50 years of a BFD

Just a reminder — Medicare and Medicaid turned fifty today:

1st Medicare card issued

1st Medicare card issued

These two programs are a combined big fucking deal on making this country a better spot to be. We should celebrate our successes, and then get back to work on making our successes better.

Open thread








Open Thread: Harbingers of Business Doom

I can predict the potential success of a new TV series with a high degree of accuracy — the shows I like best seldom make it as far as a second season, if that. Virginia Postrel, at Bloomberg View, says “Big Data Knows You Like Losers“…

Most of the data captured about our everyday transactions isn’t very exciting. Take frequent shopper cards. When I visit the Ralphs supermarket website, it highlights sales on avocados and Hunt’s diced tomatoes. CVS calls my attention to deals on Glide dental floss and Neutrogena skin-care products. The stores know I buy these things because I’ve swiped my cards in exchange for discounts on previous purchases. This is just the kind of customer-specific record that expert salespeople at places like Neiman Marcus were keeping long before computers — and that small-town shopkeepers used to simply remember. It’s small data on a large scale.

But when you can compare all that information across millions of consumers and products and thousands of outlets, you enter the realm of big data, which can reveal previously unknown patterns. A new case in point: A paper forthcoming in the Journal of Marketing Research identifies a segment of customers, dubbed the “harbingers of failure,” with an uncanny knack for buying new products that were likely to flop…

They found that strong early sales — the traditional indicator of product success — in fact didn’t matter as much as who the early buyers were. And one startling finding was the emergence of an identifiable segment of customers more prone to buying new products destined to survive less than three years, as well as unpopular “very niche” existing products.

“Because these guys are so consistent in behavior, if you’re selling to a lot of them you’re really in trouble,” said Anderson, a marketing professor at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, in an interview…

Neither math nor marketing are included in my skill sets, but I have the suspicion this article falls into the “massage a large enough block of data with sufficient force, and you can prove anything category…








Long Read: “Cable News Charnel”

Alex Pareene, at the Baffler, on “Mayhem as a guide for living“:

… Local television news, the only local news many Americans consume, has long reserved airtime for a nightly street grotesque. A persistent majority of Americans believe crime is worsening, even as the actual rate of violent crime falls to levels not seen since the era of Mad Men. The disjuncture is almost certainly attributable to the pride of place that local news producers grant to any and all stories drenched in blood on the 6- and 11-o’clock broadcasts. Even if the crimes are fewer, they’re more likely to be “caught on camera” than ever, thanks to the prevalence of smart phones and the modern tendency to film everything. “Shocking footage tonight” is probably one of the most commonly entered teleprompter script lines in television.

Which now means that we’re in the middle of a fascinating experiment in which we learn what happens when those images run counter to the usual crime-news narrative of cops versus thugs. If we lay the cable coverage of the Baltimore riots side by side with the same networks’ ISIS fixation, something very close to a photographic negative emerges. In the case of ISIS, the inescapable brutality of videotaped murder seems to make the case for a violent response. But when it comes to images of violence on the streets of American inner cities, that core logic gets inverted. The recent, sickening spate of videos documenting the extrajudicial assassination of American citizens by police officers has been less professional than ISIS’s “slickly produced” iMovie-edited snuff films. Though as undersecretary Stengel would be quick to point out, that’s because they’ve mainly been produced by YOU, the diligent civilian content-creator; they were shot mainly with cellphones or surveillance cameras. The victims were Eric Garner, in New York City; Tamir Rice, in Cleveland; and Walter Scott, in South Carolina. Their deaths, along with the deaths of Michael Brown, Freddie Gray, and other, less publicized names from across the country, contributed to what has likely been the biggest outpouring of racially charged domestic unrest since the 1992 Los Angeles riots.

But in diametric contrast to the ISIS coverage, newscasters urge Americans outraged by these deaths to remain calm and peaceful, and to attempt to address their grievances through diplomacy, persuasion, and (eventually) in the voting booths. There was an immediate response, from almost every corner of the respectable mainstream press, to delegitimize violence as a proper response to violence…

The moralizing pundits, like the Baltimore police, seemed to fail to grasp that this time, the nation’s silent majority may be more sympathetic to the rioters than to the police. The regular comment-section eruptions of white-supremacist angst, of the sort that fueled Matt Drudge’s regular coverage of every instance of a black person hurting a white person in the Obama era, certainly continued to operate like clockwork. But the usual disingenuous calls for restrained responses to violent aggression didn’t seem to land as nicely as they had in the past…








Birth Certificate Watch: Day 1566

Why has Donald Trump not released his long form American birth certificate?

Rabid Pomeranian Hairpiece

On April 15, 2011, I mentioned, in passing, that Trump was not eligible to become President of the United States of America, by reason of:

(a) having been born in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico to my friend Mary Anne ‘Bitsy’ MacLeod Trump – a single, unnaturalised Scottish immigrant mother engaged in a bigamous marriage with Donald’s father, an American man called Frederick Christ Trump; and

(b) therefore, being either British or Mexican-born.*

This lead to a flurry of correspondence with lawyers; the sending of a laxative-laced fruit cake which cleared out the entire litigation group of Jarndyce and Jarndyce for about a week and a half; a futile threatening visit from two large men with too many knuckles and Carhartt tattoos (seen off by two randy pugs, a limpy chihuahua and several madwomen with canes and dodgy colostomy bags); the jogging forth from my aged memory of an anecdote about Bitsy Trump’s Christmas party and a quite lovely story in which Donald gets chomped on his ample balls by a pissed off pekinese called Frou-Frou; and further and extensive legal correspondence, culminating in the execution of a Deed under which I promised not to tell you all about the time that Donald was trapped in a steam room in Aspen with Joan Collins and her flatulent Burmese hairless, and Donald made me a small payment of damages that I blew on three weeks in Bermuda, a parking lot attendant named Juan and a kilo of blow.

The subsequent quiet, if uneasy, truce has been sullied only by my bribery of Donald’s maids to slip a few blueberry and ipecac muffins into the breakfast buffet every couple of months.

Just the other week, however, I received a call from my lawyer. He just wanted to note that the deed which Donald and I signed contained strict terms under which neither of us were ever to discuss Mexico or anything that ever happened there, up to and including the very existence of Mexico itself. Interestingly, my lawyer added, the fact that Donald has spent the last few weeks suggesting that all Mexicans want to come here and steal our women and fuck our jobs means, under the old legal maxim feci coram eo feceris,, that I can talk about whatever I damn well want. Read more








Open Thread: Speaking of Wingnuts with ‘Manliness’ Issues…

I’m glad my preferred Speaker-to-RWingers got around to an explainer on this sensitive topic, because I did not want to link to primary sources. Dave Weigel, in the Washington Post, on “‘Cuckservative’ — the conservative insult of the month“:

Late last week, a neologism was born. Twitter was the incubator. “Cuckservative,” a portmanteau of “conservative” and “cuckold” (i.e. a man whose wife has cheated on him) burned up Twitter as fans of Donald Trump’s politicking warred with the movement conservatives who opposed it.

RedState.com’s Erick Erickson, the Daily Caller’s Matt Lewis, and the team at the well-read conservative blog Ace of Spades were among the critics suddenly deluged with accusations of cuckservatism…

I’ll defer to Richard Spencer, president of the white nationalist National Policy Institute.

“#Cuckservative” is a full-scale revolt, by Identitarians and what I’ve called the ‘alt Right,’ against the Republican Party and conservative movement,” Spencer explained in an e-mail. “The ‘cuck’ slur is vulgar, yes, but then piercingly accurate. It is the cuckold who, whether knowingly or unknowingly, loses control of his future. This is an apt psychological portrait of white ‘conservatives,’ whose only identity is comprised of vague, abstract ‘values,’ and who are participating in the displacement of European Americans — their own children…

According to Spencer, “Trump is a major part of the ‘cuckservative’ phenomenon — but not because he himself is an Identitarian or traditionalist. His campaign is, in many ways, a backward-looking movement: ‘Let’s make America great again!’ Why Trump is attractive to Identitarians and the alt Right is: a) he is a tougher, superior man than ‘conservatives’ (which isn’t saying much), and b) he seems to grasp the demographic displacement of European-Americans on a visceral level. We see some hope there.”…

“Just look at them!” said Spencer. “Glenn Beck, Erik [sic] Erickson, Mike Huckabee. They’re mediocrities, or sub-mediocrities. They’re grinning, obese doofuses. No person with a deep soul — no person who wants to take part in a moment that’s idealistic, that’s going to change the world — would want to be a part of ‘conservatism.’ In a way, the current ‘cucks’ are the residue of the Bush era. They were the ‘conservative’ and ‘Religious Right’ allies of the neoconservatives. They’re still around, for no apparent reason.”…

Well, it’s always a fun time when Democracy’s enemies start turning on each other… Any odds on this neologism turning up during the Fox debates next week? And if so: “Serious contenders” debate, or the no-hoper “kiddy table” intro?
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Apart from a refreshing chug of brain bleach, what’s on the agenda for the evening?