Mr. Charlton is Fake News

Every once and a while Mr. Charlton makes a bold claim. I’ve been known to say some pretty outlandish stuff. I once told a guy at a bar that one day, one day, I’d become the world’s greatest farmer. Which is strange, seeing as how I can barely keep a houseplant alive. I’ve said that I’m not the second coming, but rather Jesus was a precursor to Mr. Charlton. This is coming from a guy who would burst into flames if he stepped into a church.

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Kat takes care of this thing. If she wasn’t here, this would be dead.

Not too long ago, I made a bold claim; I was going to get to the bottom of this whole global warming issue. I figured there are not enough journalists covering the topic, and I said to myself, you know what? I might as well get my feet wet. Might as well read some books on the topic of journalism. Might as well learn to dig for facts and report out some hard hitting news.

Well…

That was back in the summer of 2016, the halcyonic days where journalism was, at least from my perspective, still being taken somewhat seriously. Then Trump happened, and the world of the Republican fringe spilled out onto the rest of the planet. The newly appointed administration started to talk about ‘Alternative Facts’ and how anything critical of the White House was now ‘Fake News’. It’s only been a month, and it’s been a goddamn shit show.

I’ve always been wary of emotions. I don’t really like having them. They’re a pain in the ass, distorting logic and reason with feelings and sentimentality. I despise it when organizations use emotions to sway others. Trying to make me afraid and not having any data to back it up, in my opinion, should be a crime. It should be illegal to try and stir the pot without having anything substantial in the pot. An incredibly good example is when a politician tries to use crime as a scapegoat, in an effort to seem tough on an issue. Here’s the statistics for crime in Canada and here it is for the United States. Doesn’t matter in either case if the current administration was left-wing or right-wing on the political spectrum, crimes of all types have consistently been on the decline for decades. Arguing otherwise should result in some sort of penalty.

But I’m not here to talk about crime. I’m here to talk about bullshit. There’s too much of it out there, and I’m not helping the problem. I’m not a journalist. I do not have a degree in political science. I’m not an expert on anything. In fact, I know very little about the things many people consider me to be an authority on. The truth is, the more I learn about a topic, the more I find out I don’t know. The amount of ignorance that erupts when learning something new is staggering. When I took a class on wine years ago, I went from thinking I knew a little, to realizing I knew nothing at all about rotting grapes. You could spend your entire life learning about wine and never learn everything.

And here I was, plucky little Mr. Charlton, thinking I was going to set the record straight on journalism. That is some goddamn hubris right there.

Somewhere along the line, I got a face full of humble pie. It could be the fact that I have friends who are actual journalists. Maybe it’s that no one is going to bother to be interviewed for a website that gets five or six hits per post. But maybe, just maybe, it’s because it takes a lot of work to fact check your sources. Writing a post takes an hour, maybe an hour and a half. Proper research (and yes, I’ve done research on at least three of my posts) can take anywhere from an hour to three hours. Now, with all this goddamn journalism and research, my dumbass blog would take anywhere from two to four hours. Man (or woman), I’ve got a life! I have things to do. I have other things to write. I’ve got hobbies. Sometimes I want to just sit back and play video games or watch a cartoon. If I wanted to become a journalist so bad, I’d go back to school to become a journalist, and I’m already trying to go back to school to fulfill my dream of becoming a lion tamer.

My point is, my opinion isn’t fact. Facts are facts, and good journalism seeks out these facts. Me? I’m gonna keep writing, going to keep reaching for the lion taming stars. If you do care about facts, and you want them to be heard, do facts a favor and subscribe to some real journalism. In a world where facts are under attack, the only way to fight back is to support those who are seeking the truth.

It’s easy to rile people up with inflammatory opinion. It’s almost impossible to calm them down with rationality. Someone out there is selling you emotion, and that makes me so angry I could remember everything I just said, calm my ass down, look up the numbers on the situation, realize it’s not as bad as I think it is, and be slightly ticked off someone was manipulating my emotions in the first place.

Sincerely,

The Illustrious Mr. Charlton

p.s. I’m going to probably stick to satire mostly from now on, it’s the most fun to write.

 

Lies are the Spicer of Life

Note: This is a transcript of the third press conference held by Press Secretary Sean Spicer. The conference was held Tuesday, January 24th, 2017.

<Muffled noise as reporters are taking their places. Sean Spicer walks out to the podium>

“Hello, everyone. I’m glad you could all make it on such short notice. There have been a lot of lies spouted recently about not only myself but also Kellyanne Conway and many other people within the Trump team. Today, I will be making a point of clearing up some of the misconceptions so that you can untwist the media out of the crooked perverse form you’ve managed to wrangle it into.”

<A number of reporters jump up at the pause, shouting and pointing  small microphone devices in the direction of  Sean>

“Does it look like I’m taking questions today? Your job is to open your earholes and learn something. Now, what I’m talking about is complicated. It might just pass over your head. You media jerks have been calling us liars. That’s not very nice. We’ve said before, President Trump had the largest turnout for his inauguration in the history of the United States. In the words of our President, and I quote, ‘It was the bigliest inauguration ever. The ratings were good. They were so good. The ratings were through the roof. In fact, we had to get a repair person in to fix the roof. With our record attendance, we broke a roof and gave a man a job’.”

“Now, I understand some of you have been tweeting pictures of past inaugurations, and data gathered by the DC metro regarding tickets, and Nielson ratings for television. You keep throwing facts in our direction. As Kellyanne mentioned, we’re using alternative-facts here, or as we’re calling ’em now, alt-facts.”

<Four reporters scream out ‘Alt-facts?’ in unison. Loud grumbling and murmuring fill the room. One reporter faints>

“Can I finish? Can I finish, please? What you don’t know is that not only is Kellyanne Conway a very talented individual in getting people elected, she’s also has a degree in theoretical physics. What she’s discovered is this; there are an infinite number of universes, and each universe is an alternate version of this reality. And there are facts that can come from these universes, which we’ve labeled as alt-facts. So, in theory, there is an alternate universe where over a billion people tuned into the inauguration. I want you to think about that for a second.”

<More rabble from the press. One journalist gets a question out.”

“Mr. Press Secretary, Mr. Press Secretary!”

“Oh jeez, god, really? Fine, you there, in the sweater. Yes, you.”

“Margaret Sullivan, Washington Post. If what you are saying is true…”

“It is.”

“…Ahem. If what you’re saying is true, then would it stand to imagine a reality where Hillary Clinton the presidency? If the answer is yes, is there any way to travel there?”

“To put it bluntly, no. President Donald Trump is such a sensation that his popularity spans all the infinite universes. He’s that huge.”

<Shouting again from the press. More hands are raised.>

“Alright, I think I handled that last question pretty well. Let’s keep this streak going! Yes, you there.”

“Yes, hello, Gary O’Donoghue, BBC. I’ve had a little bit of time since you stated Kellyanne Conway to do some research. There doesn’t seem to be any indication that she studied physics at any of the universities she attended. Would you care to explain?”

<Sean Spicer reaches for his temples.>

“See? This is why we can’t have nice things. You’re trying to twist things here, you Limey jerk. You’re just trying to wind me up. Have you not been listening? Have you not been paying attention? There are other universes, moron, and in some of those universes Kellyanne went to MIT and studied theoretical physics and found out about these infinite universes. Is that so hard? Is it getting through your thick skull? Because you couldn’t play fair, I’m only taking one more question and it’s going to be from our friends over at Breitbart.”

<The person from Breitbart, now sitting up from the lazyboy provided for him, smirks at the reporters before asking a question.>

“Sup Sean, I had a blast over the weekend. Thanks for showing me the town. I gotta ask. How do you feel about Dippin Dots?”

<Sean Spicer’s face goes red. He starts to visibly grind his teeth.>

“Dippin Dots? Ice cream of the future? I feel like they should be taken out with extreme prejudice. I’m talking black masks and BMXs at night. Tactical precision strikes. You struck a nerve there. Anyways, that’s a wrap. I have to go figure out some other great ideas, one of the versions of me in the infinite universes is Rhode Scholar.”

Sincerely,

The Illustrious Mr. Charlton

p.s. The jokes is that for some reason, Sean Spicer hates Dippin Dots.

p.s.s. Apparently, and I heard this through the grape vine so it might not be real, but Trump is sending out Spicer to meet the press on these issues. I guess the President would be pretty upset at the idea of not having the biggest inauguration ever.

p.s.s.s. I think Trump is going to hate these next four years more than his detractors ever will.

 

A Steaming Pile of Internet

There’s another reason I didn’t post anything for two weeks. It’s because I didn’t have anything interesting to talk about. Nothing I was doing was particularly interesting at the time. I wasn’t reading anything worthwhile, I wasn’t examining any fascinating new articles. I was staying inside and playing video games and watching television. I needed a break from brain thinking, and loaded up my mind space with cerebral junk food. There’s nothing wrong with that, except, it left me with nothing to scribe about and no desire to make something up. I own a small slice of the internet, though. Not a very big slice, mind you, but a slice non the less. As the proprietor of this tiny slice of web zone, I’m now considered a “content creator”. This is where we enter bullshit territory. So pucker your assholes, because Mr. Charlton is going to rant for a bit.

See, before the internet, the world was filled with musicians and writers and designers and inventors and artists and a whole mess of crazy people who made things. They usually worked with marketers, entrepreneurs, publishers and another heap of humans to package and sell these things. These marketers, entrepreneurs, and publishers were the gatekeepers. They decided who got to be successful, and who didn’t make the cut. For years, this seemed to work in favour for the latter group. There’s always been this undercurrent of hatred for this group, these so-called suits. They’re business people at their core, and they’re interested in making money, not making dreams happen for artists. Fair enough. Then the world wide web took off, and soon it became easier for the painter, the poet, or the filmmaker to create art and sell it without the middle man, these so-called suits. We entered a new world, where people who created things got to deal directly with their fans and the purchasing public. Awesome, right?

There’s a problem, though. Back in the day, the artist used to think “You know what, these gatekeepers have shitty taste. If the people could only hear my music, then I’d be able to be successful. I’d make it if I just had the chance.” Those artists were wrong. It wasn’t the gatekeepers who had shitty taste, it was the people. I wrote a post years ago, on the old blog, about how people have lousy taste. That includes me. I have abhorrent taste in music. I have a soft spot in my heart for terrible movies. My idea of decorating a house is minimalist, in which I don’t decorate my house (the added bonus of not having to dust shit is also nice).

The internet is steaming cesspool of pop-culture refined sugar, not because that’s what people want to make, but that’s because it’s what people want to consume.

I’m going to give you a choice. You can either get a fast food burger once a day, or you can splurge at the end of the week and get a three course meal at a fancy restaurant. The only caveat is you can’t have both. Most people are going to go for the first option. There will be a few people who’ll wait for the crazy amazing meal, but not everyone is into fine dining. The internet is taken this to heart, and the term is ‘content’. In order to be a viable website, you need to have new content. Every. Day. Even if it’s not particularly good content, people still need to be able to come to your space and find something new.

Truthfully, this has less to do with people’s shitty taste, although I will defend to the death that I’m right on the money with that. It actually has to do with how the brain is hardwired. The brain likes being rewarded with stimulus, and will fire some dopamine in your direction when it gets what it wants. The same pleasure centers fire up when you get a message, or a text, or a Facebook like, or browse a site and get something new. That’s why websites like Facebook and Instagram are constantly updating. It’s why people are constantly checking their feeds every ten minutes.

If you’re a massive organization, like let’s say Buzzfeed, you just need to churn out crap everyday. And that’s what Buzzfeed does. I’m not certain how many people contribute to Buzzfeed, but it’s got to be a couple dozen. If you’re flying solo, like myself, you have to make a conscious descision. Do I churn out crap everyday? Or do I try and have some standards and at least put together a legible article?

Here’s the thing. Even what I’ve just written here is pretty trashy. I haven’t solidfied my research, but rather just took a bunch of ideas I’ve been pooling in my head and vomited them out onto the page. Which is maybe why I haven’t been writing as much, ’cause I hate churning out crap.

The internet is both a blessing and a curse. The artist isn’t just an artist anymore, they’re a ‘content creator’. They now have to be selling themselves at all times. I like putting shit down on paper and online. I do not like adding a million hashtags to what I’m doing to try and whore myself out. Anyways, rant over. I’m going to get back at something more interesting later this week. I promise.

Sincerely,

The Illustrious Mr. Charlton

p.s. You know what happens if I break my promise? Nothing.

p.s.s. Maybe it’ll be ’34 ways people are using the internet the way junkies use heroin’.

p.s.s.s. #writing #writerslife #doIreallyhavetodothis #Igetitsaneasywaytopromotemyself #anditsfree #butseriously #everytimeIseeapostlikethis #Iwanttostaplemydicktothebackofacar

Meta Post – Mr. Charlton, Fake Journalist

The last post I wrote blew up over what can be lovingly referred to as “A stupid internet debate.” What started as a harmless post regarding Trump as a lousy candidate quickly turned into a debate regarding Global Warming. I’m not entirely sure how that happened, but like I said, stupid internet debate. I was challenged with finding GIS data regarding global warming. So I started digging.

Now, it really wasn’t all that hard to find a pile of raw data for GIS analysis regarding global warming. It took the sleuthing of about a thirty second Google search to produce data I could throw in a program and start making maps. In fact, the company that makes ArcGIS, the most popular GIS program on the market, has a pdf on modeling maps with climate change in mind. The information is out there, and it’s not hard to find.

But I wanted to go deeper. I wanted to know how this information was gathered. I wanted to talk to experts. I wanted to correspond with people on both sides of the argument. Everyone who chimed in on the stupid internet debate I had going was not an expert. I’m certainly no expert when it comes to climate change. Hell, I’m hardly a drafting expert and I held that position for over a decade.

The only problem with all of this, is that the job I just described, gathering information, corresponding with experts, presenting the information so that it can be understood by non-experts is a job for a journalist, and I’m certainly no expert when it comes to that. So the task I had laid out for me was another hurdle, one that kind of paralyzed me from writing about anything on this blog for the last couple of days. I sat there, writing Harry Potter / Ninja Turtle cross-over slash fiction instead. As fun as it was to have Michelangelo fall in love with Hermione and have Harry bump heads with Leonardo over leadership duties, it certainly wasn’t getting me anywhere.

I did what I always do when I know nothing about something. I got some books and I started doing some research. This means that it’s going to be a bit before I can talk about climate change and do it justice. I have to get a better handle on the science behind the theory. I have to start sending emails and I have to start making phone calls. I’m determined to do the subject justice, and who knows? Maybe I’ll find out that I’ve been blindly following a hoax, and the Earth is perfectly fine and there’s no need for alarm.

Seriously though, who reads books anymore?

Learning from some books! Like old people do!

The topic of climate change is going to be brought up again on this blog again, you can count on that. In the meantime, the Olympics are starting up next week, and it looks like it’s going to be an utter disaster. I’m certainly no expert on the politics involved in the Olympic process, but I know what a train wreck looks like.

Sincerely,

The Illustrious Mr. Charlton

p.s. You know what? Harry would be getting along with Raphael so much better because they’re both emotional hotheads, Donatello would be crushing on Hermione ’cause of brain, and Ron would be skateboarding with Mikey and getting into wacky high-jinks. We all know Leo would be ass kissing Dumbledore.

p.s.s GOD! WHY WASN’T IT SO OBVIOUS BEFORE?!?! NOW ALL MY SLASH FICTION IS RUINED!

p.s.s.s. Gonna try out the ol’ alt text thing. Gives people reading it on a computer just that much more of me.