A Jazz Update

Poor Jazz is so tired. She’s had a very stressful day. It started out great, being a Saturday and all, but then there was a vet visit, and that’s always an epic Greek tragedy, as far as she’s concerned.

Jazz had to go have her tumor checked. As you can see from the photo up there, Jazz has a simply massive tumor, a malignant sarcoma. The scale is a bit skewed in the photo, so just for reference, that thing is easily the size of a healthy cantaloupe, definitely bigger than her rib cage.

We took her in for a check-up because there’s a new raw spot on the tumor, like it’s getting ready to break open, and also because we thought we’d found a second tumor under her left leg, on her tummy.

The vet’s reaction was, as Jim described it on Facebook earlier, “Whoa, how is she still alive? Neat!” The vet took a bunch of pictures of Jazz because she didn’t think her colleagues would believe her when she told them about it.

So, Jazz has been growing this thing for about four years now. When we first discovered her tumor, back when it was still quite small, we took her to the vet (same clinic, different veterinarian than now) to have it checked, and the vet said she thought it was just a fatty tissue tumor, nothing to worry about. By the time we were worried about it, it was too late to do anything. It was an unfortunate case of there being too much tumor and not enough dog, complicated by the fact that the tumor was too well supplied with blood to be easy to remove, or even debulk.

Our current vet didn’t think that Jazz had a second tumor. She thought the odd bump we had had found was probably just a fat pad. It might be a tumor, or maybe a swollen lymph node, but she said it didn’t feel like a hard mass.

The vet also confirmed that there wasn’t a lot we could do about the reddened spot we’d noticed, that the tumor probably would break open, and probably sooner rather than later. She said that she’d had some success at getting splits like that to heal closed again, but they inevitably reopen, so it’s likely that when the tumor finally pops open and infection sets in that Jazz will unfortunately be out of time.

In the meantime, Jazz is doing bizarrely well. She’s otherwise healthy, she’s happy, and she’s in no particular discomfort that we’ve noticed. She’s still playful and has a great appetite, which blows our vet’s mind. Blows our mind too, to be honest. I mean, she’s like 25% cancer at this point, and still pretty frisky for a 13-year-old dog.

At any rate, that’s the update on Jazz. She has a ridiculous amount of cancer and is still weirdly healthy, and we hope she carries on that way for awhile yet.

About that press conference…

(Read the transcript on the New York Times website.)

So that thing was pants-on-head crazy, right? I mean, wow. I wish I had something smarter to say about it, but I’ve been thinking about it all day and that’s the best I’ve got. It was just nuts. It defies my ability to quantify.

Here’s the thing, though: I’ve been reading reactions to the presser all day, and if you were a Trump voter? You thought it was fantastic. And that? Scares the shit out of me.

I’ve been trying to wrap my head around the idea of thinking that press conference was a good thing. What goes on in the mind of someone who watched that and thought everything was great? Who listens to the wildly incoherent word salad Trump spewed for over an hour and applauds?

I’m not trying to denigrate anyone, by the way. I honestly don’t get it.

See, I heard a mentally disordered person raving away about an election he already won, using obvious falsehoods to bolster his madness. To me, Trump sounded delusional, dishonest and angry. But apparently that’s not what a Trump voter heard, and that blows my mind.

I saw a lot of folks on Twitter going on about how they were “finally being heard.” Trump supporters seemed to think that 1) Trump was speaking for them, and 2) that they were some kind of silent majority that were finally having their views aired.

So, okay, some numbers. Just a hair over half the voting eligible population actually voted in the 2016 presidential election. About 55% of all voters. About 26% of that 55% voted for Trump.

Now, you can’t assume that the whole 26% were dyed-in-the-wool MAGA Deplorables, because plenty of folks will just vote for whomever their party is running, no matter who it is, without putting much more thought into it than that. So some fraction of that 26% just wandered in off the street, punched the Republican ticket, went home to dinner, and then got up the next morning and thought to themselves, “Huh. Well, I hope he doesn’t screw up too much.”

Which means that less than 26% percent of the voting population watched Trump’s press conference today and cheered. I do take some comfort in that thought.

Here’s a bright spot in your day: Hundreds of scientists & science fans just saved a crapton of govt data.

Look, I’m gonna be honest with you guys. Today’s probably going to be just the biggest mess, news-wise. Brace yourselves.

But, there’s a bright spot! Scientists around the country have been clocking hella overtime to save NASA’s earth science data – and other climate data – before the Trump administration can make it all disappear, and they have succeeded!

Diehard Coders Just Rescued NASA’s Earth Science Data
“On Saturday morning, the white stone buildings on UC Berkeley’s campus radiated with unfiltered sunshine. The sky was blue, the campanile was chiming. But instead of enjoying the beautiful day, 200 adults had willingly sardined themselves into a fluorescent-lit room in the bowels of Doe Library to rescue federal climate data.”

Groups around the country assisted, plus built all kinds of applications to track data changes on government websites and keep track of stuff that was already “disappeared” by the Trump administration, because yes, they totally were already doing that.

It’s actions like these that give me hope. In the face of the horror show that is the Trump administration and the GOP in Congress, Americans are pulling together to fight back, rescue the tools we’ll need to recover from this administration, and stop them in their tracks. Journalists are digging in and breaking news daily, making it harder and harder for the GOP to remain silent against Trump.

Days like yesterday, when the news cycle is wall-to-wall drama and fuckery, can make you feel hopeless. It can drown you in garbage until you think that there can’t possibly be any way forward. That is not true. We’re fighting back, and we’re winning some of these fights.

Dawn is coming, people. Stay tough. Stay mad. Resist.

I am not a journalist & I’m worried about you if you don’t realize that.

Ok, look, People of the Internets, we need to talk.

Over the years, and more frequently recently, I have been accused of being a “bad journalist,” and – on a few notable occasions – had my “journalist integrity” called into question.

Guys. People. I am not a journalist. I’m a blogger. This is a personal blog. I bitch about Arrow and fangirl over The Flash and write long, detailed eddas about Batman. I am so, so not a journalist, and I have to tell you, I’m super worried about the people who stumble across my blog who don’t seem to realize that.

Now, a few years ago I enrolled in the local community college for a journalism degree, and until about a year, year-and-a-half ago my bios on various social media sites mentioned that I was a journalism student, so I’ll cut folks a little slack for the confusion. But since all of the “bad journalist” comments happened after people read something on my personal blog, I’m not going to cut them much slack. I feel like there is a very clear visual difference between my blog and the New York Times, so I’m pretty sure you should be able to tell right away that you ain’t reading the next Pulitzer winner when you visit my site.

Most of the snarky little “so much for your journalistic integrity” comments I’ve received over the years were obviously just trolling asshats who spotted the word “journalism” in my bio and didn’t read anymore than that, and those can be safely ignored. But there have been several people who, as far as I can tell, actually thought I was committing journalism on this website.

To those people I say, “Dude. No. Holy crap, no. Please, for the love of cute little dogs, go take a media literacy class. You are deeply confused.”

The reason I bring this up isn’t because I’m offended or upset by comments like that, but because I think it’s pointing to a larger problem in society. If people are genuinely mistaking me, on this website, for a journalist writing actual news, then is it any wonder that “fake news” and the complete inability to distinguish it from real news has become a problem?

If the idea of what constitutes “the news” or a “news website” has been so muddied that I’m being mistaken for one, then folks, we’re in some trouble.

I was initially going to write about how one tells real news from fake news, real news sites from fake news sites, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that those categories have gotten really blurred. How do you tell real news and real journalists apart from idgits with a blog like me?

You can’t use the topics a site covers. I said a few paragraphs ago that I write about Arrow and The Flash and Batman, but shoot, you can read all that in the New York Times, too. That’s what the entertainment section is for. And in between all the stuff about Batman, I write about current events and politics, which you can also find in the Times.

You can’t use the tone of my writing, because a lot of respected news organizations are now using the same conversational writing styles I use and mixing analysis and opinion in with their news, just like I do.

Reputation used to be a good qualifier, but with Trump and his fans and minions attacking reputable news organizations and pointing out propaganda rags like Breitbart and Lifezette as though they’re worthy of being called “news,” you can’t really count on that anymore, either.

So how do you tell what’s “news”?

I know for me it’s largely a matter of experience and reputation, tempered with a healthy dose of brand skepticism. I know that if I’m reading a story in any of my usual trusted sources – NPR, the New York Times, Propublica, the Washington Post, AP, Reuters, etc – I can safely assume that the story is legit and trust that if the reporter screwed something up, they’ll correct it. I know to fact check and find other sources for a story if I read it outside of my usual venues. And I know that if I’m reading something in a blog – like mine – that I can judge their accuracy by the sources they used, and if they don’t link to sources, I can discount it completely until further notice.

But none of that works if a person has been convinced that, for example, Breitbart is reputable and Snopes can’t be trusted. (I have spoken to actual people who didn’t believe Snopes.)

Here’s another problem I’ve run into: People can’t tell opinion from fact. A lot of “new media” organizations will mix opinion and fact into a story, and I’ve read enough of both to know the difference when I’m reading, say, Vox. But a lot of people have not. To add another layer to that, lots of folks have a problem distinguishing between opinion and analysis.

And that’s not even to mention the fact that most people just don’t read well. When I was in journalism classes, they taught us to write at an 8th grade reading level, because the majority of the reading audience reads at an 8th grade level. That goes a considerable distance towards explaining how I can write “journalism student” in my bio and end up with Twitter eggs complaining about my “journalistic integrity” after reading a post on my blog about video games.

I don’t know, guys, but I do know this is a problem we’re going to need to solve. I think we need to start teaching media literacy right from kindergarten. Otherwise things are just going to continue on this downward spiral of understanding, and I actually will be writing the news.

Featured image: Newspapers in black and white, by Jon S.

Wherein I vent a bit.

I have to admit that I’m having some trouble writing lately, even just kicking out the occasional blog post. It’s because I’m angry. Really angry. I sit down at the old post composer and all that comes out of the keyboard is a steady stream of acidic bile, swear words and inarticulate screaming.

I am so angry at and so embarrassed by this administration. I’m having trouble getting the words together to tell you about it. I’m horrified and appalled and mortified and ashamed of my country.

I can’t remember the last time I was this breathlessly, vividly angry about something I couldn’t do anything about.

Shortly Trump will be announcing his SCotUS pick, and he’s set it all up like some reality TV show, teasing his announcement on Twitter, having Sean Spicer basically run promos for it during the press briefing, and flying in the last two remaining nominees for what I can only assume will be a televised fight to death. I’m telling you right now that if this mind-bogglingly trailer-trashy set up interrupts my nerdy Tuesday night TV for even a second, I’m gonna throw a whole soccer riot all by myself.

Do me a favor. It’s a sort of spiteful little favor, but that’s the kind of mood I’m in. Skip Trump’s reality show SCotUS announcement. I know that vain bugger’s dying for the attention, so don’t give it to him.

Don’t stream it, don’t watch it on CNN, don’t tweet about it. You’ll hear about it in the news tomorrow, and it’s going to be months before whatever sad sack SOB Trump dug up who would tolerate this affront to basic dignity gets confirmed, anyway, so just skip it. Go watch The Flash or Legends of Tomorrow or Agents of SHIELD instead.

Unless they get preempted, in which case, you’re invited to join me for a riot.

Featured Image: A very angry little kitty, by Jasper Nance. (Source & Licensing.)