Noise drowning signal, and more Serial


Another communication rant, with questions at the end.

If you’ve been with me for a while, you might recall that I’ve mentioned phatic communication in earlier posts, beginning with this one.  There are many things we say
that mean little or nothing, and I’ll start with a few examples.

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Example (1) Polite, phatic exchange

Most obvious example: polite little nothing phrases that don’t mean anything like what they say literally.

“How are you?”
(translation: “I’m recognizing your presence, but don’t necessarily want to talk to you for any length of time.  Just to be fair, I’m giving you an opening to tell me about anything that might have come up, but please don’t.”)

“I’m fine, yourself?”
(translation: I might be dying of cancer, but don’t want to talk about it right now, not with you, anyway. Just returning the salute.”)

Now, suppose that one of them is on the witness stand some weeks later:

Q. Mr Skeeb, I understand that on March 18th, you got into the elevator with your supervisor, Mr. Boohah, as you were leaving work, is that correct?

A. Yes, that’s correct.

Q. Do you recall what your conversation with Boohah consisted of at that time?

A. Nothing much. He said “How are you?”, I said “Fine.”  That’s about it.

Q. So you confirm that you said you were “fine” at that time, is that correct?

A. Yes.

Q. And we have just heard your co-worker, Mr. Willbash, tell us that as you were getting ready to leave that day, you remarked to him that your back was “killing you”, because of a herniated disk. Is Mr. Willbash reporting that correctly?

A. Yes, that’s my recollection too.

Q. So you lied to Mr. Boohah when you said you were “fine”, is that correct?

A. If you want to call it that, I suppose.

Q. And if you lied about that, do we have any reason to believe any of your testimony here today?

You get the idea by now, I hope. Of all the billions of conversations that happen on this planet every day, very few have participants who are conscious that they might some day have to explain everything they say under oath. Continue reading

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ASSUMING THE BEST OF INTENTIONS


A flyer recently circulated at some nursing stations at St. Joseph’s in Orange, ostensibly signed by Vivian Norman and referencing the Facebook page of “Guardians of SJO Legacy”. It contains some pretty serious assertions, including personal attacks.

Click to embiggen, as they say.

HitPiece1

Front

HitPiece2

Back

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In responding, I’ll assume the best about this communication:

— That it actually is composed by Vivian, duplicated at her own expense

— That she actually believes what she says and has a detached concern about organizing bedside nurses, though she is not a bedside nurse and would take no part in the union if it were recognized, and just needs a little enlightenment

I’ll attempt to provide such enlightenment. Continue reading

Posted in communication, organizing | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Since you asked…


Warning: Pop culture references ahead. Sorry if you don’t watch HBO.

It’s a strange experience for Greens: getting asked what we think. It does happen, though, usually at times like just about now.

Yeah, Sanders.

Whenever the Titanic parties seem to have a prominent candidate with good progressive credentials running in the primaries, we’re asked if we’ll “support” him/her.

Let’s run through some things that might happen with such a candidacy. But first, some things that will definitely NOT happen:

(1) He will not get elected President. FucktheKingsmallThat’s as certain as that he will not get the Dem nomination, which is as certain as a much-liked character dying toward the end of each Game of Thrones season.

Every bit as scripted and well-known to the actors involved, too. Even if his campaign is as sincere as I am when I order a chile verde burrito, a progressive platform such as his will never get the hundreds of millions needed for a successful campaign. That can only come from the .01%, and they ain’t buying it. That’s the stage of our history that we’re at, and it’s not changing any time soon. Continue reading

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CONTINUING WITH “SERIAL”: THE LAZINESS OF EVIL


Spoiler alert! Trigger alert! Every lert you can think of. Them lerts are everywhere,
dang ’em.

Remember that line from Jeremiah Johnson:

” …a tribe’s greatness is figured on how mighty its enemies be.”

That’s what Hannah Arendt ran into when she coined the phrase “banality of evil”. It was just too much for some people to think of the Nazis as ordinary humans, trying to get through the day like anybody else. She was ostracized for proposing that the archetypal enemy of the 20th century was not a nation of monsters. The thought that some of the greatest evil in recent history happened simply because millions of people doing ordinary jobs didn’t have the time, energy, or courage to look closely at what they were doing was too horrible to contemplate.

But that’s the terrifying truth: Most of the worst of humanity comes out when people are simply lazy, projects are underfunded, or there’s not enough time to do a good job. Since this happens all the time, any of us could fall into it any time, as either perp or victim.

Submitted for your approval: the case of the murder of Hae Min Lee.

abouttowatchnightmareYou’ve all listened to the podcast by now, right? In a twelve-hour binge, if you only discovered it after it was done, eh? Listen here, if not: http://serialpodcast.org

So you know that the prosecution had a very weak case:  the word of one presumptive accomplice, known as Jay, who never did any time for his part and told the story VERY differently every time he was questioned, backed up only by the defendant’s cell phone
records, which MIGHT partially corroborate SOME of it. The prosecution simply didn’t use any parts of the records that might have disagreed with their narrative. Continue reading

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What we’ll never know


Today is the 16th anniversary of the disappearance of Hae Min Lee, the subject of the most popular podcast in the world to date:

http://serialpodcast.org

If you’ve truly been living under a rock for the last few months, please check it out.

It has been the subject of much discussion among journalists, amateur detectives & such, notably on a certain subreddit:

http://reddit.com/r/serialpodcast

That subreddit has been shut down for the day in memory of Hae.

I’ve followed some of this discussion, and must say that Redditors are surprisingly well-behaved in their online arguments, compared to some that I’ve seen elsewhere. Must be well-moderated.

Much commentary on the case has been written, including:

http://viewfromll2.com/
http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/evidenceprof/
http://www.splitthemoon.com/

Just as a teaser, for those uninitiated:

Serial is a spinoff of This American Life that tells a long story in 12 chapters in audio. You can easily listen to it while doing something else, as long as no one is talking.

It re-examines the murder of Hae Min Lee in 1999, for which her ex-boyfriend, Adnan Syed,  is now serving a life term.  So where’s the mystery?

(1) how he was convicted on what seems exceedingly flimsy evidence.

(2) why the prosecution’s case was so flimsy

(3) what actually happened, including the basic “whodunit”

Sarah Koenig takes you through the reporter’s journey as she tries to find the truth amid lots of conflicting information.

Later on, I might have more to say about this, but right now I just wanted everyone to be aware of it, and at the very least listen to the podcast. Yes, the whole thing. I’ll know if you don’t.

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Do Dems want advice? Doubt it.


GarbosorrowIn the commentary following the Dems’ expected mid-term drubbing, I’m getting echos of childhood and not-so-childhood.  Let’s see if you can follow me here.

We’ve all known that kid. Any number of activities could be used to illustrate, but I’ll keep it simple and just say you’re playing badminton.

You’re using one of those cheapo badminton sets with maybe ONE reasonably straight racket out of four, which he keeps for himself, because it’s his set. He takes the side of the net with the sun at his back and in your eyes. The side without the doggie do to watch out for. He makes up his own rules in the middle of the game. He bickers over calls that a ref would make if there were a ref. At some point, maybe when the bird goes astray, he stops to talk to the hot babe next door while you stand there like a fool wondering whether he’s going to continue the game or not. If he loses a round, he whines to play another round until he wins. Maybe this happens with several people he plays with, and eventually, whenever he proposes a game, eyes turn down, voices are stilled.  Everyone is just a little too polite to tell him why no one is interested.

We’ve all known that kid. Most of us have BEEN that kid from time to time. If we’re smart, we learn to recognize the situation and mitigate it somehow, and prevent repeats.

nobodylikesyoucareSome people don’t learn, or don’t want to learn.

That’s the Dems saying “Low turnout killed us! Why aren’t more people showing up to vote? How can we get them to show up? Would it do any good to, like, take a stand for something? Nah….” Continue reading

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