Thursday, 30 April 2009

In Passing

Rabble-rousers: Steal this graphic

I’ve squeezed Glenn’s deficit graphic so it fits in the sidebar. Image size is 220 x 300px. You’re welcome to copy, but hotlinking won’t work.

Anybody done a T-shirt yet?


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“Where’s the captcha” hunt continues

Just checked, still out...

Fer cryin’ out loud, Blogger, it’s been two months.

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Wednesday, 29 April 2009

The Press

Cornering the market

TV Newser:

How’s this for cable news domination - Fox News beat CNN and MSNBC combined in every hour from 6amET to MidnightET in both Total Viewers and the A25-54 demo for April 2009.

FNC had the top 11 cable news programs in Total Viewers and 12 of the top 15 in the demo. FNC is the #2 network in Total Viewers on all of cable...
And from 9am, every program was up by 60% or more in that demo.

Well, if all the other restaurants in town will only serve tofu, and you’re the one serving steak...

Via:  Say Anything

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Tuesday, 28 April 2009

In Passing

Don’t let the door hit’cha on the way out

Via Instapundit, who notes
Of course, this gives Obama a filibuster-proof majority.
Yeah, but it also means that every vote Specter casts is another nail in the coffin of Democrat ownership of what he votes for.  I’d rather have him voting as a Democrat than giving the Democrats “bipartisan” cover by voting as a RINO.

One down...


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In Passing

THEY don’t trust YOU

Three more illustrations of the old axiom, “Governments default to secrecy:”

The photo-op that frightened a city.

On Monday morning, one of the 747s used to ferry arount the president of the U.S. was dispatched to the Statue of Liberty, escotred by fighter jets.  Assignment: Get some fresh glamour shots of the plane.

The Air force said the flight needed to remain confidential.  So while New York police knew about it, as did at least one person in the mayor’s office,[1] regular New Yorkers remained in the dark.

As a result, to onlookers Monday all across downtown Manhattan -- where the World Trade Center once stood -- the photo shoot looked like a terrorist attack. - The Wall Street Journal, “A ‘Classified’ Photo Op Turns Into A Soaring Blunder for the White House”
And just why did this need to be classified?  The President wasn’t aboard.[2Widespread notice would have prevented panic. But no...

Is your bank in trouble?  Mum’s the word!
The coming “stress tests” are supposed to... finally divulg[e] how the government itself views the banks’ health. In fact, regulators are constantly making these judgments, using a method called Camels...

These Camels scores are treated as top secret.  It is a criminal violation to even disclose them to the public...

The problem is that the banking system has lost much public trust already...

One way to restore condifence would be to embrase disclosure full bore...  The other approach is to rewrite the securities laws, giving coporate officers or top government officials latitude to hold back disclosures in situations where the national interest outweighs that of the shareholders. - Dennis Berman
“Corporate officers or top government officials,” huh?  We’ve seen how well that worked with Bank of America’s Merrill-Lynch acquisition.  (I bet all those BofA shareholders - whose company is now being warned that it “needs to boost capital” - feel good about being lied to “in the national interest.”)

When it comes to epidemics, “tweeting’s” not golden.
...Despite all the recent Twitter-enthusiasm about this platform’s unique power to alert millions of people in decentralized and previously unavailable ways, there are quite a few reasons to be concerned about Twitter’s role in facilitating an unnecessary global panic about swine flu.

...The “swine flu” meme has [spread? (word omitted) - o.g.] so far that misinformed and panicking people armed with a platform to broadcast their fears are likely to produce only more fear, misinformation and panic.

Thus, unlike basic internet search -- which has been already been nicely used by Google to track emerging flu epidemics -- Twitter seems to have introduced too much noise into the process: as opposed to search requests which are generally motivated only by a desire to learn more about a given subject, too many Twitter conversations about swine flu seem to be motivated by desires to fit in, do what one’s friends do (i.e. tweet about it) or simply gain more popularity.

In situations like this, there is some[thing (?) - o.g.] pathological about people wanting to post yet another status update containing the coveted most-searched words – only for the sake of gaining more people to follow them. ...  The bottom line is that tracking the frequency of Twitter mentions of swine flu as a means of predicting anything thus becomes useless...

...In the context of a global pandemic -- where media networks are doing their best to spice up an already serious threat -- having millions of people wrap up all their fears into 140 characters and blurt them out in the public might have some dangerous consequences, networked panic being one of them... - Evgeny Morozov, “Swine flu: Twitter’s power to misinform”
Yep, sure don’t want the masses going around the official channels.  Why, who knows what they might discover?

HT:  Twitter story via Slashdot.
[1]  Unfortunately for that person (a junior aide named Marc Mugnos), he didn’t happen to be the mayor.

[2UPDATE 090429 14:25: Little Miss Attila doesn’t agree:
The only potential justification for the media blackout (and FBI/law enforcement blackout) was that one of the passengers was a very high-value individual indeed.  Like, the highest.
Arlen Specter?

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Somehow in the midst of Monday...

I managed to miss the Morse code geekery.  But that’s a great thing about the internet:  Stuff hangs around (at least for a while).

Start here (Hey, Roberta, did’ja get your mail?), then go here, and here.


Jeffrey Herman:  CW on 500 KHz

(O.G. took a run at learning International Morse about 35 years ago, but never completed the process:  Like the Pogo character “I can write but can’t read,” having about 90% of the character-to sound table still in memory, but no facility with the reverse.

Later I got involved with “professional” radio (hey, it’s “professional” if you get paid, right?), where my only encounter with Morse was hearing the “ • – –   • – –   • • • – ”
top-of-the-hour ID from the National Bureau of Standards station WWV when we synced the studio clocks.)

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Monday, 27 April 2009

The Press

Charge more? For what?

Alan Mutter has a plan:

Instead of fretting about the all-time record dive in newspaper circulation the last six months, publishers should focus as never before on the quality, not the quantity, of their audience.

That means, among other things, proving the passion and loyalty of their readers by raising the single-copy and home-delivery prices of their daily papers to at least the cost of a venti, double-shot, half-caf soy latte.  They go for $3.90 apiece at the local Starbuck’s.

Serious newspaper readers will be glad to pay the price, especially now that nearly all of them have gotten the message that the industry needs their support to continue producing the product they value.

And advertisers of many premium products and services will gain new respect for a medium capable of attracting affluent, well-informed and passionate individuals willing to spare the price of a venti latte for a newspaper...
The idea of moving upmarket isn’t new, and it could possibly be an antidote to falling circulations.  But to make it work, newspapers will have to re-think their relationship with their readers, and just what they are offering to them.

My fear is that newspaper managers will take the “raise the price” part of Mutter’s suggestion and run with it, while disregarding the (implied) second part: Deliver a premium product, to justify the premium price.  Most newspapers are the generic “cuppa coffee,” but that will no longer do: If I’m to be charged a “venti, double-shot, half-caf soy latte” price, then a “venti, double-shot, half-caf soy latte,” had better be what I’m going to get.  And if you want to charge me $3.90 for your newspaper, that paper had better be worth $3.90 to me.[1]

Mutter cites The Economist as a successful premium-circulation publication.  I would note that The Economist’s article-to-advertising ratio is one of the highest among the newsweeklys.  Its stories are detailed, accurate, and well-written.[2]  Its “interests” are eclectic and wide-ranging, and go beyond those of its competitors.  In short, it commands a premium subscription price because it is a premium product.

But do newspaper managements have the vision, the stamina, and the guts to do what’s needed to deliver Economist-like quality?  With stock prices at record lows, are they prepared to tell their investors that the time has come to improve the product, improvement which is going to take money?  Are they willing to give up several-quarters-worth of bonuses, in the interest of turning things around?  Are they secure enough to step back, admit they were wrong, and then do what it takes re-hire the experienced reporters who they just finished laying off?

And after all that, are they wise enough to take the last step:  To realize that, for the “serious newspaper reader,”[3] the facts come before the opinon, the information comes before the spin, and that an important part of “premium” value is to be seen to be making an effort to report honestly and accurately.  And, based on that understanding, to make the editorial decisions necessary to keep spin and slant out of the news columns, and to really report “without fear or favor,” regardless of agenda, political friendships, or civic boosterism?

Can they do all of these?  Are any willing to try?

Elsewhere (via IP):
[1] Appeals to charity or duty (as, “the industry needs their support to continue producing the product they value.”) only work for a limited time. Sooner or later, value must be delivered.

[2] The Economist does have a point-of-view, but IMO they also make an effort to keep it from affecting the accuracy of their reporting.

[3] at least, for this reader

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Saturday, 25 April 2009


Reminder: Blogmeet April 26

(That’s Sunday!)

No word about any official Sunday shootiness. If your interest runs in that direction, I’d suggest checking in with one of the usual.suspects.

UPDATE 090426 22:54:  Early report here.

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Embarrassment... (Pause. Resists temptation.) discovered

Some folks are good at recovering after an error, others not so...

Start here (where it was first... erm... “spotted”), then go here (where there are screenshots).

(That the individual involved happens to be a pompous lefty makes the circumstances only more tasty.)

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Dear Diary...

Snowball bushes

Snowball bushes @ 86th and Westfield

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