Fake News and the End of the World as We Know It

Thanks to the forethought of my wife, my family and I were lucky to have been able to travel to Madras, Oregon for the recent solar eclipse. Madras was one of the best places to see it, because of the low likelihood of overcast in the high desert of central Oregon during the summer months. As it happened, there was dense wood smoke instead, from the wildfires that have been burning all over the west in recent weeks. But on the day of the eclipse, we were fortunate that, thanks to a shift in the prevailing winds, the smoke had temporarily abated somewhat, and our view of the sky was quite good.

The eclipse was beautiful and spooky, unlike any other thing; happy intellectual fascination atop wild visceral dread.

But the most striking thing about the whole event was how the press disseminated totally false information about it.

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Upstate Consolation University Addresses Statue Crisis

 

UCU Administration Building

The Mehar Shandruff-Danpoo Multicultural Center and Cafetorium (UCU Main Campus)

As the fall semester began in the first week of August at Upstate Consolation University, student radicals and their faculty sponsors, seeking solidarity with their fellow Social Justice Warriors elsewhere in the country, rallied in the Mehar Shandruff-Danpoo Multicultural Center and Cafetorium, formerly the Andrea Dworkin Memorial Housing and Parking Office, to announce their determination to overturn and smash all statues of Confederate Civil-War heroes currently standing on the teaching-college’s architecturally bland lakeside campus.  On leaving the rally, however, to go in search of offensive icons to topple and desecrate, the emotionally overheated crowd could find none.  There were various commemorative statues scattered about the grounds of UCU, but not only did none of these represent or honor any Confederate Civil-War hero, none represented or honored any Civil-War hero, or, with one exception, any participant in any war. This fact is perhaps unsurprising given that UCU was only founded in 1958, nearly a century after the Southern surrender at Appomattox Courthouse. The absence of targets nevertheless provoked the protesters maddeningly, causing them to retreat to designated “safe places,” where volunteers supplied them with pearl necklaces to clutch and offered smelling-salts to redeem the marginalized and oppressed from their debilitating white-privilege-induced vapor-attacks.

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What I Saw During the Eclipse

They Live 01

My Downtown, as Photographed During the Eclipse

During a solar eclipse, light from the sun is not only diminished by the occulting transit of the moon, but that same light is also temporarily polarized.  The polarization shows things fleetingly in a new and revelatory way, as long as one is looking.  (It helps to be looking, as it were, out of the corner of one’s eye.) Rather than photographing the eclipse itself, as it passed over my city, and as many people were doing, I photographed the city.  The shots in this post document what I saw.

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How I Got My Hat Back

Panama Hat

My Hat

Yesterday, 17 July, my wife and I celebrated the thirtieth anniversary of our marriage by going to dinner at a The Bistro, a local establishment in Oswego, New York, our city of residence, where we have previously had pleasant experiences.  Not the least part of that pleasure is the affability of the establishment’s bartender, Mark, whom I know also from Old City Hall, where we both like to drink.  Mark, a former SUNY Oswego Philosophy major, is a friendly acquaintance.

In any case, I tried to dress for the occasion.  It was too hot and muggy for a jacket but I wore a black tuxedo-style shirt with a bow tie and I sported my new hat, a white Panama with the characteristic broad brim and a black band.  When we decided to eat at the bar, I put the hat on the table behind us, where, of course, I failed to retrieve it when we got up to leave.  (The two Martinis might have had something to do with it.)

Not only did I leave the hat behind, but I forgot it entirely.  Then, around ten o’clock this morning, my telephone (yes – I maintain a land line) rang and when I picked it up I recognized the voice of my friend Dick Fader, who is also a regular at Old City Hall.  Dick told me that he had just received a telephone call from Mark (my number not being known to him), and that Mark had told him (that is, Dick) that he (that is, Mark) had rescued my hat when he left work, and that he had left it for me at Old City Hall.

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Louis Moreau Gottschalk: Creole Composer

Louis Moreau Gottschalk (1829 – 1869) was at least a double-threat: Half-Jewish, half-Creole (which means half-black and half-white, on his mother’s side).  A fiercely proud son of New Orleans, he nevertheless proclaimed his loyalty to the Union on Secession and spent the years of the Civil War touring the Federal States, including New York State, where he played three times on the third floor of Old City Hall in Oswego, on Lake Ontario. In an interview with the Palladium Times (Oswego) in 1863, he declared that the young women of Oswego were the most beautiful in the entire geography north of the Mason-Dixon Line.  Gottschalk was related by two or three removes to General Beauregard, and so, on the word of my grandmother, am I.

Orthosphere Exclusive: “I Hacked America’s Election!”

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Admiral-Kommandant Feliks Danielovich Feliksov

From a largely reliable and mainly convincing source, The Orthosphere has learned that it is at least highly likely – or otherwise only a little bit unlikely – that Russia might or might not have manipulated last November’s American presidential election, in the outcome of which Donald Trump emerged as the surprise electoral winner.  The facts of the story (and once again, the likelihood of their possibility is relatively quite high) are no less than astonishing.  They take us back as far as the Cold War or more precisely to the year 1980 when the nation that we today call Russia was the dominant polity of what was then called the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics or USSR.  Although the precise details of how Russia intervened in – or “hacked” – the recent competition to become chief executive of the USA might appear like something out of a Tom Clancy novel, we assure our readers that those details are true, or more or less true, or not altogether incredible, and that they in no big way, and not even in any small way, constitute “fake news” although they might, under certain conditions, explain the emergence of “fake news” during the first one hundred days of President Trump’s administration.

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This Just About Sums Up Our Present Predicament

The search strings by which surfers of the web arrive at the Orthosphere sometimes pique my interest. Most are just what one would expect, involving such words as “Trinity,” “Atheism,” “Reaction,” “GNON,” or “Vatican.” But now and then we get a really odd one. This morning’s list featured a string that almost had me spitting out my coffee:

How to change tradition minded boyfriend.

I hope that boyfriend keeps reading on the traditionalist web …

“You’re Fired!”: Trump Fires Obama (And Bill Ayres, and Possibly George Soros)

“You’re Fired!”: It is now clear that James Comey was the chief Obama-hangover and Soros-seditionist in the Post-Obama federal government — a mole doing Obama’s bidding (that is to say, Bill Ayre’s bidding and George Soros’ bidding) in the aftermath of Hillary Clinton’s humiliating defeat in November.  Trump’s move was not only morally and governance-wise justified; it was symbolically brilliant: Comey received notification of his firing via a hand-delivered message during his speech before an FBI “diversity and recruiting” seminar in California, as I understand it.  The best way to drain the swamp is to let the swamp know that it is being drained while it is making a narcissistic swamp-speech in another swamp.

And while Trump was firing Comey, he was conversing in a friendly way with the Russian ambassador! 

I am currently reconciled to President Trump.  A friend of mine, who voted for Hillary, has come over the the Dark Side and is now in favor of President Trump.

An Acerbic Opinion

TFB comme Frenchman

Moi comme un Gentilhomme de la Belle Nation

The other day in my Introduction to Literary Criticism course, I contested a student’s objection to my thesis that, whereas there might be many plausible interpretations of John Keats’ poem “Ode on a Grecian urn,” it would nevertheless not be the case that every interpretation of “Ode on a Grecian urn” was equally plausible or even plausible at all.  Furthermore, I reasoned, the range of interpretations might be graded according to their plausibility, from least to most, in a hierarchy.  The student’s agitated insistence was that, “everybody has his own opinion.”* (As if no one had ever heard that before.)  I immediately responded that “opinion” was an irrelevant category; and that, in any case, where it concerns any particular topic, the number of opinions is strictly limited.  In respect of Topic X, there are probably only two opinions, or at most three.  The claim that “everybody has his own opinion” is therefore absurd.  To put it in plausible English, one would have to say that, “In respect of X, everyone has one opinion or another, of a limited set.”  One of the definitions of “opinion” is that an opinion is a freely circulating, conformist view about a topic, entirely unoriginal and non-proprietary.  People never have opinions; they borrow or endorse them, at which point the opinions have them.

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Hacked by Russia: A True Confession

It is not from any desire to shock my fellow Orthosphereans, but merely in order to explain how, beginning as a bland and generically liberal person, I came finally to be associated with an ultra-right-wing website obviously controlled by the spuriously defunct KGB, that I make the following confession of my long history of seditious crimes and treacherous misdemeanors. The evidence against me is overwhelming.  Below is Exhibit No. 1.

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Left: Yessen Zhazoursky, Dean of the School of Journalism, Moscow University; Right: Yours Truly (TFB),  Doctoral Candidate in Comparative Literature, UCLA.  (Fall 1986)

The location was a beach house on Old Malibu Road, with convenient access to the Pacific Ocean hence also to surreptitious traffic to and from casually surfacing Soviet submarines in Santa Monica Bay.  (See the recent Coen Brothers film Hail Caesar!) I call attention to a damning detail of the photograph.  Obviously the Dean and I are exchanging vital, secret information in the medium of coded inscriptions in a notebook that can be concealed in a jacket pocket.  The red stripes of my shirt might also be significant.  By the way, the affair had been organized by Pepperdine University, long known as a communist front.  Below, again, is Exhibit No. 2.

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