Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Q Tips

NPR related comments welcomed.


Anonymous said...

Planet Looney's Adam Davidson is such a genius:

"We need employment to go up not down," Davidson says. "That's probably not going to happen for a little while.

"We need our economy as a whole, the GDP, to expand. That's probably going to be a little while before we see that."

I'm really surprised David Kestenbaum (who has a PhD in physics) can actually stomach working with a nitwit like Davidson.

Then again, Kestenbaum is no economist either, so maybe he figures Davidson makes HIM look like an economic genius.

He may be right about the latter, but they're BOTH a couple of clowns when it comes to economics.

These guys make EVERYONE else at NPR look good.

Anonymous said...

Dean Baker catches NPR news wrong on Obama and his stance on taxes:

Anonymous said...

dean baker has a PhD in economics so he is very knowledgeable about such stuff.

But the pathetic thing is that it does not take anything more than "a brain and the will to use it" to see through the Obama and NPR "economic"[sic] BS.

It's clear, for example, that the big banks (like Goldman Sachs) are the primary (if not the SOLE) beneficiaries of the Obama economic "recovery plan".

It's no accident (a direct cause and effect relationship, in fact) that these banks are now posting record profits after getting money hand over fist from the government.

Anyone who cares to look can see that Goldman's claim (and NPR's parroting of it) that they have "paid back the government bailout money in FULL" is total BS.

They got $13 billion from the government that was "funneled" through AIG, but have made no effort to pay THAT back, of course, even though that was money that they would almost certainly have lost entirely if the government had not bailed out AIG (at the behest of former Goldman CEO and Bush treasury Sec Henry paulson)

You'd have to be a total idiot (like Adam "We need employment to go up not down" Davidson) NOT to see through this.

David Kestenbaum is a different story. He is certainly smart enough (Physics PhD) to see through this stuff, so his silence about all this says something different than simply "I'm an ignorant fool".

Anonymous said...

Dean Baker (from above link)
"NPR reported on the House health care bill, which would raise taxes on people who earn more than $250,000 a year. It then told listeners that President Obama had promised not to do this.

That is not true. President Obama's pledge was to not raise taxes on people earning less than $250,000 a year." -- Dean Baker

//end baker quote

I was always confused about the distinction between "more than" and "less than" too (especially whe it is specified with those funny brackets < > that the mathematicians use)

NPR gets more pathetic by the day.

As someone who listened to NPR back in the early 80's, I find NPR's demise very sad.

It's kinda like seeing the guy who was voted "most likely to succeed" in high school drowning his sorrows in the gutter with a bottle of whiskey.

Cougarhutch said...


I had Google News'ed up a report a day or two ago that caught my interest. Seems they had found a copy of tape of the original moon walk.

The story was that this had been stored in Australia, where there was a receiving station.

tape found

So it was with great interest (and cognitive dissonance) when I heard NPR report this morning that they been instrumental in triggering the search for the original tape, but that it had been destroyed.

OK, so maybe they're both right. Maybe there was more than one tape originally recorded of the signal from the moon, or maybe several tapes had to be combined to create one complete master tape, or something.

But why wouldn't NPR at least mention the discovery of this other, "original" tape?

gopol said...

Stephen Colbert: “Do they give a Noble Prize for throwing your own feces?”

Dr. Peter Agre: “That's the Economics prize.”

- Oct. 19, 2006 episode of the Colbert Report

Note: Doctor Peter Agre won the 2003 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, and offered to trade it (his Nobel Prize Medal) for two weeks hosting the Colbert Report. Agre is also a member of Scientists and Engineers for America, an activist organization concerned with the role of science in government decision-making.

Anonymous said...

Is that story about the moon landing tapes real??

NASA reacquires original Moon landing footage
Tapes discovered in Oz, agency confirms

Was Mr Wizard involved by any chance?

Ya know, whatever way this story turns out, NASA is left with egg on its face.

how can you simply "lose" tapes of the most important event in your organization's entire history, its crowning moment, as it were?

And, of course, if you are trying to put an end to the conspiracy theories, this is hardly the way to do it.

gopol said...

This hardly seems conclusive about the moon walk. I was 10 and watched it on my grandpa's tv in Auburn, IN, so I now it's true!

gopol said...

I *k*now now what I saw then
When I was younger

What I mean is that the UK Express ("greatest newspaper in the world") story about the magnetic tape seems inconclusive...

gopol said...

As to Dean Baker's issues of less = more, I think that once the premise of the 2000 presidential election is established, then anything follows. The false assumption that Bush was elected (rather than appointed by the SCOTUS) then infects all logic and up becomes down, greater smaller, etc. The poor dears at NPR don't seem to know what hit them. Their (unconscious?) and imperfect disjunction leaves the question begging and the conclusion in confusion.

Anonymous said...

For NPR less (intelligence) == more (intelligence)

Good thing, too.

otherwise, NPR would have to fire most of its own people.

Anonymous said...

RE: David Kestenbaum

His mother works for a bank...

...and now you know...the rest of the story.

Anonymous said...

After listening to Glenn Greenwald eviscerate Chuck Todd and cause him to babble like an idiot, I'd have to say that Alicia Shepard is probably pretty wise to have declined Greenwald's invitation to debate him.

She's a coward, of course, but a wise coward nonetheless.

Greenwald would have torn her "argument" to shreds.

gopol said...

Kestenbaum is evidently a beneficiary of Harvard's notorious grade inflation, which, on a par with Yale, is just a tad shy of Dartmouth and Duke. So, once you're admitted to the club, you basically just keep your head down and say "top quark" at the right moment and, boom: PhD in physics. For a Harvard alum, he is fairly humble about this:

“But I didn't know what I was working on. I didn't know a quark from a hole in the ground.”

It could be that when the brilliant scientist behind the science desk at NPR isn't busy flavor tripping she's on the phone with noted Senate Scientist Inhofe who tells her where to send Kestenbaum, who is only too happy to oblige...going so far as to feature this story of the 15-year-old amateur skeptic who libeled Jim Hansen on his web page.

Anonymous said...


yeah, that story about the teenage global warming "skeptic" was pretty pathetic.

I visited her website a while ago when she was getting all the attention (by Kestembaum and others in the fawning media) and it was pretty clear just from a cursory inspection that she had no clue what she was talking about and had basically picked up bits and pieces of denialist claptrap from various right wing blogs.

She could not even get the basic atmospheric CO2 graph right, as is discussed here among other places.

But, unlike Adam Davidson, I don't think Kestenbaum can use lack of intelligence or lack of critical thinking skills as an excuse for his failure to ask critical questions.

Anyone who gets into the Harvard physics PhD program is no slouch in either of the latter areas.

Which makes it worse that Kestenbaum would NOT be asking the critical questions -- of either the teenage climate skeptic or about the current economic situation, including the "remedies" like the bank bailout.

As Dean baker points out in
Our Economy Needs at Least $2 Trillion in Stimulus Spending Right Now -- Tens of Millions of Jobs Are at Stakethe math involved is not even very difficult -- basic arithmetic, really.

As Baker says

"Politicians and pundits in Washington are either too ignorant, dishonest, or scared to talk about the expenditures that this economy needs."

I can see no reason why Kestenbaum would be too "scared" to talk about this stuff.

And I know Kestenbaum is not stupid. He may be ignorant of the economics, but he is certainly capable of doing the very basic math that Dean baker has laid out.

gopol said...

The mistake many economists make is to think of economics as a hard science. It's much more of a social science - the kind Dean Baker is practicing. I've been studying the Black Scholes formula and I can say it's some deep physics/mathematics and it works magic for Wall St. traders, but what's good for Wall St. is not so good for the economy. While we're at it, what's good for economy should also be good for the ecology, long term - but don't tell that the Lorax.

Anonymous said...

RE: Black Scholes

The real problem is that the vast majority of the people using that formula have no clue what it means and -- here's the kicker -- have no clue whether the assumptions that went into it are valid for the particular case at hand.

It turns out that in many real world cases, the use of this formula (and the differential equation for which it is a solution) is NOT valid.

Computer scientists have an acronym for this GIGO == "garbage in, garbage out".

My brother in law is a harvard MBA who works as an "investment analyst" and i asked him just a couple weeks ago about the "Black Scholes differential equation".

I was trying to get a handle on how well he really understands what he is doing.

His "answer" was revealing.

As I suspected, he (like lots of other people) is basically a "plug and player". He can plug in values to the formula but has little to no idea what the Black Scholes means or or what the underlying assumptions are that make it valid (or invalid).

I've actually known and worked with 3 Harvard MBA's over the years, all of whom have had what i would consider to be a very shallow understanding of this kind of stuff.

Harvard Business school may graduate some smart people, but I have yet to meet any. (We won't even talk about George Bush who clearly got into and probably graduated from Harvard Business school purely because of family ties)

Anonymous said...

NPR's continued "reporting" on the Secret Cheney assassination program.

How Far Did CIA Assassination Plans Go?

by Corey Flintoff

Everything Flintoff 'reports" is essentially hearsay: "reportedly" this, "reportedly" that with no attribution whatsoever. it's total BS. garbage.

Flintoff is a quack, not a journalist.

"The plan reportedly [according to whom??] was never fully carried out,"

"Although the program reportedly [according to whom??] never got beyond the discussion stage, Democrats in Congress were outraged that oversight committees were never advised that such ideas were being considered."

"In reality, it's hard to tell how far the program got [especially if you never bother to ask]. It appears to have gotten past the point of doodling on napkins at the agency cafeteria. [what an utterly vacuous statement] Lawmakers who have been briefed [which lawmakers??] say some money was spent [how much??], but it's not clear [to whom??] whether teams were ever up and running."

"Current and former government officials [which ones??] have told NPR's Kelly"

Flintoff is an idiot.

gopol said...

Given that the alphagram CEFFFILNORT anagrams as both "Corey Flintoff" and "front of ice fly" or better, "fire fly oft con," allegedly he's got like tenure or something so he gets to be reader pretending to report.

Anonymous said...

This is the result of NPR crack economics team trying to find "best economic story" in NYC. This is what they were able to produce. But . . .

If the stress tests were modeled on 8.8%unemployment and that figure is marching toward at least 10% how will that affect banks?

Has Goldman-Sacks paid back all the money we gave them?

Nah, I want to know why vanilla is so hard to get accustomed to.


Porter Melmoth said...

Heard a snippet this morn that Renaay is hopping the redeye for Af-stan tonite. Got her amoxicillin 'n Tums packed for the inevitable sinus infection and volcanic diarrhea that most foreigners carry with them in that country (but it's never mentioned; most invaders of Afghanistan died from illness rather than warfare), plus her mandatory stenographic pad's in her kit as well. R. takes dictation at a secretarial w.p.m. rate, rivaling Jackie Northam!

Inskreep made the announcement in solemn tones, and Renaay sounded all grown-up and ready for the white-hot heat.

We will of course get the lowdown on Af-stan in a Renaay-friendly version, as her personality will be splattered all over her pickings amongst those poor people out there. I don't plan to listen. But there might be a Peabody for her in those pickin's somewhere...

(My Afghan friend tells me that the American - not NATO - bases are luxury oases...)

I,I,I, Me, Me, Me. Narcissistic Personalitydisorder Radio, at your service.

Anonymous said...

If the stress tests were modeled on 8.8%unemployment and that figure is marching toward at least 10% how will that affect banks?"

if recent (record) earnings reports are any indication, my guess is "probably not at all".

I think a far better question would be this: how will one orgasm after another (all day long [day after day]) affect a man with heart disease?

"Banks are doing quite well, but thanks for your concern about the orgasms."-- Tim Gutner

larry, dfh said...

The only npr-specific note I have is from Fri. AM, where steverino actually asked a couple of good questions of Jerrold Nadler. stevie tried to conflate a couple of points but after Rep. Nadler shut down his apples=oranges argument, stevie thought better than trying to mislead his guest. Rep. Nadler was absolutely precise in his eloqution, and stevie didn't want to get scalded.
But the real gripe I have this AM is with bbc and their ever-colonialist, imperialist bent. They had a very long piece about ayatollah rafsanjani and his Friday AM sermon. They painted the very illusory picture that rafsanjani has been sitting on the sidelines throughout the elections and subsequent turmoil in Iran. Never mentioned were the facts that rafsanjani is well known to be one of the richest and most corrupt ayatollahs in Iran, and that mousavi, the 'losing' presidential candidate is his flunky. I know from my house-mate, who is Iranina, that the crackdown is much worse than is portrayed here. I also know that this whole thing is a power struggle between rafsanjani and grand ayatollah khatemi. But when none of this appears in the bbc, and rafsanjani is portrayed as some un-interested party who's finally 'had enough', I can't help but feel that khatemi was correct when he blamed all the problems on the English.

Porter Melmoth said...

I wonder if this story will be covered on Non PR...

* Israel soldiers speak out on Gaza *
A group of soldiers who took part in Israel's offensive in Gaza say widespread abuses were committed against civilians.
Full story:

Porter Melmoth said...

Yes Larry, the BBC is no exception to the MSM-trustworthy question, but I still think that they tackle the world stories in a clearer manner than most. (Example: my previous post...)

They've gone through so many shakeups in recent years. In many ways they're a shadow of their former self.

The Brits have always been prime meddlers in Iran. It was they who started the whole Middle East oil scene. Why would they give it up now?

Mytwords said...

Porter - (sit down if you're standing) because NPR actually did cover the Israeli soldier story, and (are you sitting?) they actually did a very decent report on it. Details in my "Rare Praises" post below.

madchen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
madchen said...

NPR's Ombudsbot has a new "research" showing how balanced their content is and how whacked the commentors are. NPRCheck readers be forewarned. You are all raging liberals, nothing more

b!gip!nkif?zzyub?nnyu said...

Nice, Madge.

Shorter ombot: "I'm vulcanized rubber, and you all are Elmer's Glue! I have the pie charts to prove it! Nyeh nyeh nyeh!"

Porter Melmoth said...

Thanks Myt! I'm still standing. Like you, I've never quailed at the possibility of praising NPR if the opportunity arises.

Such a story IS rather hard to suppress, even if it's your worst nightmare.

I wonder if the praiseworthy Phil Reeves has chucked his NPR credit card. Haven't heard from him much since Miss Julie (McC) and Wacky Jackie have invaded the region (soon to be joined by Renaay; gee, the three could do a helluva shopping spree at the boutique-y PX at any given American base - Garrels could even fly in for the day from darkest Moscow...) Sorry, lousy sexist joke. It's just that these NPR star reporters lug so damn much PERSONALITY baggage with them. AAAAARGH!

bpfb!!!! said...

True that, Port. Their emotional baggage, provided by Louis Vetton.

Porter Melmoth said...

Bless you, b!??, for resurrecting the term 'vulcanized'. One of the better 20th-century MadMen inventions, culled from Old Rome. Haven't heard it since Sinatra said to a heckler in 'The Joker Is Wild', 'That guy'd better have himself vulcanized.'

(Is there bounceable India rubber under that pink fuzz, I wonder??)

krameroneill said...

I know this is a couple days old, but I presume people saw the Ombudsman's piece, NPR Audience Political Perceptions? I'm sort of still in a state of disbelief – not because it's the most outrageous thing they've done recently (it's certainly not), but because it reads like a satire about NPR spinelessness, yet I have to presume it's earnest(?).

Basically, she cites an NPR-sponsored "scientific" poll about public perception of political bias in NPR reporting, then uses that as proof that they don't have a bias (and/or that their bias is toward the "left"). The leaps of logic here are downright astounding, and those leaps begin on a nonsense foundation anyway. I can't believe anyone would think this argument makes any sense at all, it's just... I don't know, it's astounding to me.

Anonymous said...

Many of the people we hear from might disagree about how balanced or fair NPR is. In general, most listeners who contact us appear to fit into the liberal category, and many complain that NPR's reporting does not mirror their views."

Yes, as we all know. All criticism of NPR comes down to "NPR's reporting does not mirror my own views".

It's interesting that Shepard is using this as a hedge against criticism.

in other words, rather than address specific criticisms (eg, those on the torture issue), she is claiming "NPR is balanced and anyone who does not agree is just whining about not having their own opinions aired, so there" .

it's interesting to compare Shepard to a REAL ombudsman (eg, the ombudsman at the Washington Post who just took the Post's publisher and editors to the cleaners over the "influence peddling" issue.

Shepard is a pathetic excuse for an ombudsman, basically an apologist for management. She has no idea what the word even means.

JayV said...

Man, oh, man, I'm lovin' the comments on the most recent post by the ombud. Thing is, she'll probably not even consider them and doesn't realise that those who do comment actually care about what's being broadcast. I can play gotcha (and I do), but the fact is NPR has changed and that concerns me a lot. Shepard doesn't care.

gopol said...

"Given the increasingly polarized nature of our political discourse, perceptions of media bias are inevitable these days," said Vince Lampoon [nil sic], NPR's research manager. "It's comforting that along with PBS, NPR is seen as at least somewhat more balanced than commercial news outlets in its news coverage."

So NPR has a "research manager." I tend to think his role leans less towards the "chief librarian" and, at least based on his apparent need for "comfort," more towards the head minder. For an NPR research manager, "somewhat" must be somewhat of a term of art. We've already established their tendency to confuse "more" with "less" but then that's the kind of liberal relativism NPR caters to, isn't it? What's the mantra? "More or less true 100% of the time" I think?

gopol said...

Ok, "Half true, more or less 100% of the time." How could I forget? The most recent production from is kind of a howler, btw.

Anonymous said...

"NPR has changed and that concerns me a lot. Shepard doesn't care."

NPR began to change some time ago but it was subtle so i think a lot of people did not even notice the transformation.

Kevin Klose was really the beginning of the end for NPR.

More than anyone else, he was the one who really made "balance" into the be-all and end all at NPR.

He used it to great effect as a 'lever' to ensure that NPR moved away from reporting what actually IS (ie, the truth) toward reporting what people (government officials, Congress, Pentagon, etc) say (hearsay, basically): a government transcription service, essentially.

I don't think it is that Shepard does not care. Rather, it is that she does not know any better. She has drunk the "balance" koolaid. The first ombudsman at NPR (Dvorkin) was basically the same.

gopol said...

Anon - The gradual change over Klose's tenure is a good example of the "boiled frog" meme that's spread from Krugman to Edmunds of late. It is where we are: immersed in a superheating fluid where the brain stem is able to maintain contentment but cognitive lobes are starting to scream out, ¡OUCH!

The start of the corporate heat under NPR can be traced back before Klose (who started in 1998, I think) to the Contract on America (1994) when a newly Republican House got Gingrich to come after NPR with sharp knives. The subsequent WhiteWater/Lewinsky coverage made Clinton pissed, no doubt, so he said, well how about we throw some fuel on that fire - make it burn real good. It's an Arkansas/RhodeScholar syndrome that most of us won't understand.