Tuesday, May 3, 2016

jimjustselling . . .


(Actually, I'm not, but the good folks at HenschelHAUS are. And they're now offering FREE SHIPPING IN THE CONTINENTAL U.S. 
https://henschelhausbooks.com/product/lol-i-gags/


The book is also available at:

CELEBRITY ENDORSEMENTS

What they're saying about Jim's provocative blog:
--"The one thing I didn't delete from my private server."--Hillary Clinton
--"He's from this country, Mexicans don't read him, so that's good enough for me."--Donald Trump
--"Jim is obviously making a name for himself--Mr. Irrelevant!"--Don Rickles
--"Jimaschizzle!"--Calvin Cordozar Broadus, Jr. (aka Snoop Dogg)
--"The one thing I DO read!"--Sarah Palin
--"The most fun you can have with your clothes on (but DO take a shower afterwards)."--Dick Cavett

POPCORN

By Jim Szantor

Rhetorical questions, questionable rhetoric and whimsical observations 
about the absurdities of contemporary life
  • Three things I don't pretend to understand:  Bitcoins, Snapchat and RSS feeds.  (Close behind:  Instagram, Buzzfeed and Prince, all due respect.)
  • Let's see if I've got this right:  Our government is dysfunctional, our Supreme Court is paralyzed, our infrastructure is crumbling, our climate concerns are largely ignored, yet the premier issue these days seems to be where the minuscule percentage of the population that is transgender can go to the bathroom.   Whatta country!
  • In other words, you could say that the body politic has become the shoddy politic.
  • "It’s useless to hold a person to anything he says while he’s in love, drunk, or running for office."--Shirley MacLaine
  • I had quite a few medical tests (colonoscopy, etc., etc.) performed lately and passed all of them "with flying colors," I was told.  Hmmm.  Red is a color,isn't it?  Flags fly, don't they?  But apparently there were none of those.
  • News you probably missed:   California nuts have become so lucrative that an organized band of thieves has stolen 31 shipments of almonds and pistachios worth $9 mil­lion, the Los Angeles Times reports.  "Nuts don’t have serial numbers," an insurance company executive said.  "The product is easy to move, and the evidence is consumed."
  • I think I've finally put my finger on what Hillary Clinton's clothing  reminds me of:  Indoor-outdoor carpeting!
  • Piling on:  Remember when people called Illinois native and former Arkansas resident Hillary Clinton a "carpetbagger" when she ran for the senate in New York?   Carpetbagger?  That's not what she was, that's what she wears! That's one look.  As for the other, who ever thought a tarpaulin would be a good fashion look?
  • Grisly courtroom action (or, bad writing/editing, Chicago Sun-Times, April 29): "Daisy Gutierrez, 21, pleaded guilty to dismembering a body before Judge William Hooks, according to Cook County court records."
  • jimjustsaying's edited version:  Daisy Gutierrez, 21, pleaded guilty before Judge William Hooks to dismembering a body, according to Cook County court records.
  • How much would Major League Baseball attendance decline if beer sales were outlawed?  25 percent?  50 percent?  I'mjustsayin'.
  • Speaking of sports:  This ever happen to you?  You turn on a game and don't recognize either of the teams?
  • Remember when your favorite baseball team had two uniforms:  White for home games and those "gray traveling uniforms," as announcers used to call them?   Now they've got 5 or 6 sets, from "throwback unis" to camouflage outfits (for all you veterans out there) to this and that and whatever.   You turn on a game and are a bit puzzled about who really is playing.  This being an election year, perhaps the World Series teams will be wearing  American Flags or something suitably patriotic.
  • And then there's April 15, when every player on every team wears No. 42 in honor of Jackie Robinson.   What they should have been wearing:  Number  9.2, to reflect the appallingly low actual percentage of black players on Opening Day rosters this season (69 out of 750, if you do the math).
  • "Most rock journalism is people who can’t write interviewing people who can’t talk for people who can’t read. "--Frank Zappa
  • jimjustsaying's As Seen on TV Product Name of the Week:  Angry-Mama microwave cleaner.  ($9.98)   ("Turn on the microwave and watch angry steam flow out of her head. . . .")
  • Radio News Redundancy of the Week:  "Violent extremists."  As in "Villagers in the town square were attacked by a group of violent extremists."   Um, aren't all extremists essentially violent?  As opposed to those placid, Milquetoasty extremists; you know, the kind who help little old ladies across the street and volunteer at the food pantry?  
  • jimjustsaying's Word That Should Exist But Doesn't of the Week:  "Oopzama":  The sudden scratching of the face or scalp upon realization that the person you were waving at isn't who you thought it was.--"More Sniglets," Rich Hall & Friends.
  • Seventy-first Wisconsin Town I Didn't Know Existed Until I Saw It Mentioned in a Green Bay Press-Gazette Obituary: North Chase, Wis.. (R.I.P., Gladys Saindon, Green Bay Press-Gazette obituary, Nov. 12, 2015).  Previous entries: Athelstane, Walhain, Duck Creek, Breed, Anston, Sobieski, Amberg, Osseo, Angelica, Brazeau, Waukechon, Sugar Camp, Kossuth, Lessor, Kunesh, Pulcifer, Cato, Florence, Greenleaf, Eaton, Poygan, Hofa Park, Hilbert, Hollandtown, Beaufort, Glennie, Harshaw, Bessemer, Crooked Lake, Tigerton, Goodman, Readstown, Dousman, Butternut, Montpelier, Cecil, Red River, Gillet, King, Laona, Kelly Lake, Glenmore, Tonet, Stiles, Morrison, Dunbar, Askeaton, Wild Rose. Neopit, Ellisville, Pickett, Flintville,  Forest Junction, Thiry Daems, Black Creek,  Mountain, Ledgeview, Lunds, Suring, Lakewood, Beaver, Cloverleaf Lakes, Krakow,  Pella, Townsend, Vandenbroek, Coleman,  Spruce, Armstrong Creek and Lake Gogebic.
  • Newspaper Obituary Headline Nickname of the Month:  Big Papa.  As in Shaun "Big Papa" Hurning,  Green Bay Press-Gazette, April 5, 2016.  R.I.P., Mr. Hurning .
  • Old sayings that have  passed their expiration dates:  “I’ll be a monkey’s uncle!”  "Don’t take any wooden nickels."  "A penny for your thoughts."
  • jimjustsaying's Party Ice-Breaker of the Week:  "Say [actual partygoer's name here], did you know that it takes 63,000 people to operate Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport?  That includes airline, ground transportation, concessionaire, security, federal government, city and airport tenant employees."  (On duty are two art department coordinators, a full-time wildlife biologist, engineers for the airport's Plane Train and Sky Train and a mobile medical response team that includes EMTs who jump on bicycles to cut down on the time it takes to respond to a medical emergency.)  
  • I consider myself the poor man's Joe Piscopo.  My best impression is Frank Sinatra Jr!
  • Today's Latin Lesson:  Nihil hic, mi placet moveri. ("Nothing to see here, folks, please move along.")

THE QUOTE RACK

Why we’re stuck with the Saudis
Saudi Arabia and the U.S.  are trapped in a bad marriage.  The broken state of the relationship was vividly illustrated [recently] when President Obama arrived in Riyadh for a state visit and was snubbed by King Salman, who sent a lower-level official to greet him at the airport.  Obama claimed he and Salman had a frank discussion about their differences, but the reality is that our countries have different values and our once common interests are diverging.  Saudi Arabia is an authoritarian regime that exports  a fundamentalist Wahhabist ideology that demonizes Shiites, Jews, Christians, and the West.   There is evidence that some of its officials may have provided support to the 9/11 hijackers, and relatives of 9/11 victims are now pressing for the right to sue the kingdom.
But as bad as things are, the U.S.-Saudi relationship "is too big to fail." The Saudis still need our military support, and Washington still needs the Saudis for intelligence sharing and operations against ISIS and al Qaida affiliates. The collapse of their regime would cause unthinkable chaos that terrorists would surely exploit. So both sides have no choice but to manage this unhappy marriage.   Neither divorce nor reconciliation is likely.
--Aaron David Miller, CNN.com

A presidency without a honeymoon
Whoever is elected president this year"should expect a miserable honeymoon.  The two front-runners, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, have horrible approval ratings. In the history of presidential polling, says Pew Research’s chief pollster,  we’ve never seen numbers like this before.  So in a "pre-polarized" nation, the winner of this election is unlikely to enjoy the traditional "honeymoon"—a period of bipartisan popularity that lasts a year or so after the inauguration, during which the newly elected president can get a lot done.

It may be hard to believe today, but Barack Obama moved into the White House with a 68 percent approval rating, while George W. Bush had a 63 percent rating.  Clinton or Trump will enjoy no such wave of affection.  The losing party, meanwhile, will undoubtedly follow the game plan the Republicans used in 2009—actively trying to block virtually all of the new president’s legislative proposals.  Most Americans say they want Congress and the president to work together and get something done.  But after the election, the central political frustration of our time—polarization and paralysis—is likely to continue.
--Doyle McManus, Los Angeles Times

The price of blocking Obama
Memo to Republicans "biting your nails" over the possibility Donald Trump will become the party’s presidential nominee:  You brought it on yourselves.  Trump’s following largely consists of struggling working-class and middle-class Americans who feel abandoned by both parties.  But President Obama made numerous attempts to provide jobs and assistance to people hurt by globalization and automation—and congressional Republicans killed nearly all of them.  Obama’s $447 billion American Jobs Act, proposed in 2011, would have employed more than 1 million people to rebuild the nation’s crumbling roads and bridges, and also included payroll tax cuts to stimulate job growth.  That legislation, which would have been fully funded by higher taxes on the wealthy and some corporations, was "dead virtually upon its arrival on Capitol Hill." Obama also proposed larger tax credits for child care and wage insurance, which would helped laid-off workers forced to take lower-paying jobs.  The GOP spitefully blocked all those measures, too,  to deny this president an economic victory.  Washington’s paralysis convinced millions of Americans that no one in government cares about them.  The GOP’s reward? Trumpism.
--Steven Rattner, New York Times

Obama’s hypocrisy on the media
The last person in the world who should be lecturing journalists on how to do journalism is Barack Obama .  At a journalism awards ceremony last week, the president scolded the media for giving Donald Trump far too much attention, and for helping to create a sensationalist and polarized atmosphere.  But throughout his seven years in office, Obama has shown no interest in letting reporters do their jobs.  His administration has set a new record for denying Freedom of Information requests, and cracked down on leaks and whistleblowers with his "Insider Threat Program" and actual prosecutions.  He holds very few news conferences, preferring to use Twitter and videos to bypass the media.

White House reporters say that Obama "hates the press," and that his aides harass and intimidate journalists who seek information the administration considers unflattering.  Former Washington Post executive editor Leonard Downie Jr. recently wrote that the Obama administration’s efforts "to control information are the most aggressive I’ve seen since the Nixon administration."  So what business does Obama have handing out an award for dogged political reporting? "Was Trump himself busy that night?
--Jack Shafer, Politico

Should we teach creativity?
The Americans have mastered the art of propaganda as entertainment.  Their films and TV shows tell compelling stories while "embedding certain themes in the minds of the audience." Just look at the hit Disney film Zootopia, about a cartoon rabbit named Judy who overcomes discrimination to become a police officer and expose corruption. The plot is "a retelling of the American dream."  While enjoying Zootopia, "the audience in some sense also tacitly accepts American beliefs."

How have Americans become so adept at using "mass media to spread their core values"?  Simple: They teach narrative structure and storytelling techniques starting in early childhood.  Preschool and elementary schools "place enormous emphasis on the cultivation of creativity and imagination."  Textbooks for young children are filled with pictures, and each lesson encourages readers to think about how the story was told and to imagine alternate endings.  It’s a stark contrast to the rote memorization that still dominates much of Chinese early education.  The difference in teaching techniques could explain why Chinese cultural products don’t sell the way American ones do.  China must produce writers who can easily blend a thesis with a compelling narrative. " And learning that skill is best done as the Americans have always done it: from infancy.
--Qi Qian, Huanqiu

A liberal case for fracking
This may come as a shock, but you can be a liberal and still support fracking.   Judging from current progressive rhetoric, one might assume fracking is an environmental horror benefiting only the petroleum industry. But the gas extraction method—formally known as hydraulic fracturing—has advanced causes "dear to most liberals’ hearts." Fracking has curtailed America’s reliance on coal and allowed the nation "to lead the world in carbon-emissions reduction." It has also helped lower oil and gas prices, which primarily benefits the poor and middle classes, and it takes hundreds of billions of dollars from authoritarian petrostates like Russia and Iran that represent "everything liberals hate."

Fracking opponents warn of accidents, but the Environmental Protection Agency has found little impact on drinking water. True, "fracking has extended the era of cheap fossil fuels," but a ban on the procedure won’t "lead to a world suddenly powered by the wind and the sun." A fracking ban would, however, "immediately increase the use of coal," which would send carbon emissions soaring again. "You don’t have to support fracking to be a liberal. But you are not a shill for the fossil fuel industry if you do.
--Gary Sernovitz, New York Times

Still no GOP alternative to Obamacare . . .
That Republican alternative to Obamacare?  It will come along any day now.   House Speaker Paul Ryan said [recently] that if the Republican nominee for president doesn’t propose a detailed Obamacare replacement, he "intends to do so."  This is a continuation of six years of promises by Ryan and other Republicans to unveil a wonderful health-care plan far superior to Obamacare.  But it never happens.  That’s because "it is impossible to design a health-care plan that is both consistent with conservative ideology and acceptable to the broader public." Conservatives don’t want to spend taxpayer money to cover people who are poor or have pre-existing conditions.  They don’t want to regulate the insurance industry or require everyone to have insurance.  What they’d like is to let insurers sell the poor very skimpy, cheap plans that cover nothing but catastrophic care and to junk the whole current system of employer-provided insurance by giving all Americans a tax credit we can use to buy our own insurance.  But it would be "politically disastrous" to wreck employer-provided insurance and/or remove coverage from the millions of people insured through Obamacare.  So the long-promised Republican alternative will keep receding into the future.
--Jonathan Chait, NYMag.com

 . . . amid signs of trouble
During the health-care debate of 2009 and 2010, conservatives screamed a simple fact from the rooftops:  "Obamacare will not work."  Now those warnings are coming to fruition.  The nation’s largest health-care insurer, United​Healthcare, [recently] announced it is leaving most of the 34 states in which it offers plans on the Affordable Care Act’s public exchanges—citing the $650 million it is projected to lose on those exchanges in 2016.  It’s not just UnitedHealthcare, said Marc Thiessen in WashingtonPost.com.  "Commercial insurers across the country are hemorrhaging money on Obamacare at alarming rates."  The average new Obamacare enrollee has medical costs 22 percent higher than previous customers, according to a Blue Cross study. To offset those costs, several insurers have threatened to either hike premiums or leave the marketplaces altogether.  Just a few years in, President Obama’s signature health-care policy "has begun unraveling.
--Washington Examiner editorial

Accountants have nothing to fear
"Almost everyone agrees that America’s income tax is too complex.   But despite some political rhetoric about simplifying it, the chances that the next president—whoever it is—will make major changes in the tax code are "negligible."  That’s a shame, because if we were to eliminate some costly, cumbersome tax deductions, we could cut the top personal rate from 43.4 percent to 30 and eliminate the preferential rate on capital gains and carried interest—and still raise as much revenue as we do now.  The deductions that should go include the exclusion from taxable income of the value of employer-paid health insurance, which costs the government $211 billion a year; mortgage interest ($62 billion); state and local taxes ($84 billion); and charitable contributions ($54 billion).  These loopholes mostly benefit the upper middle class and the wealthy, and getting rid of them while lowering tax rates would produce a system that’s "a vast improvement" over the current one—"simpler, fairer, and more efficient."  But all of these deductions have major constituencies, and neither Democrats nor Republicans have the courage to stand up to them.  So "accountants’ and tax lawyers’ jobs are safe," and our tax code will remain "hideously complex.
--Robert Samuelson, Washington Post

Committing a crime isn’t journalism
What were these so-called journalists thinking as they filmed the kidnapping of two children? You can’t blame Sally Faulkner, an Australian woman who was helpless to regain her kids after her Lebanese ex-husband refused to return them from a trip to Lebanon.  But you can certainly blame the Australian TV show 60 Minutes—not connected to the CBS news program of the same name—which allegedly hired a mercenary "child-rescue specialist" and arranged for armed men to snatch the kids, ages 6 and 4, from Beirut as they were waiting at a bus stop with their grandmother.  

The actions of a desperate mother are one thing; the extraordinary lapse in judgment and ethics of a crew of seasoned journalists is another entirely. Lebanese police quickly found the safe house where Faulkner had been reunited with her children, and now she and four 60 Minutes staffers are under arrest. The whole episode reeks of white privilege.   The journalists thought they were the good guys.  But what if a Lebanese TV crew had come to Australia to grab the children on behalf of their Lebanese dad?  It would have been met with an indignant fury so all-encompassing  that the entire Lebanese community would have suffered for it.  Aussies would shriek, "How dare they come to our country and kidnap our children?"  Just like the Lebanese are now.
--Ruby Hamad, The Age

THE LINK TANK

Is Trump an ideal opponent for Dems?
Ted Cruz, a fabulist and modern-day McCarthy, isn't as dangerous as The Donald
http://link.washingtonpost.com/click/6519420.46738/aHR0cHM6Ly93d3cud2FzaGluZ3RvbnBvc3QuY29tL29waW5pb25zL21hbnktZGVtb2NyYXRzLXdhbnQtdG8tZmFjZS10cnVtcC1pbi1ub3ZlbWJlci10aGV5cmUtd3JvbmcvMjAxNi8wNC8xNS80ZWVhZTNmMi0wMzBhLTExZTYtOTIwMy03Yjg2NzA5NTliODhfc3RvcnkuaHRtbD93cG1tPTEmd3Bpc3JjPW5sX29waW5pb25z/5483c2293b35d0de428f8e75Cd0957131

The moment when 2016 hits you
A 'wave of sadness' feeling affects many Americans
http://www.wsj.com/articles/that-moment-when-2016-hits-you-1461281849

Concept creep
Such things as abuse, bullying, trauma,  addiction and prejudice now encompass a much broader range of phenomena than before
http://email.getpocket.com/wf/click?upn=taBGH0n3p5fmoPVsUKbIpxb9RfvHoW-2FtkJGZrO1NW1TKtCaWUJis-2FxGdDikOaWMv_9ZyRSJ7t5vLWDz9s9BghT5rID2GvbfI2V1W2SL6X-2B6wh9jTqBO7NRDnuvX4jiAaJ4LGNEzOzQ1D-2F6HCwE9hrWc0bYZvID-2BJUgsa-2BD7-2BLcK-2BtR7BEOQeKoIDLaHriH9CGhIzv7snEO305xb-2B6DdSPg8kYXyRdNFTnxcgApRbu3fQxbJU0cZvPhbDK3Dog5vhdefutbcumbgllogZubZrzLuAEsJdy6Cr-2B2RoRk1Aj-2B1CrLiNi7BzVgQY-2FEJJcmsTZTKv0u1nG9-2Bm-2FXxFNX2ECZtNJOeEAd1wz3gELYdwJAWHO537c-2Ft2OSuBtdCQmfsnj

Having a bad week?  Tips for turning things around
How we think about random misfortunes may influence our coping skills
http://www.wsj.com/articles/having-a-bad-week-tricks-for-turning-it-around-1461690636 

5 reasons marijuana is not medicine
Hasty rescheduling could do harm than good
http://link.washingtonpost.com/click/6618331.38866/aHR0cHM6Ly93d3cud2FzaGluZ3RvbnBvc3QuY29tL25ld3MvaW4tdGhlb3J5L3dwLzIwMTYvMDQvMjkvNS1yZWFzb25zLW1hcmlqdWFuYS1pcy1ub3QtbWVkaWNpbmUvP3dwbW09MSZ3cGlzcmM9bmxfcG9wbnM/5483c2293b35d0de428f8e75B8bcfb4ce

Dear Laptop: Please say that in English
Wouldn’t it be nice if companies respected customers enough to explain what they’re saying?
http://www.wsj.com/articles/dear-laptop-please-say-that-in-english-1461940430

LAGNIAPPE

Are polls really less accurate?
There’s no doubt about it.  In recent years, polls have been egregiously wrong in several high-profile elections.  In the months before the 2012 presidential election, an average of leading polls showed a virtual tie between Obama and Mitt Romney, and some--notably Gallup--predicted a narrow Romney victory. Instead, the president easily won re-election, by 5 million votes and a 51.1 percent to 47.2 percent margin.  Pollsters vastly underestimated a Republican wave in the 2014 midterms, and had an epic fail in the Michigan Democratic primary, with the poll average predicting Hillary Clinton would crush Bernie Sanders by 21 points.   When Sanders upset Clinton by 1.5 percent, polling aggregator Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight.com--who had given the Vermont senator just a 1 percent chance of winning--deemed it "among the greatest polling errors in primary history.”  And it’s not just an American problem.  Pollsters totally misread the 2014 referendum on Scottish independence, which was resoundingly rejected, and missed decisive victories last year for Britain’s Conservatives and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party.

What’s gone wrong with polls?
Pollsters primarily blame recent failures on two factors: "the growth of cellphones and the decline in people willing to answer surveys,” says political scientist Cliff Zukin, former president of the American Association for Public Opinion Research.  Ten years ago, about 6 percent of Americans relied primarily on cellphones; by 2014 that figure had jumped to 60 percent.  That caused problems for opinion researchers, who typically polled by making automated "robocalls” to random landline exchanges and then, when people picked up, passing them to a live interviewer.  "To complete a 1,000-person survey, it’s not unusual to have to dial more than 20,000 random numbers,” Zukin says.  Federal law, however, prohibits autodialing cellphones--which means paid interviewers have to make calls manually, which can be prohibitively time-consuming and expensive. As a result, some organizations make compromises, such as leaning too heavily on landline surveys, which can skew results.

Population oversights
The poll can end up ignoring large segments of the population. "Guess who answers the [landline] phone now? It’s all people over 50," says Republican pollster Bill McInturff, who helps conduct the NBC News/Wall Street Journal survey.  That can make for a more affluent and conservative sampling.  In addition to overlooking younger voters, landline polling also gives short shrift to minorities and the poor, sectors most likely to rely on cellphones. Under-representing those groups, McInturff explains, "means you are systematically under-counting Democrats." Since people take their cellphone numbers with them when they move, it’s also harder to use area codes to target specific regions. One of the ways pollsters try to compensate for these problems is by "weighting" their results.

What’s weighting?
If a polling sample includes 3 percent African-Americans, but African-Americans account for 12 percent of the population, the pollster will "weight" the preferences of the black respondents four times as much. "The goal is noble," says pollster Jeanne Zaino, but weighting "is fraught with challenges and uncertainties.  How do we know if the African-Americans sampled represent the views and attitudes of all African-Americans?"  Besides race, polls also weight by party, cellphone use, gender, and other factors--but the formula for doing so varies from pollster to pollster, and is subject to error and partisan bias. Rasmussen Reports, for example, is known to skew Republican, while Public Policy Polling (PPP) leans Democratic.  Weighting can lead to another phenomenon that affects polling firms’ accuracy: "herding." If most polls show a candidate with a 10-point lead, and Poll X finds that the race is much closer, Poll X often finds an excuse to cook its numbers to avoid being an outlier.  And no matter how polls are weighted, they really can’t compensate for declining response rates.

How far have those rates fallen?
A lot. "In the late 1970s, we considered an 80 percent response rate acceptable," says Zukin. "By 2014, the response rate had fallen to 8 percent."  For more than a century, people answered their landline phones faithfully, but they’ve grown much warier. "Telemarketing poisoned the well," says Charles Franklin, director of the Marquette University survey. Scott Keeter, who runs the respected Pew Research poll, says people can now use voice mail and caller ID to ignore calls from unknown numbers.  Online polls are becoming more prevalent, but since they’re voluntary, people who choose to answer them may be unusually ideological, skewing the results.

Is there hope for polling?
The most accurate technique appears to be the kind of poll averaging conducted by RealClearPolitics.com and Silver’s FiveThirtyEight.com.  Silver weights polls according to historical accuracy and factors in demographics and other data to create election models. Despite his miss in Michigan this year, he’s scored spectacular successes, correctly calling the outcomes of 49 states during the 2008 presidential election and a perfect 50 in 2012.  Still, as Sean Trende, senior elections analyst for RealClearPolitics​.com, points out, even these data-savvy methods can fail if they’re based on flawed samplings of voters. "Electoral modelers have a nerdy little secret," he says. "We aren’t oracles."

Gallup’s missed call in 2012
Mitt Romney was so sure he would be elected the nation’s 45th president in 2012 that he ordered a fireworks display to be unleashed over Boston Harbor the moment he notched his 270th electoral vote.  Internal surveys gave him a consistent lead over President Obama, and so did several outside pollsters, including venerable Gallup.  But skies over Boston remained dark that Election Night, as Obama cruised to a second term.  What went wrong?  Gallup’s post-mortem found it had misidentified likely voters, under-counted Democratic-leaning regions, over-counted whites,  and when calling landlines dialed only listed numbers, which skewed older and Republican.  Gallup has tweaked its model for 2016.  "When the next presidential election rolls around," promises Gallup’s Frank Newport, "we think we’ll certainly be in a position to be at the accurate end of the spectrum."
--The Week

Saturday, April 2, 2016

POPCORN

By Jim Szantor

Rhetorical questions, questionable rhetoric and whimsical observations 
about the absurdities of contemporary life
  • You can tell it's spring in Northern Wisconsin when you see 2 inches of snow on the bags of fertilizer and potting soil in the newly reopened outdoor garden center at Wal-Mart.
  • Many experts predict this is the year the Cubs will finally win the World Series.  But longtime, long-suffering fans are still skeptical.  They think a Cubs title is as likely as . . . well . . . as Donald Trump being named Grand Marshall of the Cinco de Mayo parade in Guadalajara.
  • You're an old-timer if you remember pop machines with bottles, wooden ice-cream spoons and pay toilets. 
  • I'd pay a princely sum to see Larry King, Rush Limbaugh or Hillary Clinton on "Dancing With the Stars."
  • jimjustsaying's  Party Ice-Breaker of the Week:  "Say [actual partygoer's name here], did you know that Sweden is so efficient that only 1 % of its garbage ends up in landfills?"
  • It's Not Only A Dirty Job But Also A Dangerous Job (But Somebody's Got To Do It) Department:  With 33 fatalities per 100,000 employees a year, sanitation work is one of the America's deadliest jobs--two to three times as dangerous as being a police office and seven times as dangerous firefighting, Mental Floss magazine reports.
  • Book Rave of the Month:  "Andy Warhol Was a Hoarder," by Gloria Kolb (National Geographic, $24).  (Who knew?)
  • Shouldn't e-mail really be d-mail, as in digital?  Or c-mail, as in computer? After all, what isn't electronic these days?  
  • Ever wonder why computer models have such strange, alphabet-soup-sounding names?  It's no accident, according to PC World.  Complex names (such as 5097B-15iJ Laptop) make it almost impossible to demand that Big Box Store A match the sale price at Big Box Store B  and also makes online price comparisons virtually impossible.
  • Faded Phrases:  "Don’t touch that dial," "Give me a carbon copy," and "You sound like a broken record." 
  • Magazine renewal notices that say "Last Chance" really mean that there are five more coming.  Maybe more.
  • Ever wonder why some Red Lobsters aren't participating in whatever it is the rest of the Red Lobsters are participating in?
  • Lamest sportscaster saying (or, one of them, there are so, so many):  "He really came to play!"
  • Great!  Here all along I thought he planned to spend his day or night at the mall or the casino but he decided to come to the park after all."  I guess $10 million  or more is no longer sufficient motivation for putting forth an effort.
  • "Who discovered we could get milk from cows, and what did he think he was doing at the time?"-- Comedian Billy Connolly, quoted in The Daily Telegraph (U.K.)
  • jimjustsaying's Media Word of the Week (a word you see in news or magazine articles but never hear an actual person use in real life):  gambit.
  • One of my main problems with HLN, specifically the "Nancy Grace" and "Dr. Drew " programs: They’re decent half-hour shows that are unfortunately padded out to an hour each! So-so segments go on and on and on, with repetitious clips and commentary.
  • "When the cost of action and the cost of inaction both feel unaffordable, you have a wicked problem."--Thomas L. Friedman of the New York Times on the geopolitical dilemma facing the U.S.
  • I shudder to think of how much stuff that I (and, in reality, all of us) threw away before recycling came along.  
  • What's wrong with this picture?  Women wear makeup and shave their legs and underarms and then tell their husbands or boyfriends to "get real."
  • I keep reading and hearing more and more about celebrity chefs.  So far no celebrity servers, celebrity busboys  or celebrity bartenders.  That's coming.   
  • Overheard: "I love asking kids what they want to be when they grow up because I am still looking for ideas."
  • Seventieth Wisconsin Town I Didn't Know Existed Until I Saw It Mentioned in a Green Bay Press-Gazette Obituary: Lake Gogebic, Wis.. (R.I.P., David L. Van Dansel, Green Bay Press-Gazette obituary, Oct. 25, 2015).  Previous entries: Athelstane, Walhain, Duck Creek, Breed, Anston, Sobieski, Amberg, Osseo, Angelica, Brazeau, Waukechon, Sugar Camp, Kossuth, Lessor, Kunesh, Pulcifer, Cato, Florence, Greenleaf, Eaton, Poygan, Hofa Park, Hilbert, Hollandtown, Beaufort, Glennie, Harshaw, Bessemer, Crooked Lake, Tigerton, Goodman, Readstown, Dousman, Butternut, Montpelier, Cecil, Red River, Gillet, King, Laona, Kelly Lake, Glenmore, Tonet, Stiles, Morrison, Dunbar, Askeaton, Wild Rose. Neopit, Ellisville, Pickett, Flintville,  Forest Junction, Thiry Daems, Black Creek,  Mountain, Ledgeview, Lunds, Suring, Lakewood, Beaver, Cloverleaf Lakes, Krakow,  Pella, Townsend, Vandenbroek, Coleman,  Spruce and Armstrong Creek.
  • Why do stores with double entry doors almost always have one of them locked?
  • jimjustsaying's Word of The Week That Doesn't Exist But Should: Telecrastination:  n. The act of always letting the phone ring at least twice before you pick it up, even when you're only six inches away.  (From "Sniglets," Rich Hall & Friends).
  • Newspaper Obituary Headline Nickname of the Month:  Yuma.  As in Robert "Yuma" Thomas, Green Bay Press-Gazette, March 8, 2016.  R.I.P., Mr. Thomas.
  • Today's Latin Lesson: Is dico may exsisto recorded pro palaestra voluntas.   ("This call may be recorded for training purposes.")