Category: Activities (page 1 of 9)

Activities are gatherings that occur on a regular schedule, usually weekly, to enjoy a specific pastime.

February 16, 2017
Current Affairs Discussion:
Fake News

Mainstream journalists today are being subjected to disintermediation. Anyone with access to the Internet can post most anything posing as “news” on Facebook, Google, YouTube, and a variety of other websites. Journalism as practiced in the 1960s is a distant memory, as when Walter Cronkite of CBS declared that the Vietnam war could not be won and President Lyndon Johnson lamented, “If I have lost Cronkite, I’ve lost Middle America.”

The proliferation of cable channels, talk radio, news websites, and other sources of “news”, most would agree, has plusses and minuses. We no longer have our news delivered by “The Voice of God”, whether it’s Walter Cronkite or Henry Luce’s Time Magazine and we can easily access a wider range of opinion and policy proposals.

But many of us would admit that we tend to access news sources that will reinforce our own biases, and to ignore those outlets that would challenge our opinions. Possibly this has eroded the power of politicians at the “center” and made political compromise in Congress more difficult.

Fake News is reflective of the trend of fragmentation of sources, but different

What fewer would debate is that our country is not well served by “fake news” that undermines the power of an informed citizenry. Educated voters can hold our political leaders to account for policies and actions but world history is replete with the danger if public opinion is based on lies.

There are a number of reasons for the rise of “fake news”, but one especially strong incentive is that you can make a lot of money by creating it. The process is pretty simple and straightforward. Set up a website, create headlines — the more provocative the better — and get advertisers to pay based on the number of visitors to the site.

The New York Times profiled a recent college graduate who makes between $10,000 and $30,000 a month from creating fake news.
His masterpiece: playing on the fear of Trump supporters that there would be a rigged election. His headline: “Breaking: Tens of thousands of fraudulent Clinton votes found in Ohio warehouse.”
None of this was true. The story was illustrated with a stock photo of plastic crates labeled “Ballot Box”, which was actually a photo from an election in Britain.
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/18/us/fake-news-hillary-clinton-cameron-harris.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=b-lede-package-region&region=top-news&WT.nav=top-news

“Fake News” content creators are found around the world. Eastern Europe is a particularly fertile ground for such individuals, who need only a computer. Earning $1,000 or $3,000 a month can put the individual at the upper end of the income range in some of these countries.
https://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/25/world/europe/fake-news-donald-trump-hillary-clinton-georgia.html?_r=0

What to do about this?

Both Facebook and Google have recently adopted a policy to refuse to place ads on sites controlled by fake news publishers. But the purveyors and profit-makers from fake news are likely to be nimble and set up new websites when their discredited ones have been shut down.
http://www.wsj.com/articles/mark-zuckerberg-explains-how-facebook-plans-to-fight-fake-news-1479542069

The New York Times solicited ideas and came up with four proposals:
Facebook must acknowledge and change its financial incentives
Algorithms could help social media users spot fake news
3) Users must be more critical of online content
4) Social media companies need to hire human editors
http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2016/11/22/how-to-stop-the-spread-of-fake-news

There are several sites that try to investigate and debunk fake rumor and news including factcheck.org, snopes.com, and politifact.com but in entering some of the “fake news” stories I found, these didn’t always come up as stories discredited.

Another proposal is to create a crowdsourced, open list of false news sites regularly updated and refined by consensus (like Wikipedia) and persuade Google, Facebook, YouTube and other social media to agree to abide by this list and block such site advertising. Employ self-policing as with Wikipedia.

Issues for Discussion

Who is the arbiter of “fake news”? It’s the age-old conundrum of the rights of free speech vs. censorship. The line between satire and “lying for cash” may be difficult to draw.
Should there be penalties for those who knowingly create “fake news”? Is it the equivalent of “shouting fire in a crowded theater”?
Should prominent social media sites such as Facebook and Google be legally required to root out fake news sites, or even to face fines for failure of due diligence?
What is the obligation of politicians to be accountable for exercising due diligence on stories that they distribute? Donald Trump has been accused of re-tweeting fake news without checking the validity of a story.
What methods should be adopted to educate citizens about how to test the truthfulness of stories they may see on social media and the Internet?
Do mainstream journalists need to change their methods of communicating and sourcing stories in order to offer a more legitimate and accessible alternative to fake news?

Other Reading

https://www.brookings.edu/research/what-the-debate-over-journalism-post-trump-gets-wrong/

Discussion leader: Charles Salmans

Resources:

April 20, 2017
Current Affairs Discussion:
Charter Schools

Charter Schools: Pros & Cons

Discussion leader: David Mace

Resources:

March 16, 2017
Current Affairs Discussion:
Sanctuary Cities and Immigration

Sanctuary Cities – Their impact on

– Immigration
– Local economies
– Legal system
– Law enforcement

Discussion leader: Bob Baker

Resources:

March 8, 2017 –
Book Discussion:
Black Flags: The Rise of ISIS
Joby Warrick

isisWINNER OF THE 2016 PULITZER PRIZE FOR GENERAL NONFICTION

“A Best Book of 2015”—The New York Times

In a thrilling dramatic narrative, Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Joby Warrick traces how the strain of militant Islam behind ISIS first arose in a remote Jordanian prison and spread with the unwitting aid of two American presidents. Drawing on unique high-level access to CIA and Jordanian sources, Warrick weaves gripping, moment-by-moment operational details with the perspectives of diplomats and spies, generals and heads of state, many of whom foresaw a menace worse than al Qaeda and tried desperately to stop it. Black Flags is a brilliant and definitive history that reveals the long arc of today’s most dangerous extremist threat.

Recommended by Harris Hester
Discussion leader: David Mace

February 8, 2017 –
Book Discussion
The Innovators
How a Group Hackers, Geniuses and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution

Walter Isaacson

innovatorsFollowing his blockbuster biography of Steve Jobs, The Innovators is Walter Isaacson’s revealing story of the people who created the computer and the Internet. It is destined to be the standard history of the digital revolution and an indispensable guide to how innovation really happens. What were the talents that allowed certain inventors and entrepreneurs to turn their visionary ideas into disruptive realities? What led to their creative leaps? Why did some succeed and others fail? In his masterly saga, Isaacson begins with Ada Lovelace, Lord Byron’s daughter, who pioneered computer programming in the 1840s. He explores the fascinating personalities that created our current digital revolution, such as Vannevar Bush, Alan Turing, John von Neumann, J.C.R. Licklider, Doug Engelbart, Robert Noyce, Bill Gates, Steve Wozniak, Steve Jobs, Tim Berners-Lee, and Larry Page. This is the story of how their minds worked and what made them so inventive. It’s also a narrative of how their ability to collaborate and master the art of teamwork made them even more creative. For an era that seeks to foster innovation, creativity, and teamwork, The Innovators shows how.

Discussion leader: Gary Banks

January 19, 2017
Current Affairs Discussion:
The Electoral College

The Electoral College:

– Why was it created?
– How it works.
– Is it still relevant?

Discussion Leader: Jim Phillips

Current Affairs

If you enjoy researching and discussing current affairs then you should join the DMA Current Affairs Discussion Group.

The Current Affairs group meets on the third Thursday of each month (Sep-Jun) at 8AM in the Lillian Gate Room on the second floor of the DCA.

The structure is as follows: With input from the group, the Current Affairs Coordinator will maintain a list of potential discussion topics. At the end of each meeting, a topic and discussion leader is chosen for the next meeting. The discussion leader will (i) define and articulate the topic; (ii) assemble and circulate background materials; (iii) lead the discussion. All members are encouraged to share information they find informative and relevant. The topic will be posted on this website.

We are not debating so the focus is on being better informed. The discussion leader will maintain this focus and allow everyone the opportunity to summarize what they have learned from the articles and what struck them as meaningful.

We hope to see you there.

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Blood and Sand
Alex von Tunzelmann

bloodsandOver sixteen extraordinary days in October and November 1956, the twin crises of Suez and Hungary pushed the world to the brink of a nuclear conflict and what many at the time were calling World War III. Blood and Sand is a revelatory new history of these dramatic events, for the first time setting both crises in the context of the Arab–Israeli conflict, and the treacherous power politics of imperialism and oil.
Blood and Sand tells this story hour by hour, with a fascinating cast of characters including Gamal Abdel Nasser, Anthony Eden, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Nikita Khrushchev, Christian Pineau, Imre Nagy and David Ben-Gurion. It is a tale of conspiracy and revolutions, spies and terrorists, kidnappings and assassination plots, the fall of the British Empire and the rise of American hegemony. Blood and Sand is essential to our understanding of the modern Middle East and resonates powerfully with the problems of oil control, religious fundamentalism and international unity that face the world today.

Recommended by Tom Reifenheiser

Hiking Greenwich Point Park
Thursday, December 1, 2016, 10:30 AM

“Hiking” Greenwich Point Park,
6 Tod’s Driftway, Greenwich
Thursday, December 1, 2016

greenwichpointparkWe will be walking Greenwich Point Park on Thursday, December1 at 10.30 am. Note that this is an hour later than our usual start time of 9.30 am.

Greenwich Point is a beautiful peninsula surrounded on three sides by Long Island Sound. The walking trail is completely flat and does not require any special skills other than a desire to walk amid some pretty spectacular scenery. We will be doing the full circuit of about 3 miles in about 1 ½ hours.

Following the walk we will have lunch at the highly recommended Italian Restaurant Applausi Osteria Toscana,199 Sound Beach Avenue, Old Greenwich, Conn. Take a look at the menu here.

Directions: Google Greenwich Point for the best directions.

Take Exit 5 off the South bound I-95. At the end of the exit ramp make a sharp right onto Rt 1 and then at the first traffic light make a right onto Sound Beach Road. Continue on Sound Beach for 1.8 miles, then at the T junction make right on Shore Road which becomes Tods Driftway after 1.3 miles. You enter Greenwich Point Park through a stone gateway and park in the first parking lot on the right where we will meet.

This park is open only for Greenwich Residents during the season, but this being off-season anyone can enter. However incoming cars are checked to make sure there are no dogs as they are not allowed in the park.

Clothing: It is usually quite windy at Greenwich Point and will probably be chilly as well. Be appropriately clad. Walking will warm you up and it should be invigorating and fun. All are welcome.

( Rain date: Friday December 2 at 10.30am)

Contact: Sunil Saksena 203-561-8601

Ike’s Bluff
President Eisenhower’s Secret Battle to Save the World

Evan Thomas

ikesbluffEvan Thomas’s startling account of how the underrated Dwight Eisenhower saved the world from nuclear holocaust. Upon assuming the presidency in 1953, Dwight Eisenhower set about to make good on his campaign promise to end the Korean War. Yet while Eisenhower was quickly viewed by many as a doddering lightweight, behind the bland smile and simple speech was a master tactician. To end the hostilities, Eisenhower would take a colossal risk by bluffing that he might use nuclear weapons against the Communist Chinese, while at the same time restraining his generals and advisors who favored the strikes. Ike’s gamble was of such magnitude that there could be but two outcomes: thousands of lives saved, or millions of lives lost. A tense, vivid and revisionist account of a president who was then, and still is today, underestimated, IKE’S BLUFF is history at its most provocative and thrilling.

Recommended by Tom Reifenheiser.

An Officer and a Spy
Robert Harris

officerspyRobert Harris returns to the thrilling historical fiction he has so brilliantly made his own. This is the story of the infamous Dreyfus affair told as a chillingly dark, hard-edged novel of conspiracy and espionage. Paris in 1895. Alfred Dreyfus, a young Jewish officer, has just been convicted of treason, sentenced to life imprisonment at Devil’s Island, and stripped of his rank in front of a baying crowd of twenty-thousand. Among the witnesses to his humiliation is Georges Picquart, the ambitious, intellectual, recently promoted head of the counterespionage agency that “proved” Dreyfus had passed secrets to the Germans. At first, Picquart firmly believes in Dreyfus’s guilt. But it is not long after Dreyfus is delivered to his desolate prison that Picquart stumbles on information that leads him to suspect that there is still a spy at large in the French military. As evidence of the most malignant deceit mounts and spirals inexorably toward the uppermost levels of government, Picquart is compelled to question not only the case against Dreyfus but also his most deeply held beliefs about his country, and about himself. Bringing to life the scandal that mesmerized the world at the turn of the twentieth century, Robert Harris tells a tale of uncanny timeliness––a witch hunt, secret tribunals, out-of-control intelligence agencies, the fate of a whistle-blower–richly dramatized with the singular storytelling mastery that has marked all of his internationally best-selling novels

Recommended by Joe Spain

2016 Silvermine Challenge
June 24, 2016

The 2016 Silvermine Challenge DMA vs. Senior Men’s Club of New Canaan (SMCNC) was held at the Silvermine Golf Club on June 24th. This was the fifth consecutive year that this friendly yet spirited competition has been held. This year’s competition ended up in a 15 – 15 tie. DMA leads the series 3 – 1 with 1 tie.

The DMA Golf Team comprised the following members:

  • Dave McCollum
  • Tom Haack
  • Jim Crane
  • Jim Kelly
  • Woody Woodworth
  • Bud Bain
  • Tom Reifenheiser
  • Fred Conze
  • Michael Poler
  • Gunnar Edelstein
  • Kevin Davidson
  • Kevin Monahan
  • Mike Brennan
  • Austin Schraff
  • Spike Reed
  • Joe Holmes
  • Alex Garnett
  • George Gilliam
  • David Mace
  • Peter Carnes

Dave McCollum won the Closest to the Pin Award.

Denny Devere (Captain)

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