Saturday, October 18, 2008

Discouraging words seldom heard

Human beings are social creatures. It's well known that if you're in a room and someone asks, "is this a good idea?" and everyone else starts saying, "yes, great idea," "yes," etc. that you will tend to feel like it must be a good idea! Sometimes even if you didn't think it was a good idea at first.

Evolutionary biologists would say this is an adaptive trait. It helps the human species survive. Sort of like when men lived in caves and everyone in the cave said, "Don't go out there, there's a lion!" It probably wasn't good for your survival if you were the type of guy who said, "Lion? I don't see no lion, you people are all just sayin... aaaarghaah!"

But this natural tendency to follow others can also be used by clever people to fool you, to manipulate you, to sell you something, or even win elections. The technique is get other people to tell you who is "good" and who is "bad" in an election. But here's what the real manipulators have learned: It's not as effective if people know the room is filled with supporters or detractors only. It's much better if you can fill a room with what look like "ordinary people," your "friends and neighbors." You're more likely to feel swayed if you think it's "ordinary people" just "expressing their views."

In the modern electronic world things get even more fiendish. Like if you tune into a radio talk show where people call in. You might just be driving around listening to what people say and you're surprised almost all the callers say, "you should vote for prop 8 - we have to protect marriage!" You might have previously thought "live and let live" and been inclined to vote no but now you find yourself thinking you "should" vote yes and you're not really sure why....

Now, how would you feel if you found out those people calling the radio station weren't just "ordinary people" calling in with their opinions? What if they were all or almost all "shills" paid by the "yes on 8" group? Wouldn't you feel wronged? Lied to? Hoodwinked? Of course you would!

And by the way, for the record, almost all reputable radio and TV talk shows avoid this kind of manipulation and picking callers based on their views for exactly this reason. Any radio station found to be doing that would be disgraced by scandal. (However, in the real world most callers to talk shows are self selected so it actually serves the same purpose -- something to always bear in mind when judging public opinion.) And, ahem, this is why Manteca Live people don't comment under other names.

The local cult of amateurs -- or -- NO SAYLES FOR YOU!

It caught my eye when reports of comments to the Sayles smear site going into a "black hole" came in and at least one case of being "blocked" for daring to question them or daring to question if all those bad things could possibly be true. Not only from posting messages but from even reading the web site! Why would such a thing occur?

The idea is the same old lies and manipulations. You can go to that web site, read the forums and you'll see "everyone agrees" or just about everyone agrees, "Sayles is terrible! She's rotten! Liar, criminal, etc!" It looks like everyone thinks that or that a lot of people think that! The natural human tendency is to be influenced (there's a lion out there!).

But in reality there might be 2 people ... maybe one person writing all that. The modern electronic world makes it possible for one person to sign a thousand messages. They can all agree with each other!

This manipulation falls apart unless the ringleader is careful to remove messages from people who don't agree. Or, better yet, never even hear from them.

Is this what the sayles.com smear site is doing? Almost certainly. And they get extra manipulation points by claiming that "anyone can leave a message here -- we don't block any messages!" Very clever.

That comment from "Kat" got me curious. I walked her through sending me a picture of her computer screen and emailing me a "screenshot" of what her computer did when she tried to read that website. I also walked her through a "procedure" to confirm she was getting a "fake" message. (When I asked her to try a simple technique to scramble her "IP," the website magically re-appeared.) Also, the wording of the "error message" said to "hit alt-F4" to fix the problem. Ha....ha. That's what hackers in junior high say. (The alt-F4 key is the universal program shut down. It's a smartass comment that's the same as saying "to fix the problem press the big button on your computer" - just go away, in other words.)

And by the way "KAT" isn't a clever disguise for "Kristy and Tom," contrary to Brain Trust Leader and Chief Detective Sherlock's wild claims.

Which reminds me, I also asked about that "flyer" and so far as I can tell there doesn't seem to be any slick mailer being sent out. That image on the smear site could easily be a fabrication. In fact, half that web site is fabricated so it wouldn't be anything unusual.

But the point isn't the fake mailer itself, it's something else: You'll notice that there are "lots" of "different people" writing into the forum saying how they got their mailer and such. But if there's really no such mailer, what does that tell us? That those "people" writing in are fabrications too! I'm still trying to nail down the facts but so far there's no evidence such a flyer or mailer exists or was mailed out. That means all your friends and neighbors who told you, "I'm not voting for Sayles, I read it in the mailer" either don't exist or are lying.

I've typed enough! Why don't I just sum it up: The smear website is a cauldron of lies, fabrications and manipulations. Reckless interpretations. Fake documents, fake images, fake commentary from fake participants who "live in Lathrop." People who support the mayor, if they happen by, are promptly locked out of the forum after a few comments. (And the few "positive" posts that aren't deleted, they serve a manipulative purpose. The website can say "See? We don't block positive comments...!")

There are issues in Lathrop. That's for sure. See this week's Sun-Post and some of the more thoughtful comments here. But now that the waters are muddied so much by the despicable campaign being bankrolled by bully land-developers it's hard for anyone to know anything.

19 comments:

  1. Thank you so much. This all needed to be said, and of course, you were the one to do it.
    I found it interesting that I was blocked from the site, but even better that my NAME was manipulated into being an acronym. Amazing! Too bad all these malicious people couldn’t put their time and talents to some better use, like picking up garbage in LATHROP. Maybe the physical work would use up some of their negative energies for better purpose. I’m still wondering how, whoever is heading this smear campaign sleeps at night, knowing the potential harm they are causing innocent people.
    KAT CORSO, My real name.

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  2. From what I understand, some of "those people" do put their talents into picking up garbage in Lathrop. From what I hear you can often find them digging through your trash at 2am...

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  3. LathropLive is hilarious. You really are. As for KAT being banned, it was my decision, and if she wasn't such a hypocrite, it wouldn't have been an issue.

    As for the mailer, you may very well be right, I never saw an original one, just included was I was emailed by a reader. If it was faked, then so be it, wouldn't that be a sigh of relief that all the voters didn't actually get it.

    As for the site being faked, you better mind your p's and q's. Everything I've put up there has been backed up and more importantly could be backed up in a court of law. Be careful of where you tread. I understand fully that you don't like what I've chosen to do, that's fine, we can agree to disagree, but calling me a liar or the site full of lies is something else, and something that won't just be overlooked.

    Why don't you ask the Mayor the tough questions. Is it okay to lie on Marriage Licenses? Is it okay to perjure one's self. Don't excuse it, ask the darn question. Is that acceptable behavior for an elected official? If so, then elect her in, if not, then don't. What about her lies to the Bulletin? I've proved them to be lies. I have more, plenty more, but until she claims she hasn't done something, then it'll come back up. Make sense? I'm picking apart HER CLAIMS.

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  4. Innocent People?.....who would that be Kat? The mayor of Lathrop has got this city turned inside out.....I dont agree with a lot that is claimed and said about her personally......but one cannot deny official documents and current exhibition of how one conducts their affairs. She put herself in the public eye of scrutiny.....and as for character assisinations.....this blog site does the very same thing to all public officials in the area......this guy dogs EVERYONE....check out the archives for a moment...I have seen this guy around town with his little camcorder trying to slant the truth of many situations he claims to report on......just look at the pictures illistrated here of Kristy Sayles before the Sayles site came up.....and then those since.....He found images that were unsavory and printed them to skew the story......now he makes her look like Mother Teresa in his posted images of her.....He is critical of ALL reporters locally.....then reports with HIS slant on things.....This site is just as personally damaging as ANY other site on the web........There are no angels flocking here!
    Dan Mac Neilage
    PS.....and Kat.....I picked all my campaign signs I was aware of in the time required by our city ordinances.....if you had a problem, you could have called and I would have gladly picked them up......I broke NO promise to you or anyone else as YOU claimed......The ONLY promise I made was to do my best if elected....Talk about pinning false claims on others.....isnt that what peaved you so much on the other site?

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  5. KAT (Not Kristy & Tom)10/19/08, 5:38 PM

    Dan, We kindly allowed you to place your huge signs on our gates! You didn’t pick up your signs and the proof of that is that they currently reside under my car in the garage. They make excellent trip pans. Please don’t suggest otherwise. I don’t feel I needed to call you to do what you promised to do.

    As to Anonymous you are clearly an evil person and apparently one that does not believes in KARMA. I am not a hypocrite, I was only being a human that believes in the Golden Rule and what you are saying is unnecessary and mean spirited. I think the rest of the candidates should be raked over the coals in the same manner. Since you consider you are doing LATHROP a public service, why not save us, the tax payers and residents of Lathrop, (something you are not by the way), some money by helping us not elect the WRONG PERSON this time.
    I can bet there isn’t a candidate that is currently running that doesn’t have a skeleton or two in their closets. I bet you have few your self considering what a mean person you are. Who are you hiding behind, who is behind your need to crucify anyone, including me.
    PERSONNALLY, I think you should stay out of our business, unless you PAY TAXES here!!!

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  6. Please pardon my error. My comments are directed to THE WEBMASTER AND not anonymous.

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  7. Kat,
    I remember you....I spoke to you about knowing your daughter and grandson and I shook your husbands hand and thanked him for his service to our country in Viet Nam.You and your husband said a lot that day about our town and I followed the remarks up with investigation.I did go by once the final count was certified and the signs were gone...glad they could be put to good use......
    Dan

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  8. We did ask about the so called "lying" and the marriage license. It didn't turn out to be anything worth speaking of. Because even if that turned out to be true, the voters don't care. So she fudged her age to get out of the house a few months early and get married -- it's not like a lie designed to harm anyone. How many politicians have admitted they lied about their age to join the armed forces? Lots! People tend to be forgiving of minor paperwork things -- especially if the person was just a kid at the time and it wasn't done to hurt anyone.

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  9. Dear Dan:
    Thanks for your comments. The main mission of this web site is to question the party line. I don't know if that means "dogging" everyone but there isn't any shortage of people spewing the party line. However, we do try to stick to issues and stay away from character assassination.

    You might be surprised that I think the politicians are generally likeable, good and honest people. But they are operating in accordance with incentives of a flawed system. Almost all my complaints are about what they do and not who they are.

    I have to disagree with the part about being overly critical of the local reporters. I've always thought highly of the reporters. Now, "the press" in general is a different story sometimes. In particular, the editorial positions of one newspaper. But even then I have tried to stick to ideas. I think highly of the editor of the Bulletin even though I have disputed and disagreed with his positions and arguments.

    We have been critical of Mayor Sayles. Particularly the incident with expelling the citizen from the public meeting. I don't support that. But I should say that since that original criticism, I had the chance to review the entire video of that meeting and it's become less clear who in particular was really "at fault." The theory that it was initiated by someone else is supported by the video and commentary and a letter from the city lawyer that was sent to the Manteca Bulletin. Of course, the mayor is ultimately responsible for everything, unfortunately in this case. If the mayor has a fault it's that she tends to follow the advice of the "experts" on the staff. It's easy to look back and say she should have taken charge and countered the order from the city attorney, and I think the mayor probably realizes that now. But that's 20/20 hindsight.

    It's probably also true that our readership has spiked to some extent. I don't know why! But the events that happen, happen. We don't control events. And the spike in readership is not unique. I talked the chief at the Sun Post once and he told me that when they print an article about something like spending millions of dollars to give to some store to move in to Manteca or some other "serious" issue, they get very little comment. But when there's some kind of scandal or gossip or especially if it involves someone doing a bad job or some sex scandal then the comments just roll in! One could also observe that CNN became what it was because the "gulf war" happened and that Court TV became something when O.J. "happened."

    There's also some disconnect between readership and commentary. Most of what I've done doesn't really lend itself to commentary. That could be because the alternate interpretation is already well represented in the "main stream" press. But as for who is "slanted" that's up to the reader. I would argue there's no more slanted view of things than what you get from the press releases and the comments from city government officials. And one of the local papers tends to repeat those slants as if they came from the burning bush. The reason my readers tune in is to get the "other side" and I'm sure that seems like a slant.

    By the way, the reason I say there's a disconnect between commentary and readership is that others and I have noticed that when I say something here, the exact words often appear a few days later in the both of the local papers and sometimes from the bench in city council meetings. Not that I'm complaining or anything. I'm glad at least the "important people" are reading!

    Believe it or not, I don't think I've been overly harsh in criticism. I know a lot of people probably fell out of their chairs at that comment. But I would say this -- no, first a little story....

    A famous photographer was visiting Ireland and he wrote in his memoirs that a lot of tourists were "disappointed" in the way Ireland didn't look the way they thought it would. It "wasn't like the pictures in the brochure the travel agent gave them!" He overheard one couple in a restaurant ask "why doesn't Ireland look like it does in the pictures?" It was the strange way the question was asked -- think about it -- why didn't she ask "why didn't the photographer accurately depict the way it looks?" That's the other way of looking at it. But we expect our illusions to be reality -- and not the other way around, strangely!

    Well I think my photographs and videos depict the reality we wish didn't exist. We've gotten so used to our own propaganda that we don't want to accept the way things really are. So the question is which is the slant? The depiction of reality or the depiction of a world that we wish existed?

    By the way, I've always done still photography and only branched into video a little while ago. It's a lot harder than it looks! That's why 99.44% of the video never makes it to the website.

    I think we do a pretty good job, unlike many "blogs" and "youtube viral videos" in that we try to abide by standard photojournalistic practices. We don't publish embarrassing pictures or videos of humiliation. We don't include gratuitous pictures or details that would invade the privacy of people who aren't part of the story. No hidden cameras or microphones, getting permissions when needed, etc.

    But sometimes reality is embarrassing enough and in some sense, that's the whole purpose of this enterprise. The first step to change is to face reality.

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  10. I've read both this blog and the Sayles hit piece and even though I do not condone open character assassination, you have to wonder why MantecaLive is so adamantly pro-Sayles, when there are literally hundreds, if not thousands of Lathrop residents who intimately know that the woman is a manipulator, liar and most importantly, a terrible leader. The Sayles website at least backs up their claims with actual documents, which are easy to obtain and Live knows this, so why would they say the allegations are fake? Taking issue with the severity of the allegations is one thing (yeah some are trivial) but saying someone has completely fabricated something is quite another. The truth is there is a lot more here, more that really shouldn't be made public because of the collateral damage the information would cause to those close to her, as well as other innocent people. If you're a Lathrop citizen, make it easy on yourself - vote for Robert Oliver, Steve Dresser and Chris Mateo. You'll be glad you did...

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  11. Beware of those who speak for others. We don't know who thinks what.

    Is it "pro-Sayles" just to give both sides a fair hearing? We don't "block" or delete messages from supporters or even the candidates themselves! Unlike some other forums where hearing from the other side disturbs the prescribed narrative.

    Never forget that images on a website are not documents. A web site can make "documents" that show anything.

    We have verified some of the documents, others are likely fabrications. What does that suggest about how reliable some future "documentation" might be? It's like a plate of spaghetti with a cockroach in it -- would you remove the cockroach and then be eager to eat the plate of spaghetti? Or would you think, "if there's one cockroach that I see there's probably other bugs in there!"

    I think you correctly labeled the thing in the Manteca Bulletin as a "hit piece." When the reporter uses language like the mayor "claims" this or that in her letter but then the developer stood up and and "set the record straight" that's a pure form of bias. It's not up to me to decide who's setting the record "straight." Sometimes you just have to listen to both sides and make up your own mind.

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  12. Joe,
    Can you tell us what documents have been fabricated or modified on the site in question? These are very serious charges if correct.
    Thank you,
    Dan Mac Neilage

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  13. You're right Dan, the Sayles smear site is making some "serious" charges.

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  14. Please tell me what documents have been forged or altered. Are you claiming her booking photo was forged?

    You can obtain the very photos yourself.

    Oh, let me guess, you're complaining about the John McCain, Obama, Newsom photos. Yeah, parody.

    Get a grip LathropLive, please...

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  15. hmmm. "Booking" photo. Interesting.
    Anything else?

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  16. Who invited the DEVELOPERS?? Does anyone in Lathrop remember Norm Jarrett or Gold Rush City or Farm World? I don't think Kristy had anything to do with that. It was more than 10 years ago and she probably wasn't thinking she would be mayor and have to deal with the aftermath of the failed plans. Once Pandora's Box was opened someone had to deal with it. And, at the moment I don't think it turned out well, does anyone. My point is once again, how did Developers get here, it's not like Lathrop is the Show place of Northern California....

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  17. The "Pay as you go" deal that the mayor refers to had several variants that allowed for cancellation long before any monies were dispersed. The deal allowed for the city to purchase infrastructure from the developer once the bond debt was satisfied.There was a bond sale of 50 million of which Richland was paid 37+ million for incomplete infrastructure. This is the reason we cannot open Lathrop Road as safe passage to our new high school. We, the citizens of Lathrop, had NOTHING to do with the opening or construction of the new high school. Our city did however, pay a contractor for incomplete work, void of lien releases and city acceptance. Mayor Sayles signed the checks distributed to the contractors. Being an objector from the onset....one would want to believe that the transactions were properly presented and served no risk to our cities future. This was not done. The pay as you go concept always gave the city an "out" should the Developer not perform as approved. It was an interim city manager that agreed to the modifications in the contract and was paid to the developer while our current city manager was at the reigns......All the while, Kristy was the Mayor....
    She should have been open and honest with the public, city council and planning commission once the deviation of the agreement was discovered. Maybe NOT being open and straight forward is not an out and out lie.....but it is certainly not being HONEST either. We have enough experience and knowledge at our disposal to have stopped the funds from being dispersed.....that didnt happen and now our cities credit rating is at risk as a result.
    This is just one of the MANY inconsistencies and problems facing our cities future. Lathrop Road is about 10-13 million dollars away from being compete.....The sewer problem is NOT Kristy's......It is the agreement garnered between the MUSD and Richland Development.....We need to focus on providing a safe passage to and from school for our students. Joe, it would be great if you could start a blog on that topic.
    Thanks for allowing me to ramble..
    Dan Mac Neilage

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  18. So you question the "booking photo" do you? Please call the Alpine County Sheriff's Office to inquire then. Please also check the Alpine County Sheriff's Office for their documentation, which itself includes a black and white version of the two photos that is affixed electronically to their electronic intake form. The photo was taken when her fingerprints were taken. Do you actually dispute that this happened? The intake person was named Chris, in case you're looking to get the right person.

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  19. Dear Webmaster:

    Thanks for the helpful information. The next time I'm cruising through "Alpine County" I'll stop in and ask "Chris" if he wouldn't mind if I peruse the records of infractions from the last decade or so.

    Actually, Mayor Sayles addressed the issue of the complaint as reported by Jackie in an earlier log entry. (... Mayor Sayles responds to accusations, 27 Sep 08)

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