Fakery

Several days ago I posted a pledge to abstain from using political memes as a way of communicating my opinions on social media. It seemed an easy pledge to follow, right? Just don’t hit the “share” button when confronted with a political meme. But these things are literally everywhere on Facebook and Twitter, and some don’t seem all that political at first glance.

Indeed, sometimes groups that post such memes begin by drawing people in with innocuous images. Then, when they have one’s attention they gradually build to ideas that seek to sway opinions one way or the other. And guess what? Often they really don’t care which side one chooses, they merely seek to divide.

I’m adding a link that will allow readers to test their abilities to winnow the legitimate memes from those put forward by influence campaigns, usually posted by foreign bots. I did fairly well–just missed one, but all it takes is one fake story to go viral and negatively influence thousands of people. Keeping my fingers crossed that the link works. Readers might need to open the link in another browser, or however that works. Technology and I aren’t always on speaking terms.

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/09/04/technology/facebook-influence-campaigns-quiz.html

An irrelevant photo of my cat. She has no opinion on memes.

Meme-Free Pledge

One of my long-time real life friends wrote this piece and posted it on Facebook. I took the pledge and hope that you will, as well. Thanks, Jim for making a difference. Here’s the pledge:

This political season, I am taking the Meme-Free Pledge, abstaining from sharing any political meme on social media. Like if you approve, Share and substitute your name for mine if you wish to join me!

WHEREAS: There is broad agreement that American democracy is under attack by foreign adversaries by means of spreading misinformation (propaganda) in order to create anger, fear, and mistrust, and

WHEREAS: Some of the adversaries’ most effective weapons in this effort to spread misinformation are memes shared through social media, and

WHEREAS: It is often difficult to know the source of these memes,

I HEREBY PLEDGE to assume that any political meme I see has been planted by America’s adversaries, and therefore, I will not share them, neither in public social media, nor private. This includes secret groups to which I belong and private messages.

I FURTHER PLEDGE to push back against these attacks on American democracy by exposing the misinformation, and if the misinformation is especially egregious, I will report it to Facebook or other social media formats.

I ALSO HUMBLY PLEDGE (this is the hard one for me) in my clarification of misinformation, I will do so with only sourced facts, without emotion, doing my best to avoid insulting or demeaning the poster, using language to the best of my ability that will not sound like a sneer or put down. (This is the hardest part, but the most important.)

Respectfully,

Leslie Noyes with thanks to my friend, Jim Lovell, whose post I’ve borrowed.

Sign of the Apocalypse?

Our cats never, and I mean NEVER, come this close to snuggling. I guess the early morning snow in Tallahassee, or perhaps the “My button is bigger than your button” tweet from trump to Kim Jung Un, has them believing it’s the end of the world as we know it. On the plus side, in either case, I don’t have to make my bed.

And I think we all know trump’s button isn’t bigger than anyone’s.

Peace, people.

Thank Heaven For Political Cartoonists

In the wake of the passage of the Republican tax scam, pardon me, tax bill, political cartoonists have been spot on. Here are just a few of the pieces of pure genius.

Not all of the talented pundits focused solely on the tax sham, though. Fortunately, Trump’s capacity for corrupt leadership is fertile ground for savvy artists:

All I want for Christmas is a compassionate, articulate, intelligent President. Is that too much to ask?

The Case of the Missing Mary

The Case of the Missing Mary

By Leslie Noyes

(Note: This first appeared on my blog two years ago, back in the good old days when Trump’s candidacy was merely a bad joke. Guess I should’ve thrown more darts.) 

I leaned back in my wooden chair and aimed a dart at the picture of Donald Trump I’d taped to the door of my cramped office. Bullseye, baby. Before I could launch another projectile at the human embodiment of evil there was a tentative rap at the door.

Quickly I stashed the darts, downed a shot of Glenlivet and hid the bottle under the desk.

“Come in,” I intoned with as much gravity as I could muster. I was new at this detective gig and badly needed a client. Throwing darts at Trump, no matter how satisfying, wasn’t paying the bills.

The man who walked through my door was a sight for hungry eyes. Tall, dark, and handsome, and apparently built like Thor if the bulges in his well-tailored suit were to be trusted.

“Excuse me,” he said. “I’m looking for Mr. Noyes, the private investigator…”

“It’s Ms. Noyes,” I smiled. “My receptionist just stepped out for a bit.” Little did he know my receptionist, Glenlivet, was hiding under the desk. I nudged the bottle with my foot for reassurance.

“Oh!” He was clearly flustered, so I rushed to reassure him. Rising from my chair I stepped closer, hoping to encourage him to stay.

“Don’t let my gender color your expectations,” I said. “I’m fully qualified to handle discreet investigations.”

I held my breath as I watched him wrestle with his thoughts. Finally he extended a hand, and I exhaled.

“My name is Joseph. Joseph Carpenter, and my wife has gone missing.”

I motioned for Joseph to have a seat and took my place on the other side of the desk. Pulling out a pen and notepad I asked Joseph for details.

“She was right beside me. We were watching over our newborn son and I turned away for just a second to greet a man, a foreigner of some distinction, who’d brought a baby gift. When I looked back, Mary was gone.”

Joseph’s rugged face collapsed in tears. It took all of my strength to maintain a professional distance. My maternal instincts were urging me to comfort this man, but he didn’t need a nursemaid, he needed a detective. And by God, that’s just what he’d get.

“Do you have a recent picture of your wife, sir?”

“No, we weren’t into pictures. But she was just a little thing. Maybe five feet two. Brown eyes. Dark brown hair. Olive skin. She was, is, beautiful. She has the most beatific smile.”

I tried my hand at sketching a picture of Mary.

“No, her nose is a bit larger,” Joseph said. “Yes, like that. And her lips fuller.”

Finally we had a sketch that Joseph approved.

“Joseph, did you notice any strange characters hanging around, let’s see, the manger on the night of your wife’s disappearance?”

“Well,” he began, “Besides the foreigner there were a couple of other visiting dignitaries. They looked fairly trustworthy; although, come to think of it I have no idea why they dropped by.”

“Ok, that’s a starting place. Anyone or anything else?”

Joseph snapped his fingers. “There was a shepherd there ranting about some star he followed. Could it be…?”

“I couldn’t say right now, Joseph, but I promise to do everything in my power to find your Mary.” I stood and indicated we were through.

“By the way, how’s the baby?” I asked offhandedly. “I know newborns can be a handful. Is it possible Mary just took off?”

Joseph’s temper flared. I could see I’d hit a nerve. “Absolutely not! You have no idea what Mary has gone through to have this child, why….”

I held up one hand. “I had to ask Mr. Carpenter. I believe you.”

I told him I’d need a retainer and I’d bill my services at a hundred dollars per hour. Then I assured him I’d get on the case immediately.

“Money’s no problem. One of those foreign dignitaries brought gold. For a baby!” He shook his head in amazement.

As he paused at the door, Joseph Carpenter turned, his face half in shadow.

“Ms. Noyes. Have you done anything like this before?”

“Yes,” I answered honestly. “Every December.”

Almost every year one piece of my nativity goes missing. One year it was the lamb. I found it nestled next to the Christmas snow globe. Another year it was a wise man, the one carrying myrrh. He didn’t turn up until I was putting decorations away. Apparently the myrrh king had been napping in a Target bag. This year it’s Mary. One can’t very well have a nativity scene without the mother of Jesus. I’ll keep looking. Until I find her I have a cut out Mary from a Christmas card to stand in for her:


The scale isn’t that bad, right?

What I’m Reading

I went in search of something to refresh my memory of, and to increase my understanding of, documents of importance to our country. It seems more important now than ever for citizens to be informed; otherwise, how can we hold our elected officials accountable?

I found this slim volume at Barnes and Nobel:

I like the way the book has side by side explanations of the documents. For example, pictured below is the first page of the Bill of Rights:

On the left are the unedited amendments, and on the right are simplified explanations. I think our current president might benefit from reading this book. Maybe I’ll buy him a copy. He might have to give up one round of golf to read it, but that’s a risk I’m willing to take.

Peace, people.

First Amendment Blues

First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

I would ask every American to read the amendment. Take it in. Understand its ramifications. Then try to tell me that Colin Kaepernick doesn’t have the right to take a knee during the national anthem.

You might not like that he does it. You might believe he’s disrespecting the flag. But the truth is, Mr. Kaepernick is exercising his rights as a citizen under the First Amendment.

Now, our president has called Kaepernick and other athletes who have chosen to sit or kneel rather that stand at attention during the anthem “sons of bitches.” Trump did this at a rally of his followers in Alabama. No doubt there was much celebration when he chose those words: Sons of bitches. Not only has trump cast aspersions on these athletes, but on their mothers, as well.

Does the president also have the right to free speech? Indeed, he does. And what did he do with that right? He just insulted a good portion of the American populace and those of us who stand with them.

So, who is the real son of a bitch?

Exercises in Deep Breathing

A couple of days ago I shared a meme on Facebook that caused tempers to flare. I first included it in this post, but honestly, I feel like I’ve been through the ringer. ¡No más! So, I deleted it before publishing.

Basically the meme was a take on the whole “weather catastrophes are the fault of….(insert gays/feminists/atheists/Muslims, etc.).” only this one jokingly put the blame for Hurricane Harvey on Trump, and then asked, “see how ridiculous that sounds.”

Obviously I was trying to make a point about how ridiculous some of the wacky religious and/or political pundits sound when they blame catastrophic events on homosexuality or feminism or any number of unrelated events, so the amount of vitriol the post attracted was rather stunning. Clearly it was satire.

Was I not aware of the suffering people in coastal Texas and surrounding areas were experiencing? Well, yes, I am aware and have posted numerous links to responsible agencies who are accepting donations for victims of Hurricane Harvey, and I’ve donated to more than a few such organizations myself. If I thought I could be an asset instead of an aggravation I’d be volunteering there right now. The good folks of Houston and beyond are going to need help for many months to come, and I’ll help in whatever ways I can.

Have I no sense of shame? Certainly I do when shame is warranted. This isn’t one of those times.

What has happened to me? Apparently I used to be a good person, but I’m not anymore. Huh. I’ve always tried to do the right thing. I haven’t always been successful, but I look out for others and treat people kindly.

The meme is in poor taste! I don’t believe it is; however, cutting a proposed one billion dollars of funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s budget in order to finance a wall between the U.S. and Mexico is certainly crossing a line that far exceeds the realm of good taste, and I don’t see any of the folks who lambasted me over my meme having a meltdown over that.

Several folks lectured me on my morality and ethics. Oddly enough none of them would be my first choice were I to go in search of a teacher on those issues.

A thoughtful friend sent this to me after reading the battering posts. I take great comfort in good friends.

I continue to pray for all those affected by Harvey. Yes, I do. Even those who think I’m a bad person.

If you want to support a great organization that’s helping out folks who’ve lost everything to this devastating storm here are more verified links:

https://www.youcaring.com/victimsofhurricaneharvey-915053

Umcor.org

Peace, people.