A Shifting Pendulum in American Politics

By Dylan R.N. Crabb

 

The Democratic Party is moving further to the political Left, embracing more collectivist modes of ideology and doubling down on their identitarian activism.  Today’s typical “Progressive” is now a caricature of my generation (Generation Y, the millennial generation) and it’s embarrassing; from screaming at Republican senators in the nation’s capital, to banging on the door of the Supreme Court of the United States after the confirmation of a new conservative-leaning Justice, to forcefully shutting down academic events hosting conservative speakers, it is apparent that Leftists (not liberals) are becoming more radicalized in this strange post-truth era.

How did we get here?

I think it started with internet connections and the World Wide Web which dramatically increased access to information for the general public.  Greater access combined with more diversity is a double-edged sword in media because, with more choices of programs, confirmation bias becomes more prevalent; individuals will naturally gravitate toward programs that confirm what they already believe.  This is why it is so important to make an effort to seek out points of view alternate to your own.  The American public is currently experiencing the negative, balkanizing effects of confirmation bias.

What’s the solution? 

I think the solution to our wide-spread confirmation bias ironically involves the very tools that encouraged this virus of the mind, although it also requires a change in mindset in each individual.  We need to consider different sources, the motivations behind particular narratives, and power bases behind specific media companies.  The ideological leanings of a journalist or commentator affects their news coverage as does the primary financing of an organization.  In short, we need to be more skeptical.

Skepticism requires curiosity and acting on curiosity requires initiative.  Journalist Tim Pool points out one the most stark differences between the political Left and Right today: the Left generally has no qualms with alienating individuals whom disagree with their mainstream narratives while the Right is constantly seeking out disagreements for the sake of discourse – the Left pushes people away with their dislike for nuance while the Right is actively recruiting people.  This new inclusiveness on the Right will likely lead to a new conservative movement among younger Americans.  We’re already seeing rising conservative media outlets catapulting young and energetic talking heads to national fame – figures like Ben Shapiro, Tomi Lahren, Roaming Millennial, and Dave Rubin are immensely popular with young people partly because they don’t condescend young people about how “oppressed” they are by forces beyond one’s control.  A general narrative on the Right is one of an individualistic spirit of exploration and invention endemic in American history.

Liberalism was once the champion of individualism and personal liberty but liberalism has been corrupted by its own hubris.  Leftists coming to dominate the fields of entertainment became obsessed with the appearance of diversity while ignoring diversity’s most important facet: the intellect.  Now, the intellectually lazy neo-liberals are being beaten in the marketplace of ideas by their Right-wing counterparts who still see value in showcasing diverse opinions regardless of appearances and communicating across ideologies.  If the Left wants to have a fighting chance in this new media landscape of individualism and curiosity, I think they need to rediscover liberalism and the intellectual traditions of Western civilization – from Hammurabi’s Code, to the oratory of Pericles, to the revelations of the Enlightenment, to the rational populism of Presidents Roosevelt.

Saints of the World Wide Web

By Dylan R.N. Crabb

 

The World Wide Web has grown a lot since it’s public premier (it’s no longer just for porn) and it’s easy to get lost in the electronic jungle as your L.E.D. monitor blares in your strained eyes but, once you carve out a path for yourself through the endless Googling, you can find friends in the strangest places.

Enter the YouTube Saints.

The late-night comedy show starring entertainers Jeff Holiday and Nick Goroff airs on the popular (almost monolithic) video-sharing website once a week (every Friday at 7:30 pm, Mountain Time).  Holiday’s comedic timing and Goroff’s cynical wit makes for a hilarious (albeit depressing) Web program, but the insanity doesn’t end with those two bastards.  Since the inception of the show in March of 2017, a community of geeks, half-wits, and creepy losers have flowered around the two comedic geniuses.  To describe them as “saintly” might sound facetious at first glance until you take a look at their competition and then come crawling back to the relative Saints in abject horror.  The Web can be a scary place and finding your niche can help you come out of your shell.

Behind all the sarcasm and the intelligent mockery, you will find an inclusive community of individuals from all over the globe who aren’t afraid to live and laugh with each other.  For that, we can be grateful to Holiday and Goroff for bringing us together.

Praise the Saints of the Web.

 

Standing opposed to something is easy, standing FOR something is more difficult.

By Dylan R.N. Crabb

 

The website Poynter, which specializes in journalism news and education, published a selection of excerpts of various editorials curated together from several newspapers across the country.  The curation had a theme: opposition to President Trump.

Click the image below to be redirected to the curation.

Screenshot_2018-08-16 America, help The freedom of the nation depends on you, hundreds of news outlets write
David Beard, “America, help!  The freedom of the nation depends on you, hundreds of news outlets write,” Poynter (2018).”

Newspapers should be oppositional to governments because opposition and dissent is fundamental to the concept of free speech, but opposition should not be the sole purpose of an organization.  Standing opposed to something is easy, standing for something is usually more difficult.

Chicago Sun Times: “We are the enemy of societal failings.”

What does that mean?  What societal failings?  Can newspapers decide what makes a society fail?

I don’t think news organizations should not be proselytizing a particular ideology, they should simply be outlets for truth (facts only).

The “enemy of racism?”

There will always be racism and bigotry in any society, that is a part of human nature.  To hate is a part of being human.  To fight against racism is to fight against a part of humanity.  Ideologues with a utopian vision of a so-called “perfect society” fight against their view of evil by fighting against the darker sides of human nature in an attempt to mold humans into a tool for their utopia.  Instead of moralizing about human emotions, we need to accept the positive aspects of our humanity with the more negative aspects and live with a decent balance.

Truth V.S. Ratings

By Dylan R.N. Crabb

 

Who do you trust when you can’t trust anyone?

Trust takes time to build and can disappear in an instant, so it takes long-term planning to maintain trust with a person.  Building trust requires thinking ahead about the repercussions of your actions on other people – sacrificing quick pleasure today for more pleasure in the future.  That does not sound conducive to a 24-hour news cycle in which a news station must develop new methods of holding the attention of an audience in a society that rewards instant gratification more than long-term planning, a society that records success in quarterly reports with the expectation of indefinite growth.

Screenshot_2018-08-02 Why don_t people trust the news and social media A new report lets them explain in their own words

“Why don’t people trust the news?  Concern about bias, spin, and hidden agendas (Ricardo Bilton, Nieman Lab, 2017)”

The 24-hour news cycle has ruined the news industry – it’s no longer about effective journalism with an intent on holding power accountable to people – it’s about voyeuristic, sadistic, and instant pleasure for the worst aspects of ourselves.  We are not going to find content of substance on the “mainstream” networks designed to appeal to the lowest common denominator of the public and there is a shift taking place from traditional forms of media to new media.  Some new media stars (commentators, pundits, call them what you want) are gaining their own audience by mocking the old guards, making substantive new content through satire.

Let’s compare an interview from BBC’s Newsnight to it’s satirical counterpart by rising YouTube entertainer Wizard of Cause:

Both of the above videos inform the audience about the people involved in the interview but which of the video is more entertaining?

If media spokesmen want to regain the trust of the public, I think the first thing they need to do is place more faith in the public, particularly their audiences.  Rather than dumbing down content to make viewing require less effort to undertake, trust that the viewers can figure things out for themselves.  Perhaps newsmen can learn some things from comedians.

 

Tracing Transgenderism

By Dylan R.N. Crabb

 

Men and women are inherently different from each other.

^ The above statement may be considered offensive by many in the contemporary LGBT(Q+whatever) movement for absurd reasons that I don’t give one shit about and it raises the question of where this existentialist ideology began.

It can be traced to a psychologist, Dr. John Money (1921-2006), and a curious case of male twins (Brian and Bruce Reimer) born in 1965.

British Broadcasting Corporation, “Dr. Money and the Boy with No Penis,” (September 2014).

Dr. Money specialized in sexology and had written case studies about hermaphrodites and sexual transitions.

The story begins with a botched circumcision on one of the twin boys, Bruce Reimer.  The infant’s penis was burnt off and the Reimer parents chose not to operate on the other twin.  The parents were distraught and did not know what to do for their son, Bruce.

The Reimer’s eventually learned about Dr. Money from a television program.  The psychologist convinced the parents to raise young Bruce as part of an experiment regarding nature versus nurture; Dr. Money wanted to prove a hypothesis revolving around childhood socialization and whether or not gender could be taught rather than simply born.  Prior to the Reimer twins, Dr. Money had not performed any clinical studies on non-hermaphrodites.

Here lies the initial problem with the experiment: it was an opportunity for an ambition.  It is understandable that the Reimer parents wished to give their deformed some a sense of normalcy in childhood but Dr. Money was seeking a chance to prove his hypothesis and exploited the tragedy of these parents’ situation.  It also seems like Dr. Money had the end-goal in mind from the start of the experiment.

Bruce Reimer’s early childhood was marked with visits to Dr. Money and forced socialization tactics (wearing female clothing, playing with supposedly female toys, etc.) in an effort to convince him of his female identity.  However; as Bruce grew into adolescence, he began to reject the socialization and revert backward to his original gender.  Apparently, Bruce hated his visits to Dr. Money and was grateful to his brother for letting him play with his (male) toys.

The story ultimately ends tragically with the deterioration of both brothers’ mental health and their deaths, although Dr. Money continued talk up his experiment as a success despite resistance from the young Bruce Reimer.  The moral of this story is one of hubris in which a scientist falls in love with his own hypothesis and goes to extreme lengths to prove it with the goal of being etched into the annals of history.  A particular personality or an identity cannot be forced onto a child because a person cannot be forced into an identity.  Any parent that forces their child into a specific role will most likely be met with resistance.  The idea that gender has no relation to biology is based on a lie.

Steven Crowder of late-night fame “Lowder with Crowder” ranted about this subject more in-depth.

 

Trust no one but I.

By Dylan R.N. Crabb

 

Media personalities have usually enjoyed an underdog aura around them – the perception of a small-time journalist fighting corruption – but that is changing with the ever-expanding digital news environment and particularly since the 2016 presidential election.  Large media outlets no longer receive the benefit of the doubt when they report news.  President Trump has put a lot of pressure on media organizations to show evidence with their reporting and prove the facts in what they say, which will be a net positive for journalists.  No one person’s word should be treated as gospel.

Regardless of which side of the political spectrum you’re on, you probably have your list of news stations that you go to and that you trust more than other sources and especially more than government officials, but what if your preferred sources of news aren’t actually very trustworthy at all?  If you found out that your favorite reporter/anchor/spokesman [insert a name here] lied on every broadcast he or she had ever participated in, where would you go to fill the void left by the absence of that formerly beloved media personality?

To whom should we go for the truth?  I think the answer is obvious – everywhere.

The plethora of consumer choices in media today has created more competition between channels (be it on television or on the world wide web) and traditional televised media does not command audiences as it once did, there is more fluidity in the industry now.  And, as ratings fall among traditional media, the desperate they are going to get for viewers.

 

“Media Malignancy” from Wizard of Cause.

 

 

 

From New Mexico’s rural north to the big city.

By Dylan R.N. Crabb

 

In March of this year, I migrated south from the village of Questa in northern New Mexico to the city of Albuquerque.  It was a dramatic change going from a village (not even a town) of less than 2,000 people to my state’s largest city of approximately 559,200 people.  I’ve lived in rural New Mexico since 2005, so for all intents and purposes, I’m from rural New Mexico.  I attempted to go back to southern California in 2016 after graduating from college but then I got a closer look at housing prices over there; I came back to the high desert with open arms.  Although, I’ve always preferred more urban environments over rural towns for purposes of convenience.

My initial hesitancy to move to Albuquerque was based on crime statistics (number one in the country for auto theft) as well as a less than favorable local reputation.  However; my two best friends in this state secured an apartment in one of the better neighborhoods in the city and offered me a chance to move in with them.  I accepted the opportunity because I was tired of living with family members; I wanted a place I could legitimately call my own (or at least 1/3 my own).  I had my own experience with local crime early this month and I may write about that in a future post but, other than that one instance, my apartment living in Albuquerque as been decent.  I’m using my hand-me-down car a lot less than in rural Questa and I’ve been attempting to “get out more” so goes the phrase.  I’ve learning more about the culture around the craft beer industry and scouting some local hangout spots where taps drip and gossip floats.  One brewery on Unser Boulevard, the Lava Rock Brewing Company, has a spectacular eastern view of the Sandia Mountains from its gated patio.

20180504_151945
East view from Lava Rock Brewing Co.

It seems New Mexicans really enjoy congregating around craft beer since there are 20+ local breweries/taprooms in Albuquerque alone.  Can you blame us?  We’re in the middle of a desert.  What else are we going to do with our water?

Communication, congregation, and productivity are keys to solidifying a community.  There are a lot of small communities in New Mexico but not much communication between those communities.  One reason for such isolation is the geography, the vast space between each region of the state.  I assume that as been an issue with communicating across the American west throughout history but, in the twenty-first century with our computer technology and digital environments, there are less excuses for not connecting with one’s neighbors.  Even a solitary curmudgeon like myself can understand the importance of being in touch with one’s locality.

Lava Rock Brewery – Filling Food and Hearty Drink

By Dylan R.N. Crabb

 

A few blocks away from my current place of residence there is a restaurant/bar called the Lava Rock Brewery, a fine establishment with filling food and hearty drinks that I would recommend to friends. Located on Unser Boulevard in west Albuquerque (north of Ladera), the brewery is in a relatively high-trafficked area of the city and within walking distance of several dense neighborhoods.

I walked to the brewery from my apartment near the Ladera golf course and ordered their “Killer Sandwich” – grilled chicken with slices of a tomato and a red onion and guacamole-smear – served with a pickle spear and French (I don’t think the food item colloquially known as French fries actually originated in France) fries. The food arrived at my spot at the bar within 15 minutes and, upon its delivery, I ordered a pint of Chocolate Milk Stout which I received immediately (after displaying my driver’s licence, of course). My review of Boxing Bear Brewing Company’s Chocolate Milk Stout is live here.

The food was well-presented on its plate and the restaurant looked clean and well-organized with a window into a back room where one could see a cook finalizing each order for the waiters. The building is spacious enough and I did not feel cramped or claustrophobic at all during my stay. The sandwich was not as large as I would have preferred but it was just as filling (most likely from the chicken and guacamole).

If you enjoy classic American fried food and craft beer, the Lava Rock Brewery is definitely worth checking out.