The latest C-Poll is closed. You can read all about it here!

December 29, 2008

C-Poll: Will George W. Bush continue to haunt the nightmares of the media?

A new poll has been posted in the sidebar:

Once Barack Obama takes office, how long until the media stop blaming George W. Bush for all that they think is wrong with the world?

If you wish to comment, feel free to do so here.

1/1/2009 UPDATE: The poll is now closed. Here are the results:

I don't know who the "Six months" answer was, but it's pretty obvious that "Immediately" was none other than our first Anonymous commenter, who is unaware of the existence of a liberal bias in the media (perhaps much in the same way that fish would be unaware of the existence of water).

December 27, 2008

Harbin v. Snowzilla

If you live in a part of the world where snow, ice and bone-chilling cold are a reality every winter, you have two basic options.

You can celebrate it, as the city of Harbin, China does every year in its Ice Festival...

Or, you can decide, as Anchorage, Alaska city officials did, that celebrating the winter in a way that brings tourists can get you branded as a public nuisance.

Anchorage Daily News, December 21:
City code officer slays Snowzilla
Giant snowman deemed a public nuisance, safety hazard

Anchorage's famous giant snow man, Snowzilla, finally met its match.
It wasn't the weather. It wasn't angry neighbors bearing shovels and pick axes.
It turns out Snowzilla's biggest foe -- the one who felled the controversial but much-loved giant -- was a notice-bearing city code enforcement officer.
That's right, Snowzilla was abated.
It was just a few years ago that 16-foot-tall Snowzilla arose in a residential yard in Airport Heights, launching an annual procession of local gawkers and an international media blitz.
Camera crews came from Russia and Japan.
But Snowzilla attracted a lot of naysayers too.
Not everybody in the neighborhood liked all the cars and visitors.
So, city officials have deemed Snowzilla a public nuisance and safety hazard.

December 26, 2008

Bright spots in the retail gloom

The underreported story of this Christmas season is that retailers with good business models did quite well. In the brick-and-mortar world, Wal-Mart had a good season. Online, Amazon totally rocked, as the Associated Press reported today:
Online retailer Amazon.com Inc. called this holiday season its "best ever," saying Friday that it saw a 17 percent increase in orders on its busiest day -- a rare piece of good news in a season that has been far from merry for most retailers, including online businesses.
It's not enough to simply have an online store. Amazon has a lot of elements that make it attractive: inventory, pricing, free shipping, and a website that works hard to help you find the product you're really looking for, even if it's not the product you thought you were looking for when you logged in.

Our household did most of its Christmas shopping online (quite a bit of it at Amazon). Shopping at the local retail store is a crapshoot. Do they sell what I'm looking for? Is it in stock? How does their price compare with the place two miles away?

Online, I know if it's in stock; I know what the other guys are charging; I don't pay sales tax (in most cases); and if I plan ahead a little, I can get the products in a week or so with no shipping charges (Amazon and a few others).

Is there really any surprise that most of the brick-and-mortar retailers are suffering? The Current Unpleasantness in the economy has simply accelerated a trend that was already underway.

Change the MSM elites DEFINITELY believe in

How nice that the media's big hitters don't have to mingle with the commoners so much any more. WaPo, December 26:
For the White House press corps, covering Obama's 13-day Hawaiian sojourn is a departure from past holidays hunkered down near President Bush's ranch in Crawford, Tex. They've upgraded their offices from highway hotels in Waco to the Westin Moana Surfrider Resort on Waikiki Beach. They've traded a backdrop of rusted farm equipment and bales of hay for sailboats, longboards and crashing waves.

And they've hung up their winter coats.

"What a difference a year makes," exults NBC White House correspondent Savannah Guthrie, leaning back in a padded armchair on a veranda overlooking the Pacific.

"No offense to the people of Crawford, Texas, but taking the presidential retreat from Crawford to Honolulu is change anyone can believe in," Henry says, borrowing a phrase from Obama's campaign.
The article goes on to relate how hard it can be to broadcast from the beach resorts of Hawaii. Our sympathies go out to those intrepid reporters.

(Photo credit: Philip Rucker, The Washington Post. Caption: NBC's Savannah Guthrie, with Oahu's Diamond Head in the background.)

FDA's Label Mafia strikes again

It's interesting how a single word can send the Food and Drug Administration into a tizzy. Scientific American reports that Coca-Cola's "Diet Coke Plus" has one word too many in its name:
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is warning the Coca-Cola Company to revise its labeling of Diet Coke Plus so that it doesn't mislead consumers into believing that the pop, a brew of chemicals mixed in with some vitamins and minerals, is healthy.

A letter posted on the FDA's Web site yesterday tells Coke that the soda is "misbranded" because only products that contain at least 10 percent more of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI) or Daily Reference Value (DRV) for a given nutrient "than an appropriate reference food" can legally call themselves "plus." The Diet Coke Plus label doesn't name such a reference food, says the FDA. RDI refers to how much daily consumption of a particular nutrient is sufficient for healthy adults, and it's included in the DRVs on nutrition labels that base those values on caloric intake.
I would guess that most of the FDA's food regulations are based on the assumption that the vast majority of the public are suckers who can't read label claims in context.

The front of the Diet Coke Plus label is very simple. There's the product name, and then the phrase, "Diet Coke With Vitamins & Minerals". That's it: Diet Coke plus some other stuff. Is it possible to misinterpret that?

Based on SciAm's reporting on the incident, it appears the FDA doesn't think that anybody reads the FDA-mandated nutrition label to find out what vitamins and minerals are present, and in what amounts. If that is true, maybe Joe Gullible could be tricked into thinking that the word "Plus" magically transforms the product into health food. If so, Joe has other issues that need to be dealt with.

A halfhearted Attaboy goes to Coca-Cola, which hasn't admitted any wrongdoing. Unfortunately, they're not challenging the sanity of the rule -- they just insist that their product complies with FDA regulations.

The FDA letter adds a nice touch by dropping hints to Congress about where soft drink regulations should go from here:
Your product Diet Coke Plus is a carbonated beverage. The policy on fortification in 21 CFR 104.20(a) states that the FDA does not consider it appropriate to fortify snack foods such as carbonated beverages.
It's just a few short steps from "the FDA does not consider it appropriate to fortify" to "the FDA prohibits fortifying". For your own good, of course.

Disney abandons "Dawn Treader"

Not sure why, but Disney doesn't consider a near-sure-thing $500 million box office a good enough reason to stay with the Narnia franchise. Hollywood Reporter, December 24:
"The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader" will have to sail without Disney.

While declining to elaborate, Disney and Walden Media confirmed Tuesday that for budgetary and logistical reasons the Burbank-based studio is not exercising its option to co-produce and co-finance the next "Narnia" movie with Walden.

The third entry in the series, based on the classic books by C.S. Lewis, was in preproduction and set for a spring shoot for a planned May 2010 release.
Happily, Walden isn't giving up on the project, but it isn't easy finding a new partner with deep pockets.

Interestingly, the Hollywood Reporter commits a logic error that I've seen more than once before. They are attributing Disney's skittishness to a perceived decline of audience interest in the fantasy genre as a whole (and children's fantasy in particular). They cite as evidence the fact that Prince Caspian didn't do as well as The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, and that Pullman's The Golden Compass bombed completely.

The reality is that Prince Caspian simply wasn't as good as the first Narnia movie (and IMO took some unnecessary liberties with the book version of the story). As for The Golden Compass, what else do you expect from a movie based on a book trilogy that goes out of its way to insult the deeply-held beliefs of a vast portion of its supposed target audience? It would be tragically ironic if the dismal failure of an anti-Christian movie ended up killing off a Christian-friendly franchise that had broad public appeal.

No... if Walden -- or any other studio -- makes a truly good movie in the fantasy genre, the public will reward them.

December 24, 2008

How many of them say that CNN has the sloppiest reporting ever?

The Bush administration is in its final weeks, and it seems like the media can't resist seeing it off with a series of well-placed kicks. On Monday CNN came out with this gem:
Poll: 23 percent say Cheney worst vice president ever

From Paul Steinhauser
CNN Deputy Political Director

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A new national poll suggests that almost a quarter of Americans think that Dick Cheney is the worst vice president in American history.
Vice President Dick Cheney says he's comfortable with his accomplishments and isn't troubled by his ratings.

Vice President Dick Cheney says he's comfortable with his accomplishments and isn't troubled by his ratings.

Twenty-three percent of those questioned in a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Monday say that Cheney is the country's worst vice president, when compared with his predecessors.

An additional 41 percent feel that Cheney is a poor vice president, with 34 percent rating him a good number two.

Only one percent of those polled say that Cheney is the best vice president in U.S. history.

"On the Sunday talk shows, Cheney took on the job of making the affirmative case for the Bush legacy," said Keating Holland, CNN polling director. "But the messenger may be getting in the way of the message."


I have a couple of questions for those who were polled: (1) How many previous vice presidents can you even name? (2) How would you summarize the tenure of each?

Unless they can answer both of the above questions satisfactorily, they have no business answering the poll question.

What about the CNN reporters? Are they qualified to answer? I doubt that I am, even though I consider myself to be well-informed.

I can name just about all of the VPs back to the Eisenhower administration, but I'm not sure how much I could tell you about what they did while in office.

CNN should know better -- and they probably do. It was just another opportunity for a cheap parting shot.

We're back... REALLY

"Here I am! Did you miss me?"

After a nearly three-year hiatus, I find that I simply must return to blogging at C-Pol.

As many of you know, I've spent the past year and a half writing on climate change issues at The Global Warming Heretic. That debate continues to rage unabated, and it's about to take a more sinister* turn in the U.S. under the incoming Obama administration, but I've found that there are now a multitude of sites out there that handle the technical side of the debate far better than I can, and I humbly yield to them.

The other angles of the controversy -- namely, public policy and media coverage -- can be handled just as well (or even better) within the scope and mission of the C-Pol blog.

I had a lot to say during the recently concluded presidential campaign, but I did so mainly through other forums. Now, for the first time in years, I've been feeling a tug back toward this blog. And here I'll be, until I get tired of doing it again.

As I said on my other blog:
Real life often takes me away from blogging, so don't assume this site has been abandoned just because it's been a week or two since I last posted. Whenever opportunity and motivation converge favorably, I'll be here.
I pursue this blog as a hobby, not a vocation. When real life intrudes, blogging will usually have to take a back seat. I expect, however, that I'll be here often enough to keep the place interesting.

* Sinister in the sense that we now have national leaders more than willing to implement bad policy based on dubious science.