rba's blog

Pension Tension Redux: The BeeBuzz

I am not the editor of a newspaper and shall always try to do right and be good so that God will not make me one.
- Mark Twain, Galaxy magazine, December 1870

In this morning's installment, the Sages of Sacramento choose to continue their attack on those who directly provide services to the people of this great State. Titled Perks of the past return to haunt, this group, having devoted so very many resources to uncovering the blatantly apparent, devotes yet another substantial amount of columnar space to lies by omission.

Repeating for effect the contentions of a skewed long-form article, they have failed once again to nail the direct causes they themselves reported on their own front page. As if there were a direct correlation between pension costs and denigration of services, rising crime rates, and (of course) a vast increase in the incidence of male pattern baldness.

Horse hockey. When an editorial spins a 40% rise in contributions over eight years without noting that 25% was due to inflation, they've moved so far out of the realm of accuracy as to be functionally useless to the readers.

Maybe it's in our lousy water. Maybe it's because Bee management has made so many unforced errors over the past few years. Whatever the cause, the past two days have clearly shown the production of random fact is no substitute for real reporting.

Pew Dashboard: Who Owns the Media?

Media Ownership Dashboard:

Top Newspaper Companies

Rank Company Total Weekday Circulation

1 Gannett 6,816,890
2 MediaNews Group 2,565,620
3 McClatchy Company 2,556,580
4 Advance Publications 2,429,970
5 Tribune Company 2,384,440

Complete charts of all media by type available @ the site.

Looking over the tv stats it's obvious that cable generally is still network's bastard stepchild. Good place to spend your 'free' time.

Another Direct McClatchy Miss

Phillip Reese/sacbee: The Public Eye:
Pension promises threaten California cities, counties

The premise of the article is fatally flawed, something you will learn if you manage to wade your way through to the last few graphs. It turns out that - rather than Gray Davis, the first goat scaped - the true failure here lands directly in the laps of the investor class. Charged with the single task of maintaining a modicum of growth for their particular funds, they made terrible choices instead, which we are *all* paying for.

How is that the fault of the Unions and a few compliant County managers? It's not, and there's the rub.

If any organization wants to carry the 'news', and if any individual wants to be known as a 'reporter', the baseline requirements are that the facts drive the narrative, not the other way round.

Apparently not at McClatchy.

A Little Less Salt

Image © IBM

Prachi Patel/TechReview: Solar-Powered Desalination:

When completed at the end of 2012, the plant will produce 30,000 cubic meters of desalinated water per day to meet the needs of 100,000 people.

Out here on the Left Coast we're getting ready to vastly increase the amount of water the North sends to the South. Much better build something 'local' - say, a few well-placed desalinators - than literally steal food from our farmers.

Following Stupid Over the Cliff

Photo © AP @ Poynter

Here's the offending lede:

Palin, Obama spar from a distance - Liz Sidoti/AP National Political Writer.

No, they don't, and to compare the two is but one of the many reasons why the takeover of the wire services by third-grade-level editors and reporters can be a dangerous thing for the rest of us.

Whoever thought comparing this particular President to Palin-the-iPimp was reasonable desperately needs anal-cranial surgery.

Wanted: Appointee. Must Walk On Water

'Fraidy Cat' @ Animated Halloween Props

AP/LAT: Second pick for transportation security chief is out

The Obama administration has called the job the most important unfilled position on Obama's team.

No wonder they're having a hard time getting people to come forward. Once submitted for the Senate 'interview', they're on their own. The old 'we'll-back-you-up-until-the-negative-shit-hits-the-fan kinda thing. Way to back up your people, dude.

Racing Downhill

Image © Cafe Press

Douglas+Lightman/McClatchy: TOP STORY - GOP's Cantor says Democrats exploiting reports of threats

That's pretty much as far as you need read, given that the balance of the 'article' is a continuation of the verbal ping-pong that has become industry standard in the Washington press corps.  And the 'why' of the thing, or the facts in the fatuous statements?  Not there.

Long stretch to call any of it 'reporting'.

Remarks for the Hard of Seeing

Now, it probably goes without saying that tonight’s vote will give rise to a frenzy of instant analysis. There will be tallies of Washington winners and losers, predictions about what it means for Democrats and Republicans, for my poll numbers, for my administration. But long after the debate fades away and the prognostication fades away and the dust settles, what will remain standing is not the government-run system some feared, or the status quo that serves the interests of the insurance industry, but a health care system that incorporates ideas from both parties -- a system that works better for the American people. [President Barack Obama, 3/21/2010]

Questions? I didn't think so.

Nothing Fair About Issac

AP: Credit scores can drop after getting loan help:

"The best way to build credit back is to continue to pay bills as agreed, to use credit wisely," said Tom Quinn, vice president of scoring solutions at Fair Issac Corp., which designed the well-known FICO score system. "As time goes on, the score gradually increases."

Back in the old days, the best gauge of what we now call 'creditworthiness' depended on comparing how much you made and saved against how much you owed. But since there were no such things as 'credit cards' for we ordinary mortals, every single bill that came in the door went back out with a check attached. If you had any money left over, you generally put it in savings. The bank was where you went for money for business, or to buy a home. (GMAC helped you buy that new BelAir). Make all your payments on time, you were considered a 'good risk'.

What's changed? What hasn't. These idiot financial 'ratings companies' have managed to completely reverse what constitutes a good credit risk. Now you *must* have credit, be in a state of constant debt, and carry cards with userious rates to get a *high* credit 'score'. Bass-f*cking-ackwards.

These guys punish people for doing the right thing. Pay off all your credit cards? Fine. Shred them? Go to the penalty box. Consolidate debt and reduce your interest rate by 50%? Fine. Pay off the debt early and build your savings account? That'll cost ya 100 points.