Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Which of these things is not like the other?

Americans’ confidence in News media has dropped since the 1980s. In 1985, 55% thought news got

their facts straight compared to 20% in 2009. In
1989,  36% thought media dealt with all sides fairly compared to 18% in 2009. Yet, all in all, Americans believe that despite problems, with internet availability, and watchdog groups, the truth comes out and that we get a more accurate pictures of what is going on in the world than other people

If this more or less captures you view,  brace yourself.   Reddit has archived all of he magazine covers since 1923, but you don’t have to look at many to get the point but you don't have to go far back to get the point,

In the latest issue of the Time magazine the cover story for Europe, the Middle East, South Africa, Asia and South America, focused on Pena Nieto’s attempts to introduce reforms in Mexico. Nieto’s success in Mexico and the investment community is recognized internationally & Mexican bonds have been upgraded (embarassingly close to  US') , His focus is economic and  nationalistic, and he is less willing to confront drug lords  or deport them to US prisons than his predecessors.  This should be of particular interest to Americans. It could effect detention as a means of reducing re-entry of illegals and require changes in methods of securing borders .

Yet, instead of highlighting this article, the Time magazine cover in the US  was about a six year high school geared to minority students with a high success rate of job placement.

In an issue where the Time Magazine Cover page  focused on US debt for the rest of the world  the US focused on things that could go wrong on election day,

US Tim cover focused on the new “silent majority in the US, while the rest of the world focused on why the US  will never save Afghanistan.

These are not factual errors or leaning towards one side more than another. They are deliberate attempts to manipulate Americans into not seeing issues that effect them and that the rest of the world is concerned about.  Bring out the football and happy minority high school grads. Why think about Germany and the Euro? Isn’t the prospect of life without children more interesting? People from other countries might want to read an article about why Gitmo will never close. but Americans?
For an excellent review of Us medias role as a willing political tool that focuses US citizens attentions away from international (and largely negative) reactions to US government policies see
19 Puzzling Differences Between “Time” Magazine U.S. And International Covers

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Bring on the race Card

AP Photograph
Holder did yesterday,  Inspired by injustice and being a man of conscience he called on lawmakers and us ( the American people) to fight felony disenfranchisement which is too unjust to tolerate.States aren’t ending misguided policies that unjustly restrict the ‘most basic right’ of American citizenship”. He will do it with our support.

Emotional appeal, has a powerful appeal that can be misused by politicians (even Afro-American politicians talking about Afro-americans) In this age of so many problems we can't seem to count them, why are votes for former felons the issue that should cause Americans to rise up and demand that the Federal government take away states rights because they are doing the right thing but not fast enough.  Notice this: Holder does not say that last part out loud. It wouldn’t fly well.  Giving the President more power than he has-- after Obamacare? after a messed up economy? after higher taxes?

Now Eric Holder, in case you forgot, is head of the Justice department and should know many intolerable, laws that discriminate against African Americans that aren’t changing fast enough and  don’t require a federal takeover of states rights to fix.

But just in case he can’t think of one , how about. voting for women and men of the armed forces where African Americans  contribute more than their share. Disenfranchisement of these men and women of color is infuriating. They get to die for their country but not vote. Jim Crow would be  proud.

Legally, these soldiers have the right to vote. BUT their ballots don’t arrive on time,  vanish into a black holes, are flown back to the US by planes that mysteriously crash,etc.  If Air Force One plane can fly a dog to a presidential vacation, this should be an easy fix. This is the 21st century?  If a drone it can kill an American in a foreign country it should be able to get the darn ballots and bring them back without crashing. right? . During a hurricane that hit NY close to election day, there were backup plans for people to vote on-line. I have no qualifications. Experts could come up with better ways, I am sure.

People of color have fought long an hard to be recognized in the US armed forced and they deserve an attorney general who stands up for their rights before those of felons, before he treads on constitutionally questionable grounds of federal vs. state power.
If fighting for the rights of felons to vote is more important than members of the armed forced, the obvious question is what is Holders REAL agenda. What is this business of "fast enough." Why the sudden rush? Could this have anything to do with the 2014 elections for congress and the senate? Is the White house worried that the the same Republicans they call Does this man care about African Americans, or is he just one more corrupt Washington insider that will do anything, trample on states rights, throw the constitution to the winds to get more democratic votes.  Big surprise: Guess which states these felons live in?

That’s the problem with the race card folks. You never know where it will go. It’s a bit amusing to see a high level African American Politician stereotyping his own.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Counting the votes: A hypothetical Tale

There is nothing mysterious about voting. We vote with our pocketbooks every time we buy something.

People who own businesses do surveys of their customers all the time. Getting the numbers right are important because business decisions and investments will be based on the assumptions that the numbers that the results are correct.

Imagine a restaurant chain that serves two deserts- cheese cake and apple pie on Friday nights. Because Friday nights are crowded, they don’t know which they make more money on. So, they decide to do a survey.

The central office could decide how the counting should be done and have all stores do it the same way. Each store should decide how to do it the way it wants. Some stores could count the receipts and other stores might buy computers and survey counting computer software

They could count the number of apple pies and also chocolate pies bought on Friday night from the sales slips

Get a computer whiz who works at the restaurant to write at the bar to write a program
Get some clerks in their down time to make sure the results of the computer are the same as the results of counting the slips

-Between these two extremes there are different option
-Train people to ave check each of the steps of the computer program and
   • make sure the deserts are copied correctly
   • make sure none of them are missed
   • none of them are coped twice
- Decide what to do about biases like the restaurant gives chocolate cake for birthdays, chocolate cakes are more often shared, most waiters like chocolate cakes a lot better.

A committee of representatives from each store is tasked with recommending what method should be used. To make sure that they covered everything they examined machines and software that has been built for polling and surveys. They learn that prices vary widely, that you can buy just software and hardware (computers). The biggest companies do not let you see the programs they wrote. 
“ How do we test them to make sure they work for what we are doing?”
“ We have experts that are trained to do that, so you don’t need to worry about that. That’s the beauty of our solution. We do it all”
“ How would we know if you made a mistake”?
“ We don’t make mistakes”

The company lawyer has a few words to say.
"Business relationships are of course based on trust, gentlemen and trust is earned. We would , of course be prepared to sign a nondisclosure agreement and consider your system despite its high cost, and then if it worked, which I assume it would, endorse your product. Can we get past this and move further."
  "I’m afraid that’s out of the question".

  A puzzled look crosses the lawyers face. In all my years dealing vendors. I have never been asked to spend millions of dollars on a product that I know nothing about. Who are your usual clients? the government?