EppsNet Archive: New York Times

See You In Hell

28 May 2017 /
Satan

Satan

[See You in Hell is a feature by our guest blogger, Satan — PE]

I just wanted to let everyone know that Joseph Mengele is down here kicking himself because he didn’t think of this first.

See you in Hell . . .


Harvard Study Says Media Are Very Biased Against Donald Trump

23 May 2017 /

According to a Harvard University study, the mainstream media are very biased against Donald Trump.

Here’s a chart from the study, showing that the tone of some news outlets is negative in as many as 98% of reports:

Tone of Trump news coverage

I’ve noticed that even our local news station is about 90-10 negative on Trump coverage.

We have to look at the way the media handled Trump before he was elected. How many newspapers in the entire country endorsed Trump for president? I don’t think the number is zero but it has to be very close to zero.

Some newspapers — The Washington Post and New York Times come to mind — were virulently anti-Trump on the editorial page, which bled over into the news coverage.

Every news network except Fox was anti-Trump, the only positive news being that he was most definitely not going to be elected. Well, actually it was that he was definitely not going to be the Republican nominee, and then that he was definitely not going to be president.

The Huffington Post refused to cover Trump at all as part of its political reporting. All Trump news was published in the entertainment section.

And then he was elected president!

So everyone in the media had to either a) recalibrate their self-image from “We are super smart people who knew in advance that Trump would never be president” to “We are the dumbest people in the universe,” or b) commit to spending the next four years (at least) finding ways to say “we told you so,” e.g. “We told you he was a monster,” “We told you he was a moron,” We told you he was crazy,” etc.

Here’s a chart showing the tone of Trump coverage compared to other recent presidents:

Tone of Trump coverage

The media are setting a new standard for unfavorable press coverage of a president. No president in recent history is even close. Note that the media were mostly cheerleaders for President Obama.


That Was Then, This Is Now

12 Dec 2016 /

That was then:

Top Republicans must reject the ridiculous notion that a national election can be ‘rigged.’

New York Times editorial, Oct. 18, 2016

This is now:

[President-elect] Trump should be leading the call for a thorough investigation, since it would be the only way to remove this darkening cloud from his presidency. Failing to resolve the questions about Russia would feed suspicion among millions of Americans that a dominant theme of his candidacy turned out to be true: The election was indeed rigged.

New York Times editorial, Dec. 11, 2016

OK, But Let’s Not Let Facts Get in the Way of a Good Narrative

14 Jul 2016 /


Goldman Sachs CEO Henry Paulson Endorses Hillary Clinton

25 Jun 2016 /
Hillary Clinton

I’m seeing a lot of headlines today on Henry Paulson’s endorsement of Hillary Clinton, in all of which Paulson is identified as “President George W. Bush’s treasury chief Henry Paulson,” or “ex-GOP Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson,” or something to that effect.

There are certainly other ways of identifying Henry Paulson, e.g.,

  • Former Goldman Sachs chief executive Henry Paulson
  • Architect of TARP and “Too Big to Fail” Henry Paulson
  • Wealthy Wall Street goon Henry Paulson
  • Henry Paulson, who used his position as Treasury Secretary to bail out his Wall Street friends with taxpayer money

It’s hard to see how an endorsement from Henry Paulson is anything but a nail in the coffin of the Clinton campaign . . . I took millions of dollars for speeches to Wall Street banks and investment firms, including $675,000 from Goldman Sachs (see New York Times), and now they’re all endorsing me! (Shocking.) Also: I am the candidate best positioned to hold the financial industry accountable for its practices.

Clinton -— as the Times piece linked above helpfully notes —- has run through a series of bad answers about why she gave the speeches and why she is now unwilling to authorize the release of the transcripts of them.


Correction

11 Apr 2016 /

Correction: April 10, 2016

An article on March 20 about wave piloting in the Marshall Islands misstated the number of possible paths that could be navigated without instruments among the 34 islands and atolls of the Marshall Islands. It is 561, not a trillion trillion.


All Options Are on the Table at Yahoo

7 Feb 2016 /

Including Marissa Mayer selling her ass . . .

For Sale


Are You Smarter Than a Common Core Algebra Student?

1 Dec 2015 /

You can test your Common Core algebra skills against a 5-question sample test courtesy of the the New York Times. For all the controversy about Common Core, the questions seem pretty basic even for a person with an aging brain (I frigging CRUSHED it with a perfect 5 out of 5), the one exception being a graphing problem that should separate the mathematicians from the wannabes.

How hard is New York's high school algebra exam? 5 questions to test your math skills.

Posted by The New York Times on Monday, November 30, 2015


More People I’m Sick Unto Death Of

6 Jul 2014 /

Riptide warning sign

The worst thing you can do to people, aside from physical injury, is give them the idea to blame their failures on vague impersonal forces or the actions of anybody but themselves. It doesn’t promote success or happiness. I don’t know any happy people who think like that.

For example, I read this in a New York Times article about an impoverished area of West Virginia:

John got caught up in the dark undertow of drugs that defines life for so many here in McDowell County.

That is just awful. I live in Southern California, not too far from the ocean . . . I’m familiar with undertows (although I’ve never heard of a “dark” undertow). First of all, sorry to be pedantic but undertows aren’t dangerous . . . they’re just after-effects of individual waves. What’s dangerous is a riptide . . . a concentrated flow of water that can jet you offshore in a matter of seconds.

Maybe John got caught in a riptide of drugs.

Some beaches post signs warning swimmers of riptides on high-risk days, but in general, getting caught in a riptide is an unfortunate but unavoidable event. Drug abuse is optional. It’s a decision you make about your life.

(I’m assuming here that no one sticks a funnel in your mouth and pours drugs into it against your will . . .)


The War on Poverty is 50 Years Old

6 May 2014 /
(Old) War Police Department & Jail

The New York Times has an update from McDowell County, West Virginia, on how the War on Poverty is going after 50 years . . .

Of West Virginia’s 55 counties, McDowell has the lowest median household income, $22,000; the worst childhood obesity rate; and the highest teenage birthrate.

It is also reeling from prescription drug abuse. The death rate from overdoses is more than eight times the national average. Of the 115 babies born in 2011 at Welch Community Hospital, over 40 had been exposed to drugs. . . .

Many in McDowell County acknowledge that depending on government benefits has become a way of life, passed from generation to generation. Nearly 47 percent of personal income in the county is from Social Security, disability insurance, food stamps and other federal programs. . . .

The poverty rate, 50 percent in 1960, declined – partly as a result of federal benefits – to 36 percent in 1970 and to 23.5 percent in 1980. But it soared to nearly 38 percent in 1990. For families with children, it now nears 41 percent.

“Worst childhood obesity rate.” Poverty is different in America. In most countries, poor people aren’t fat.

According to the United States Census Bureau, there are 9,176 households in McDowell County and the mean (not median) household income is $33,506. Multiply the two together and we get a total annual income for the county of $206 million.

If 47 percent of that income, as the Times article states, comes from federal programs, that’s almost $100 million per year. Since the War on Poverty has been waged for 50 years now, a crude approximation of the total amount of taxpayer money sent to McDowell County would be 50 times $100 million = $5 billion.

Possibly the annual federal contribution was less 50 years ago, even adjusted to 2014 dollars, but we’d also need to account for the fact that the county population at that time was five times higher than it is today. Taking even a small fraction — say, 20 percent — of $5 billion as our approximation, we can say that the War on Poverty has cost at least a billion dollars ($1,000,000,000) just for one small county in West Virginia.

Oh, and the people are still living in poverty. Evidently you can’t eliminate poverty just by giving people money.

As David Mamet pointed out in The Secret Knowledge:

There’s a cost for everything. And the ultimate payer of every cost imposed by government is not only the individual member of the mass of taxpayers who does not benefit from the scheme; but likely, also, its intended beneficiaries.

In the case of McDowell County, the intended beneficiaries are being paid to continue making bad decisions with their lives, most notably to continue living in a place where there’s no work and no hope for improvement.


NYT Misrepresents California’s Affirmative Action Results

23 Apr 2014 /

In reporting on yesterday’s Supreme Court decision to uphold a Michigan ban on the use of racial preferences in admissions to public universities, the New York Times looks at results in other states that have banned racial preferences.

Here’s what the Times says about my state, California, which voted to ban racial preferences in UC admissions in 1998:

Hispanic and black enrollment at the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of California, Los Angeles dropped sharply after voters approved a statewide ban on affirmative action. Those numbers have not recovered, even as the state’s Hispanic population has grown.

That is a misleading analysis for a couple of reasons:

One: Affirmative action was banned at all UC campuses, not just Berkeley and UCLA. Ignoring all the other campuses allows the Times to say that black and Hispanic enrollment “dropped sharply” when there was actually only a 2 percent decline in black and Hispanic enrollment in the University of California system as a whole.

Among other campuses, black and Hispanic enrollment was

* up 22 percent at UC Irvine
* up 18 percent at UC Santa Cruz
* up 65 percent at UC Riverside

There’s been a redistribution of black and Hispanic students, but not a sharp drop in enrollment.

Two: It doesn’t make sense to look at changes in enrollment without also looking at changes in graduation rates.

The number of black and Hispanic students graduating from UC schools

* in four years: up 55 percent
* in four years with a GPA of 3.5 or higher: up 63 percent
* with degrees in science, mathematics and engineering: up nearly 50 percent
* with doctoral degrees: up 20 percent

UCLA and (especially) Berkeley are elite universities. Black and Hispanic students who were admitted based on genetics rather than academic qualifications couldn’t compete at that level and had to drop out.

Who was helped? The dropouts? No. The qualified applicants who were passed over? No. It was a lose-lose scenario.

Now that students are admitted, regardless of race, to schools that they’re academically qualified to attend, graduation rates are much higher.

Always look askance at analysis of college admission policies in the absence of information on graduation rates.


Everything I Need to Know About Being a Successful Executive in the 1950s I Learned in Kindergarten

20 Apr 2014 /

In 1957, The New York Times [published] two lists of skills. One was drawn from a corporate personnel manual, the other from a kindergarten report card:

List A: Dependability; Stability; Imagination; Originality; Self-expression; Health and vitality; Ability to plan and control; Cooperation.

List B: Can be depended on; Contributes to the good work of others; Accepts and uses criticism; Thinks critically; Shows initiative; Plans work well; Physical resistance; Self-expression; Creative ability.

A successful executive in 1950s America, in short, was expected to have essentially the same skills as a well-behaved four-year-old. (B is the kindergarten list, by the way.)

Matter

Disappearing Planes: Another Reason I Prefer to Just Stay Home

12 Mar 2014 /

The disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 has left investigators, aviation experts and the authorities in several countries at a loss to explain what happened. . . .

From an observer’s point of view, air travel is a magic trick: you disappear from one place and you reappear somewhere else . . . unless the trick doesn’t work and you never reappear anywhere ever again . . .


Philip Seymour Hoffman, 1967-2014

2 Feb 2014 /
Philip Seymour Hoffman

Oscar-winning actor Philip Seymour Hoffman was found dead Sunday of an apparent drug overdose at his Manhattan apartment.

Police responded to the 46-year-old’s apartment in the West Village shortly after 11 a.m., police sources told FoxNews.com.

A friend found his body in the apartment and phoned police. Hoffman was alone in his bathroom when he was discovered with a heroin-filled needle in his arm, law enforcement sources said.

I am really shocked to hear that. People are shooting up heroin first thing in the morning?! To me, a shot of heroin — like a nice, warm bath — is best enjoyed in the evening, to unwind after the travails of the day.

This is yet another blow to a theory that most Americans believe, which is that wealth is synonymous with happiness.

Philip Seymour Hoffman, he’s in every movie, it seems like. He’s a Top 1 Percent wage-earner for sure. We hate the Top 1 Percent! They’re so rich and smug and happy.

“Oh,” people think, “if only I had a lot of money and I could do anything I want. Then at last I could be happy too.”

Wrong. Not only would you not be happy, you’d be even less happy than you are now, because you’d no longer have lack of money to blame for your unhappiness.

Frankly, I’m surprised that more actors aren’t overdosing themselves on a daily basis. It’s such a minor art form. Someone writes things down for them to say and they say those things. Sometimes a bit of business is written down for them to perform while they say the things that were written down for them to say.

The adulation that actors receive is so wildly out of proportion to the triviality of what they do. Some, like Hoffman, have the limited amount of self-awareness required to recognize this, to their eternal detriment.

P.S. I just saw this:

Fearless in his choice of roles

The “fearless choice of roles” meme with reference to actors has always stuck in my craw.

“So let me get this straight . . . if I take this role, I’ll have to read the script, learn my lines and pick up a check? Nope, sorry. Too scary.”

RIP Philip Seymour Hoffman.


Kids Should Study Math and Science, Say Adults Who Never Studied Math or Science

17 Dec 2013 /

The New York Times has been editorializing recently on the nation’s need to enlarge our pool of science and math students, with a particular focus on girls and minorities, and to encourage them to pursue careers that will keep the country competitive.

Here’s a list of the members of the NYT editorial board, including academic major(s), which I obtained from their online bios. See if you notice anything unusual.

Andrew Rosenthal, Editor
(American History)
Terry Tang, Deputy Editorial Page Editor
(Economics, Law)
Robert B. Semple Jr., Associate Editor
(History)
David Firestone, Projects Editor, National Politics, the White House and Congress
(Journalism)
Vikas Bajaj, Business, International Economics
(Journalism)
Philip M. Boffey, Science
(History)
Francis X. Clines, National Politics, Congress, Campaign Finance
(none listed)
Lawrence Downes, Immigration, Veterans Issues
(English, Journalism)
Carol Giacomo, Foreign Affairs
(English Literature)
Mira Kamdar, International Affairs
(French Literature)
Verlyn Klinkenborg, Agriculture, Environment, Culture
(English Literature)
Juliet Lapidos, Culture
(Comparative Literature, English Literature)
Eleanor Randolph, New York State, Northeast Region, Media
(none listed)
Dorothy Samuels, Law, Civil Rights, National Affairs
(Law)
Serge Schmemann, International Affairs
(none listed)
Brent Staples, Education, Criminal Justice, Economics
(Psychology)
Masaru Tamamoto, International Affairs
(International Relations)
Teresa Tritch, Economic Issues, Tax Policy
(German, Journalism)
Jesse Wegman, The Supreme Court, Legal Affairs
(Law)

Did you notice that no one on that list, including the science editor, has a degree in anything related to math or science?

Now you might say, “Well, I’ve never heard of any of these people so why should I care what they think?” That’s a fair point.

But still, one has to give them credit for having made it in the big city, despite their lack of interest in math and science. So why encourage students to pursue educational goals that they themselves had no interest in, when this lack of interest has evidently not been a hindrance? Why is this a credible course of action?


Clifford Nass, 1958-2013

22 Nov 2013 /
Clifford Nass

Clifford Nass

One of his most publicized research projects was a 2009 study on multitasking. He and his colleagues presumed that people who frequently juggle computer, phone or television screens, or just different applications, would display some special skill at ignoring irrelevant information, or efficiently switching between tasks, or that they would prove to have a particularly orderly memory.

“We all bet high multitaskers were going to be stars at something,” he said in an interview with the PBS program “Frontline” after the paper he and his colleagues wrote, “Cognitive Control in Media Multitaskers,” was published in 2009.

“We were absolutely shocked,” he said. “We all lost our bets. It turns out multitaskers are terrible at every aspect of multitasking. They’re terrible at ignoring irrelevant information; they’re terrible at keeping information in their head nicely and neatly organized; and they’re terrible at switching from one task to another.

He added, “One would think that if people were bad at multitasking, they would stop. However, when we talk with the multitaskers, they seem to think they’re great at it and seem totally unfazed and totally able to do more and more and more.”

With children doing more multitasking and people asked to do more of it at work, he said, “We worry that it may be creating people who are unable to think well and clearly.”


NY Times: Across U.S. Companies, Tax Rates Vary Greatly – Interactive Feature

Posted by on 27 Jul 2013

Drive Me to the Junkyard in my Cadillac

30 May 2013 /

Well buddy when I die throw my body in the back
And drive me to the junkyard in my Cadillac

— Bruce Springsteen, “Cadillac Ranch”

Say goodbye to that $500 deductible insurance plan and the $20 co-payment for a doctor’s office visit. They are likely to become luxuries of the past. . . .

Then blame — or credit — the so-called Cadillac tax, which penalizes companies that offer high-end health care plans to their employees.

You’re probably thinking: “So what? I don’t have a high-end health care plan. I’m a working stiff. Let the Wall Street fat cats pay their Cadillac tax.”

Actually, because the plan cost that triggers the Cadillac tax is not indexed for inflation, Bradley Herring, a health economist at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, estimates that as many as 75 percent of plans could be affected by the tax over the next decade.

The hospital where Abbey Bruce, a nursing assistant in Olympia, Wash., worked, for example, stopped offering the traditional plan that she and her husband, Casey, who has cystic fibrosis, had chosen. . . .

She has had to drop out of school and take on additional jobs to pay for her husband’s medicine.

“My husband didn’t choose to be born this way,” Ms. Bruce said. The union representing her, a chapter of the Service Employees International Union, has objected to the changes. Her employer, Providence Health & Services, says it designed the plans to avoid having employees shoulder too much in medical bills and has reduced how much workers pay in premiums.

Abbey Bruce

Abbey Bruce, a nursing assistant who works a second job cleaning, will pay a sharply higher deductible.

ObamaCare proponents say the Cadillac tax is bringing down employer (not patient) costs as planned.

Cynthia Weidner, an executive at the benefits consultant HighRoads, [said] that the tax appeared to be having the intended effect. “The premise it’s built upon is happening,” she said, adding, “the consumer should continue to expect that their plan is going to be more expensive, and they will have less benefits.”

Key takeaway: Pay more. Get less.

I hate to say I told you so, so instead I’ll say say an insincere thank you to Obama and all the delusional fuckers who voted for this goddamn law.


Thomas Jefferson on Why Your Health Insurance Premium is Going Up

11 Jan 2013 /
Thomas Jefferson

Health insurance companies across the country are seeking and winning double-digit increases in premiums for some customers, even though one of the biggest objectives of the Obama administration’s health care law was to stem the rapid rise in insurance costs for consumers.

That headline should not read “DESPITE new health law,” it should read “BECAUSE OF new health law.”

But we were going to get things for free! We were promised better things at a lower cost!

In my day, most of the citizens were farmers or merchants or tradesmen. They lived by their hands and their wits. They had horse sense and they knew when they were being sold a bill of goods.

Of course, that was before television.

Americans today are unfortunately rather stupid. Most of them don’t know anything about economics, science, history, government . . . as George Carlin says, “Think of how stupid the average person is, and realize half of them are stupider than that.” George is here in heaven now. He breaks me up, he really does.

Your president and Congress have decreed that every American will have health insurance whether they want it or not. They have further decreed that a lot of Americans will not have to pay for their own health insurance, which means that the cost of their health insurance has to be paid by the rest of you. That’s one reason why your health insurance premium is going up.

Another reason your premium is going up is the “guaranteed issue” provision. “Guaranteed issue” means that no one can be denied health insurance because of pre-existing conditions.

Funny story: My friend Paul Epps, his wife has an insurance agency in Southern California. It’s an area that’s susceptible to wildfires in the summer months. When a fire breaks out, people who live near the fire actually call this woman wanting to buy a homeowners policy.

Of course, she doesn’t sell it to them. Insurance companies are a little bit smarter than that.

Buying a homeowners policy when your house is already on fire is analogous to “guaranteed issue” health insurance: Hello, I’d like to buy some health insurance. Oh by the way, I have cancer, but the doctors think that with lengthy and expensive treatment, I have a chance to pull through.

This is not even insurance anymore. Insurance is something you pay for now to protect against the risk of having to pay a lot more later. In these cases, there IS no risk. The bad news has already happened. It’s a dead loss for the insurance company and they have to spread the cost of that loss to other policyholders. That’s another reason your premium is going up.

This isn’t even economics, folks, it’s just common sense.

Thomas Jefferson


I Don’t Understand What Warren Buffett is Talking About

27 Nov 2012 /
Warren Buffett speaking to a group of students...

Warren Buffett

In an op-ed for the New York Times, Warren Buffett argues that higher taxes won’t keep the super-rich from trying to make money:

Suppose that an investor you admire and trust comes to you with an investment idea. “This is a good one,” he says enthusiastically. “I’m in it, and I think you should be, too.”

Would your reply possibly be this? “Well, it all depends on what my tax rate will be on the gain you’re saying we’re going to make. If the taxes are too high, I would rather leave the money in my savings account, earning a quarter of 1 percent.” Only in Grover Norquist’s imagination does such a response exist.

Really, Warren? It’s an investment, right? It’s not a sure thing. It’s not a giveaway. I’m being asked to put money at risk. That’s the difference between an investment and a savings account.

So the number one thing that I want to understand before making the investment is what kind of a net return can I expect — worst case, best case, most likely case. Then I can decide if I’m being adequately compensated for the risk that I’m taking on.

And by net return, I mean after taxes, after commissions, after everything. How much money will I actually get to keep? And if I don’t think I’m being adequately compensated for the risk, then yeah, I’ll leave the money in my savings account.

Assuming a tax rate of, say, 35 percent, why does it not make sense to say, “I would take that risk for an expected return of $X, but not for an expected return of 35 percent less than $X?”

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