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My Favorites in November: French Food, @VanJones68’s Overall Attitude & Fake News

30 November 2016

"How did it get to the point where, when you disagree with somebody, you have to be their enemy?" Van Jones

“How did it get to the point where, when you disagree with somebody, you have to be their enemy?” Van Jones (click to watch)

Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Pretty much what I thought when hearing the U.S. election results, wondering how a great country can legitimately elect a populist leader like Donald Trump. I still try to make sense of it. But I also try hard not to be patronizing or condescendent, because it’s the voice of the people, and the beauty of democrac is that everyone’s vote has the same value. Still, this result shakes up a lot in my head and heart. Let’s hope for the best, as Obama says in one interview included below.

This month is crumped with articles about the U.S. election, politically more engaged than I used to share, but not only. You’ll also find a great article about Twitter’s data, a funny video about French food and my personal favorite of the month: Van Jones. Life goes on and many other things are worth spending time on, so here’s my monthly selection of links.

Seems like every month, at least one Bloomberg article makes my favorites list. Such interesting topics, covered in depth and with a hint of engagement. This one is about Twitter’s Firehose, the “package” of user data that Twitter sells to advertisers, polling institutes and others to make money. “Others” include government contractors who use the data to track political opponents, which is what this article is about. A long but insightful read, which goes under the surface of what Twitter is.

This article is about Firehose, the “package” of user data that Twitter sells to advertisers, polling institutes and others

On a lighter note – before the following articles about politics – this is a really sweet video of American kids’ reaction to French food. They are really funny. I don’t like most of the food in the video neither  🙂

A sweet video of American kids’ reaction to French food

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First reaction by The New Yorker, which seems to be leaning left – sometimes more than I am confortable with – and therefore has harsh words for the election of Donald Trump. “Trump’s shocking victory, his ascension to the Presidency, is a sickening event in the history of the United States and liberal democracy,” David Remnick writes, “Trump is vulgarity unbounded, a knowledge-free national leader who will not only set markets tumbling but will strike fear into the hearts of the vulnerable, the weak [and] the many varieties of Other whom he has so deeply insulted.” For now Remnick is wrong about the markets; I hope he’s also wrong about the Other.

First reaction by The New Yorker, harsh words after the election of Donald Trump

Then came, for me, the phase of understanding. How could something so seemingly impossible happen in such a legitimate democratic manner ? And this article struck a chord. The unequal distribution of wealth and power probably caused this, at least it’s reason number one. “Both Brexit and Trumpism are the very, very wrong answers to legitimate questions that urban elites have refused to ask for 30 years,” the article quotes LATimes’s Vincent Bevin, “[they] have overplayed their hand, taking all the gains for themselves and just covering their ears when anyone else talks, and now they are watching in horror as voters revolt.” I would have loved to take this type of statement seriously in a different context.

The unequal distribution of wealth and power is probably reason number one

Nothing trumps local media coverage over foreign media coverage. So when following the U.S. election, I sometimes preferred to watch CNN over the French news channels; and I was struck by the tone and attitude of Van Jones, whom I discovered this month. The political commentator and activist is calm, thought- and respectful, yet engaged. Which is why I share the above video series with you, in which Van Jones met Trump supportes before the election. As I wrote last month: Trump’s “revolutionaries” are not as bad as the person they voted for. See more about/from Van Jones here (street debate), here (portrait) or here (interview).

In this video series with you, Van Jones went to meet Trump supportes before the election

The Washington Post’s The Intersect interviewed Paul Horner, a 38-year-old writer of fake news, many of which have been very popular during the US election. To what extent readers saw them as genuine journalism is unclear, as much as the extent to which it actually influenced the outcome of the election. “I’d call it hoaxing or fake news. You’d call it parody or satire. How is that scene different now than it was three or five years ago?” Cailin Dewey asks him. His answer: “Honestly, people are definitely dumber. They just keep passing stuff around. Nobody fact-checks anything anymore — I mean, that’s how Trump got elected. […] It’s real scary. I’ve never seen anything like it.” He believes to have had a direct influence in the election outcomes. Whether it’s true or not, I can’t see what good he has done with this.

To what extent readers saw fake news as genuine is unclear, but he is sure to have had an influence in the outcome

An interview of President Obama, or at least an article citing him several times (it’s not a structured conversation) in the aftermath of the election. Obama Reckons with a Trump Presidency, written by the very same Remnick than the American Tragedy article cited above, cites a baffled yet optimistic and down-to-earth Obama. “Look, [the] basic optimism that I articulate and present publicly as President is real.” he tells Remnick. “It’s what I teach my daughters. It is how I interact with my friends and with strangers. I genuinely do not assume the worst, because I’ve seen the best so often. […] Every day, I interact with people of good will everywhere.

Remnick writes about a baffled yet optimistic and down-to-earth Obama

Check my reading list any time on Twitter.com/yannigroth/likes or Medium.com/@yannig/has-recommended, and don’t hesitate to mention me if you feel like sharing.

Cheers,

Yannig

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