}

Monday, December 21, 2015

Internet Wading – Believing and seeing

The end of 2015 is in sight, so it’s time for the final Internet Wading for the year. These posts are a way for me to share some of the things I see that don’t warrant a blog post, but that I think are interesting. This month, it’s an especially mixed bag, which is kind of the way I like it.

Who will be the next US President? Obviously no one actually knows, of course, but that hasn’t stopped the prognostications. Western Illinois University has successfully predicted the results of every presidential election since 1975, and they say the next president will be Bernie Sanders. The official results of the mock election don’t include any information on methodology, so it’s fair to say I’m a bit sceptical. In fact, I’d lay odds their winning streak is about to end.

The odds, according to professional bookies, are that Hillary Clinton will be the next president, with Bernie Sanders at 25/1 odds. They also predict that Marco Rubio will be the Republican nominee. Overall, they predict a 62% chance the Democrats will keep the White House, up from 58% chance only weeks ago. The bookies have a 91% accuracy rate.

I could add that this prospect bothers many lefties as much as rightwingers, though for very different reasons. Those on the Left dislike her because they think she’s too conservative, while those on the Right—well, there’s still plenty of conspiratorial chatter about Clinton among many conservatives, who are convinced all sorts of dark plots are at play.

Speaking of conspiracy theories, how about this for irony: A Professor who “taught Culture of Conspiracy at Florida Atlantic University” turned out to be a conspiracy theorist. He was fired by the university when it was revealed he was harassing families of victims of the Sandy Hook massacre which, he’s convinced, never actually happened and is actually a nationwide conspiracy involving thousands of people.

Meanwhile, a blacksmith debunks “the undying 9/11 MORONIC JET FUEL ARGUMENT” [VIDEO]. He doesn’t mince word about what he thinks of the conspiracy theory or those who hold it, but he does limit his criticism to this one conspiracy theory. Naturally, the “truthers”, as 9/11 conspiracy theory fans are usually called, took to the YouTube comments to denounce him in often very colourful language.

Speaking of relics from a bygone age, I was fascinated by “I worked in a video store for 25 years. Here’s what I learned as my industry died,” a recollection by Dennis Perkins on Vox. One of my favourite paragraphs:
“A great video store's library of films is like a little bubble outside the march of technology or economics, preserving the fringes, the forgotten, the noncommercial, or the straight-up weird. Championed by a store's small army of film geeks, such movies get more traffic than they did in their first life in the theater, or any time since. Not everything that was on VHS made the transition to DVD, and not every movie on DVD is available to stream. The decision to leave a movie behind on the next technological leap is market-driven, which makes video stores the last safety net for things our corporate overlords discard. (That's why the chain stores died first — like Netflix, they peddled convenience and "all new, all the time" — Netflix came along and just did what they did more efficiently.) A real video store buys a movie and saves it, regardless of such considerations.”
Fascinating for different reasons was Hudson & Halls and The History of Homosexuality on New Zealand TV” By David Herkt on The Spinoff. Hudson & Halls was a cooking show hosted by a gay couple from 1976 to 1986, which is especially ironic because male homosexuality was illegal in New Zealand until 1986. A 2001 documentary about them, Hudson and Halls: A Love Story can also be watched on NZ On Screen (I have no idea if their videos are watchable overseas)

And that’s it for this Internet Wading. Next year I plan on doing this on the 21st of every month, but maybe not in January. I’ll be otherwise engaged on that day.

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