Fake News

Is this a real post, or is this fake post?

As of the writing of this post, the term “fake news” is a popular topic. The term “fake news” is used very often with the Trump administration. Why does the Trump administration use this term? Well, the Trump administration claims news sources such as CNN, MSNBC, to list a couple, are politically motivated to report news that is not in Trump’s favor, thus making them biased. CNN, CBS, NBC, … are said to be “in the tank” for the Democrats, while Fox News is “in the tank” for the Republicans. There are dollar amounts collected on who donates to who. The opensecrets.org site has information on this as well. According to information at opensecrets.org, the data of who donates more to what political party shifts back and forth over the past few decades. With that, I don’t think we can say that one political party is favored over another when it comes to donations. Why do we even look at who donates what, and to whom? Normally it would not matter if the executives at one News outlet donated more to the Democrats or the Republicans, however people are not professional enough to keep their own thoughts and views from tainting their work. If they were, this would not matter. Even the least perceptive person should be able to watch Fox News, and he or she should feel that the pendulum swings more to the Right than let’s say CNN or MSNBC, in which the penguin swings more to the Left.

 

When I was in college, I spent some time in the Honors Program which was very heavy on the social sciences. I learned that every author has a point that he or she wants you to agree with at the end of their work. Yes, even me. I have an agenda in writing this. If you read something, or you watch a documentary on something, and you agree with their premise, you should ask yourself why does this author want me on their side. A red light should go off knowing that you were rhetorically walked to a particular view or opinion. Most people are not aware of this, and this is where the danger comes in. If a person does not know this fundamental fact, he or she can be fed any amount of information, and he or she is very likely to take this information as fact. So we know now that it is possible to feed the public any information you should choose, and they won’t question it. If you want further proof of this, login into a Facebook account. You will see people posting articles that are not vetted, or pictures that promote someone in a poor light.

 

One of the things we know about the role the Russians are playing in the news feed is this. There are folks being paid to fabricate stories that look very real, and by real, I mean the article appears to be coming from a well trusted news organization. Sad to say, that is far from it. Here is how some of this fake news gets out there for us to read. A paid person writes an article that says a prominent U.S. diplomat does “insert crime or poor behavior here”. The organization that this author belongs to has a multitude of bots that instantly go out and like the post, love the tweet, plus the google plus post, etc. The fact that this bot activity seems to be coming from what looks like legitimate social media accounts, the posts become trending. The trending of the post puts the post front and center for everyone to see. This encourages the reader to believe the article is real and legit which may cause them to like, repost, retweet, etc. This is how the articles get into circulation. Now couple that with what I said about people taking articles as gospel, we can see how the general public can be misinformed which can cause big problems when the topics are divisive, such as race, Religion, or any other social wedge. To make matters worse, big data whether it is Facebook, Twitter, or Google tracks what you like, tweet, retweet, plus, or repost. When you are identified, by machine learning, as a person that is interested in a particular social topic, the machine learning algorithm with direct more of those posts in your direction which just flames the fire even more.

 

In closing, don’t believe what you read unless you are sure it comes from a reputable source. The next time you repost something that really gets your crawl, I want you to think, is this real? Am I part of the problem? I encourage you to not believe a word of this article, and go out to investigate for yourself.

 

 

Warm Weather brings Water Dangers

It was warm today. It was around 70. The streets became alive with folks getting out of their homes. With the warm weather comes the water sports, and every year people will drown.

Rip currents are a big issue at the shore. A rip current can form when you have a sandbar for example that traps the water from returning back to sea after the waves crash on shore. Usually a section of the sand bar, which they move constantly, will have a gap allowing the trapped water to escape back to sea. This area of returning water is the rip. Depending on the situation these currents can be anywhere from 1-2 feet per second to 8 feet per second. Not only can rip currents develop around sandbars, but they can be around jetties and piers as well. Surviving these situations is not a strength issue. The fact is even Olympic swimmers would be hard pressed to get out of these situation. To put this in a better perspective Michael Phelps swam the 200 meter freestyle at an average speed of 6.73 feet per second in Beijing 2008.

They say don’t panic, but that is usually in a situation that warrants panicking. If caught in a rip current, you need to let it take you out. The rip will slow down, and at this point you can swim perpendicular to the beach to break out of the current. Letting the current pull you out goes against all of you survival instincts. Your instincts tell you to get on land. Trying to swim back is fatal. If you are at a guarded beach, you have a chance of being rescued. I was a Red Cross swimmer in my young days and even well fit cardiac-wise, and I would not go more than waste deep in unguarded beaches. Like I said, swimming ability is not a guarantee you’ll make it out alive. I’ve been caught in these before, and they scared the hell out of me. One in fact off of Long Beach Island LBI. If you are on an unguarded beach and you see someone in trouble call 911. A lot of people drown trying to help others. You’re only a hero if you survive.

Another thing to watch for is swimming in rivers and creeks. The Delaware and its tributaries are tidal. NOAA tidal charts show roughly 1-2.2 feet per second on incoming and outgoing tides. Believe me that’s fast when you’re in it. Let’s take a situation that involves folks enjoying a hot Summer day with a rope swing on the Rancocas Creek. You land a bit far off shore, or maybe you wander into the channel (center). You find yourself being pulled downstream or upstream. You’ll recognize when you don’t have control anymore. This is where the panic sets in. I’ve been in this situation only with a raft though. That current moves fast at peak times. Your first reaction is to get back to your friends on the shore. This is almost certain death. You better be a damn good swimmer, and in good cardiovascular shape to get back. Like the rip current the solution is counter intuitive to your survival instincts. Don’t fight the current. Swim with it and move to one side or the other until you can reach the shore. You will be in a wooded or marsh land not near your friends, but you’ll be alive.
Be safe out there.

Thanksgiving

Today is a sad day. Twelve years ago, I went to the Burlington County Animal Shelter, and I got a pit bull. We named him Cody. He is my buddy. He is always by my side. The other day he started vomiting. He couldn’t keep anything down. I thought it might just be something he ate, but as of today, he has a swollen leg and neck. I think it may be the heart. He had a cancer diagnosis about six months ago. Tomorrow, we are going to end his suffering. I am heart broken like you would not believe. I’m going to miss you buddy.

Love Ron

 

I Quit Facebook – Day 1

Well, I finally did it. It took a long time to dump Facebook. How did this all start?

When Facebook originally came out, I was contacted by a fellow Marine telling me about Facebook. Back then, you needed to be invited in order to have a Facebook account. I setup an account, and it was me an that Marine. That was it. My friend list was one. The reason was, not a lot of people were on Facebook. I quickly forgot about Facebook.

About a year later, Facebook was more of a buzz. I chose to give Facebook another try. I don’t remember much of anything interesting happening on Facebook. Fast forward a decade or so, Facebook became a big problem for me. Facebook, for me, was to keep in contact with my Marine friends, that are speckled about the world.

I am a kid of the 80s, we like to say. That means, I was a teenager in the early 80s. Back then, there were no cell phones, no Internet, no wireless landlines for that matter. When I say these were not around, I don’t mean that they did not exist somewhere in the world. It means for poor kids like me, we could not afford any of those things if there were available.

That said, how did I get to the point were looking at my phone obsessively through the day? I am spending too much time on Facebook. I point this out because kids of today, have all of this technology incorporated into their day. I spent the first thirty years of my life without this. It’s time for me to get back to a simpler time.

So I am at day one, and I feel pretty good. I am getting more work done. Facebook was a poor allocation of my time.