Faux News and the Value of Truth

fauxnewsby Deana Chadwell12/13/16
Gold supplies have always been small enough to keep gold valuable. The same is true of Cuban cigars, Russian caviar, and hand-built Italian sports cars. And now we find that the truth – about both particulars and universals – has become so unusual, so scarce that many of us would give all we have for just a drop of it.

Consider how hard it is just to find out what important political events happened on any given day. We used to be able to turn on the local news station at 6:00 p.m. and a handsomish man with slick, dark hair would read the latest happenings to us off a sheet of paper.  Then another man would point a stick at a map and tell us what the weather would do the next day.  We believed the newsman and paid little attention to the weatherman because he was rarely right.  It was simple.

We know now that they weren’t telling us everything; we didn’t know that JFK was sleeping around or that LBJ was a jerk. True. But they didn’t specialize in making things up, in just digging up dirt. I suspect that the switch to 24-hour news has put a lot of pressure on stations to produce enough juicy stuff to fill the hours and attract viewers.  And I understand that reporters are expensive, so, even though the world is just chock-full of fascinating happenings, they can’t cover everything and tend to beat the life out of what few events they do investigate.

That’s all a given, but I think we need to make some rules about the news, shake the bugs out of the rug, so to speak. Mostly we need to define news and we’ll do that by declaring what it’s not.

News is not what a person has said in an ordinary conversation.  That’s gossip, not news.  If a powerful person gives a public speech, what he or she says needs reporting, but if MollySue McGillicutty says something in an offhand way at a dinner party, that is none of anyone’s business. When Hillary asked, during a Congressional hearing, “What difference, at this point, does it make?” that was news – we learned a lot about her from that one, very public sentence. When a tape was leaked of Trump making a crude remark in a private conversation 20 years ago that was gossip. And it was twisted and misconstrued into a “confession of sexual assault.” Which brings up another point:

News is not what we want it to be; it is what it is. When Mary Mapes and Dan Rather went after George W. Bush about his stint in the National Guard, they were trying to find something with which to attack him during his second term candidacy. They weren’t reporting anything pertinent to the nation’s wellbeing; they were trying to defame him and they wanted that so badly they were willing to accept as truthful a fabricated document. Journalism schools need to be making that clear – news is what is. Period.

Which brings up another point: news is not narrative, not in the fictional sense. You don’t get to make up a story just to fit a preconceived “narrative” – a code word that means, “what we wish were true.” You don’t get to twist your phrasing to make the story mean something it doesn’t. You don’t get to mess with the bare facts. Innuendo has no place in a news story.

On another note, a free press is not a means for changing a society. Anyone who got into the news business with the idea that he or she was going to change the world is out of line and suffering from a highly contagious form of arrogance. It is the business of the 4th estate to keep a watchful eye on government in order to maintain the status quo, to keep corruption at bay, to keep the public informed. What the public does with that raw information is up to the public, and given the sinful nature of human beings, any change we concoct is likely to be a mess, anyway.

News is also not history. History is 10 years ago, a hundred years ago, a millennium ago. News is yesterday. There has to be a statute of limitations on past mis-steps, on things we let slip, or mistakes people have made. We must make room for growth and improvement in a person’s character. At some point bygones need to be gone. Digging up old dirt is just that – old dirt; it is not relevant and it is not news.

What might happen in the future is also not news. We don’t know the future – no matter how much of an expert (an un-measurable term that we should always be concerned about) a person claims to be, anything he or she predicts is not news. The future is, generally speaking, unknowable; this is a good thing. The present has enough going on to keep us busy and we can’t do much about what befalls tomorrow anyway. We’ve learned to be suspicious of the weather man for just that reason, but let a newscaster tell us that in 15 years the polar ice caps will have melted and New York will be under water, and we forget all about the unpredictability of tomorrow’s high.

The problem with forecasting the news is multifaceted. In the first place, if you say often enough that in 10 years most teenagers will have contracted an STD, you might normalize that idea so much that you contribute to the nonchalance with which teenagers regard that specter. You end up causing the event by your prediction. Secondly, if people expect a certain thing to happen, they see it as a done deal and you end up causing intense confusion when it doesn’t. Just look at this election. We have the fascinating situation now where newsfolk are so shocked that their own prediction didn’t pan out that they’re barely coherent. They made the mistake of believing their own story.

We don’t know, even in this Information Age, who will start the next war, which volcano will erupt when, where the next hurricane will form or tornado will touch down. We don’t know which team will win the Super Bowl, or whether or not Obama will pack up and go away. We don’t know and we need the humility to admit that. News organizations are so busy trying to outscoop the next guy that they leap on into next week, but that is not news; it’s guessing, educated or not.

And now, post election, we find the very people who so happily manufactured lie after lie after lie (and tried to sell them as news) so unhappy with the ineffectiveness of those lies that they’ve suddenly noticed a new phenomenon – fake news. What a revelation! Why, we conservatives had no idea! How typical – accusing the opposition of doing what you’ve been blatantly doing all along, and having the audacity to act shocked.

Yes, reader beware — of course. But it has become harder and harder to tell which organizations are dependable and which aren’t now that the Gray Lady has shown she can’t be trusted. What are we to do? When actual events are adequately shocking and outlandish, it gets hard for even the most highly developed common sense to tell if a story is too weird to believe. News sites all look real, even when they’re satire (which now means “prank”), even when they’re on the opposite side from what they claim to be, even when they belong in the sideshow of a traveling circus.

The truth may be rare, but even so, it is not a luxury. It is an absolute necessity, even if it as costly as gold.

Deana Chadwell blogs at ASingleWindow.com and is a writing and speech professor at Pacific Bible College in Southern Oregon.
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Deana Chadwell

About Deana Chadwell

I have spent my life teaching young people how to read and write and appreciate the wonder of words. I have worked with high school students and currently teach writing at Pacific Bible College in southern Oregon. I have spent more than forty years studying the Bible, theology, and apologetics and that finds its way into my writing whether I'm blogging about my experiences or my opinions. I have two and a half moldering novels, stacks of essays, hundreds of poems, some which have won state and national prizes. All that writing -- and more keeps popping up -- needs a home with a big plate glass window; it needs air; it needs a conversation. I am also an artist who works with cloth, yarn, beads, gourds, polymer clay, paint, and photography. And I make soap.
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27 Responses to Faux News and the Value of Truth

  1. Timothy Lane says:

    The 24/7 news began with CNN 30 or so years ago. As more such news channels came up, it increased the pressure, which at some point reached critical mass. But one can never ignore the roles of bias and miseducation.

    The news media have always been biased, and 200 years ago it was blatant and open. You knew in advance what bias the journal openly held, and could (if you wished) make adjustments accordingly. At some point the concept of objectivity came in (perhaps when journalists became highly-educated professionals rather than ordinary men who happened to get the job) — a worthwhile goal, but one they could never quite reach. Unfortunately, most of them didn’t want to admit they couldn’t attain it and pretended that they had rather than making adjustments for their failures.

    Still, the coverage was reasonably good most of the time. Unfortunately, it also at some point became pretty much a mono-culture with no intellectual diversity. This no doubt encouraged ever more extreme devotion to their agendas instead of the their purpose (honestly informing the public). With the arrival of serious rivals differing in their views (talk radio, Fox News) we began to see a return of the early model — but without the openness of bias.

    Another problem is what I call (and have discussed here) virulent liberalism. This results from extreme dextrophobia, which is latent in most (perhaps all) liberals, and goes active under unpredictable moments created by conservative/Republican (which they consider indistinguishable) political success. When active — well, we see where that leads today. I think this dextrophobia comes largely from the lack of exposure to conservatism — in their education, in their personal lives, in their newsrooms.

    • Steve Lancaster says:

      200 years ago there were no schools of journalism. Reporters learned their craft from veterans at the newspaper where they managed to get a job. That first job most likely was working the press. It was in these papers that the term “inky wretch” was coined. As Tim mentioned the news was biased and you took your choice of literary poison.

      Since the 30s we have had schools of journalism with professors and students and with that academic gloss came the idea that journalists should be unbiased observers of events, with no personal or political ax to grind, a fantasy of the highest order. living that fantasy has corrupted the modern journalist into an animal with two minds. One seeking the personal fulfillment of a high paying career and the other the concept of impartially and high mindedness.

      If you walk into the journalism department of any university and ask at random of students and faculty why they are there the almost catholic response will be a variation of, “I want to change the world and do good”, learning how the news organization makes money is irrelevant and reporting truth will be way down the list if it makes it at all.

      They view themselves as the guardians of the truth, but let that truth slip outside their narrow world view and it is no longer truth, but heresy to be degraded, disparaged and discarded. The inky wretch 200 years ago was more honest.

  2. Rosalys says:

    Projection. Accusing someone else of doing exactly what you are doing. It’s one of the classic signs of NPD (Narcissistic Personality Disorder) and also a classic trait of the left. Indeed! They’ve been reporting fake news for decades, but they’re only now discovering its existence? So, they are finally recognizing the phenomenon, but only in its truly fake form, in the reporting of actual facts, whereas they will not see it where it truly is, in themselves.

    But do they really believe their own garbage? Are they that delusional? Or do they know it’s garbage and report it anyway for the sake of the agenda? In other words, are they bald faced liars? I suspect some of each.

  3. glenn fairman says:

    With the advent of the 24/7 news cycle, we now know the story practically instantaneously, but the facts and motives that serve the story are suspect, and frequently dead wrong. Having been reduced to gossip or an agitprop narrative, News has become a dual edged weapon that can more than merely threaten a free society’s existence…. it can call into question its very first principles and its desire to even retain that freedom.
    A worthy effort from Deana for attempting to navigate our perceptions due north in this cesspool.

  4. Lucia says:

    News outlets are similar to small towns. News travels fast, and bad news travels faster. Rumor and innuendo are the tastiest morsels and many have an insatiable desire for anything that sheds a bad light on their neighbor. I’ve found that many people have such an appetite for gossip that they wouldn’t believe the truth if it was pasted on their foreheads. It’s a waste of time to try to convince those who don’t want to be convinced.

    I was a real estate appraiser for many years and a large part of my job was to analyze data on the market and report on historical and future trends for the consumption of the lender and other parties to the real estate transaction. I had to separate assumptions from supportable conclusions. The first rule was to consider the reliability of the source, but also to recognize that not even good sources are 100% pure. It takes practice to learn how to sift out the dross from the kernel. The second rule was to not jump to conclusions but weigh the difference between an outlier and a repeat occurrence. I found the same principals apply to any information coming from the rumor mill, a news source, a family member or ones own senses.

  5. Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

    I think the problem of “News” goes even deeper than Deana writes.

    In 1962, Daniel Boorstin wrote an article addressing our consumption of the news. It was titled, “A Flood of Pseudo Events”.

    He writes,

    A pseudo-event, then, is a happening that possesses the following characteristics:

    (1) It is not spontaneous, but comes about because someone has planned, planted, or incited it. Typically, it is not a train wreck or an earthquake, but an interview.
    (2) It is planted primarily (not always exclusively) for the immediate purpose of being reported or reproduced. Therefore, its occurrence is arranged for the convenience of the reporting or reproducing media. Its succcess is measured by how widely it is reported. Time relations in it are commonly ficticious or factitious; the announcement is given out in advance “for future release” and written as if the event had occurred in the past. The question, “Is it real?” is less important than, “Is it newsworthy?”
    (3) Its relation to the underlying reality of the situation is ambiguous. Its interest arises largely from this very ambiguity. Concerning a pseudo-event the question, “What does it mean?” has a new dimension. While the news interest in a train wreck is in what happened and in the real consequences, the interest in an interview is always, in a sense, in whether it really happened and in what might have been the motives. Did the statement really mean what it said? Without some of this ambiguity a pseudo-event cannot be very interesting.
    (4) Usually it is intended to be a self-fulfilling prophecy. The hotel’s thirieth-anniversary celebration, by saying that the hotel is a distinguished institution, actually makes it one.

    A full explanation of the origin and rise of pseudo-events would be nothing less than a history of modern America.

    Brad, this ties in with my contention that modern advertising is fundamentally dishonest and has prepared the modern consumer to ingest lies without much questioning. Modern news is simply a type of advertising.

    How much worse have things become since 1962?

    I recommend everyone read Boorstin. He was a very observant historian.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      Similarly, we have staged riots in which the participants have been paid — which goes back at least to the War of the Rebellion, in which Northern agents paid British cotton workers (large numbers of whom were unemployed) to demonstrate against slavery (which they certainly opposed) and the South.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Brad, this ties in with my contention that modern advertising is fundamentally dishonest and has prepared the modern consumer to ingest lies without much questioning. Modern news is simply a type of advertising.

      There is something exquisitely fascinating about the Culture of Marketing. You could say marketing is as old at the guy who rubbed the manure off his loin cloth, picked some daisies, and whispered sweet nothings into the ear of yonder maiden.

      But I think you and I agree that this culture has taken the deception and unreality of marketing to a whole new level. It’s primed us, in the words of Lewis Carol, “to believe as many as six impossible things before breakfast” — and let go of my Eggo, by the way.

      The consumer culture, driven by “demand” that is itself mostly artificially created by marketing, has brought us many marvels. I haven’t a thing to say against the iPhone, the computer, Velcro, Ivory soap, and Preparation H. And if there are ills and excesses involved in this whole cycle-of-neediness, we should remember that a whole lot of people are eating better and living better than ever before, thanks in large part to the ever-ratcheting “demand” (and it really has become an expectation now) of ever-better products and services.

      I’m not sure if it’s possible to have one foot in this fast-spinning Culture of Marketing and one foot outside of it any more than it is possible to do so in a Corvette going 80 mph down the blacktop highway. But I do try. I try to be more than the shallow, needy, ever-aggrieved (by inferior products that, just the other day, were new-and-improved) Homo Economicus. But it’s not easy. It’s not easy for a Christian to be a Christian in a world filled by frauds, fakers, and fools. It’s not easy being a scholar in a culture that honors the celebrity freaks that are regularly paraded across the screen. Heck, it’s not easy being an ethical human being in a culture that elevates liars to the highest levels of admiration.

      Like you (and I think you were there first), I think this Culture of Marketing has indeed affected the way we think. One of the most harsh effects is negativism, of nothing ever being good enough — the disposable society of The Princess and the Pea whereby people are distressed by mere inconveniences that would have made our Pilgrim forefathers laugh hysterically.

      Can StubbornThings, in part, be a meditation and inculturation of values, beliefs, ideas, and practices that are not snobbery, are not elitism, but rise above the rampant foolishness to the point where we can at least see it? And can we enjoy some of the benefits of the culture without being engulfed by it, much like making use of a roadside Sani-Can but without falling in?

      I don’t know. But we can try.

      • Gibblet says:

        “Like you (and I think you were there first), I think this Culture of Marketing has indeed affected the way we think. One of the most harsh effects is negativism, of nothing ever being good enough — the disposable society of The Princess and the Pea whereby people are distressed by mere inconveniences that would have made our Pilgrim forefathers laugh hysterically.”

        The Pilgrims, in venturing to these shores, chose to jeopardize their life, health, and security for the one thing they valued and needed most – to know and worship God. Their need is exemplary of the greatest grief suffered by all of mankind: the loss of relationship with our Creator.

        It seems that loss and grief reveal to us what we value most.

        I would venture to say most people place the highest value on loved ones and health, followed in the distance by the security of a food source, shelter, and clothing. News/advertising was most useful and noble when it served us to maintain or acquire those things we value most. As society prospered and we came to live more like Royals than Pilgrims, the shiny trinkets dangled before our bored and jaded eyes distracted us from our greatest loss.

        As the Creator of all good things, God looms so large that many people cannot see Him. By God’s own will we live and breath. He is, in a sense, the very rock we need to crawl out from under in order to see Him, and know Him, and to love and appreciate Him.

        These days we are disoriented by the flash and shimmer of distractions. We must turn off the white noise of entertainment, grievance and babble to discern His whisper in our hearts. If we seek Him, we must be willing to risk the security we find in those things we value most.

        It is in turning from distractions and establishing a relationship with the one true God that our greatest need is met and will continue to be supplied.

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          Your views are orthodox (which makes them somewhat subversive and “reactionary” in today’s culture). I don’t know that I could be said to have a “relationship with God.” But I try at least to keep a perspective on trinkets.

          Distractions. Flash and shimmer. Oh, yes. I think a steady diet of such things is turning us into shallow, thoughtless, and unwise people. Or, perhaps it might be better to say that such distractions, flash, and shimmer (not a bad name for a rock group, now that I think about it) keep us from infusing into our hearts and mind what we would call the noble and refining truths. And the distractions, flash, and shimmer keep us mired in our “natural” state of semi-degradation. The distraction works well because there are a hell of a lot of people out there who have no idea how stupid they look with all those tattoos.

  6. Very much enjoyed your observations. Feel the need to comment on one thing – “now that the Gray Lady has shown she can’t be trusted” – for the last 20 years that I have been following politics seriously, I can recall a time when the NYT could be trusted with any political news or commentary.

  7. Glenn Fairman says:

    I assume you meant “can’t recall” Frank. Well, they could once be considered “the paper of record” but that august title has been slipping away since she became enamored with her harlotry a generation or more ago. When journalism was abandoned for advocacy in the grad schools, so went the idealized figure of the objective reporter.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      They were the “paper of record” for liberals, certainly, and still are. But then, they don’t care about facts as long as their source is ideologically sound. And the New Barackum Slimes is not only ideologically sound, but it arguably defines ideological soundness since all the major broadcast news sources rely on it to tell them what to talk about.

  8. Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

    The below link is to an article bemoaning the fact that millennials are having difficulty becoming adults. Why? Of course it is a question of money and lack of jobs.

    This is fake news.

    The first example they give is a 21 year old male making $22,000 a year working at a fast-food restaurant. Now $22,000 a year is not a lot of money, but a single male should be able to get by on this and continue improving himself.

    The second example they give is some female in her middle-late twenties with a Master’s degree of some sort who claims she cannot get a job which will cover her costs. So the answer is don’t work at all?

    She claims she was offered a job at $500 a month but was negotiating it up to $700 a month. What type of job was that? What is her degree in? Hell, she could go work for minimum wage and earn over $1,100 per month. Perhaps she has trouble with arithmetic.

    Maybe these people should take a good look in the mirror and figure out how to improve their skills.


    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      No comment.

      Well..okay. I do have one comment: Man-up. The problem here is a feminized expectation of life handing you a silver spoon.

      Basically people want an income for just filling a seat. I don’t remember if one of you noted this article, but there was an article recently that said that something like 96% of the jobs at the EPA are non-essential.

      This is what people really want. As Dennis Prager notes, it is embedded in humor nature to want to mooch off of other people. When there are so many moochers (whether via fraudulent disability or just a make-work government job), this becomes the expectation.

      The Princess and the Pea syndrome.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      People living with their parents has always existed. I lived with my mother until I was 30, but I also helped pay the bills. We were living in the same city, so there was no need for us to live separately. One friend lived with his parents until they died (in a trailer, which is one reason I’ve always been especially hostile to James Carville ever since he insulted everyone who lives in trailer parks). But one can live with parents without being a moocher.

      Of course, if any of us had married, the situation would have been different, but that never happened. I always said my personal theme song was “I Am a Rock”; he said his was “Goodbye to Love”.

      • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

        Living with one’s parents is nothing new. In fact, I would suggest that the obsession with the single- generation home is something fairly recent.

        In most of Asia, it has been completely normal for parents to live with one of their children. Most traditionally this child has been the eldest son who inherits the parents’ home.

        I found it somewhat humorous that the 21 year old male who made $22,000 a year seemed to have trouble living on his earnings even though he was living with his parents. I assure you, I could live on $22,000 if I were single.

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          Have we maybe overlooked a facet of this living-at-home phenomena? Here is a list of likely influences:

          + Indulgent parents. (No kid lives at home as an adult without the parent’s permission.)

          + Unprepared kids. (Has the education system prepared them even for a minimum wage job?)

          + Welfare mentality. (What percentage of these child-adults are part of generational welfare and thus the expectation that someone else should take care of them?)

          + Inflated price of education. (Surely some kids live at home just to cut down on expenses as they pursue an expensive degree.)

          And here’s one that just occurred to me. This is speculation but somewhat informed speculation.

          + The Kumbaya world of Liberalism is not a soft fuzzy bunny. In reality, it is a tiger that will eat you with a harshness surpassing the toughest hurdles of the free market. Therefore, home may be the only perceived place where you’re loved and wanted. Remember, the price of “love” and “diversity” and all that bullshit is very high. It means losing who you are, your thoughts, your natural abilities and preferences, etc.

          + The marginalization of men. This surely relates directly to the above but with a different twist. The workforce out there is hostile to men and they know it. I’m fortunate enough (or unfortunate, depending on how you look at it) to own my own small business. But it would be a shock to my system to have to go to work for Walmart and eat their humungous politically correct, anti-white, anti-male shit sandwiches. And that’s nothing against Walmart, per se. It’s just the one place I know a few details about. And I’m very sure they are probably heads and tails above most other coporate places in terms of the heaping pile of shit sandwiches you have to eat.

          + Alienation, pessimism, and losing hope. Again, this relates to the two points above. But it has been noted by others (especially Rush Limbaugh) the gauntlet of guilt and self-hate that these yutes must run. Life is no longer a sweet opportunity. It’s just a chance to eat someone else’s shit sandwiches.

          + Self-respect. For all the emphasis put on “self-esteem,” that is not the same as self-respect. I could have lived longer at home but I didn’t want to be thought of as a loser. One of the triumphs of the Left is to remove stigma from what we used to consider bad practices…including just being a moocher.

          None of that is to say that it is necessarily odd for a family to live together. As I understand it, extended families living together, or in proximity, is a practice as old as time. But modern economic facts sort of dictate (or enable) young people to strike out on their own and become economically independent. For surely many of the reasons above, and some others — especially including the general laziness and malaise always brought on by socialism — more adult children are living at home unemployed when they ought to be out working.

          + Let me add one last bit, especially in defense of the man-boys (and gender-changers, queers, and whatever). Many of the women out there have become hostile to men’s needs. Our society now is oriented around women’s needs. They are sucking the oxygen out of the room for men. David French has an article titled Feminism Has a Ferocity Problem in which he writes:

          Where is this coming from? Why is feminism indulging and demanding a consistent form of pop-culture propaganda? It boils down to one word — careerism. It’s becoming increasingly clear that the foremost object of modern feminism isn’t respecting and honoring the choices that real women make, but rather making sure that women make a certain kind of choice — to live with the same career- and action-dominant attitude that has prevailed in male culture for many thousands of years.

          + Let me lay (no pun intended, as you’ll see) one more piece of blame at the door of women: Women are the nurturers. Men are the ones who throw the little chicks out of the nest so that they can learn to fly. This “compassion” and nurturing propensity of women (great for younger children) is almost certainly leading to women ruling the roost and thus the young roosters (and hens) never getting thrown out of the nest….or at least a delay until doing so.

          But I’m definitely on the same page as Mr. Kung. This is not about being able to support yourself outside the home.

          • Timothy Lane says:

            Well, let’s see . . . My mother could be considered indulgent, but she did make me help with the bills. I was certainly “prepared” in terms of training, but never got around to checking out the corporate recruiters on campus. I realized too late that people who wanted to hire college graduates with no experience recruited on campus. (A lot of my friends made the same mistake. No doubt that says something.)

            Obviously I wasn’t influenced by a welfare mentality, nor did I have to worry about college bills. (Thanks to government benefits resulting from my father’s death in combat, by the time I graduated I was actually making money by going to college.) Most of your other reasons are more contemporary in origin.

            As long as I was single and living in the same city as my mother, it made sense to stay with her.

          • Steve Lancaster says:

            I was born in 1948 from my earliest memories I remember both of my parents working and when I finished high school I moved out on my own, married, had my first child. At 21 I joined the USMC went to Nam came home divorced. I managed to gain full custody of my daughter, and worked two jobs, one full time the other contract for the next 25 years. My daughter and both of my sons have always worked and my oldest grandchildren are non-serving military or full time military. None of them living at home but supporting their own families.

            Living at home after high school and maybe university is only, IMHO, a cop-out. Perhaps if fewer were living in mom’s basement we would have fewer thugs on the campus of UC Berkley.

            • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

              Perhaps if fewer were living in mom’s basement we would have fewer thugs on the campus of UC Berkley.

              There is a direct correlation. It’s a about extending childhood.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Facebook is a place to bleed-off thoughts in your head before they ever have a chance to ripen into wisdom.

      Google stands the best chance of all of fulfilling the dictates of the Brave New World and becoming a behind-the-scenes de facto Illuminati-like One World Government. I’d love to see the Russian hackers do something useful and take them down.

      Amazon is at least a useful service. For what it’s worth, digital books have very likely (I don’t have statistics) increased book sales and reading. I know it has for me. And it’s not fair to just say that Amazon forwards quantity over quality without mentioning that their review and search mechanisms make it easier than ever to find the quality.

      I suppose I view all these entities as prospective tools to be used as I like and not as a personal sub-culture. I’ve therefore completely rejected the polluted ocean of Facebook. Google is a bit more difficult to avoid. It’s either use their tablet computers or the over-priced ones from Apple.

      • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

        I tend to agree with you that Amazon is useful. If one is willing to buy a Kindle and spend the time searching their Free-Kindle-Books data base, there are a lot of downloads which cost nothing

        I will also use Amazon when I want a particular item which I cannot easily find in a regular store nearby. An example of this would be my router and modem, which I could not find in Fry’s, Walmart or Sam’s Club.

        I don’t use a tablet so that is not a problem, but I do try to avoid using Google Search. I use Bing, but the dilemma is “Who to support”, Google or Microsoft? What ever happened to Alta Vista?

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          Forget the Kindle database. Go to Gutenberg.org. Go to this free source. There’s the Learn Library. Bookyards has a lot of free books. Here’s a list of 20 great free online libraries.

          A Kindle can read many formats. I think it used to be that the Kindle could handle MOBI but not ePub (or the other way around). That may have changed. The only thing to do is experiment.

          The trick regarding free books, of course, is finding the good stuff. If you have a favorite author, you can search by author at many sites, including Gutenberg. How I would love an intelligent article on navigating the world of books instead of yet another article on politics. Maybe I’ll write one. But god forbid somebody write something materially useful.

          • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

            I have downloaded several books from Gutenberg, but they are more difficult to upload into my Kindle. Sometimes they do and sometimes they don’t.

            I didn’t know of the other two sources. Thanks.

            • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

              It’s certainly nice to be able to just click on a link and have the book show up. And it’s likely true there is an enormous amount of overlap of books in these free archives. It then comes down to a matter of how easy it is to find them and load them. And I haven’t checked out Amazon’s free database because their reader really sucks compared to the Moon Reader Pro app on my Android tablet. It allows me all kinds of custom settings lacking in the lame (but certainly useable) Kindle reader. So that’s one big reason I don’t mind going through the small trouble of downloading a book. Actually, in the world outside of a Kindle, you don’t have to worry about where you download and place the files. You just open them from wherever you like. Freedom. I love it.

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