Measure of the Man

Here’s a piece. about the utter vacuity of people who describe homosexuality as a choice. The following paragraph is as moving a thing as I’ve read this year:

He shakes his head in sadness at the life his grandson has had to live. He says he fought alongside homosexuals in those battles, that they did their part and bothered no one. One of his best friends in the service was gay, and he never knew it until the end, and when he did find out, it mattered not at all. That wasn’t the measure of the man.

The Daily Mail, journalism at its slightest

For those of you lucky enough to have lived thus far without bumping into it, the UK has a ‘news’paper called The Daily Mail. I say ‘news’ rather than news because it has several facets, none of which are particularly concerned with news. Online it’s primarily interested in which reality TV tramp has slept with which boy band vacuity. In print it’s primary issues are:

1. The outrageous intrusions into our lives carried out by the government on an hourly basis, and
2. Crime/indecency/exploitation/other outrages, and when is the government planning to do something about it.

What it isn’t worried about, however, is accuracy. A couple of weeks ago they had a brilliant piece on kid’s school lunch boxes, claiming that they contain as much sugar as 10 doughnuts. They illustrated this with a picture of a lunch box containing, among other things, 2 doughnuts. Amazingly, if you chuck another 5 doughnuts in there it would contain as much sugar as 15 doughnuts! As an added bonus, they show a picture of a disgustingly high-sugar drink, only the picture they chose was for the low sugar version.

But today they did even better. In a piece alleging, in passing, that Jackie O. had an affair with her brother-in-law they included the following:

Jackie O's brother in law, apparently.
Jackie O's brother in law, apparently.

You’re not a journalist (probably), so you might be forgiven for not noticing that he looks a little worn out for a man who died when he was 42. You might not twig that his attire is rather contemporary for someone from the 60s, especially as most of the common pictures of him are in black and white, not colour. In fact, you’d probably not wonder about it at all, unless you knew that he had a son, also called Bobby Kennedy (Junior, this time), who has grown to look older than his father ever did because he has lived to be older than his father ever did, and dresses in the styles of today because he’s alive today.

Of course, if you were a journalist you’d know that immediately, wouldn’t you?

(Update: Here’s the link, if you must)


An interesting bit of trivia, I think: If you play with the graph here you can show that since Obama came to power the S&P 500 (which I chose because it’s a better indicator than the Dow of the overall market, though still far from perfect) has fallen around 10%. That’s pretty shocking. Not as bad as the previous incumbent, though, who experienced a drop of over 12% in the same timeframe. This doesn’t indicate anything, of course, it’s just a curiosity.

On Chimps

Here’s an interesting article on the perception of African American as apes even today:

The researchers consistently discovered a black-ape association even if the young adults said they knew nothing about its historical connotations. The connection was made only with African American faces; the paper’s third study failed to find an ape association with other non-white groups, such as Asians.

In case you’re wondering about those historical connections, this (perhaps biased) source has a couple of pointers.

Ballot Writing

There’s a recount going on in the Minnesota Senatorial race between Norman Coleman (R) and Alan Franken (D). The vote highlights the inadequacy of much of the US voting system – the variability of the voting methods used means that if this was a science experiment they’d have to give a margin of error. That’s fine in a poll, but not in the actual election, so the theoretical ‘best’ result would be a do-over (a race I suspect Coleman would win).

Anyway, both sides are challenging ballots because of assorted flaws. Perhaps the most impressive challenge is from the Coleman camp, who have challenged a ballot because it contained the text “Thank you for counting my vote!“. That might technically be grounds for rejecting it, but morally I’d say not, especially as I’ve written the same thing on my ballot before now (and having counted ballots as well, I wouldn’t have hesitated to let it through).