Desperate Republicans? Recycling four-year-old PhotoShop hoaxes . . .

July 31, 2012

 

This is an encore post, from August of 2008.  We need to recall, an issue early in the Democratic primaries was ‘who would you want on the Hotline at 2:00 a.m.’  Sometime before the end of the primaries, a jokester mashed up a photo of candidate Barack Obama, changed the line on the phone handpiece, and added a clock at 3:00 a.m. on the wall. 

Republicans picked up on the photo, and thinking it a real photo, shipped it around during the general campaign.  It was a hoax then, and it still is.  I found it today on Facebook, and found people defending the hoax photo as real.  Oy, it will be that kind of election as Republicans get more desperate and more crude.  The encore post:

Dennis at Thinking in a Marrow Bone — not an Obama supporter, mind you — posted a conversation he had with a guy who posted a hoaxed photo of Barack Obama, purporting to show him holding a landline telephone upside down.

This is the hoax photo

The real photograph. Notice there is no clock on the wall, and the phone works properly. By the way, the suit fits, too — Obama’s a very tall man, and that’s what a well-fitting suit looks like on a tall man sitting in a low chair.

 

Dennis called him on the hoax. After a few rounds of weak defense, and then moral waffling of significant proportion, the hoaxer deleted the comments from his blog. Dennis preserved the conversation at TMB.

Moral of the story: Don’t believe much of what you hear or see, without corroboration. If a claim casts aspersions on someone, and comes on the internet, check it out before granting credence. Thanks to Dennis, an honest guy, for exposing the hoax and preserving the record of it.

Hoaxers are malicious and will do almost anything to damage Obama, even if it requires bringing down the U.S. and burning the flag. No wonder George Washington wanted out of this sort of politics.

Question: What’s the deal with the clock in the doctored photo? [Oh - it says "3:00 o'clock"]

Honor roll: Bloggers and others who exposed the hoax:

Dishonor roll, the Little List, bloggers who tried to perpetrate and perpetuate the hoax, or who got suckered themselves:

Special Consideration:

 


Test “priming”: Malcolm Gladwell on how to push test results, and why tests might not work

July 31, 2012

Who is the interviewer, Allan Gregg?

From the YouTube site:

Malcolm Gladwell in an interview about Blink explains priming, and re-states some of the examples of priming from Blink with CC (closed captions)

Here’s a longer excerpt of the interview; from TVO (TVOntario)?

Discussion:  Gladwell appears to confirm, for testing results, the old aphorism attributed to Henry Ford:  “If you think you can, or if you think you can’t, you’re right.”  Gladwell seems to be saying that the student’s view of his or her abilities at the moment the test starts rules in a significant way how the student performs — worse, for teachers, it’s the student’s unconscious view of his or her abilities.  As a final shot in class, I have often had students predict their performance on state tests.   I have them write what they think they will scores.  Then I ask them to predict what they would have scored, had they applied themselves seriously to study of history — and of course, almost always the students have a fit of honesty and predict their scores would have been higher.  Then I ask them to pretend they had studied, and cross out the lower predicted score and replace it with the higher predicted score.  At the schools where I’ve taught, we do not administer the tests to our own students, and such exercises are prohibited on the day of the test.  Too bad, you think?

Another exercise I’ve found useful for boosting scores is to give the students one class period, just over an hour, to take the entire day-long TAKS social studies test, in the on-line version offered by the Texas Education Agency.  Originally I wanted students to get scared about what they didn’t know, and to get attuned to the questions they had no clue about so they’d pick it up in class.  What I discovered was that, in an hour, clearly with the pressure off (we weren’t taking it all that seriously, after all, allowing just an hour), students perform better than they expected.  So I ask them to pass a judgment on how difficult the test is, and what they should be scoring — almost unanimously they say they find the test not too difficult on the whole, and definitely conquerable by them.

What else could we do with students, if we knew how to prime them for tests, or for writing papers, or for any other piece of performance on which they would be graded?

With one exception, my administrators in Dallas ISD have been wholly inuninterested in such ideas, and such results — there is no checkbox on the teacher evaluation form for using online learning tools to advance test scores, and administrators do not regard that as teaching.  The one exception was Dorothy Gomez, our principal for two years, who had what I regarded as a bad habit of getting on the intercom almost every morning to cheer on students for learning what they would be tested on.  My post-test surveys of students showed those pep talks had been taken to heart, and we got much better performance out of lower-performing groups and entire classes during Gomez’s tenure (she has since left the district).

Also, if psychological tricks can significantly affect test scores, surely that invalidates the idea that we can use any test score to evaluate teacher effectiveness, unless immediate testing results is all we want teachers to achieve.  Gladwell said in this clip:

To me that completely undermines this notion, this naive notion that many educators have that you can reduce someone’s intelligence to a score on a test.  You can’t.

More:


Another stunning time-lapse study of Yosemite, from Shawn Reeder

July 31, 2012

Clearly I need to intern with Shawn Reeder.  His piece on Yosemite shows the natural objects of beauty in their best lights, over and over:  “Yosemite Range of Light.”

Reeder and his project were described at the Sierra Club website:

The two-year project, Yosemite Range of Light, uses nearly 7,000 high-resolution still photos to create an inspiring vision of light and granite, capturing rolling cloud formations and the rainbow-lit waterfalls of Yosemite.

Reeder first came to Yosemite after winning a local waiter contest where he grew up in Maryland. First prize was a trip to Napa Valley wine-country, but the 18-year-old convinced the prize committee to offer a change of venue. Choosing Yosemite as his destination instead, he brought along his best friend, who happened to have a camera. . . .

“I came out for a week and I did my first backpacking trip ever. We hiked to the top of Half Dome via the cables, which was an incredible experience. We hiked the whole South-Rim Trail from Glacier Point to Tunnel View. It to

More:

English: Panorama of view of Yosemite Valley i...

Panorama of view of Yosemite Valley including Half Dome and Diving Board as seen from Glacier Point in Yosemite National Park. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Pixar’s 22 rules for a good story (how do they fit your organization?)

July 30, 2012

Pixar logo, with flourishes

From The Pixar Touch, a set of rules for writing a good story to translate to the screen.

Good rules to keep in mind for composition of stories in English, no?  Good rules of writing to keep in mind for any essay writing.

Where else do these rules apply?

Pixar story rules (one version)

Sunday, May 15, 2011 at 03:39PM

Pixar story artist Emma Coats has tweeted a series of “story basics” over the past month and a half — guidelines that she learned from her more senior colleagues on how to create appealing stories:

#1: You admire a character for trying more than for their successes.

#2: You gotta keep in mind what’s interesting to you as an audience, not what’s fun to do as a writer. They can be v. different.

#3: Trying for theme is important, but you won’t see what the story is actually about til you’re at the end of it. Now rewrite.

#4: Once upon a time there was ___. Every day, ___. One day ___. Because of that, ___. Because of that, ___. Until finally ___.

#5: Simplify. Focus. Combine characters. Hop over detours. You’ll feel like you’re losing valuable stuff but it sets you free.

#6: What is your character good at, comfortable with? Throw the polar opposite at them. Challenge them. How do they deal?

#7: Come up with your ending before you figure out your middle. Seriously. Endings are hard, get yours working up front.

#8: Finish your story, let go even if it’s not perfect. In an ideal world you have both, but move on. Do better next time.

#9: When you’re stuck, make a list of what WOULDN’T happen next. Lots of times the material to get you unstuck will show up.

#10: Pull apart the stories you like. What you like in them is a part of you; you’ve got to recognize it before you can use it.

#11: Putting it on paper lets you start fixing it. If it stays in your head, a perfect idea, you’ll never share it with anyone.

#12: Discount the 1st thing that comes to mind. And the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th – get the obvious out of the way. Surprise yourself.

#13: Give your characters opinions. Passive/malleable might seem likable to you as you write, but it’s poison to the audience.

#14: Why must you tell THIS story? What’s the belief burning within you that your story feeds off of? That’s the heart of it.

#15: If you were your character, in this situation, how would you feel? Honesty lends credibility to unbelievable situations.

#16: What are the stakes? Give us reason to root for the character. What happens if they don’t succeed? Stack the odds against.

#17: No work is ever wasted. If it’s not working, let go and move on – it’ll come back around to be useful later.

#18: You have to know yourself: the difference between doing your best & fussing. Story is testing, not refining.

#19: Coincidences to get characters into trouble are great; coincidences to get them out of it are cheating.

#20: Exercise: take the building blocks of a movie you dislike. How d’you rearrange them into what you DO like?

#21: You gotta identify with your situation/characters, can’t just write ‘cool’. What would make YOU act that way?

#22: What’s the essence of your story? Most economical telling of it? If you know that, you can build out from there.

Presumably she’ll have more to come. Also, watch for her personal side project, a science-fiction short called Horizon, to come to a festival near you.

Tip of the old scrub brush to Farnam Street, who adds:

Still curious?Watch as Kurt Vonnegut explains the different shapes that stories can take.

Where else can you use this?

Consider the project you’ve got to lead, with one person from each department in your company.  What is your vision (the hackneyed but apt word) for how the project ends up?  Storyboard it — and keep in mind these 22 rules.  What’s the essence of your view of the project?  Can you tell it in a minute?  Get the story down to 30 seconds.  What are the stakes, if you get this project done well?  What are the stakes if you fail?   Everybody on the team knows the stakes?  Is your plan on paper?  Have you revised it?

More:


Quote of the moment: Hemingway, writers need “shock-proof, [excrement] detector”

July 30, 2012

Ernest Hemingway and cat Cristobal, Cuba; JFK Library collection

Ernest Hemingway with his cat, Cristobal, at his home, Finca Vigia, San Francisco de Paula, Cuba.  Date unknown (circa 1955?) Photo from Ernest Hemingway Collection, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston. (Copyright status unknown)

Was Ernest Hemingway the greatest writer in English of the 20th century?  Fortunately we don’t have to choose.  We can read Hemingway, and Faulkner (with whom he had a few bones to pick), and Hammett, and Parker, and Feynman, and Vonnegut, Bellow, Morrison, dos Passos,  Shaw, Kipling, Ford, Conrad and a dozen more, enjoying each for the gifts she or he demonstrated so well on a page.

Any way you stack it, though, Hemingway was a great one.

In an interview with George Plimpton, published in the Paris Review in 1958, Hemingway talked about what it takes to be a great writer.  Maybe it’s something one needs to be born with:

The most essential gift for a good writer is a built-in, shock-proof, shit detector. This is the writer’s radar and all great writers have had it.

If we could make a machine to substitute for that, a solid-gold, built-in, shock-proof [excrement] detector, we could improve writing, politics, government, business, and a hundred other fields of endeavor.

If we had a just and appropriately skeptical world, everyone would have one, a “solid gold, built-in, shock-proof [excrement] detector.”

What an enormous If.

Also at Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub:


Shorter Anthony Watts: Ignore cities, discount all NOAA sites that show warming, and global warming doesn’t look so bad

July 30, 2012

Since he prefers a Kim Jong Il-style commenter policy –“only those who flatter the Premier need comment” — Anthony Watts‘s site doesn’t get the pleasure of my visits much, anymore.  Consequently I missed the announcement he made last week that he was “suspending” his blog, at least temporarily, until some great news came out.

English: Anthony Watts, June, 2010. Speaking i...

Anthony Watts, June, 2010. Speaking in Gold Coast, Australia, on a tour searching to find some place on Earth not affected by global warming. (Photo: Wikipedia)

Now the great news is out.  I think.  Watts may have been right to suspend blogging.  He should have kept the suspension longer.

Watts says NOAA‘s temperature measurement in the U.S. is way off, and that if we ignore all the cities, and if we ignore sites that show the greatest increases in temperature over the past century or so, global warming doesn’t look so bad.

Watts said he is the lead author on a new paper questioning all warming calculations:

This pre-publication draft paper, titled An area and distance weighted analysis of the impacts of station exposure on the U.S. Historical Climatology Network temperatures and temperature trends, is co-authored by Anthony Watts of California, Evan Jones of New York, Stephen McIntyre of Toronto, Canada, and Dr. John R. Christy from the Department of Atmospheric Science, University of Alabama, Huntsville, is to be submitted for publication.

Wait a minute.  “Prepublication draft paper?”  ” . . . to be submitted for publication?”

Yes, Dear Reader, that claxon you hear is your and my Hemingway III Solid Gold [Excrement] Detectors™ going off.  It may be a false alarm, but still — isn’t this how bogus science is done, isn’t this what Robert Park warns us about?  Indeed, in the Seven Warning Signs of Bogus Science, Park says to pay attention to key indicators:  “1. The discoverer pitches the claim directly to the media.”  It is, indeed, a press release from Watts, about a paper he hopes to get through the peer review process at some point in the future — but it has not yet been pitched to the science journals.  (Yes, that’s also one of the Seven Warning Signs of Bogus History . . . one discipline at a time, please.)

What’s the rush?  Oh:  Tuesday, July 31, is the deadline for peer reviewed papers to be submitted to the international agency studying climate change, the Internatioinal  (IPCC), for consideration and inclusion in the next report.

Same old stuff, new day.  Watts has been arguing for years that NOAA’s temperature measurements err, but after the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperatures (BEST) Project determined that warming exists, even using Watts’s modified measurements and accounting for his claimed errors, some of us hoped Watts might turn to blogging about science, instead.

No, Watts turned to finding a hint of a methodology that might support his preconceived notions.  He found one.

So, Watts’s big announcement is that he’s found a methdology which favors his criticisms of NOAA; so we should ignore temperature readings from cities, because cities are hot, and we should ignore temperature readings from suburbs of cities, because suburbs are warm; and if we do that, then warming in the U.S. doesn’t look so bad.

Were I allowed to ask questions at Watts’s blog, I’d ask why we should ignore warming in cities, because are they not part of the planet?  Oh, well.

The Twitter version:

Watts: Ignore city temps (hot!) and ‘burbs (warm!), temps on farms don’t show so much global warming!  Oops – did we say that before?

Anthony, how about you suspend your blog until you get the paper accepted at a good journal?  Make sure you got the numbers right . . .

More:


Got Obama’s back, he’s got ours . . .

July 29, 2012

Not sure why I love this photo so:

President Obama poses for snapshots with citizens in a midwest cafe . . . summer 2012

President Obama poses for snapshots with people in a midwest cafe, summer 2012 – via Instagram

Partly it’s the spontaneity of the event.  You know that Barack Obama grins broadly into the cellphone camera or other small, amateur electronic camera on the other side.  The people on either side of him grin, too.

Partly it’s the ease with which the President of the United States becomes just Barry posing for pictures when people ask him to.

Partly it’s the serendipity of someone being wholly out of location to take the grinning teeth photo, but having the presence of mind to snap a picture from the back, showing not only the president at ease, but the people posing with him wholly comfortable with the situation — ‘hold on to each other, everybody smile . . . [click].’

Partly it’s the completely unexpected nature of the happenstance photo.  Were it posed, the flags would be bigger, posted correctly; the hand sanitizer would be moved out of the way.  Were it posed, the notices under the mints for sale would be moved, so the camera could see the other side.

I’m also fond of the wallpaper border that makes the top frame of the picture.

Someone sent me a link to the photo a few weeks ago.  I wish I could pin it down to location and date, and to who took the photo.


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