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A year of idleness and full-time entertainment consumption has put me in the ideal spot to provide my unwarranted recommendations to you, ranging from all categories across the board. Recommendations are not necessarily limited to anything published in 2020, merely something I have watched/read/listened to this year.

First off; books.

While finishing the last book of my 24-reading goal it’s quite fitting that this latest addition to the challenge is also the one I provide as recommendation. Fresh in mind fresh in heart aye? I’ve chosen this first and foremost because we all can use a travel book in these times to lose ourselves in, especially with such a friendly and erudite guide.  Patrick Leigh Fermor writes about his journey on foot from Hoek of Holland to Constantinople in a surprisingly educating and highly entertaining manner. The first of the trilogy: A Time of Gifts spansfrom the start all the way to the middle Danube. It is worthy to note that he travels in 1933/3, with what Germany was going through at that time it is incredible to hear the voices of both sides during his travels. Second, he wrote this book 30 years after he travelled so it also provides a lot of reflection as occurs in such retelling. Now it is by no means a comparison to a historical travel book such as Geert Mak’s In Europe. It is much more a story of an intelligent but compassionate 18-year-old that decides to talk a long walk and meet the most amiable characters on the way. The element that instantly will amaze any reader is the hospitality of those he meets on the way. As Patrick was at that time a student with little funds it is astonishing to see how his reliance on strangers was almost unavoidable due to the heavy insistences of the offers. If you won’t read it for the travel, do read it for Fermor’s internal rambling on art, nature, history, and politics. His 5-page spanning reflection of Brueghel the Elder’s work is a good example. Without giving away too many spoilers, if you, regretfully, have put away your wanderlust somewhere on a dusty shelf than do read this amazing travelogue to take a sip of all things absent.

...continue reading "Yearly recommendations"

To give my self more perspective on the current fake-news phenomena I will take a closer look at not the culprits thereof, but rather why it is more prominent over quality news. What draws people to news and articles that contain speculative, opinionated, or straight op false information? Why is the current news output cluttered with so much non-issue? And can anything be done against it that does not restrict the freedom of speech? These questions I think need answering to find the root of the problem.

We have all visited sites that are partisan and show a clear echo chamber and framing to support a single ideology. The articles highlighting the faults in the opponents are numerous and each a valid reason to cause worry or instill irritation.

As example; so many of those late-night talk shows repeat the same unnecessary Trump bashing sketches that it gets almost infuriating to watch. I, by no means, support the methods and policies of the current US president, but ridiculing him over and over must not sit well with his supporters. But that let me wonder as to why it is so popular. How is it possible that these shows with endless taunting and mockery of the same person scores high, regardless of the position he holds?


The number one reason I think what makes this such a success is that outrage sells. Getting people riled up is an effective method to go viral and thus receive more viewers. This strategy is somewhat portrayed in the 1984 book by George Orwell, where the citizens have their anger fuelled by daily videos of the number one enemy of the state. A video from CGP Grey describes the psychological reason behind this in quite a simple matter. Anger is the dominating emotion when it comes to how likely it is for you the share the impulse. On top of that, the more often it is shared the more aggravating these impulses become.

Anger impulses also polarizes the current topic at hand, when portrayed with a message that instil vexation you are more likely to create an us against them illusion in comparison when encountering positive content. A cute cat picture won’t make you despise cute dog pictures, but on topics such as, something complex as the current ‘trade war’ you are more tempted to take one of the two sides; in favour or against.

This conclusion is not some ground breaking new research, it has been and is used by marketing firms since its invention. The prominence of it in news however, seems to be on the rise. In the past there used to be a much clearer line as to what was factual informative news, and what was content to be enjoyed reading for its lack of objectivity. News now is diluted with so much non-issue that it can only increase that apathy we have towards it. Once we reach a point where everything becomes the most important thing, nothing will be important anymore.

The only positive note so far I find is that due to being aware of the abundance of non-issue and dishonest information we tend to be more critical to what we read, hear and see.