2020 Thoughts (Not Quite That Many)

[My] Spam On The Rise

The year 2020 suddenly found me semi-famous. There were two television documentaries; I played a featured role in both. Then there were two podcasts. One of them, by Nancy Grace, featured an interview of yours truly. All of this was driven by my oldest book, Butcher, Baker. This new development leads me to several thoughts.

One “benefit” of fame — or even semi-fame — is more spam on one’s digital properties. At its peak the increase was in many multiples. In days long past, I could ignore spam. Months could go by without me having to trim the fat. No more. I have reached a new level of spam-driven ignominy. A good problem to have, some might say.

Still, it must be said, folks who try to post to my blogs don’t get a free pass. Submit as much as you like, nothing gets published unless I manually approve it. Hence my new found frustration.

As always, as forever, a goodly share of my new traffic comes from porn and/or dating sites. (And Cialis-Viagra vendors.) As is often the case, porn (and dating) sites tend to be technology-forward. Porn sites, for example, were among the first to use the web as a business platform, and also among the first to adopt video. Where there’s money, they get there quickly. 2020 proved it once more.

Sample spam image on lelandhale.com

So, of course, spam on blogs. It’s like free advertising. None of that’s particularly surprising. But what I’m seeing recently is a little surprising (not really). The porn/dating sites seem to be using AI to write their text. Here’s a sample. Note that it almost makes sense, as if taken from a huge corpus of text files.

[These are, by the way, consecutive paragraphs from a single spam post. It goes on like this for 830 words. See what you think.]

Dasher’ appreciated a stack of foods in addition to the quitting those to hide them.

Marjorie Moon’s big day utilizing paul Guadalupe Gonzales at about a swanky restaurant in denver in 2016 seemed to be to probably excellent. could, until finally your guy evaporated.

Gonzales offers pleasant to begin with, If just a fawning, silent celestial body being said. that she encountered her dad to the through getting to know world-wide-web site a good amount of reef fish colliding with rid of it, replacing family pictures of these boys and girls moreover placing their admiration with great cooking. on first encounter, your woman became aware of he weren’t kidding: Gonzales dictated two dinners a chicken container and even four lobster tails, your darling proclaimed. He requested luxurious wine just to a souffl with regard to wedding cake.

Yeah, all of that.

At War with COVID-19

Just before 8:00 am on Sunday, December 7, 1941, Japanese forces attacked Pearl Harbor. The very next day — December 8, 1941 — President Franklin Delano Roosevelt declared war against Japan. Germany and Italy were soon to follow.

USS Arizona, Burning, Pearl Harbor

COVID-19 was first identified in December 2019 in Wuhan China. The first confirmed case relating to the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States was announced by the state of Washington on January 21, 2020. Just like December, 1941, this attack required the U.S. be on a wartime footing. Not against China, as some misled folks insist, but against the disease itself.

In case you need reminding, as I write there have been 25,239,990 COVID-19 cases in the U.S. 421,118 deaths. 15,104,720 recoveries. During World War II, the U.S. had 670,846 wounded. And 405,399 deaths. Those figures are for the entire four years of the conflict. So, yeah, COVID has war numbers.

COVID Mass Grave New York (Courtesy Financial Times)

Knowing that, here’s the War Plan, which actually started in 2020.

Washington State, I want you to build war planes. Where you send them is up to you. California? Same thing. Texas, I want you to produce jet fuel. How you get it to the war planes is your problem. Yes, we have U.S. Navy fuel ships, but you make your own arrangements. Nebraska, you grow crops, right? OK. Grow crops. But none of those soy beans. The Chinese eat them and we don’t want that. Michigan, you can build tanks. Somebody told me you did it during the last great war. Great… Although I do have doubts about your Governor.

Sounds like that’s a sure way to win the war, right?

Left vs. Right – Is The Line-Graph Misleading?

As a life-long political junkie, it’s sometimes hard for me to hold my tongue. But in such divisive times, I often hold back. Who needs one more voice shouting in the wilderness? But there are thoughts about the left vs. right dichotomy that have long bothered me. 2020 broke my resolve. Let me explain.

As some have noticed, moderates on the left (Democrats) and moderates on the right (Republicans) can have more in common than might be readily apparent. They just start from different places. But to people on the left, these moderates are often considered anti-progressive. On the right they are, quite simply, “RINOs” (Republicans In Name Only). Both are disdained because they seem most open to compromise with the other side (not that they always make that a practice).

On a straight-line graph these moderates are easy to portray.


But what about the folks at the other extreme? They are variously characterized as anarchists, communists or Antifa (on the left) or as Fascists, nativists or Alt-Right (on the right). Truth is, these folks have a lot in common, too. At the extremes, they are both anti-democratic, even autocratic, whether left or right. When we think of anarchists, we think of political violence. Same with white supremacists and their ilk.

[Want examples? On the left, Venezuela under Hugo Chavez. On the right, Erdoğan in Turkey.]

But a straight-line graph makes these two extremes look like they diverge more than they actually do; they deserve to be on a continuum of comparative equality with their opposite number. Imagine something different. Would a slight modification of the line-graph work better? Something that calls out the extremists?


The problem is, even this illustration fails to convey that the far-left and far-right are much more similar than different. In fact, I see them as similar in ideological tendencies, like their left-moderate and right-moderate counterparts (except, of course, at the opposite extreme).

Hence, I offer yet another way of looking at the far left/far right conundrum (below).

New: political extremism at its own pole

The advantage of the [new] illustration is that it puts the extremist ends of the political scale at a level comparable to the moderate end of the scale, while at the same time putting them in a region where they are spectacularly on their own. Again, this requires that one accept the paradigm that the far-left and far-right (or far-far-left and far-far-right) are more similar than different. More authoritarian on both sides. More anti-democratic. More violent. And that the difference between them is smaller than one might be led to believe.

[You will also note that the Ultra-Conservative category is farther to the right than the Progressive category is to the left. In my view (I’m not alone), folks on the right have moved steadily closer to the extremes.]

I’m hoping this new paradigm explains actors like JaydenX, AKA John Sullivan. He has been identified as Antifa. But at the Capitol Insurrection, he appears to have switched sides. Not that far to travel, really, along the 2020 ideological divide.

Old: Circle Game

UPDATE: The circle diagram in an earlier version of this post — seen above — diminished the left-right spectrum perhaps too much. In re-imagining it (nothing’s perfect), I wanted something that retained the traditional left-right graph, but built the far left/far right spectrum at a different level.

Copyright Leland E. Hale (2021). All rights reserved.


Order “What Happened In Craig,” HERE and HERE. True crime from Epicenter Press.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *