Weekly Meanderings, 3 December 2016

church-648430_640_optWow, this is some crazy stuff: fake news generated so one can denounce those who like the fake news story!

Tell me a little about why you started Disinfomedia?

Late 2012, early 2013 I was spending a lot of time researching what is now being referred to as the alt-right. I identified a problem with the news that they were spreading and created Disinfomedia as a response to that. The whole idea from the start was to build a site that could infiltrate the echo chambers of the alt-right, publish blatantly false or fictional stories and then be able to publicly denounce those stories and point out the fact that they were fiction.

What got you engaged in this?

My educational background is in political science. I’ve always enjoyed the ideas of propaganda and misinformation. Then I coupled that with an interest in what makes things go viral. So that led me to finding those groups and ultimately to finding contributors. But it was just something I had an interest in that I wanted to pursue.

When did you notice that fake news does best with Trump supporters?

Well, this isn’t just a Trump-supporter problem. This is a right-wing issue. Sarah Palin’s famous blasting of the lamestream media is kind of record and testament to the rise of these kinds of people. The post-fact era is what I would refer to it as. This isn’t something that started with Trump. This is something that’s been in the works for a while. His whole campaign was this thing of discrediting mainstream media sources, which is one of those dog whistles to his supporters. When we were coming up with headlines it’s always kind of about the red meat. Trump really got into the red meat. He knew who his base was. He knew how to feed them a constant diet of this red meat.

We’ve tried to do similar things to liberals. It just has never worked, it never takes off. You’ll get debunked within the first two comments and then the whole thing just kind of fizzles out. [HT: LNMM]

Patrick Hruby:

What is right is not always popular. And what is popular is not always right.”Russell Davis stands behind a podium, hands in his pockets, invoking Albert Einstein. He looks very much like a man committing small-scale political suicide—which, in all likelihood, he is.

It’s a May evening in Las Vegas, Nevada. Davis, a 44-year-old public works employee, is holding a town hall meeting, discussing his candidacy for the Clark County School Board. He’d like to expand the school lunch program, offer more college prep courses, and explore building dorms for students who need housing. It all sounds innocuous, even boring, and none of it explains why Davis has appeared on local television and USA Today’s website, nor why a camera crew is setting up at the back of the room.

Oh, and it definitely doesn’t explain why Davis has been called a “dork,” a “pussy,” a “gay,” and a “nanny state liberal” who’s “almost as krazy as Hillary.”

No, the reason Davis has attracted attention and ire is simple: he wants to eliminate public high school football. Friday Night Lights out. No more homecoming games, sweaty August two-a-days, and afternoon-in-the-auditorium pep rallies. Adios to a beloved American tradition played by roughly 1.1 million high school students nationwide (double the participation number of the next most popular prep sport, track and field), and by approximately 3,600 students in Clark County, the country’s fifth-largest school district.

“When I decided to run, people said, ‘Don’t bring this up,'” Davis says. “They said, ‘Get elected first. And then bring it up.'”

This piece by Joan C. Williams is brilliant.

Samantha Bomkamp:

An effort to bring mobile produce markets to underserved local neighborhoods is about to expand with help from a Chicago restaurant newcomer.

Growing Power, a nonprofit that works to provide healthy food access to underserved urban dwellers, turned a former bookmobile into a produce bus last summer. The produce bus, which received support from the city, began operating weekly routes through the city’s South and West sides last summer, building up to 28 Chicago-area stops at places such as schools and health centers. The program, called Fresh Moves, has filled a gap in healthy food sales. The bus sells local produce at standard rates, while offering a discount for food stamp recipients.

This week, a former CTA bus will join the program’s fleet. The second bus was funded by a $40,000 donation from salad chain Sweetgreen, which partners with food-focused nonprofits in every new market it enters, Sweetgreen co-founder Nic Jammet said. The salad chain earmarked 100 percent of opening day sales at its River North restaurant in August to the mobile produce bus program. Growing Power supplies kale for Sweetgreen’s Chicago store.

Growing Power chief Erika Allen estimates the bus sells about 4 tons of produce a month in the most plentiful summer months. And although the program is profitable, Allen says she feels Fresh Moves has only reached a portion of its total revenue goal.

Is there just as much an alt-left?

A Big Yes for Emma and Shelly!

FREEPORT — Before 8-year-old Emma Chamberlin tied a scarf around a light post in Freeport, she gave it a hug to warm it up.

As temperatures continue to drop in the area, Chamberlin and her grandmother, Shelly Griffen-Diddens of Freeport, set out to help those who might be in need of keeping warm. About a dozen scarves were tied around poles downtown and have been left for the homeless. By now they’re hoping many might be in the hands of people who need them.

Chamberlin, a third grader, set out with her grandmother Nov. 20 with her grandfather, Dale, in the driver’s seat. Almost all of the scarves were left on the block surrounding the Reed Center.

Emma and her grandmother spend a lot of time together, and when Griffen-Diddens saw on Facebook the idea of leaving warm accessories out for the homeless being done in other states, she realized it was something she and her granddaughter could do together.

That’s one intelligent decision.

First Things, Carl Trueman and transgenderism:

Notice that: Even though Lieutenant Marty has maintained female anatomy, he should be screened for pregnancy before being deployed. Perhaps it is a typo, but as it stands—in an official government document—it is simply bizarre: “O.K., (s)he is still really a woman, but (s)he might actually be pregnant as (s)he claims.” Setting that aside, here’s the thing: If we are ultimately to make no distinction between genders, then the Kantian imperatives of our contemporary political culture mean that we must ultimately start screening all soldiers (male and female) for pregnancy, for to require only those with female anatomy to undergo such would seem to me to be a sign of cissexism, transphobia, etc., etc., etc.

You say it will never happen? But this logic has already prevailed in other areas. My son had to be screened for sickle cell anemia when he ran track at college, even though it was patently obvious that he was not in any remote danger of having it. Why then did he have to have the test? Because, as his coach told him, it would be racist to require the test only from those who might actually have the disease. I still remember the comment the doctor appended to the results: “The requirement for this test is a ridiculous waste of finite medical resources for which his college should take full moral responsibility.” When it comes to the politics of identity, biology already takes a back seat to the aesthetics of the day.

I have written on transgenderism before and received the response that, as it neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg, it should not be a concern to me. But I am concerned. Transgenderism rests upon a metaphysics of personhood that will attempt to rewrite all of social reality as we know it (case in point: the Department of Defense’s Handbook). It represents the apotheosis of Philip Rieff’s Psychological Man. We have now become whoever and whatever we happen to think we are, and the world needs to be remade in a manner that plays to our fantasies.

Oh, and while we’re at it, it does actually pick my pocket, in that the convoluted government policies and their implementation are funded by my tax dollars. And while it may not directly break my leg, the bizarre culture of counterintuitive rules and convoluted, asinine procedures it has inspired looks likely to hinder the efficient performance of those who are paid to protect my leg from being broken by others.

The five most instagrammed locations in each state in the USA.

About Scot McKnight

Scot McKnight is a recognized authority on the New Testament, early Christianity, and the historical Jesus. McKnight, author of more than fifty books, is the Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lombard, IL.