All posts by katemccseattle

Trying something new: sharing pictures, stories and meditations.

Faceless

The challenge this week is to show people but not their faces. These photos were taken in Qingdao. The two below are in a “folk” temple.

Red Prayer Papers at Tian Hou  Temple in Qingdao
Lady in red.

 

Visitor to The Goddess of Heaven (Tian Hou) in Qingdao
Worshiping the Goddess of Heaven.

 A Face in the Crowd

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Harbinger of spring

 

KSM-20180219-Flowering_Quince-02KSM-20180219-Flowering_Quince-03Today it’s back to overcast, but yesterday was spectacularly beautiful, if chilly. I was glad because my son and a friend are visiting for Chinese New Year and I was afraid they would only have crazy weather. I saw these out walking the pups. I hope they don’t freeze off.

Cee’s Flower of the Day

Confucius Say…

Every trip has its memorable features. Today’s prompt: Costume, brought to mind my trip to China last April. On that trip I ran into reenactments in Confucius Temples. The first, in the north-central part of Beijing, was most likely part of a middle school graduation ceremony:

The second was at Qufu, in Shandong Province, which is Confucius’s home town. I was traveling solo, but there was a large group tour for whom they performed several enactments. I had the best of both worlds. The people in the group kept being lined up to wait for the acts, but I wandered at will, then poked back into the crowd when things were happening…plus I caught a glimpse or two behind the scenes.

A walk in a park

I just came across these pictures from a couple of years ago. In Wiefang (Shandong Province) while visiting my son I made use of the time while he was working to wander around the city. In several spots they had parks between the streets that made a pleasant way to get around. A little longer but much quieter than walking along the busy streets.

Cee’s Which Way Challenge

Asking for answers

I read a post from A Lot from Lydia this morning. It got me thinking, yet again, about how media decides what we should know about in depth and, as a consequence, what we should ignore. I spent a rare few hours with a television yesterday and you’d never have known many of the things, all verifiable, that Lydia mentions. Why is that?

The newscasters seemed more interested in shouting one sided one liners.

I have been pondering how more moderate people have been pushed aside, on both the left and right. The word “conservative” these days seems to be what anarchists call themselves. How can we get our questions answered?

This morning, after the front page of the Seattle Times above the fold was about

  • Our former mayor’s pension,
  • How to identify gifted kids
  • Amazon’s profits

While all of these are news,  they are not, in my view, front page material. Mayor and kids are local news and Amazon is for the business section. I realize that I am unusual in that I rarely see TV news (we don’t own a television), so they probably expect people to know more than I do.

However, I decided to try something, and I’m encouraging you all to do it also: I sent a note to the editor requesting a couple of in depth articles:

Dear Sir,
I rely on the newspaper for my news and like the way it takes a less sensationalized approach to reporting that allows me to understand issues.
There are two topics I’d really like to see discussed in depth:
1) The Russian Sanctions that were not imposed. Here are some questions I’d like to see answered:
  • -Why they were called for by congress?
  • -What exactly they were supposed to be?
  • -What is the impact on both our economy and Russia’s?
  • -What was the rationale for not imposing them (in depth with both pros and cons)?
  • -What is the legal situation of a president not acting on a law passed by congress?

2) The Tax law passed right before Christmas. I’d like to have a table showing all of the parts and how they will impact individuals, businesses and the finances of the nation. Even though the law was passed some time ago I’ve never felt like I fully understood all that was in it. The background for this is that I read recently that they will have to raise the debt limit earlier than anticipated due to unexpected impact from the new law.

Respectfully yours,

Do you think if enough people request the media to provide less sensationalist content it might make a difference?

What else can one do?

I’m Puzzled.

Random Reflection-What is real?

There was a lengthy piece in yesterday’s paper that gave me that “wow”, flabbergasted feeling. I’m trying not to be silenced by that feeling. Lately it occurred to me that these flabbergasting things are really stifling communication by reasonable people. The people who are hard over one way or another have a standard set of lines to go to, relevant or not.

The article: Paying to be Popular: social media’s black market. Since anyone reading this is at least a little involved in social media it’s worth a read. Fake followers for fake news (I am talking about real fake news, not the kind of “fake news” that means someone in power doesn’t like it even though it’s true). People who are “influencers” are buying followers so they appear to be more influential than they are. This causes their postings to bubble to the top in the algorithms that decided who should see what.

There was a scary article, in a scary special report called the Future of War, in this week’s Economist as well: My truth against yours: The power of fake news and undue influence.

It is a war…on us.

Here is the last paragraph from the Economist article:

In the future, “fake news” put together with the aid of artificial intelligence will be so realistic that even the best resources and most professional news organization will be hard pressed to tell the difference between the real and the made-up sort. Official web-sites and social-media accounts will become increasingly vulnerable to hackers, who may be able not only to provoke stock market crashes and riots but even contrive crises between countries that may induce them to go to war with each other.

The two articles are talking about some similar points. In the Times article some people have had their social media identities borrowed by these outfits that provide fake followers. The article was primarily about marketers manipulating the system. In the Economist they show how this was used during the last presidential campaign to manipulate outcomes.

This brought to mind something from a couple of years ago: I was chaperoning my niece and some friends at an over-night at my dad’s house. They made popcorn, watched a movie then started to do those Facebook surveys. The ones like “What kind of princess are you?”  I was struck at how much data about the personalities of these young people Facebook was obtaining through these surveys. Enough to figure out exactly how to manipulate the people who fill them out, not just by interests based on what they post, but by creating and choosing ads that will trigger them to react.  It felt evil. The kids were just doing the surveys for fun.

I think we need to ask some serious questions of ourselves about what the purpose and scope of social media should be…or if it should exist at all.

It feels like the system has evolved to stifle and manipulate us. Is there any way to hit the reset button and turn it back into a fun way to connect with family and friends? Or maybe I was naive to think that was ever the point.

Which way to the view?

The pups and I walk the same route most mornings, except when it is slicker weather. There is a spot along the way that we refer to as the “hump on 47th” where there are views out to the Olympic Mountains, when they are “out”. It is steep, a bit over grown and slippery on all but the driest days. Here is the path to our viewpoint from different directions (and different weather):

The view varies from mildly spectacular to non-existent:

For Cee’s Which Way Challenge

Random Reflections on Power #2

I have been studying Chinese first thing in the morning, before I get up for a while now, before my head is full of other things. This morning’s challenge was trying to make heads and tails of the difference between buy (买, mai–pronounced “my”– with a third tone) and sell (卖, mai with a fourth tone) as an almost tone deaf person. I had a bit of a headache when I arose and started reading the paper. It seemed full of Trumpery, which is often fairly bizarre. Today it seemed weirder than usual, and I don’t think it was due to my headache.

p_20180126_093952-996855681.jpg
Article in today’s Seattle Times.

The article itself was, frankly, neither news nor of particular interest: The First Family, as is traditional, borrows art from museums. Most first families make modest choices based on their individual tastes. The current one wanted a Van Gogh. In this case the requested art was old and frail and scheduled to be shown elsewhere, so the answer was “no”. Simple enough. The offer in the headline was a museum curator’s idea of making a point, perhaps inspired by Saturday Night Live. It’s funny…or at least it makes you laugh as a first response.

She was exercising her limited power. The offer was within her rights; it was also a bit tacky.

More importantly, it takes people’s attention away from the more serious actions of the day. Why talk about this today when it happened a while ago?

Other news today was things like: People on DACA are being used as hostages for the passage of ill conceived immigration and security measures. More examples of a president who has repeatedly tried to obstruct justice, both by abuse of power and by creating stories. Trade wars and devaluing the dollar.

Mention of all these were also in the paper, but the front page spread was about how Amazon’s workplace is a fancy green house. I understand this being on the first page of the local section. A more appropriate use of the column space on both the front page and this “Golden Toilet” article would have been to provide detailed information about the long term effects of the immigration and trade policies. We still haven’t seen a good description of everything that was in the tax bill passed last month.

I like to laugh as well as the next person, but it is not a good idea to let articles like this take our eyes away from the serious news of the day. Let Saturday Night Live take this one. We need to start asking newspapers to cover news.

Chinese for business is 买卖, (the second mai in this case takes the neutral, a.k.a. fifth, tone).  They won’t stop giving us the 买卖 until we stop responding favorably to it.

About me…and thank you.

Not long before Christmas I got a “congratulations your blog is three years old” email from WordPress. I was busy and it didn’t really register at the time. But recently I realized that my “about” page is 3 years old and should be updated. Among other things I use a different camera now.

It is easy to decide you need to update something, but, at least for me, much harder to  figure out what to say. An awful lot has changed since I started this blog. I am very much the same person, and interested in the same things, but the time of life I am in is shifting. Another thing that is shifting is that I feel more competent.

I have really grown through being exposed to the many voices in the WordPress community and also from trying to respond to the challenges prompts people post. Cee’s Compose Yourself course was a real boost to my skills, and I have read many other excellent articles and seen a lot of wonderful pictures that have helped me learn. Seeing how other people respond and think has helped me to find my own voice.

I’m still trying to figure out what to say on an “about” page but I do know that I want to say “Thank you!” to all of the bloggers on WordPress. This has been, and continues to be a rewarding experience.