The Walking Dead’s Ratings Are the Lowest Ever This Season

As many of the commenters on the Jezebel article point out, this probably has everything to do with the conflation between Negan and Trump. No joke. The show diverted itself from the challenges of dealing with a threatening epidemic of the undead to dealing with a narcissistic relentless and unscrupulous dictator. The “fear of the powerful exploiting the masses” supplants the “fear of the outsider.” Thank you very much, already got my hands full thinking about that, so the show becomes an utterly unchallenging bore. As the human threats have become more malignant, the zombies have lost their power. In any human encounter with the undead, there is no longer any suspense about surviving. They are easily dispatched one and all with a single spiking to the head.

How To Win Arguments In The Post-Truth Era 

‘1. Be Perfectly Reasonable: Whatever or whoever you’re criticising, start out by saying that you think they’re great. If you’ve got a whole industry in your sights, take time to praise certain aspects or to point out that you’re not talking about the entire sector, just a few bad apples. Whether or not you believe what you’re saying doesn’t matter – the point is to come across as someone filled with well-mannered common sense who would only be critical if it was absolutely necessary. As French playwright Jean Giraudoux put it: “The secret of success is sincerity. Once you can fake that you’ve got it made.”

2. Don’t Let the Truth Get in the Way: For those interested in the truth, debating can be tricky. Facts tend to get in the way, sticking their noses in to point out what is true or false. But polemicists are more interested in winning the argument than in being right, so remember that time spent on facts that don’t back up your case is time wasted. Better still, learn how to reframe the data so that it looks like the stats are actually on your side.

3. Use Broad Strokes: Attempt to get away with gross generalisations that aren’t backed up by anything. Forget about subtlety and nuance. Focus instead on crafting pithy broadsides that sound generally true.

4. Embrace Ignorance and Inconsistency: Life as a polemicist will be busy. There won’t be enough time to make sure every contentious assertion you assert is ideologically coherent. But who needs to know anything about anything and have their ideological positions all singing from the same hymn sheet? You’ll just have to take whatever expedient argument you can get.

5. Conflate the Unconflatable: To back up your point of view it’s useful to connect things that haven’t got anything to do with each other.

6. Ad Hominem Attacks, or Play the Man Not the Ball: Hopefully, these pointers will have your argument honed into a rapier of polemic so sharp that it will easily rip your opponent’s thesis asunder. Should you find that you’re still not victorious in the cut and thrust of debate, however, why not make things personal? The purpose of an 82 Perry Street hominem attack, of course, is to make an audience doubt your opponent’s argument. And if insulting people’s appearance, personality, professionalism and mental health don’t work, why not JUST RAISE YOUR VOICE…’

Source: Bruno Diaz, 3:AM Magazine. [I’ve edited his points to remove references to British post-factual polemicists with whom most of us will not be familiar. They do stand as examples of most of his points, if you are seeking amplification.]

Everyone Should Probably Read This Cop Privacy Guide

‘Law enforcement members have a lot to worry about when it comes to their social media presences and online privacy. Criminals may scope out officers on Facebook or Twitter, and the email accounts of anyone at a police department are probably going to be of some worth to crooks.

With that in mind, one UK police organization recently published a guide for officers on how to enable the strongest privacy settings on social media, as well as more securely use various web browsers and mobile operating systems. And it turns out, everyone probably can learn something from this pretty decent guide…’

Source: Motherboard

How Dakota Pipeline Protesters Are Digging in For a Harsh Winter

‘… “With wind chill, temperatures in the 30s and 20s can easily feel down at zero,” says Kevin Lawrence, a meteorologist based in Bismarck. Given the 40-50 inches annual snowfall and consistent wind, Lawrence said he doubted the protectors’ capacity for winter camping. Without insulation and external heating sources, it would be near impossible, he said.

In a statement released Nov. 18th, Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier expressed apparent concern that “we’ve seen that many of these protestors are not from North Dakota and may not be familiar with the harshness of our winters, and we urge them to leave the camps and seek appropriate shelter for their own health and safety.”

That danger can be amplified by the authorities themselves: when protesters attempted to remove the highway blockade on Nov. 20th, officers responded by using water cannons on people, in spite of 26-degree weather, and without access to active rewarming or nearby hospitalization…’

Source: Motherboard

What You Need to Know About Betsy DeVos in a Few Words

Trump’s pick for Secretary of Education is a wealthy scion of Michigan’s Republican political machine elite. She is a school choice and charter school advocate with no experience with public schools, her children having attended private Christian schools. More than 80% of Michigan charter schools, the largest proportion by far of any state, are run by private companies, and , under her championship, 1993 legislation in Michigan largely removed them from state oversight and regulation. DeVos and her family have been major funders of successful efforts to defeat legislative reform to bring more oversight to Detroit charter schools. Interestingly, she and the president-elect may disagree on Common Core.

Source: Detroit Patch

Study Finds Connection between Chronic Pain and Anxiety Disorder

painanxietyAt first glance, this was not so surprising. Of course, patients in pain are stressed, and show greater biological expression of neurobiological stress changes. What is a little less obvious but no less true is the converse, that anxious patients are more susceptible to chronic pain.

But the study may suggest an explanation for one clinically puzzling fact — that even though they have markedly different modes of action in the CNS, abusers of opiates and of benzodiazepine anti-anxiety medications often find their appeal interchangeable.

Source: Neurosciencestuff Tumblr

Giving Thanks for the Speed of Light

‘…I think we should do better than just be grumpy about the finite speed of light. Like it or not, it’s an absolutely crucial part of the nature of reality. It didn’t have to be, in the sense of all possible worlds; the Newtonian universe is a relatively sensible set of laws of physics, in which there is no speed-of-light barrier at all.

That would be a very different world indeed. In Newton’s cosmos, when a planet moves around the Sun, its (admittedly feeble) gravitational field changes instantly throughout all of space. In principle, in pre-relativistic laws of physics it would be possible to imagine communication or transportation devices that took you from here to billions of light years away, in as short a time as you can imagine.That seems like fun, but think about what you’re giving up. The speed of light enforces what physicists think of as locality — what happens at one point in spacetime influences what happens nearby in spacetime, and those influences gradually spread out. A universe

That seems like fun, but think about what you’re giving up. The speed of light enforces what physicists think of as locality — what happens at one point in spacetime influences what happens nearby in spacetime, and those influences gradually spread out. A universe without the speed of light would be one that allowed for non-local influences; one where different parts of space weren’t safely separated from one another, but were potentially connected in dramatic ways. That would be convenient for some purposes — but so utterly different from the real world that it’s hard to think through all of the consequences consistently…’

Source: Sean Carroll, Preposterous Universe

Five things to learn from elevators

‘The most terrifying potential lift incident is the dreaded free-fall to the bottom of the shaft if a cable snapped. Talk to anyone in the elevator industry though, and they will tell you that the last instance of this was in 1945 when an errant B-25 bomber pilot turned the wrong way and ran in to the Empire State Building — severing all of the cables on two separate elevators in the process…’

Source: Medium

Jack London, a century on

‘During his short life, [London] smoked sixty Russian Imperiale cigarettes a day. He drank so much that his kidneys began to fail before he reached thirty-five. He ate for dinner, when he could get them, two whole and barely cooked ducks. He was also addicted to morphine. By the end, he had become the absolute inversion of the image that made him and his fictional characters famous…’

Source: TLS

How to Know if Your Country Is Heading Toward Despotism:

 An Educational Film from 1946

‘…[A]ctually identifying despotism can pose a certain difficulty — which despots also know, and they’d surely like to keep it that way. Hence Encyclopedia Britannica’s Despotism, a ten-minute Erpi Classroom Film on how a country slides into that eponymous state. It uses the example of Nazi Germany (which might strike us today as the most obvious one but back in 1946 must have felt almost too fresh), but generalizes the concept by looking back into more distant history, as far as Louis XIV’s immortal remark, “L’état, c’est moi.” …’

Source: Open Culture

Hear a 9-Hour Tribute to John Peel: A Collection of His Best “Peel Sessions”

‘London-based online radio station NTS, in its own way very much a continuation of Peel’s project, has put together a tribute to Britain’s most astute DJ in the form of a nine-hour broadcast of some of the best Peel Sessions. Broken into four parts, it gathers performances captured at the BBC from artists like Gang of Four, The Fall, My Bloody Valentine, The Pixies, Aphex Twin, Cabaret Voltaire, and many others. “Blimey, he was really at the center of everything,” says Eno. “He was putting so many things together. He was the first person who realized pop music was serious, and that it was a place people could really meet and talk to each other. It became the center of a conversation.” A dozen years after Peel’s passing, the conversation continues.’

Source: Open Culture

Bob Dylan Isn’t Even America’s Greatest Literary Songwriter

‘The point here isn’t that Bob Dylan’s writing or music is terrible. Bob Dylan is often wonderful. But the Nobel Prize isn’t just saying he’s wonderful. It’s saying he is an apogee of American song; the one lyricist and performer deserving (so far) of the term “literature”. The Nobel crowns Dylan as a performer who has elevated his genre, and has used it in ways that have never been used before.

When you put Dylan next to Broonzy, or Chandler, or Berry, or, Cole Porter, or Joni Mitchell, or Andre 3000, that claim of clear superiority doesn’t hold up. You can love Dylan or hate Dylan, just as you can love Elvis or hate Elvis. But even if you love Elvis, it’s hard to argue that he was the King because he was somehow an exponentially more talented performer than Ike Turner, or LaVern Baker. Rather, he was the King because critics, and the public, see a white person reshaping black sources as a quintessence of creativity and cool.

In choosing Dylan, the Nobel committee cheekily subverted the usual canons of taste and literature. But Dylan as cheeky subversion is, unfortunately, its own tired trope. The power of Dylan, as an icon, is that he has smuggled the work of supposedly unsophisticated others into the hoity-toity bastion of high culture. In choosing him as the representative of American popular music, the Nobel committee shows the words of those outside the academy can be literature—when they’re spoken by the right people…’

Source: Noah BerlatskyLiterary Hub

Ivanka Trump on Donald’s sexual interest in her: “If he wasn’t my father, I would spray him with Mace”

Hey, call me a gossip rag if you will, but this is too good to pass up.

‘The remark was unearthed by Sarah Kenzidor from the Aug. 24, 2006 issue of The Chicago Tribune; it’s one of several…’

Source: Boing Boing

Addendum: Probably a Fake; Too Good to be True

‘Donald Trump has repeatedly said some disgusting, sexual things about his own daughter, Ivanka. But did Ivanka once reply that if he wasn’t her father that she’d spray him with Mace? No. The quote that seems to suggest otherwise is totally fake.Journalist Sarah Kendzior tweeted out the quote, “If he wasn’t my father, I would spray him with Mace” on November 24th—seemingly in response to something inappropriate Ivanka’s father, Donald Trump, had said. But in truth, she never said that. It’s from a Conan O’Brien comedy monologue.’

Source: Gizmodo