This does not mean much

Apparently the viewership for the Fox News time slot hosted by Tucker Carlson tanked after his departure. He was replaced this week by Brian Kilmeade, the doofus who used to be on the Fox and Friends morning show where his purpose seemed to be to make his two co-hosts look smart in comparison.

Every night viewers have given an unforgiving verdict on Kilmeade’s efforts: by turning off in their droves.

It’s a shame for Kilmeade, but a clue as to how he might be received had already come early on Monday.

“Join me tonight at 8 pm!” he tweeted an hour before his show started a now Tucker-free Fox News line-up. It turned out that not only did people not want to join Kilmeade, they were furious that he was going to be on air in place of their fallen hero.

“Not a chance in hell ya sellout,” was one of the more polite online responses, while someone else noted: “I’d rather watch grass grow.”

On Monday the audience for Kilmeade, a less angry, less charismatic, apparently less race-obsessed host, was 47% of the number Carlson had attracted a week earlier, according to the Los Angeles Times.

It isn’t just that Carlson’s departure has turned off viewers. The hastily renamed Fox News Tonight show appears to have actively driven people to Fox News’ competitors, with Newsmax in particular, seeing record ratings.

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“Whom the gods would destroy they first make mad”

The sentiment “Whom the gods would destroy they first make mad” has ancient roots but was perhaps most famously found in the poem The Masque of Pandora written in 1875 by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, who put these words into the mouth of Prometheus. How I interpret it is that if you make people mad, they will destroy themselves, saving you the bother of doing so.

I was thinking about these words while pondering the actions of three people: Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg, and Donald Trump since all three seem to be on the path of self-destruction. I am not implying that they are mad but they do seem, on the basis of past success, to suffer from an irrational overweening confidence in their own powers, and this has led to rash decisions that threaten to bring them down.
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Trump Organization found guilty of tax fraud

A jury has found the Trump Organization to be guilty on all the counts of tax fraud they were charged with. The verdict came very quickly, within a day of the case being sent to the jury, a sign that they thought it was an easy decision.

A jury in New York has convicted the Trump Organization of criminal tax fraud in a major blow for the former president.

Although Donald Trump was not personally on trial, prosecutors insisted he was fully aware of the 15-year scheme in which they said executives were enriched by off-the-books perks to make up for lower salaries, reducing the company’s tax liabilities.

The 12-person jury in New York’s state court was sent out to deliberate on Monday morning after a six-week trial in which Trump Organization lawyers pinned blame for the fraud solely on the greed of longtime chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg.

The former close ally of Trump accepted a plea deal earlier this year admitting fraud in exchange for a five-month prison sentence. Prosecutors laid out a case heavily reliant on Weisselberg’s testimony.

The verdict represents a serious blow to Trump and his family who rose to fame as property moguls in New York but whose business practices have long shadowed in secrecy with rumors of ill-doing.

What this means for the company is unclear, though it will clearly not be good.

Meanwhile, New York attorney general Letitia James has a pending criminal case against Trump and his family.

Get ready for the inevitable aftermath: a long whiny rant from Trump about how this is all part of a witch hunt against him even though he is the most innocent man.

Reducing child poverty

Poverty is a terrible thing, and even more so when children are involved. To not be sure of where one’s own next meal is coming from or if one can pay the rent or take care of medical emergencies is bad enough but when one cannot provide those things for one’s children, it can be heartbreaking.

Children are not responsible for their economic state and so the state has a responsibility to make sure that at least that section of the population is taken care of. So the news that child poverty was cut in half in 2021 due to the enhanced child tax credit enacted during the pandemic is excellent news. It shows that government policy can do a lot ameliorate that problem.

The US child poverty rate fell by nearly half in 2021, largely thanks to enhanced child tax credits, new census data shows.

The child poverty rate fell to a low of 5.2% compared with 9.7% the year before.

Experts noted that increased child tax credits provided low-income families with much-needed resources during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Overall, US child poverty levels have been falling for decades. Child poverty has fallen by 59% since 1993 with rates declining in all 50 states, the New York Times reported.

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Time wasting tactics of phone companies

(Pearls Before Swine)

Another annoying item that could be added to the above list is asking you to press 5 to leave a callback number. I have never, ever felt the need to do that. What is the point if you can leave a message anyway?

Is there anyone who does not know by now that you start your message at the tone and hang up when you are finished? Furthermore, people now tend to send text messages rather than leave a voicemail anyway. And those who do receive a voicemail message often call or text the number of the sender rather than listen to the message.

I read some time ago that this utterly redundant message was created simply to use up your minutes so that phone companies could squeeze out more money from you. I do not know if that is true and could not find a confirmation, nor could I confirm that some cell phone service providers still do not allow you to disable these messages.

Intentional fouling in sports

I remember the first time I watched a professional basketball game in the US and saw a player intentionally foul a player on the opposing team to prevent them from scoring a basket. What surprised me was not the foul itself, which can happen in contact sports, but that everyone, players, spectators, TV commentators alike, treated it as not only routine but even as a good strategy. I found this appalling. I felt that a deliberate foul should never be something that is adopted as a strategy. The penalties for doing so should always be high enough that any fouling is always unintentional or at least that players try to act as if it were unintentional. In soccer for instance, the fouling player risks getting thrown out of the game and they often put on quite a show to try to persuade the referee that the foul was accidental, while the fouled player would put in a good performance to suggest that they were grievously injured. While this may all be fake, at least the effort shows that fouling as a deliberate act is not to be tolerated.
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The walls are closing in on vaccine and mask deniers

We are now in the third, fourth, or fifth wave of the pandemic in the US, depending on who’s counting. What is undeniable is that following an average low of around 80,000 weekly cases on June 22, we have now reached about 640,000 cases, an eightfold increase. Death rates reached a low of 1,500 on July 5th and have started rising since then, following the expected pattern of death rates lagging infection rates by about two weeks. Almost all this rise is among the unvaccinated and these people tend to be concentrated in places where there is a high level of vaccine hesitancy and outright resistance, mostly in Republican-dominated areas. But there are encouraging signs that those people who have been vigorously campaigning against vaccines and masks and other measures to combat the pandemic are losing the battle.
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