Saturday, July 30, 2016

Mindless media hype

Who watched the TV broadcasts of the Republican and Democratic conventions?

The short answer is: not too many people

More than 85% of adults in America didn’t bother to watch either of the nominees giving the big acceptance speech.

Fox News had the biggest average audience for all eight nights of the Republican and Democratic conventions—but, hold on, only 1.8% of adults were watching Fox on a given night.

Possibly we’re having the most emotionally charged presidential election of all time—Tom Jefferson and Andy Jackson and Teddy Roosevelt didn’t have television to deal with. It’s scarcely credible, but nevertheless, most Americans didn’t give a hoot about watching those big speeches. Obviously, most Americans didn’t learn anything much from them.

For the seeming endless hours of convention coverage by the broadcast and cable channels, much of the time only a tiny minority of Americans was watching, regardless of the pompous blather of Wolf and Rachel and Megyn and all the others.

While I’m on this topic, I’ll give a thumbs down to, which blasted this headline on its website yesterday: “Trump tops Clinton on speech ratings” and to TheHill writer Joe Concha, who started his story with “Donald Trump has defeated Hillary Clinton…” The underlying details tell a much less provocative story.

Here’s the detail: Trump had a reported audience of 34.9 million people, and Clinton’s audience was 33.3 million. The audience ratings are reported from a survey sample of about 5,000 viewers. I have long experience in the design of surveys, and I feel real comfortable guessing that the margin of error in this audience report makes it ludicrous to say one candidate “tops” another, or one candidate “has defeated” another. The viewing audience for Trump and Clinton was close to being the same, probably no significant difference between them.

In their convention coverage, the media generally didn’t take any opportunity to minimize the hype or the preposterous emphasis on discord.

Copyright © Richard Carl Subber 2016 All rights reserved.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

A few words about the convention coverage

Media coverage of the two political conventions has been:


Hyped beyond recognition

Disdainful of sensible public interest

I’m not getting my hopes up for the campaign coverage.

Copyright © Richard Carl Subber 2016 All rights reserved.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Another look at some Bernie supporters

Just a reminder to Bernie Sanders supporters:
Your guy didn’t win the nomination.
Get over it.
The only respectable thing to do right now is support Hillary Clinton and make sure that she—and not Donald Trump—is the next president of the United States.

A disputatious few of Bernie’s revolutionary army have repeatedly stoked up the Democratic Convention without any apparent sensible purpose. Their guy has ostentatiously asked his supporters and delegates to get behind Clinton. How come these raucous few delegates aren’t paying any attention to him now?

The Pew Research Center says that 90 percent of Sanders supporters have transferred their political support to Clinton.

Anecdotally, it seems that a couple hundred Sanders delegates, mostly from two states, have been beating the drums at the convention, saying over and over again that they want Sanders to be the nominee. 

What’s the point? Anyway, it isn’t news, so why are the media endlessly and uncritically reporting it?

One wonders if some of these delegates are saying out loud that they feel the Bern, while privately they are simply Hillary haters wearing Sanders hats.

Copyright © Richard Carl Subber 2016 All rights reserved.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Another outlook on the presidential election

The media continue to make a mockery of campaign coverage by highlighting the outlier events and the most lopsided poll results, as they try to crank up the noise level every day in their reporting.

The New York Times (among others) to the rescue!

Check out this NYT website:  The Upshot

Of course it’s simplistic in reducing the cosmic range of possibilities to a single ratio. On the other hand, it’s a sincere mashup of many polls, so-called expert opinion and the online political betting markets that allow anyone to bet actual money on the election outcome (these betting sites have been more or less accurate predictors in the past).

It’s way better than the outlandish poll result of the moment that gets all the air time in the media.

By the way, The Upshot is pegging the election for Clinton as of today.

That doesn’t mean you don’t have to vote.

If you don’t vote on November 8, you’re going to let everybody else pick the next president of the United States.

Copyright © Richard Carl Subber 2016 All rights reserved.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Need a barf bag?

Let’s just get this over with.

Last week Fox News fired CEO Roger Ailes because he’s been sued for predatory sexual harassment, and about a dozen women (so far) have revealed that they were victims of his disgusting behavior over a long period of time.

Good for Fox News. Executives said, among other things, that Ailes’ “loutish” behavior would not be tolerated. They could have said “criminal loutish” behavior and I would have been happier, but let’s move on….

Pursuant to the terms of Ailes’ contract (it was due to expire in 2018), he’s going to get a $40 million payoff for cleaning off his desk and taking a hike.

The directors of Fox News screwed the shareholders and insulted almost every Fox News employee when they approved that contract.

Hand me a bag, quick….

Copyright © Richard Carl Subber 2016 All rights reserved.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Blame the men!

As you know, it wasn’t always true in the United States that women were “permitted” to vote.

In 1889, legislators in the Wyoming territory approved a constitution establishing the right of women to vote. Wyoming became the national pioneer in legalizing women’s suffrage in 1890 when it was admitted to the union as the 44th state. (As territories, Wyoming and a couple others allowed women to vote as early as 1869).

The Isle of Man in the Irish Sea gave women who owned property the right to vote in 1881. In 1893 New Zealand became the first country to establish national women’s suffrage.

In America, women were unable to vote in most eastern states until August 18, 1920, when the 19th Amendment to the Constitution was ratified.

So, when you’re thinking about U. S. history, keep in mind that men get all the credit—and all the blame—for the actions of the colonies and the national government for the first three hundred years or so.

Copyright © Richard Carl Subber 2016 All rights reserved.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Secret voting wasn’t always the way

The voting booth with a curtain is not an early American icon.

In the earliest post-Revolutionary elections, it was fairly typical for the local sheriff to run the actual voting process: each voter showed up at the local courthouse (or shady tree in town, or whatever), walked up to the table and loudly announced his own name and the names of the candidates he wanted to vote for.

The candidates and their supporters would be standing nearby, cheering or jeering as the votes were declared. Each candidate might have a ready supply of rum and cookies to reward his supporters.
Nothing private about it. For almost 100 years, it was S.O.P. to vote in such a way that your friends and everyone else knew exactly what you were doing.

In the latter part of the 19th century, Australia became the first country to use a printed ballot that could be filled out silently and confidentially by the voter—you could vote without anyone knowing who you voted for.

There was scattered support for this novel election procedure in the United States before Massachusetts became the first state to adopt the so-called “Australian ballot method” in 1888. Most other states followed suit within a few years.

Copyright © Richard Carl Subber 2016 All rights reserved.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Tennis balls are a no-no at the GOP convention…

…but guns are OK.


The Official Event Zone Permit Regulations for the Republican convention in Cleveland explicitly prohibit carrying tennis balls and cans of tuna fish (and lots of other stuff) into the 1.7-square-mile event zone.

Guns? Different story.

Illegal firearms are prohibited. Check.

Legal guns can be carried at will except in the actual convention arena controlled by the Secret Service. So, delegates and protestors will be allowed to pack heat in the areas where public confrontations are likely to occur.

An official of the Cleveland police union is publicly asking Gov. John Kasich to do an executive order to suspend Ohio’s “open carry” law in Cuyahoga County (including Cleveland) for the duration of the convention.

1968 Democratic Convention violence in Chicago

It’s the least thing Kasich should do.

Right now, we need to do everything to keep the Republican Convention from being a “gunfight at the O. K. corral” kind of thing. It’ll be bad enough without violence.

Copyright © Richard Carl Subber 2016 All rights reserved.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

The times they are a-changin’….

The inexorable demographic transformation of America is part of the context for the current dangerous turmoil in our politics.

For instance, points out that less than half of Americans are now classified as white Christians. Less than 30% of the 18-29 age cohort identify themselves as white Christians.

Nevertheless, it’s true that almost three-quarters of all adults claim to be Christian (including Protestant, Catholic, Orthodox and other non-Protestant Christian faiths). So, the minority status of white Christians is largely driven by the increasing proportion of persons of color in the U. S. population.

Increasing diversity of the American citizenry is inevitable. Increasingly, ballot boxes will reflect this trend.

I think these changes will make American society richer in so many ways.

I look forward to the election of more folks who will champion the kind of government an increasingly diverse population needs and wants.

Copyright © Richard Carl Subber 2016 All rights reserved.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

They said you're an INFJ?!?

Or maybe you think you’re an ESTJ?  or an ISFP? or an ENTP? 

Think again.

If those acronyms aren’t familiar, you probably never took the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator personality test.

A little news item on is a stunner:  the Myers-Briggs test seems to be a load of what the farmer takes away….

"There's just no evidence behind it," says Adam Grant, an organizational psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania who's written about the shortcomings of the Myers-Briggs previously. "The characteristics measured by the test have almost no predictive power on how happy you'll be in a situation, how you'll perform at your job, or how happy you'll be in your marriage."

I took the test once, way back, I forgot what type it said I was.

Something like two million people do the Myers-Briggs every year, usually in the workplace. On the management retreat, or in the professional development seminar, or whatever....the company that now owns the Myers-Briggs concept makes about $20 million a year from licensing the test.

It was launched in the 1940s, reports, and is based on “untested theories of an outdated analytical psychologist named Carl Jung, and is now thoroughly disregarded by the psychology community. . .the test is totally ineffective at predicting people's success in various jobs, and. . . about half of the people who take it twice get different results each time.”

Here’s a tip: don’t put your Myers-Briggs Type Indicator on your resume.

Copyright © Richard Carl Subber 2016 All rights reserved.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Stretch goals

I started to ignore this little gem, but then I decided to be an advocate:

 Grownup TO DOs:

1. Going to bed early
2. Not leaving the house
3. Not going to that party

Those childhood punishments have become my grownup goals.

This is not bogus.

Copyright © Richard Carl Subber 2016 All rights reserved.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

This, too, shall pass….

One feels lost in the darkness of imperfect memory—
            the haggard mind struggles to eclipse the image,
            clinging defensively to the comfort, the contrast,
     the brilliant contrast that separates the nightmare from reality.

Copyright © Richard Carl Subber 2016 All rights reserved.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Elie Wiesel, R. I. P.

Eliezer “Elie” Wiesel (1928-2016)
Holocaust survivor and Nobel Peace Prize winner

Elie Wiesel’s life is a powerful reminder that when good men do nothing, evil will triumph.

Wiesel survived three concentration camps during World War II, and spent his life fighting to sustain our memory of the Holocaust and to champion the causes of peace as he understood them. He was not inclined to be bashful about provoking strong feelings.

I saw and heard Wiesel in the mid-1960s when I was a college freshman at Lehigh University. At that time, early in his career, he was relentlessly taking the story of the Holocaust to venues all over the world. I recall that he said many German concentration camp guards were well educated, and my livid memory is his explanation that SS troopers who were intellectually committed to the Nazi cause were the most reliable instruments of the Final Solution.

Elie Wiesel, second row from bottom , seventh from left next to post
His 1996 film, “Elie Wiesel Goes Home,” is close to unbearably candid about the pathos of his life. The documentary follows his return to his birthplace in Sighet, Romania, and his conversations with other survivors about the fates of their families and friends when Germans sent all the Jews in the village to Auschwitz-Birkenau in May 1944.

Wiesel never stopped remembering the horror of the camps. He never stopped looking at the number “A-7713” tattooed on his left arm. He helped me to understand why it’s important that we never forget.

Elie Wiesel, requiescat in pace.

Copyright © Richard Carl Subber 2016 All rights reserved.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

The meteor thing….

It’s good news!

A new poll shows that folks who want Hilary Clinton for president strongly outnumber the grumpies who would prefer to have a giant meteor strike the Earth.

It’s all very simple: asked to choose between Clinton, Trump and “Giant Meteor Hitting the Earth,” 43 percent of likely voters went for Clinton, 38 percent chose Trump and only 13 percent said the best option was the meteor thing.

I don’t know what the meteor vote has been in the past, but this seems like a real positive indicator that most voters think the upcoming election can be settled in the usual way:

The Forces of Good will successfully vote for the best candidate, and the Dark Force will turn out a losing vote for the other guy.

Here’s the thing:

Trump and Clinton are not the same.

One of them is going to be the next president.

If you don’t vote on November 8, everybody else is going to pick the next president of the United States.

Do you trust everybody else to do that?

Copyright © Richard Carl Subber 2016 All rights reserved.