Brief: National TV News Summary as Seen in US – Nov 23

A daily ~200 word blog of what is presented across daily national news broadcasts in the US.

New Secretary of Education- End of Federal Common Core – communities determine curriculum (means creation science instead of evolution) , school choice means privatization of schools, this Secretary has a history of anti LBGTQ,

Ben Carson, the brain surgeon who ran for the nomination of the Republican Party choice for Housing and Urban Development.

A few other cabinet appointments.  Nikki Haley Ambassador to UN

Hillary won over 2million more votes than Trump but Trump holds electoral votes.

Jill Stein – 3rd party presidential candidate is trying to challenge vote count in 3 states.  She needs $2 million to fund audit.  She has $50k.  Clinton quiet on this.  Some but not any overwhelming evidence of tampering with electronic vote tallies from machines compared to paper vote.

Electoral college can “in theory” cast their votes so Clinton wins, 6 electors have agreed, they need 36 more to either vote Hillary, abstain or vote for any other candidate, for Clinton to unseat Trumps victory.  Vote happens on Dec 20th.

Huge traffic jams all over country as people go to visit family for Thanksgiving.

super sniffing dogs assisting security of NY Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Obama pardons two turkeys from the roasting pan.



Brief: National TV News Summary as Seen in US – Nov 22 Early Edition

A daily ~200 word blog of what is presented across daily national news broadcasts in the US.

Five children dead, many injured after speeding school bus crash in Tennessee.

Trump charity admits “self-dealing” in tax returns.  “Self-dealing” means using resources from charity for personal benefit.

Trump announces: will not pursue Hillary prosecution (today) , says Clinton Foundation has done good work (yesterday), Clintons “good” people (from 2 days ago), he believes there is “connectivity” between global warming and human activity (today), White supremacists should “cut it out” and he disavows them.

Mitt Romney being seriously considered by Trump for Secretary of State.  Romney one of the people the most critical of Trump during election.

Also, it appears Jarred Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law wants to play a key role in negotiating an Israel-Palestine peace.  (My comment: Great place to cut your teeth in foreign policy work.)

Fear of attacks and increased security on Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade.  This parade is a cornerstone piece of 20th century Americana.

Trump met with major national news heads and correspondents to make relationship more cordial, thinks NBC uses unflattering photos of him.  Trump appears to want greater “off the record” components while talking to press, “off the record” meaning not to be reported. Trump tweets insult at New York Times but ends up meeting with them separately.  No press corp currently following President-elect Trump which departs from historically established standard.

Link of the day:

Obama awards 21 people Medal of Freedom: Robert de Nero, Springsteen, Ellen DeGeneris, Diana Ross, Tom Hanks, Michael Jordan, Bill and Melinda Gates, Richard Garwin, Lorne Michaels, Robert Redford, Cicely Tyson, Newt Minow, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Margret Hamilton, Grace Marie Hopper – worth googling last two…..    this will be top of news this evening, I am sure.

Right now Trump’s wife Milania and 10 year old son to stay in NY till end of school year at cost of $1M per day for security, NY will seek federal renumeration for cost. Normally, first family moves in day of inauguration.

Discussion of building wall with Mexico visibly absent ( :))from Trump’s agenda past few days.

Business conflict of interest with Trump presidency continues to be discussed.  In fact, US laws do not require president to do anything in particular to separate president from his business, it has just been a tradition of president to sell or create “blind trust”.


My thoughts:  News broadcasts getting surreal in US, from my perspective.  All Trump surrogates defending his decisions and behavior on news programs seem of inferior talent than prior presidential surrogates.  Choose a YouTube of Jeffery London, Paris Dennard or Kayleigh McEnany to see these people in action.  Anderson Cooper and Wolf Blitzer don’t seem to challenge or ask questions that provoke insight or exploration of implications like they did prior to election.  More informational style, less probing.  I think Trump’s dealings with press is having a chilling effect.  Again, just my thoughts.

Brooke Baldwin CNN gets emotional and almost tearful because liberal critic of White Nationalists says Bannon uses the word “nigger” and critic actually says the word, “nigger”.  She doesn’t want this word used on her show.  I thought it was inoffensive because it was used in reporting the offensive behavior, and not used to disparage anyone.

Brief: National TV News Summary as Seen in US – Nov 21

A daily ~200 word blog of what is presented across daily national news broadcasts in the US.

I watch most national news broadcasts in the US.  This blog is a summary of what Americans have as top stories each day.  I hope it provides insight to those not in the US of what Americans are hearing in national domestic broadcasts.  I’ll do my best to give headlines in priority of amount of time spent in news.

Trump’s appearance of business interests conflicting with role of president continue spurred by meeting with Indian businessmen.  White Nationalists (also called the Alt Right) have high profile meeting in Washington DC, close with “Heil, Trump” by many. Trump bypasses national media by addressing the US via YouTube. Howard Dean Former Head of the Democratic National Committee called Steve Bannon, recently appointed chief advisor to Trump, “a Nazi”.  There is a trend across programs for Trump surrogates to say the Obama “Birther Movement”, which was Trump’s first foray into national politics was not racist.  Trump continues to use Twitter to complain about unflattering tv content (mostly humor) about him.  Use of water cannons by police on oil pipeline protestors in sub freezing temperatures initially denied by police despite photographs.

I am happy to do this every day.  It would be helpful to receive feedback or constructive criticism so I can improve the quality of these brief summaries.

AHS: Roanoke How Media Manipulates How and What You Think is True


Note: it may be helpful to read my Spoiler-free review of AHS Roanoke before reading this, but not absolutely necessary.

Hats off to Reddit for providing a laboratory to watch people process this season’s AHS: Roanoke.  I was as much a participant as an observer.  It was fun, for the most part.  And most of my theories were wrong as well, though I was more interested in exploring entertaining ideas than predicting what was actually going to happen on the show.  People write there for all sorts of reasons.  I did not start out as some kind of voyeur, but what I saw on Reddit was as interesting as AHS: Roanoke itself.

Recently, a philosopher friend reminded me that you should not always believe what you think.  I’ve already written about how hard it is to put the Humpty Dumpty of truth back together after it has been through the media blender.  The problem with expressing this is that everyone nods sagely in agreement.  The educated ones mutter, “The medium is the message”. But everyone thinks they are the exception, that they readily extract cold facts from this information slushee.  Almost everyone walks around uncritically believing what they think.  My purpose revisiting Roanoke is to provide substantial SPOILER examples of exactly why a ride in the media blender, even if it contains large lumps of factually correct information, makes accessing the truth an incredibly analytic labor; and we are too lazy to do this work even 1% of the time.

It seemed to me that prior to the finale, most redditors were of the opinion that if Episodes 6-9, commonly referred to as Return to Roanoke (RTR), were some kind of “Blair WItch Project”, faux “found footage” horror project, it would be lame and they would be pissed and feel disappointed.  Ryan circumvented a direct confrontation on this by introducing yet another media genre, the amateur ghost investigators, kept the action distractingly fast-paced and focused on resolving only one of the story threads.  My sense is that, of all seasons, opinions on this complete season were the most polarized.  I thought it was brilliant, lots of people thought it was shit.

Before giving some spoiler examples to make my point, I want to add to my laundry list of reality style tv show genres that I mentioned before.  I submit for your consideration, the “Real Housewives” franchise.  How do you get a bunch of vain, aging, wealthy, well-educated (for the most part) women to parade their shallow, petty lives on television?  Tell them it’s not them!  Tell them they are playing a “character” in the exact same circumstances, with their name.  Hand them a script describing their lives and conflicts and tell them this is the “character’s” story line.  This is why you see so many real-time divorces on this show.  It is way more than coincidence.  Their venal, ugly, cruel or stupid character is on display for all the world to see and their husbands can’t stomach a nation knowing what they are married to. All married people know their partners are imperfect, but their deeper imperfections are usually part of a private world, shared by only two people; the place where people can be themselves, for better or worse.  It must be impossible if the totality of your partner’s ugliness is on public display, and you realize how your partner has such limited self-understanding that they willingly parade this ugliness under the guise of a “character” with their name and a “storyline” describing their lives.  I believe Andy Cohen, the angel-faced producer who calls these women his friends is a soulless monster.

Sydney, the cruel bastard, found the perfect candidate for the “Real Housewives” treatment, and her name is Audrey.  He revealed this petty, cruel “that’s how I played her, fiery and pathetic”, vain, histrionic and insecure woman by telling her to just play herself.  From her wedding tape, to her soliloquy on the three months of perfect love under the tree from which Rory hung, to her spontaneous eulogy praising Dominic as an excellent scene partner, we marveled at the remarkable piece of work that was Audrey.  Fantastically entertaining, right?

But, back to the media slurpee…

Ryan was afraid we would get lost, so he offered us some information.  “You cannot trust them,” Murphy told E! “I think all three of them are…what they said and what they explained in their version of events is not actually the truth.”

It is important to remember that when Ryan dropped the hint, we were watching the talking head interviews of MRN. Shelby and Matt were still together. They had not been to Palley Fest where Dominic made a move on Shelby. After MRN Shelby and Matt offered us very little about their story or perspective other than Shelby agreeing to return in order to win Matt back. There really was no opportunity for us to not trust what they say after MRN because they really aren’t conveying anything outside of their behavioral responses to what was going on around them.  This hint was really to help us figure out what is going on in these interviews.

Let’s get Lee out of the way.  Lee might be misrepresenting things because of Mason.  It turns out this is true.  Interestingly, I believe the primary reason Lana is introduced in the end is for the purpose of rehabilitating Lee’s reputation in our eyes.  In this universe, Lana is the final word on someone’s character, she can read them.  She tells us Lee is much like herself, and can be of singular focus, like a dog with a bone.

I believe the key reason that Matt and Shelby, particularly Shelby, should be viewed as unreliable narrators is Sydney. The whole MRN was “inspired” by a true story. Sydney bought the house and paid them to participate so long as they went along with his embellishments.  (If you can’t suspend your disbelief in this theory, and go along with this for a while you might as well stop reading.)  After Matt’s traumatic head injury, memory issues and being the object of Scatcat’s affections, I wouldn’t trust Matt to tell me the correct time.

Shelby said that the night Matt was knocked out was the worst night in her life. Really?  Worse than a blood moon night in the Roanoke house visiting their cannibal neighbors? And how could they ever return after that experience?

It wasn’t such a big deal to go back because most of the big horror was Sydney’s fictional, extreme enhancements to spice the story up. Shelby and Matt’s real story was scary and mystifying, and searching for little girl in the woods is worrying, but what actually happened to them was not terrifying or horrifying.

Do you remember how there was really something “off” about Shelby when interviewed?  Something didn’t seem right? The brief eye twitchy flutter just that once?  It drove me crazy. Lily Rabe is such a fantastic actress, what was it about the character Shelby? The reason Shelby seemed so off was Sydney had her well beyond her comfort zone with the lies and exaggerations he spiced the show up with. But she had no choice. She committed to it, for Matt.

Here is a list of stuff I do not believe happened and that Sydney made up for reenactment “inspired” by a true story.


Could you image going anywhere within a hundred mile of the place where you had this experience?  You are offered jerky made from someone’s leg, have the source of the jerky tied to a table filled with arrows, and begging you to end their life, AND then watch someone murder them by smashing their head with a hammer and getting sprayed with brains, while grandma is calling you “sweet meat”?

Why I believe it didn’t happen.

The Polks told Audrey that her fate was on account of her getting their young’uns taken.  How could they not remember that Shelby and Matt were responsible for that, given they held them hostage?  They could not remember it because they hadn’t held them hostage.  This leads me to think the whole meeting Elias in person was “inspired” by true events. I think the only Elias the Millers met was via those videotapes.


In court, Flora said she saw her mother smash her father’s head with a large stone.  But this wasn’t enough of a reveal for much of Reddit.  They were trying to figure out how he was burned after that?  This illustrates how hard it is to let go of a lie.  Some say, “But we saw the burnt ghost of Lee’s husband, Mason, walk down the hall in RTR.”  Yes, and Sydney had also arranged for a piggy man to show up to keep things entertaining. I believe this is the reason we saw family pictures including the real Mason during the interview with Lana.  He looked different from the man playing the ghost.  He had hair, for one.  The ghost was rocking a cue ball look, like the actor who played him in MRN.

In court, the discrediting aspect to Flora as a witness was NOT that she got the cause of death wrong, but because she believed she had a ghost friend.

This need to insist that Mason was also burned, because you received the smallest additional lie to reinforce this, is exactly how hard it is to extract truth from a media slurpee.  


Many of those paranormal expert teams wish they would find stuff, but are prepared if they don’t.  A bed sheet goes flying? Really?  And it was so funny that they introduce Avery, the actor who plays the psychic Cricket.  He stumbles upon a dirty bonnet, “We had one just like this on the show!”  Then he proceeds to give a psychic reading of it, really?  What did he say?  “So much pain and desolation”  or something like that.  Psychic actor who played a psychic on the reenactment?  Wow!  Sydney really casts for realism, or what a coincidence!

And after Lee was surprised to find the Spirit Casers there, she seemed pretty cool.  Her gun was holstered.  She’s seen all this fake shit before.  She calmly walks up the stairs to continue looking for Flora. Gee, what great investigators SPIRIT CHASERS were.  They can’t figure out there is a live child hiding i the house?  And Flora seemed unfazed by the whole thing, even watching piggyman chop Avery, it must have been clear to her it was bs because she knows what a real ghost is.

But the most telling information was when we heard the morning news describing a hostage situation.  A woman holding one or two girls.  If those cops were shot with arrows, and others sliced by piggy and the butcher, wouldn’t the cops be reporting the murders and also be looking to apprehend the cop murderers?  Same site.  Yup.  Nope.  Spirit Chasers was yet another fraud.  You were wondering why the Butcher looked a bit different, right?  But in the adrenaline rush of the carnage, you either believed it or had to think hard about it to realize it wasn’t true.


For what it is worth, here’s my list of true stuff.  Lee’s story recreation with Mason and centering on Flora’s abduction. Flora talking to Priscilla.

Dead pig on porch real. Probably Polks. Lee and Matt seeing the burning BBQ cross- probably put up by Polks to scare them off.  Why did Polks want to buy the house?  They didn’t want any neighbors.

A few reports to police about seeing stuff in the woods and Shelby’s trip to the hospital and drug testing.

Matt seeing nurses.

Argument with bank representative.

Matt’s seduction by Scatcat. I believe he ate a boar’s heart and Shelby saw him in woods with Scatcat. Don’t believe Polks were there jerking off. Shelby believed Matt didn’t remember and she probably questioned herself having been the subject of a psychological and drug review in hospital. Also, after losing a baby, it is not uncommon for women to face psychological obstacles during their recovery.

Matt and Shelby seeing Priscilla by the root cellar door. The videotapes, at least the first one, was real.

They attributed the moaning in the basement to Mott. They knew the Mott story of building the house. They may have found the hidden passages by following some moaning. I don’t think they necessarily met Mott, though he might have been of assistance as he just wants to be left alone.

Matt’s second encounter with Scarcat, in the root cellar where she shares her story seems real.

Everything about Lee’s murders of the Polks and the boar’s heart seems to hold under scrutiny.

And of course, the poetry, “I am the tree and the lightning that strikes it”. I think that is real because Lee recites it after eating the boar’s heart.

Trail of doll parts and pig parts arrangements- Sydney.

It is amazing that Shelby is not permanently in need of a cane after being hobbled by Ma Polk.  And Shelby seemed to really recover super quickly from the cleaver chop. Seems we have two possible explanations 1)  Shelby is a witch with great healing skills and 2) all the injuries were fictitious.  Seems either one or both are true.

If we think Agnes didn’t kill Sydney, maybe the whole attack on Shelby was staged. Who points a cell phone camera at someone about to kill them when the whole house is wired with cameras? She’s not a great improvisation actress cause she’s a yoga teacher. Audrey calmly bandaging up Shelby because she played a nurse in some production? And why did Dominic need to bring Shelby, a severely injured person, down to the basement to see what Matt was up to? This just smells of reality tv choreography. Could it even be possible that Matt and Shelby are still alive?

Finally, the British woman who was a Lee fan and made the YouTube post we viewed, seems a credible source, indicated that RTR was an exploitive work and they didn’t know if all those people were really dead or not. So, clearly, RTR was available for commercial viewing on tv or the internet somewhere. Certainly, information about all the murders would have been available in the news, especially Sydney’s death; he’s the Ryan Murphy of that tiny AHS universe.

It seems entirely possible that almost everything was staged in RTR except the Polk conflicts, Lee accepting a bite of the Boar’s heart, Lee pushing Monet over the stair rail, and Lee chopping Audrey and pushing her into cellar.


There was only one question that threw Shelby for a loop during the talking head interviews,  Sydney asked her if she knew what Cricket whispered into Lee’s ear.  Here is my short list of reasons that question received such a stunned look and mumble: 1) . Maybe she knew the answer but doesn’t want to introduce a painful topic  that might be a family secret, 2). Maybe she knew the answer but wasnt supposed to know it, as Lee never told her, maybe she learned through a 3rd party,  3). Maybe what Cricket whispered to Lee was actually something very revealing about Shelby, or anything else, not Emily, and this made her squirm, or  4)  if the whole Cricket story was the Miller’s invention or even Sydney’s invention maybe Shelby was startled and isn’t a facile enough liar and hadn’t anticipated the question.  Personally, 1) and 2) are my favorite candidates.  But this is were this sliver or insight ends on what I thought was supposed to provide a bit of insight as to what is really going on.

Sydney was so proud of himself for finding out about Emily via research.  Remember, he seem fixated on Lee as an unpunished murderer.  If he is looking to make Lee appear even more the dark horse, he wants to work the Emily story into the narrative, even if it is completely unrelated.  Sydney may not have cared what Cricket actually whispered, Sydney could have decided whispering about Emily was the perfect way to introduce Lee’s lost child.

It’s possible a Cricket never even visited, or he heard it through the witch vine, and not some random spirit.  Sydney could have given the Uber guy a $200 to say Cricket was there. We only saw tape of a reenactment ride, actually two different versions of the reinactment ride, not the real Cricket. I think the two slightly different versions of the Cricket Uber ride was really to cement the idea in our minds that Cricket had come and gone and ended lost in the woods chasing Flora and died at the Butcher’s hands.  Nothing like a memorable punchline to have people recall things and reinforce something that might not be true.  “Gay for pay” anybody? Another way to anchor a lie is to have the lie come up in more than one place, which happened with the Uber story.  The uber driver having the last name Snow must not be coincidence.  Snow is a witch family name.

And it just strikes me as wrong that Cricket held the negotiation in the forest with the Butcher about returning Flora in exchange for the Millers leaving.  Doesn’t seem like her style.  Not a talker.  Further, Lee was able to hear Priscilla talk, she recognized her voice, but when the Millers went with Cricket to parler  with the Butcher to negotiate for Flora’s release, we got a dose of an elementary mime exercise from Audrey and Monet’s overacting, demonstrating that they couldn’t see or hear the Butcher’s replies to Cricket.  Until the Butcher showed up the night the Millers fled Roanoke, Cricket was their sole conduit for communication with the Butcher.  Cricket shared the story of the Butcher and Scatcat, and the story containing the stoning of Priscilla by the Butcher.  Cricket explained what the Butcher said during the seance and, as mentioned, the parler in the forest.

Gee, Cricket holds all the cards containing information needed by a desperate mother.

Are we sure about what team Cricket is playing for?  I’m NOT talking about the “gay for pay”.

Sydney might get Shelby and Matt to exaggerate lots of stuff, but he’d be pressing his luck pressuring Lee.  Besides, she’s his villain. Cricket is an important part of her understanding of things and Flora’s interaction with Priscilla reinforces part of the beliefs.

Even if Cricket is exactly who he says, who could have passed that Butcher story down?  No written records of the colony were found, and according to the story, the Butcher killed all the colonists, unless someone was sent to bed without supper that night.  Ah, but Scatcat survived.  This is the witch’s tale of Roanoke, history is usually written by the victors.

Executive summary of Cricket-based info for those of you who forgot, “Scatcat witch. Butcher bad. Priscilla innocent child victim.  Danger! Danger!”

HEY, maybe I can get a job writing Trump’s daily briefings- I keep it simple!



The kiddie BBQ, maybe it’s true.  But I wonder, how did they get the police tapes of those three kids being interviewed by the cops?  It was definitely from cameras mounted in the interrogation rooms, if it wasn’t just actors playing police interrogators.  You think real interrogation tapes would be available after those kids were murdered?  But, Lee’s presence as the “Master of Ceremonies” makes the kiddie shish-kabobs appear more credible.  Maybe it started out a fraud and suddenly turned real.  I’m sure Sydney the sociopath would be happy with the footage either way.

The business of the teen kabobs following the car wreck ghost and finding the body of Sydney’s first assistant in the car, well, she didn’t seem all that decomposed.  The body is there on video, then the cops check and no body?  Guess she went home, she must still be working for Sydney.

It was interesting no information was presented on who else Lee accused of and tried for murder, of course Ma Polk and Jethers… but there were a lot of bodies lying around if we believe what we see.  Of all the murders, the teen-kabobs would have been capital murder charges.  Even if found innocent by mental defect, she would not have been walking free so quickly, she’d be institutionalized.  All the other deaths had midigating circumstances, but the teen-kabobs?


I wonder who got the video tape of Lot heading into the city for revenge.  Do you think Lot has ever been to the big city?  You know who I think did that interview?  I think it was Sydney, the miserable shit of a human being.  He probably had to explain how to get to Lana’s address to Lot, and how to use an elevator as well.  Given the Polks shunned the outside world, rounded up the ladies with cattle prods, got pickled ears and jars of black strap molasses for Christmas, that was a pretty shiny and new semi automatic machine gun Lot had there.  Present from someone?

Given I think there’s a chance that Sydney directed Lot to Lana just in time for the interview (hard to believe that was coincidence), it may even be the whole Kathy Bates crazy Butcher biz was a set up by Sydney as well, because if he survived, then the Agnes murder spree was fake. When you pull one loose thread, sometimes everything unravels.  Note that the only people she killed were right by the trailer.  Definitely an acting opportunity of a life time for the Bates character, Agnes.  Nothing like having a real crazy woman play a crazy woman.  And the whole sudden appearance and disappearance of those strings of stick figure fetishes?  I think it was an invention in MRN and that they suddenly appeared in the house and the quick appearance and disappearance of them in the root cellar with Agnes during her “madness and regret soliloquy” in episode 9- don’t buy it.  Why would the witch bother?  Why would the ghosts bother?  Maybe a reflection of Agnes’s insanity, then it is just filmography work.  Maybe Lee packing a gun was unanticipated.  Maybe things got out of hand and Agnes really did get shot, and that just got her more immersed in the role and her own craziness.  I think the Butcher may have killed Kathy Bate’s Butcher, for what that’s worth.


Continuing this vein of thought, in the finale we have Flora dissappear one hour before the Lana interview, someone tapes Lot with his rifle vowing revenge on Lee, sitting in his truck (presumably heading somewhere) then we see the Lana and Lee interview being shot up by Lot. Lot is then shot to death on tv, Lee rushes to the Roanoke house to find Flora, as the Spirit Chasers, with surviving actor of MRN in tow, cut the fence to do an unauthorized paranormal documentary simultaneous to the Lana Winters live interview special?  This has Sydney’s filthy fingerprints all over it.  He just wants to get every last entertainment penny out of that house.

Even further, Shelby seemed to recover super quickly from the cleaver chop.  If we think Agnes didn’t kill Sydney, maybe the whole attack on Shelby was staged.  And who points a cell phone camera at someone about to kill them when the whole house is wired with cameras?  Not a great improvisation actress cause she’s a yoga teacher.  Audrey calmly bandaging up Shelby because she played a nurse in some production?  And why did Dominic need to bring Shelby, a severely injured person, down to the basement to see what Matt was up to?  This just smells of reality tv choreography.  Could it even be possible that Matt and Shelby are still alive?

Finally, the British woman who was a Lee fan and made the YouTube post we viewed, seems a credible source,  indicated that RTR was an exploitive work and they didn’t know if all those people were really dead or not. So, clearly, RTR was available for commercial viewing on the internet somewhere.  Certainly, information about all the murders would have been available in the news, especially Sydney’s death; he’s the Ryan Murphy of that tiny AHS universe.

It seems entirely possible that almost everything was staged in RTR except the Polk conflicts, Lee accepting a bite of the Boar’s heart, Lee pushing Monet over the stair rail, and Lee chopping Audrey and pushing her into cellar.


If the whole kidnapped by cannibals part of MRN was fiction, as I believe, how did Sydney invent the cannibal stuff and it ends up being true!  It seems Sydney does his homework.  He found out about Emily, right?  After buying the house, he probably bribed a local cop to help meet the Polks as a new neighbor.  He ingratiated himself  to Jethers and taught him how to use the camera and gave it to him.  He probably did a nice easy big weed purchase, so the Polks figured he was “ok”.  Jethers probably told Sydney about anything he wanted to know.  He did that with Lee.  Sydney probably felt he hit a reality gold mine with them.


Ma Polk, Jethers Polk, Lot Polk, ZZ Top Polk, Lee, Monet, Rory, Butcher, Colonists, Agnes (so likely!), Mason, Audrey, Chens, Nurses, Nurses victims, Dylan


Matt, Shelby, Dominic, Elias, teen kabobs


Sydney the Shit, Salad Boy, Everything Breaded and Fried Assistant, Car Accident Assistant, whole Spirit Chasers team, anyone shot with an arrow




Scatcat, Priscilla, Cricket



I think the reason the only story that had closure was the Flora, Lee and Priscilla narrative because we really had little else that was clear or even true.  For what it is worth, I think that Priscilla was Scatcat.  Which ties up all the real, actual events in a nice bow.

It is quite possible that the first real conflict with the Butcher and her blood moon ghosts and modernity was just about to occur as we see the closing image of torch carried by a colonist heading down the hill towards the blazing conflagration that was the Mott house.  It is interesting that the character is wearing fairly clean brown homespun doublet given all the ghosts were horrendously filthy up til now.  And that doublet reminds me of Agnes’ Butcher costume.  Have we come weirdly full circle here?  When the real Butcher murdered Agnes, did she become part of the team for real now?


Sydney and the media blender we passed through were stories about manipulation.

And where there’s a witch, there’s a coven.  Uber driver named Snow, Flora’s power to talk to Priscilla, psychic with secret Roanoke witch history, Flora spirited back to the house within an hour of going missing.  Everything seems to conspire to bring Lee back, wanting to save her child who has been seduced into the idea of staying with Priscilla, where Priscilla was painted as a sympathetic child fearing the beastly Butcher.

Was Lee manipulated into being a willing sacrifice?  Did Scatcat require a willing sacrifice?  Butcher was manipulated into being a willing sacrifice.  Is this the origin of the sacred taking?


Half of us have become so cynical, we think everything we see view in modern media is a fraud, the other half live and breathe every conspiracy and far fetched faux news as if it was personally witnessed.  Will even the cynical believe a large, live-streamed battle between emergency services and the police that appears about to begin?  How much would it take for a modern War of the Worlds broadcast to put half the population in a frenzy?

And, of course, we need to battle our own selective attention

For what it is worth, I think Matt, Lee, Flora and Shelby all had witch powers and did not completely understand it.  I also think Scatcat derives her powers from “old Gods”.  The image of Agnes offering her throat to Scatcat was eerily echoed by Lee offering her throat to Priscilla.  But this essay isn’t about the ghost/witches/old gods, themselves, so anymore of that goes elsewhere.


The idea that the only real story is Lee, the only deaths are directly associated with Lee  (Polks, Monet, maybe teen kabobs) emerges when all the fake reality stuff ran off the rails because of Polks and Scatcat feeding Lee a boar’s heart.  That everything Sydney touched, including Spirit Chasers, is just fake reality tv seems consistent with the theme perfect illusion.


On a final note, the deluge of media of varying quality and styles contributed to the spectacle of this presidential election; on Facebook, more false info was shared than true info.

Ryan’s timing on this moral and the example exercise extracting knowledge from a tsunami of various quality information in a dizzying assortments of formats was prescient.  In terms of substance and writing I think this season’s AHS stands head and shoulders above the prior seasons.  Bravo!

If you got this far, please leave a comment, even if it is just brief.




What to do during a Trumpocalypse

It seems to go from dark to light to dark again without time moving forward since the election.  I slept in my clothes for a couple of days and the mess from the election party is still moldering on the kitchen counter.   The feeling of cotton wool in my ears and a sense of unreality still descend on me, especially when watching the news.  I have been waiting for it to pass, but now I realize that I have to dig myself out of it with my own two hands.

As a big reader, I looked towards wise words that might help.  I was surprised at what was of practical use.  Tolle offers that the place to start is to “allow this moment to be as it is”.  I guess mourning for the democracy that I thought America was may be seductive and cater to my emotions but it is not particularly productive.

Then I tried to find words from a political leadership I respected.  Bernie stepped forward and told Trump that if he goes after large corporations and not the little guy, Bernie was on board.  I love that such an idealist with a moral compass at his center can make a clear pragmatic stand after such a blow.  I am not being sarcastic, I mean it.

And from Hillary, she understood the need to not give up and remain a public figure, even after this insulting defeat.  I heard the Methodist creed she was raised with, “Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can.”. I’ve always had a historical interest in religion, but never spent anytime learning about American Protestants.  I thought many politicians’ church activities were more of a fig leaf worn to fit in with middle America.  It wasn’t until she spoke these words after the election, that I understood the strength, meaning and focus it brought her.

The role of the Republican Party in electing this mockery of a president should not be forgotten.  For decades, the Republican Party’s brand suggested that what they offer is a sound nominee with a conservative voice.  I think many older Americans believed this and so, discounted the insanity spewed from the Republican nominee.  When they learn that their Medicare has been gutted, I will feel sorry for them.  My parents voted Republican because they were afraid how change would impact them.  The Republican Party has let them down.  I hope the damage to their responsible base and overall reputation destroys them and something less hypocritical and pandering rises from the ashes.

Finally, I see the role of non-state and non-Party affiliated players had in this election.  Wikileaks, Anonymous and Comey.  I can’t tell if Comey was a hero or villain.  Was he preventing a 2 day prior leak by renegades that he could not control by making an 11 day prior statement?  Or, was he blessing the interference demanded by politically motivated FBI employees?

Now we are at a crossroads.  There are states within the US that will be doing everything possible to abrogate rights that are key to people pursuing life, liberty and happiness.  Indiana is already crafting legislation to be able to prosecute a woman for murder for having an abortion.  Several states are ready to enact legislation to teach “creation science” as science in lieu of evolution.  And Texas wants to make it a teacher reporting responsibility if they find a student to be gay, you know, like they have a reporting responsibility  if they believe a child is being abused or neglected at home.

We can no longer assume these battles will be won on a federal level.  On the anniversary of the Gettysburg address we cannot let our battles for fundamental rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness flag.  We must try to help all who are not comfortable with encroaching limits to their freedom to relocate.  There are blue states and red states and a few in between.  Many of these red states already have a disproportionately large influence in the electoral college and senate because their populations flee to places of greater opportunity and comfort.  Like ISIS and the Taliban, there is no negotiating with them.  They have already deprived our president of his right to provide a SCOTUS appointment.  And let’s be clear on this, it is for no other reason than Obama is black.  The racist and misogynist undertones of this election were so prevalent they actually were the only coherent theme to the Trump campaign.

In this age of technology and crowd funding we can have each of our dogs in this fight bark.  This has become a battle between the states, but we each have more opportunity to play a role than ever before.  I am going to try to crowd fund a project that helps people relocate from Indiana.  The first focus is to begin a drain of tech talent that could erode resources needed for local industries and their tax base in Indiana. Just its presence is a warning shot over the bow that voting can also be done with the feet.  I will post details and progress on these efforts in this blog.

I am accepting we have lost our federal government to Trump and the most unprincipled men to ever lead the US.  Luckily, while Trump may have promised them repugnant  things, as a businessman he’s not going to protect them from the financial consequences of trying to enact them.

In a final thought on “allowing things to be as they are”, I see that our democracy is not to be held sacred above all forms of governance.  I think less of democracy for bringing us to this tragedy.  So, if working with Russia will bring a quick end to the suffering and bloodbath in the middle-east, so be it.  It’s a pragmatic act with a payoff of ending a holocaust.  Removing Saddam was no blessing to the Iraqis and the same is true of Qaddafi.  If Asad lives another day and the wholesale misery is halted, so be it.  I cannot stomach a fight to bring our “democracy” to anyone else.  Brutes can find a way to rule under any system.  Stopping this horror would bring the most good to the most people seems eminently reasonable.  As we are in bed with Trump, Putin crawling under the covers doesn’t seem so bad.






A Spoiler-Free Review of AHS:Roanoke

Who could have imagined it was possible to create a new subgenre best described as “a thinking man’s horror”? Seems like an oxymoron, right? To my mind, one of the most common adjectives that precede the word horror is “mindless”. Successful horror has you by the adrenal gland. You don’t process it, you experience it. Maybe “The Walking Dead” is in this category.  But I believe Ryan Murphy’s AHS: Roanoke easily fits this classification and is also a dose of old-school, unrelenting horror that can leave you breathless.  Integral to the tale is a reflection on the complexities generated by modern media culture and it is seamlessly blended with the adrenaline rush of grizzly murder, monsters, blood, and torture.

The sixth installation of his very successful series, it outshines the prior years in one important way, in addition to the horror, we have to work hard at figuring out what we actually know, what are willful lies or exaggerations, and what is true when the person themselves has limited clarity. The viewer becomes entangled in processing a story through the lens of common, almost mundane media genres: ghost story reenactments inspired by true events, faux found footage documentaries in the style of “The Blair Witch Project”, “life in a fish bowl” odysseys ranging from “Big Brother” to “Paranormal”, news reports,YouTube, interview shows,  amateur investigation shows, and touching on live-streaming video that receives instant acclamation by trending on twitter, creating an odd feedback loop of being both subject and object of media.  But, unlike most stories, where you learn the truth in the end, this narrative suggests that the impact of the media itself may permanently alter what is going on and obfuscate the true facts of the matter.  More “Rashomon” than “The Spanish Prisoner”, there is no intent to completely deceive.  It is just a set of views and personal motivations that need to be untangled from a complex knot while looking through a kaleidoscope of media styles.

The series has three parts, Chapters 1-5, Chapters 6-9 and Chapter 10. The first five chapters are entitled “Return to Roanoke” which does an excellent job of capturing the pseudo-documentary “A Haunting” style tv shows easily found mid-afternoon US tv. “Inspired” by real events, we have the story presented by alternating between first person talking head narratives and a reenactment of the story. While the reenactment is not stellar, it isn’t meant to be, it is solid workman-like quality horror.

Chapters 6-9 have a poetic echo of the first five chapters reminiscent of Brecht’s “Waiting for Godot” with a meta-theatrical flavor, and I think the horror is much more disturbing than the first five chapters, but in a good way. AHS has an extensive fan base on Reddit. The finale left many on Reddit feeling slightly lost and confused by the stilted focus. It took me a day or two to understand, at least a bit. But, it wasn’t all cliff-hanger and no closure.  Ultimately I think the finale went exactly where it needed to go. I just wish Murphy left us a few more breadcrumbs to follow.

You can’t unscramble an egg, you can’t remove the sugar from your coffee and you can’t get at the truth easily once it has been liberally buttered with truthiness to excite and please the palate. Murphy provides an illustration that many common media styles and sources can inundate us with information of various levels of quality, but it can be difficult if not impossible to reconstruct meaningful knowledge at the end of the deluge. It took me a while to understand the shift in focus of the finale, it took a bit of thinking. And the moral of the story was just that.

There are consequences to this moral. Police decisions to respond to things become more difficult. Gaging your personal risk becomes harder. Maintaining a firm grip on how the world works becomes more tenuous. And when the  narratives across the myriad sources and mediums contain almost no actual information and just dazzle, brand, and excite, we may not be able to make the best political decisions. And boy, that is first class horror.

Was Kasich’s 2016 McCain Vote Leadership or Lame? KF Gold

When Ohio Governor Kasich was interviewed after he cast his early ballot, he announced he did a write-in for president.  He wrote in John McCain for president. In 2016 he voted for McCain.   It faded out of the news cycle sooo quickly, and with either a slight shrug or a chuckle.  While write-ins are allowed in Ohio, the candidate must have filed intent to be a candidate 72 days prior to the election for the vote to be counted.  Election-wise, Kasich threw away his vote, it won’t be counted.

Was this a lame anti-Trump gesture for a man who couldn’t bring himself to vote for Trump’s opponent, Hillary?  Or, was he offering his constituency a sensible protest vote, a gesture that all Ohio Republicans could take part in, those who refuse Trump but can’t vote Hillary?

I think he was providing anti-Trump Republicans an action that helps to defeat Trump and sends a message to the Republican National Committee, “we are conservatives that require our candidate to be a gentleman and a respectful opponent that stands for democracy”.  McCain never treated Obama as an enemy.  He publicly corrected a supporter who said Obama was “not born here” and a Muslim.  McCain represented a man of conservative values who felt it was beneath him to lie about his opponent in order to “activate the base”.

Why is there no Ohio write-in campaign in Ohio, supporting and explaining this to disenfranchised Republicans?

Mitt Romney has also given Utah Republicans permission to vote as a person of conscience over voting Republican.  Utah has manufactured their own alternative, McMullin.

I wish both Kasich and Romney were more vocal now.  They could lead Conservatives of conscience out of this election, feeling rededicated to their core values and to building a party that reflects these values, instead of being left demoralized and having to wade through the ugliness of Trump’s populist support.  Responsible Republicans need to prepare for the aftermath of this election.  The ugliness will not just fade away, short of a Clinton landslide.

Which Party Benefits by Your Vote for Trump ? KF Gold, PhD

I used to call myself an Independent, wanting to believe I had a choice when voting.  But since the turn of this new century I have made my peace that I vote the democratic ticket since the great failure of the neocon vision and subsequent empowerment of the fringe lunatics that took over the asylum that used to be the Republican Party.

My horror at contemplating a Trump presidency has mostly subsided given the polls and having already received a small payout on a bet.

Setting aside my utter  abhorrence and contempt for Trump, I realized that, strategically, it is an open question as to whether I want Trump voters to sit out the election or actually want them to vote Trump.

My knee-jerk emotions desire an utter rout, where any “reasonable” republican just can’t push that button labeled “Trump”.  It would be a de facto referendum on decency.

But upon cooler, more Machiavellian reflection, I see a strong, though failed Trump showing leaves the Republican Party in fantastic disarray, unable to reconstitute a coherent platform given the lingering coherence of Trump’s coarse emboldened populist movement.  It will remain like a fish bone stuck in the collective Republican throat.  This disarray bodes well for democrats, especially if they craft a platform with a broad appeal to liberals, which would include further, better incorporation of the very liberal, populist Berniecrats.

If Trump is destroyed in this election, conservatives of all colors will be open and looking for new leadership.  The decks will have been cleared and the Republican Party can start to pick up the pieces after the Trump nomination.  The lesson will be clear, and civility and reason will have had their case made in moving forward.

Further, Trump’s wild and chaotic behavior has emboldened Russia under Putin.  We are under external attack by Russia with our government’s email being hacked, nationwide, refusal of service cyber-attacks, and requesting observer status for the US election, encouraging unsubstantiated thoughts that our election system is “rigged” and dysfunctional.

But I think this is an overplay by Russia, and if Republican’s are smart, they use Putin’s direct aggression as a beginning for a Reaganesque renaisannce.  Gingrich’s “Contract with America” was an attempt to revive a Reagan-style consensus based on a 1985 Reagan speech.  But the timing was poor. The recent demise of the Soviet Union, and the absence of such an opponent in the early 1990s, among other things, made an attempt to resurrect a Reagan-style consensus premature and a failure.  Putin’s direct and indirect aggressions, and his reassertion of Russian influence in the Middle East may create more domestic fertile ground for a successful Reagan-styled populist platform.

So, my Republican friends should I desire you to cast that vote for Trump or sit this one out?  What do you see as your best, long-term interests?