A Guide to Recognizing the Truth in Diverse Media

Confused by the blizzard of data all around us? Having trouble telling what’s true and what’s not? Check this ready reference guide to recognizing the truth, depending on what you’re viewing/reading at the time:

In a sitcom with a voice-over narrator: stated by the narrator at the end of the episode. (Warning: if the narrator’s name is JD, the truth in question may be stated in unusually peculiar metaphors. If the narrator’s name is Earl, the truth will sound dumbed-down, but usually be deeper.)

In a horror movie: the good advice or common sense ignored by the protagonist/s. Sometimes this truth is implicit, e.g. ‘never perform scientific experiments in which you are the test subject’

In a work by Neil Gaiman: stated portentiously, pretentiously, or both, but usually also with wit and charm.

In a work by Robert Anton Wilson: disguised as a paradox, a koan or a joke. (Warning: not all jokes in Wilson’s works are truths.)

In a work by Grant Morrison or Warren Ellis: disguised as the rantings of a drug-crazed or otherwise unreliable narrator

In a work by Aaron Sorkin: disguised as naivest idealism, bitterest cynicism, or both at once.

In pornographic video: directly proportional to the trueness of breasts, on a scale ranging from very low to infinitisimal.

On cable news networks: directly proportional to the degree of disagreement with Fox News.

In a work by John Stewart: the level of truth in any statement is directly proportional the level of either incredulity or humility with which Stewart states it.

In a work by Stephen Colbert: replaced by Truthiness

In a DC Comic: stated by either Superman or Batman. Where they disagree, the truth lies with whichever one gets the last word.

In a Marvel Comic: stated by Captain America, but only if the role of Cap is currently being played by Steve Rogers. Otherwise, stated by either Spider-Man, Wolverine or Luke Cage, especially if it is the latter two in agreement.

In Greek Myth: stated by Cassandra, but never believed.

In Norse Myth: stated by Heimdall, Odin or Loki. n.b. the latter two are also notorious liars, so although they may be telling the truth, you probably won’t be sure about it until later, or in extreme cases, after Ragnarok.

In any incarnation of Star Trek: preceded by the words “Captain’s Log”, although occasionally it will be someone else’s log.

In Twin Peaks: stated by the log. Yes, really.

My WikiLeaks Wish List

Daniel Ellsberg was a military analyst employed by the RAND Corporation, when he leaked the doccuments that became known as The Pentagon Papers. They were published by the New York Times on June 13, 1971 – at the height of the Vietnam War. It was a scandal in its day, and the 7000 pages worth of documents leaked by Ellsberg represent the largest such leak in history.

Until recently, that is. No doubt you’re aware of the recent disclosure of 9000 pages of similar materials – more Pentagon documents, this time relating to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan rather than Vietnam – by WikiLeaks.

Naturally, this led to comparisoms of Daniel Ellsberg and Julian Assange. And The Washington Post took the step of asking Ellsberg about it, and he contributed a wishlist of four leaks he’d like to see on WikiLeaks.
Continue reading “My WikiLeaks Wish List”

4 Good Reasons Why You Should Vote

Let’s get one thing straight, right at the start, okay? This is not me telling how to vote, this is me telling you why you should engage in the exercise of your democratic franchise. Because there are many people out there who seem to think that not voting is somehow a better idea than voting, which is why the average American president gets elected by about 25% of the US population.

So take a deep breath, prepare yourself mentally and physically, and let’s move on.
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In reply to #utegate – Making Political Scandals Australian

Like every other fan of Australian political theatre, I’ve been following the Ozcar affair. But I really object to it being called Utegate. We’re Australians. We don’t have -gates. That’s an American shorthand for a political scandal. We have our own term for these things, or at least, we should.

So I propose that we innaugrate a new, Australian cliche: The Overboard.
Continue reading “In reply to #utegate – Making Political Scandals Australian”

The (Alaskan) Lumberjack Song

Something new for the Daft Lyrics Database: a newly written filk piece, to the tune of Monty Python’s Lumberjack Song:

(Presented with apologies to people named Jones, people named Tomlinson and some people named Palin.)

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Cultured Spaces

I don’t doubt that you’ve all encountered what I think of as ‘Cultured Spaces.’ These are spaces that are set aside exclusively for the use of one particular group to the exclusion of all others. You often find them at universities – rooms for women, for queer and transgendered people, for members of particular religions. Often they are not rooms that serve any particular function beyond privacy (although rooms for religious groups often blur this distinction).

I’ve often found myself in two minds about this. I hate that these things are exclusionary, but then, I’m also aware that, as a wise friend of mine once put it: “maybe someone needs a space I’m not in. ” What to do, what to do…

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The Sacred Art of Telling It Like It Isn’t

Everybody lies.

Oh, you can claim otherwise, but you will, of course, be lying if you do so.

C’mon, we all know that everyone else lies – is it truly that big a leap to admit that you do too? Oh no. You lie, and you know you lie. I won’t humiliate you by trying to trap you into admitting it. Just admit it to yourself, and we can move on, okay?

This essay (or series of essays, depending on how wordy I wax), is intended to be a comprehensive look at the hows of lying, including an analysis of the various ways of lying and the pros and cons of each, and some thoughts about how and why lies are detected.

What it will not be, at least until the very end of this, is any sort of moral judgement. I don’t care why you lie. Your motives, rationales, justifications and ass-covering do not interest me – any more, I imagine, than mine would interest you.

No, I just want to talk about lying.

I want to talk about it as frankly, as honestly and as non-judgmentally as possible. This may prove discomforting for some of you to read, if you are unaccustomed to considering this matter dispassionately. If so, just navigate away now. It’s a blog. No one can tell if you’ve read it or not.

Unless, of course, they catch you in a lie about it…

Let’s move on. Continue reading “The Sacred Art of Telling It Like It Isn’t”