Monday, November 26, 2012

It's not too late

Even if you wrote a "Ready, set, shop!" hed for Friday. Even if you've let a "'Tis the season" past. Even if Christmas came early for you -- it's still possible to kill the annual totaling of the price tag for maids a-milking, dancers dancing, calling birds, French hens and all the other stuff in the damn song.

Who knows? If the poor thing is ignored for a few seasons, maybe the AP will dare to take a year off from writing it. 


Sunday, November 25, 2012

There wulf

Say yt ain't so, Nation's Newspaper of Record:

A Draft essay last Sunday misspelled the name of an epic poem. It is “Beowulf,” not “Beowolf.”

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Friday, November 23, 2012

Let's just go back to the 1A cartoon

Quick, your first two thoughts on seeing this hed and photo.

Mine were:

1) Looks like some spicy privacy issues for the Fair 'n' Balanced legal team in the post-holiday lull there.
2) Hold those calls, ladies and gentlemen, hold those calls! We have a winner in Stupidest Stock Illustration of 2012!

You might get a hint from the hed on the story itself:

Read more »

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Thursday, November 22, 2012

'Tis not

Dear friends at the Kansas City Star:

The appearance of a paragraph like this in a 1A story:
’Tis the season for giving — and for caution.

... is not a sign unto you that you should leap to your feet and repeat the cliche in the hed. It is a sign that you should quietly delete the paragraph in question, put some lumps of coal in a stocking and whack the nearest reporter upside the head with it. Just to set an example.

Nor, downpage, should you resort to "It's official" -- a temptation unto sin that, had you avoided it, would have made it unnecessary to complain about the missing Donner Party comma in "It's official Twinkie lovers."

But it's a time of forgiveness and all, so if you've given in to the whispers of Satan and inflicted a "'Tis the season" or "It's official" on your readership, make up for it by killing a "Black Friday" story.

Do it for the children.


Read more here:

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Friday, November 16, 2012

Today in agenda-setting

And what are those ungrateful Iraqis up to now, Fair 'n' Balanced Network?

A top Iraqi diplomat urged Arab states to “use the weapon of oil” against the United States because of its alliance with Israel, raising more questions about the Middle Eastern nation's allegiance to the nation that freed it from a ruthless dictatorship.

The shocking statement from a democratic government in power only after the U.S. and allies ousted murderous dictator Saddam Hussein in a costly and bloody war laid bare the Middle Eastern nation’s true allegiance.

I suppose that if more pesky questions were being raised in the first graf about Iraq's allegiance to the flag, it's a relief that they were set to rest -- which I suppose is what "laid bare" means -- by the end of the second.

In our second example, while the employer always "offers," it was clearly union goons what killed the Twinkie. And the long, dark night of the gulag draws ever closer.

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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Elongated Yellow Fruit of the year

... literally, as Lisa notes from the editing stronghold in Kansas.


Monday, November 12, 2012

One born every minute

Or we could say, since the story appears to have originated in the Triangle and was picked up in Charlotte, that a minimum of three are born every minute:

CARRBORO Roscoe Saturn* was peeing in his compost last weekend – it saves water and adds nitrogen** – when he looked up and saw something streak across the sky.

“It looked like a shooting star,” the custom furniture maker said. But he’s seen those before, he said, and it wasn’t one.

“It was a streak of light that started going over my head,” he said.

As he turned his head and arched his back, it seemed to slow down and went from a streak to a perfect three-pointed triangle. Then it disappeared over the tree line.

The skeptical reader can be forgiven for suspecting that the story is less about the pending alien invasion than it is about the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get "peeing in his compost" into the lede.*** So the local paper gets to work:

Read more »


Thursday, November 08, 2012

Time travel's back on the table

Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor, magnificently unhinged radio host Mark Levin?

We will not accept a fate that is alien to the legacy we inherited from every single future generation in this country.

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Wait 'til they hear about Santa

What's that, National Review Witchsmeller-General? Something about that thing you wrote the other day?

According to exit polls, the partisan breakdown on Election Day was 38 percent Democratic, 30 percent Republican, and 31 percent independent. That gave Democrats an 8-point advantage — the same they enjoyed in 2008. (In 2004, Republicans had a 5-point advantage in the Buckeye state.)

So, as someone who defended questioning the scrutinizing the polls’ partisan breakdown in their samples, I decided to look at the most recent Ohio polls, and see if they accurately called the partisan breakdown. Here’s what I found:

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Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Buy GOOOOLD and freeze-dried food!

OK, who had "sometime around 10:15 a.m." in the First Appearance of Scary Colored Guys at Fox pool?

Should you be scoring along at home, the story itself seems to be less about "vote intimidation" than a little back-and-forth with the would-be intimidators:

A Pennsylvania judge is issuing an order to reinstate Republican election officials across Philadelphia who allegedly were ejected or refused entry by on-site Democratic voting chief judges, GOP officials tell Fox News.

One Republican official claimed that "just under 70" Republican election officials were blocked from Philadelphia polling sites Tuesday morning by Democrats on site. One of them, the official claimed, "was shoved out of the polling place."

These, apparently, are the folks that even Fox describes as "so-called election 'inspectors.'" The dreaded Panthers -- OK, spoiler time, it's a lone Panther* -- don't appear until the fourth graf:

Elsewhere in the city, a representative from the New Black Panther Party was also spotted outside a polling site. The New Black Panthers stirred controversy in 2008 when members appeared outside a polling site, one of them holding a billy club. The representative seen Tuesday morning was not armed.

I know he wasn't waving a stick this time, officer, but it's the way he was looking at me!

* In case you missed the point, Fox has conveniently added the "now ... and then" labels in an update.

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Kane defeated: Fraud at polls

Well, there you have it. Just don't believe 'em, and you can say The Fox Nation told you so. And if you don't trust Fox itself, just ask Karl Rove. Or Dick Morris. Or Rush Limbaugh!

On the always-at-war-with-Eastasia front, at least, that was the party line as of late September* -- peak storm surge of one of several flavors of viral cluelessness that afflicted the electorate over the summer and into the fall. You had to wonder, at that point, where all the love had gone for the polls: particularly, the poll-map-flag logo that paired so well with the picture of Sad Panda Obama for Fox Nation on, say,** Dec. 10; Feb. 15 and 23; March 9 and 19; May 23; June 4,  13 and 25; July 2, 9, 16 and 26; Aug. 6; and Sept. 8 and 19.

To sum things up, when the numbers started to turn unpleasant (as public opinion has a way of doing), the Fox crowd simply lit on a new tactic: complaining that the polls were rigged by librul methodologists to vex the councils of the wise and generally depress turnout among the righteous. As the numbers turned more favorable in early October, the complaints retreated. But the issue never went away, and for some reason -- injured pride, I suppose -- it resurfaced Sunday at the National Review, under the hed "Don't Laugh at the Unskewers":

Talking Points Memo had a piece last night, noting that NBC (the mainstream media!) has included an “unskewed” analysis of their Ohio poll:

(The outrage point appeared to be this quote from TPM: "Criticizing pollsters for allegedly oversampling Democrats has become a cottage industry on the right. Over at National Review Online, Josh Jordan on Saturday referred to Marist’s polling as an “in-kind contribution to Obama.”)

... But TPM’s piece is just the latest example of those on the center and on the left laughing at those on the right “unskewing” the polls or questioning the partisan breakdown in the polling sample.

Read more »

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Friday, November 02, 2012

Why pundits are morons

And how did The Fox Nation track down its top story? By reading Washington Post online pundit Jennifer Rubin:
That’s the best he can do? “Voting is the best revenge”? And against whom should voters seek “revenge” — other Americans? A candidate who has the support of about half the electorate? It is mind-boggling, really, that this sort of snide, negative motivation is what President Obama has saved up for his final appeal.

Sometimes it's like talking to a really stupid but persistent space alien, you know? See, there's this proverb, "Living well is the best revenge," that really isn't about taking revenge at all. Through the centuries, it's launched a thousand ships: Headline, song title, album title, book title, film title -- where it all ends, knows God. Eating well has a strong case for best revenge. So is drinking well. Voting -- why would such a low-hanging cliche go unpicked?

You can see why the outer reaches of the wackosphere exploded at this one; I mean, why pass up a chance to say "thug from Chicago" with a video of a scary black dude? But we have grownup news organizations, at least in part, so someone can look at this sort of "Invasion from Mars"-style ginned-up panic and ask: Why is that a story?

I suppose this familiar topic is worth noting as well:

Not a lot of gubernatorial races turn on who is the more narcissistic candidate.

Not a lot of presidential races do, either, so it's worth wondering -- again -- what pundits mean when they say it. When "narcissism" co-occurs with "thug" and "Chicago," there's a good chance that the omitted term is something on the order of "New Black Panthers." In other words, it's the polite columnist's way of saying "uppity."