Archive

September 12th, 2016

Five myths about smartphones

    Americans are estimated to check their smartphones a collective 8 billion times per day, and Nielsen says we spend an average of one hour and 39 minutes on our smartphones each day - up 60 percent from last year. But while many of us consider our smartphones to be an essential part of our lives, there are many misconceptions about how we use them and how they affect us.

 

    Myth No. 1

    Smartphones give people cancer.

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Can Hillary Clinton count on the Latino turnout she needs?

    One of the big questions about the 2016 campaign is this: Will voter groups in the vaunted Obama coalition turn out at levels this fall that rival their turnout in 2012?

    Key to this question is the enthusiasm level among Latinos. They are increasingly important to Democrats in national elections, because they are growing as a share of the electorate, even as Republicans appear paralyzed from doing anything to strike a more welcoming posture towards them and have nominated someone who insults Mexican immigrants for sport and vows mass deportations and a great wall keeping the hordes out.

    Yet some new polling released this week by Latino Decisions offers some mixed news for Democrats on this front.

    On the one hand, the poll finds that Hillary Clinton is beating Donald Trump by 70-17 among registered Latino voters nationally. That's better than Barack Obama was faring among Latinos at the same point in 2012, when Latino Decisions polling found him beating Mitt Romney by 64-21. In the end Obama beat Romney by 71-27 among Latinos in the election itself, so while Clinton is roughly at the same number among Latinos right now, Trump is doing substantially worse than Romney fared.

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The ‘Big Liar’ Technique

    Long ago, you-know-who suggested that propagandists should apply the “big lie” technique: make their falsehoods so huge, so egregious, that they would be widely accepted because nobody would believe they were lying on that grand a scale. And the technique has worked well for despots and would-be despots ever since.

    But Donald Trump has come up with something new, which we can call the “big liar” technique. Taken one at a time, his lies are medium-size — not trivial, but mostly not rising to the level of blood libel. But the lies are constant, coming in a steady torrent, and are never acknowledged, simply repeated. He evidently believes that this strategy will keep the news media flummoxed, unable to believe, or at least say openly, that the candidate of a major party lies that much.

    And Wednesday night’s “Commander in Chief” televised forum suggested that he may be right.

    Obligatory disclaimer: No, I’m not saying that Trump is another Hitler. More like Mussolini. But I digress.

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Tell us about that immigrant scourge, Mr. Builder

    He was in a pinch, on a deadline, and short on cash. So the employer hired undocumented workers.

    Working day and night, they demolished a building that the employer ultimately would replace with a structure that would make him a lot of money.

    When the workers complained about pay and dangerous conditions, the employer threatened to have them deported.

    That employer: Donald Trump.

    Reporting on this (how many of his supporters know this?), Time magazine quotes Trump’s own associate as saying the Polish nationals doing the groundwork that preceded Trump Tower in 1980 were paid “starvation wages.”

    Illegal immigration is a scourge, unless it makes you money.

    Listening to profiteers like Trump painting those horror stories about illegal immigration, it sounds to me like those high-profile sorts who, strumming Bibles to denounce homosexuals, later are found to be batting on both sides of the plate.

    Hypocrites.

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September 11th

Having trouble hiring? Try offering higher pay

    Pop quiz time. Which of the following explains the inability of employers to fill open positions:

    -- A lack of qualified workers?

    -- Low pay?

    -- Welfare state/transfer payments that make work unappealing?

    I'll try to answer that based on my own (admittedly anecdotal and limited) experience.

    A few years ago, I was trying to fill an opening in our New York office. I offered what I thought was a competitive salary for a junior position, including good benefits. No one seemed to fit the bill.

    I mentioned this to a friend who had a lot more hiring experience. I showed him all the details: Fast growing company, exciting work environment, lots of perks (window office, unlimited coffee). When it came to pay, he laughed at me. "You are trying to hire someone in a high paying industry in the most competitive and expensive city in the country for that job," he said. "Try raising your offer."

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The corrupt one is Trump

    Better than anyone, Donald Trump made the case for why our campaign money system is rotten. Unsurprisingly, the prime example he used was himself.

    "I was a businessman," Trump explained at a Republican debate in August 2015. "I give to everybody. When they call, I give. And you know what? When I need something from them two years later, three years later, I call them, they are there for me. And that's a broken system."

    Bravo. Sort of. In retrospect, it's remarkable that Republican primary voters seemed to reward Trump for saying that he bought off politicians right and left, as if admitting to soft bribery was a sign of what a great reformer he would be.

     And it turns out that there is one candidate who was so metaphysically perfect, so personally close to him, that Trump tells us his (illegal) contribution to her was not designed to make sure she'd be "there" for him.

     Meet Pam Bondi, Florida's attorney general.

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Forget opinion poll mania; real action is election night

    As America's voters ponder which of the two major-party presidential nominees they dislike less this year, polls continue to flood the political marketplace reporting a tightening race between them.

    A recent CNN/ORC survey, defying a public perception that Hillary Clinton could be heading toward a landslide over Donald Trump in November, actually reported him edging ahead of her nationally by two percentage points. How can this be?

    The simple answer is that we don't elect presidents by the national popular vote; we do so by the vote of the Electoral College, a non-matriculating, non-educational body with no students and no campus anywhere. Each of the 50 states, plus the District of Columbia, awards all of its electoral votes to one candidate, with 270 required for election.

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The Clinton campaign's bad damage control just made the health story even worse

    Conservative media coverage of Hillary Clinton's health has been borderline hysterical. OK, not even borderline - just plain hysterical. Amateur diagnoses of the Democratic presidential nominee on various news sites range from Parkinson's disease and cancer to radiation poisoning and aphasia. Mainstream outlets have generally dismissed such conjecture.

    But after Clinton was forced to leave a Sept. 11 memorial service early Sunday - feeling overheated, according to her campaign - the journalistic scrutiny seems likely to intensify. And not only - or even primarily - because of the overheating.

    The bigger issue is the secretive manner in which Clinton's campaign managed the incident. It is an approach that is sure to prove counterproductive than if reporters had been allowed to follow Clinton out of the ceremony or if aides had been faster to address her condition. A lack of information always makes journalists wonder whether something more serious is being kept hidden. It just does.

    In the immediate aftermath of Clinton's exit, reporters tweeted their frustration at not knowing what was going on - and being prevented from finding out.

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Trump's ignorance shows disdain for military

    It would have been nice to have been able to compare the candidates for president of the United States, and their plans for the military, veterans and national affairs.

    It would have helped to describe how Matt Lauer and NBC could have done a better job in orchestrating their so-called Commander in Chief forum on Wednesday night. It might have been useful to discuss how Hillary Clinton could have avoided giving up a third of her half-hour to questions about her emails. (Answer: It might have helped if she had held regular press conferences over the last year to deal with that issue.)

    But none of these subjects seems even as remotely relevant as the plain fact that the Republican nominee demonstrated yet again how he is entirely unprepared to be president.

    Donald Trump's answers on Wednesday night rarely reached the level of "wrong." Mostly what he said was incoherent gibberish.

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We'll never forget 9/11. How should we remember Ground Zero?

    In the frequently contentious debate over Ground Zero, the Vesey Street stairs generated an especially heated conflict.

    For hundreds of workers who managed to escape the World Trade Center complex on Sept. 11, 2001, the two flights of stairs were a cherished symbol. The stairs had led them from the site's elevated plaza, away from the collapsing buildings and falling debris, to the relative safety of the streets beyond. In the words of one survivor, "They were the path to freedom."

    For preservationists, the stairs were also important artifacts: the last above-ground remnants of the World Trade Center. "[They] will be the most dramatic original piece of the site that will have meaning to generations to come," Richard Moe, then president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, said in 2006, when the group petitioned for the stairs to be kept in place.

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