Drinking Liberally Virginia Beach Chapter Blog

September Meeting Postponed One Week

Because of Hurricane Florence, I am postponing the September meeting until September 20. All other meeting details remain the same.

I recommend that you follow hurricane developments at the Virginian-Pilot, as television weather coverage is in full "foment panic" mode (their favorite mode, especially at the Weather Channel).

https://pilotonline.com/

Hunker down, evacuate if directed to, and stay safe.

September Meeting Reminder

I look forward to seeing you at our September meeting on Thursday, September 13, at 6 p. m. at Croc's 19nth Street Bistro, 620 19th Street, one block from the Virginia Beach Convention Center (map).

The cavalcade of crazy continues. For thoughtful coverage and analysis of the Trumpling, I highly recommend Shaun Mullen's blog. Shaun is a retired newspaper reporter and editor who knows how to report and edit.

Here are some other items you might find interesting.

In the Non Sequitur comic, Wiley pictures the history of Labor Day. In a similar vein, Don Langrehr comments on the irony of celebrating "Labor Day" in a society that does not honor labor.

For some fool reason, the Raleigh News and Observer published a column that rounds up in one place all the rationales that unreconstructed white Southerners use to convince themselves and others that the Civil War was not about slavery, even though every state that seceded referenced slavery in its secession documents. It is, of course, horribly wrong and sounds oh so civilized. I mention it because it is a primer in propaganda and misdirection play. I'm not going to provide a direct link, but you can go to the newspaper's opinion section and look for an article by Dennis Cuddy, Ph. D., you can read it; it illustrates why some persons argue that "Ph. D." stands for pile it higher and deeper.

For a contrasting (and historically much more accurate) view, see Jon Broadway's column at AL.com.

Steven M. at No More Mister Nice Guy suggests that, as far as establishment Republicans are concerned, Trump's work is done. It's an interesting read, but I'm not sure I buy it. For one thing, who are these "establishment Republicans" of whom he speaks? I don't see any old school "establishment Republicans" persons left in the party.

Tony Norman hears the dog whistles.

The Tampa Bay Times's Bill Maxwell goes for a road trip and finds himself reliving his youth; it's not pretty.

In local news, the campaign for Virginia's Second House District seat has taken some unusual twists in the past two weeks. By the by, in Virginia Beach, city council and school board races are also under way, but the news coverage is not very good. If you want to learn about the candidates, your best bet is try to find a "candidates forum" near you. Many civic groups, churches, and the like host them, but they are often not well publicized. I was lucky enough to attend one; I'll bring my notes, such as they are, to the meeting Thursday.

After all this, I need a drink, so I'm looking forward to Thursday.

August Meeting Reminder

I'm looking forward to seeing everyone on Thursday, August 9, at 6 p. m. at Croc's 19nth Street Bistro, 620 19th Street, one block from the Virginia Beach Convention Center (map).

I've run across a number of items that I think are worth your while during the past few weeks. Here's on that I found particularly enlightening: Robert Epstein, former Editor-in-Chief at Psychology Today among many other accomplishments, offers a construct for understanding why Donald Trump does and says what he does and says. I frankly think he is spot on in his reasoning.

In a somewhat similar but less theoretical vein, Professor Robert Strong suggests that Donald Trump has mastered what he calls a tabloid intelligence, getting keeping attention in much the same way as tabloid headlines do in the supermarket checkout aisles, with the same adherence to facts . . . .

Meanwhile, Rufus Edmisten, who served on the staff of the Watergate Committee, sees echoes of his past in our present.

If you are paying attention local news, you are seeing unquestionable evidence that seas are rising and climates are changing. Will Bunch wonders why that's not getting the media coverage it deserves.

In the "don't believe what you see on television cop shows department," the California ACLU has tested Amazon's facial recognition system and found it more farcical than facial. Plus it is significantly less reliable with non-white faces than with white ones.

At Psychology Today Blogs, Jeremy Sherman wonders whether the Republican Party has become a Trumpist cult awash in Kool-Aid.

David Treadwell muses on the Great Groveling of Helsinki, while Brian Greenspun reminds of the origin of the term, "Quisling."

Badtux cuts through the hypocritical rhetoric of those who would end "birthright citizenship." Jen Sorenson does the same in pictures.

The next time you have errands to run, pop Bob Cesca's interview with Malcolm Nance into your podplayer and give it a listen. It will not cheer you up, but it is worth a listen.

In the Foxy Shady Department, David Pakman recently appeared on Fox News. Later, on his own YouTube channel, he analyzed the techniques that the Fox interviewers used to keep him from making his point. Watch and learn how to do the twist.

In closing, I offer a bit of very cautious optimism from my friend and fellow blogger, Shaun Mullen.

See you next week.

July Meeting Reminder

We will be meeting on Thursday, July 12, at 6:00 p. m. at Croc's 19th Street Bistro, 620 19th Street, Virginia Beach, Virginia, one block east of the Virginia Beach Convention Center (map). I don't know about you, but I'm mentally exhausted and looking forward to relaxing with you all. I hope the weather is mild and we can relax on the outdoor patio once again.

I haven't had time to compile an extensive list of suggested reading, but there are a few items I would like to commend to your attention from today's reading.

The first is an editorial from The Roanoke Times discussing the attempts by Virginia's Byrd Machine to manipulate students by slanting history textbooks. These were the very texts I studied in elementary and high school and, yes indeedy do, they as slanted as the sides of Mt. Trashmore. Of course, if you pay attention to the news, you know that such efforts continue today.

I also point out this from my old Philly DL friend, The Booman.

And, finally, David Farmer muses on this nation's historical ambivalence towards immigrants and the sadistic conduct of our current Federal administration.

I look forward to seeing you Thursday.

June Meeting Reminder

We will be meeting on Thursday, June 14, at Croc's 19th Street Bistro, 620 19th Street, Virginia Beach, Virginia, one block east of the Virginia Beach Convention Center (map). I don't know about you, but I'm mentally exhausted and looking forward to relaxing with you all.

In the meantime, here are some articles that I've found particularly interesting in the last few weeks.

In The Roanoke Times, Nancy Liebrecht offers some thoughts on the "opioid" epidemic that keeps making the news. This leads me to a question: What is the difference among opioids, opiates, heroin, and smack? As near as I can tell, it's who consumes them. Think about it.

Also in The Roanoke Times, Betsy Biesenbach muses on what gives Facebook such a hold on persons, even as news of its porousness, perfidy, and absence of trustworthiness continues to grow.

Josh Marshall considers Donald Trump's pointless and stupid trade wars in the light of what "winning" means in Donald Trump's world.

The Tampa Bay Times's John Romano is dismayed by textbooks being used in some private and charter schools in Florida.

Writing at Psychology Today Blogs, Arash Emanzadah explores why a nation that has proudly bill itself as "a nation of immigrants" has decided to hate immigrants.

Brian Greenspun, publisher of the Las Vegas Sun, looks wistfully back at when there were "checks and balances" and yearns for their return.

In the "a picture is worth" department, Clay Bennett sums up the NRA's hold over its membership and loyalists.

In a delightful article, self-professed conservative Josh Edblow calls out conservative "snowflakes" (his word, not mine) for their clutching their pearls and collapsing in fits of the vapors over NFL players daring to kneel during the national anthem in protest of police violence against black people.

I'll close by offering a picture from the recently-concluded LanternAsia exhibit Norfolk's Gardens by the Sea. I reckon that, by now, you need a bit of cheering up!

Hope to see you Thursday.

May Meeting Reminder

I look forward to seeing you Thursday, May 10, at Croc's 19th Street Bistro, 620 19th Street, Virginia Beach, one block east of the Virginia Beach Convention Center (map). In the meantime, here are a few items which have piqued my interest in the last week or so:

The firehose of news continues to spew, as does the fire hose of "Fake News," which, when I was younger was called "propaganda." I suggest that returning to that term would benefit the discourse. Also, omitted from much of the discussion is the responsibility of persons to follow news thoughtfully and discerningly.

Paul Tash, Chairman and CEO of the Tampa Bay Times expressed this well in his commencement speech to graduates of Indiana University, his alma mater. I may have mentioned this before, but it has long confounded me that persons will believe stuff they read on a computer screen when they wouldn't believe the same stuff if they watched happen in their presence.

In the "this is old news" department, Rehka Basu, the marvelous columnist for the Des Moines Register considers what she considers the primary lesson to be drawn from the Stormy Daniels story.

Rudy Guiliani has been making the rounds lately, to great dismay. Both Elie Mystal and Mike Littwin offer compelling commentary on Rudy's rumba.

Sasha Abramsky draws an improbable but telling connection between Johnny Rotten and Donnie Rotten.

Steve Sack pictures the military parade that Trump should be having. (Note: The Star-Tribune sometimes shows a picture of a Minnesota scene before proceeding to the link. I find the pictures pleasant.)

Patrick Rael rails against the myth of the Old South, which has served to justify and excuse America's original sin of chattel slavery and the myth of racism that was created to justify it and taints our polity still.

Again, for sane and well-reasoned coverage of national politics, I recommended Talking Points Memo. Josh Marshall and his staff value significance and analysis over volume.

Hope to see you Thursday.

No Norfolk Meeting

At our last gathering, we talked of having a meeting in Norfolk on the fourth Thursday.

Is not happening. I've been much too preoccupied with events at home.

I was not the injured party and I shan't go into detail for the details are not mine to share, but suffice to say some surgery and a hospital stay was involved. Recovery is proceeding nicely and should not interfere with our regular May meeting.

In the meantime, take two aspirins and fifth of Scotch before reading the news.

See you next month.

April Meeting Reminder

I look forward to seeing everyone at Croc's 19th Street Bistro, 620 19th Street, Virginia Beach, one block east of the Virginia Beach Convention Center (map) on Thursday, April 12 at 6:00 p. m. The firehouse of news has me in need of fellowship and friendly conversation, and I trust many others feel the same way.

As history does sometimes repeat itself, I commend this article to your attention. It describes events from nearly three millennia ago, when a cataclysm destroyed the thriving eastern Mediterranean Bronze Age civilization shortly after the events which gave rise to the story of the Trojan War. Although the exact nature of events is undocumented, many scientists believe that climate change, desertification, and resulting population movements were involved. I fear that, in our children's and grandchildren's lifetimes, they are likely to see similar events.

In a amusing change of pace, Matthew Kauffman describes how he trolled an internet scam artist for two weeks, as well as offers some pointers on the warning signs of a scam.

Trudy Rubin reminds us that ill-considered words can come back to haunt their speaker.

In the Raleigh News and Observer, Frank Hyman wonders why U. S. Southern History is taught so poorly. In my opinion, the reason is quite simple: The North may have won the war, but the South won the peace; it spent decades following the war up to our present time creating the myth of the "Land of Gracious Living," best exemplified in that overwrought pot-boiler, Gone with the Wind, and in Disney's sweetly odious Song of the South.

Signe Wilkenson pictures Easter, NRA Style.

Trudy Rubin worries that Donald Trump suffers from "autocrat envy."

Pearls before Swine pictures how Congress works.

Dick Polman dissects the Sinclair Broadcasting disinformation dispenser.

Paul Krugman discusses the irony of the economic divide between states that support Donald Trump and those that do not. Follow the link to find out what that irony is.

And, finally, an article from last Sunday's New York Times looks at some pending patents for those spybot--er--"digital assistants," such as Amazon's Alexa and Google's Assistant. Personally, I wouldn't let one of those things in my home on a bet.

See you Thursday.

Digital Dopamine

This is just a brief thought spurred by the news of the day,

No doubt many of you have seen the sudden spate of coverage about Facebook's laxity and Cambridge Analytica's tactics and how that combination led to all sorts of nefarious antics.

I want to share with you an article from the Electronic Frontier Foundation about to how adjust Facebook's settings to better protect your privacy. (Full disclosure: I am a regular contributor to the EFF.)

In a related topic, Zeynep Tufekci wrote in the New York Times Sunday Magazine recently about noticing a disturbing trend in YouTube's recommendations for politically-themed videos. Wherever on the political spectrum she started, the recommended videos became more extreme than her starting point. In an attempt to understand this, she follows the money: she attributes this not to political motives, but to an desire by YouTube's algorithm to keep you online.

Of course, neither of these articles addresses the most serious aspect of America's disinformation problem: the gullibility of those who willingly believe arrant and easily-disproven nonsense. It has long baffled me that persons will believe stuff they read on a computer screen, whereas they will not believe the same stuff if they read in the Encyclopedia Britannica.

See you next month.

March Meeting Reminder

This month's meeting has sneaked up on me because it's as early in the month as it can possibly be and I've had distractions. For one thing, my cell phone wore out, but I've had it for four years and it didn't owe me a dime. It still did things, but the battery was losing its stuff and replacing a smartphone battery is becoming a thing of the past, so I have been getting the new one all configured up.

I will be there Thursday, though, and I hope you will to; that's March 8, at Croc's 19th Street Bistro, 620 19th Street, Virginia Beach, one block east of the Virginia Beach Convention Center (map).

Given the past month, I suggest that the "District of Columbia" could aptly be renamed the "District of Chaos." Here are some links that elucidate why:

Will Bunch suggests that, in the current discussions about school shootings, government has abdicated its role to corporations. I have two observations: how venal is a society that countenances routine massacres of children, and this surprises you how?

Dick Polman discusses the man who would be king.

Jay Bookman has no sympathy for Georgia's "conservative" snowflakes.

Talking Points Memo reports that some Republican governors have decided that special elections to fill vacancies are too special to share with the citizenry.

"Republican Family Values" continue to astound (or maybe that's "confound").

Eric Dietrich tries to make sense of America's love affair with guns.

Daniel Ruth trolls the bots.

Billy Maddalon points out that the state of U. S. Health Care disproves Americans' comforting conceit of "exceptionalism."

Kevin Siers pictures the cycle of insanity.

See you Thursday.