Category: Culture

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Facebook, Mainstream Media, Confirmation Bias, and the Trump Trauma

Lots of Americans, like those out here in liberal-leaning, Hillary Clinton-supporting California, are suffering what I call the “Trump Trauma”. They were sure she would win, easily, and are shocked at the unexpected outcome. It’s all disbelief, like someone suddenly died without warning. They were unprepared and now mourn the death of the Clinton candidacy. How could this come to be?

During our pre-election Frak That! podcast, on Nov. 7, 2016, cohost Randall Kennedy and I discussed the social media election. He expressed surprise at the “speed with which information travels”. I interrupted: “The speed with which disinformation travels now”, later describing social media interaction as something like “Borg sentience”, in context of phenomenon “confirmation bias“. The group mind—perpetuated by Facebook, news media reports, and political polls over-weighted to fit the narrative booming from the Echo Chamber—led many Americans, regardless of party affiliation, to misguided expectations about whom would be President-elect.

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Our Virtual Reality Future is Bigger Than We Think

A a general rule I never connect to public WiFi networks, which is fine except when attending an event at a hotel ballroom where T-Mobile cellular is like an apparition dancing around a Halloween grave. So as Wendell Brooks, CEO of Intel Capital, begins his speech, I sit typing narrative offline rather than tweeting live. There’s irony, I suppose, reporting old style, about investments in new innovations.

Welcome to the trials and travails of the Intel Capital Global Summit, which kicks off today and goes through October 26 here in San Diego. Looking at the lineup, I expect to hear about newfangled tech that would make news reporting so much easier if available—although 4G cellular data would be good enough right now. 

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Patriot One seeks to ‘Prevent the Growth of Terrorism and Gun Violence’

The cop convention is in town this weekend, and I have never seen so many men in blue-grey suits or uniformed officers strutting sidearms. Quite possibly the safest-feeling place in San Diego through October 18th is the San Diego Convention Center and the areas around it—that is unless you’re a lawbreaker or someone as afraid of men and women in uniform as clowns. What the hell is this clown craze anyway? Yeah, that’s off-topic.

The International Association of Chiefs of Police holds its 123rd annual conference, which I blasted through (poor choice of words, I know) yesterday for a specific, and interesting product launch: Patriot One’s NForce CMR1000; self-described as a “covert primary screening device for the detection of on-body concealed weapons at access points including hallways and doorways of weapons-restricted buildings and facilities”. I met with CEO Martin Cronin and Chief Science Advisor Natalia Nikolova. 

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On This Day

Nine years ago today, my family relocated from the Washington, D.C. suburb of Kensington, Md to San Diego, Calif. Whoa! There is no record in my website archive. Looks like I did little posting in late 2007, which isn’t surprising with the move and trying to continue working. At the time, I operated the Apple Watch and Microsoft Watch blogs. Unbelievably, Ziff Davis enterprise closed down both after laying me off in April 2009. That’s why I warned two years ago: “Writers, Own Your Content!

I don’t feel like the same human being, after predominately cutting carbs from my diet starting three years ago. Wearing pajamas, I weighed about 91 kilograms (200 pounds) on Oct. 15, 2007; 57 kg (125 lbs) today. My physical build is more like age 20—as is my remarkable energy. Granted, I look every bit of my 57 years and don’t pretend to be otherwise or cling to some misbegotten attempt at reclaiming youth. I’m merely a happy, healthier middle-ager. 

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What Would You Add?

Walking through San Diego’s Hillcrest neighborhood earlier this evening, I spotted something new—or at least to me. The “Before I Die…” wall has been there since June 2012. Clearly, I don’t get to that side of University Ave. often enough.

There’s something morbid about the giant chalkboard compared to aspirational “The Courage Wall”, which was my Flickr-a-Day-231 selection last year. Both fixtures provide space for passersby to express something longed to do; one is about overcoming something to achieve something more, while the other is wished for far less earnestly. Compare the aspirations to see the differences. 

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Red Shirts Mark My Comic-Con Blues

I won’t attend all, or even most, of San Diego Comic-Con as planned this week. SDCC is the only event I look forward to all year. But an opportunity came to undergo corrective surgery in one of my eyes (the other follows in a few weeks) sooner than expected. I will be at the Con Wednesday night but not Thursday (gonna be under the scalpel—or is it laser—that day) and probably not Friday (when is the post-op exam). Perhaps the surgeon will okay Sunday and hopefully even Saturday.

My eighth year of attendance is a bust, but I am super fortunate to get July 21st for the surgery. I had looked forward to Star Trek’s 50th year, which will get big celebration throughout the four days and Preview Night—starting with the “Star Trek Beyond” premiere. Given my truncated plans combined with my paying to attend (no press pass), I will go as a participant rather than a documentarian for the first time. 

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SDCC 2016 Badge Changes

Well, this is a development. My San Diego Comic-Con 2016 badge arrived this afternoon—and much is changed from previous years. I attend for the eighth consecutive time, and the second as paying attendee rather than press. Previously, badges were given onsite. Now, beforehand, they are mailed out, with built-in RFID that is scanned on event entry. Presumably, the electronically-read tags will reduce fakes and increase movement in, out, and around the venue.

Like last year, I plan to attend all four days and the Preview Night, which is July 20. I count myself lucky to, on Nov. 14, 2015, plow through the random-selection queue and buy a pass. Entire event is a coup. Many people who want to attend get fewer days, if any. I paid $245 for the privilege, and I will work the show as if a press-pass holder. 

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Trump Brings Mayhem to San Diego

The #DumpTrump crowd clashed with the candidate’s supporters here in San Diego this afternoon. Ha! I didn’t know he had come to speak—at the convention center. Trouble started around 4 p.m. local time, following his speech.

I’m more taken back by the police presence than what actually happened. As I write, about two-and-a-half hours later, there are 500 cops in full riot gear and bulletproof vests outside San Diego Convention Center. The area is closed, with an order making it illegal for anyone to remain in the area. Hey, is Trump still around? Run before you get arrested, Donald. 😉