Sunday, October 03, 2004
It is often difficult to side with outsiders even on otherwise
clear-cut moral issues. Even in the US there's some pressure on people
who (for example) speak out against the war, a la "why do you hate
America." I'd imagine this is even harder in cultures where freedom or
expression and disagreement is not valued quite so highly.
It is very easy for most Muslims to condemn terrorism when it looks like this
. But speaking out against this
can give one the appearance of siding with the West, Zionists,
whatever. Because it's hard to condemn one of "us" when he's acting on
"our" behalf and is killing "them" ... One of the awesomest thing about
the US and the western world in general is that right or wrong, many
people find themselves able to speak against what they percieve as
unjust, especially when "we" are wronging "them."
You're counting on Muslims to stand up and shout "not in our name!"
or "no blood for the Quaran" but somehow we don't see too much of that.
One of my earliest post-9/11 memories is talking to my RA who was a
Sudanese Muslim, and she was sure that 9/11 wouln't have happened if
the US had signed some thing condemning Zionism as a form of racism...
I would guess she doesn't hold that particular opinion anymore, but
I've heard things like that enough times (19 Muslim Arabs killed 3,000
Americans? Blame Mossad) that it seems that the reaction to these
things is to rationalize rather than condemn.
Like I said, we're not immune to this kind of logic. A lot of
people think "we bombed Iraq, it MUST have been the right thing to do"
but at least we have a vocal minority/majority(?) who say otherwise. No
strong voice like that from the Muslim world.
Sunday, September 12, 2004
I believe the AI was making a semi-humorous comment. In the post-9/11 world we're constantly reminded by editorials and TV appearances, that Islam is a religion of peace and tolerance where harming even a tree is a sin worthy of a public stoning. We are also living in a time where seemingly every day there's a terrorist event conducted by members of the religion.
I think the AI was finding the whole thing ironic, because it makes the PR compaign seem silly. What is the point of convincing us that Islam is a religion of peace when people are being blown up in the name of Islam every day?
Clearly only a small minority of muslims actively conduct terrorism. You're not very bright for pointing that one out.
There's a thread from a day or two ago about Islam "shooting itself in the foot" with terrorism. In that thread someone posed the brilliant idea that if only the west was less selfish and managed to raise the quality of economic life for muslims around the world, there would be no terrorism.
With that in mind, I was amused (ok, really not amused because there's nothing funny about terrorism, but I cannot find a better word at 2:40am) at the news. You see, Indonesia is on the verge of an election, and there is a lot of western money sitting on the sidelines, paying attention to who wins, so the potential investors can decide if Indonesia is or is not worth the risk.
A few hours after the bombing, one of the wires had a story about the outcome of the election probably not mattering much now, in that regard.
I don't really subscribe to that line of thought, because if an investor is looking to invest in (to put it mildly) an emerging economy like Indonesia, they are already quite comfortable with risk and an embassy bombing probably is within some people's margin of tolerance, but the general picture remains.
Next time someone blames the West for poor terrorists that have nothing else to do with their lives but blow us up, let's give some of the credit for that stuff where it belongs. To use another example, when Arafat started the second intifada (4 years ago?) the Palestinian GDP dropped something like 60%. So the people are now on average more than twice as poor (less than half as wealthy) as they were a few years ago.
Maybe it's more fair to blame the economic conditions in these places on the terrorism, rather than making terrorism seem to be the consequence of economics, and then blaming the West.
Just a 2:45 in the AM thought.
Russia has fine special forces. 11 of them died during the rescue, mainly because the operation happened chaotically. They were not about to storm the school, but when the hostage takers started firing at the children and anyone who went inside to remove the boddies of the dead, the special forces responded immediately. It was probably the right thing to do.
Frankly, from the onset of this thing, I knew that the Chechens (although only half of them were actual Chechens) had no interest of letting the thing end peacefully. I believe that they were looking back at Nord Ost (the Moscow theatre where the Russians used gas) as the template. They wanted to force the Russians to storm so that Russians would be blamed for the deaths. I think this is why the Russians avoided storming for a very long time (what was it, 2 days?) and that's why the hostage takers started shooting the hostages, to force the storming.
There is no way that anyone would have been left alive if the Russians did not storm the school. Just like no one would have been left alive at Nord Ost if the Russians had not intervened, gas or not.
A large number of hostages died but how can you blame the special forces when there were bombs going off and machinegun fire exchanged in a building full of children? What number of casualties would make you think the Russian special forces were good? What should they have done differently?
Chill out, I don't mean to sound like I am particularly concerned for the record companies (I steal a lot of music so I don't have a moral high ground even if I wanted one) but they do have a point.
Basically, the record companies have their distribution methods and they have come to expect certain ownership rights associated with their product. They've had their intelectual property protected for decades.
Now we come along with our mp3 players and Kazaa installations and have a very easy way of bypassing the rights of these companies. The technology makes it very easy, and therefore the companies feel (correctly) that the technology will be used to further deprive them of their right to control their own product.
So indeed the "principle" of the technology is of a threat to them.
Here's an analogy that you won't be happy to get behind but I feel it's valid. If the gov't was building some vast database to keep track of everyones' purchases, we'd be threatened by the "principle" of this technology, because we'd easily anticipate this technology to be used to curb our individual rights to privacy.
Similarly, the record companies see mp3, p2p, etc, as technologies that are dangerous to them because they can and are used to strip them away of THEIR right to control how THEIR information/product is distributed.
I don't expect them to have much success with trying to stuff the technological genie back into the bottle (just like I don't expect the tinfoil hat crowd to manage the Big Brother technology into the bottle) but let's not pretend that it's somehow unreasonable for RIAA, et al, to be upset about advent of technology whose chief use is to bypass their own control of their product.
As a New Yorker I find some of this protesting to be in poor taste, and I am glad it has not materialized into more yet (and hopefully will not)
Basically, there has been talk of "disrupting" the convention. What is this about?
There's a Replublican national convention every four years (right?), and it has never yet been to NYC. Since NYC is by far the most important city in this nation, it's overdue for the convention. The protesors cite the selection of NYC by Republicans as some evil, but provide no real argument for it. Why not have it here? New York is heavily democratic, but we're currently having a Republican Mayor and a Republican Governor. Granted Pataki and Bloomberg are hippies next to "real" republicans, but still. So I don't see the convention being held in NYC as a reason for anger.
But yes, the whole thing is in poor taste. "Protestors" have been herrasing delegates (several have been punched). There is a movement to "shut it down" — encouraging people to call in sick during the convention such that there would be no service industry to take care of the delegates.
Don't think that's in poor taste?
What if during the DNC, some right wingers tried to "disrupt" the convention, went around punching delegates and in general tried to make themselves a nuisance.
We'd not like that very much. It would be examples of right wing hacks trying to cause trouble and deny the proper flow of politics in this country.
Similarly, the actions of the current protestors are in bad taste.
Coincidentally, I live within a few blocks of the convention (I am on 42nd st, right off of times sq) and my daily commute has not yet been affected much. The bus I usually take in the morning has been rerouted to 44th st from 42nd st, but overall, in the past 2 days I was delayed by about 10 minutes only on account of the convention.
You don't sound like a communist, just silly. You're expecting GM to be like "well we're making tons of money in the Finance dept but we make more cars than we can sell" and use that as a reason to hire more autoworkers?
I realize that some business models, like that of pseudo-communist China, treat labor as a fixed cost. But in our accounting model, labor costs are pretty closely tied to output.
The more cars GM can sell, the more people they will hire. And the other way around. The economy functions as a global system, which is the context of the need for job growth. Your last comment is like "They're silly, they should hire more people so that these people will have jobs and buy cars from them" which doesn't really work.
Hiya [name removed to protect the innocent]
The problem with your point of view is that the world is somewhat different from a highschool debate club. In the latter, your argument is perfect: if it is OK for the US to have nukes, then why is it not OK for Iran or North Korea? Call hypocrisy and be done with it.
In the real world, there are other considerations. Like, whether the world is a safer place (for me) with NK and Iran having nukes. And I don't see any reason why would be.
So while you aptly explain why a North Korean dictator should wish to poses nuclear armaments, you do not convince me that it is a good thing. I realize this line of reasoning may not seem fair to Kim Jung-Il, but to be honest I am not really interested in being considerate of his feelings. In fact, fuck him.
So while it may not be "fair," it makes perfect sense for those who have nukes to keep those who do not have them, from obtaining them. Ultimately, we recognize that nukes obtained by nations like NK and Iran are meant to influence us and our allies politically, if not downright attack us/them. So why let these countries gain the advantage?
I recognize how this is not "fair," but why should we let a questionable government get a weapon to use against us, in the interests of "fairness."
I don't really see any reason.
Sunday, March 14, 2004
Attention Readers: Like any site with a lot of content, my blog gets a million idiotic hits from google and other search engines for stuff that has nothing to do with what I write about. Have you actually found what you're looking for on this site? Are you a regular reader? Please left me know. I am trying to reorganize the site in order to minimize false hits from search engines and would like some feedback as to who my actual readership is. Thanks!
I definitely don't think the market is going to colapse (it was not my intention to be scary with this writeup, at any rate) but it's something to be aware of, at least.
Over valuation was huge during the late-90's boom, but I think that people who bought into the market in 1999 or 2000 with 20 or 30 year investment horizons will be OK anyway. Just like people who bought in just before the 1987 crash would have come up on top if they held onto their investments today instead of panicking and selling.
This should be of most concern to those with shorter investment horizons, like the proverbial victims who had to put off retirement due to the 2001-2002 decline. People in that situation should seriously consider their situation, because sitting around and waiting for the market to return to where it "should be" may be the right thing to do, as long as you aren't holding your breath.
For people with long investment horizons like me (I am 22, less than a year out of college) market undervaluation (or lack of overvaluation) is good, because stagnant markets for the next few years means more of my money gets in at the ground floor. I want the markets to stay where they are (well not really, because stagnation is bad for the mood, jobs, etc., but purely from the investment point of view, any near-term growth is contrary to my long term interest) whereas people who will need the money sooner rather than later, may be severely screwed if their portfolios continue to be worth less than they've bought them for.
It is much easier to put a $13,000 401(k) investment someplace that will grow than it is to place a $36 billion cash hoard.
Not really. You can't buy Yahoo on e-trade (your subsequent example) with your 401k, as your 401k must be invested in a fund or a selection of funds with which your employer has signed. Most funds that are more aggressive than an index, seek out undervalued securities into which to invest the billions of dollars they're entrusted with. While as an individual investor you may luck out and find a great place to stick your 13k into, chances are your fund manager is in the same boat as Berkshire's management.
Of course you'll never hear your fund managers write about that in your quarterly statements. Fund managers are paid a percentage of the total investment in the fund, rather than a percentage of the growth. It's in their interests to amass money in the fund and invest it.
jun jun chen chen fu fu zi zi
I don't think what you describe is going to be a big problem at all.
Because there's a huge influx of money into the 401k system and therefore into the market. What's more, the 401k system was created in 1978 and the first one was established in 1980. I can't find the numbers but I am guessing that it took a few years for the system to become really popular, therefore most of the money in there isn't "old" money, it's investments of under 10 years old. That means the system is a lot less vulnerable to baby-boomer retirements than Social Security (I am paying that tax without expecting to see anything for it, but thats OK). Plus, the limits for 401k contributions are rising (12k per person last year, 13k this year, 14k next year, and (IIRC) 15k the year after that)
Now, certainly, it's possible that the 401k cash-out (as well as folks selling their non-401k portfolios) will have an affect on the market that will devaluate stocks just a little bit, I think that the influx/outflux of cash into the system will be healthy enough that it will go through that healthily enough.
Mainly, this is going to be hard on some brokers now that funds won't be needing to BUY a lot of stock, as they can just replace the outgoing cash with the incoming cash 'stead of buying.
This is what terrorism is. Innocent people, on the train, on a bus, at work, getting murdered because it fits someone's agenda. This is the same whether the people are in New York or Jerusalem or Madrid or Moscow. There's nothing more to say that hasn't yet been expressed in the thread yet. I am sorry for Spain, I am sorry for Spaniards, for all people of Europe whose sense of safety may have been decreased just like that of us Americans was decreased after 9/11.
One thing I found disgusting in this thread is the bitter bickering about prematurely assigning blame. Look, this may be ETA (though they deny it,) this may be Muslim terrorists (looking more like it with the found van and claims of responsibility) or it may be something else entirely, but what the FUCK is the point of spewing venom at your fellow Plasticians when they voice who they believe the likely suspect to be. In a few days or weeks, we will know who did this. Yelling at someone that "Remember when OK City bombing was blamed on Arabs?" as if that's a relevant argument to this is just dumb.
Oh, and one more thing. If it IS Muslim terror, it's got nothing to do with Iraq. No one who's leading terror cells (especially outside Iraq) gives half a shit about Iraq.
I am reserving further judgement until more data is out. And for those of you who have voiced strong opinions here about who did it, I hope that once the info comes out, you do look back and see how right or wrong you were.
By the way, if anyone here is from Madrid, and you're really shaken up and disturbed and you're sensing tension and a sick vibe in your city... hang in there. It was like that in NYC for months after 9/11, but things eventually return to normal.
My two favourite bathrooms in NYC are at Tao's (58th and Park) and CBGB's
I work accross the street from Tao now, but the first and only time I was there was during college. We were really drunk (and probably more) and I had to take a piss. I found the doors were labeled Ying and Yang. It took me a minute to (cleverly) deduce which one is men's.
I love CBGB's because it's such a non-pretentious low brow establishment. The bathroom is no exception. Any time the door opens anyone who happens to be in the hall outside can see you lined up pissing into the urinals. There's a concrete platform about 2 feet above the floor on which there's a toilet. No stall or anything, just a dominating throne. But I figure that by the time you're in position of having to take a shit at CBGB's you really aren't goint to care.
Public bathrooms also available: Central Park, on those stairs leading down to the fountain from the promenade. Bryant Park, next to the library.
But I certainly have had to resort to public urination once or twice.
Ah, great places to eat:
A Schichwan restaurant on 2nd Ave at 55th.
Agra, Indian on Lexington and 60th or so (upstairs)
on McDougal, in the NYU area, gives you falafel at $2.00. Also very low-brow, which I like. The red ketchup-looking thing on the table is not ketchup or bbq sauce, it's made from red chilly pepper so apply to your falafel with caution.
The Living Room
, next to Pianos, on Ludlow St (near Houston) is a great non pretentious cafe where one can hear 4 or 5 different accoustic acts during the evening. The drinks are reasonablty priced ($5 or $6 for a beer) and at the end of each performance a bucket is passed around for donations for the artist. Sugested donation is $5 but you can adjust that based on your enjoyment of the act and financial situation. The waitress, Anna, is
one of the lovelies in NYC. No contrast to that Goth bitch at CBGB's (but that adds to the flavour of the place anyway.)
Other great things in NYC: take the subway, in the summer, to Coney Island or Brigton Beach. Lovely beach and board walk and a slice of Russia (little Oddessa, actually). Incredibly cheap. We had lunch there for literaly under $1.
Cheap Massages: Fision Herb Center in China town (elizabeth st I thin?) I've got a hour long massage for $40, and that included a tip. You should call in advance to reserve a time.
For a little more upscale evening, check out Otto Enoteca
at One Fith Avenue (on 8th st) It's owned by mario Batali. It's a lovely combination of a wine bar with a upscale pizzeria. On my last trip there, we came in and put our name on the waitlist for a table. We were then issued a train ticket with a name of an italian destination (solerno in our case). There is a train departure board mounted on the wall and when you see your destination announced, your table is ready. took about 45 minutes for that. Meanwhile we had a glass of wine at the winebar (there are also standup tables in the firsr room where the wine
bar is, where you can have your wine and cold cuts if you so desire). The glasses of wine were $15 each which makes you drink then very slowly and enjoy every sip. Rather refined crowd. When the "Train" to solerno was finally announced, we had delicious apetizers (I had
something made out of eggplant) and 2 personal sized pizza (one Arugula, one Peproni). the dinner came out to be $40 for both of us + $30 for the wine. A little expensive (and a little high-brow for me) but certainly a great experience to have.
For those of you visiting NYC, don't take cabs from the airport. take, instead, the Air Train ($5) to a subway station (on the A train or the E train) and the subway system ($2) will get you anywhere you need to be in the city. Much much much cheaper than a cab. That's from
JFK. If you arrive at LaGuardia, you can take the city bus to the 7 train (the whole thing will cost you $2) but that's a slightly less pleasant experience.
If you're visiting central park, you'll probably be entering it from the downtown (south) side. Get as far uptown as you can. The scenery changes dramatically as you progress uptown.
When completely bored, take the train to W4th st at night and walk around asking which way Washington Square Park is. I did this when I was lost one night (I was actually looking for chabad house accross from the park) and ended up not only being completely mislead by every person I asked, but talking to interesting people as well "We're from california so we dont know where it is, but you must be cool if you're looking for it at 11 o clock at night. wanna hang?" and "oo, it's cold,
why don't you just stay here instead?" (spoken in a gay lisp by a 300 lb bearded man)
If you stay downtown, in the NYU/villiage/lower east side area, you're bound to see some fun stuff. Last night I was out with some coworkers when I saw 2 guys and a woman beating the shit out of some poor guy. I stopped to watch (as my pals ran away) feeling guilt (for not helping) and fascination at the proceedings. The "beaters" turned out to be undercover cops, which made me not feel bad for lack of intervention.
Alright, that's all for now. Enjoy New Amsterdam if you're in town!
Oh one more thing, if you're in the mood for a lovely walk, there's a walkway going up the manhatten bank on the Hudson. On one lovely day, we took it from the South St. Sea Port, walked through Battery Park, then up the Hudson all the way to 130th st (harlem) Lots of lovely
things to see along the way.
Also, last summer (and into the Fall) you were able to go to the downtown boat house
, get a free cayak for about 30-40 minutes. You were then given a paddle and shoved off into the Hudson. I've done this about 15 times, and survived (although people do question your sanity once they find out that there's a hole on the bottom of the cayak and that you're essentially soaking up hudson water with your ass and balls and whatever else). I am hoping this joy will be available this summer as well — according to the website, it will be.
Did I miss anything?
(and the world's second
richest man) Warren Buffet
, famed for his insightful letters
to investors, sells stock for one of two reasons:
The market judges a business to be more valuable than the underlying
facts indicate it is to him, or (2) because he and his team require
funds for "still more undervalued investments or ones [they] believe
[they] understand better."
In the past year, Buffet has sold some stock and
has hardly purchased anything new. Why? We know the second reason isn't
at play as Berkshire currently has 27 billion dollars in cash. It must
be reason number one, over-valuation, that prompted Buffet to sell.
More alarming, Buffet and his team are unable to find any stock they
feel meets their criteria of being seriously undervalued by the market.
This is a more important issue than it may at first appear to be. According to 3 year old figures, at least 40 million
Americans rely on 401k for their retirement. There must be many others
who invest for their retirement through personal portfolios. If people
such as Buffet are unable to find long term investments worth pursuing,
smaller investors are probably in the same boat. In Buffet's case,
there's a choice of buying companies outright (Berkshire owns GEICO,
for example) – this is not am option for most of us.
Buffet, a democrat (and a supporter of Arnold)
whose company pays over 2% of all corporate taxes in the United States,
does not usually make political statements, though he has been an
outspoken critic of the Bush tax cuts. He sticks to facts and
well-argued opinion, and his reluctance to invest in today's markets is
even more telling than words could be. In particular, those looking
forward to a Clinton-like boom to coincide with the change of
administration should consider the possibility that the market is
At the same time, Bill Gross, manager of a bond fund Pimco Total Return with more than 70 billion is investments, has been talking about the lack of growth he foresees in the fixed income investments and has been taking his own money out of the fund.
In the upcoming election, the economical focus
will be on job creation, but the health of the general economy is
extremely important. There's no indication (though everyone says so
when it supports their guy) that whoever is in office has any impact on
the economy – jobs and otherwise.
Saturday, March 06, 2004
The motto "They Can Sue, But They Can't Hide" greets you at the DoctorsKnow.Us.com website -- a website that lists anyone who has ever sued a doctor or a hospital for malpractice, listing "plaintiffs, their lawyers and expert witnesses in malpractice lawsuits in Texas and beyond" regardless of the merit of the claim. Though the site has only been operating for a little over a year, it is reportedly chock full of information dating back for years. (Plastic.com story)
If you run a small business, particularly one that serves the general public rather than other businesses, one of your biggest problems is lawsuits. You own a store, some clutz slips. You're sued. You own a laundry, someone pours bleech in their eye, you're sued.
We think of doctors as being very wealthy but they're esentially small business owners. Some, like pediatrics, don't even make much more than a high-end secretary. I believe that doctors are mandated to have malpractice insurance. If a doctor can say that she screens her patients for known suers, not only can she protect her business from suits, she can also negotiate a discount on her insurance premium.
This is not some faceless HMO cutting corners on care it provides. The HMOs can get the information on their customers anyway, they've got resources for that without the website. The website allows small private practices to know who they're dealing with. Looking at it that way, I think it's great, as it allows a person to know who they're about to enter into a business relationship with. This does not affect emergency care or hospital care. It only helps non-emergency private doctors.
Sunday, February 22, 2004
Re: Radio Shack
4.577 billion (Net sales)
-2.33890 billion (Cost of goods sold)
-1.82330 billion (Sell, gen & adm exp)
= 415 million (Operating income)
415 million (Operating income)
- 43.40 million (Interest expense)
+ 53.30 million (Net non-op gain)
- 161.5 million (Income tax expense)
= 263.40 million (Net Income)
(2002 figures used)
Calling a company "a profitable Goliath" based on sales figures is misleading. In 2002, Amazon.com had sales of 3.9 billion but an annual loss of 149.13 million.
But I always think to myself, what if, what if, the pilgrims and their predecessors had not chosen to commit the drawn out process of genocide against Natives Americans? What if they had chosen, instead, to find a common ground?
That's an interesting "what if".. And it wouldn't be so good.
Let's assume that not only did the colonists in America but everyone else in the world adopted the native american ideas of living. This is necessary to assume because otherwise the colonists and the indians would have been whiped out by the next wave of high-tech colonists.
How well would that work? The natives in East North America had no animal domestication (or minimal) and farming techniques were slowly making their way up from Central and South Americas.
The plains indians further west did not farm at all. They sustained themselves by driving buffalo off of cliffs, which turns out not to have been a very conservative way of hunting (many of the buffalo on the bottom of the pile were never processed).
How long would it take before the growing Native+Immigrant population was unable to feed itself with hunting and gathering (including fishing and shellfishing) and simple farming?
There's nothing to indicate that the Indians would not go for progress for the sake of sustainability. As the continent got more and more populated over the last 10k years before the European contact, their lives had changed. Weapons, chielfly projectile weapons, and improved hunting techniques allowed them to take more animals (and more enemies as well) than previously. Some large mammals may have gone extinct because the Indians hunted them out at the same time as the environment turned against those animals as the continent emerged from the ice age. They certainly did not have an endagered species list.
While the Incas have sucessfully learned to use soil productively, many other areas were farmed to death and became infertile elsewhere in America. If available, who's to say that the natives would not accept artificial fertilizer and pesticide?
Even tradition as it stands is not really conservationist in nature...
You may also have heard of a controversy (it may have even been a Plastic story) about a Western tribe that was denied the right to hunt rare whales by the federal government. There's nothing in that tribe's tradition that says "do not engage in the sacred whale hunt if the whales are dying out"
What you seem to be dreaming about is a world that rejected technology for the sake of preserving the environment.
I am not sure how reasonable that expectation is
The problem with google, as you perceive it, is that it ranks pages on relevance. If you're googling "john kerry" you're probably more interested in the results that google serves up, not in what the veterans and arabs think about him.
I am not a google programmer, but I have spent time optimizing web sites for google domination and I can tell you what makes a website rank highly for a particular term. This is not an exact science since google does not publicize their algorithms, but it's an approximation that works.
1. A domain overall is deemed worthy when it has a lot of incoming links. This search shows that there are about 45 thousand websites out there that link to johnkerry.com. This signifies to google that this site must be relevant and of quality. Similarly, there are about 10 thousand links to kerry.senate.gov, the second highest result. www.usvetdsp.com has about 6 thousand links to it, so it is considered to be of lesser relevance than the other two.
2. A site is deemed relevant to a search term when links to it have the search term. I would bet that most of the links to JohnKerry.com have text that says John Kerry. I would also guess that most links that link to the U.S. Veteran Dispatch do not have "John Kerry" as the title. By the way, this principle of linking to a page with particular search term was used to make this miserable failure trick (lol! a few weeks ago this brought up the whitehouse's Bush bio as the first hit, now it's Michael Moore's page!)
3. Having the search term as part of the URL, preferably of the domain name, helps a lot. If you look at google's top results, they all have Kerry or John Kerry as part of the URL. This makes google think that a site is relevant to the search. This seems to have gone down in relevance as far as google cares because my friend's band HQ'd at highspeedchase.net was google's top hit for "high speed chase", but not anymore.
4. Miscellaneous contents related things, such as keyword frequency, page title, the number of times the keyword occurs in header tags, in image alt. texts, etc.
The combination of the above 4 factors, (in that order, I believe) contribute to a site's relevancy for a keyword search on google. For engines like altavista, only elements from #4 are relevant. Sites that manage to hit some magic number for keyword frequency come up on top. Google's way finds things that are most relevant, most popular, and are more likely to be what one is looking for.
And yes, you're absolutely right in that people who are using google are most likely to all be looking at the same things. That would be true if they all were using altavista or anything else. In case of google, it's fortunate enough that the things they're reading are also things deemed most relevant in the democracy that is the internet. Since so many thousands of people and organizations chose to link to johnkerry.com and these other top sites, google can't help but think those are important.
Hope this explains things.
The point Bush was trying to make in his self-defence is a point that no one on Plastic will ever admit is valid. Here is it, summarized for you in non-political terms.
The idea that the outcome of an action defined the validity of the action is false. Bush is arguing that it's more important to make the right decision than to be proven right by time.
Imagine you are offered to pick a ball out of a bag. There are 1000 balls in the bag, 999 white, and 1 black. If you pick a white one, you win a thousand dollars. If you pick the black one, you lose a thousand dollars.
Should you try this? Of course, because odds are 999 to 1 that you will win a 1000 dollars. It is the righr decision to play this game.
Well, what if you're really unlucky and got the black ball. You lost a 1000 dollars. Does that mean that the original decision to play was wrong?
No. It does not. You made youe decision on the best available information. The fact that things worked out contrary to your intent does not mean the original thinking was flawed.
This is what Bush is trying to argue.
Findiesen's using the cockpit of a plane as a pulpit is definitely an issue.
The last pilots I heard express strong religious opinions voiced them by crashing into the World Trade Centers and the Pentagon. We could have added the White House to the list had it not been for the "unbelievers" who sacrificed their lives to stop them.
I am not sure if this needs to be stated. But just in case:
While I do not think it is very professional to talk about religion at work, given the choice, I'd rather my pilot expressed his beliefs verbally than by flying the airplane into a building.
Or, another way:
The guys from 9/11 aren't bad because they expressed their religion. They're bad because they killed 3000+ people.
How did Disney, America's most beloved media giant, get into such a weak position? Disney has seen stagnation in earnings and share price for the last five years under Michael Eisner, its long-time chairman and chief executive. Pixar just abruptly ended negotiations to extend its partnership with Disney, taking away an estimated 45% in operating revenue from Disney studios. Roy E. Disney quit the Disney board last November, harshly criticizing Eisner.
They had some decline in the parks and consumer product areas(about -4.50% avg 2 year growth in each area) but a good rise in Media Networks and Studio Entertainment divisions (7.06% and 9.82% avg 2-year growth, respectively)
Their stock price graph looks exactly like the SnP 500 graph — they rise and fall as the market does.
This is an unsolicited takeover attempt but analysts agree that Comcast is going to have to pay more than its current offer (I think 10% over stock value is their first bid, I don't remember exactly) if they're serious.
This is not a bad deal for Disney, anyway. Comcast is buying them because they need the content (synergy or whatever you want to call it) not because Disney is cheap and vulnerable at the moment.
Rosie Reid, an 18 year-old lesbian student at the UK's prestigious Bristol University, has just auctioned off her virginity for £8,400, thanks, according to her, to British Prime Minister Tony Blair. Earlier this year, the Blair Administration successfully persuaded the UK Parliament to increase university fees, hence ballooning the crippling debt suffered by British university students. As Ms. Reid angrily points out,
1. Let's say her parents make £60k a year together, meaning each one of them makes approx £30k a year. She is complaining that she will graduate with £15k in debt. If she does at least as well as her parents do, her debt is about 1/2 of a year's pay. One's education is one's investment in one's self. If her education isn't worth 1/2 year of salary to her...
2. Her parents make £60k a year. That's $113k, which is not bad. The fact that she has to whore out for cash should be more of an embarasment to her dad than to Mr. Blair.
Having to work for your education makes you appreciate your education more. From 1. above, it doesn't seem as if her education is worth very much to her as she does not seem to believe that being £15k in debt is worth it and from 2. it does not appear that it's very important to her family either. Why should the government provide?
I realize that many people disagree. In my experience, working for my education was the best character building excercise there is.
Also, who the fuck would pay so much money to fuck a virgin. The whole point of going to a hooker is that she's a trained professional!
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Tuesday, January 20, 2004
So anyway here's the deal with Retirement Plans. Right up front, my philosophy
is that the best thing you can do is max out your 401k - ie the limit next year
is 13K so you should strive to put in as close to 13K as possible. You're ahead
with that for a few reasons:
1. You are tax-deffered. Meaning that if you get 1k in your paycheck and invest
it yourself, you're only investing about $700 because that's what you get after
tax. If you invest pre-tax, you're investing the whole 1k, so if it works out
and you get an average of 15% anual return for 40 years on 1k vs. $700, the
difference comes out to several thousands.
2. You work for a financial institution, which means that the people picking
plans know something about what they're doing. Since you have a choice of 8
plans, it suggests to me that they offer plans for various investment horizons
(I have 40 years till retirement while betty only has 5) and risk tolerance (I
will jump out of the window if my fund loses 80% this year, while bob will
handle that fine. this is closely related to your investment horison. If you're
retiring next year and you just lost 80% of your savings, you should jump out!)
This suggests that out of the different categories of funds, the ones available
to you are as good as any you'd pick yourself, especially if you don't know what you're doing.
3. Investing as part of a 401k saves you from paying loads. Loads are basically
fees that funds charge investors to recoup advertising and marketing costs.
These are usually waived when you invest through a 401k. Of course there are
also funds that don't charge loads either way.
4. 401k lets you take out loans against them. So for example in a couple of
years you want to buy a house or appartment. You can take a loan against your
401k. You repay it back, with interest. But the interest goes into your 401k!
You basically act as your own loan bank. The fact that you save on the interest
will save you thousands. Similarly, there are provisions for taking out for 401k for emergencies. The downside, you cannot generally take out of your 401k
except for the above 2 reasons before age of 60. (or 65?)
Ok so now we know that you SHOULD invest. Now we need to figure out how to
You have a choice of funds, and I think it's fair to assume that they range from very safe to very risky. Low Risk = Low Reward. High Risk = High Reward. Being
young and having 40 years until retirement, you have room to play. So your
portfolio should be skewed towards higher risk. (however, if you're a broke old
man, do not hold a grudge against me) PAST PERFORMANCE IS NO INDICATOR OF FUTURE RESULTS!
With the choice of funds that you have, you still need to pick out the good ones from the bad ones. The WORST thing about a fund is how expensive it is. All
funds have an Expense Ratio, which is a percentage of your investment that they
anually take to cover the expense of managing the fund. This is usually related
to how big a name is running the fund. If you want a fund run by a famous
manager with a great history of returns, he's probably going to charge a big
Why is the expense ratio important? Because if 2 funds make 5% anual gains, but
one charges 2% expense ratio while the other one only charges 1%, your total
return is 3% with the first one (5-2) but 4% with the second one (5-1). Since
the objective is to make as much money as possible, we can go a long way towards that by avoiding PAYING too much. The fact that a fund charges higher expense
ratios does not mean it is necessarily better. If you have 2 funds from the same general class and one is cheaper and has relatively similar returns over the
last 5-10 years, it's a no brainer. Go with the cheaper.
How do you look up expense ratios and classes for your funds? Go to
morningstar.com and put in the ticker. There's even a function on there to
"grade" the fund (in stars, I think.) It even gives you a verbal description
kinda like "this fund gets 5 stars because it has delivered higher returns than
class average while charging average fees" or "this fund gets 5 stars because
even though it has average returns for the class, it has charged super-low fees" either way is good. You either spend more and make more, or you spend less and
make less, it works out. There are plenty of funds that are like "this fund has
1 and a half star because it has lower than average returns, higher than average expense ratio, and has a high turnover rate"
What's turn over rate? It means how often a fund buys and sells securities. For
example, if the fund has a mentality of "I know this stock is undervalues so it
has to go up in 2 or 3 years, so I am gonna buy it now and hold it" (btw this
is the right mentality) it has low turn over rate. If a fund has the mentality
of "I am gonna buy this stock cuz it's gonna go up tomorrow... now its tomorrow
and it didn't go up, I am gonna sell it and chase some other one" this is high
turnover. High turn over is bad because you, as fund investor, are paying for
it. Buying and selling incurs broker fees which eat away at your income.
So you basically want, from each class, to seek out funds with low turnover
relative to the class average and low fees relative to class average.
Now, what classes do you want?
Being that you have 40 years to go, you should have about 20% of your stuff
allocated to safe investments (eg: funds that mainly invest in US bonds, money
markets, etc.) and 80% of your stuff in stocks. Stock funds differ, too. Some
are low risk, some are high risk.
Usually, for beginners I recommend to have some share of your stuff in an index
fund. An index fund is just that, it mirrors a published index. For example, the S&P 500. That means that the fund invests in exactly the same stocks and in the same proportion as the S&P 500. That means 2 benefits for you. 1. Since this is a no-brainer operation, there's no expensive porfolio manager to pay. 2. Since
the index makeup does not change radically, these funds have low turnover. For
example, Vanguard S&P 500 (which I'd guess is one of your options) charges 0.20% expense ratio. Other (non-index funds run by big-name managers) charge as much
as 2.0%... The problem with an Index fund is that you can't out-perform the
market. (on the up side, you can't underperform the market, either.) You
basically follow the market. S&P has a good year, so do you. S&P has a bad year, so do you.
Now, how do you spot low-risk funds? Aside from reading on morningstar.com,
check out their returns during BAD market years (like 2001 and 2002) If they
actually MADE money or lost LESS money than the corresponding index, this is a
fairly conservative fund. On other years, you'll see that they usually don't
out-perform the market too much.
Higher risk funds, you'll see that on bad years, they lose MORE than their
index. But in good years they make a LOT more than the index. As someone with 40 years to go, you should have a good chunk of your money invested in funds like
this. Of course you have to gauage your own ability to look at your 401k
statement one quarter and see that a good chunk of your stuff is worthless at
the moment AND HAVE THE DISCIPLINE TO STILL CONTRIBUTE TO THESE FUNDS AS THEY'RE FALLING!
One last thing, and that's diversification. The worst thing you can do is invest in one fund. Because if that fund goes down, that's it. All your eggs in one
basket. There's absolutely no benefit to having a large chunk of your money in
one fund vs having a little bit of money in all funds. In fact, I think that you should invest in all of them (except ones with really high expense ratios,
maybe.) If you really want to take a lazy road, just put in an equal amount of
your 401k contribution into each fund (if there are 8 choices, each one gets
12.5%) and be done with it. I would recomend tweaking it a little bit, though.
For example, you can say "I am really too young to have 12.5 of my money sitting in a money market fund" so you take, say half of your money market fund's
allocation (6.25%) and you put it in some high risk fund - or maybe you'd be
more comfortable with spreading that 6.25 among some of the higher-risk funds,
so that for example 2.25% go to a super-high rish, 2.0% go to the next 2, which
are a bit lower risk. This way you're:
2. skewed a little towards higher risk/higher reward.
you can then fine tune it further. Let's say fund A and B are abount the same
risk/reward ratio. But A is more expensive. So you take 1/2 of your allocation
to A and put it into B instead. That way you are still diversified, but you're a little more skewed towards the fund that is cheaper and should therefore give
you better returns.
So, to summarize:
1. Put in as much into your 401k as you can afford. ***
2. Diversify. ***
3. At your age, lean toward higher risk/higher return funds.
4. Seek out low expense ratio and low turn-over rate (i think it may be called
Beta in the prospectus)
5. Don't freak out when your funds drop. Think of it as an opportunity to buy
shares of it for cheap. Short term fluctuations don't matter when you're
thinking 40 years ahead.
*** 1. if you make 50k, you're paying taxes off of 50k. If you put in 13k into
your 401k, you're only paying taxes as if you were making 37k. That means your
take home pay doesn't decrease by 13k in a year if you put in 13k into a 401k.
*** 2. Some of your funds probably invest in foreign bonds and stocks. That's
also diversification, and you should take advantage of it.
I did some research to show you that how the market is doing right now does not
make a difference to long term investments..
August 1987, you buy $10,000 of some DOW index fund. Dow is at 2721. In Oct
1987, the Dow drops to 1742 (the crash of 1987) and your investments are worth
$6410. You lost nearly 40% of your investment IN ONE MONTH!
In December 1999 you buy $10,000 shares of a Dow index fund. Dow is at 11719
(height of the boom). Right after 9/11, Dow drops to 8250. Your investment is
now worth 7142. You lost nearly 30% of your investment in less than a year.
What's the moral?
Right now DOW is at 10581. Which means means your 10K from 1999 assuming you
didn't bail out) is worth $9090. Which means you're only $1000 down. (10%)
But guess what.... If you had stuck around with your 1987 investment, that 10k
from which you lost 40% of in Oct 1987, is now worth $38,910! I.E. it's a good
thing you didn't jump out the window in 1987 or sell all your shit, because it's now worth nearly 4 times as much!
And if you really had balls and on the day it droped in 87 you put in another
10k, THAT 10k would have been worth $60,975 today.
Similarly, if you put in 10k on the day the market opened after 9/11, it would
be worth $12,836 now. You would have gained 20% over 3 years IN A RECESSION!
One more stat. If you bought in Aug 87 (highest point at that time) and had to
retire right after 9/11 (lowest point of our time), your $10k would have still
been worth $30,395!
IE: when time is on your side, local minimum and maximim are irrelevant. In
fact, when the market drops, it's an opportunity for you to buy low and increase your return even higher (as you can tell by the returns you'd get if you had
invested right after 87 or 01 crash)
The averages seem to be in your favor, historically. If you put in a little bit
each month, you get on "average" the fair price for your time period. Similarly, if you had to retire in 2001 after 9/11, your overall portfolio would be worth
less than it is now, but you'd not be taking all of it out. You'd take some out, while the rest of it would grow to present value ;-)
Sunday, December 07, 2003
I should like to point out the reason why many feel that anti-Israeli criticism is anti-Semetic in origin.
If you consider the history of the troubles and violence in the region, you will find anti-Jewish violence predating the creation of Israel itself (while it was a British mandate, that is) and a history of Arab wars against Israel that occured prior to the occupation of Jerusalem, West Bank, and Gaza. That violence was not about camps and civil rights or walls or extra-legal assacinations. It was anti-Jewish violence for clearly anti-Jewish reasons, same as the expelling of Jews from many countries in the region at the same time period.
It is clear that the conflict began with anti-Jewish violence and the basic causes of it have not been solved. Now, nearly half a century later, people who discuss the conflict do not discuss the history of it, they just discuss the status quo. They say "X arabs died this year and Y jews." The origins of the trouble are neglected and instead they gladly say that violence against Jews is justified because of the Arab situation, neglecting that the Arab situation was brought about and IS CONTINUED due to Arab violence against Jews. This view, even when voiced by someone who doesn't dislike jews and merely has this opinion because this is the context in which he was presented with the issues, is anti-Jewish in nature. "it doesn't matter why you jews are in the situation you are in, but those poor Arabs... we gotta help 'em"
The same issue comes up when you compare casualties. You say this many arabs died, this many jews died. It doesn't matter to you that many of the Jews died because someone walked in onto a bus or into a cafe with the intention to murder innocent people, and that many Arabs died as part of an anti-terror operation where effort was made to minimize civilian casualties. You're basically saying that the intentional murder of a jew is on the same level of attrocity as an accidental killing of an Arab while in pursuit of fighting terrorism. This glossing over nuance (it's not a real subtle difference, either) can appear to come from an anti-jewish bias, even if it's not. It's easy to ask "why do you dismiss purposeful murder of a jew in order to compare the two sides of the conflict".
That's not insignificant. History of anti-jewish (and I would imagine a lot of other) violence stems from twisted history and facts becoming part of the cultural conscious. The pogroms and WW2 camps are good examples of that. Racial violence in the US was also fostered by consistant cultural representations of, for example, african Americans.
That being said, most people I know who are critics of Israel are not aware as anti-semites. Just like those who celebrate columbus day and thanksgiving are not consciously anti-native American biggots. but to anyone with a sense of history and the desire for context, those people appear to be anti-native americans as they are celebrating the negative things that happened to these people.
If you want to criticize Israel, that's fine. But you better make an argument that confronts the many truths about the anti-Jewish nature and history of the conflict if you wish to be genuinely innocent of relying on bias and twisted of history in your position.
She looks good but I know she after my cheddar, she trying to get in my pockets and I ain't gonna let her.
"The study is based on a series of tests performed on 30 white undergraduate volunteers from Dartmouth. Initially, the volunteers were administered the IAT (online tests) consisting of associating African American names with positive and negative attributes. Performance in this test was used as baseline for assessing prejudices. Next, the volunteers met with either a white or black experimenter and conversed about topics like racial profiling and college social groups (like fraternities). Immediately after the conversation, the volunteers participated in a Stroop task. The study found a statistically mediated relation between racial bias and Stroop interference. Specifically, volunteers who met a black experimenter, performed worse on the Stroop task. In a separate session two weeks later, a fMRI scan was performed on the same volunteers while they were shown unfamiliar white or black male faces (PDF). The scans indicated that areas of the brain associated with cognitive control flared into activity proportionate to each volunteer's level of racial bias as measured by the IAT while viewing a black face, showing that higher racial bias is correlated with higher deployment of mental resources towards cognitive control.
I am curious as to why the Stroop task was picked as the measure here (it may be explained in the article... sorry if it is) For those who don't know, a Stroop task is when you have a bunch of color names (GREEN YELLOW RED ORANGE) written in different colors (so the word GREEN may be writen with RED ink, etc). Your job is to read those words and very quickly say "RED" because that's what the color of the ink is and NOT say green because that's what the actual word that's written is.
The idea is that the first word that pops into your head is going to be the one you read and you have to control yourself into saying "no it's written in RED, don't say green"
So what I am curious about is whether it's the actual idea of the experimenters that racists would actually be confused about colors. Kinda like "Ok my first instinct is to say BLACK because this guy is black, my second instinct is to say ORANGE cuz the word I am reading is orange and finally the right answer is GREEN because the text is written in green ink"
Or was the Stroop task just picked arbitrarily from a set of standard tools available to the psychologists?
What we're discussing here is the cost of new drugs — ones that have hit the market recently enough that the patent still holds and the cheaper "me-too" alternatives are not available.
Therefore, it's not profit on medicines that we're discussing, but profit on NEW medicines.
Which leads us here: drugs would undoubtedly be developed anyway, whether the drug companies made obscene profits on them or not. But it's not unreasonable to accept that w/o the intensive financia push, the drugs would be developed slower than they currently are. Why would a company spend money to bring out a product faster where it won't make any more money off of it than it does by selling existing products.
For simplicity's sake, let's say that patents keep drugs from becoming affordable for one decade since introduction. Since drugs take a long time to develop, test, and get aproved, let's say that lesser financial incentive will delay product introduction by a decade (not unreasonable, actually).
If we're counting from 2003, under both systems a drug would become affordable in 2013. Except that in the first case, it will already have been out for a decade — side-effects observed studied, acceptance established, whereas in the second scenario it would just be coming out .
From the point of view of affordability, it's the same. From the point of view of making the drug available earlier at least to some, as well as for the sake of advancing the science by having 10 extra years of study of the drug's performance, I think I can live with the idea of some company making a lot of money.
the bottom 10 percent of American workers earn just 37 percent of our
median wage, according to Shulman, their counterparts in other
industrialized countries earn upwards of 60 percent.
I thought it's a given that the economic spread is much wider in
the U.S. than in europe. The gap between the "low" wage and the
"median" wage in the U.S. must be attributed not only to the low pays
that people on the bottom get but to the generally high salaries
overall which are responsible for the median salary being higher and
therefore further away from the low.
Which leads me to the question to which an answer should have been
proposed in the writeup before any discussion could take place: what do
you want to happen? Is this really worth a revolutionary change? For
example, it was mentioned that some earn 8.70 an hour. If you work a 40
hour week w/o taking vacations (for the sake of simple math) you make
18,096 a year, or 36.1k per anum if two people in the family are
working. IIRC the tax bracket this puts you in is negligeble, so let's
say you take home 30k at the end of the year after your local, state,
and federal. If you live in a not-so-good neighborhood in NYC, you can
probably have a place for under 800 a month. If you pay 800, you spend
9,600 a year on rent, leaving you w. 26.5k. Let's say you cook for
yourself and bargain-shop meaning you can feed your family of four for
$20 a day ($7,300 / year) you end up with 19.2k. Say you also live in
NYC so you do not own a car but spend 4 bucks a day (x2 working people)
on transit fares, comes out to 1,920, leaving you with 17.3. So you
have your 17 and a half thousand for clothing, misc. household
supplies, etc. If you are this poor, your children get health coverage
from the state (in NY, anyway) and free school lunch. You don't need to
worry about college for them, since at your income level they will
receive a lot of federal financial aid, and if that's not sufficient,
interest free loans. But you better not get sick!
That being said, I would hate to go back to being in a 36k/year
household (we were one, for a good chunk of the 1990's) but it's not
impossible to manage — and it's certainly not impossible for children
of such households to obtain education and go into the 70k+ household
Recently France and Germany went ahead with a larger-than-allowed-to-be-for-a-Euro-country debt (against protest from the rest of the Euro nations, I believe) for the sake of increasing their economies. Unless those governments are being reckless (which is not what we usually think of for those two nations since we like to contrast our own leadership to them), they are making a gamble that is justified.
I don't have my numbers here (but if requested will look for them — if someone else could post them it would be great) — it would be nice to compare the % OF GDP debt that US has vs. that which France and Germany are shooting for, and factor in the usual growth rate of the US economy vs. those two.
It could very well turn out that the cost of debt is well worth it thanks to the return it creates in stimulating the economy. Perhaps projections 10 years ahead (whatever they're worth) show that the US has more to lose by being in a stagnant economy for another, say, 5 years, than by incurring debt but getting the economy churning again — which it is)
If you think about it, companies go into debt for two reasons. One: they're broke and need capital to stay afloat. This makes people reluctant to buy their bonds, and very costly for these firms to borrow. Two: the firms are doing very well, making it, conversely, easy and cheap for them to borrow money, and they decide that they can profitably float bonds in order to raise capital for future expansion. For companies like that, you don't point to their debt and say it's a sinking ship.
One of the benefits of being the Federal Government of the United States is that you're considered the safest investment risk — which means you can borrow money very cheaply — cheaper than any company or foreign government. As such, you can afford to go into debt to spur on economic growth — and as highlighted by the Clinton admin's going from a deficit to a surplus, a prolonged economic boom can be sufficient to raise money to cover the debt.
Tuesday, October 14, 2003
I don't have cable and I don't drive so I don't listen to radio. As far as my exosure to TV news goes, it's usually FOX-5th 10 o'clock news, or CBS's 11 o'clock.
I am certain that it would stand out in my memory if I've ever heard any of these claims being made:
# U.S. forces found weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.
# There's clear evidence that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein worked closely with the Sept. 11 terrorists.
# People in foreign countries generally either backed the U.S.-led war or were evenly split between supporting and opposing it.
Curious: do stations where you live explicitly promote any of the above ideas? Because the ones here in NY do not. If this is true of the rest of the country as well, I bet there's a real easy explanation for the observation.
6-9/03 9/03 7/03 6/03
NBC...............................................14% 14 12 17
CBS .................................................9 9 9 7
ABC...............................................11 10 11 12
Fox News.......................................18 18 18 17
CNN ..............................................16 13 19 16
NPR.................................................1 1 2 *
PBS..................................................2 2 2 *
(No answer) ...................................28 33 28 28
This clearly shows that most Americans watch (in this order) FOX, CNN, and NBC.
From the writeup:
A survey by the Program on International Policy Attitudes shows that people most likely to hold one or more of these misperceptions are also most likely to get their news from Fox News, followed closely by CBS, NBC, CNN and ABC.
No kidding. If more people watch Network X, then, all other things being equal, there will be more (numerically) people who watch this network who also happen to misundestrand the situation. NPR and PBS have a 1 or 2% share each. What are the odds that people who consume these two outlets consume other sources of media as well, despite being advised to skip this question if that were the case.
But that's not even what I think the issue is.
NPR is allegedly a left-leaning broadcaster (I say allegedly because I don't listen to it and don't really give a shit.) If you have a left-leaning network, then you're likely going to have guests on that are going to repeat over and over and over that "THERE WERE NO WMDs, HUSSEIN DIDN'T WORK WITH OSSAMA, AND PEOPLE ROUND THE WORLD ARE AGAINST THIS." You're likely to hear these things repeated so often, you simply don't have even a chance of thinking otherwise. I mean think about it, if you are a Plastician, you heard the above three things so many friggin times that you can't possibly answer differently on any of them. It doesn't really mean you're more enlightened and aware, but it does mean that you had the "right" answers to the poll questions drilled into you. I bet that if you had a poll on some equally important issue which was not part of the anti-Bush mantra (a mantra can be factual and still be a mantra, can't it?) then you'd see a more similar rate of eroneous answers among those consuming different media sources.