new Music from Chicago Ski & the (audio) Real News:

Steampunk

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EXAMINING THE NET

WAY OF LIFE

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EXAMINE THE NET WAY OF LIFE

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