A Sand Wedge Issue, Ctd

Aug 29 2014 @ 10:02am
by Dish Staff


The public isn’t buying criticism of Obama’s golf habit, but as usual, there’s a distinct partisan split:

The opinions of Republicans, who mostly think Obama plays too much golf, and independents, who are split on the question, look a bit more like the current president’s favorability numbers when his name is mentioned. However, compared to the 87% of Republicans in the survey who have an unfavourable opinion of Obama, the 55% who say he plays too much golf could seem small. Among all the respondents who have overall negative opinions about President Obama, only half go on to say he plays “too much” golf, revealing a significant number of Americans who are otherwise unhappy with the president, but unprepared to extend their opprobrium to his golf habit. By contrast, only 4% of those who see the president favorably think he plays too much golf.

Michael Brendan Dougherty joins the chorus rolling their eyes at this line of attack:

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by Dish Staff

A reader adds his two cents to the discussion:

I wouldn’t want my daughter to make her living in porn, but not because I have a moral objection to it. My problem is with the career trajectory. A porn actress’s earning power peaks fairly early on. And after that happens and she wants to get a job outside of the adult industry, that porn history will put a pretty low glass ceiling over her head.

Another has a more philosophical objection:

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The Battle For The Youth Vote

Aug 29 2014 @ 8:57am
by Dish Staff

The Onion is watching it closely:

Libertarian Nick Gillespie – shock – suggests a more libertarian candidate would do the GOP good:

If the economy stays flat or especially rough for younger Americans, or if we’re plunged back into aimless wars without end, all that will make things tougher still for any Democrat in 2016 to easily win the youth vote. Especially if [Clinton] is facing a youthful Republican who is OK with pot legalization and gay marriage, pro-privacy, anti-war, and seems to have a clue on economic policy.

Alan I. Abramowitz shatters Gillespie’s fantasy. He finds that “nominating libertarian candidates would be unlikely to improve the Republican Party’s performance among younger voters because these voters are much more likely to be liberals than libertarians and because the vast majority of those who do hold libertarian views already identify with the Republican Party and vote for Republican candidates”:

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Hollywood Handouts

Aug 29 2014 @ 8:29am
by Dish Staff

California Governor Jerry Brown has approved a bill offering up to $330 million in tax credits to subsidize film and TV production in the state over the next five years. Dennis Saffran blasts a similar program in New York, which costs taxpayers millions and offers little in the way of a return:

Its $420 million price tag makes it the state’s second-largest tax subsidy, trailing only the credit for redevelopment of contaminated “brownfields” (itself a program of dubious merit benefitting a politically favored industry). Both were blasted in a report prepared last year for Cuomo’s tax-reform commission, which recommended cutting the film-credit program by $50 million because “it does not appear to pay for itself.” The report spelled out how lucrative the film credits—which equal at least 30 percent of qualifying production costs—can be to their recipients. The “credit exceeds tax liability many times over,” the report’s authors noted. And because the credit is “refundable”—meaning that the taxpayer is entitled not only to a tax refund but also to a cash payment if the credit exceeds tax liability—the state in fact receives no tax revenue, but rather pays recipients to film here.

These payments go to a tiny sliver of the state’s businesses. The report noted that the “film production credit accounts for 22 percent of the total cost of New York’s business tax credits, but the industry accounts for less than one percent of the state’s employment.”

The Dish last took a look at film and TV production credits back in February, when the producers of House of Cards tried to shake down Maryland for a bigger tax break.

Chart Of The Day

Aug 29 2014 @ 8:02am
by Dish Staff

Swear Words

Swearing may be getting more common:

Kristin Jay, a psychologist at Marist College who’s collected data on public swearing says that, on the whole, it seems to be getting somewhat more common. Recently, she and her husband Timothy Jay asked a group of American adults to rigorously record every time they heard a swear word in public for an entire year. When they compared their data to a similar study conducted in 1986, they found that the frequency of most words had increased over time.

In an interview, Jay cautioned from reading too deeply into the findings — especially on the individual word level — because the volunteers might not have perfectly recorded every curse they heard, and the subjects weren’t spread out across the country (they were clustered in New England and Southern California). That said, Jay notes one possible reason that swearing may be on the upswing. “We see changing speech standards in the media we consume,” she says. “The media we used to consume were much more sanitized, and we had fewer things to choose from and less control over what we exposed ourselves to.”

Counting The Poorest Among Us

Aug 29 2014 @ 7:35am
by Dish Staff

Jordan Weissmann highlights some recent attempts to ascertain how many Americans live in extreme poverty—under $2 a day—that came up with very different numbers:

According to H. Luke Shaefer of the University of Michigan and Kathryn Edin of Johns Hopkins, the number of families living under that low, low line has grown 159 percent since 1996. … Part of the reason Shaefer and Edin’s headline number was so startlingly high—they calculated that the extreme poverty rate among households with children was a chilling 4.3 percent—could be attributed to a very narrow definition of income that ignored all noncash safety net benefits. Today, most of the government’s poverty-fighting efforts don’t involve straightforward cash. Food stamps? Housing vouchers? Tax credits? None were included. Once they accounted for those programs, only 613,000 families were living below the $2-a-day mark in 2011—still up by about half since the Clinton years.

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An Apple A Year

Aug 28 2014 @ 8:29pm
by Sue Halpern


What do I (think I) know about the new iPhone 6? That it’s going to have a bigger screen. That’s it’s going to have two bigger screens since there will be two models. That the model with the even bigger screen is not going to be available right away. That both screens are going to be made from “stronger than steel” sapphire glass. That it is going to have rounded edges, just like the old days. That it is going to have a whole new operating system. That it will be able to measure my heart rate and count my steps. That it will be my e-wallet. That it is being unveiled on September 9th. That it is going to be cool. Really cool. So very cool that something on the order of 80 million people will ditch their previously really cool phone and buy one of these new, cooler, ones.

What do I know about the new iPad? That’s going to have a bigger screen. Way bigger than the iPad mini, which the company was finally compelled to produce after Samsung, Asus and Google showed that a segment of the population wanted to downsize. And it was great. But this new iPad is going to be greater. Literally. By about four inches greater. Why is bigger better? Bigger is always better, except when smaller is better. (Let’s hear it for the diminutive 11 inch MacBook Air on which I am typing this!)

What do I know about the new iWatch? That Apple hired a marketing executive from an actual watch company, which must mean that it is finally about to enter the wearable tech sector. That the iWatch is going to be announced along with the new iPhones on September 9th. Maybe.

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Golden Age of Radio, Ctd

Aug 28 2014 @ 8:01pm
by Bill McKibben

So many great responses to my musings on audio documentaries yesterday with lots of suggestions: Radioopensource.org, with the inimitable veteran Christopher Lydon and his equally inimitable producer Mary McGrath; 99% Invisible, hosted by Roman Mars; On the Media, which is probably the most useful sustained media criticism in American journalism, Hardcore History with Dan Carlin, which was new to me; and Stuff You Missed in History Class were among the many vote-getters.

I wanted to take the chance to plump for a show I’m always trying to get people to listen to, because I think it exemplifies what radio can do so well. Even though I’m not obsessed with popular music, I listen to Sound Opinions every single week without fail. It comes from WBEZ in Chicago, just like This American Life, and it’s executive produced by the same guy, Tory Malatia. And it’s very simple: two talented music critics, Greg Kot and Jim DeRogatis, review a couple of new records, maybe host a short live concert, and often dissect some classic album or genre. (This week it’s a thoughtful take on the new wave of the 80s for any Duran Duran fans out there). It hits the perfect middle ground between geeky-obsessive and overly broad and obvious: that is to say, between the Internet and TV. It’s companionable, smart, and a wonderful hour. I keep pitching it because I don’t want it to ever go off the air.

The Spiral Of Silence

Aug 28 2014 @ 7:32pm
by Sue Halpern

Pew Silence

When I read this Pew report last week, about how social media does not foster meaningful dialog about public policy among people who might not share one’s own view, I can’t say that I was surprised. Researchers, interested in finding out if Facebook and Twitter encouraged people to engage with each other on divisive current events, interviewed slightly less than 2000 Americans, asking them if they would share their views about Edward Snowden’s NSA revelations with their social media “friends.” Apparently, in the pre-Internet olden days, people were shy about voicing an opinion on controversial topics when they weren’t sure of the viewpoint of their listeners. This reticence was deemed “the spiral of silence.” Might social media turn that around?

The survey reported in this report sought people’s opinions about the Snowden leaks, their willingness to talk about the revelations in various in-person and online settings, and their perceptions of the views of those around them in a variety of online and off-line contexts. This survey’s findings produced several major insights:

People were less willing to discuss the Snowden-NSA story in social media than they were in person. 86% of Americans were willing to have an in-person conversation about the surveillance program, but just 42% of Facebook and Twitter users were willing to post about it on those platforms.

Social media did not provide an alternative discussion platform for those who were not willing to discuss the Snowden-NSA story. Of the 14% of Americans unwilling to discuss the Snowden-NSA story in person with others, only 0.3% were willing to post about it on social media.

In both personal settings and online settings, people were more willing to share their views if they thought their audience agreed with them. For instance, at work, those who felt their coworkers agreed with their opinion were about three times more likely to say they would join a workplace conversation about the Snowden-NSA situation.

That people behave on social media much the same that they do in other parts of their lives probably should not surprise us. Social media is a platform; most likely it doesn’t change our instinctive behaviors when a real name is put to an opinion. (The kinds of behaviors encouraged by social media anonymity is another thing altogether.)

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Face Of The Day

Aug 28 2014 @ 7:12pm
by Dish Staff

Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone

A soldier inspects a woman with an infrared thermometer for signs of fever, one of the symptoms of Ebola, at a checkpoint in Nikabo, a village in Kenema, Sierra Leone, on August 27, 2014. According to the World Health Organization, the outbreak has now killed more than 1,500 people across four West African countries, including at least 120 healthcare workers. Photo by Mohammed Elshamy/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images.

Also, a reader passes along this heartbreaking update on Saah Exco, the ten-year-old Liberian boy we featured last week on the Dish.