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Paid Advertisements Cloaked in Journalism November 20, 2022

Posted by geoff in News.
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Modern-day journalism is a far cry from what, 40 years ago, we were taught that journalism should be. Take this article from Thursday, for example:

Woman who eats diet of bugs, mealworms and ants insists crickets taste ‘just like fried chicken’

…The 30-year-old (Joanne Techow -ed.), from Johannesburg, South Africa, says creepy crawlies – such as bugs, mealworms and ants – feature heavily in her diet and insists crickets taste ‘just like fried chicken.’

Joanne gets creative with how she eats them too, explaining that she sprinkles cricket power onto her salad, puts boiled mealworms on kiwis, enjoys chocolate covered silkworms and even eats insect tacos.

You go through the article hearing about all the bug variants Ms. Techow likes and dislikes, but nowhere in the article does it mention this relevant fact:

Ms. Techow is the CEO of Ensekta, which:

…was created to bring edible insects (entomophagy) to westernised cultures of South Africa as an environmentally friendly, sustainable and healthy food source. We provide whole roasted insects, insect powders and baked insect foods! Live insects are also a possibility.

I had to look that up, but it was easy to find on LinkedIn. Seems like the “Assistant Lifestyle Editor” of UK Metro could have done the same, given that the subject of their article has a financial interest in bug-eating that just might influence their statements.

I realize that the article’s author is not a news reporter, but I had thought that basic principles of professionalism still applied. I guess that would be old school journalism, not modern activist journalism.

You Get Inflation! You Get Inflation! Everybody Gets Inflation! November 13, 2022

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The Bureau of Labor Statistics released its CPI estimate this past week, and the Biden administration fired up their happy dance:

Following the release of the Bureau of Labor Statistics’s October CPI on Wednesday, which showed the CPI at 7.7% on the year, down from 8.2% last month, Biden crowed

“Today’s report shows that we are making progress on bringing inflation down, without giving up all of the progress we have made on economic growth and job creation. My economic plan is showing results, and the American people can see that we are facing global economic challenges from a position of strength,” the president wrote.

As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t care for the year-over-year comparisons, since you can’t really get a feel for trends. It’s better to go to the original price data (from the St Louis Fed):

This chart shows you two things: 1) Prices have risen by 0.4% each of the last 2 months (5% on an annualized basis), so inflation is on the move again after our 2-month respite; and 2) Inflation since January 2021 (Biden’s inauguration) could be modeled with a straight line with great accuracy (i.e., nothing Biden’s administration has done has slowed inflation). From the FRED data, I calculate 2% annual inflation for the two years preceding Biden’s inauguration, and 7% for the two years thereafter (assuming January 2023 hits an index value of 300).

It’s ridiculous to see Biden & Co. celebrating terrible inflation data like this. Honestly, I’m stunned at the precision and consistency with which they cranked up the inflation rate. Almost seems deliberate.

Which would explain the celebration, I suppose.

On the Futility of Healthy Lifestyle Evangelism November 6, 2022

Posted by geoff in News.

I was struck with the futility of nutrition/exercise nagging counseling that was encountered in this study:

…133 teens with obesity and one who was overweight were treated with semaglutide, while 67 were given a placebo. Both groups, along with their parents and guardians, also received counseling on healthy nutrition and exercise.

In the placebo group, teens gained about 3 percent of their initial weight—about 5 pounds.

That’s consistent with my anecdotal experience, which has consistently followed the “Never try to teach a pig to sing…” aphorism. Unfortunately, a good deal of our collective energy is spent on browbeating people about nutrition and exercise.

What’s the better answer? I dunno (though this semaglutide had pretty good results).

But start by not annoying the pig.

Phobia Means Fear or Aversion, Not Hate November 6, 2022

Posted by geoff in News.

So we’ve been hearing the pejorative “transphobic” being used extensively over the past several years, and I’m fine with it, at least per the classical definition of “phobia.” I’ll admit that I have a phobia where trans people are concerned. Something about the mix of male and female features freaks me out at a very visceral level (I mentioned this some time ago in relation to Conchita Wurst).

I know there are trans folk who can “pass,” but in my experience they’re rare. The ones I see are easily identified, and I find them alien and unsettling (like, say, Rachel Levine).

So I would have hoped that transphobia would be treated with more empathy than it has received. I don’t particularly want to be transphobic, but it seems like it would take a lot to change that.

But that’s not the sort of effort the trans community wants to put in. They have, rather, adopted an aggressive strategy of “in-your-faceism” where they try to force you to acknowledge and accept them by parading through the media, the schools, and the streets. And that just aggravates the phobia.

So transphobic I am and it looks like transphobic I’ll always be. Until the trans community stops their campaign to traumatize and vilify transphobes and starts reaching out to them instead.

Real Real GDP November 2, 2022

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Ya ever wonder what the GDP would look like if it wasn’t propped up by deficit spending? I sure did, until I whipped up this chart.

Wonder no more:

Note that while the administration was very pleased with the latest BEA report saying the annualized GDP was increasing at 2.6% (no recession!), if you take out the huge amount of deficit spending in that quarter ($860 billion), the GDP actually declines.

Reflation November 1, 2022

Posted by geoff in News.

By the way, that 0% month-to-month inflation that Biden was crowing about 2 and half months ago? Well gee golly, after that two-month respite prices started climbing again:

Only 5% annualized from August to September, but a far cry from the days of 2% inflation.

All Members Please Rise October 31, 2022

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As they used to say on Archer: “Phrasing!”

This sorority accepted its first man into its ranks

University of Wyoming Kappa Kappa Gamma has become the first sorority at the university to accept a male member into its sisterhood.

I seriously doubt it was the first sorority to “accept a male member.” I’ll bet sororities are accepting male members all the time. Why even back in my day, a male member I was very attached to was nearly accepted at a sorority.

Quick Media Reviews October 3, 2022

Posted by geoff in News.

Watched some stuff. Here are brief impressions:

The Terminal List. This is the Amazon mini-series that critics panned but fans loved. Rotten Tomatoes has it at something like a 35% rating among critics and 95% among the hoi polloi. Amazon has it at 4.5 stars, but almost everything at Amazon is 4.5 stars. They’ve got box office failures from the 80s and 90s at 4.5 stars. Anyway, back to the show.

I binged it in one sitting. Entertaining, but all the non-linearity in the story-telling couldn’t make up for a very linear, pretty predictable, plot. I’d say 3.75 stars.

Everything Everywhere All at Once. I love Michelle Yeoh, but this movie is a pointless, puerile mess. The theme seems to be: “If only you older people were more woke and wimpy, everything would be nice.” Fight scenes were meh. Two stars.

Uncharted. Dan Brown meets Spiderboy. Silly plot contrivances, but pretty imaginative action scenes. Didn’t ever feel the chemistry between Wahlberg and Spiderkid. 3.25 stars.

Jungle Cruise. I like the actors individually, but they never gelled as an ensemble. Flat dialogue. 2.5 stars.

The Greatest Chord in the History of the World? October 2, 2022

Posted by geoff in News.

Back in 1972, Grammy Award-winning composer and conductor Claus Ogerman wrote a score for a ballet called Some Times. In 1977 he expanded the score into a jazz-classical album called Gate of Dreams. One of my favorite albums of all time, featuring George Benson, Michael Brecker, and David Sanborn.

The shortest piece on the album runs about two and a half minutes, and just past halfway in (1:19) it delivers my favorite chord on the planet.

You’re free to disagree and consign yourself to wallowing in wrongitude forevermore, but you’ve got to submit your own favorite chord in penance.

Got the Monkey Off Our Back October 1, 2022

Posted by geoff in News.

Monkeypox looked like it was going to be our next big health crisis, until this happened:

Chart Screencapped From the CDC

How did it get turned around?

Well, seems like everyone in charge finally got their heads out of their hineys and decided to acknowledge that this was really a problem of, by, and for, the gay community:

You don’t get that kind of disease split among genders if heterosexual transmission is a real player. And you don’t see it concentrated in the ages between 20 and 45 if it’s an airborne virus.

So, a survey by the CDC in the first half of August found that half of gay men had throttled back on their promiscuity, and ouila! Disease starts fading away.

What didn’t happen is the stigmatizing and consequent increase in violence toward, and harassment of, gay men. That’s supposedly the big fear that the health administration had, which prevented them from being frank from the outset.

How much suffering of the gay community could have been avoided had they been open and honest from the beginning?

Accepting Your Recession With Gratitude September 28, 2022

Posted by geoff in News.

There should be a special name for the sort of articles that try to find the silver lining in economic disasters under Democrat administrations. “Staycations” was one of the infamous ones. More recently we got to hear about how rampant inflation was actually a good thing.

And now we have the WaPo weighing in:

7 ways a recession could be good for you financially

I’m sure it will come as no surprise that the author’s reasons range from the ridiculous to the economically illiterate. But check them out for yourself:

  1. Housing prices may finally come down to reasonable levels.
  2. Savings rates are up.
  3. I bonds inflation rate might go even higher.
  4. The dollar is king.
  5. Unemployment is still relatively low.
  6. Your used car is worth more.
  7. Student loan forgiveness is coming.

Let’s take these one by one, shall we?

  1. Housing prices: This is known as a housing market crash, and is generally considered to be a bad thing. A very bad thing. It means hundreds of billions of dollars in lost equity for homeowners, people who are underwater on their mortgages, and increased loan defaults and bankruptcy declarations. Anybody remember how bad it got during the last recession? The WaPo apparently doesn’t.
  2. Savings Rates: She notes that interest rates on savings accounts are starting to go up. Nothing to do with a recession, and the interest rates are trailing inflation by 5 percentage points, but hey! Look at these rates! Of course, in a recession nobody has money to put away in savings, so, well, uh, let’s just move on.
  3. I Bonds Rates: What matters is not the rate, but the rate relative to inflation. People holding older I Bonds are not too happy at the moment, I’d imagine. But again, nothing to do with the recession, except to make this point moot because nobody in the middle or lower class is increasing their investments during hard times.
  4. Dollar as King: This counts on the recession in the US being less severe than the rest of the world. Maybe that will hold up – the author doesn’t give us any reason to believe that it will or won’t.
  5. Low Unemployment: One of the hallmarks of a recession is that at some point employers start shedding employees due to slow economic conditions. The author does note that unemployment may be on the rise, but assures us, “…if you’re worried about your job security or a recession, just cancel your vacation plans for 2023.” Easy peasy.
  6. Used Cars: This is probably the stupidest point, because right in the article they say, “Used car and truck prices jumped 7.8 percent, according to the latest data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Unfortunately, new car prices were up 10 percent from a year ago.”
  7. Student Loans: Nothing to do with a recession, and it’s only beneficial for a limited group.

The woman who wrote this article doesn’t seem to understand what a recession is, nor does she have the logical faculties to distinguish between a recession and our current economic circumstances.

And on top of it all, she doubled down on the “Staycation.”

Sad Decline in Elementary Students’ Test Scores September 25, 2022

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If you were wondering how the pandemic and the recent emphasis on critical race theory/non-binary genders is affecting core academic performance of elementary school students, wonder no further. Chalkbeat has a chart for you:

This data was for 9 year-olds (4th Grade). The assessments are on a scale of 0-500, by the way, indicating that we’re nowhere near peak academic performance.

Personally I haven’t seen the rise in math proficiency that they claim here – kids today seem feeble compared to kids in my youth. But presuming that the improvements are real, it’s sad to see them leveling off in 2008 and then declining from 2012 onward. The latter is presumably due to the pandemic (thanks, Fauci!), but the former is, I suspect, due to the lack of time and energy available for core subjects.