Who Needs Facebook And Google?
Posted on 03.10.18 by Danny Glover @ 9:27 am

The founder of The Babylon Bee, a popular religious satire site that was in the news last week for being wrongly flagged as a purveyor of “false” news, has launched a new project designed to aggregate real news from a religious perspective.

A simple website styled like the Drudge Report, it’s called the Christian Daily Reporter. I’ll be interested to see whether the site gains any traction in light of founder Adam Ford’s philosophical decision to eschew all social media, as these excerpts from the site’s manifesto explain:

  • “The majority of people get their news from social networks. We rely on Facebook, Twitter, Google, Instagram, YouTube, etc., to such a degree that we allow them to decide what content we consume, what issues we consider important, what news is news, what is and is not allowed to be said, what’s true and what’s not. These companies shape the way our brains think by controlling what our eyes see every day.”
  • “For a few companies to have the power to control the way billions of people think is terrifying and dangerous. It is unacceptable. … These companies are increasingly hostile toward Christian content and information. This will only get worse as time goes by. It will not get better.”
  • “The Christian Daily Reporter is a source for the most important news and content from a Christian perspective — and it lives outside the tech-giant information choke hold. We are not on any social media network. We refuse to be beholden to the Internet content gatekeepers. CDR is intentionally not optimized for Facebook or Google. We don’t want social media or search referrals. We are 100 percent independent.”

As someone who has studied and reported on every content revolution in the information age, from blogs to social media, I am intrigued by this plan to get back to the basics. The great promise of the Internet has always been its ability to take power from media gatekeepers and give it to news and information consumers. The idea is to give them EVERYTHING and let them filter it as they see fit.

Somewhere along the way, huge technology monopolies figured out how to take that control back from us, with our consent but without us truly understanding what was happening or how they were shaping our mind. If we can reclaim some or all of that power, that’ll be a good thing.

I wonder if the Christian Daily Reporter could use an assist from an enlightened redneck with more than two decades of journalism experience and a passion for the Bible.


Filed under: Culture and Media and News & Politics and Religion and Social Media and Technology
Comments: None

Time To Fly In Manassas!
Posted on 03.09.18 by Danny Glover @ 10:27 pm

Three months to the day after submitting the request, today I received a six-month authorization to fly my drone for commercial purposes in the airspace that surrounds Manassas Regional Airport.

This is a big development for Airscape Photography, my aerial photography business. It means I can start marketing my services to real-estate agents and other potential clients close to home. I also can move forward with plans to offer a drone class to homeschooled students.

Airscape Photography is an FAA-certified drone photography and cinematography company based in Northern Virginia. We specialize in real estate imagery, including footage of golf courses and resorts, and aerial landscape photography. Our other services include aerial inspections of residential and commercial properties for insurance, inventory and other purposes.

Contact me at airscapephoto@gmail.com to schedule an aerial shoot of your home, business or other property! And follow us on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter.

(Photo credit to Cedar Box Photography, which shadowed my visual observer and me on our last project just outside Haymarket, Va.)


Filed under: Aerial Photography and Business and Drones and Home Schooling and Photography and Virginia
Comments: None

The W.Va. Teachers’ Strike On Wikipedia
Posted on 03.05.18 by Danny Glover @ 9:44 pm

The teachers’ strike dominating headlines in West Virginia for the past week has been a relatively peaceful affair by historical standards in the Mountain State. Teachers and their allies are making a lot of noise inside and around the state Capitol, and so far they haven’t faced any crackdowns for it. The clashes have been verbal in nature rather than physical, and the rhetoric has been pointed without getting ugly.

It was a different story on Wikipedia over the weekend. Anyone can edit content at the online encyclopedia, and a few mischievous users decided to abuse that editing privilege by vandalizing the entries of at least two key West Virginia senators. Wikipedia restricted access to those pages because of the troublemakers.

Senate President Mitch Carmichael, who also holds the title of lieutenant governor, was the primary target. His Wikipedia page was altered repeatedly on Saturday.

Several of the edits were so childishly ornery that you had to chuckle at them. The editors accused Blair of hating pepperoni rolls, the official state food, and being either a “closet” or “verified” fan of Pitt, the much-maligned rival of West Virginia University. He also was dubbed the “Son of Voldemort,” a reference to the evil villain in the “Harry Potter” books and movies.

But other revisions to Blair’s Wikipedia page, such as changing the office he holds to “Smug Ignoramus” and his college degree to “Bachelor of Being a Big Ahole” and “Bachelor of Being a Jerk,” were downright nasty. Here are some of the other edits that were quickly stricken:

  • “He is known to hate all teachers and public employees.”
  • “He can only laugh when children cry.”
  • “Hobbies include kicking puppies and making babies cry.”
  • “His life goal is to stop all celebrations of holidays.”
  • “He is perhaps best known for his theme song, ‘Move Mitch, Get Out Da Way,’” an allusion to a vulgar song by the rapper Ludacris.

The ad hominem vandalism aimed at Sen. Ryan Ferns, on both his Wikipedia page and Carmichael’s page, was even worse. The edits mocked Ferns as being a “favorite puppet” and “in a relationship with” Carmichael and the rest of the Republican-controlled Senate.

Other changes called out Ferns for his drunken-driving arrest in 2012 and his party switch from Democrat to Republican in 2013. Here are two of the more extensive changes that were deleted:

  • “After realizing he made a horrible mistake, both by driving drunk and being elected as a Democrat, he quickly decided to mend his ways and become an ego-maniacal yes man to Mitch Carmichael. Little did he know his biggest accomplishment would be to hold the entire state of WV hostage while stroking his bosses ‘ego’ and breaking every rule of parliamentary law that WV has to offer because of a dumb bunny mistake they made.”
  • “Ryan Ferns not only looks like Sam Hunt but also has a ‘Body like a Back Road.’ He enjoys doing Cross Fit at his gym (that his rich family bought him). Ryan also is the first senator in the history of West Virginia to have two DUIs!” (I couldn’t find any news of a second DUI.)

The editing history of both pages shows that a more responsible editor protected them in reaction to “persistent disruptive editing.” If this is a sign of labor strikes to come, Wikipedia may become the picket line of the digital age.


Filed under: Education and Government and Media and Music and News & Politics and People and West Virginia
Comments: None

The Babylon Bee Stings Snopes, Facebook
Posted on 03.03.18 by Danny Glover @ 11:52 am

I’m pretty sure “no sense of humor” is a job requirement in Facebook’s censorship factory. That’s the kindest possible explanation, as opposed to anti-religious bias, for this ridiculous development:

Facebook’s attempts to crack down on fake news have targeted a well-known Christian satirical publication, the Babylon Bee.

A story on the Bee titled “CNN Purchases Industrial-Sized Washing Machine To Spin News Before Publication” was ruled “false” by the fact-checking site Snopes, leading Facebook to flag it Thursday.

It’s not necessarily a bad idea for Facebook to have Snopes “fact check” satire because of how many gullible people miss the satire and share it as truth. But if they’re going to do it, they need to label these Snopes stories as “satire,” not as “false,” which implies malicious deception. And they need to limit the coverage to satirical posts that actually generate confusion among news consumers.


Filed under: Just For Laughs and Media and News & Politics
Comments: None

The Story Behind ‘The Jug’
Posted on 02.17.18 by Danny Glover @ 9:30 pm

The Jug,” which is just a short drive from my hometown, is one of the many fascinating geographic landmarks that God carved into the great Mountain State. It has seen better days.

Near Middlebourne, nearly halfway along its course, Middle Island Creek meanders almost four miles southward through a jug-shaped bend before returning to meet itself, or nearly so. The meander has time-out-of-mind been known as The Jug and has been a curiosity since its discovery by European explorers in the 1700s and had certainly been so before.

The narrow neck of land that separates the winding stream is now perhaps no more than 100 feet across, depending on the amount of water being carried downstream, and in recent years the water in the Jug has dwindled into a series of long pools, which can be canoed with some portage, as much of the water has been allowed to breach the neck.

Officials with the W.Va. Division of Natural Resources have been eager to engage the W.Va. Division of Highways to replace and raise the low-water bridge that follows the neck, thereby returning water to the meander. As a result of flooding and erosion, the bridge is now impassable, and the Division of Natural Resources is no longer able to maintain the 400-and-some acres of field and forest within the Jug, and the meander, which was once a favorite destination for anglers, is largely devoid of fish.

The Jug is also the name of a bar and grill located in a bend in the road at the point where the stream meanders. I don’t drink. But I love The Jug. It’s an iconic piece of Tyler County history.

I took some aerial photos of it last fall. The owner, Gladys Fletcher, was there visiting with friends when I stopped. It turns out her daughter, Janie Spencer, was good friends with my Mom in high school. Mrs. Fletcher jumped at the chance to get some aerial photos of The Jug and asked all kinds of questions about my drone. She is in this photo.

You can learn more about The Jug from the Tyler Star News.


Filed under: Aerial Photography and History and West Virginia
Comments: None

The Hunt For Disabled Hillbillies
Posted on 10.07.17 by Danny Glover @ 6:34 pm

Every now and then, journalists in the big city get the urge to head for the hills of West Virginia and hunt stereotypes. They always find their prey. Then they tell stories that misrepresent the reality of life for most West Virginians.

You can call it Hatfields-and-McCoys journalism because the tradition is at least that old. The latest installment comes courtesy of The Washington Post, which sent a reporter hunting for hillbillies as part of the paper’s series on Social Security Disability Insurance.

I have no gripe with the topic. It’s worthwhile to shine a light on the Supplemental Security Income system because of its cost and susceptibility to fraud and abuse. I also have no problem with West Virginia being part of the story because 4 percent of West Virginians get SSI benefits — more than any other state, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. One in five working-age residents in Logan County, which the Post visited, are among them.

What galls me are the predictably cliched portrayals of country folk, and they start with the opening anecdote about digging roots from the hills for money: “For the people of the hollow, opportunity begins where the road ends.”

The implication is that the anecdote represents the norm — not just in that hollow but in all of Logan County and the entire state. Poverty reporter Terence McCoy made that point clear a few paragraphs later when he added, “In West Virginia, getting by means digging roots in the mountains.”

No, it doesn’t! Maybe it’s OK to spout that kind of nonsense when writing the script for a reality television show like “Appalachian Outlaws,” but it’s bad journalism.

I spent most of my first 24 years in the Mountain State and still visit regularly, and the only person I ever knew who dug roots was my paternal grandfather. And he did it as much for the thrill of hunting ginseng, a rare find in his part of the state, as for the money.

Most West Virginians who fall on hard times don’t dig roots to “get by”; they turn to family for support. That’s a bit harder to do when multiple family members are on the government dole and/or are estranged from each other. The Post found a family like that not because it’s the norm but because it fit the false image that urban elites have of the state.

That’s also why the Post repeatedly called attention to the fact that Donna Jean Dempsey, the main character in its tale, lives in a rundown shack without running water. It’s mentioned twice in the story and in two separate photo captions.

The photos further reinforce the ridiculous perceptions that prim-and-proper journalists tend to have of West Virginians. The portraits include: a woman who wears the same filthy flannel and blue jeans for a week; a shirtless, bushy-bearded Bubba sitting on a porch; and a gaunt mountain man who relies on oxygen after five heart attacks and two strokes.

Then there is the closing anecdote. Having survived to another SSI payday, Dempsey treated herself to three six-packs of beer at the local dollar stores. McCoy milked that development for all it was worth, characterizing it as “the best moment of the month” for Dempsey.

“She lit a cigarette, stretched out her legs and opened a beer,” he wrote. And then a few sentences later: “She looked down at her beer and thumbed its lid. She took a sip. The moment could last a while longer, she decided.”

Save for a trip to the still and Dempsey sipping from a moonshine jug, he couldn’t have asked for a better redneck ending to this chapter of yellow journalism about West Virginia.


Filed under: Government and History and Human Interest and Media and People and Photography and Rednecks and West Virginia
Comments: None

John E. Kenna Was No Robert E. Lee
Posted on 08.27.17 by Danny Glover @ 2:57 pm

West Virginia doesn’t have a “Confederate statue” inside the U.S. Capitol, but you wouldn’t know it by reading the reports of historically ignorant journalists in Washington.

In their rush to pile onto the growing pile of maligned Confederate statues, the media recently set their sights on the National Statuary Hall Collection. What better place to prop up more straw men for knocking down than in a building with 100 famous statues?

This particular angle to the debate over the Confederacy piqued my interest when I first saw it in The Washington Post because the disparity appeared egregiously unjust at face value. “The U.S. Capitol has at least three times as many statues of Confederate figures as it does of black people,” blared the ridiculously long but seemingly fact-based headline.

The problem is that readers can’t take anything the media report these days at face value, especially when it involves an explosive topic like race. Many journalists are hard-wired to assume that racism exists whenever outrage about it grows loud enough. And they have no interest in digging deep into a story line if their research might undermine their assumptions.

So it is with the attack on “Confederate statues.”

The contempt implied in the loaded phrase may make sense when the focus is on prominent rebels like Confederate President Jefferson Davis, Vice President Alexander Stephens and Gen. Robert E. Lee. But as a native of West Virginia, I grew suspicious of the coverage when I saw in the Post a map of states with supposedly Confederate statues.


A state riven by war
Anyone who actually knows history knows that West Virginia became a state when the North illegally ripped 50 counties from Virginia’s boundaries during the Civil War. West Virginia created five more counties after the war, naming two of them after President Abraham Lincoln and Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, heroes of the Union.

I didn’t immediately reject the idea that elected leaders in West Virginia could have chosen to memorialize a Confederate with one of its two monuments at the Capitol. After all, 18,000 West Virginians fought for the Confederacy.

West Virginia’s Capitol also is home to a statue of Confederate Gen. Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson. At the statue’s dedication in 1910, the United Daughters of the Confederacy called Jackson “the greatest and most illustrious man ever born on the soil of West Virginia, a typical soldier, patriot and Christian.”

Union troops, on the other hand, weren’t recognized with the Mountaineer Soldier statue for two more years, and a prominent memorial to Lincoln didn’t appear until 1974.

But it still seemed odd that a state formed in the Civil War would have recognized a Confederate leader in the U.S. Capitol. With that history in mind, I turned to a remarkable storehouse of information called the Internet for answers.
(more…)


Filed under: Government and History and Media and News & Politics and People and West Virginia
Comments: 1 Comment

The Two-edged Online Tongue
Posted on 08.04.17 by Danny Glover @ 9:19 pm

The story about the couple who ruined a wedding photographer’s reputation is troubling for many reasons, but one that jumped out in The Washington Post’s coverage is a subtle quote that speaks volumes about the Internet’s ability to empower malicious arrogance: “She’s a blogger. Make sure everything looks perfect.”

The photographer said that about her new client before she ever worked for the woman because she understood all too well the influence of a blogger scorned. Her words are the digital upgrade (or should I say downgrade?) to the adage about never arguing with a man who buys ink by the barrel.

The difference is that in the bygone era when newspapers mattered, most journalists who worked at papers still had editorial checks that prevented egregious abuses. Bloggers have no such restraints. Neither do YouTube or Instagram celebrities. Even average Joes and Janes with a twisted talent for riling the masses into a bout of public shaming can do great damage to an undeserving person’s reputation.

And the scarlet letter is now a scarlet alphabet. From A to Z, any whiff of imagined wrongdoing along the spectrum of “sin” is justification for humiliation — especially if exposing it online might bring a cruel blogger fame or fortune.

I am the guy who once penned what a colleague called an opus to the awesome power of blogs and who co-authored essential guides to Pinterest and Twitter. Teaching people how to use social media for good was my job, so the irony of now decrying the equally destructive power of blogs is not lost on me.

But such is the nature of the two-edged online tongue.


Filed under: Blogging and Media and News & Politics and People and Social Media and Technology
Comments: None

The Dog Days Of Spring
Posted on 05.09.17 by Danny Glover @ 8:16 pm

Whenever the whether gets warm, this dog likes to cruise through our city in his master’s hot rod. My walk home from the train station this evening finally coincided with the driver getting stuck in traffic long enough for me to snap a photo.


Filed under: Pets and Photography
Comments: None

Bears In Space
Posted on 03.31.17 by Danny Glover @ 9:10 pm

Sometimes in my research for work, I stumble across some of the coolest bits of trivia in aviation history — like the fact that America once launched bears into space to test the short-lived B-58 Hustler, a nuclear bomber of the Cold War era. Even better is the related cover illustration I discovered in a 1962 issue of an Italian weekly newspaper.


Filed under: Aviation and History and Media and Wildlife
Comments: 1 Comment

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