January 10, 2015

Dallas Morning News keeps doubling down on digital stupidity

The Dallas Morning News seems to want to out-stupid Advance's products and a few others when it comes to becoming a digital-first daily paper.

Combine a history of stupid ideas, followed with a lack of commitment, a lack of follow-through and so forth, and it's no surprise.

Let's remind everybody that the Snooze's history of digital stupidity — and there's no other phrase for it — goes back 15 years to its bromance with the CueCat. Ahh, how can we forget the "Pet Rock" of online newspapers? No, really:
"I think that this is a nice Pet Rock for print publishers," says Vin Crosbie, managing partner of Digital Deliverance, a Connecticut-based consulting firm specializing in online publishing strategies. Crosbie is one of many industry insiders who has criticized the device on the Online-News e-mail list.
Bingo.

It's not really surprising. I've been blogging about its digital stupidity for 18 months on a semi-regular basis.

First, D Magazine reported that the Snooze was abandoning its online paywall in September, 2013, to instead put up a premium website, with "premium" content, plus membership tchotchkes.

NOTE: That said, nine months later, and, after not heeding the advance warnings of people like your lowly blogger or media analyst pro Jack Shafer, who writes well about the stupidity of premium sites, what happened?

The Snooze killed the premium site. Another sign of Snooze mismanagement.

It turns out I was setting the digital intelligence bar for the Snooze way, way, too high, in my initial warning.

Part of the premium website's paywall "come-on" sales pitch? The Snooze tells us we can buy our way out of seeing so many ads!!! Apparently the Dallas Morning News is betting its readers are too dumb to know about AdBlock if part of the sales pitch for its new premium website is "seeing fewer ads." (Doorknob help us all if the paper's marketing staff [since IT people wouldn't be this dumb, but see below] find out that some of us use Ghostery or other add-ons that block tracking cookies.)

Plus, analysts note the Snooze has struggled to find the paywall sweet spot for some time.
The News’ plan “is something of a disappointment,” said Barry L. Lucas, senior vice president of research for Gabelli & Co. in New York. “It’s the second or third go-round for the website.”
Meanwhile, Jason Dyer, chief marketing officer for The News, says:
 “What we’re going to sell is experience,” said Dyer, who joined the newspaper in January from Google. “I don’t know if there’s anything like it.”
They say insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results. I guess Dyer calls that "experience." Especially when somebody coming from Google, and to a halfway techie city like Dallas, thinks people will fall for this as a selling point, the "fewer ads." 

Maybe he set the intelligence bar too low on Snooze readers.

Of course, the Snooze could have put the paywall back up on its basic website.

But, it didn't. Because it's the Snooze and digital stupidity reigns in what's the last and only outpost of the one-time print empire of A.H. Belo.

Which means there's less and less margin for digital stupidity error all the time.

Further showing the stupidity? In the story announcing the kill of the premium website was this:
“Newspapers say we provide value, so why wouldn’t you pay,” said Steve Buttry, a visiting scholar at Louisiana State University’s Manship School of Communication. Payment “is a tough sell almost everywhere.”
Steve Buttery, a one-time mouthpiece flak for Digital First Media, has never met a paywall he likes. He won't admit the success, even if it's a leaky wall, of a place like the New York Times. If the Snooze is listening to people like him, no wonder it continues to get all of its digital decisions wrong.

Two months later, came the next stupidity. The Snooze sold its share of online automotive advertiser Cars.com.  Oh, it's nice short-term investment money, and the sale did allow the Snooze to keep exclusive local Cars.com rights, but at a higher rate than before, and not permanently.

In exchange, the Snooze and partners sold their approximately 75 percent non-Gannett share for about 75-80 percent of what Ken Doctor estimated it was worth just 10 months ago. 

However, while keeping local exclusiveness, the Snooze loses any annual dividend, and that exclusive local control, as Doctor expected, is only temporary — for five years.

So, starting in 2020, the autos section of the Snooze, in print, will likely look a fair amount different. Doctor explains:
If and when all the McClatchy, Tribune, and Gannett newspapers and The Dallas Morning News lose that favored relationship, they’ll be in the same boat as other papers. Some of those other newspapers have themselves been Cars.com affiliates, selling dealer packages in their markets. But they didn’t get wholesale rates — they got retail ones. More recently, some of those retail affiliates, a number of them owned by Digital First Media, have lost or ended their relationships with Cars.com. The result: a loss of 50 percent or more in auto revenue. That’s the kind of post-Cars.com challenge the 121 dailies collectively owned by Tribune, Gannett, McClatchy, and A.H. Belo will face.

And, if you look at a typical Saturday Snooze? It's about 35 percent adhole, but about half that 35 percent is cars. Oops.

Doctor gives us dollar signs:
Overall, figure that about 8 to 15 percent of all newspaper ad revenues are related to auto. That makes the Cars.com changeover a very big deal.
Oops. Let's say it's 15 percent in Dallas. Let's say it keeps two-thirds after five years. Still, it's lost 5 percent of its ad revenue for a short-term mess of pottage.

But, they're going to invest that money in something digital. Kind of sort of:
“This transaction is an excellent outcome for our company,” Jim Moroney, chairman, chief executive and president of A. H. Belo said today in a statement. “The proceeds from this transaction will allow A. H. Belo to continue with its strategy of investing in advertising and marketing services companies to allow for revenue growth and diversification. As always, the company will balance investment opportunities with alternatives to continue to return capital to shareholders.”
But, if ad sales are declining, and drawing fewer dinero in click-throughs, because of the AdBlock you still don't acknowledge, well, er, um, uh....

And that gets us to ...

The latest and greatest wrongness?

Touting its PDF e-edition, in online links, in house ads in the print paper, and more.

The Snooze, in the story announcing the end of the paid premium website, noted the growth of mobile readers, and hoped to make some money there off apps.

First, apps are a mug's game in the media biz.

Second, as for touting the e-edition? 

That runs totally counter to growth on mobile.

Almost nobody wants to try to read a newspaper page PDF on a tablet, and absolutely nobody wants to do that on a smartphone.

OK, so you produce different versions of the e-paper — one for computers, one for "normal" tablets and smartphones, and a "branded" one, apped up for an iPad.

And, that's costing how much extra time and manpower? For something that few people would even pay for because you have a free website?

If the Snooze isn't forced to be slouching toward Fort Worth and into the arms of a JOA with the StartleGram by 2020, when it loses the benefits of past ownership of Cars.com, I'll be highly surprised. 

January 09, 2015

The #SJW world trolls on #CharlieHebdo

I posted a bit about this on Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus yesterday, and am now at the point of blogging.

I am more than sick and tired of the social justice warrior world trying to piggyback on the Charlie Hebdo shootings to promote its own agenda, especially when it gets stuff wrong.

Take this Tumblr roundup, first.

1. "Les negres" is the common world for "blacks" or "negros" in French, not "niggers." (I'm not bowdlerizing.) If you're that ignorant of basic French, shut up. If you're going for that cheap of trolling, shut up.
2. Dominque Strauss-Kahn raped nobody. He wasn't even charged with any crime.

This one is briefer but no more insightful.

It does, following bullet point 1 for the first link, claim that Charlie Hebdo is racist.

This blog here goes all the way down the rabbit hole on that.

In response?
1. Islam isn't a race.
2. As for attacking religions in general, Charlie Hebdo had one cover with the pope, an imam and a rabbi all demanding the paper be "veiled."
3. It's just a further indication that SJWs' sense of humor is generally weak tea.

Indeed, via this link, one can see Charlie Hebdo cartoons that specifically fought racism in France. And militarism and more.

Reason magazine has more on all of this, including and especially that third point of mine — SJWs' oftimes lack of humor.

And, as for not drawing black people certain ways or whatever? This smells of the same idiocy of SJWs who attacked Ted Rall's cartooning of Obama.

And also, Wiki notes this of the newspaper:

Irreverent and stridently non-conformist in tone, the publication describes itself as strongly anti-racist and left-wing, publishing articles on the extreme right, CatholicismIslamJudaismpoliticsculture, etc. According to its former editor, Charb (Stéphane Charbonnier), the magazine's editorial viewpoint reflects "all components of left wing pluralism, and even abstainers."
Bingo. Indeed, and surprisingly, someone at Freethought Blogs who is not a SJW says the same, in more detail. As does Jerry Coyne.

As for one SJWer's rhetorical question, "Who decides it's not racist?" Well, who decides it is? Beyond that, the magazine's staff is well known in France for its intent. (I also think that, outside the fringes of the New Left, France has less of a "PC" issue than the US.) Beyond the fact that Islam is not a "race," France does have laws about incitement to racial hatred, and per this piece, Charlie Hebdo did not fall afoul of them.

SJWers are also making other errors. Like assuming this is also anti-immigrant, when the percentage of immigrants among Muslims is actually lower than among France as a whole.
Today, France's immigrant population amounts to 15 percent of the total population, with lower figures for the Muslim community: hardly a tidal wave.  
There's actual statistics.

Now, if Charlie Hebdo would only do a future cover mocking SJWs.

Meanwhile, let's conclude with President François Hollande:
"We are a free people that doesn't give in to any pressure. We carry an ideal that is larger than us. We will defend it everywhere that peace is threatened."
Exactly.

As for non-satiric representational art of Muhammad? The Koran doesn't ban it, nor do early hadiths. And, it has a long history, up to the current day. Read here.

That said, European countries aren't perfect on free speech issues themselves. I don't like continental European hate speech laws in general, like the one France has and that's it now using to stifle anti-Semitic French comedian Dieudonné.

I don't like public or private university hate speech codes here in the U.S. Even though I think Steve Salaita is not all that, I still don't like him being tripped up over such codes. (That said, I do like, as I say at that blog post, the schadenfreude of SJWs getting tripped up by conflicting principles, especially if they threaten to trip up P.Z. Myers.)

==

Meanwhile, Robert Crumb of "Keep on Truckin" and "Felix the Cat" fame has contributed his own piece, shown at left. And, here, he discusses Charlie Hebdo, the French satirical tradition (which the SJWs either don't "get" or refuse to "get") and ... well, the cowardice and other general weakness of modern American media.

And, sadly, he's right about that, since American newspapers refused to publish any actual Charlie Hebdo cartoons, just like they refused to publish the Danish ones several years ago. Just like they refuse to publish a lot of actual Iraq war casualty pictures.

More evidence of that cowardice here. Especially from a newspaper not afraid to run other offensive covers of its own.

Of course, as Medium notes, cartoons have little actual power against terrorists. (And, although the Catholic Church may have played some small part in toppling Communism in Poland, the bigger role goes to Solidarity, and Joe Stalin's bon mot was largely true. Ask Pius X in 1870.)

Meanwhile, for the SJWers? More ammunition undercutting you. If we go by lawsuits, Charlie Hebdo antagonized assumedly "white" Catholics much more than Muslims.

What's really at stake is anti-clericalism, which has a long history in France., as is France's history of satire harder-hitting than the US, as Charlie Hebdo's own staff explains. Theoretically, one could argue that American SJWs are practicing "privilege" for not taking France's culture in its own light.

Dan Fincke addresses not just SJWs and claims of racism, US media timidity and more, at his Patheos site.

==

At the same time, there IS some sort flip side — perhaps.

While I reject the racism idea, is Charlie Hebdo Islamophobic? Or, is it quasi-Islamophobic in the name of Mammon, as Tariq Ramadan alleges?

Looking at a Google Images page of Hebdo covers, while a fair amount of them are Muslim-focused, per a suit that Hebdo won in French court, that could well be because a higher percentage of French Muslims are fundamentalist than are Jews or Christians. Beyond that, Gerard Depardieu gets repeated skewering for his contemplated high-tax flight, among other things.

That said, why is anti-Semitism very much not OK, if anti-Muslim sentiments are? Survey would say that this is anti-Semitism, not anti-Judaism. (Hebdo's regularly run anti-Zionist cartoons.) So, Siné's case was about racism.

Seeing this is arguably the single biggest challenge to Hebdo's claim to be an equal-opportunity satirist. It also leaves the paper open to conspiracy theory claims.

However, on further reflection, I reject that.

The Charlie Hebdo situation reminds me that religious anti-Judaism and racial anti-Semitism are two different things, and that anti-Zionism is a third. Re the Siné case and him being fired for his cartoon, Hebdo's top staff made the judgment that he was engaged in the second, and not the first, nor the third. Yes, a French court disagreed, as did a superior court on appeal. But, with further thought, I see more clearly where CH was coming from, and given that it has, by its own lights, purported to be against racism, I don't see Hebdo's actions as hypocrisy after all.

January 08, 2015

Cooperstown, PEDs, greenies and narratives

Trust me, I'm going to bring this all together, as I do with other blog posts with headlines of strings of individual words.

It all centers on this year's Baseball Hall of Fame elections, with Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, Craig Biggio and John Smoltz elected, while believed users of performance-enhancing drugs Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds continue to tread water in the voting and other known or suspected PEDers like Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa slip further backward. And, as people like Mike Piazza and Jeff Bagwell continue to struggle to overcome the ugly stains of innuendo.

Many people who seemingly want to excuse the 1990s era of PEDing as no worse than in the past bring up the line of "it's the same as greenies" in some way shape or form.

Erm, no. I've dealt with that before, but I'm going to take a different angle this time.

Much of my focus starts with this piece, which I've referenced before.

Point 1: Due to the same reason that amphetamines are normally likely to be more dangerous, even much more dangerous, than steroids (not that steroids are harm-free) amphetamines are not likely to be a good performance enhancer.

First, take a bit too much, and you're jittery, not focused. If you're a batter, you've got the equivalent of a golfer's putting yips. And, if you don't like that exact analogy, sorry, but amphetamine jitters happen. Use another word or analogy if you want, but they sill happen.

Second, they cause tolerance to develop, which usually leads to addiction. Especially after that point, as with other addictive drugs, the effect from a given dose can become variable.

Point 1A: Because there was no "science" in the 1950s, 60s, and 70s dugouts, we have no idea what those "greenies" were, if they were taken with any precision, or anything else.

So, per that IIATMS link, we should take with a grain of salt or two the claims of Jim Bouton and others that "greenies" were gobbled like candy, as well as naming specific players like Willie Mays, and also ask just what "greenies" mean to Bouton and others talking about those days.

Point 2: While steroids aren't new, the modern steroids era arguably is. Just like the people who say the modern era is no worse, I know that steroids were around before they technically became baseball-illegal way back in 1971 (yes, click that link), or became non-prescription illegal to the general public back in 1991 (again, click that link). I also know about injecting goat glands back in the early 1900s.

Point 3: Yes, speed can give you an immediate advantage that doesn't require work. But, that advantage is short term. You then have to take more, and eventually face the issue of tolerance and even full-blown addiction. Steroids don't have that.

However, before Big Mac's time, managers generally discouraged players from weight lifting or weight training. Thus, unlike the NFL, where steroids started catching on in the 1960s, before McGwire, baseball players had little incentive to use steroids. But, then came him and Jose Canseco as the Bash Brothers. Offense shot up, helped by AL expansion in 1978, NL expansion in 1993, and AL expansion in 1998 (No, I don't think roids caused all the power outburst from the early 1990s for the next 15 years, and I've written about that before, too.)

To the degree roids, hand in hand with weight training to make them more effective, were part of the game, it was different than greenies. First, Bonds' and Clemens' increased muscle mass showed that steroids, at least, worked. (How much human growth hormone helps muscle mass, or healing, are both more questionable; and, thus, my focus is on steroids.)

Second, Bonds for sure, and at least somewhat, other players, brought a scientific, empirical approach to steroid use. Look at the detailed logs of Bonds' personal trainer, Greg Anderson, that he refused to "translate" in Bonds' trial. Look at Victor Conte talk about his work with BALCO. Remember that many a steroid enabler is NOT Tony Bosch.

Also note that, given Anderson's detailed, if cryptic notes, and knowing that then, and today, steroids are just as illegal as amphetamines, "big guns" went for roids, not greenies.

That's the bottom line. Somebody else can claim "I know which one I'd use."

Well, we know which one Barry Bonds used, and it wasn't greenies. (And, as hard as Jeff Novitsky went after him, if there were a scintilla of evidence Bonds DID use greenies, it would have come up in trial. Nor has he ever been mentioned as having an ADD exemption to use stuff legally.)

So, from the mid-1980s on:
1. Baseball became conducive to the benefits of steroids taking effect, via weights work
2. People were "pushing" steroids
3. We've seen their effects
4. They were used, in at least some cases, with some degree of precision.

All of this sets them apart from "greenies" of stereotypes And, from earlier knowledge about steroids, too, at least within baseball. Again, this is about baseball, not pro sports in general.

Modern Adderall? Yes, I know it increases focus, and is used in baseball and other sports. And probably abused.

First, is "focus" a significant improvement? Dunno. We could compare before-and-afters of players who have gotten MLB exceptions to be on it. That itself would still have a fair amount of guesswork. And, while the linked article raises some good questions about safety, other than mentioning "performance enhancers," it doesn't raise any of them about how we know how much enhancement they deliver.

Second, the likes of Bouton weren't talking about Adderall, nor about using other amphetamines for that precise of a reason. It was as a general fatigue fighter, like soldiers, sailors and airmen in World War II, where greenies first became popular.

Do amphetamines fight fatigue? Hellz yes, until the "crash and burn." Do they improve performance? I think the jury's out on that. More out than it is on steroids, if taken under similar, controlled conditions. That would be like comparing Bonds' regimen to an MLB-exempt player taking scheduled Adderall. Not, say, Jhonny Peralta's PED use.

And, at the same time, per the link above ... Adderall on a prescribed regimen doesn't have the same safety risks as straight meth. Or straight dexxies of non-prescribed dosage.

Here's where the last word comes in.

There's a "narrative" here that some people want to tell about how this wasn't as bad. Why the tellers of it want to tell and believe — and perpetuate and propagate — the narrative, I have no idea. And, having gotten in disputes about this, I'm not going further down the road. I've had too many people claim that I've said things about greenies that I haven't.

Some may be reacting to the idea that I, and people like me, are claiming "the good old days" were better, purer or whatever. (I'm not.)

Some might claim I or others are wanting to give a pass to "greenies" users. (If amphetamines did make a noticeable difference for an individual, I'm not.)

I do think that, at least for a subset of players that committed to a rigorous use of steroids, though, it IS different. And, I know I'm not alone. Both for myself, and sports figures like Bob Costas and Ken Rosenthal, I reject the "holier than thou" idea, too. I doubly reject referencing players who either saw amphetamine use (Bouton) or used roids on a regimen (Bonds) as an "appeal to authority." Don't try to insult my intelligence, which in turn leads me to get angry at you and question your intelligence even more.

Also, among the narrative tellers, I think there's an attempt to have their cake and eat it, too. Doesn't work.

The very fact that greenies are often more dangerous than steroids (which I agree, contra claims I don't) is part of what undercuts their potential effectiveness as performance enhancers. Touting the first without accepting the second is a cake having-and-eating I don't allow here.

That includes people noting that evidence of the potential benefits of amphetamines is all over the place, but still claiming their benefits are both as good as, if not better, than roiding, and more carefully controllable.

On the controllable: Really? Roids aren't addicting (as far as we know). Plus, I refer to the meticulous record keeping Greg Anderson did for Barry Bonds.

That said, should I get anybody comment here who sincerely wants to try to defend the idea that select modern roids users were no worse than others, without making false claims about my stance on amphetamines, or without trying to have your cake and eat it, fire away.

In reality, there's one thing that makes me question not immediately voting in the likes of Bonds and Clemens. And that's that other cheaters, like Gaylord Perry and Don Sutton, are already in the Hall.

That said, I too thrilled, in part as a Cards fan, at McGwire "outdueling" Sosa in 1998. (Again, let's not forget that was also the first year of baseball's last expansion.) And, to be honest, at the time, "steroids" didn't really cross my mind, though bits of talk already were in the air.

It was ... a narrative. And, one that Bud Selig was fine having us watch, and drink in as a narrative. Without asking questions.

But, it was an ultimately harmful narrative.

Physically harmful to kids like Taylor Hooton. (That's why we can't say that amphetamines are always more harmful than steroids.)

Psychologically harmful to the game of baseball, including with arguments about who "belongs" in the Hall of Fame and why. (That's setting aside the issue of the "morals clause," which does exist, even with inconsistency in its application.) It's psychological in that the "roids clause" is applied as imperfectly as the "morals clause," what with two of three of last year's inducted managers, Tony La Russa and Joe Torre, managing multiple users, and the third, Bobby Cox, managing at least one suspected user (Gary Sheffield).

It's also hypocritical, of MLB, the Hall of Fame and its board in Cooperstown, and others involved, to continue to have or let the BBWAA seemingly apply one standard to Bonds, Clemens and McGwire, among others and another to those who managed them. (Neither Dusty Baker nor Felipe Alou, Bonds' Giants managers, are serious threats to make the HOF. But, the principle applies to them, too.)

And, it's psychological in that some people want to make unwarranted comparisons. Perhaps, beyond other reasons I've mentioned, it's that their sense of and desire for nostalgia is a driving force.

So, roiding has caused harm.

And, for those of us old enough to remember the 1980s' owners' collusion, and its more limited attempts and related methods afterword, methods which eventually led to the 1994 season meltdown, these effects are ongoing.

It was 1998 that brought some of  us back. It definitely brought me back to following more. That's not to say, of course, that individual players colluded with the owners in pushing a new narrative.

No, they were just after records.

But, if those records repopularized baseball, and gave more money to owners to spend, with a new post-1994 willingness to spend, then players were along for the ride.

A sidebar or two, while I'm at it, and primarily to the "Big Hall" guys, like Buster Olney and Jayson Stark at ESPN, talking about Biggio needing three tries to get in, even with more than 3,000 hits.

Yogi Berra didn't get in on his first try. Perry, a 300-game winner, needed three tries. It took Sutton, with his 300-plus wins, more than three tries. (He's a good comp to Biggio on WAR and WAA, too.) No, today's BBWAA isn't magically more restrictive overall, though it still puzzles at times. And with not just two, but three, first-year eligibles getting in this year, some of the "backlog" is no longer a backlog. Junior Griffey is the only slam-dunk among next year's first-year eligibles, too.

I've talked in more detail in the past about the "backlog," too, including about how much we should allow those 1993 and 1998 expansions to affect our judgment of someone like Vladimir Guerrero.

January 07, 2015

Limousine liberals at Harvard? Say it ain't so

So, now that Harvard profs might have to pay a bunch more for health care, and the university says that this is a consequence of cost-control features of Obamacare, they're up in arms, eh, at least if they make over $95,000 a year. (See the bottom for more on that tidbit.)

Here's the skinny:
Harvard is a microcosm of what’s happening in health care in the country,” said David M. Cutler, a health economist at the university who was an adviser to President Obama’s 2008 campaign. But only up to a point: Professors at Harvard have until now generally avoided the higher expenses that other employers have been passing on to employees. That makes the outrage among the faculty remarkable, Mr. Cutler said, because “Harvard was and remains a very generous employer.”
 In Harvard’s health care enrollment guide for 2015, the university said it “must respond to the national trend of rising health care costs, including some driven by health care reform,” in the form of the Affordable Care Act. The guide said that Harvard faced “added costs” because of provisions in thehealth care law that extend coverage for children up to age 26, offer free preventive services like mammograms and colonoscopies and, starting in 2018, add a tax on high-cost insurance, known as the Cadillac tax.

Per the rest of the story, this isn't really anything unreasonable:
The university is adopting standard features of most employer-sponsored health plans: Employees will now pay deductibles and a share of the costs, known as coinsurance, for hospitalization, surgery and certain advanced diagnostic tests. The plan has an annual deductible of $250 per individual and $750 for a family. For a doctor’s office visit, the charge is $20. For most other services, patients will pay 10 percent of the cost until they reach the out-of-pocket limit of $1,500 for an individual and $4,500 for a family.
 Previously, Harvard employees paid a portion of insurance premiums and had low out-of-pocket costs when they received care.
I mean, I don't know about you, but, if it didn't cost me an arm and a leg on my share of monthly premiums, I'd be killing people to have an insurance plan with an annual of just $250, let alone the other stuff.

And, that's here in low-cost Texas. 

At Cambridge? I'd be killing people, burying them, digging them back up and re-killing them.

And, if it really leads that many people at Harvard to defer that many medical procedures, as some of the boo-hooers are claiming?

That's the story line from some:
Jerry R. Green, a professor of economics and a former provost who has been on the Harvard faculty for more than four decades, said the new out-of-pocket costs could lead people to defer medical care or diagnostic tests, causing more serious illnesses and costly complications in the future.
 “It’s equivalent to taxing the sick,” Professor Green said. “I don’t think there’s any government in the world that would tax the sick.”
Puhleeeeze on the rhetoric.

Getting past that "taxing the sick" line, there is a real rhetorical question lurking, though:

Does that mean that income inequality is a problem at Harvard?

One Harvard prof claims that's the case, on the surface:
Mary D. Lewis, a professor who specializes in the history of modern France and has led opposition to the benefit changes, said they were tantamount to a pay cut.  …
 "None of us who protested was motivated by our own bottom line so much as by the principle,” Ms. Lewis said, expressing concern about the impact of the changes on lower-paid employees.
Well, Prof. Lewis, you need to talk to President Gilpin about that income inequality, then.

Besides, the university says it has an insurance subsidy program for lower-income people.

Which, at Harvard, is anybody making less than $95K. No, really:
Although out-of-pocket costs over all for a typical Harvard employee are to increase in 2015, administrators said premiums would decline slightly. They noted that the university, which has an endowment valued at more than $36 billion, had an unusual program to provide protection against high out-of-pocket costs for employees earning $95,000 a year or less. 
So, Jerry Green and Mary Lewis? Put a sock in it.

See, it's things like this, or the fact that no yellow school bus from Boston ever rolled up to Hyannisport, or that white Western liberal environmentalists defend defacing indigenous history in Peru that gives liberalism a bad name at times among poor whites, or minorities.

Ooh, what's that I hear? Could it be the sound of an ox being gored in Harvard Yard?

January 06, 2015

Big Oil getting greedy with glut.

Why is it no surprise, especially with the GOP now controlling the US Senate as well as the House, for the American Petroleum Institute to roll out a laundry list of wishes?

Ending the ban on exports is no surprise; that one's been around a bit. But, killing renewable fuel standards and other things like rolling back new emissions requirements?

Sounds like Jack Gerard, the CEO of API, is admitting that there's an oil glut.

But, no, this doesn't mean that Peak Oil isn't true. It just means that shale fields like Bakken and Eagle Ford will peak in 2018 or something instead of 2016. And, that cities and counties and regions dependent on these and other fields will have a smaller dip now, and another, deeper one in about four years.

Were I Dear Leader, I'd offer Gerard a deal. We cut, but not eliminate, renewable fuel standards in exchange for him publicly backing an increase in the gas tax.

January 05, 2015

Needed: 30 Rethugs to vote for #SpeakerGohmert

Texas' dumbest Congresscritter, and possibly the nation's, Louie Gohmert, known here for obvious reasons as Gohmert Pyle (click that first link) is now challenging John Boehner to be Speaker of the House.

I say, in a riff on those immortal words of George W. Bush, "Bring him on!"

Those 30 Republicans noted in the header for this post?

Well, there's 188 Democrats in the new House. If they all will vote for Speaker Gohmert, as well, there's your 218 and he's in like Flynn!

Dems can then watch him embarrass the rest of the House GOP, as well as wrong-footing Mitch (the Turtle) McConnell, new Senate GOP leader, with an embarrassment of stupidity riches. (Yes, I used some form of "embarrass" twice in the same sentence; I'm writing at Gohmert Pyle level.)

So, Nancy Pelosi, do you have some counterinsurgency brains, or are you going to play this straight?