Innumerate Newscasters

January 31, 2012

One of my innumerable pet peeves is the gobsmacked credulity with which most TV and newspaper hacks report statistics fed to them by various spin doctors and advocacy groups.

Were you to add up all the diseases and problems these idiots breathlessly proclaim to be “epidemic” that will kill people within 5 years, and if you were to assume each American had two of these diseases, we’d still all be dead 5 times over in the next 5 years.

Ever since I ditched cable, I’ve been a regular viewer of BBC News America’s nightly newscast on PBS. It’s better and a LOT smarter than any American major network’s evening general news program.

Tonight, they were doing a fluff story on a guy who plays piano really fast. I don’t know why he does that–it sounded pretty lame to me, but I guess it’s a pretty good stupid human trick. The Piano Mangler claims, and the reporter didn’t dispute him, that he plays on average 14 notes per second and that he peaks at 19. Yeah, well, so do most of us.

The reporter tagged the story with something along the line of “What a remarkable talent…at 93 thousand notes an hour!” If you don’t get what’s wrong with that, you’re part of the fucking problem.

Most breathless media statistical lies aren’t quite this obvious. To detect them you must have some numerate context of your own. Notice how the media drops context whenever they say “X billions of dollars” or “Y millions of people.” How big is $50 billion dollars in context of the story? Compared to what? How bad is it if 3 million children have this disorder? None of these douchebag reporters has a clue or thinks for 5 seconds about whether the numbers they’re reporting even pass the laugh test (the order of magnitude test).

How many children are there in the USA? About 60 million, 18 and under. Let’s ignore declining birth rates and assume that at any given single age, there are 3.something million children. That means 16 point something million kids age 5 and below, 32 point something million age 10 and below, and so on. Next time some media shithead claims that 20 million pre-schoolers are starving, you’ll know that’s bullshit because there aren’t that many to starve. When he says it’s 10 million, you’ll go, really, half of all pre-schoolers are starving? 5 million? Really, we should be able to feed the rest of the toddlers with the emaciated corpse-jerky of the dead ones.

Here’s the obvious truth: No children are starving in the USA unless their parents are EVIL FUCKS, not POOR FUCKS. Yes, the majority of EVIL FUCKS are also POOR FUCKS, but the overwhelming majority of POOR FUCKS are not EVIL FUCKS and that’s why THERE’S NO REAL PROBLEM OF HUNGRY CHILDREN IN THE USA.

Ok, I’m done shouting.

Here are some other numbers you might want to go get before you believe any statistic the lamestream media is pimping:

  • GDP of the USA and of the world. GDP’s of important countries in the world: China, every Western European nation, Canada, Australia, Brazil, Japan, Indonesia, Israel and a random basket of Middle East Muslim horror-show-ocracies.
  • Population of the USA. Demographics by age, and aging trends. Ethnic composition trends. States in the USA gaining and losing population. Cities in the USA dying and thriving.
  • Unemployment rate per college major (good luck finding this out except by asking around — US Universities are morally worse and even better politically protected than the mortgage monsters who used to monopolize radio advertising before the housing collapse).
  • Mortality and morbidity rates per country and per ethnic group and SES quintile. Morbidity and mortality per cause of death and rate of death per cause per country.
  • Unemployment rates by age in the USA and Western Europe.

This is just a sampler off the top of my head. All this stuff is available on the Internet.

If this is too much work, next time that idiot Diane Sawyer or George Snuffalupagus or whoever reports a statistic with emotion and a barely audible hitch in her stupid voice emoting empathy blended with self-righteousness, just scream BULLSHIT! at the TV.

That’s close enough for rock ‘n’ roll.

 

 


I hate poor people almost as much as I hate Warren Buffett

January 28, 2012

I used to think Warren Buffett was kind of cool. He was the Yoda of finance, oracularly dispensing pithy aphoristic wisdom, mystically making money because he got it at such a deeper level than the rest of us.

Now we know he’s a douchebag. He’s a smart douchebag, but he doesn’t get it at some deep level inaccessible to the rest of us. He’s been slouching toward douchebaggery for a while, but with the Secretary Stunt, he’s finally arrived.

In case you missed this, Buffett famously bitched a while ago that his secretary pays a higher marginal tax rate than he does. Then he pimped her out to Obama for the State of the Union address. She sat next to Michelle Antoinette, like a Muppet, was used as a prop.

The question that I was asking when I saw her sitting there with the hand of the Democrat Party up her butt, was, how much is her salary?

Either she’s in the 1% or Warren Buffett is a cheap bastard. And this is the poster child for class warfare?

A couple of days later, other people started asking how much does Warren Buffett pay his secretary, and Warren the Wonderful declared such impertinence out of bounds.

This completes Buffett’s transformation into the Gollum of Omaha. Ok, maybe that’s too harsh. He’s Obama’s Little Bitch, at least. That’s completely accurate.

Warren Buffett and Mitt Romney have this in common: when asked pertinent questions about their wealth and how that squares with their ambitions to rule the rest of us, they’re flummoxed. Buffett recently got asked why he didn’t donate more to the US Treasury and he was as nonplussed as Romney when he got asked about hiding his tax returns.

People crawled up Romney’s ass and asked what kind of incompetent campaign staff does he have that he was caught flat-footed on such an obvious issue. Perhaps we should also ask Warren Buffett’s secretary why she didn’t prep her boss.

Buffett and Romney live in a world of privilege that the rest of us imagine but don’t imagine correctly. They responded to those questions about their wealth without help from their minions because their minions were afraid to help them. They were on their own, for the first time in a long time. And they fucked up. Like real human beings.

Buffett and Romney have worked hard, worked smart and have been lucky. The lucky factor is why so many people resent the ultra-rich. Refusing to work hard, much less work smart, is why I resent the poor.

Anyhow, here’s why Warren Buffett is a douchebag, in bullet points:

  • He started this. He’s the one who complained for political gain that his secretary pays a higher marginal federal income tax rate than he does.
  • He threw retirees and other middle class investors under the bus. Buffett was arguing that you should pay as much on capital gains as on ordinary income. He’s too much of a douchebag to admit it, but what he was saying is, If you’ve spent a lifetime working and saving and investing, the government should swoop in and tax you in your old age like you’re still in the workforce.
  • Buffett refused to donate ANYTHING to the Treasury when asked about it. If anyone can afford it, he can. He said he’d do it if everyone else would, a condition he knows won’t be fulfilled. When caught unguarded with a plebian question about his wealth, Warren ain’t that smart. Like Romney.
  • I promise you, his secretary is in the 1%. Buffett is such an arrogant asshole that he thought nobody would dare to ask how much she gets paid. He put her out there as the exemplar of the working poor. Now he is scared shitless that we’re going to find out that she makes half a million a year.

Anyhow, hero takes a fall.

Nice job, Warren. You’re about to take a Joe Paterno fall. Die or shut up. I don’t care which.


Romney the Randy

January 13, 2012

There is no Republican still in the presidential sweepstakes worth voting for except Romney.

Every one of the others has beclowned themselves, irredeemably, especially that sack of shit Newt Gingrich. Newt should have that always appended to his name: Newt Gingrich, B.S., SoS.

Here’s what you say to anyone still charmed by the eye of Newt: What he did with Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac isn’t just wrong, it’s repulsive. It’s John Edwards repulsive. Barney Frank gay pimping and housing pimping repulsive. If you can’t give up your thrall to Newt, then shut up about Democrats who cling desperately to their Obama. Newt is the Gollum of the Republicans. If you, as a conservative, still support Newt, you are what’s wrong with this country. You’re cheering for a sports team, not acting like an intelligent citizen.

I’m starting to realize that having too many good arguments is a handicap. You just need one devastating argument, on any issue. Focus on that, ignore the rest. With liberals who are not scared about the deficits, I just say, Do you speak Excel? Are you completely innumerate? Of course, they don’t speak Excel and they are completely innumerate, so it shuts them up.

I could talk a lot more about Newt’s horrible behavior this year, but screw it. If you don’t get that Newt’s a cocksucker from the above, the rest won’t convince you. I hope Newt comes home and blacks your eye, you stupid bitch who just won’t listen.

Conservative and libertarian ideologues hate Mitt. Mostly because they think that character is all about agreeing with them. Let’s get clear: From everything we know, Mitt has character and competence. Everyone, even the Romney haters, would be surprised to find out if it comes out that he’s betrayed his family.  Romney’s started, run and fixed big organizations.

Mitt has fuckbursts.

I have a friend at work who is all calm cool and collected most of the time, but when he gets frustrated, every sentence has some form of the word fuck in it more than any other word.

When Mitt gets set back on his heels and surprised, his bursts of fucking honesty are, every time I’ve seen them, great. He talks about Envy like he’s got an Ayn Rand book at his bedside. He talks about firing people who need to be fired. He defends capitalism, and does it in ways that indicate he gets it. Unguarded Mitt rocks.

No, Mitt ain’t going to stop the crackup of the USA. Nobody can. But he’ll delay it a little and then figure out what next to do.

Competence and organizational expertise in a framework where you have to get people to voluntarily agree with you aren’t value-free virtues. It takes character and it takes a lot of other things. Things Obama obviously lacks. Mitt is not a horrible weasel. Look at his life.

We could do better than Mitt Romney. Uh, no, we can’t.


The World That Fails vs the World That Works

January 6, 2012

“The World That Fails vs the World That Works”

That’s one of Newt Gingrich’s biggest tropes.

Fuck Newt. He’s a charming liar and a hypocrite and a leech and an intellectual dilettante on the world that works while he lives in the world of leeches.

He takes millions from the GSAs. And claims it was to wag his finger at them. At the tune of $30K/hour. I wish my finger worked so well.

Newt Gingrich. Obama, but uglier. Barack, Gingrich but dumber.

 


Diane Sawyer — Dumber than a Box of Anchors

January 4, 2012

The book on her used to be that she was one of the smart ones. Like Tom Brokaw in drag.

No, she’s deeply stupid. She can barely read. And she reads whatever is put in front of her.

Not very well. So, what happened, who was on her staff, that people ever thought this airhead ever had thoughts?

I can tell you one thing: that staffer has moved on.