Monday, October 12, 2009

Q Tips

(Parting seas of misinformation since...Independence Day, 2008)

NPR related comments welcomed.


Astraea said...

NPR has been pushing this patient-blaming angle on the health care story for a while.

How the Modern Patient Drives Up Health Costs

WarOnWarOff said...

Our local affiliate is revving up for its Fall membership drive and their smarmy little pitches have begun in earnest. "KUT, independent, local and supported by YOU." Oh, and one feature they're proudly touting is their coverage of the healthcare debate. Good for a laugh, at least.

Porter Melmoth said...

If Chuck Heston can part the Red Sea with a Q-Tip, then Viv The Shill should be able to control her people. She needs to give Mistress Ann(gry) Garrels a firm talking-to.

Because, we, the listeners are NOT Garrels' toilet slaves. Yet, that's how she talks to us, with that fake, sullen delivery, as if we've been naughty and she's about to pull out the whips and toys, or something.

True, this morn I only heard the last minute or so of some slop she was serving from evil old Moscow (it was probably something moralistic, part of her secret agent mission to prove that the Neocons are STILL right about everything concerning Russia), but it's not too difficult to sum up our tough babe journo via a few of her utterances.

Oh, A.G. has tried to soften, but she just can't do it. From superstar status in Baghdad to banishment in Russia! We can hear the vengefulness in her Jack Daniels voice. Stoli is all she's got now. So, what better than to go whole hog into the SM act - to fight behind the Iron Curtain by subversive means? Hell, using her NPR cover, by this time next year, she could have all the Putin-niks bound and gagged in their dachas, just begging her for a spanking.

Garrels may not be naked any more, but she is definitely decked out in latex.

Porter Melmoth said...

Snapping out of the Garrels domination, a few thoughts:

- Obama's peace prize may have Theatre of the Absurd elements, but I can only hope it turns out to be a (ahem!) 'pre-emptive' prize; that is, that it will lead to something passing as peace (yeah, right...) Anyway, The Sermanizer's rapier wit on Saturday ran down the lineup of infinitely more deserving prize-winners, but without mentioning Jimmy Carter. And then there was Matt Condinetti (sole asset: a hi-fi voice; have you SEEN that guy on TV??), who gave a predictably snot-filled 'commentary' on the Obama award. Naturally, no attempts to find out what, say, Chomsky or Greenwald, or ANYBODY of worth had to say about the subject, pro or con.

- Praise, as usual, to Philip Reeves, who gave a delightful and accurate observation piece about attitudes in Delhi. Reeves is, in my opinion, a fine journalist of integrity and talent. Notice, though, how he was yanked off the Pak beat and replaced by the worthless (and more malleable) Miss Julie McCarthy, who insists on saying 'Pawks-ees-stawn' and 'Thuh POON-jawwb' amidst her hearsay reporting. Hey lady, just say PAKK-istan and Pun-JABB for the sake of Western consistency, OK? She's taking sullen lessons from Garrels.

Porter Melmoth said...

Inskreep's doing some giggly/goofy promos for the local NPR Fun Drive. Our kooky host's lively banter should make the masses chuckle as they type their Visa security codes, because, heck! NPR can be FUN amidst the depressing news!

Porter Melmoth said...

A choice line from DeMille's 'Ten Commandments':

'God opens the sea with a blast of his nostrils.'

Kleenex (TM) needed more that Q-Tips (TM).

Anonymous said...

I wonder if the ombudsman knew what she was doing when she published current salary of Scott Simon?


gopolganger said...

I heard the garrels (just wants to be mean) as I passed my talking box this AM, but didn't linger to listen. I prefer to imagine her with the lapel mike pinned to her bare bosom as her naked body clings with one white-knuckled hand to the feselage of C-16 hurtling from Moscow on a mission to dump its radioactive polonium cargo on the unsuspecting, innocent and good West. With her other hand she then pulls Excalibur from the depths of throat as she breaths her report with heavy calm into her bosom:
I can see the KGB has bound and gagged all the remaining Russian Jews and piled them with the polonium. It seems their wait for the knock in the night has ended. They've even arrested the children for not informing on their parents and thrown them out of the communist youth league, before throwing them in the plane.

This story is more than just a litany of horrors. It's the story of those who dared to have integrity and so eventually ended up in a cargo plane with their her classmates and teachers and a mound of polonium.

Outside the plane, I occupy another world. Before we pass over Lubyanka, the KGB headquarters, I hope to cut a hole in the side of the plane and free these oppressed people while they watch the plane abort its mission. Wish me luck."

Mytwords said...

Come on guys. No need to be so heavy ad hominem on Anne Garrels. Though I know she wrote her Naked in Baghdad book, the focus on her body, etc. feels a bit sexist to me. I also don't want to imply that she's a drunkard/lush when I don't have the evidence. Let's save the big guns for BAD journalism, eh?

I listened to her report and found it interesting enough - but I kept thinking - as I used to during the Soviet days of self-congratulatory, smug US jornos - will Garrels (or anyone at NPR learn any of the implied lessons here:

1. A simple, decent person uses her humanity and common sense to question and analyze the brutal Kremlin (Beltway?) consensus.

2. The pundits of a nation say "No one wants to hear her (Margaret Randal, Naomi Klein, Chomsky, Zinn etc) stupid fringe story" - and then it turns out to be of great interest to the public.

I'm not trying to say the Stalin terror has its domestic equivalent in DC but gads, the irony of US jornos feeling superior to Russian denial of the past or subservience to power is painful at best.

gopolganger said...

I was taking liberties...the pinned microphone on the bare breast was an allusion to the scene in Catch 22 where Yossarian is naked in the medal awards ceremony. "Why aren't you wearing clothes, Captain?"

Porter Melmoth said...

Points certainly taken. My only excuse for any tasteless burlesque is that I feel compelled to mock because I deem the quality of many of these broadcasts to be pretty low. I know that doesn't mean I have to stoop, but it's hard not to get a tad carried away. At least I'm not putting VapoRub under my eyes to make them tear up, like Glenn Beck.

If you ask me, Garrels herself started any possibility of joking, what with her vanity book that implied intimacy - in an Arab land, no less. Plus, the whole torture issue glares like a laser beam. It's hard to just forget about stuff like that.

Also, there's something pornographic about the Neocon agenda - that sense of exploitation achieved through solicitation of fear that so disguises a lust for power.

This is a good reminder to just back off of NPR yet again.

gopolganger said...

I know it kinda ruins the fun, but I'll explain the other allusion, "garrels (just wants to be mean)" which was pretty obscure. It's from an old Talking Heads song from 1978:

Garrels Just Wants to be Garrels

Ann Garrels don't want to play like that,
She just wants to talk to the boys.
She just wants to do what is in her heart,
Ann Garrels just wants to be Garrels.


And the boys say, "Why are you mean?"
And the boys say, "Why are you mean?"
Well there is just no love,
When there's boys and Garrels.
Ann Garrels just wants to be Garrels,
Ann Garrels just wants to be Garrels.

Ann Garrels wants things that make common sense,
The best for all concerned.
She doesn't want to have to go out of her way,
Ann Garrels just wants to be Garrels.

empty said...

For once something interesting on Morning edition. This story about Israeli vigilantes breaking up trysts between jewish women and arab men. The story was horrifically chilling on so many levels. The correspondent Sheera Frenkel played it straight with absolutely no hint of disapproval (or otherwise). Made the story even more horrifying. I am really surprised it made it on NPR. But kudos to them for playing it.

larry, dfh said...

A very good friend of mine came to the U.S. after walking through a Czech mine field in '68. (He said it wasn't a big deal because he had put the mines in the field and knew where they were.) A few years ago he told me "Over the past 25 years everything the KGB said about the United States has come true." (He now lives in Canada.) I asked him if the KGB was always mentioning how 'free' the people were, and he said "Nah, they didn't bother with that."

Anonymous said...

How can Garrels expect anyone to take her seriously (and NOT make jokes) after writing a book called "Naked in Baghdad"


Garrels just wanna have fu-un
Garrels just wanna have fun
They just wanna, they just wana-a-a-a
They just wanna, they just wana-a-a-a
Garrels just wanna have fun.

Anonymous said...

The naivte shown by Garrels in actually believing that Saddam Hussien's thugs would somehow have respected her privacy and not gone into her hotel room if they thought she was naked was simply amazing.

After all, Saddam was the fine fellow who actually used rape as torture -- or both the woman and her relatives (sorry, Alicia: I meant to say "enhanced interrogation". I won't let it happen again)

Anonymous said...

"a White House "adviser," speaking on condition of anonymity, urged them [bloggers] to "take off their pajamas" and get serious about politics."

I hear the adviser was actually Anne Garrels, and she was being quite literal.

Anonymous said...

The Planet Monkeys are in Seventh Heaven:

The Nobel academy noted Williamson's argument that:

"[L]arge private corporations exist primarily because they are efficient. They are established because they make owners, workers, suppliers, and customers better off than they would be under alternative institutional arrangements

Williamson has argued that it's better to regulate the behavior of large corporations than it is to try limiting their size."

//end Planet Monkey comment

Yes, as we all know, the big banks are models of efficiency and should never be broken up, only further consolidated.

more from Planet Monkeydom:

"Ostrom is the first woman to win for economics since the prize was founded in 1968. She has spent her career studying the relationships between people and natural resources. From the Nobel academy:

"Elinor Ostrom has challenged the conventional wisdom that common property is poorly managed and should be either regulated by central authorities or privatized. Based on numerous studies of user-managed fish stocks, pastures, woods, lakes, and groundwater basins, Ostrom concludes that the outcomes are, more often than not, better than predicted by standard theories."

//end Planet Monkey quote

Yes, as we all know, overfishing of the oceanic commons is NEVER a problem nor is overgrazing of public lands in the American west.

If this week's Nobel Peace and econ awards are any indication, some members of the Nobel committee have gone completely bonkers.

Anonymous said...

"[L]arge private corporations exist primarily because they are efficient. They are established because they make owners, workers, suppliers, and customers better off than they would be under alternative institutional arrangements"

The only thing that makes any sense at all is that the Nobel committee have been living in a hermetically sealed totally opaque, soudproof bubble (with no TV, radio, internet, phone or other means of communication with the outside world) for the past year and a half and therefore missed Greenspan's famous "I believe I have discovered a flaw ..." speech.

It's funny enough that such nonsense got a Nobel prize, but the fact that the Planet Monkeys are playing it up on their blog (because it supports their libertarian viewpoint --except for the part about regulation, of course), is a real hoot.

Anonymous said...

"[L]arge private corporations exist primarily because they are efficient. They are established because they make owners, workers, suppliers, and customers better off than they would be under alternative institutional arrangements" -- Oliver Williamson, co-winner of this year's econ Nobel

“Those of us who have looked to the self-interest of lending institutions to protect shareholders’ equity, myself included, are in a state of shocked disbelief,” Alan Greenspan, tesifying to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform

Obviously, the Nobel econ committee are not among those in "shocked disbelief."

Williamson was quoted as saying that he thought the Nobel econ committee was influenced "very little" by the recent financial meltdown.

I seriously doubt they are even aware that it happened.

He got that part right.

larry, dfh said...

has aslightly different take on the econ prizes. I didn't hear the 'planet monkey' jabbering, nor would I believe anything they had to say about anything.

gopolganger said...

Ed, The Common Dreams comments are interesting.

Black/Scholes got the prize in economics for a mathematically beautiful model that has proven economically devastating: derivatives pricing based on volatility measures that allow investors to sell long and short simultaneously and make a profit either way. Essentially, arbitrage which should have been made illegal based on its discovery but was instead institutionalized to the benefit of Wall St and at the expense of just about everybody else, except for the politicians who legalized it.

People don't understand mathematics, for the most part, and mathematics of Black/Scholes is particularly dense, but a surprising number of people (business majors) purport to understand economics and think that economics is just practical mathematics. Not. Economics is a social science.

gopolganger said...

empty said...

For once something interesting on Morning edition.

That certainly is an unusually original bit of journalism for NPR.

I have no idea of what to make of it, but it certainly appears to bring to light a facet of Arab/Israeli culture vis-a-vis settlements that is just...unique. I'd like a few other opinions on that from other sources.

Anonymous said...

Black Scholes is an example of the kind of BS that permeates "mathematical economics", which is really an oxymoron.

It's an example of physics (Brownian movement of molecules) applied to economics.

There are a whole bunch of "ideal" assumptions that have to be satisfied even for the ideal case.

Perhaps the most dubious of these is that "The price [of the equity or option] follows a geometric Brownian motion with constant drift and volatility." (from wikipedia)

I suspect that most of the people who apply Black–Scholes have no clue about what the above even means, or whether the assumptions even apply for the particular case they are considering.

The vast majority undoubtedly simply plug in values and take whatever "pops" out as a valid answer.

The old CS adage applies: GIGO (garbage in/garbage out)

it's really no surprise that so many people lost their shirts gambling on derivatives. I would guess that no one had any idea what the value was of what they were gambling on (if indeed had any value at all).

Qualitative economics (eg, supply demand curves) has some general predictive ability, but when people start talking specifics and applying mathematical formulas developed for the hard sciences, better watch out! BS is on the way.

And when it comes to awarding a Nobel prize in economics, it's very much like the peace prize: subjective.

Anonymous said...

RE: slightly different take on the econ prizes.

from the article that was linke to above

"She conducted numerous studies of user-managed fish stocks, pastures, woods, lakes and groundwater basins, and concluded that the outcomes are "more often than not, better than predicted by standard theories," the jury explained."

"more often than not" based on "numerous studies"?

Wow. I'm impressed.

The problem with nearly all of these social "science" studies is that you can prove anything you want about anything. All you need to do is ignore the cases that do not fit your thesis.

More often than not" is pretty much a bogus measure whatever way you look at it.

Statistics requires random sampling to make sure you are not selecting for the very thing you are trying to show and "proof' at a high level of confidence (usually 95%).

I'd really like to see the examples she has studied because the obvious ones (over-grazing in the western US, strip mining in Appalachia, overfishing on the grand banks,depletion of whales due to unregulated commercial whaling, decimation of the bison on the American plains, clear cutting on public forest land, depeletion of the Ogallala Aquifer ) have had quite bad outcomes by pretty much any standard.

gopolganger said...

In referring to FL House Rep. Grayson's advocacy for health reform and the Harvard study about excess deaths due to lack of health care, I just heard some NPRnik break new ground in attributional syle, saying "he maintains according to a Harvard study."

Well, that beats "somebody told me" or "insurance experts say." But it sure sounds dumb.

biggerbox said...

Yesterday the health insurance industry group AHIP released a "study" "showing" that the reforms being discussed in the Senate will drive up costs. They arrived at this conclusion by, as the report itself admits, ignoring all the parts that would drive costs down. In other words, the "study" was a propaganda piece dressed up in 'science', just like the tobacco industry used to do.

Did Morning Edition ignore this obvious attempt by the industry to manipulate the debate? HA HA HA HA HA. Julie Rovner and Steve Inskeep were all over it, and took their time detailing its claims, and in a nod to 'fairness' did mention in passing that critics dispute the report, before going on to spend more time spreading it.

Propaganda accomplished, AHIP!

NPR, happy to be serve in preserving health industry profits.

krameroneill said...

Ugh. I generally consider This American Life to be one of the few good national programs on NPR (possibly because it's actually produced by PRI, so they're relatively free from NPR's ludicrous editorial policies). Their reporting on torture at Gitmo was, for example, fantastic, imo, and totally opposed to the way the rest of NPR reports on it. That said...

Part one of their two-parter on health care reform this weekend was, ultimately, pretty despicable. They did the good, standard TAL coverage from a bunch of personal angles, which was pretty OK. But then they basically concluded that insurance companies are blameless! It was surprisingly irresponsible, and a bit saddening, as they used to be one of the few worthwhile shows carried on NPR.

Anonymous said...

I heard on marketPlace that 10,000 for the Dow is: a good thing because people liuke us (marketplace droids) talk about stock market going up. What I think they didn't add is: and that's our job to get the management class to "invest" in capitalism through forced 401s and crap like that.


MinM said...

More disinformation from NPR:

NPR does hatchet job on Grayson, uses woman who claims to be Dem but is really Repub

NPR does hatchet job on Rep. Grayson this morning on "Morning Edition"

David Green said...

An important comment on story on Israeli Jewish vigilantes.

gopolganger said...

MinM: NPR needs to correct the error and apologize to Congressman Alan Grayson for not fact checking their interview before going to air with it.

If NPR were to hire fact checkers, how could they afford to attract the top personality talents like Scott (flushable wipe) Simon?

gopolganger said...

David Green,

It's funny, I didn't detect the same level of bias in the story that Mondoweiss did. Perhaps my ear isn't properly tuned to the nuances of Palestinian/Israeli controversy. Many Palestinians are Christian, no doubt, and it is a subtle wedge to substitute "Arab" for "Palestinian." Stuff like that just flies through my ears without being caught in a sieve.

Anonymous said...

NPR needs to correct the error and apologize to Congressman Alan Grayson"

When did NPR EVER correct an error or apologize to ANYONE for anything?

Even on Saddam's WMD (Not!), they basically gave the same lame excuse that Bush gave: everyone got it wrong.

NPR's handling of that one case was an eye opener for me, by the way.

It was the moment when i realized that "Hey, NPR is really no different from Fox".

Anonymous said...

Alan Greenspan just contradicted the central tenent of the theory for which Williamson was just awarded the Nobel Prize in economics:

Accordingto Planet Monkey

The Nobel academy noted Williamson's argument that:

"[L]arge private corporations exist primarily because they are efficient. They are established because they make owners, workers, suppliers, and customers better off than they would be under alternative institutional arrangements"

Williamson has argued that it's better to regulate the behavior of large corporations than it is to try limiting their size."

//end Planet Monkey quote

here's what Alan Greenspan says in Bloomberg*

“If they’re too big to fail, they’re too big,” Greenspan said today. “In 1911 we broke up Standard Oil -- so what happened? The individual parts became more valuable than the whole. Maybe that’s what we need to do.”

In the past, I would have doubted most of what Greenspan said as the rhetoric of an Ayn rand ideologue, but now that he has basically repudiated that ideology, he actually is saying some fairly intelligent and sensible things.

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