Thursday, 8 December 2016

The Uninformed - Misinformed Statement

“If you don’t read the newspaper, you’re uninformed. If you do read it, you’re misinformed."

--  Denzel Washington

It was a blunt simple statement by Denzel Washington which I came to appreciate in some ways.  He is correct.  You could just avoid newspapers, and be blind or in the dark about the world.  Or you could read the newspapers, and eventually realize that you were strung along or dragged through this big half-true-half-false epic story.

It's reality in 2016.  You can't be sure about much, and lots of people want to assure you that they know the whole story.....when they only know about half of it.  Yet, you can't be sure.

I used to like Paul Harvey News and Commentary.  Somewhere around 1978, I started to listen to it daily.  By the late 1980s....I came to realize that some of Paul's good intentions and story-telling....did lack some complete story.  It was rare.....but it was something that you just came to realize that even he couldn't be a hundred-percent right.

The Washington Post "Woe" Moment

It was one of those stories that I should have skipped.

The Washington Post ran this piece that one of it's readers sent in.  It was more or less.....a confession.

This gal....divorced....had this crazy idea for part of the summer, and into the fall....of getting back into dating.  She has two kids, and a dog.

For weeks, she talked about this and she was almost (by the way she wrote the piece) at this great moment in her life....resuming a relationship.

Well....then a few weeks ago....Trump won the election.  Yeah, a shocker.

In her mind now....life is a question mark.  Things aren't certain. With a question mark.....you can't be sure....so why date?

In her piece, this moment in history was written and it was supposed to be a woman President.  Naturally, she didn't note her political affiliation, but I kinda guess that it had to be a Democratic woman President, and not a Republican woman President.

The thing about this personal piece written and taking up space in the WaPo.....it's fairly weak and marginal stuff.  No news value.....just human interest.  Some woman.....on a downward spiral....won't be dating as long as Trump is President.  End of the story.

Probably 500,000 people will read the piece.  Half of them will go and talk with others.....telling how they feel the same way, or that their life is in limbo now.  The other half will ask if these people maybe need some rehab or month-long trip to Idaho to clear their thoughts.  Some people will suggest going out and hauling three-hundred bales of hay on a hot July afternoon, or filling sandbags by some flood-prone river.

I sat for a while and pondered over this WaPo public interest story.  To be honest, everyone should go and confess something like this and send it into Wapo.

My confession?

In 1993, Crystal Pepsi ended.  I admit....this was a fairly decent soda.  Over the brief year that they produced it.....it kinda replaced my regular Pepsi and Mountain Dew.  Then, a year passed, and it was gone.  Pepsi decided it couldn't break out or become a winner.

Me?  I lost my drive to excel, and my dreams of becoming a Yankee Third Baseman went away as well.  I was disenchanted....disheartened....thrown ten different ways to Hades....crushing me badly, and so it goes.  It just never was the same after that.

Well....that's what I say.  I do admit....I drifted back to Mountain Dew and regular Pepsi (at least to 2010).

We all ought to settle back and go to WaPo and make some confessions.  The day that Gore lost still bothers some folks.  The day that Gunsmoke ended bothers others.  The day that Larry Bird retired from basketball bothers others.  The day that the TV series Lost ended with such a lousy one-star script affects some people.  The day that Elvis died is a conflicting moment for some folks.  Even the day that that the Japanese hit Pearl Harbor brings tears to some folks.

So if you need to get this out....just send the twenty-line piece to WaPo and let them know of your feelings.  Maybe....eventually....they can hustle up two or three pages a day with people telling their story of woe or such.

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Recounts of Little Value

I sat this morning reading over all this recount news.  When this first got brought up as an idea....to force three states to do a recount....I had this thought of a Pandora's Box, and how it was probably something you really didn't want to occur.

So this morning....out of the Detroit Free Press....they noted this new problem. In the Rochester Hills area (Prec 11)....they can't do the recount.

Reason?  Well....the poll book says that 848 voters did vote in the precinct.  No one argues about that part of the facts.  But when they opened up the ballot box....there's only 847 ballots there.  It's missing one.

State law has a funny notation on recounts in a precinct where the poll book and ballot box doesn't equal.  You can't count the votes. Whatever was listed on the day after the election is the end of the discussion.  A recount is not possible.

This precinct?  It'd typically vote more Democrat than Republican.  Some say....a lot more.

Because of the way that recounts have to work.....they are now removing the 848 votes from the precinct.  They won't be a part of this forced recount.  So if there were 548 votes for Hillary and 300 votes for Trump.....well....they don't exist now.

Here's the thing....which the Detroit Free Press points out.....roughly one-third of the precincts in the Detroit region (392) report this number discrepancy.  Total number of votes in this 'free-fall'?  740,000 people voted in the Detroit area....almost two to one on votes for Hillary versus Trump.  Yet because of the recount.....if they decide to honor the recount numbers and the law.....instead of 517,000 votes for Hillary....this could go way down to like 150,000.....with Trump's 228,000 likely shrinking to 75,000.

Instead of helping the Hillary campaign, it simply lessens the numbers or votes.

Why this screw-up with the names on the polling sheets and the discrepancy of ballots?  No one seems to be able to explain this.  If this were just five or six precincts.....it might be easily explained.  Some folks are suggesting 300-plus precincts with issues.  Mass incompetence?  Or just some silly game being played out by party over another?  You just don't know.

So, when they come and lessen the vote because of the recount.....you might anticipate news journalists finally asking stupid questions....like how 300-plus precincts could screw up like this.

Saturday, 3 December 2016

Fake News: CNN

At some point this past week, CNN did up a story on the new incoming chief prosecutor of the US.....Jeff Sessions.  He's an Alabama senator (if you didn't know).

So, they laid out the basic summary....and led with the fact that Sessions is from Heflin, Alabama.

Well....no.

To be honest, he was not born in Heflin.....nor has he ever lived in Heflin.  It's a town of 3,480 folks, and they don't know any Jeff Sessions having come from their town.

Jeff?  He grow up in the Selma region....roughly 140 miles away.  For a number of years as a kid, he lived in Hybart (just south of Selma), which is 190 miles away from Heflin.  And today....he resides mostly in Mobile when he is in the state.....279 miles away from Heflin.

CNN?  Based on folks talking this up....they've said nothing.  Did they even research the guy?  I doubt it.  Some kid probably pulled up Wiki and then asked some other journalists, then they whipped up this piece on Jeff Sessions.

Part of the problem these days with the news media is that you have people who do a half-ass job.  Twenty years ago....they wouldn't have been caught or noticed.  Today?  Folks look at a story and ask questions.

As for Jeff?  I'm guessing he is amused by this Heflin connection, and is waiting for some CNN interview to occur, and he'll have some enriching comment to make about Heflin but admit he's never been there.


Tuesday, 29 November 2016

This Alternate Universe Thing

I will occasionally bump into science stories that will make me sit and ponder.  Today, was such a day.  The story?  Some scientists have wrapped up a project and issued their conclusion....they are fairly confident that time travel is now possible.

Their conclusion is that there are parallel universes (probably billions upon billions) and they are layered in some fashion.  Accessing them?  They kinda got to the end of their discussion in public and just left it there.  You have to wonder....were they a bit crazed or have they wandered into something that worries them a bit.

So you ponder over this.  In some alternate universe....the Romans never downsized, and eventually conquered not just all of Europe and the Middle East, but even Asia.

In another universe, Hitler got shot in WW I, and never came back to Munich.....so the Nazis never became a power-house like they were.

In another universe, the Yankees never traded for Babe Ruth, and he spent a decade with the Red Sox as a pitcher.

In another universe, Columbus and his entire crew were lost in a massive storm....never returning and delaying the discovery of the Americas by 60 years.

In another universe, Indians wiped out the Plymouth Rock colonists.

In another universe, the Anacosta Riots of DC in 1932 never occurred, and the bonus money for the WW I vets was paid out.  Hoover won the 1932 re-election and FDR went back to NY City as a graceful loser.

In another universe, the US never extended past the Mississippi River, and Mexico ended up controlling everything on the US west coast, and France controlled most of the center portion.

In another universe, Hillary Clinton was matched up with Jeb Bush, and easily won the election.

All of this discussion has to worry some people because someone might accidentally figure out the pathways to these alternate universes, and how to travel to them.  

You can imagine some crew getting on some platform, and Professor Walt spins the dial and just guesses that here is an alternate universe and just sends them off.....only to discover hours later on attempting to bring them back that this was a dinosaur-friendly universe, where humans never survived, and most of the crew are wiped out.

The other issue here....what we arrived at some Nazi-controlled universe and let the cat out of the bag that Hitler died in 1945 and in our universe.....the Nazis lost.

Or could it be that someone else from another universe has already come to arrive and set things right in our universe.....by helping Trump win over Hillary?

Yeah, that would be a shocker.

Monday, 28 November 2016

An Unbroken System Works as Advertised

The recount thing?

This is the simple side of this story.  If you can force three close Trump states (Penn, Minnesota and Michigan) and they can't wrap this up by the deadline of 19 December.....then it would be 47 states and Trump would miss the 270 number required to win.  The odds of all three states failing to meet the 19 December deadline?  It would be utterly remarkable at this point, but there are goofballs who are capable of allowing this to happen.

What happens then?

The Electoral College meets....does their vote, and wraps up the event.  No winner.

The election is then turned over to the House and Senate.

For the Senate, the top three VP candidates come up.  The Republicans own the process and will quickly pick Mike Pence.  I doubt if this takes more than an hour, unless everyone and their brother wants to make a speech over this whole episode.

For the House, they get the two TWO Presidential candidates.  Each state gets one single vote.  The Representatives of that state meet and talk it over....then vote as one single unit.  For some Democrats, it might be the only time in their lives that they actually meet Republicans from their own state.

There aren't any rules about who is in each charge of each state's voting procedure, so you might have a group huddle up in some corner (three guys) and just spend ten minutes talking about this.

The state breakout?  There are three states with even numbers of Republicans and Democrats....so they won't count for nothing.   Maybe some Republican will walk over to the side and vote for Hillary.  But the odds are.....three states won't vote.

So for Trump, there are 32 states with a margin for the Republicans.....thirty-two votes.  You need on twenty-six to win.

Hillary?  She has only 15 states in her column, with no possibility of getting to 26 states.

That ends that.

But.....IS REALLY OVER?

All of this is being done to show how broke the Electoral College seems to be.  Yet, in some ways, it proves how well the rules work.

By playing this card....what do you think happens in 2020, 2024, 2028, and 2032? Yeah, the Republicans will realize the game, and play it the same way.

For the general public, it's crap.  Why bother voting?  Some idiot will move in such a way to discount the votes of your state.  All that money, time and effort, and your vote didn't count?  A lot of people in Michigan, Penn and Wisconsin ought to hire lawyers and sue the heck out of the recount dimwits and their state....maybe to the tune of $2,000 per vote.

This might also force everyone to get hyper about dead people voting, illegal votes, and double votes.
Frustration over this gimmick?  Oh, I think it just went up a big notch.  If I were Trump....once elected, I'd turn a special prosecutor over to look at influence from lobby groups on elections, and the legal means of checking everyone who is registered.

But in the end.....remember, the rules worked as advertised.  Imagine though if 15 additional states had enough Democrats in the House to get Hillary the election.....even if the Electoral College went the other way.

Sunday, 27 November 2016

The Fake Study

There's this report I noticed today....Stanford University did a research project, and came to some startling but not surprising conclusion.

They took roughly 7,000 students (high school and university)....across the whole US (urban and rural)....and they asked them to evaluate news items which came from social media.

What they came to realize is that the bulk of these kids would accept some caption on a photo that declared some disaster, or event, or terrible woes.....and that was the acceptance of the item....whether it was true or fake.

They were unable to identify real stories from fake stories.

Of course, I looked at the story and then wondered....why limit this to students?  Why not go ahead with a second study and just look at 21-year-olds to 60-year-olds.....and see if they have the same issue.

My humble guess?  Yeah, they'd fail as miserably as the punk kids.

The problem is that you have some many misleading and carefully crafted stories from literally hundreds of sources....the odds are that you only have thirty to sixty minutes a day to absorb and grasp what the story is about.  You don't have time to ask why CNN built some interview into a story which was worthless, or why the BBC showed you misleading images, or why the Washington Post wrote a fairly long story with only three simple facts taking up nine lines of a 140-line summary.

The amusing thing is that Stanford researchers will sit there and poke into things which will upset a number of journalists and news organizations because it's obvious....there is very little difference between real journalism and fake journalism.

More research?  It would be of interest if they'd go and study adults....thus proving this whole fake reality of life today.  But if you did prove that virtually everything has an element of false nature to it....then what?