Archive for the ‘criticism’ Category

The Post-Truth Presidency

November 28, 2016

The Post-Truth Presidency

Editors of the Oxford English Dictionary has chosen the “2016 Word of the Year”: Post-truth.”

post-truth (adjective) — Relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief:

‘in this era of post-truth politics, it’s easy to cherry-pick data and come to whatever conclusion you desire’
‘some commentators have observed that we are living in a post-truth age’

That dictionary’s definition of “Truth”: “That which is true or in accordance with fact or reality.” So what could negate that? George Orwell reflected on that in 1942:

“A British and a German historian would disagree deeply on many things, even on fundamentals, but there would still be that body of, as it were, neutral fact on which neither would seriously challenge the other. It is just this common basis of agreement, with its implication that human beings are all one species of animal, that totalitarianism destroys.” — George Orwell, “Looking Back on the Spanish War.”

So we know what causes the phenomenon, this “War on Reality,” and now there’s a name for it.

h/t: Gideon Lichfield


“Trump Team Explains They Were Campaigning Against Facts, Not Just Clinton,” Margaret Hartmann, New York Magazine

“The post-truth world of the Trump administration is scarier than you think,” Margaret Sullivan, Washington Post


“How Do You Avoid Sounding Elitist in a Post-Truth Era?” Nancy LeTourneau, Washington Monthly

“Merriam-Webster’s plea: There’s still time to prevent ‘fascism’ from becoming word of the year,” Ben Guarino, Washington Post

Short link:

Comments are welcome if they are on-topic, substantive, concise, and not boring or obscene. Comments may be edited for clarity and length.

Best of the ‘Best of 2012’ Lists

December 27, 2012

Best of the 'Best of 2012' Lists

Year-end review lists you may have missed:

“The Best Movies You Didn’t See in 2012,” Erik Henriksen, Wired

“Favorite Book Cover Designs of 2012,” New York Times

“Apple Names Its Best iPhone and iPad Apps of 2012,” Christina Warren, Mashable

“The Top Newfound Species of 2012,”  Kara Brandeisky, Slate

“The best (and worst) media errors and corrections of 2012,”  Craig Silverman,  Poynter Institute

“The Most Controversial Artworks of 2012,” Marina Galperina, Flovorwire

“The 12 Best GIFs of 2012,” Cooper Fleishman, Daily Dot

“The top 9 world leaders of 2012,” Talia Ralph, Global Post

“The 10 sports stories that defined 2012,” Chris Gayomali, The Week

“2012 National Film Registry,” Library of Congress

“The Absolute Very Worst Movies of 2012,” Ashley Burns,

“Best and worst 2012 investments,” Ben Steverman, San Francisco Chronicle

“The Ten Best Country Albums of 2012,” Alan Scherstuhl, Village Voice

“America’s 9 craziest lawsuits of 2012,” Samantha Rollins, The Week

“The year in sex,” Tracy Clark-Flory, Salon

“11 Not-So-Famous People We Lost in 2012,” Mark Juddery, Mental Floss

“20 Great Infographics of 2012,” Drew Skau,

“Best Books of 2012,” Publishers Weekly

“Cutest Baby Animal Photos of 2012,” Jennifer Viegas, Discovery News

“Best CEOs of 2012,,” Wall Street 24/7

“The Worst CEOs of 2012,”  Louis Lavelle, Businessweek

“Best of 2012: Top 10 Hottest Bods of the Year!” Jeanette Batur, E! Online

“The Big Science Stories Of 2012 In An Interactive Graphic,” Colleen Park, PopSci

“The Biggest Disappointments Of 2012,” Kirk Hamilton, Kotaku

“The Best Graphic Novels and Graphic Nonfiction of 2012,” Maria Popova, Brain Pickings

“The best memes of 2012,” Faine Greenwood, Global Post

“The 50 Least Important Writers of 2012,” Gawker

“Top 12 Fox News FAILS of 2012,” Keaton, Ranker


Tattooed Barbie

October 24, 2011

Tattooed Barbie

Barbara Millicent Roberts (aka “Barbie Doll“) is sporting a new look: pink hair, leopard-skin tights and fresh tattoos. While the hair and tights seem questionable choices for a 52-year-old, it’s the tats that have caused consternation:

“Tattooed Barbie Sparks Controversy, Media Frenzy,” Christina Cheddar Berk, CNBC

“Barbie dons new ‘punk’ look: Mattel defends doll as parents take aim at tattoos and bad-girl image,” Daniel Prendergast and Tracy Connor, New York Daily News


iPad: Beautiful, But Useless

May 21, 2010

iPad: Beautiful But Useless

Josh Belzman at MSNBC thinks the iPad is “Beautiful, but useless.”

“The iPad is too heavy. It’s awkward to hold and view in public. It’s fragile. It requires expensive accessories to protect it and extract more functionality. There aren’t enough killer apps, at least apps that do anything more than their iPhone equivalent. Its wireless reception is spotty and if you’re an iPhone owner, 3G access will set you back on top of your AT&T plan and give you all the same fits. The iPad does almost nothing your smartphone or laptop can’t already do and will cost you more to do it ….”

Other than that, he loves it.

“My iPad tryst: I craved, I caved, I gave up,” Josh Belzman, MSNBC.

Image (“Flora with Her iPad, after Rembrandt van Rijn”) by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht,

Comments are welcome if they are on-topic, substantive, concise, and not boring or obscene. Comments may be edited for clarity and length.

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Art Criticism in Lubbock, Texas

April 30, 2010

Art Criticism in Lubbock, Texas

The Lone Star State’s authoritative aesthetic arbiters, the Young Conservatives of Texas, are protesting a sculpture on the Texas Tech campus in Lubbock. They have mounted an instantaneous online petition a mere six years after the artwork was installed.

YCT says the work, “Tornado of Ideas” by Tom Otterness, commits sacrilege against the Masked Rider, a revered Texas Tech idol, depicting Him using a javelin to commit gross indecencies on a police officer. The work is also said to show two lesbians actually sitting together.


Capitol Visitor Center Floods

June 5, 2009

Capitol Visitor Center Floods

Above: Flooded dance floor, Al Gore Ballroom, U.S. Capital Visitors Center

The brand-new United States Capitol Visitor Center (CVC), 50 feet underneath the plaza and East Front of the Capitol building, flooded yesterday. As blogger FamousDC observes, “bailout actually needed this time.”  The carpeting of the Tom DeLay Pitch n’ Putt Golf Course is thought to be badly mildewed, though the Larry Craig Public Baths fared better.

The 580,000 square foot underground CVC, which includes the Sonny Bono Memorial Dinner Theatre, Wilbur Mills Exotic Dance Academy, and Interns Gone Wild Lounge, also has some provisions for tourists.

Congressmen were scandalized by the $621 million cost of the facility, $300 million over budget, and may hold hearings on the matter as soon as the CVC’s duplex Sauna and Hearing Room is back in operation.


Tourists interested in the full CVC Simulated Capitol Theme Park Xtreme Experience should consult this website; for plain visitor information, look here. 

Image by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht,

Comments are welcome if they are on-topic, substantive, concise, and not obscene. Comments may be edited for clarity and length.

Memorial Day 2009

May 25, 2009

Memorial Day 2009

Today is Memorial Day in the United States, a holiday once known as Decoration Day, the time to remember those who fell in defense of their country.  Memorial Day is now officially observed on a Monday to form a three-day holiday weekend, with the original significance distilled down into a 60-second Moment of Remembrance.

But there are 259,199 more minutes to a three-day weekend, and human nature abhors a semantic vacuum, so the holiday has acquired meanings in other realms:

Ceremony: Solemn ritual processions.

Ritual garb: White footwear.

Nutrition: Ceremonial meals.

Transportation: The Brickyard.

Economics:  Door-Busters.

Calendar: Memorial Day is the official Unofficial Start of Summer


The National Moment of Remembrance is at 3:00 PM to 3:01 PM (local time in each time zone) on Monday, May 25, 2009. U.S. Code, Title 36,114, Stat. 3078, Sec.(2)(7): “… reclaim Memorial Day as the sacred and noble event that that day is intended to be.”

For more about the origins of Memorial Day, see Burying the Dead but Not the Past by Dr. Caroline Janney.

Image by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht,

Comments are welcome if they are on-topic, substantive, concise, and not obscene. Comments may be edited for clarity and length.

Wrong End of the Telescope

April 14, 2009

Wrong End of the Telescope

Everyone loves to root for the home team, but while the sentiment is charming, it also makes bookies rich. Why should government make the same kind of dumb bet, but at higher stakes? That’s exactly what happens when the dynamics of real estate speculation are magnified by taxpayer-funded sports stadium projects.

Objective assessment of athletes is difficult; inflating the merits of a sports team with hometown loyalty and wishful thinking is a sucker’s game. Likewise, a publicly-funded sports facility is a sucker bet for citizens and a speculator’s dream.

Yesterday’s local news featured pathetic interviews with DC baseball fans. Folks in Nationals ballcaps, standing near lots laid waste by stadium-fueled development delusions, said it had taken a decade for the downtown arena neighborhood to develop, so they were willing to endure ten years of unproductive desolation caused by Nats Park construction. With all this “Wait Until Next Decade” talk it was hard to remember that Monday was Opening Day, not the end of a losing season. 


DC Buys Bronze Bobbleheads for Billionaires

March 26, 2009

DC Buys Bronze Bobbleheads for Billionaires

As part of its economic recovery effort, the DC Government commissioned $700,000 worth of sculpture for billionaire Theodore Lerner and his family. DC already built $611 million Nationals Park for the Lerners, who own the local Major League Baseball franchise, and the government wants to decorate it to suit the wealthy tenants. Who knows, this might even encourage the Lerners to actually pay rent on the stadium.

You can admire the artistic gifts your tax dollars bought for the Lerners at 11:00 AM on Wednesday, April 8th, when the sculptures will be dedicated. RSVP to Deirdre Ehlen at the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities (DCCAH) by email or phone (202-724-5613). The event is free, so go see the art you paid for before you have to buy Nationals tickets to do it.

Forbes estimates the personal wealth of Theodore  N. Lerner at $2.5 billion, but why spend your own money on art when the taxpayers will commission it for you?  The DC Government dead- panned that the baseball art belongs to DC and is only on loan to the Lerners, an assertion worthy of a Larry Neal Award for fiction.  The sculpture  is site-specific, so saying the art is on loan is like saying you don’t own the fillings in your teeth, you only rent them.


FDA Inspectors at Work!

February 19, 2009

FDA Inspectors at Work!
Image: U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Honest.


Why is everybody saying such mean things about FDA inspection of medical devices, drugs, and the food supply?

As you can plainly see (above), FDA Investigators Mac and Molly are on the job!  Is that a peanut butter factory?

Join Mac and Molly for fun and games at FDA!


Note: Bugs and rats get sick from eating tainted peanut butter, too, so refresh this page if they stop moving. FDA is probably testing a “Refresh Patch” for use on humans. Keen!

Comments are welcome if they are on-topic, substantive, concise, and not obscene. Comments may be edited for clarity and length.