How to read the news.

I’ve been out of school a long time, so what I have to say now will probably come as a shock to some of you young’uns, but here goes:

Once in elementary school, and again in high school, I had lessons on how to read a newspaper.

Seriously. The teacher pinned a few pages to a bulletin board, and ran down what we needed to know, as little would-be news consumers. The grade-school lesson covered stuff like what we call the big type at the top of the front page, with the newspaper’s name (the flag), how to tell who wrote a particular story, and the difference between a straight news story and a feature, and between a feature and a column.

The high school class got into more specialized skills, including how to judge a story on its merits, the difference between a broadsheet and a tabloid, and a tabloid and a “tabloid.” While this was never stated explicitly, there was a strong bias to what’s come to be called the MSM or mainstream media, in part because there was very little alternative media at the time, the exception being the trashy movie magazines my grandmother favored. I would read them at her house with great relish, goggling over the back-of-the-book ads for Frederick’s of Hollywood and the Mark Eden Bust Developer; it was there I learned that “nervous exhaustion” was a synonym for “drunk,” among other things.

Years later, when I was working for a newspaper, I would get angry calls from readers saying, “This thing you wrote? It’s just your opinion.” And I would explain that yes it was, because I was a columnist and that was the job description. Clearly some of these people did not have the same lessons.

Anyway, that’s the long way around to something I see more often than ever these days, and people, it vexes me: Crap news. Crap news from crap sources. Today’s blog is a lesson in how to read news on the internet.

So. Consider a few headlines:

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Every one of these “stories” is, to put it bluntly, bullshit. Each one appeared on a website designed and curated for a particular constituency — in this case, top to bottom, right-to-lifers, organic-food advocates and …Not sure what is about, other than lefty politics and culture. But you knew that, right? Good. That’s the easy part.

Right here is where we talk about the difference between reporting and aggregation. All of the above constitutes aggregation. This blog — most blogs — are aggregation, in the sense that I go out on the web and look at others’ work, then bring it back here and link to it. In my case, I’m looking for two to three stories a day that I think would interest you, presented with and without comment. I think it’s clear that I only write the words around the links, and they’re worth approximately what you paid for them.

Reporting is much harder. It requires getting off your butt (or at least getting on the phone), talking to people, looking stuff up, questioning what you know. Nailing things down. I don’t want to self-aggrandize here, but you get the idea. It’s the difference between going out into the world and bringing home the bacon, and eating the bacon later.

But recent years have seen the rise of aggregation as more Americans’ primary source of news, which is alarming to real journalists. All of the above I found via the social-media accounts of non-insane Americans. The new media model is to Facebook-like or Twitter-follow people who share your basic political outlook or interests, then scroll through your feeds all day and click the stuff that tickles your fancy. It’ll be spun and repackaged to flatter and reinforce your beliefs, which will encourage you to share with your own networks. Viral trumps accuracy, always.

But it’s not just sites with obvious points of view that do this anymore. The Washington Post Morning Mix, which seems to be a rewrite desk aiming to catch the eyes of bored commuters staring at their smartphones, recently had this on their page. I’m giving you a screen grab of how it appeared on a typical Facebook post because I want you get the full effect:

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The sobbing woman, the “state of emergency,” lead in a municipal water supply — how can you not click that? And while every word in the story is accurate, the Washington Post wasn’t in Flint to report it; it’s entirely aggregated from stories written by others, and it lacks the context you need to understand what’s going on. The story of the contamination of Flint’s water is complicated, fraught with idiosyncrasies of Michigan politics and other things that make it difficult to fully understand as a casual reader — like plumbing. The state of emergency the mayor declared is a political move, which she freely admits, if you cared enough to follow the links in the story:

The new mayor asked that the Genesee County Board of Commissioners call a special meeting to take action to support her declaration, that it be forwarded to Gov. Rick Snyder, and potentially President Obama.

The end result of the resolution is not known, but Weaver said the city can’t expect further help from the federal government without it.

“Do we meet the criteria (for a disaster area)? I don’t know,” Weaver said. “I’m going to ask and let them tell us no.”

You might think, reading this headline, that the city is still drinking the Flint River water that led to this slow-motion disaster, and they’re not; they switched back to treated water from Detroit weeks ago. That doesn’t mean the crisis is over, not by a long shot — now the fact-finding and blame assignment begins, as well as the inevitable lawsuits. And there is some concern that the Flint River water may have further corroded pipes, and the water may not be as safe as it was before the initial switch. (The lead in the water comes not from the source, but from leaching from the pipes that carry it, specifically the welds. That’s why some kids got more lead exposure than others — the older the infrastructure serving your house, the more likely you were to have lead in your drinking water.)

Another screen grab:

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That’s Google on Thursday. Note how many outlets picked it up — NPR, the networks, even other aggregators like the Huffington Post. As of late Thursday, it was still on the top-five most-read list on the Post website. All without a visit by any reporter. It’s really something.

You want to know what’s going on in Flint? Here’s a radio documentary. Here’s a newspaper story (Sunday-length). Here’s a column. All from local sources, backed up by lots of reporting.

So when you look at something that’s being presented to you as journalism, look at the whole picture. Ask yourself: Did the person whose name appears at the top of the story actually get out and talk to the people quoted and cited, or is it filled with phrases like “…told the New York Times,” or “according to this other source,” etc. Is this in a publication that regularly tells me everything I believe is right and true? Most important: If this event happened in Tampa or New Orleans or Los Angeles, is the story I’m reading from a local media source, or is it from an advocacy group based hundreds of miles away? Local is good, and not just for vegetables.

Enough lesson-ing for today. Here’s a great story from Bridge today; you’ll like it. It’s about a homeless college student, and beautifully done.

Here’s another good read, about aggregation, by an aggregator, for a source I see cited ALL THE TIME.

I’ve been giggling over this short clip, which says everything I want to say about “Star Wars.”

Enjoy your weekend! I’m off for a while. But I’ll be here, of course.

Posted at 11:29 pm in Media |

61 responses to “How to read the news.”

  1. Dexter said on December 18, 2015 at 12:54 am

    The first reporter I remember reading was Drew Pearson, whose Washington column was syndicated and the FW Journal-Gazette printed it. I am sure I remember this because my dad was always quoting something Pearson had dug up and written about.
    A couple years ago I let my The New Yorker subscription lapse, but before that I would have to say I liked the way Tad Friend researched and wrote stories about varied topics. See for yourselves:
    And since we sort of re-structured our finance planning, I am going to resume The New Yorker next month.

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  2. Jill said on December 18, 2015 at 1:04 am

    I’m so glad it’s not just me noticing how bullshit clickbait stories get onto the evening news. Without adding anything to the story, they take it straight from the aggregate which didn’t likely cite sources or if it did, it was itself an aggregate… so there was no real reporting done or even, verification. It drives me bonkers. AND it will be at least a week after it was a meme everywhere. madness I tell you.

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  3. Sherri said on December 18, 2015 at 2:44 am

    A good friend of mine worked on Google News about 10 years ago, and I complained to him that when I looked up news on their site, I really wanted it to give me the story from the nearest outlet to the event or incident. He no longer works on Google News, and it still doesn’t give me the stories I want first.

    There’s a more general need to be able to evaluate information, whether from journalists or scientists or any other experts. As near as I can tell, the only thing my daughter’s teachers did in this area was tell her “don’t use Wikipedia,” which as instruction on evaluating information, is not all that helpful.

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  4. Sherri said on December 18, 2015 at 2:50 am

    Oh, and not that people here probably need the warning, but do not trust anything you read in the Daily Mail related to science. If the Daily Mail says the sun rises in the east, better take a week of observations yourself before you trust it.

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  5. ROGirl said on December 18, 2015 at 5:17 am

    Idiotic headlines = clickbait. They grab attention (and make money), and context has no place in their existence. Kind of like Trump’s declaration that he will bomb the shit out of ISIS. He’s human clickbait, and he could end up being the Republican nominee.

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  6. Deborah said on December 18, 2015 at 7:16 am

    Interesting post. It’s good to be reminded.

    Here’s an off topic question for Jeff (tmmo), I read in the Santa Fe New Mexican this bit,
    “In an effort to curb truancy rates and increase graduation numbers across New Mexico, a Republican state lawmaker will push for a bill denying driving privileges to students who habitually skip school.”
    Knowing next to nothing about motivating truants to get to school, this doesn’t sound like a great strategy to me. What do you think, Jeff? The legislator was quoted saying, “Driving is a privilege; it’s not a right,” Sen. Craig Brandt, R-Rio Rancho, said Thursday. “It’s always been a privilege. And there are certain things we have to do in our society to earn privileges.” Here’s a link to the full article but I think there’s a paywall

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  7. Suzanne said on December 18, 2015 at 7:33 am

    If only curing truancy was that simple. It’s the simplistic modern way to problem solve–just set the bar higher, or farther (further? One grammar point I never can remember), or around a bigger bend and viola! People will automatically rise to the challenge and achieve! Take those kids driver’s licenses away and they’ll magically escape the bonds of their enabling parents who, in my limited experience, often say, “Well, shoot, I skipped school all the time and I turned out fine!” and their dysfunctional lives to show up to classes they see no point in taking. And golly, I am sure none of them would even think of driving without a license.

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  8. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on December 18, 2015 at 7:48 am

    Hmm. I’m not in love with the idea, but it’s surprising NM doesn’t already have it. What’s in the ORC for Ohio is that the superintendent has the option to remove both driving privileges and work permits. It’s discretion. And I’ll admit, we’ve been in some situations, especially in the west edge of this county, where all the big Limited warehouses are, and we have young people who are perfect in attendance at a 30 hour a week job, and are missing lots of school, and as we’re trying to talk through the whys and wherefores of their choices (if you get in at 17 to Abercrombie & Fitch and do well the first two months, it’s a great job, but not something you’re gonna do the rest of your life; $15 an hour to run for eight hours shuffling boxes around a complex). So when a school official (principal, dean of students, head of counseling, someone like that) and I are sitting with a very mature and school-weary 17 year old and an even more weary and withdrawn parent (do they have a history of trauma themselves? are they abused by their teen child? is their own working class life leaving them beaten and indifferent? Sometimes I can get them into the conversation, often not — I got 45 minutes to unpack their world and create a plan that avoids court, so no miracles most days), it can be useful to have a hole card: do you understand that you are very near graduation, after which you may do what you like with education, but if you bail at 18, no diploma, you’re starting to dig a hole that’s harder to get out of than some people are telling you? So if you don’t get your school back up on top as a priority, this person sitting next to me has the option to withdraw your driver’s license and/or your work permit? It rarely happens, but it’s leverage.

    I don’t like using it, but I’d hate to lose it, as I don’t like giving away anything in my toolkit (puny that it is) until I have to. So for New Mexico, I dunno. As long as it’s there for district officials to use only a) with accountability, and b) after reasonable interventions have been used first, I think it could be okay.

    As to b), I’m quietly working behind a bill here to remove the ability to suspend students for missing school, which is getting me some interesting flack from superintendents and principals. To which I say “see my thumb and forefinger? they’re playing the smallest violin in the world, and the tune “My Heart Bleeds For You.”

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  9. Suzanne said on December 18, 2015 at 8:35 am

    Jeff, yes, in my rural area, I’ve known several high school kids who have 30 hr per week jobs and try to go to school. Most generally, their parents are fine with them having that job even if the kid’s grades are barely enough to keep them from education disaster. The mentality is that they need to learn to work and where better to do so than at a job? I wonder always about the employer that is ok with scheduling a kid for so many hours knowing that it has to interfere with the kid’s educational prospects, but usually the boss knows the kid’s dad, and they talk, and it’s all ok.

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  10. Jolene said on December 18, 2015 at 8:51 am

    Nancy’s link to the Bridge story describes a kid who is struggling in a different way, struggling to finish college while homeless. I can’t even imagine how it’s possible to do academic work under those circumstances (and to do pretty well too; he has a 3.4 GPA).

    A reader set up a GoFundMe page for him. With a bit more help, he may be able to find housing until he finishes school. He’s a senior now.

    The article describes an underfunded program at the college to help homeless students. There’s a fund for that too.

    Definitely check out the article. Though it’s awful to read about the struggle this young man has faced, it’s inspiring to witness, even from a distance, his courage and persistence. Worth checking out the comments too. Lots of good people trying to be helpful.

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  11. nancy said on December 18, 2015 at 9:08 am

    The progress so far, front and back. Advice and guidance?



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  12. Julie Robinson said on December 18, 2015 at 9:23 am

    Love it!! Is there space on that back wall for “made in China”?

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  13. jcburns said on December 18, 2015 at 9:28 am

    That gingerbread house is wonderful…and makes me realize that Trump himself oughta get his name attached to his hair in golden spangles like the roof you’ve depicted there. Would give that final je-ne-sais-yeesh to his look.

    And this morning’s essay on reading the news and aggregation is clear, sharp, spot-on. I will now go out and stop random passers-by and urge them to read it and understand the full import.

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  14. brian stouder said on December 18, 2015 at 9:36 am

    Excellent ginger-Trump house!

    If you had a Ken doll that could be shirtless and riding a horse (Putin-style), that might make a nice addition to the backyard!

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  15. LAMary said on December 18, 2015 at 9:47 am

    Nervous exhaustion is known as tired and emotional in UK. As in “Princess Margaret was tired and emotional when she left the party.”

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  16. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on December 18, 2015 at 9:53 am

    This describes the bill I’m working with:

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  17. nancy said on December 18, 2015 at 9:58 am

    The house is by no means finished. I’m looking for a human figure to add, but I’m not sure whether it should be a modified cake topper, or what. I figure I can finesse the hair with a cotton ball and gold spray paint.

    That carrot/stick policy approach has its fans here in Michigan, where welfare benefits were tied to truancy of minor children a while back.

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  18. alex said on December 18, 2015 at 10:09 am

    In our little exurban burg of Huntington, the high school has what’s called a co-op program where kids earn high school credit while working since that’s what they were going to do anyway, and it’s also set up to handle at-risk kids who are emancipated from bad home situations and need to be self-supporting. It’s a partnership between the school and businesses and does a fair job of making sure kids get diplomas who might otherwise give up.

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  19. Deborah said on December 18, 2015 at 10:39 am

    Thanks Jeff, I knew you could explain it. I had no idea that it was so widespread, I thought New Mexico was embarking on a crazy, new fangled idea. It does make sense to some degree, if it is used sparingly as last resort and there is a lot of follow through and support. The article also said that Gov Martinez has put more money into counselors and whatnot so maybe it will help. New Mexico is second to last in high school graduation rates.

    Nancy, love the Trump house. Definitely put a small doll with hair in front of it. There was a gingerbread house display at the airport in Albuquerque (yesterday we picked up my husband there). I have to say some of them were really impressive. One had a Starwars theme of course, it was very well done.

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  20. Deborah said on December 18, 2015 at 10:41 am

    Of course it’s expensive. Why wouldn’t it be?

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  21. alex said on December 18, 2015 at 10:49 am

    Oh, and speaking of how to read the news…

    Never assume it isn’t bullshit just because it was written by real reporters at a reputable rag like the New York Times.

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  22. Mark P said on December 18, 2015 at 11:18 am

    We certainly never had a newspaper reading class. I wonder how much good it would have done.

    Once you figure out some things, you begin to realize that there is a certain type of story that you should always be skeptical about, no matter what the source. Medical stories fall into a general category of “a study found”, which can include almost everything. The first response when reading such a story is to say, “I doubt it.” Generally, although not always, it’s not the study but the report on the study that’s the problem. Virtually everyone, from the most reputable news organizations to the least reputable, will extract some little string of words that sound dramatic and use them as if they characterize the entire study. They also almost always ignore any qualifying statements, if they appear anywhere in the study itself. Some of the blame goes to the researchers (or possibly the PR office of the institution where they work). If the study appears in a reputable journal in the field, the reader is expected to have enough experience to judge the strength of the conclusions. General news reporters and those who read their reports don’t have that experience, and the news releases almost never convey things like how strong the conclusions are, how much error there is, or what, if anything, the conclusions actually imply.

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  23. 4dbirds said on December 18, 2015 at 11:27 am

    “nervous exhaustion” was a synonym for “drunk,”. I learned something today. I never knew exactly what it meant but I sure did speculate.

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  24. nancy said on December 18, 2015 at 11:34 am

    Don’t get me started on studies. When I clipped news for the pharma industry, I learned a lot about judging them. “Small study” generally means “this could be interesting, but needs way more research.” You also looked at the bona fides of the group doing the study. All of this is meaningless to most news outlets, which simply are a maw that must be continually fed with “a new study suggests” b.s. stories.

    It’s enough to make me like Princess Margaret — tired and emotional. (A great phrase, btw, and one I’m going to hang on to.)

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  25. Deborah said on December 18, 2015 at 11:34 am

    If anyone is listening to season 2 of Serial, they are really getting into the Bowe Bergdahl incident. The film maker who compiled all of the interviews they are using for the podcasts with Bergdahl for an upcoming documentary, said his incentive was to go deep into a subject instead of getting scraps from the news media then people coming to conclusions based on few facts and little context. Yesterday episode 2 came out and they interviewed the Taliban for their take. It was fascinating.

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  26. brian stouder said on December 18, 2015 at 12:26 pm

    I’m trying to think if there could ever be a movie that would prompt me to stand in a line for 24 straight hours, in order to view it………

    maybe one with Sophia Vergara unclad?…….


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  27. Jakash said on December 18, 2015 at 12:33 pm

    Re: the slogan on the roof of the swell house. A commenter on N. Steinberg’s blog yesterday suggested that a more accurate catchphrase for Trump would be “Make America Hate Again.”

    Seeing it red-lined above causes me to wonder, BTW, why is “commenter” not an acceptable word?

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  28. Kirk said on December 18, 2015 at 1:58 pm

    MarkP@22: What you say applies to most people here. Sadly, to the great unwashed, not so much.

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  29. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on December 18, 2015 at 2:52 pm

    Nancy, you need a bunch of this for on top:

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  30. Sherri said on December 18, 2015 at 2:54 pm

    The Washington Supreme Court recently ruled that charter schools were not constitutionally entitled to public funds. So, the charter schools are forming a PAC to give money to legislators to change things, planning to raise $500K. More money has been spent trying to get a foothold with charters in Washington than has been spent actually educating children in charters. It took three attempts to get an initiative passed that allowed a limited number of charters, and there are 10 in the state. The first charter school in the state has already failed and is going private again.

    Tons of Gates money was spent to narrowly pass the initiative. When the Supreme Court ruled charter unconstitutional, a $14 million fund to keep the charter alive suddenly appeared. The Washington State Charter School Association has $5 million, and that didn’t come from membership dues. They’re a 501(c)3 though, so they can’t give that money to legislators directly; they have to form a PAC to do that.

    Meanwhile, the legislature is still in contempt of the Supreme Court over their failure to adequately fund basic education in the public school system, which the state constitution defines as the paramount duty of the state.

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; if Gates wants an experimental education system, I’m all in favor of it, as long as he funds it.

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  31. brian stouder said on December 18, 2015 at 3:05 pm

    See, that’s the thing.

    I cannot help but view charter schools – first, last, and always – as a money-grab, period.

    If we once agree that publically-funded schools are a positive good; or in fact, an indispensable requirement of any civilized society –

    then the only question is, who will run them?

    When there are public funds, there should be public over-sight, public accountability, and public access to the decision-making/policy-making apparatus.

    These “private” hogs, rooting around for public money, can simply say “we’re out” at any point – and then their successor can swoop in and make some more money (until THEY swoop away) – and where is John and Jane Q Citizen? How are their interests served? and what of their children?

    The willful assault on publically accountable education is the one subject that I would march in the streets over

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  32. Hattie said on December 18, 2015 at 3:09 pm

    Our local paper has several yuge articles about the new Star Wars movie.

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  33. Sherri said on December 18, 2015 at 3:20 pm

    Speaking of fake news, WaPo gives up on “What was Fake on the Internet”

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  34. Charlotte said on December 18, 2015 at 5:14 pm

    If you’re not listening to the Sex, Death and Money podcast, you’re missing out — and today’s ep just loaded, header “Stop Calling Me The Homeless Valedectorian” (

    Livingston is right on the verge of problematic gentrification, and I think one of the things that saves us is that we don’t have any private or charter schools (aside from 2 Montessori schools for little kids). Our current state rep is a Charter Schools lobbyist — who won because the Democratic candidate ran a campaign that astonishingly, outdid her first campaign for laziness (and she married into a major Montana GOP family with HUGE money). Since our legislature only meets every other year for 3 months, they can’t do too much damage … but big money dumping even here for charter schools. For the meantime though, all our kids, rich and poor (and our poor is *really* poor) go to school together and the community pitches in to see that any kid who wants to play an instrument can get one, and that any kid who wants to go to the Winter Formal can get a nice outfit (without public shaming).

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  35. jcburns said on December 18, 2015 at 5:45 pm

    A propos of the gingerbread house….looks like you left room for a luxurious slow moving escalator from the top floor down the side…

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  36. Jim G said on December 18, 2015 at 5:51 pm

    After I went to law school, I could no longer read a newspaper article about a lawsuit without extreme skepticism (and the desire for an article, just once, to give the name of the case so I could look it up for myself). Not long after, I enrolled in a Ph.D. program that has likewise ruined reporting in the social sciences. The number of times papers claim that a “study finds” something that the study not only did not really find, but, oftentimes, explicitly says should not be the take-away…well, it’s a lot, is what I’m saying. It’s easy to blame reporters looking for good headlines, but there are also more than a few academics out there who are all too happy to spin their findings to get their names in the paper.

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  37. Jolene said on December 18, 2015 at 5:59 pm

    How about the Trump plane? Is there room for a toy aircraft? Perhaps Alan could paint it. Men know how to do those things, right?

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  38. David C. said on December 18, 2015 at 6:10 pm

    With our social safety net being shitty and getting shittier, does starting a GoFundMe campaign for a young man with a compelling story help or hurt? It certainly helps him, and that’s fine. But do people throw $5 into the kitty and quit thinking about how and why someone can work two part time jobs and still be in such dire straits? Do they tell themselves that some jobs just aren’t worth a living wage? Something I hear all the time. I don’t want to sound hard-hearted, but it’s only solving the problem in the most narrow sense. It does help GoFundMe, I suppose, and I hope I’m not the only one who thinks raking a 5% commission off other people’s misery is a pretty fucked-up business model.

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  39. Sherri said on December 18, 2015 at 7:02 pm

    You’re not the only one, David C. GoFundMe seems like high-tech panhandling to me.

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  40. LAMary said on December 18, 2015 at 7:12 pm

    Tired and emotional is wonderful. The same publication that used that a lot referred to the The Guardian as the Gruniad because it was so full of typos. During the time of Prime Minister Wilson, they referred to him as Wislon because the Gruniad had called that once or twice.

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  41. Dexter said on December 18, 2015 at 8:32 pm

    Loving Jolene’s idea on the Trump plane. Love the Trump theme, made me laugh.

    I never had any negativity about GoFundMe because I assumed it was used only to start worthy projects, not to collect cash for anybody in a bad situation. Then about five days ago the blog mistress from a blog I read posts a GoFundMe request for cash to get a $1,200 car repair paid. Most of the 8,000 readers are young folks and the first three days the fund collected $180. I hope she makes her goal and gets her car fixed. Maybe I’ll send her a $100 pre-paid gasoline card…maybe I won’t. I am a real devotee of the theme of that blog, “Trailer Park Boys”. Some of those young people post hilarious memes and comments about that zany Netflix show. Now, as secondary character “Cyrus” says, “Fuck off! I got work to do.”

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  42. Connie said on December 19, 2015 at 6:30 am

    20 best films of the year list from AV club. I’m not much of a movie goer. Not only have I not seen any of them , I’ve only heard of 4. My only shopping left is a trip to Target and that list includes the DVD of Inside Out, so I might see one of the twenty before the year is out.

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  43. beb said on December 19, 2015 at 9:55 am

    First off: never had a class in school on how to read the news, but it does seem increasingly necessary when it comes to reading the internet.

    In Star Wars related news… The Marcus theater chain, a division of AMC, has a policy where people with concealed gun permits are allowed to bring them into a theater but people in costume can not bring their toy costume guns. What a world.

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  44. Deborah said on December 19, 2015 at 10:10 am

    Connie, I have only seen 2 of the movies on that list but I want to see more, particularly “45 Years”, I love, love, love Charlotte Rampling. We’re going to see “Carol” which comes this week to a theater nearby. The movie “Siracio” was filmed in New Mexico, the young woman who lives in the apartment next door did hair and make-up for that. She’s in either or Hawaii or Australia now working on another movie. I also want to see the movie “The Danish Girl” but it’s not playing anywhere in Santa Fe, is it even out yet?

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  45. Connie said on December 19, 2015 at 10:37 am

    The Republicats. The Republican debate recast by Andrew Lloyd Webber. Even funnier if you’ve been to “Cats”.

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  46. Charlotte said on December 19, 2015 at 11:08 am

    Rhetorical analysis of news sources was how we started Composition classes at both the U of Utah and UC Davis when I taught there. It was a SHOCK to many of our students that the news was not “true” or “unbiased” — especially for my Mormon students, who had been explicitly taught they whole lives never to question a text. This was in the early 90s though, and I expect it’s even more complicated now by the decades of misinformation spewed out by the likes of Glenn Beck.

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  47. Brandon said on December 19, 2015 at 1:00 pm

    Donald Trump’s penthouse triplex in N.Y.C.’s Trump Tower is both shocking and exactly what you’d expect: gold walls, marble floors, ornate columns, Versailles-style furniture, enormous crystal chandeliers, frescoes on the ceiling and panoramic views of Manhattan and well beyond.

    But the Republican presidential hopeful insists that if he were to eventually make it to the White House, he wouldn’t impart his signature gold palette on the West Wing.

    “If I were elected I would probably look at the White House, and maybe touch it up a little bit,” he says. “But the White House is a special place you don’t want to do too much touching.”

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  48. Sherri said on December 19, 2015 at 2:50 pm

    Here’s a good explanation of what actually happened in the Bernie Sanders-DNC campaign data flap, without all the conspiracy theories:

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  49. Sherri said on December 19, 2015 at 4:52 pm

    When the revolution comes, hedge funders and private equity guys should be the first against the wall. Privatize the profits, socialize the risks:

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  50. ROGirl said on December 19, 2015 at 6:06 pm

    If this is a hoax I’ll be deeply disappointed.

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  51. Deborah said on December 19, 2015 at 11:29 pm

    This hotel is not that far away, apparently the NM Guv, Suzanna Martinez was in one of the rooms with some of her staff having a holiday party, someone complained about noise and she intervened with the authorities. You can listen to some of the recordings of calls to the police on the link. It doesn’t sound like a big deal to me, it seems to be blown out of proportion.

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  52. alex said on December 20, 2015 at 9:04 am

    So anyone watch the debate? We finished the day with it, wiped out from remodeling work.

    Yesterday installed our exposed spiral ductwork, a 16-inch vertical pipe from ceiling to floor that replaces some unsightly conventional ductwork formerly surrounded by walls. We opened the walls up to expose some lovely fireplace stonework that had been hidden and also create additional counter and wall space in our kitchen. My partner likes it but I think I might want to fur it out with a boxy surround of some sort because it’s so big and round and shiny metallic and not in keeping with the overall design of the house, which has a modernist vibe but rather more rustic than industrial.

    Can’t wait to get done with all of the work so I can get down to the business of decorating, which is what I really love. After ten years with the same decor, I’m tired of it and want to start all over.

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  53. David C. said on December 20, 2015 at 10:38 am

    I raised my hand and took a solemn oath to not watch another debate. Watching a Republican debate would just piss me off and raise my blood pressure. Watching a Democratic debate will just reinforce that any one of them will make a far better, wiser President than any of the Rs, so why take time that I could use in other ways. If anything I should know about happens, I’ll be able to find out at my leisure. I don’t particularly know what could happen that I should know about. Maybe Bernie says Leonid Brezhnev was a groovy guy, or Hillary blurts out that her biggest mistake was not burying Vince Foster before the cops showed up, or Martin O’Malley does anything. Short of that, my mind is made up.

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  54. alex said on December 20, 2015 at 11:37 am

    I watched and thought some of the questioning was stupid, particularly on foreign policy. Hillary at one point told Martha Raddatz that she was asking questions with false choices. O’Malley was kind of stiff and his pat response to just about any question was how he had already singlehandedly tackled this or that problem in the state of Maryland, which I hadn’t been aware was such a utopia of peace and prosperity. Bernie just frothed at the mouth about big banks pretty much regardless of the question. It looks like it’s gonna be President Hillary. I just hope the progressives don’t stay home in a snit if they can’t have their Bernie.

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  55. Dexter said on December 20, 2015 at 12:05 pm

    I made it, my vow not to watch any debates until a year before November ’16. I watched last night “pillar to post”. O’Malley , meh…a programmed robot who reminds me of a Promise Keepers white preacher. Bernie just isn’t mean enough, and Hillary’s claim about “going after Wall Street” was laughable.
    I was hoping I could be re-invigorated for 2016, but the memories of being hopeful for Mondale, Dukakis, Bayh, McGovern (especially McGovern and way back to ’68, Eugene McCarthy), Al Gore (what a screw job he took!) , John F. Kerry…see what I mean? Many other failed hopefuls and beaten candidates…I remain a bg burnout. When we got our way, Clinton shit on us with NAFTA, and Obama’s promise to “close Guantanamo Bay prison within thirty days” meant in his last approaching full year at 1600 , he’s STILL promising that! (he did again just 48 hours ago…unreal, that man).

    Christmas Eve & Day will be spent in the big house in Columbus, Ohio where my granddaughter and her parents abide. This year the spiritual-sleigh, in the form of my beat Chrysler minivan, will be chock-fulla presents for the first Christmas in a while…just took a bit of planning. I have taken to donning my Santa’s helper red hat…watch out, I’m hell-bent on having one great Christmas.

    If you get Netflix programming, watch the new animated “F is for Family”, Bill Burr’s masterpiece cartoon. If you remember the 1970s, you’ll love the detail of this brilliant work. The cars, the hair, the incessant smoking, the house decor, the beat cars and station wagons, the billboards, the references, the hilarious episode about the first answering machine, this show is a veritable time machine made with precise adherence to the year 1973.

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  56. beb said on December 20, 2015 at 1:14 pm

    An interesting read, not much surprising in it but still interesting:

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  57. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on December 20, 2015 at 4:10 pm

    ROGirl, Ron Rosenbaum got virtually half his book “Explaining Hitler” from that dubious but deathless factoid. And the answer is “could be.”

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  58. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on December 20, 2015 at 5:28 pm

    Nice CSPAN2 interview to give you the high points:

    45 minutes and Ron allowed to speak at length. But the book is well worth your time.

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  59. alex said on December 20, 2015 at 7:09 pm

    Half a book from half a bag ain’t half bad.

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  60. Deborah said on December 20, 2015 at 7:33 pm

    Little Bird and I made gingerbread cookies this afternoon. I can’t remember where I saw the recipe, maybe NYT?? They have bacon fat in them. Our cookies look ridiculous but they taste fantastic. We waited too long to buy the frosting and decorations, they were actually sold out but we only went to one place so we didn’t try that hard. We got some sugared googly eyes and I made frosting that we put in a ziplock bag and then cut the tiny corner off to squeeze out of. That is harder to do than it seems, we made scraggly smiles that way. We also had a lame gingerbread boy cookie cutter that we got a Target, when they baked they puffed out a lot and barely looked anthropomorphic. LB is sending most of the cookies to a friend and I ate a bunch of them. All in all, for the first time ever making them they weren’t bad and mostly we had fun.

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  61. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on December 20, 2015 at 8:49 pm

    GOP debate summary –

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