Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Pain at the ... wait, what?

"Pain at the pump," as regular readers know, is permanently forbidden, under all circumstances, forever and ever amen. So does it occur at the Fair 'n' Balanced Network out of blithe disregard for the Cliche Police, or because statistical reasoning is a known handmaiden of liberalism, or ....?

Let's start by seeing what the problem is. Here's the AP, at Fox:

Americans are feeling the pain at the pump. In Hawaii, the sting just got a little worse.

Do tell.

The state reached the dubious milestone Monday of being the first in recent years where the average price for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline has reached $4, according to AAA's Daily Fuel Report.

"Recent years," in AP's dialect, apparently means "anything since 2008." Whether this "dubious milestone" is actually something worth noting -- let's get serious for a moment here, AP. Japan is facing a near-unprecedented combination of natural and technological disasters, large parts of the Middle East have decided to get rid of whatever brand of autocracy they had in place, the upper U.S. Midwest has decided to refight labor wars that the good guys won back in the previous century, and Carolina is back in the tournament. Why is it that we're interested in the movement of a meaningless average past an irrelevant arbitrary threshold?

"Of course I'm not happy about it at all, but no one is," said Irma Lai, who was filling up her small SUV at a Big Island gas station that was charging $4.22 a gallon.

This is going to seem really simple. Look. If she's paying $4.22 a gallon already, the movement of some notional "average" past some lower marker is almost certainly irrelevant to her. As it should be. Despite the AP's well-document obsession with statistically meaningless "grim milestones," people don't pay the national average for a gallon of gasoline. There's no purpose at all to dragging a real person into this story, unless ... hmm. I wonder if this is a big story at Fox for some entirely extrinsic reason! Let's see what Fox readers have to say:

Welcome to Obama's "Change" and "fundamental transformation", into a welfare state!

How fitting that the island Obama is from is the first to reach his goal of higher fuel prices. He must be so proud of his home state.

How about if the Obama administration would stop dancing around a federal court order to lift the drilling moratorium in the Gulf of Mexico?

can you say JIMMY CARTER , opps I mean OBAMA

Aren't you liberals OUTRAGED that "President" Dingle Barry is in bed with the oil companies. You know, like you were OUTRAGED by your insistence that Bush was?

Hawaii voted strongly for the man who said HE WOULD FORCE ENERGY COSTS UP, and now they complain about it? Can you spell S T U P I D I T Y??????????????????

Obamanomics . . . how poetic that they should enjoy the first results of his administration. As the price of jet fuel climbs higher, the number of tourists will fall lower and the recession will weigh heavier with each passing day. Am I wishing them this? No, but as the POTUS always reminded us, ELECTIONS HAVE CONSEQUENCES.

I wonder if Hawaii will be the first place to achieve $7.00 per gallon to honor its "adopted" favorite son.

Please don't walk or ride a bike though................. he will find a way to tax that too.

Don't worry, Hawaii! After all the effort you put into electing Obama, he's going to pay you back when he focuses like a laser on your gas price problem from his latest vacation in Brazil, or something.

The AP's cluelessness doesn't just make AP readers dumber. (In most cases -- this isn't a big-effects blog, after all -- it doesn't even do that.) Here, it lets the deliberately malicious folks at Fox make their magic happen. A national service like the AP can't pretend that numbers aren't there. But it can -- with little more than a gentle yawn -- suggest that most sets of numbers don't mean the world is turned upside down.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

AP also ignored the fact that most consumable goods cost more in Hawaii because -- wait for it -- IT'S AN ISLAND, and transporting goods there costs more.

8:35 AM, March 16, 2011  
Anonymous Picky said...

And it's more than £5 a US gallon here in Britain. Just think of the pain you have still to experience! With courage and a stiff upper lip, though, you may just pull through.

1:11 PM, March 17, 2011  

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