Tag Archives: OTM

Roger Ebert – Last Of A Long Lost Breed

Last week famed film critic, Roger Ebert, passed away, having long suffered from cancer. Vitriol against the dead is unseemly, and Shout Bits does not want to lower itself to the leftists who inevitably will denigrate the late PM Margaret Thatcher, one of the true greats of the 20th Century. Still, Ebert’s story cannot be told without understanding his rabid partisan leftism. Especially after he was robbed of the ability to speak, Ebert was famous for his anti-Republican and anti-capitalist screeds. As with Walter Cronkite, Ebert’s role has been supplanted by a more egalitarian system that far better serves the public.

Ebert and his partner Gene Siskel were famous for their PBS program where they gave thumbs ‘up’ or ‘down’ to movies. This was clever for many reasons – a movie goer can only choose to go or not to go to a movie, so a binary review made sense. Also, Siskel and Ebert often disagreed with their thumbs and would hash out their differences. Movie goers thereby got a sense of why the critics felt as they did. A single review was unreliable and often reflected the critic’s snobbery and bias. Two reviews offered more perspective, which made Siskel and Ebert the tops of their profession.

Siskel was the intellectual with a taste for drama while Ebert was lustier with a taste for action. However both of them, along with most Old Media were snobs who thought patriotism or faith was for hacks. Ebert’s review of Atlas Shrugged I, for example, spends the first paragraph insulting Ayn Rand and her followers. Only after that irrelevant snark did he dissect the movie. Ebert was a leftist who could never give Shrugged a review on its own terms, and he trashed it. Yes, the production values were not Scorseseian, and the plot was dull, but any Rand fan would expect that. Ebert and the OM in general were incapable of speaking to the people who were considering actually seeing the movie. Telling leftists, elitists, and popcorn flick aficionados not to see Shrugged was hardly a vital public service.

Enter the internet and Rotten Tomatoes. Just as the internet turned ordinary Joes into pundits (guilty as charged), anybody with an opinion became a movie critic. Rotten Tomatoes reports that 11% of OM critics liked Shrugged while 72% of amateur critics recommended it. The difference is that the OM is trained to reject ideas outside of Columbia University’s leftist circles. Rotten Tomatoes lets people consider opinions from critics like themselves, who are usually critics not friendly with Weather Underground terrorists.

While citizen journalists largely supplement OM reporting by exposing bias and lies, citizen film critics have completely eclipsed the OM’s influence. Very few trustworthy OM reviewers remain, and they certainly are outnumbered by the tagline whores who praise Hollywood’s most terrible hacks. Instead, movie goers get quicker, better, and more targeted reviews from their peers.

So, RIP Mr. Ebert; you had a tough life with suffering nobody would take lightly. You were misguided with regard to your Chicago-style extreme leftism, but you were hardly the most powerful man to confuse Marx with liberty. You were clever and likeable in your reviews, but the march of progress has rendered your profession irrelevant.

Grammar Rebel

Will Rogers famously wanted his epitaph to read “I never met a man I didn’t like.” I sometimes turn a joke on Mr. Rogers’s line, and say “I have never met anyone with good grammar I did not like.” Considering today’s state of affairs, grammar is an unlikely metric for kinship. The nation is overrun with a socialist fever, unsustainable government obligations, and appalling corruption. Why should grammar sit with these important issues?

Man’s greatest tool in building an environment to his liking is language. Every success employs communication and retrieval of archived knowledge. Employing Standard English is the least we can do to respect the foundation of society.

Also, anyone using correct grammar is part rebel. Grammar is not effectively taught in school, so anyone employing Standard English learned it elsewhere. Standard English is rarely spoken on the street, so its use is a conscious choice that sets grammar rebels apart. There are few rewards for tense agreement or proper gerund use, so the grammar rebel must do it for sport or to set an independent standard for himself. Those who claim to rebel by tattooing themselves or squatting with Occupy types are conformist and commonplace compared to a grammar rebel.

A happy nature of Standard English is its incompatibility with Political Correctness. Because the singular object is ‘his,’ and PC has no imagination, most people use ‘their’ (e.g. ‘everybody lost their investments when Ponzi was arrested’). Anyone with common sense knows that when ‘everybody’ and ‘his’ are used together, females are implied. PC militants know this too, but their motive is thought control. In 1984, George Orwell warned that language laws could be used to limit expression and thought; yet the same PC autocrats that assign Orwell to their students practice the perversion of language for political gain with no apparent ironic guilt. Anyone who still speaks Standard English or dares to use anachronisms such as ‘freshman’ vs. ‘first year student’ is a rebel who must signal danger to the PC police. PC is about limiting thought and expression so that ideology falls in line. Standard English is sublime resistance.

Grammar rebels are independent thinkers beyond PC politics. NBC anchors butcher the tool of their trade nightly, as do most newscasters. NBC news president Steve Capus resigned this month, coincident with numerous ethical scandals, including fraudulent editing of tapes to make innocent people sound racist and generally insensitive. NBC actively lies to promote its agenda, a practice well beyond ordinary bias. Bias is inevitable and universal, but active campaigns of deception are inexcusable. When a grammar rebel rejects the language of Brian Williams, it shows that he is informing himself elsewhere.

Be a grammar rebel; employ Standard English. There may be no better way of demonstrating independent thought and values on a daily basis. There may not be enough time, and certainly not enough energy to fight PC and the socialist Old Media at every turn, but a grammar rebel can stand apart without hardly never trying.

A Few Perspectives on Polls

The Old Media story this week is that Pres. Obama is well ahead of Gov. Romney in national polls, which is not untrue. However, not all polls are created the same, and as David Axelrod can attest, they are not objective truth. As many candidates who are about to lose say, ‘the only poll that matters is the one at the ballot box,’ but statistical polls are wonderful grist for the news. With the incentive to hype numbers, Shout Bits offers a few perspectives on polling.

Every poll has a margin of error, which in no way means what it says. Margin of error is a specific term used by statisticians to state the significance of a sample size relative to the general population. Left unsaid in poll reporting is the confidence in the margin of error – usually 95%. For example consider a poll with a margin of error of +- 3%. The poll’s margin of error is saying that if the exact same question were asked to 100 different random samples of people selected in the same way, five of those samples would show a result outside of the +- 3% range. In short, margin of error has next to nothing to do with the accuracy or usefulness of a poll.

The margin of error also has nothing to do with the validity of the question being asked, or any errors in the selection of those being polled. In these ways, polling is an art, not a science. Most polling is done by phone and to people with old fashioned land lines because cell phone numbers are not published. A small, but significant number of voters do not have any kind of phone, and they skew Democrat heavily. Likewise, a growing number of people only have cell phones and are harder to reach, a group of younger people who also skew Democrat. Pollsters adjust their raw data to reflect this known GOP bias in their results. No doubt anyone but partisans like PPP makes a good faith effort to understand this selection bias and accurately adjust, but these adjustments vary from firm to firm.

Another polling bias is in the sample selection. Most pollsters report on the views of registered voters, which is a bias in favor of Dems. Dems and independents together greatly outnumber GOP registered voters, but their turnout is usually lower. This season, GOP enthusiasm is much higher than Dem, and independents in some demographics are leaning Romney. Therefore, measuring registered voters introduces a Dem bias. Rasmussen measures self-identified “likely” voters, and their numbers show a much tighter race. Rasmussen has proven to be the most accurate of the pollsters over the recent election cycle.

Even the wording of a poll affects the results. ‘Do you favor repeal of Obamacare?’ and ‘Are you opposed to Obamacare?’ will generate different answers from the same polling sample. For these reasons, there is always room to question tight polling. The Daily Caller suggested that when Obama advisor David Axelrod did not like a Gallup poll, he pressured them to change their bias adjustments in favor of Obama. Much as with S&P’s downgrade of US Treasury debt, the Justice Department had uncanny timing in its later lawsuit against the company that had crossed cocktail swords with the Administration.

Is Romney in trouble? Very much so. Post DNC polling showed support increasing for Obamcare, so this weekend, Romney flip-flip-flip-flopped back to supporting key elements of Romney/Obamacare such as forcing private companies to cover people who wait until they are sick to apply for insurance. Multiple flopping on core issues stinks of desperation, Governor. Lay-followers of polling should know its limitations and biases. Too bad weather vane politicians like Romney are incapable of the same.