Tales of the Sausage Factory

How Fox News Killed The Bradley Effect

Pundits and talking heads have debated the Bradley Effect (or, as we locals call it, the Wilder Effect) and whether Obama’s current lead in the polls represents false positive. Even before Obama, there existed considerable evidence that the Bradley Effect was fading. Having canvassed this weekend in VA, I have concluded that it has pretty much vanished.

Why? Because conservative talk radio and Fox News have given voters the tools they need to say things that might sound racist, but don’t really make you a racist for saying them. Whatever one may think of this as an argument, it has had the enormous benefit of eliminating the polling problems associated with the embarrassment of being mistaken for a racist when you are simply saying things that only sound racist.

More below . . .

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Posted in General, Tales of the Sausage Factory | Also tagged , , , , , , , | 4 Comments (Comments closed)

Econoklastic

Esurance Assumes We're Stupid

Maybe I’m just a grumpy old economist, but I was struck just how misleading a recent commercial from the Esurance auto insurance company is.

It suggests that there are real savings, economically and ecologically, associated with the fact that Esurance provides only online proof of insurance cards. Since states still require you to have a paper proof of insurance in your car, all this amounts to is transfer of the transaction costs associated with printing a paper proof of insurance from Esurance to the customer. That’s hardly a savings to the customer.

What’s worse is that the claimed ecological savings is complete bunkum. If Esurance provided the paper proof of insurance, it could ensure ecological benefits by a corporate policy of printing them only on recycled stock. By forcing the customer to print it, Esurance virtually guarantees that only customers who assume the transaction costs of obtaining recycled stock to use with their own printers provide the promised ecological savings. Esurance’s policy virtually guarantees that the vast majority of its paper proofs of insurance will benefit the environment not a whit.

Just for the misleading economic and ecological claims I’d be inclined to give Esurance a thumbs down, but the assumption that people are too stupid to think this nonsense through really seals the deal.

Posted in Econoklastic, General | Also tagged | 2 Comments (Comments closed)

My Thoughts Exactly

Correction: Matt Drudge is not a Pedophile! Sorry for the Confusion!

According to this “developing” story, it may be even worse than you think. Shocking, but hardly surprising.

UPDATE: Well, it looks like Kos has taken down the story. Matt Drudge’s reputation, such as it is, will carry on another day, safe from snarky satire on DailyKos. For any who are curious, the linked to story was a satirical piece like you might see in The Onion that used Drudge Report-style innuendo and unsourced quotes to hint that a big story was about to break that would implicate Drudge in sleaze. At no point did it say that Drudge had been caught with child porn; rather it used weasel-wording like “sources say that Drudge will be caught with. . .” etc. This is a technique that Drudge has perfected for sliming Democrats, liberals and progressives, and the corporate media frequently runs with whatever nonsense he promotes. I thought it would be fun to give him a little taste of his own medicine (although a very small dose. Tens of mllions of people get news from Drudge directly or indirectly; Wetmachine’s readership is a tad smaller.) It was intended to be obvious satire, although at least one Wetmachine reader (see comments) didn’t realize that I knew what I was doing. And actually, it *was* fun.

UPDATE April 4

Reader JG makes a good point in the comments, that is, and I quote: “Spreading lies about someone in order to damage their character is wrong.” So, we agree upon that, and accordingly I’ve edited the headline of this story to reflect all that is currently publicly known about Matt Drudge’s possible pedophillic predilictions. I have no reason at all to suspect that Matt Drudge is a pedophile. So we’re clear on that. I was just “making shit up,” in the Matt Drudge way. (Although, in homage to Drudge, I have let stand the innuendo of the “all that that is currently publicly known” bit. Here, obviously, I’m merely demonstrating the technique of innuendo, the hinting without saying, of something nasty.) Now, when we get to the point we JG realizes that “spreading lies about someone in order to damage their character” is Matt Drudge’s stock in trade, a regular part of what he does for a living, when JG will admit that innuendo is a regular part of Drudge’s schtick, then we’ll be getting somewhere.

And one final update (April 4): Please note that *I* never said Matt Drudge was a pedophile. I certainly implied it, which was the point. My original headline was Matt Drudge, Pedophile. That sentence [] no verb. It’s just a list. If I had a headline “Octopus, banana” would it mean that I was asserting that an octopus was a banana? No, of course not. I do admit that when a noun follows a proper name set off by a comma, it’s usually an instance of apposition, and the verb is implied. However, if one wanted to be weasely, one could deny that any implication had been intended. These are the rhetorical tricks and techniques of slimeball “journalism,” of which Drudge is an exemplar.

Posted in infotainment, My Thoughts Exactly | Also tagged , | 8 Comments (Comments closed)

Inventing the Future

Google

I’ve heard people wonder about what sort of artificial intelligence or biological system is involved in google. Web searches are really quite mechanical. Here’s an overview of what really goes on within Google.

(If you like this sort of thing, see my backgrounder on Baysian Filtering of Spam.

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Posted in Inventing the Future | Also tagged , , | Comments closed
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