Link to the inaugural edition of my weekly ramblings. (T/W if you’re an NYT subscriber.)
Life provided me a smooth segue by offering an article to act as a coda to my last post about the (failing) NY Times. It’s an interesting collection of admissions about how Times subscriptions have cratered, revenue stayed flat, but they’ve added a significant number of online subscribers! How the data is spun is as important as the actual data. Most interesting stats to me? Numbers 15 through 19. 
- 91% of The New York Times readers identify as Democrats (“As for political affiliation, more than 9 in 10 people who cite The New York Times as their go-to news source identify as Democrats.”) Echo chamber for several million, anyone?
- More than two-thirds of The Times’ readers are white. (“The New York Times audience demographics also reveal a significant discrepancy in its racial and ethnic makeup. According to research, 71% of the paper’s readers are white, 10% are Latino, 4% are Black, and the remaining 15% belong to other groups.”) Huh. That doesn’t seem very ‘diverse.’
- 72% of the papers readers have at least a university degree. That seems even less diverse.
- 38% of the New York Times readers earn more than $75,000 a year. I wonder what the Times distribution is in Compton or Watts? Or even in the more ‘diverse’ areas of the Bronx?
And the money shot…
- The average Times reader is well-informed brain-washed and politically opinionated an asshole. (Research shows that 40% of the readers care about overseas events, and 24% are also eager to learn about other cultures and lifestyles. Additionally, more than 33% of the paper’s readers say they would participate in civil protests regarding the issues they care about.) Never change, NYT. Never change.
I promise I’ll come back to this and make it relevant, but for now, let’s put a pin in the NY Times’ proggie racist echo chamber.
A lot of the recent political performance art makes me wonder… where does it all end? If you’re wondering exactly which piece of political performance art I mean, I don’t want to make these pieces too linky, so I’ll just point to the Media coverage and political pandering of these events: the mass shooting in Colorado, the problems surrounding the surge of immigrants at the border, and (a propos of my prior posts about M. Havel’s greengrocer) this prosecutor demanding that businesses take loyalty pledges.
My fascination with philosophy runs in two directions, much as it does with all theoretical/academic discussions on any subject: first, I want to hear the theory, in toto… but then I want to hear how it interacts with reality. I think this comes from my lifelong desire to be an engineer, of which I only completed 2 years before a bad semester threatened to cost me my NROTC scholarship.  Of course, Fate eventually turned me into a lawyer, but I never lost my engineer’s eye for wanting to see theories articulated – and then either falsified or proven – with some verifiable, measurable claims and data. Working as general counsel for a guy who was just a few credits shy of his applied mathematics degree really helped me see that my engineer’s eye could be turned to other less “scientific” endeavors than the building of aircraft.
…like the Law.
I was always fascinated to ask other lawyers about the outcomes of their given theorems, whether it’s a case decision, a piece of legislation, or their ideas about how society ought to be. Whether it’s a flying machine, a court’s opinion, or a Congressional enactment, there ought to be some point at which the proponent of an idea has to both articulate the intended results and the ways in which those results can be measured. If it is intended to fly, at some point you have to be able to say for how long, how far, how fast, etc. If instead it is legislation intended to “solve poverty,” then you damn well should be able to at least (a) define what “poverty” is, and (b) say how the legislative attempt to solve that problem will be measured a success or failure. Of course the latter schemes never contain such metrics. The recent congressionally-approved $1.9 TRILLION COVID spend-a-thon is yet another example of people passing legislation with all kinds of wild-ass (and non-falsifiable) word-salads promising help, but zero concrete metrics by which we, as our own posterity, could take the measure of the proposal’s success at, say, the 5- and 10-year marks. Feature, not bug, quippeth the Glib hive-mind.
Let’s take this up a meta-step, and return to the political performance art of the current Administration, the DNC, and its media toadies: roughly what does the Biden Non Compos Mentis administration really want to accomplish with control of all 3 branches of government, the remaining Cathedral Media, and the (Newer, Betterer Control provided by) Social Media? Is it simply more spending and grift for their particular cohort of corporate and billionaire interests?
Wh-What’s that you say? Facebook spent more money on lobbying last year ($19.7 million) than any other company in America!? Oh, and Amazon was #2 at $18.7 million…? While Amazon profited handsomely from state and federal lockdown policies that cratered their economic competition?? You don’t say!
My read of the tea leaves is that isn’t all that’s going on. The piece I linked at above (the loyalty pledge), coupled with what we’ve seen with the shadow-banning of conservatives on Twitter, or the outright removal by Youtube and Facebook of any information contra the official government narrative about COVID, or effectiveness masks, or horrible consequences of lockdowns, or Cuomo’s murder of NY oldsters…(etc) ALL suggests that greasing corporate pockets isn’t the end goal for all of this. That’s just the normal modus operandi for how Congress greases its wheels. The real end goal is significantly worse than that. Allow me to back into my explanation with a story.
My wife watched the Chernobyl television series this past week and I (sort-of) partook with some selective watching. (Spoiler alert! There was a huge f***ing explosion at the former-Soviet Union’s Chernobyl nuclear power plant in 1986. It was kind of a big deal.)
The series was well-constructed and well-acted, in my opinion, even if it does have some dramatization and composite characters. It’s been criticized as being a bit heavy on the western stereotypes of the Soviet Union and I’m willing to accept that may be true, but what there doesn’t seem to be disagreement about is the underlying nature of the cause of the disaster. The TL/WW (Won’t Watch) version is that Soviet RBMK-reactors like the one at Chernobyl had a major design flaw: the very tips of the control rods were made of graphite, which in some unlikely-but-not-impossible conditions can act to excite the reactions in the core, rather than shut it down in the event of a need to SCRAM the whole thing. This flaw was discovered by a scientist investigating an identical accident at a Leningrad plant with an RBMK-reactor. That scientist first published a paper about the design flaw of RBMK-type reactors… in 1975 – only to have the paper suppressed/disappeared by the KGB. In the aftermath of Chernobyl, the investigation conducted by Valery Legasov eventually ran into this same information; and it was suppressed again. Why?
Because it would prove extraordinarily embarrassing to the “Supreme Soviet.” i.e. Party apparatchiks.
Legasov killed himself the day after the second anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster. His notes and recordings were discovered and circulated among the Soviet (and wider) scientific community. It’s an incredibly compelling story because of the stakes, but I was struck by how similar it looked to where we are right now here in the U.S. with COVID.
And then, as if by Divine Gift, MIT came out with this article about “COVID skeptics.” I was linked to it from one of the few Twitter feeds that I follow, The Ethical Skeptic, some kind of data wonk whose website is a paean to reason. I’ve been amazed that he didn’t get canned from Twitter a long time ago, but my theory is that he speaks at such a high level that the Twidiot Censors don’t know what the majority of his tweets mean. I bring him up because his account is specifically mentioned in the MIT piece, as is Alex Berenson’s. Try to ignore the Lefty-slant of the MIT verbiage (which accepts as True the viewpoint that is actually Wrong-But-In-Power because it is backed by the Mainstream Media). What’s important are those nodes – that map. What those nodes show might jokingly be described as the Axis v. the Allies, for board-gaming nerds of the ’80s. There is some wonderful information in there, but what it means won’t be known for decades.
To me, however, that MIT website is additional evidence for my pet theory that what we’re witnessing is a fight that’s been going on for quite some time between the Cathedra Media (as surrogate for entrenched interests, both corporate and government) and Other Media, which includes bloggers and a whole slew of non-traditional sources of information on the internet that seeps out from behind the post-totalitarian system. To tie-in both the NY Times and my earlier question about “what they want:” we’re witnessing the fight to be the dominant cultural narrative in the U.S. Because that’s how you can wantonly break the law and destroy evidence if you’re Hillary Clinton; or fabricate a dossier and launder it through your friends high up in the CIA and even generate a special prosecutor using it; or lock people in their homes and collapse an economy during a pandemic; or openly sell influence and launder the proceeds through a 501(c)(3) while you’re SecState – oh, if only poor Alphonse Capone had had a Foundation! That’s what owning the dominant cultural narrative in the USA gives you the ability to do.
What we’re witnessing is a phenomenon perhaps best described in this book, “Winning the Story Wars: Why Those Who Tell – and Live – the Best Stories, Will Rule the Future.” We’re witnessing a fight for control of The Narrative. The One that determines exactly how much of your money and freedom government can get away with stealing from you. Trump unfortunately lost that battle; I’m not certain about the wider War.
The Truth is like a beach ball in pool water; it has a natural buoyancy and wants to come up, will come up, if not otherwise suppressed. It takes a tremendous amount of energy to keep it under water.
That quote is from a friend of mine and I’ve always thought it’s one of his better analogies. Right now the Cathedral Media and government, aided by their collaborators – the Karens, the BLM and Antifa fanatics, control freaks of all kinds – are driving The Narrative, but the problem is that Reality always has the last word – and it’s always a laugh.
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 This should forever be referred to as the “Asshole Pentagram.”
 I didn’t need to be able to “build ’em to fly ’em” was my Marine Officer Instructor’s quip while I struggled under the weight of both my course load and the demands of 5 AM mandatory Marine Option workouts on the Charles (in winter… even when it was spring).