Thursday, September 03, 2015

Step right up, step right up!

The New York Post's hard-hitting economic reporter is at it again:

If this column had sound, I’d be playing organ music right now with the volume climbing like in all those old horror movies — followed by a shriek, “Aiieee!”

On Friday, the US Labor Department releases its August employment report and, no matter how it goes, it could be very frightening.

Or -- because such is the nature of "could" predictions -- not.

If the number is too weak, people will worry even more than they already are about the health of the US economy. Too strong and the concern will be that the Federal Reserve finally has the excuse it needs to raise interest rates.

I don’t think there was good job growth in August. And statistical quirks in how the numbers are compiled could actually make the growth look very disappointing.

Or ... not. Anyway, if the first Friday of the month is a moment of joy for you, you'll want to tune in and see how the Post fared in its prediction.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Pronouns: George F. Will are not amused

The pronouns are back, and George F. Will's got 'em! But first, of course, the obligatory sideswipe at the Kenyan usurper:

Trump, who uses the first-person singular pronoun even more than the previous world-record holder (Obama), promises that constitutional arrangements need be no impediment to the leader’s savvy, “management” brilliance and iron will.

In case you've been holed up in the survival bunker hoping the freeze-dried food lasts until January 2017: No. Obama doesn't even crack the presidential Top 10 in first-person-singular use, and if he did, the derpmongers who've been most assiduous in spreading that particular fable -- mostly Will and Charles Krauthammer -- would be no closer to proving him the narcissistic, arrogant fraud of their nightmares, because that's not even enough of a correlation to be a bogus correlation. But this column is about a different candidate from a different party, so let's have a quick look at Trump's presidential announcement, as reported by the New York Daily News.

There are always going to be challenges in getting an exact ratio of FPS pronouns to words. When the same paragraph (or the transcriber's best guess at it) contains "the $5 billion website" and "a $5 billion dollar website," how many words were spoken each time? (And, if don't set your watch by AP style, what happens if we make it "Web site," two words, as God ordained?) But letting MS Word do the overall word-counting, and tallying "I," "me," "my," etc. by hand, Trump comes in around 4.4%, which -- going by the MSNBC chart reproduced at Language Log* -- puts him about even with Ike and Bush Sr. but behind the notoriously uppity taciturn Harry Truman.
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Tuesday, August 25, 2015

It's all about the fear

Because it can't really be a bombing without some kind of connection to those scary people who go to church on Fridays -- right, The Washington Times?

The garish, multistory Nana Entertainment Zone is a cul-de-sac best known for its sensational striptease bars, nude lesbian transsexual clubs and illicit prostitution.

It is not typically a place where one would expect to find the national police chief, assuring the foreign men drinking beer at a bar beside dolled-up Thai women that they had no need to worry for their safety.

So -- not the mosque, then?

But that’s where National Police Chief Somyot Pumpanmuang and his uniformed officers were to be found Saturday night, part of a governmentwide effort at damage control five nights after a pipe bomb killed 20 people and wounded more than 100 at a popular nearby religious shrine.

Now we're getting somewhere! Unless ...

... The bomb at a popular Hindu shrine in what is known as “Bangkok’s Times Square” shattered the authoritarian government’s 15-month-long, expensive propaganda campaign, which boasted monotonously that Mr. Prayuth seized power to “return happiness to the people.”

Kind of a shame you couldn't work "Hindu mosque" into the hed. That might have cut down on the confusion among commenters:

A mistake or deliberate media misinformation designed to make us this Muzzies were the target? Every mosque everywhere in the world should be bombed - with chemical weapons.

Bangkok "MOSQUE" bombing? If only it was. It was the Shrine to Brahma that was bombed by a Moslem. The State religion of Thailand is Brahmanism.

Probably a good thing you bought gold and freeze-dried food after the usurper turned his minions on the stock market, huh?


Monday, August 24, 2015

'Time is forever just running out'

Sometimes it's like reorganizing the vinyl, isn't it? There's the baby name peril, sounding just the way it always did. Well, except it's a little less direct than the last couple times:

PARENTS chose 62,000 different names for babies born last year as Britain becomes ever more multicultural, research revealed today.

While Amelia and Oliver were the favourite names nationally, Muhammad topped boys’ names in London.

And when spelling alternatives including Mohammed, Muhamad and Muhammet were combined, the traditionally Muslim name even overhauled Oliver as the national favourite boys’ name.

But Elizabeth McLaren, the author of the Office for National Statistics report, said adding together British variations such as Oliver and Ollie or James and Jim would overtake Mohammed in all its incarnations.

Was it just a few years ago -- OK, eight years and change -- that "Muhammad" had vaulted into the No. 2 spot and was poised to overtake "Jack" any day now? And five years ago that the apocalypse had come? Can Britain gird its loins this time and rise to the challenge, or is the baby name peril already headed for the oldies station?

There's more at stake here than the births of a few Amelias and Olivers and Muhammads, though. As Richard Hofstadter put it five decades ago, the spokesman for the paranoid style "traffics in the birth and death of whole worlds, whole political orders. whole systems of human values. He is always manning the barricades of civilization. He constantly lives at a turning point: it is now or never in organizing resistance to conspiracy. Time is forever just running out."

Because someone asked last time I posted about the baby menace, here's the resulting article.

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Saturday, August 22, 2015

Happy birthday, H.P. Lovecraft!

Makes perfect sense to me. Size-wise, the Building Horror ought to fall somewhere between the Dunwich Horror and the Thing on the Doorstep, and either SoHo was feeding it or someone else fed it to SoHo -- either way, it's basically, run.

I expect it's a lot more prosaic in the land of the redtops, where readers can presumably untangle an expletive noun pile (Soho Hols Yob Drinks Ban Row) before breakfast: There has been a horror at a federal building in SoHo. For the rest of us: Loose after its aeons-long imprisonment and ravening for delight ...

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Friday, August 21, 2015

The protest paradigm revisited

Did the No. 3 story at the Fair 'n' Balanced Network on Thursday evening look familiar?

A crowd gathered Wednesday evening to protest the shooting of an armed suspect by Missouri cops, but no mention was made of the 9-year-old girl who had been shot dead by an unknown assailant just seven miles away the night before.

Here's a hint. Return with us to those thrilling days of yesteryear -- December 2014, for example, and the events following the resignation of a police officer in Ferguson, Mo.:

If the message in the day's top story is a little subtle, see if you find some conceptual suggestions in the links:




Given the ways that news organizations structure their reward systems, you have to wonder: Do you get to park next to Roger Ailes's space for a week if you're the first Fox staffer to find a case that those angry black people ought to be spending their energy on instead?

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Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Before the ball was over

I hope this is one an editor missed, because the alternative -- it's one an editor inserted -- would be a sign of the End Times.

How do things like "but not after enduring a wild few days that started with a sudden cancellation of the whole program by Wayne County Community College District" go wrong? Hard to say. but it looks like shifting gears in mid-thought. A clause took shape on the screen, and somebody thought "well, of course she couldn't have gone back to class before the turmoil," and the poor little "but not" went unnoticed.
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