Thursday, September 27, 2012

Fact Checking

So this is a post where I talk about something that seems small, but drives me absolutely crazy.

In case you hadn't heard, IKEA is planning to open a store in Merriam. This is exciting news for KC, but this post isn't about that. It is about Channel 41 and basic fact checking. Here is the video in question:

The part that is making me crazy is where the reporter mentions that the two closest stores to Kansas City currently are in Texas and Colorado. This is just about the easiest fact to check ever. All you have to do is go to the Ikea "Find a Store" page and type in Kansas City. Here are the results:

Bolingbrook, ILView Store Page 427 mi Get Directions Get Directions
Schaumburg, ILView Store Page 439 mi Get Directions Get Directions
Twin Cities, MNView Store Page 444 mi Get Directions Get Directions
Dallas, TXView Store Page 476 mi Get Directions Get Directions
West Chester, OHView Store Page 597 mi Get Directions Get Directions

Texas is actually 4th and Colorado doesn't even make the list. For the record, using the totally deep and sophisticated research method of Mapquesting, it turns out the Colorado store is 609 miles away.

Look, I am all for cutting news organizations under deadlines some slack when they screw up. But this was just so easy to get right...

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Well, That Blows

Turns out a I wasted what is probably a statistically significant portion of my childhood...

So, dear readers, all signs point to no: blowing in the (Nintendo game) cartridge did not help. My money is on the blowing thing being a pure placebo, offering the user just another chance at getting a good connection. The problems with Nintendo’s connector system are well-documented, and most of them are mechanical — they just wore out faster than expected. 
Having said that, it’s true that kids can be grubby, and getting crud into the cartridge or slot was a real problem — I suspect that most of that crud was not just dust, though, and required a more thorough cleaning than a moist mouth-blast could provide. In fact, Nintendo released an official NES Cleaning Kit in 1989 in an attempt to keep both the slot and cartridges clean. Ultimately, Nintendo redesigned the NES console, releasing an NES 2 console in 1993 that’s commonly known as the “top loader.” Its main feature? A top loading slot. It was more like the original Famicom, using a slot that held up better to abuse. Similarly, the SNES (Super Nintendo Entertainment System) was a top loader.
I suppose that whatever time I saved from not blowing on the cartridge  I would have used to just to keep loading the game or playing more Rygar or Mighty Bomb Jack anyway. So, I guess I can just file this under things I once really believed to be true that science ruined.

Romney's Biggest Problem

Is probably Mitt Romney.

 Yes, I realize these are stupid jokes for the benefit of a specific audience. But, good grief. Is it any wonder this guy can't seem to get out of his own way...

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

What's Up in Missouri?

In my ongoing quest to figure out what is happening to my state, I present this chart from a fivethirtyeight post today:

So only Utah has moved more toward the Republican candidate that Missouri in the last 4 years. That would be the same Utah that is the home of Mitt Romney's Mormon faith. I think that makes it fair to exclude them and assert that, if the polls are correct, Missouri is home to the fastest growing Republification (can I TM this?) in the U.S.

Now maybe the polls aren't correct. But if they are... what the hell is going on?


My better instincts were correct it seems...
The Los Angeles Times story that relayed Romney's airplane remark to the world was based off a pool report written by the New York Times's Ashley Parker. When we asked Parker this morning whether it seemed as if Romney made the mark in jest, she left no doubt. "Romney was joking," she e-mailed. Parker told us that while the pool report didn't explicitly indicate that Romney was joking, it was self-evident that he was. "The pool report provided the full transcript of his comments on Ann's plane scare," she said, "and it was clear from the context that he was not being serious."
It is important for us to remember in this time of election madness, this is not George Bush. This is Mitt Romney. Those are two very different things.

Monday, September 24, 2012

I Just Don't Believe It

This just has to be Mitt not saying exactly what he really meant. Right?
“I appreciate the fact that she is on the ground, safe and sound. And I don’t think she knows just how worried some of us were,” Romney said. “When you have a fire in an aircraft, there’s no place to go, exactly, there’s no — and you can’t find any oxygen from outside the aircraft to get in the aircraft, because the windows don’t open. I don’t know why they don’t do that. It’s a real problem. So it’s very dangerous. And she was choking and rubbing her eyes. Fortunately, there was enough oxygen for the pilot and copilot to make a safe landing in Denver. But she’s safe and sound.”


Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Meager Roots of Dishonesty

This is animated talk from Dan Ariely tells us how easy it is to be dishonest and still think of yourself as a good person under the right circumstances. Towards the end he explains how this relates to Wall Street's issues and how changing the system will be a lot more effective than just getting rid of all the current participants. It seems I can think of another institution who that would apply to...


Via Open Culture.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

More Important Than Mitt

Mitt Romney said something either really, really callous or really, really stupid yesterday (or both). But in a way it is almost too bad that it happened when it did because I was starting to see a report from the Congressional Research Service (a non-political unit of the Library of Congress) circulate that takes on the real issue with Romney's comments. The report is titled Taxes and the Economy: An Economic Analysis of the Top Tax Rates Since 1945, and what it really does is show us that there is absolutely no truth the decades long argument from Republicans that lower taxes for the wealthy mean a stronger economy. You should read the whole report, but the most important part is here:

The results of the analysis suggest that changes over the past 65 years in the top marginal tax rate and the top capital gains tax rate do not appear correlated with economic growth. The reduction in the top tax rates appears to be uncorrelated with saving, investment, and productivity growth. The top tax rates appear to have little or no relation to the size of the economic pie. 
However, the top tax rate reductions appear to be associated with the increasing concentration of income at the top of the income distribution. As measured by IRS data, the share of income accruing to the top 0.1% of U.S. families increased from 4.2% in 1945 to 12.3% by 2007 before falling to 9.2% due to the 2007-2009 recession. At the same time, the average tax rate paid by the top 0.1% fell from over 50% in 1945 to about 25% in 2009. Tax policy could have a relation to how the economic pie is sliced—lower top tax rates may be associated with greater income disparities.
In other words, decreasing taxes for the wealthy does virtually nothing for anyone except the wealthy themselves. This, to me, is a pretty important piece of evidence to think about when you hear Mitt Romney talk about the 47% and how they don't contribute to society. The truth is, Republicans have been on a 40 year quest to ensure the 1% contribute less and less to society, and in the meantime create a nation where the 47% grow in ranks.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Silver Lining

I've been documenting for awhile now Missouri's distressing fall from middle-of-the-road bell weather state to increasingly nutty conservative stronghold. But, there is always a bigger nut than you. And this week we found out it is our neighbor Kansas who is daring to go places even we wouldn't go...
Three top Republican elected officials in Kansas, including “informal” Mitt Romney adviser Kris Kobach, the Kansas secretary of state, are consideringchallenging Obama’s eligibility to appear on Kansas ballots this fall based on concerns over his citizenship. Kobach would not directly say whether he believes Obama’s birth certificate is real in an email to TPM Thursday night.
So, I guess, way to go Missouri... for not being Kansas.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Foreign Policy in Fantasyland Part 2

So Mitt Romney recently said that Russia is our #1 world adversary. Most people know that isn't true, because they are aware that it isn't 1985. However, one person appreciated the comment: Vladimir Putin.
Russian President Vladimir Putin thanked Mitt Romney earlier this week for labeling Russia as America’s “number one geopolitical foe,” explaining that Romney’s position has helped to justify Russia’s strong opposition to a NATO missile defense shield in Eastern Europe.
You hear something like this and then you realize that instead of Romney it could have been Cain, Santorum, Bachmann, or Gingrich in this spotlight! That is really sobering... and it wasn't lost on Putin either.
“The most important thing for us is that even if [Romney] doesn’t win now, he or a person with similar views may come to power in four years. We must take that into consideration while dealing with security issues for a long perspective,” Putin said.
Hard to imagine Republicans reclaiming the national security advantage anytime soon.

Foreign Policy in Fantasyland Part 1

At some point, even Rush Limbaugh's most ardent fans hear him say something that prompts them to go "Wait... What? Why have I been listening to this guy?" Actually, I am not sure that is true. But as someone who wants to have faith in humanity, I believe it has to be, right? Anyway, I would think if it was true, this would have to have been the trigger for some of them:
Implying that an Obama re-election would mean progression towards the end of an Israeli state, Limbaugh then floated his theory: “What if Ayman al-Zawahiri and other al-Qaeda leaders gave up Osama bin Laden for the express purpose of making Obama look good? Giving Obama stature, political capital?”
This is either breathtakingly stupid or crassly dishonest. In Limbaugh's case I always assume the latter. But if you are listening to his show and that statement doesn't strike you as dubious, you may suffer from the former.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Wall of Sorrow

The Star is once again putting all the important stuff at the head of their homepage. This time they are showing off the entrants into their Man Cave contest. Among the contestants is the room below, which I believe must also go by the title of "The Pit of Despair".

Friday, September 7, 2012

Friday, Song Day

Get your weekend started by remembering what if felt like to be 12 with the White Buffalo.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The Difference is Opportunity

Julian Castro pretty much summed up why I am a liberal in a few minutes last night. The really key part is about at about 7:45 in... It isn't about everyone having the same outcome, it is about everyone having a fair chance.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Electoral Irrelevance

Visual evidence of Missouri's continued slide.

Via Andrew Sullivan.

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