Those stupid bankers and their stupid stupidity

by Daniel on October 17, 2008

It appears to be a commonplace gaining ground every day that the main reason we have a credit crisis (about which I am not writing; this is an essay in recent monetary history) is that bankers created it, and specifically that they created it because they are stupid. Nicholas Taleb (who doesn’t eat foods unless they have a name in Hebrew or Doric Greek, I just bring this up as an interesting fact rather than to suggest that here’s a man who knows stupid when he sees it) has been really quite cutting on the subject, among others. Stupid, stupid stupid. Isn’t it a shame that these stupid people in their stupidity brought this crisis among us? Don’t we need a blue-ribbon commission to make sure that such stupids never have the chance to do so much damage again?

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Les Paul YouTube Friday

by John Holbo on October 17, 2008

How about some old Les Paul stuff? You can’t go wrong.

“Nola” [you haven’t heard it? You really should give a listen.]

“Tiger Rag”

“Live Version of Hummingbird” (part 1 of a three part live series)

The Wizard of Waukesha: A Film About Les Paul (5 part series)

Les Paul and the Teenagers

The Les Paul and Mary Ford TV Show (there are 10 or so of these). Mary Ford is always petting the plant or spreading avocado on bread or something suitably domestic while she sings.

If this sort of thing sounds good, I recommend the The Best of the Capitol Masters: 90th Birthday Edition [amazon]. I just bought it and, boy, am I happy.

Don’t scrap the squiggle!

by Daniel on October 17, 2008

Nate Silver wants to scrap the “squiggly” audience reaction dials during Presidential debates. My instinctive reaction to this is “step away from the bacon, son, leave the bacon out of this. I love the crawler and think that it really helps you understand what’s going on in the debates – in particular, it helps you take one step back from your own prejudices. It’s also just about the only input into debate commentary that comes more or less unmediated; the anonymous “undecided” focus group participants might be dumb or irrational, but they’re at least not pushing an agenda. Raw data is always good to have – although Nate’s sample size points are well made, I actually doubt how much potential there is for practical error to be introduced, given that one doesn’t actually look to the crawler for straightforward yes/no answers to questions, just for an overall impression of how the participants are going over.

My only complaint about the crawler is that CNN removes it from the screen when the debate finishes. I absolutely wish that they continued to show the favourable/unfavourable reactions of the dial-testing focus group to the talking heads on the news afterwards; you’d be able to see the worm plunging every time Wolf Blitzer opened his gob.. I suspect a few uncomfortable home truths would arise out of that one. In general, more new programs should use dial-testing crawlers. And not just news, thinking about it; why doesn’t Big Brother have a crawler, since it’s also basically a popularity contest? Or the Eurovision? Chat shows would be great entertainment if you could see boring or vain starlets bleeding their popularity away in real time. At this precise moment, I can’t think of a single program on TV that wouldn’t be improved by having a dial-test at the bottom of the screen.