Posts tagged ‘media’

The Scourge of Pre-News

brian-stelter-fake-newsedited-1

It’s been nearly 2 decades since I first noticed a phenomenon I came to call Pre-News.  It was the day before Bill Clinton was to be impeached.  I was weary from the many dramas of the scandals leading to the impeachment and eager to see it finished.  So I was tuned in to a 24/7 news channel to be ready.  At that time, there were 2 such channels available to me: CNN and CNN Headline News.  I was on the Headline News channels and watched, repeated every 30 minutes, as Lynn Russell introduced the report.

So this is what CNN wanted us to know the day before impeachment:

As soon as the vote is done, congressional democrats will form up and march out of the House.  They will exit the capitol and march down the street to <somewhere, I don’t remember, maybe Al Gore’s home?>.  There they will meet with other democrats to show solidarity for President Clinton.

There was no detail on the vote, except on assumption it would pass.  What CNN wanted everyone to know was the top-down importance of protesting the impeachment…because all right-thinking people opposed the impeachment, don’t ya know.

Pre-News started innocently enough, I expect.  From media outlets racing to get a scoop, to live reports, to let’s get that scoop by reporting before it happens, just a bit.

But in the example I gave, they were up to a 24 hour lead time on news, and the trend has continued.

The thing about Pre-News is that, since it hasn’t happened, you can tell the story however you want.  You can put in your slant and bias with little or no complaint because there’s no counter-story yet—there can’t be, there isn’t a story yet.

In our recent election, citizen reporters used social media to bypass the mainstream media lock on information.  The MSM is very unhappy about this and has begun branding this new competition as Fake News.  Social media giants, being deeply embedded with democrats, are looking at censoring things deemed Fake News.  But which news is really fake?

The MSM fed us endless polls guaranteeing a Clinton win.  Frank Luntz even tweeted in the first hour of returns that from that moment on, Trump would never be closer to Hillary in Electoral Votes than he was at that moment.  In the coming days, he ate crow, more gracefully than most in the MSM.

His news, like all the MSM reports on expected election results, was Pre-News and so by definition was also Fake News.  The MSM is going to try to defend themselves by attacking alternative news sources.  They’ve settled on the Fake News attack and will, I expect,  use that until either it works or they get laughed off-stage.

As always, Laughter is the best medicine

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An Ongoing Denial of Service Attack

 

ddos-network-map
Late last night, the media came out with reports of 4 women who allege that Donald Trump touched them in some sexual way.

12 hours later, people looking into it (not actual reporters), have found that:

Some of the claims match text from previous recorded sexual harassment or assault claims, as though borrowing verbiage to make them credible
One of the claims uses lyrics from a Velvet Underground song
One of the accusers is a Secretary employed by one of the Clinton’s organizations
The claims themselves defy logic—4 victims of a billionaire keep quiet for a decade or 3, skipping out on possible paydays from lawsuits, but then all come forward on the exact same day less than a month before the election

It is, of course, impossible to prove a negative and the clock is ticking on an effort to establish or discredit these claims before election day.  I’ll wager now that if they are all discredited before election day, more women will show up.  I will also wager that comments about the opening of the new Smithsonian Museum focusing on African Americans, which features Anita Hill and ignores Clarence Thomas, was some sort of reassurance to these women as they prepared to make their allegations.

But, it’s a week or two early for a proper October surprise.  Why now?  Well, there’ve been at least 6 different drops of email leaks related to the Clinton campaign in the last few days.  I have not scoured the leaked emails, but it certainly seems to include a number of ethical, and maybe criminal, lapses.

How to stop that getting reported?  With a Denial of Service (DoS) attack.

If you already know what a DoS attack is, skip ahead to the next one-line paragraph.

A DoS is an internet attack on a particular site, for example a web server.  Could be a big server like Microsoft or Google, or a small server like a local pizza restaurant.  The smaller the server, the easier the DoS attack.  Now, every time anyone visits that server, asking for a particular web page, the server notices the request, reads the request, finds the referenced web page, then starts sending it back to the originator of the request.  The process that does this is called a daemon.  It sits on the server waiting for requests.  Usually  many such daemons are waiting there, like taxis at the airport.  Each request is grabbed by a daemon and the next daemon steps forward ready for the next one.

While there is no theoretical maximum number of daemons, there are practical maximums to the number of file requests that can be examined at a time, and the amount of data entering and exiting the server.  So, if enough requests hit a server at the same time, the server will be momentarily too busy to respond to all the requests.  If the high number of requests continues, this becomes a problem.

When the high number of requests is intentional and orchestrated, this is an attack, specifically a Denial of Service attack—so named because a regular user of the web site, trying to reach it during the attack, will be unable to.  The web site is still up.  The attacker may be on a different continent.  But he or she has effectively shut down the server.

If you skipped the DoS description, re-join the discussion here.

The owner of the attacked server has tools to combat a DoS attack, but they take some technical skills and, of course, the owner has to want to.  Well, what owner of an internet server would not want to combat a DoS attack aimed at them?

Before I continue, let me recount a joke from the old British TV show Dave Allen At Large:

A Cardinal rushes up to the Pope and announces that Jesus has just entered Saint Peter’s Square, riding on a donkey.  “What should we do?” he finishes.
The Pope calmly replies, “Look busy”.

So far, over 6000 emails from Hillary crony John Podesta have leaked.  They are news.  But they are getting almost no air-time because the claims against Trump are all that’s being covered (in fact, some at MSNBC and other outlets have come on-air and said, ‘Nothing major in the emails, back to the Trump story.’)  This is, in essence, a Denial of Service attack on the media

As with the owner of the attacked web server, the media has the perfect tool to counteract this DoS attack.  It could simply give equal time to both stories.  But of course, they do not.  They have a story they can grind on to ‘Look Busy’ while burying the stories coming out of the emails.

Is it alarmist to suggest the media is complicit in this?  Well, the leaked emails are showing endless forms of complicity between the Clinton campaign and most every major media outlet there is.  And it’s naming names.  You might think CNN would welcome a chance to cut down its competition a little.  But they are just as vulnerable to the criticism.  So each organization ends up covering for all the others as it covers for itself.

One more thought on the DoS aspect of this.  We usually refer to the server-owner as the victim of a DoS, because their business is being attacked.  The attack takes the form of refusing service to existing or potential customers.  So in another sense, the victim is the customer.

And so it is in the DoS attack with the complicity of the attacked entities.  They still have their business.  They’re selling advertising and people are watching.   They can say they’re just doing their job.

But the customers, the news consumer, is being attacked.  They are being denied the full story of what’s going on.  Most of them don’t even know it, which is how the media wants it (there’s even an email among the leaked group saying precisely that!).

There used to be a time when an oppositional news media challenged and confronted all government agencies, effectively acting as an extra set of checks and balances, in addition to the three branches of Government overseeing each other.  That paradigm is dead—at least so long as the people leading the government share the values of the people managing the media.

To Be Continued….

The 12 Steps to Recovery from the Liberal Narrative

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A bomb goes off. Or a nightclub is hit with a hail of bullets. You want to know what’s going on. You go to a news channel or a web site, but all they really report is the politicians insisting we will never know the attacker’s true motivations. For years liberals blamed Bush for 9/11 and terrorism in general. They sold a notion that if we would just elect a good liberal, foreigners would like and respect us. So now they are in a position where acknowledging terrorism means admitting they were wrong. So they simply lie.

“Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path. Those who do not recover are people who cannot or will not completely give themselves to this simple program, usually men and women who are constitutionally incapable of being honest with themselves. There are such unfortunates. They are not at fault; they seem to have been born that way. They are naturally incapable of grasping and developing a manner of living which demands rigorous honesty. Their chances are less than average. There are those, too, who suffer from grave emotional and mental disorders, but many of them do recover if they have the capacity to be honest.”
From Chapter 5, How It Works, Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous. (2001). Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th Edition. New York: A.A. World Services.

It’s time to end the addiction to this narrative.  Half measures avail us nothing. We stand at the turning point!   Here are the steps we need to take to make a recovery:

1. Admit the Liberal Narrative makes the United States of America weak and powerless over Islamic terrorism and that our lives have become indefensible.

2. Believe that Islamic terrorism IS about religion and that Judeo Christian principles are the Foundation of our Nation.

3. Vote this November to place our lives under the protection of a strong President who does NOT believe in or speak the deceptive Liberal Narrative.

4. Make a searching and fearless moral inventory of why members of our Nation believe in all or part of the Liberal Narrative.

5. Admit to God, ourselves, and publicly via media and school curriculum, the exact nature of the wrongs conducted under the influence of the Liberal Narrative.

6. Be ready to let go of these defects of national character.

7. Humbly ask God to direct our strong Presidential candidate to remove the shortcomings of Liberal Narrative immediately upon obtaining office.

8. Make a list of all those who have been harmed or killed as a result of our belief in the Liberal Narrative and hold accountable all those directly responsible.

9. Make direct amends to such people and their families wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

10. Continue to take inventory of false Liberal Narratives and when wrong, promptly admit it.

11. Seek through prayer, meditation, recitation of our Pledge of Allegiance and National Anthem, to improve our conscious contact with God, our Judeo Christian principles, and our National pride, praying only for His will for us as a Nation, and the power and leadership to carry that out.

12. Having had a spiritual re-awakening as a result of these steps, carry this message to the next and subsequent generations of Americans and practice these principles in all aspects (rather than affairs, which while permissible under the Liberal Narrative, is in opposition to Judeo Christian principles).

How To Read Political Polls

'No, I'm not going to stop back when you have an opinion.'

You’re on some web site looking at a screaming headline about the latest political poll. It might be trumpeting a double digit lead, or a narrow margin, or even a shift—all for or away from your preferred candidate. You get a bit tense. You want your guy* to win, of course. And you’d like the comfort of knowing right now that he will. You click on the link and are bombarded with numbers. Before you give up, and before you get buried, here’s what you need to know to understand such polls.

First, skip the headlines, the tables, and graphs. Start by looking for a text description of how the poll was taken. This is usually buried in the very last paragraph or even the footnotes. Sometimes, when a web site is summarizing someone elses poll, it isn’t even in the article and you have to follow a link to the original poll report. It will tell you how many people were surveyed, how the survey was conducted (online, cell phone, land line phone, in person), and what level of responder was included (likely voter, registered voter, adult)

Take, for example, the punchline from this NBC poll. The footnote reads:

The NBC News|SurveyMonkey Weekly Election Tracking poll was conducted online May 30 through June 5, 2016 among a national sample of 10,520 adults aged 18 and over, including 9,240 who say they are registered to vote. Respondents for this non-probability survey were selected from the nearly three million people who take surveys on the SurveyMonkey platform each day. Results have an error estimate of plus or minus 1.4 percentage points. For full results and methodology for this weekly tracking poll, please click here

So this is 10000+ people (a big sample) of adults, who are mostly registered to vote. So what’s with that last bit?

When a survey like this is taken, the first few questions go like this:
How old are you?
Are you registered to vote?
Did you vote in the last election?
How likely are you to vote in the next election?

To be a ‘likely’ voter you have to answer yes to question 3 and give one of the more positive answers to question 4 (i.e very or somewhat likely). When a poll is of registered voters, they answered yes to question 2, but not 3 and 4. When a person is just ‘Adult’, they answered no to question 2 and gave an age old enough to vote.

Now, why would you believe that the opinion of someone who is not going to vote is an accurate reflection of those that are? They aren’t, and polls of just registered voters are notoriously inaccurate. They will tell you they have a margin of error of some small percent. This is based on the number of people polled and reflects the accuracy for comparing to an equivalent sample (i.e. people who likely won’t vote). The polling agency is happy for you to misunderstand the margin of error as meaning its relation to how the election will turn out, but the two are unrelated. My rule of thumb: for polls of registered voters, take the margin of error and multiply by 5. That’s how much the result could really swing by.

Even worse are those who classify as ‘Adults’. So they aren’t registered and didn’t vote last time. They may run out and get registered…or may not. These tend to be younger, less interested, and more liberal people, so their presence usually skews a poll towards whatever liberal candidate or issue is being considered

Now take a look at this poll. The headline screams that Hillary is up 7. The final paragraph reads:

The Fox News Poll is conducted under the joint direction of Anderson Robbins Research (D) and Shaw & Company Research (R). The poll was conducted July 9-12, 2016, by telephone (landline and cellphone) with live interviewers among a sample of 601 Virginia registered voters selected from a statewide voter file and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus four percentage points for the total sample.

But this item is in paragraph 3:

The good news for Trump is that among just those voters “extremely” interested, he’s up by three (45-42 percent). That’s driven by the fact that more Republicans (43 percent) than Democrats (38 percent) say they are extremely interested in the presidential election.

Okay, got that? Headline insists Hillary is up by 7, but for folks really double dog dare ya likely to vote, trump is up 3. But that can’t be the headline because it’s a subset of an already small sample size (survey was 600 people, remember). Good thing they didn’t ask more people.

As I was writing this, a battleground poll came out showing Trump up in Florida. It was a poll of likely voters and gave the first indication of what numbers are like when the simple deceits are not used. But there is still a nasty trick polling companies can use to skew the results of a poll of likely voters. I’ll use some silly numbers to make the point clearly:

suppose the poll included 100 likely voters, 20 of whom are democrats, 10 independents and 70 republicans. Their preferences go like this
Dems go 19 to 1 for Hillary
Independents go 7 to 3 for Hillary
Republicans got 60 to 10 for Trump

So if you put all those together, Trump is ahead 68 to 32. But of course that’s not how the election will turn out because those arent the demographics of the entire electorate or, more accurately, of the actual voters on that single election day. To fix the, the Polling agency has to predict what the composition of the election day turnout will be.

If they select 40%D, 20% I, 40% R, then scale the answers from those groups, the new poll result is Hillary 58 (38+14+6) and Trump 42 (2+6+34). Or they could wiggle their selection to anything they want and can make sound reasonable until they answers say what they (or their employers) think they should say.

In essence, the result of such a poll can still be faked, though the level of fakery is limited compared to other polls, assuming the fakery is to go unnoticed. You may, over time, find some polls that don’t do much fakery of this sort and trust them outright, but you must always consider each individually

So how do you know what the poll results really say? It’s actually quite simple. The candidates pay for unpublished polls that actually tell them the truth. The candidate who looks tense, angry and defensive, or who just changed their campaign strategy? They’re behind in the polls.

*using ‘guy’ for its familiar tone and simplicity, replace with gender-specific term of your choice, if you need to

Absence of Malice and Facts

Do you remember the movie ‘Absence of Malice’? Sally Field as a reporter looking for any sensational story. Paul Newman as a legit businessman who is related to mobsters. The DA pressures him to roll over, and Newman uses the reporter’s quest for sensation to weave the illusion of a story, which ultimately leads to the downfall of the DA. And while all the woven fantasy stories are untrue, the paper is not held accountable because they were not acting with malice.

In the years since seeing it I’ve been saddened to see just how true it is and how reporters chafe at the bounds of what they can say when reporting what they know for sure to be true.

As a ludicrous example, this is a direct quote of a radio news report heard in albuquerque in 1988: ‘A body was found last night behind a dumpster at . The body had 3 bullet holes in it. Police suspect foul play.’

really? A trained gerbil could suspect foul play with that data. But the media can’t report it as foul play until it is officially labeled as such. So what do they do? They find other people willing to say things definitively and give them a microphone. But what recompense is there when the non reporter proves to have been wrong (if not actively lying).

Case in point, some years ago Newsweek reported that a Koran had been flushed down a toilet in Gitmo. The story was false. And Newsweek printed a retraction in their US publication. They never printed the retraction overseas, where a protest riot had resulted in the deaths of several Americans.

Now fast forward to Ferguson. With the release of the Grand Jury testimony it is clear that many of the claims made by ‘witnesses’ were false. To take the most obvious example, those that claimed Michael Brown was shot in the back. The autopsy clearly shows he was not shot in the back. Those who made that claim to the grand jury could be prosecuted for perjury (but never will be).

And what about those who showed up in the media making those false claims? The media is hog-tied about reporting ‘truth’ and is desperate for anyone who will make definitive statements they can quote. Keeps them off the hook. But with that conglomeration, we get simmering racial tensions for months that explode when trial results are announced. And, here’s the wonderful bits about humans, people insist the lies they heard in the media are true, preferring to believe the autopsy lied.

It’s a human nature thing. We’ve had time to become emotionally invested in what we’ve chosen to believe, and it hurts us to think we’ve erred and need to throw that away in favor of a different belief system.

I want to praise Michael Brown’s parents for calling for non-violence.

I want to disagree with them about calling for video recorders on every policeman. For practical reasons. If such a recording had existed in this case, it would have been sealed like all other evidence in the case, unseen by the public until the trial ends. Which means the same speculation would run rampant, the same racial tensions, the same explosion. And the same disbelief of ‘evidence’.

The people who need to be held accountable in some fashion are the media and the people spreading the provable lies.

The media prints retractions, but always buried. I believe if a lie was printed on page 1, the retraction needs to be on page 1. If it was broadcast in a certain hour of TV, the retraction airs in the same hour with the same amount of coverage.

And the ‘witnesses’? If they aren’t prosecuted for perjury they should be held forth for public scorn. The months of tension and explosions of violence can be laid directly at their feet. Name them. Showcase them. Embarrass them. Ridicule them. Maybe even bill them.

Recycled Ads

It’s November, so it’s time to rev up all the Christmas ads to spend big bucks on your lady. Then 2 months of ads for Valentine’s day. Then a short gap before the blitz of Mother;s Day ads.

In short, here begins the 6 straight months of ads reminding use that ‘Every kiss begins with Kaye’.

And so, the annual repetition of my promise to some day open a store called BJ Jewelry.

Premature Ejusticlation

We seem to have forgotten how this whole justice process is supposed to go.

1) something bad happens

2) Police determine if it’s a crime

3) Police ‘solve’ the crime by building a case against a suspect

4) A prosecutor presents that evidence in court hoping to convict the suspect

5) A convicted person can appeal to try to overturn the conviction.

But instead, we’ve come to think of it like this

1) Something bad happens, and everybody hears about it (thank you 24-hour news cycle)

2) Everybody wonders and speculates who might be responsible

3) We ask each other, ‘why haven’t the police arrested that guy yet?’

4) Once they are arrested, we act as though they have been convicted, and anything other than a prison sentence is a miscarriage of justice

5) Having lost any sense of the possibility for error or rehabilitation, any successful appeal or early release from prison is seen as a failure of the system

And the best part…all of these opinions, and actions based on them, are by people who will do anything to avoid jury duty.