Friday, May 22, 2009

Socialism is not Fascism (duh.)

For a bit of entertainment, this video provides a compendium of silliness from the RNC convention discussing their proposal to rename the Democratic party to the "Democrat Socialist party".

Full of lulz for sure, but a comment from an interviewee about 40 seconds in annoyed me with a historical misconception that I see all too often in the Republican ranks.
"One point of view is that calling them a Socialist party isn't quite accurate, they're more like a National Socialist party the way the Nazis were."
Uhm... yeah. The party we refer to as the Nazi party was officially called the National Socialist Party, but they were not socialists. They were Fascists. Fascists, in the left-right political spectrum, are the opposite of Socialists.

Brief historical reminder, Fascism versus Socialism was a common theme stemming from the Spanish Civil war (and before) and carried over to WWII. In that war the United States was allied with the USSR (and for the record, they were actually Socialists) fighting against Hitler and Mussolini, Fascists.

Far from being Socialists, these two were generally considered to be politically far-right and tended to whip crowds into frenzies with promises to wipe out the "godless communists". Sounds more like the modern day Republican party to me.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The NY Times needs better editors

From a New York Times article on the SPF values found on sunscreens (emphasis mine).
The difference in UVB protection between an SPF 100 and SPF 50 is marginal. Far from offering double the blockage, SPF 100 blocks 99 percent of UVB rays, while SPF 50 blocks 98 percent.
If SPF 100 blocks 99%, then 1% gets through.
If SPF 50 blocks 98%, then 2% gets through.

For those not so good with the math, 1% divided by 2% is one-half. Thus, SPF 100 has double the blockage of SPF 50.

Is it too much to ask that along the way to a degree in journalism at least one math class is taken?

Friday, May 8, 2009

Mass Panic

I find the panic around swine flu particularly amusing.

We're talking about the flu. A version which is sensitive to antiviral drugs. A version which has killed very few people that actually had access to health care. A version that isn't even spreading that rapidly as far as the flu goes. (If you are still worried this website can help.)

When friends and coworkers suggested that a change in plans in my vacation to Cozumel next month would be in order I responded only with a chuckle. Why would I cancel a vacation, losing money in the process, when my odds of catching the flu are likely as high in Dallas as in a tourist resort. Not only that, a good panic is good for scaring off all those other tourists that are going to otherwise crowd my beach.

My chuckle has paid off. Yesterday my travel agent called, I have been upgraded from a 4-star to a 5-star luxury resort due to vacancies.

Buy low, sell high. It's a concept that few people really understand, those that do make out like bandits.