Facebook employee resignation reveals dark practices

Take a look at this disturbing resignation letter from employee, Timothy Aveni.

He says that “Mark always told us that he would draw the line at speech that calls for violence. He showed us on Friday that this was a lie” and that he finds “Facebook complicit in the propagation of weaponized hatred, is on the wrong side of history.”

He says he’s scared for the US because, “social media-fueled division that has gotten people killed in the Philippines, Myanmar, and Sri Lanka.” 

A few days back I asked my friends (and posted here) if they could justify using this corrupt social network. But don’t take my word – pay attention to this FB employee!

George Bush vs Donald Trump on pandemics

Suddenly, we wish we had this republican president who does not doubt science. George Bush.  Turns out Bush read the book, The Great Influenza by John M. Barry.

George Bush in 2005 warned that  “If a pandemic strikes, our country must have a surge capacity in place that will allow us to bring a new vaccine on line quickly and manufacture enough to immunize every American against the pandemic strain,”

Donald Trump  in 2020 on the other hand thought deeply about the subject, and declared coronavirus a “new hoax”.

You can tell what he watches. This classic mashup reveals the group that downplayed this as hyperbole. That’s what you get when no-scientists attempt to weigh in on a topic that’s beyond their intellectual capacity. Or don’t read.

 

“Weather isn’t climate.” They teach this in 5th grade science, don’t they?

“Weather isn’t climate. They teach this in 5th grade science.”

That’s one of the comebacks to Trump’s ridiculous tweet last week about the polar vortex that froze a large swath of the US. The problem isn’t only the president’s puerile, ill-informed ideas and responses. It is the method of his communicating his thoughts, with itchy fingers that want to ‘say’ something about, well, anything.

As noted many times earlier, social media has made a mockery of our modern-day communication. I wish they teach communication as a compulsory subject –Reading, Communication, Arithmetic?– in elementary school.

Or as an after-work class at the Oval Office…

‘Wall’ of illfame lands Arizona Republic and USA Today a Pulitzer

Funny how much a wall can do – even in its absence. The Pulitzer prize board awarded the Arizona Republic one of the most prestigious journalism awards, for reporting on Trump’s attempt to build that wall. Not one story, it was a series of stories in multi-media – newspaper articles, video, podcasts and even VR.

Here’s the story in VR, in 4 chapters.  And if that’s not enough, it’s the basis of a documentary, The Wall.

 

Child’s Trade Deficit lesson – to Trump

Who said ‘trade deficits’ are hard to understand? With some graphics a kid could do it. The script is spot on.

(Despite the fact that the target audience is the most powerful man in the world.)

Of course this seems ‘produced’ by older folk – probably by the Jimmy Kimmel show. But there’s great lessons in her presentation technique – voice inflexion, body language and gestures, and even the pacing. The kid turns a very dry subject from Economics 101 into a story.

Typos aside, should they ignore his tweets?

Have you wondered if the media is unable or unwilling to ignore Donald Trump’s puerile tweets?

I’m willing to bet that if the major news organizations had stopped covering the ridiculous things he unloads in a Twitter storm, he wouldn’t have got to this point. Of course he’s gaming the system, knowing they are gleefully waiting each morning for a ‘story’ or controversy.

His latest blunder, addressing the wrong Twitter handle of Theresa May is just another one that will be drowned by others in a few weeks.

Remember the last time they messed up the British PM’s name? Thought so! In January when she visited the US, the White House misspelled her name as ‘Teresa’ several times – it was spelled without the ‘h’ in the introduction to the daily guidance.

I suppose it’s impossible to not find a story in his tweets, when it causes a diplomatic flare-up. In response to his broadside against her, the right Theresa was blunt in her rebuke. (Jeremy Corbyn, Britain’s Labour leader put it best, when he advised Trump to “hold yourself back” and “restrict yourself to two or three tweets a day”.)

Many years ago, probably before the president stumbled upon micro-blogging, people actually conducted training programs for those in governance and management. It’s too late to send someone back to social media 101 classes. Itchy fingers will continue to produce clumsy tweets  as I have said before.

But perhaps a temporary blackout might help the poor chap. And our republic.

When a speech gets waterlogged.

Pity the speechwriter on the White House payroll. I envision the person banging his or head on the keyboard, every time the boss speaks. The most recent being Trump’s description of relief efforts in Puerto Rico.

“The response and recovery effort probably has never been seen for something like this. This is an island surrounded by water. Big water. Ocean water.”

Trump’s speechwriter must be probably wondering:

  • Why state the obvious in a tragedy caused mostly by water?
  • Why heap on adjectives such as ‘big’ and ‘ocean’?

“This is an island sitting in the middle of an ocean. It’s a big ocean, it’s a very big ocean.”

Perhaps he believed that things might have been different had it taken place in a small ocean? Leaves us scratching our heads if it’s possible the real estate mogul knows of some islands surrounded by something other than water? (Blue Gatorade, perhaps?)

Whatever it is, my sympathies go out to Stephen Miller, Trump’s senior speechwriter, who’s probably right now trying to tell the boss to stick to the teleprompter. Or at least run a phrase through a cliché-extracting machine.

Spin doctors and the ‘Ministry of Truth’ go back a long way

There’s a new way to do spin, and it comes packaged from the Ministry of Truth. (Poor Edward Bernays. The so-called father of spin, must be doing somersaults in his grave.) Modern day spin is much more insidious that doublespeak, or ‘Newspeak.’

We the hoipolloi have a ‘scientific’ way to deal with spin. It involves making air-quotes whenever we use a word or a term generated by the Ministry.

I take on this delicious topic in my May column in LMD Magazine, titled, Alternative facts from the Ministry of Truth

Read it here.

The Donald killed a humor column – or two

There’s a great column by Gene Weingarten of the Washington Post magazine section, titled There’s no silver lining to Trump’s win. So here’s my cat.

It is a quick follow-up to make up for a column he wrote in anticipation of Trump losing. Mr. Weingarten explains how he, like so many others in the media got it wrong. It had been written in the form of an obit, celebrating the death of a “Boys-Will-Be-Boys Guy.”

Oddly enough even I made the same mistake. In a column written for a later date.

I asked readers to join me in sending our condolences to the cartoonists of America. They (and the likes of Saturday Night Live) had been given nearly two years of unlimited, unimaginable humor material. From awkward physical gestures at the podia, to content ready-made for speech bubbles.

Weingarten’s replacement column is prefaced by this:

Readers who wish to complain can reach the author through the U.S. Consulate in Amsterdam, where he is seeking asylum.

(Of course, he is kidding.)

My replacement column is about the wall Canada is building on its southern border –financed by us of course.

(And of course, I am ‘serious’.)

Good riddance to election noise pollution!

When the party next door becomes too noisy, people sometimes call the cops. But there was very little we could do about the ‘Party’ noise machines we’ve been enduring for the past year or more.

Finally we can reclaim some peace, as the two-party cacophony comes to an end today. (I know what you’re thinking: Yeah right!)

If it was true that Trump’s Twitter account had been wrestled away from him, it won’t be long when he gets back on the air. But at least the media might have other matters to report on. Here’s what I’m dying not to hear about:

  • The word ‘surrogates‘ and any reference to people who echo the party line.
  • Pundits. Those folks to ‘weigh in’ on every gesture or turn of phrase.
  • The phrase ‘social media lit up with…” as a preamble to a political story with no substance.
  • Sloppy, Madison Avenue-like phrases such as ‘Draining the Swamp’ and slogans such as ‘Feeling the Bern.’

Not that vacuous campaign slogans are anything new. In 1944, Thomas Dewey’s slogan was (get ready for this) “Dewey or Die.” And there was the 1980’s slogan “Let’s Make America Great Again” which was recycled (or was it ‘plagiarized’?) this season.