The Learning Curve American Style (Rough Draft)


On the topic of opinion editorial and interpretation of empirical fact.  
In setting out to lay down ideas for a podcast my initial thought was to allow for it to evolve over time.  Leaving room for refinement and space for a gradual development.  Oftentimes you see such endeavors aimed strictly at one medium or a more focused central idea.  I see nothing wrong with that but which idea I focus on may shift over time to encompass the wider range of my interests.  Thus I won't limit myself to say photography because I also do video.  Along those lines but in this essay I'll lay out some ideas that help underscore my perspective.  Whether the reader agrees with each point isn' the central question rather it's a walk through with examples of decision making.  


I may do commentary on politics and news from time to time as well because sometimes the spoken word provides for greater clarity of expression.  In "text form only" in the current social media climate it is likely to be taken the wrong way sooner or later.  In my case it tends to be by those who are expecting something more strident and less measured.  The truth is I don't let myself get all worked up on a given subject generally.  It's counter to my philosophy.  Thus some mention of the central ideas in my worldview would also be a natural subject.  No that I think emotion doesn't have it's place but it has to be balanced with objectivity and reason.


One such idea is I try to avoid all vestiges of hatred and prejudice and I do my best to apply that to people and things I disagree with. Although I may disagree with just about every word that comes out of a given politicians mouth that's just a conflict of ideas.  I draw the line at the tendency to dehumanize opponents.  It's not a thing you generally see in the mainstream American Free Press generally but it's relatively common elsewhere and in personal discourse pretending to be objective news.  One could take part in the tit for tat of partisanship but I have a preference for trying to stick to the high road a bit more. No one is perfect of course but in avoiding the extremes it's my theory you will have fewer reasons for regret later.  In allowing others their space you may also find you have created a space for yourself.  That's not to say criticism isn't warranted it's more a measure of the length to which one takes it.  An example would be a politician I disagree with.  I could go strictly after their character and paint them in a darker light.  I could also choose to focus on the actual problem and positions.  In going down the road of personal attacks though I think you lose some if not all substance.  Character assassination as such is something I shy away from. 


On the other hand I'd give the example of the lying politician.  It's one thing to simply misstate the facts so on that I'd question whether it's even a lie perhaps.  However if it fits a pattern and applies to a wide variety of subjects for instance that's a different matter.  All too often the character assassins seize upon popular prejudice and take the lesser crime I mentioned and use it to characterize the person overall.  In the latter case the issue of lies is more significant because of the percentages of truth versus falsity.  It's in the eye of the beholder how you weight that.  A statement that proves incorrect does not necessarily equate to a lie or we'd all be doomed to hell.  One should admit the error.  Where I think you get into a clearer area is with repeated and unrepentant lies.  Of the sort for instance coined by Adolf Hitler called "The Big Lie".  There are lies and then there are lies.  The Big Lie isn't equivalent to the garden variety often associated with American politicians individually but rather it's a sort of national lie that seeks to transcend the individual. 


Even there one could also characterize as a misstatement of facts.  I'll use a specific example on it in the past discussions of climate change.  It's been divided largely along party lines in the United States for at least a couple decades now.  In my worldview the voice of science is the voice I'm going to give the margin of error to.  Scientists aren't perfect but neither is anyone else and they at least apply what is known as scientific methodology.  Taken on the whole those who say 95% of scientists are mistaken about human impacts on the planets atmosphere are at the least misstating things I think.  Often though it's a deliberate misstatement of the facts.  When you have an entire political party representing tens of millions of people doing it I think you get to the level of a national lie.  The Big Lie.  It dosn't have to be unique to a single person.  I am of the opinion that untruth of that sort has set the stage for a politician to rise up in America though who lies so freely and often as to meet the standard of The Big Lie as it is generally conceived of in terms of authoritarian dictators.  That's the risk you run when you play such games.  The Republican Party has seldom seen such breadth in terms of candidates as it did in the primaries that gave rise to Trump.  Yet Trump was singular in how he stood out from the establishment of the conservative movement.  The uniqueness of a candidate largely abandoned by a big segment of his own party in the form of those who said "never Trump" and who found the man and his positions to be deplorable.  The ground had already been laid for a Trump-like persona long before those primaries I'd say.  Laid in the untruths and rejection of science in the American right wing.  The abandonment of the shared middle and the town commons.


Trump is what he is and the reader can reach their own conclusions.  I have no problem with people who voted for him.  That's a personal choice.  I will say I am quite confident he lied to you to get your vote though and that he continues to lie to the American people and the world on a largely unprecedented scale.  He's 70 years old at this point so I fully expect him to continue lying roughly 80% of the time.  With him there is a misstatement of fact that is a constant as well.  He makes his own and ignores all else.  I'm of the opinion that when you usher in a national policy that is essentially wrong about a large number of things on a factual basis sooner or later that is going to catch up to you in ways it might not have in the private sphere.  For better or worse we are in it now for the experiment of the new century.  Can a man who has a limited grasp of common facts about even the most rudimentary aspects of American democracy manage to not destroy or severely damage the country?  It's an open question at this point.  I do hope so though.


Philosophically the reason I reject Trumpism comes down to epistemology and education.  It's not unique to me though.  People who are more educated didn't vote for him in as large of numbers as those who are less educated.  The more you know the more it's really evident the man is appalling ignorant on any number of topics.  In fact I'd argue he's already proven he's not ideally qualified for running any public enterprise and it's debatable whether he was all that successful as a private entrepreneur.  What remains to be seen is whether the checks and balances of our government can work to constrain the recklessness he demonstrated in private business in a way the markets themselves never did.


I could detail the reasons I think these things but there's a catch 22 to trying that.  It all depends which universe you exist in as information goes.  The American free press isn't dead but it has evolved into something new in the 2000's compared to the 1900's and it's clearly driven by the relative and growing ubiquity of the network.  People tend to lambast MSM or mainstream media but I find that a faulty methodology.  Traditional media is a better fit albeit one that is doing it's best to adapt to the new times they find themselves in.  A truer picture is to employ internet concepts.  How many "eyeballs" a given form of media is attracting on a regular basis.  Taking that as a metric over say "brick and mortar" you get a different picture and it's all one big media that can be subdivided.  There are left, right, and centrist media.  There are media that cater to everything you can think of such as race or gender.  MSM is mantra used by new media to try to discredit the traditional free press.  Yet what it really amounts to is infighting in the new era free press.


It's a crucial point.  In order to heal the rifts in the country people are going to have to accept there just isn't any such thing as a monolithic media.  Rather what I look for is whether a given source is using some form of scientific method.  It can be applied to social science and fields like history as well as physics and such.  Where I draw a line is in how it's presented as factual.  There are those who essentially are arguing a point of view and then there are those who present facts.  One is not equivalent of the other.  In a reputable source they differentiate.  Opinion is fine but it should be acknowledged as such.  For instance it's a fact that President Trump lies more often than previous presidents and in a way that's different.  There are however various ways you can analyze it.  That's where the oped comes in.  The problem with a lot of new media is they lack the resources to gather the basic facts.  Instead they find themselves presenting opinion as the fact.  Were they admitting it was opinion and not hard fact I would not be as critical and it's the case with both left and right wing media.  The further you go to either extreme the more likely it will crop up because as you move further from the median there are fewer and fewer resources.  Where they get in trouble is the example I already laid out.  When they go against science and data that has been collected ad is publicly available.  Their opinion might be that 95% of scientists are wrong about the climate.  That does not make it factual. 


Probably the most egregious of these are those that are oriented on conspiracy theories.  Here president Trump provides a convenient example of the inconsistencies.  There are real world conspiracies and then there are ideas such as NASA transporting child slave labor to Mars.  In a real world situation it's easier for me to believe a billionaire might have the resources and poor judgement to encourage Russia to interfere on their behalf in our elections than it is to believe the later.  Yet there is a segment of the population who does believe these things even if it's not the Mars one.  If two ideas have a common source that should tell you something about both of them thus the person postulating absolutely ridiculous things one minute should be suspect the next minute when they are saying something else.  On the other hand when it's not coming from one source but rather a group of government agencies the likelihood of it's been true is exponentially higher.  Just like if 95% of scientists believe something to be true it's very likely true such is the case when you get a large group of experts.  As to opinions?  I'll quote my stepfather: opinions are like assholes everyone has one.  How well informed that opinion is would be the key question of validity not whether you hold one or not.  Reason is the key quality I look for.


This provides the outline for the first of what I envision to be many podcasts.  You'll find in general that I'm willing to criticize any and all political parties but not on the same subjects generally.  Some people argue they are all the same.  That's poorly informed in my view.  That being said they are all imperfect not just the big ones.  To the extent that I self identify as anything it's as what I call a left libertarian.  Government and things like taxation are onerous but necessary things to provide for the common defense and the welfare of the people.  Libertarian in the small "l" sense of the word not the political party although I do find them interesting.  That's a whole other discussion though defining libertarian in a modern post industrial society in a way that is relevant.  I'll save that for another occasion.  I will elucidate one point though.  The central question of libertarian thought is liberty.  In the sense of the individual and and of the society.  It inherently involves questions of equality.  Unfortunately many Americans today equate the idea of equality with something they call "PC" or political correctness. It isn't.  It's not even a question strictly of race although in the USA that is a central question.  It is also a question of social caste increasingly.  Rich and poor.  It's my central belief that this is the issue that will begin to eclipse the others in terms of inequality as this century progresses.

Tales Of Brave Ulysses

Today I'm setting up to start using a new program for my writing called Ulysses. The experiment is to do all or most of it on a tablet using a 2017 Apple iPad. The program on iOS sets you back a cool $24.95 at present so you have .05 left over if someone gives you an iTunes card or something. There's also a desktop version for the OSX platform that runs $49.95 as of this writing. If you find yourself with three iTunes cards you are set and will have a dime left over. Compared to a year of Microsoft Office even at a student rate it's not unreasonable. No subscription fees and even when MS Office used to be available for purchase it ran a lot more especially if like me you used it on a PC.


I may date myself but I confess I first got office when a suite of apps was a new thing and bought MS Office 2.0. It came on 30+ 3.5" floppies that really were not very floppy. After about a 30-45 minute ritual going one disc at a time you'd get it installed. Compared to the purchase and installation with Ulysses it's like we're on a different planet. First I did use an iTunes card. All I had to do was peel off the strip protecting the code on the card and use the iPad's camera to enter it. You can type it in if you want but it insto recognized the code and credited my account with $25 in just seconds.

If you are used to programs like Word or Word Perfect then Ulysses is going to be a paradigm shift. Gone are the nested trees of menus of menus with still more sub-menus. Not that there isn't a learning curve but it's a totally different approach. Instead of using an elaborate menu system there are about 25 items you type in to do almost all the basic formatting called Markdown. This is pretty significant on a tablet where you generally are not using a mouse to operate menus. If it were menu based you'd be chicken pecking it and on a smaller iPad Mini maybe missing the mark a fair amount. Let on an iPhone with it's even smaller screen. I haven't even learned the system and I already know I like it. It's not that hard and worth the time for the freedom it gives you to leave a computer that's tethered to a wall behind. The trade off with a laptop would be different but increasingly the iPad is beginning to really step in where the desktop leaves off and is assuming many laptop tasks.

If by chance you are writing to insert into another blogging platform the markup language might even be semi optional. For instance at this point I'm using Squarespace and it's iPad app to draw up blog entries. You can jot down your outline or notes in Ulysses and then add in additional elements when you move over. Part of the reason I like doing that with this app is the "dark mode" where instead of black and white the screen is white and black or inverted from what you used to see on a typewriter. Yes I'm old enough to remember.

I'm sure I'll blog more articles but I thought less than 24 hours in I might share a note and a few thoughts. I do see why people like it. I could also see extending it by adding other apps that are more job specific. Before I do add something that is say specific to writing scripts and plays I will try this interface. It allows you to use both iCloud and Dropbox as folders to add documents and groups into. I've only just begun by creating an iCloud group or folder for blogging but I suspect that if you nest them it will produce much of the same effect you get from what is called mind mapping software. Laying it out in a tree like structure visually as you say trace an idea or storyline but with the added benefit that you are in the writing environment and don't have switch to a word processor as you might with mind mapping apps.

Of course the added bonus in using things like Dropbox and iCloud is that you can share it and collaborate of course. At present I don't intend to use Ulysses for things like "to do" lists. I find Wunderlist is a much more ubiquitous choice for shared collaboration there. I might however share a manuscript or an outline from Ulysses on those services. I've opted to keep Dropbox at the minimal free level for space which is present 5 GB. For about $60 a year these days you can get a terabyte of storage but when I looked I did not see any smaller options. On iCloud though I did. .99 a month nets you 50 GB. It depends what you are doing of course and how you use it. For text based documents that's a lot of space even if you store them all online. With video the dynamic is different especially with 4K. 50GB is generally enough to share a reasonably short clip and I don't generally store those online by default or if I did it might be through YouTube. For the occasional collaboration project 20 GB or less is currently not uncommon as not many devices can even read 4K and in MP4 format in 1080p you can make do with 50 GB. Even with storing all your text and writing on the cloud by default. I just recently reviewed all the Dropbox audio video materials I had and found many of them were less than 10 MB. Particularly with audio only and voiceover materials. So for $12 a year versus $60 a year it makes sense for now. However if the need goes up then really $60 for a terabyte isn't too bad but iCloud is still comparable.

Getting back to the main point is the fact that Ulysses can do both at the same time. So if you started with a smaller account at iCould but then for some reason went to Dropbox? Not a problem.

Thus far those are the observations I have after working with it for less than a couple hours this morning. I'm sure we'll see much more of it in the form of my future writing and observations. It'll be a safe bet most if not all of it will come through an iPad and Ulysses.

Wunderlisting For Artistic Cooperative Endeavors In The Real World

A practical application for Macs, PCs, Tablets and Smartphones (iOS/Android) 

One of the ideas I'm currently working with is a collaborative to do list.  It won't replace face to face or even email for that matter but I think as an organizational tool for things that need to be done and for keeping meeting times striaght between partners in crime it might prove to be pretty useful sometimes.  I then to link it into Google for Gmail and Google Docs to further the collaborative options.   

I think one thing about it is maybe you have a handshake agreement or a verbal discussion and it's a way to make notes of what needs to be done and even put it in a calendar and appointment context.  Most things I put in it don't use the date function but when it comes to events or just meeting at a coffee shop I like the idea. 

The other thing is it's cross platform nature.  I have the same lists on Windows 10, OSX, Android, and iOS currently and will likely even put it on Fire or Apple TV.  Working with me though I'd expect most people might use their phone to check progress and do followups.  It has the ability to message me right in the app which is another thing I like.  Even if you are say modeling this is how I want to approach.  Just like an artist project.  It might be a new experience for some people and that's fine just communicate the newness of it to me.  One of my hallmarks is patience while at the same time trying to coordinate multiple projects and ideas at a time and keep them progressing.  Rather than going all in on just one a system like this allows for a more structured and incremental approach to span multiple things.  Currently I have to-do trees setup to send to six other artists and have one of those active. 

I'll probably edit this post more in the future as opposed to writing separate ones about the topic but if you would like to work with me I'm going to recommend at least adding it to your smartphone or computer/laptop whichever you might think to check most often.  Sort of like a dedicated channel while we are working on things.  It's really less about cracking the whip and more about how I want to raise the organizational level higher.  The primary incentive in working with me like this is greater degrees of success and timely completions.  I don't mind if people have say a writing block or need a little extra time on this or that it's what you get with art.  The notion is more to provide a structure that is less onerous than say verbal nagging and trying to basically annoy people into doing things!

Check it out you might find you use it for other stuff too like typing a shopping list out on your laptop you take with you on your phone.  For my purposes my Mom is getting older and I'll set her up with a shopping list function for the grocery story.  I'm sure there's other things.  A honey do list perhaps?

A New Approach

Today marks the start of a new approach to doing written content on my website.  With the addition of an inexpensive Bluetooth keyboard to the 2017 iPad (cheap one not the Pro lol) I'm setup to type in thoughts, events, and ideas from most anywhere with internet including in my car provided of course I'm not driving! 

I may comment periodically on world events here but by and large I do that elsewhere.  This site is more for communication of ideas and coordination of events with others.  To put out press releases and release photographs, videos, and audio recordings.  A multimedia platform essentially.   

To that end I'll also reorganize this and reformat the site into what I think makes the most sense to reflect the various mediums and to concentrate it on one set of ideas.  Audio video, still photography, and coordinated projects with other like minded people.  My link index is currently an index of resources for the AV area but rather than just doing filler stuff and keeping notes for later reference I'll ascribe that to the web browser and reserve this for links to other people and organizations involved in the arts and education areas. 

Fact is I've found that whether with cameras or a microphone you can apply the skill sets to more than just a solo production scenario.  So in part this site will also likely come to have a social media aspect in that it will wind up linking to the various folks I've worked with.  I'll try to keep that up in terms of links but if you change or move your primary presence on the net it will be helpful to let me know.  Likewise if you observe a link is outdated let me know and I'll try to update and fix it.  Credits and attribution will be a key thing in all things involving working with others.  I think in a duo or group situation even a small contribution is worthy of note essentially.   

No doubt there will be more thoughts to share in the blog but here we go.