December 30, 2016

The above came to mind after reading Herr Trump’s statement that “The whole age of the computer has made it where nobody knows exactly what’s going on,” which seems akin to Herbert Hoover saying that we can’t trust radio news because only Satan and his familiars have the ability to summon voices from furniture.

We can all guffaw about how Grandpa doesn’t know how these new magic boxes work, and that of course is ageism (though I should note that some of my favorite people are old — hell, some are so old they’ve been dead for decades!), but when Grandpa is given the keys to the country, it’s not so funny. In fact, it’s a valid topic of discussion. Consider how in 2008 Bill Clinton and John McCain were caught flatfooted by the fact that, thanks to YouTube, their usual denials of things they actually said, many times, were suddenly falsifiable. Or how Ted Stephens famously had no idea how the internet – over which he would have the power to make decisions – worked. This shit matters.

But the audience for this loud and proud ignorance isn’t us: it’s people in their demo, who through anxiety and indignation won’t be told by kids who weren’t even alive when Jack Benny was on the air how something actually works, dagnabbit. And, in the face of facts, they retreat into a zone of belief that makes the All In The Family theme song seem downright oracular
(“Donald Trump’s victory has older Americans thinking the economy is already great again”).

People Who Died

A less-famous person who died in 2016 was Larry Colburn, who was on the helicopter crew that intervened in the My Lai massacre (memory hole reminder: in the Army’s official investigations, a young Colin Powell helped minimize that massacre and others which conducted as part of a deliberate policy). Per Pierce:

To me, this always has been one of the more astonishing displays of courage of which I’ve ever heard, and I heard about it the way everyone else did, years later, because the Army did its best to cover the whole thing up and to slander the reputations of the helicopter crew involved. (Needless to say, the Nixon Administration was particularly venal in this regard.) Were we a truly vibrant and evolved republic, Larry Colburn’s funeral would be on national television. Children would read about him in school. There would be memorials on the National Mall and at West Point.

Something Else

Barrett Brown is a writer who was arrested in relation to the 2011 Stratfor hack. While in federal custody he wrote about his incarceration, among other topics, for the Intercept. Alex Winter has released a short documentary about Brown, “Relatively Free” that you can view online.

Quick Ones: