How dumb?

Lately I’ve been gathering string for a Facebook post I’m tentatively calling, “I read it online; is it true?” This is born of frustration with the sheer amount of utter bullshit I see posted on social media, and particularly Facebook.

Hard to imagine that just a year or two ago, I was looking forward to the end of Facebook. No dice. It’s more popular than ever, and is an important driver of traffic to Bridge, among other sites. Drives me nuts, but it is what it is.

I’m not talking about the stupid, obviously fake news stories, like the one about the Marines who beat up the thief at a Best Buy. (Nice little twist of racism in that one; note the thief’s subtle name, “Tyrone Jackson.”) I’m talking about ones where an aggregator takes a legit news story, rewrites it, spins it like a top, slaps on a new headline and hopes for maximum viral magic.

The more partisan/crazy the aggregator, ditto the spin. Here’s an example, with the subtle headline New York Times Wants to Force Nursing Homes to Starve Alzheimer’s Patients to Death. (Another corollary to crazy news sites: They Are Most Likely to Use Up-Style Headlines, Which Drive Me Nuts.) The story links to a complex NYT story about elderly people who are writing advance directives requesting nutrition/hydration withdrawal in the event they develop severe dementia. How they get to that forcing business? Well, it’s Life News dot com; what else would you expect?

Speaking of dementia, here’s one from the other side, yet another chapter in the continuing mental deterioration of Pat Robertson, who today is down on yoga, because it makes people “speak Hindu.” I wonder what it’s like to have your own show and have a daily stage for your own decrepitude. To which we must all ask: Is macaroni and cheese a black thing?

Getting back to the other thing: It’s no secret that people don’t mind being lied to if they like the lie, but it’s always been disappointing. Mitch Albom had no shortage of defenders when he was caught reporting a heartwarming story that was, well, not true, because people liked the heartwarming part and the facts? Eh, we’re going for a larger truth here.

It should be illegal to be this tired at 9:42 p.m., but we’re into week three of a deep cold snap, and it’s getting exhausting — struggling in and out of the Parka of Tribulation; choosing every morning between flannel-lined pants, jeans-and-longjohns and which warm socks will fit in which boots, and which boots are warmer, and… ugh. And tomorrow I have to swim, so off to bed I go.

Remember last summer, when a national gathering of men’s rights advocates came to Detroit? GQ dropped its story this week.

I hope Samantha Elauf wins her case before SCOTUS.

Hoping for a second wind.

Posted at 12:30 am in Current events |

32 responses to “How dumb?”

  1. Deborah said on February 26, 2015 at 4:06 am

    Speaking of symbolic head gear Not new news, but humorous, at least I thought so.

    The link about the men’s rights movement sounds too horrific to be true. Are there really people out there like that?

    Yeah, you’ve got to watch out for New Age spirituality” such as “dream catchers, yoga [and] veganism, in Santa Fe. Ha ha.

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  2. alex said on February 26, 2015 at 7:56 am

    Yoga makes you pray to Hindu deities. Hurricanes are God’s vengeance on the decadence of places like Miami and New Orleans. Homosexuality is a communist plot to depopulate the Free World, sissify all the men and make it ripe for conquest. Pat Robertson senescent? I’d say he’s as sly as he ever was.

    Got through the first page of the GQ story. Time for a shower. Not sure I want to slog through a pity party for pathetic would-be pickup artists just now, much less those with homicidal impulses.

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  3. beb said on February 26, 2015 at 8:19 am

    Deborah, the article from GQ mentions the guy who killed six people because women would not have sex with him. We can add to that instances like Rush Limbaugh’s tirades against Sandra Fluke, or #gamergate. There’s a whole festering sea out there blaming woman for not being their personal doormat.

    I’m not sure what yoga participants chant, or if they chant anything, but “kali, kali, kali” sounds like a line from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.” I guess we should feel thankful that Pat Robertson doesn’t think that wearing yoga pants makes you a slut. In a way I feel sympathy for the people actually trying to run the Christian Broadcast Network. How do they deal with the knowledge that their leader is nuts? Do they take him off the air to improve their credibility, or would taking Robertson off the air crash their fund-raising?

    But while Robertson can be regarded as just senile, what are we to make of Franklin Graham, a hate-monger of the first water. Franklin Graham is living proof that religious men should never have children.

    Men have it easier: once we find a combination of pants, longjohns, socks and boots that work, we never change.

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  4. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on February 26, 2015 at 8:55 am

    “This is a safe space.”

    It was at that line my eyes rolled all the way back into my head.

    I preached our community Lenten noon service yesterday, and at the lunch after this guy who looks not unlike Mr. Elam sat down next to me, and went into a long explanation as to why his church has exercised “Biblical discipline” on him and suspended him from their fellowship, because a woman and her friend completely misunderstood a perfectly friendly overture he made and then a further attempt he made to “reach out” after an initial misunderstanding that involved sending flowers to her rehab facility, which they also completely overreacted to, so he’d like to attend my congregation for a few weeks until this all gets cleared up. All I could think to say was “You do understand that, if you even look cross-eyed at any woman in our building, I’ll call the police given what you’ve just told me.” To which he said “Oh, sure, I understand.” Which I doubt.

    Wonder if he will show up this Sunday. Lord, have mercy.

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  5. Suzanne said on February 26, 2015 at 9:05 am

    I don’t which ethnic group can claim Mac & cheese, but this is the best I’ve ever eaten:

    Some Facebook friend of mine posted a Pat Robertson video on her page last week and my first thought was “He’s still around?” Posted by this woman who wouldn’t allow her kids to agree to be organ donors when they got driver’s licenses because there is a “list”, you know, and when “they” need a kidney, “they” will track people down & make sure there is an accident… You get the picture.

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  6. alex said on February 26, 2015 at 9:16 am

    New conservative talking point that just popped into my head: Who needs veterans’ benefits? They’re all trained snipers. They can go work for the organ transplant and reverse mortgage industry hit squads. 😉

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  7. Velvet Goldmine said on February 26, 2015 at 9:57 am

    High school students should be taught how to tell with a few quick glances which stories are total BS. Not just journalism students, but everyone. While we’re at it, let’s schedule some lectures on this topic at senior centers.

    Between the craven click-bait aggregators to the Poe’s Law troublemakers, it’s hard out here for a news consumer.

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  8. Bitter Scribe said on February 26, 2015 at 10:27 am

    I have to say, that fake news story does an impressively sophisticated job of counterfeiting a newspaper clipping, with the smearing, bad kerning, etc. There’s probably an app called PhonyClip or something.

    Why is it always Marines who beat up the black guy, the atheist professor, etc.? My father was a Marine who fought in the Pacific in WWII, my ex-neighbor was a Marine who fought in Iraq (and was the nicest young guy you could ever meet, with the sweetest wife and kids–LOTS of kids), and I resent the nutters co-opting the USMC like that.

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  9. Sue said on February 26, 2015 at 10:52 am

    If I’m speaking Hindu while doing yoga, how come it always comes out as “Jesus Christ, this hurts”?
    Namaste, asshole.
    And mac and cheese isn’t a black thing. It’s a MEXICAN JEWISH thing:

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  10. Judybusy said on February 26, 2015 at 11:43 am

    Sue, you got that yoga crap right! Inspired by Nancy, I’ve taken a few classes. It’s not really fun or relaxing. I feel very uncoordinated and clumsy.

    And isn’t mac n cheese a Canadian thing, what with their love of Kraft Dinner?

    I heard about another book on NPR: Ghettoside, in which a former crime reporter for the LA Times writes about the impact of the very high murder rate and high unsolved cases have on the African American community in that city. It’s on order at the library, and I’m number 163 on the list.

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  11. Bitter Scribe said on February 26, 2015 at 12:06 pm

    Good one, Sue! I’ve hesitated having anything to do with yoga for that very reason.

    I’m now reading a bio of Vaclav Havel. In prison, he started doing yoga out of sheer boredom (he was never much for exercise at any point in his life). He got so that he could do a headstand, but never tried it once he got out.

    Judybusy, thank you! I forgot to write down the name of that book when I saw the author on The Daily Show, and I’ve been kicking myself ever since.

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  12. coozledad said on February 26, 2015 at 12:07 pm

    Are we sure Donald Rumsfeld isn’t a member of ISIS?

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  13. coozledad said on February 26, 2015 at 12:25 pm

    You couldn’t shit worse people than these.
    This is part of that nullification fever. I move that states which have this fever be denied federal incorporation and its benefits- highway funding, education, military bases, disaster relief. Then close their borders and place a tariff on whatever shitty goods their sweatshops manage to barf up. Two year minimum waiting period for readmission to the US.


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  14. Suzanne said on February 26, 2015 at 12:36 pm

    I’ve been doing yoga for the past few months. I love it although I have a looooong way to go. It made me realize how inflexible I am! But I have yet to chant or turn to Hinduism. Maybe THAT’S why I have such trouble going from downward dog to a lunge.

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  15. beb said on February 26, 2015 at 12:56 pm

    Belle Isle is a low-lying square mile of park in the Detroit River. The Detroit Zoo put an annex there decades ago, then in the 90s (I think) did some major upgrades. One of which was an elevated walkway that paralleled some pens and crossed over others. It was an interesting concept and the family and I would often go there. But as the city’s budget ran dry something had to go and so the Belle Isle Zoo and the Detroit Aquarium were closed. The drone didn’t penetrate too far into the zoo because, I imagine it was too overgrown with trees to safely fly.

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  16. Connie said on February 26, 2015 at 1:09 pm

    I see my reindeer farmer ex-congressman – the guy who lost his 14 primary to the foreclosure -millionaire – has just filed for bankruptcy. And here I thought being in Congress made you rich.

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  17. Connie said on February 26, 2015 at 1:09 pm

    Kerry Bentivilio.

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  18. coozledad said on February 26, 2015 at 1:22 pm

    For rich boys, bankruptcy is a kind of welfare. Bentevilio can keep the money he swiped from his creditors and move on.

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  19. Dexter said on February 26, 2015 at 1:25 pm

    I was up when this thread appeared and I wrote a long hate-filled post about lying liars, Albom, Blumenthal, McDonald…went to vigorously hit “Submit…” and my finger slipped and somehow I hit a button which obliterated the post…and I think that was a good thing , because I was a-cussin’ an’ EVER’thang!

    Mac-n-Cheese…a staple of soul food sides, yes…but for everybody who can handle lots of dairy.
    Years ago I read Raymond Burr’s mother’s recipe for mac-n-cheese, and I made it and it was fantastic…5 or maybe 7 different cheeses…can’t find it, only this blurb from 29 years ago when Mr. Burr was 68 years old: “Favorite pig-out foods: Tapioca pudding, and macaroni and cheese. I`ve made them from my mother`s recipes for 60 years.”

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  20. Julie Robinson said on February 26, 2015 at 1:31 pm

    Alex @6 and Sue @9 share the win today!

    Thanks for the Belle Isle video, and some good memories of the summer of 2012, when our daughter’s ordination was in Detroit. We spent half a day there, visiting the Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory (had to look that up), which despite its crumbling state, had many spectacular plants. As we drove around looking for a restroom we stumbled on the zoo ruins and wondered about the back story.

    One thing puzzled us: the Conservatory was free despite being in clear need of funding. And also deserted; no staff whatsoever, just an elderly volunteer sitting by the door who encouraged us to sign the guestbook. We would have been fine with paying a non-resident donation, but there wasn’t a place to do this. I see the island has now become a state park with an admission charge, and I hope that helps with revenue and a usable restroom. Like so much in Detroit, it has much potential.

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  21. Smurch said on February 26, 2015 at 1:32 pm

    Net Neutrality passes!

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  22. Connie said on February 26, 2015 at 1:40 pm

    Julie, most state residents pay an extra ten dollars on their license plates so that they have a state park pass with their plates. That has only been available for a couple of years but we have quickly forgotten about paying at the gate for state parks.

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  23. adrianne said on February 26, 2015 at 1:40 pm

    My favorite part of the lies and the lying liars who tell them (thank you, Sen. Al Franken!) is the elaborate theories they cook up to defend themselves. I’ve been in a painful back and forth on Facebook with a former history teacher who’s become a right-wing kook, mainly because he’s crazily anti-abortion. I can rely on him to spout the latest nonsense from Fox and company. His defense of Bill O’Reilly? The people criticizing him are from those left-wing publications like Mother Jones and Huffington Post and the New York Times. You just can’t trust ’em. When I point out that the criticism is coming from former CBS colleagues who point out that the riots in Buenos Aires didn’t involve gov’t firing real bullets into the crowd, his response is to plug his ears (metaphorically speaking) and just chant “liberal bias” all the louder. The latest wingnut theory is O’Reilly is being attacked as “payback” for Brian Williams. Payback by who, I wonder?

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  24. Dexter said on February 26, 2015 at 2:16 pm

    OK…my patriotic hackles,,long in shambles,have been raised! All hail and salute!

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  25. Bitter Scribe said on February 26, 2015 at 2:40 pm

    That GQ article was UNBELIEVABLE! My teeth almost fell out when I got to the part about the guy who made fun of one of his own daughters when she reported she was raped. I sure as hell hope his wife took their kids away by now.

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  26. Sherri said on February 26, 2015 at 2:46 pm

    Whenever I read about the MRA world, I’m reminded of something I learned in those church basements that Dexter and I have frequented: if you’re pissed off at the world and everybody in it, maybe you should look at the common denominator – you.

    Being pissed at everybody can feel powerful and righteous for a while, but it’s not a very happy way to live, and it doesn’t usually get you want you want.

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  27. Dexter said on February 26, 2015 at 2:56 pm


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  28. LAMary said on February 26, 2015 at 6:55 pm

    I read resumes all day at a hospital. Here’s my new favorite line from someone who worked in the decedent services office.

    “Created death certificates as needed.”

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  29. Deborah said on February 26, 2015 at 7:48 pm

    While it’s great that the FCC has come down for Net Neutrality, I have little faith that it will stay that way. The companies that don’t want it have way too much money to let that stand. I don’t know a whole lot about it but an in-law of mine works for Time Warner and to hear her talk about it, it’s just a matter of time. Plus there’s the right wing, they’ll continue to fight it for thier corporate overlords.

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  30. Dave said on February 26, 2015 at 7:56 pm

    Dexter? In your deleted post, were you, by chance, channeling Prospero ?

    One of my long-ago schoolmates, a rabid right winger, usually ends up saying, “You’re smarter than that”. I always want to respond, you were stupid in school and nothing’s changed. But, what would I accomplish? I’ve unfriended a couple but haven’t him, yet. I’ve got a whole extended family that would probably agree with him.

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  31. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on February 26, 2015 at 10:15 pm

    LAMary – that just went in the sermon illustration file.

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  32. Dexter said on February 27, 2015 at 2:51 am

    Excerpts from my bio:
    I was born into this world when Mother’s pregnancy ended.
    I grew up, attending schools and later working at job sites as the calendar years progressed along.
    Later still, I buried my parents in coffins as needed.
    Will you place me, LA Mary? (six-figure easy job only, thanks you)

    Speaking of death, did yas see the story out of Cincinnati this week about the morgue worker? CINCINNATI – Three families whose dead relatives were sexually abused by a morgue attendant reached a tentative lawsuit settlement Tuesday with Hamilton County, attorneys for the families said.

    “The families of Karen Range, Charlene Appling and Angel Hicks sued the county in 2012 for negligent supervision of Kenneth Douglas.

    Douglas, who worked as a night attendant for the county from 1976 to 1992, was convicted of gross abuse of Range, Appling and Hicks’s corpses.”
    That’s from WCPO…here’s your link:

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