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The Expansionist
Friday, September 11, 2009
 
Madness in the News. Two items on one screen in AOL today show that madness reigns supreme in this country, in this era.
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The first item is a news story that speaks to a 115-year-old woman's dying of a heart attack in a Los Angeles HOSPITAL. Why on Earth was a woman of that age taken to a hospital? This is the kind of insane waste that people are rightly concerned about with universal healthcare. No way on Earth should a 115-year-old have been taken to a hospital for ANYTHING. How much did that preposterous and inexcusable waste of everyone's time and money cost? And whom did it cost? I think a 115-year-old has been ready for decades to die at any time, and prolonging her life for a few minutes or hours is not worth any expenditure of any emergency personnel's time nor hospital's money. Let extremely old people at the edge of death die with dignity in their own home.
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The second absurd item is an Internet poll:
CENK UYGUR asks ...
Who kept us safer during their first 8 months in office?

Barack Obama
George Bush
Not Sure
Given that January 20th (Inauguration Day) plus 8 months takes us to September 20th, 9 days after the catastrophic attacks upon the World Trade Center and Pentagon in 2001, there is no factual question here. The 9/11 attacks occurred on George Bush's watch, so everyone should answer that Barack Obama kept us safer, right?
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Wrong. The actual results of that Internet poll are Obama 23%, Bush 71%, and Not Sure 6%! Only 4 states (Delaware, Montana, Washington, and Vermont) got it right, 100% for Obama. Alas, in two of those states, there was only one vote at the time I checked; in the other two, a total of 7 votes.
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How could a result that is 180 degrees contrary to fact, happen? Well, I'll let you in on a dirty little secret about Internet polls: the Radical Right spends a lot of time and energy falsifying Internet political poll results by voting repeatedly. How do they do this? Easy. With most such polls, there either is no control at all on how many times a given computer can submit a vote (as is the case in the poll at issue), or the controls are easily sidestepped. How? You just erase cookies, because any info about a given machine's having answered the poll will be stored in a cookie. Erase the cookie (and you don't even have to know which cookie it is but can simply delete all cookies) and you can vote again — and again and again and again. Thus does the Radical Right skew ALL political polls they wish to skew, thru massive dishonesty.
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What else would you expect of the Radical Right? If you don't want the Nation to realize you are a tiny fraction of the electorate, you manipulate the Internet and media to give the appearance of a large group. You send the same few people to "town halls" in different locations and tell them to make a lot of noise. You have a relatively few people vote 30 and 40 times in key Internet polls. And naive people will believe the nonsense. George Bush kept us safer than Barack Obama! Of course he did. We lost only 3,000 Americans to terrorist attacks at home in George Bush's first 8 months in office, but we have already lost 0 Americans to terrorist attacks at home under Barack Obama in his first 8 months, and there are more such fritening figures still to come under that BLACK man's appalling leadership!
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Publishers of Internet polls can't do much about this. For one thing, there are multiple users of many computers. So if you bar more than one vote from a computer, you might bar legitimate multiple voters in one household (father, mother, several teenage children, grandparents resident there or making use of their kid's computer to check email and read the news). And there are computers in use at libraries on which each of many different users might want to vote in an online poll. So there could be many legitimate votes from a single computer.
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We could place some sort of control on voting by requiring people to log into an account, with a distinct email address — checked for uniqueness and validity of address — for each vote. But even then people intent on voting more than once could do so. I, for instance, have 5 email addresses, by category of activity in my life, on AOL alone. I also have two Gmail accounts (one for myself and one for a high-school reunion (Middletown Township High School class of '62) that I am helping to organize) and one email account on MS Office Live for my TourismNewark.org website. If I wanted to, then, I could vote 8 times even in a login-controlled poll. And I could create additional email accounts on Yahoo, MSN, Gmail, and other free services in several different countries to vote more still. I do NOT, because I am not a liar nor fraudster trying to manipulate public opinion. But unethical people on both sides of an issue could do that.
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The moral of this story is, Internet polls are at best nearly useless, and at worst profoundly misleading because of massive fraud. Regard them as entertainment at best. And if a poll result seems out of keeping with what you know from your own reading and listening to people, feel free to disregard the poll as fraudulent. The poll on who kept us safer should be EXHIBIT A for fraudulent manipulation of Internet polls.
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Elsewhere on AOL, there is a story that the South African "woman" runner whose gender is suspect may be an intersex, with (if the leaked details are correct) internal testes but no ovaries. YET the international sports authority that oversees the award of medals does not plan to strip "her" of the medal "she" won because "she" wasn't "doping". No, it's the sports organization that is doing the doping with this dopy thinking. Intersexes should be permitted to compete only against other intersexes of the same type, not against either normal men or normal women. To allow a masculinized intersex to compete against women is hugely unfair to women and to sanity. The South African intersex runner is an unfortunte monstrosity, but its sad condition must not be allowed to victimize normal people. We don't stone freaks anymore, nor force them into carnivals, but nor should we give them medals that properly belong to normal people!
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Addendum: I turned on the TV to check what the topic is on Dr. Phil while drafting this. I generally can't watch very long because I have little patience for a lot of the silliness on that show. Dr. Phil wasn't on. Instead, there was supposed to be U.S. Open (tennis) coverage. But, guess what? There is a rain delay, and apparently has been for some time, that is expected to continue for some time. Instead of just returning to regular programming, CBS is showing pointless chitchat among its sports commentators, interviews with players, and reruns of earlier matches! What an astoundingly stupid waste of time. Why bump regular programming for nonsense? More madness in the U.S.A. of today.
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(I cannot, as I was accustomed to doing, show the current U.S. military death toll in Iraq, because a server crash has knocked out the website "Iraq Coalition Casualties", and it's taking them a while to restore the site to use.)



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