Do Southerners Really Like Loudmouth New Yorkers?

Quite a few years ago I was known, I believe, as a loudmouth New Yorker.  True, I had grown up in the suburbs of New York City.   However I had lived for six years in upstate New York followed by three or four years in Idaho and Africa.  One would’ve thought that my loudmouth New Yorkness would have worn off.    But one has to consider where I was living at the time. It was in the state of Georgia.  So by Georgia standards I was loudmouth Yankee of the worst possible sort – a New York Yankee.    A Yankee is always a Yankee I guess.

Now some of that reputation may have been deserved as I was probably somewhat more vocal about my opinions  than quite a few of my colleagues.  Not that they didn’t have opinions.  They just tended to share their opinions a bit less.  But that’s not really my point here, and that was many years ago.  Since then I’ve lived all over the world and, now, more or less retired back in upstate New York, I am probably not even considered a real New Yorker of any sort.

What really puzzles me, is that when I look at the electoral map for the upcoming election in November 2016 I see that the southern states are still rather red , apparently they’re going to vote for Donald Trump, the self-promoting loudmouth New Yorker!   This fact really puzzles me.   These polite, thoughtful, Yankee-allergic Southerners are going to vote for one of the most crass, opinionated, loudmouth, con artists ever to come out of the Rotten Apple.  I just don’t get it.   Has Georgia changed that much?  

I know some will just claim that the racist, misogynist, anti-immigrant nonsense coming out of Trump’s mouth appeals to the "southern mentality".  I just don’t believe that, on a broad scale, people of Georgia, or the other southern states for that matter, believe such things.   At least I hope not.      But even so, when they listen to his vague generalities about how everything is "going to be great" I can’t believe they don’t see the ultimate con man saying,  essentially,  nothing at all.  

Now it is true, that Hillary Clinton claims to be a Yankee as well!    It’s a sad day for the South I guess.   But, really, Clinton is no Yankee.  She just pretends to live in New York. In fact in some ways that is an indication that she’s the ideal politician.   Although "ideal politician" sounds pretty bad , it really means someone who knows how to use (manipulate) the system to get things done.  If being a Yankee helps you to move up in the world that’s what you become!    And someone who really knows how to use the system might be just what we need.   That southern president, Lyndon Johnson, was a master at working the system to get things done in Washington, and the quasi-Southerner, William Jefferson Clinton, was pretty good at it as well.    Hillary knows the ropes, and she knows the, rather depressing, international scene as well.    Unlike Trump who pretends to know how to "work the system" and "make deals" Hillary actually does know.

So for Southerners, my former colleagues in Georgia included, it’s a choice between someone who knows the system, how it works, and how to get things done, and a New York Yankee con artist.   The choice seems obvious.

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Best Apps for Taking Notes on the iPad

I have been reviewing some note taking apps for the iPad. I wanted to be able to use these apps, or at least one of them, to take notes in seminars and meetings without undue messing around. I wasn't sure that I could find a suitable app because the first few I tried were more like toys than a useful tools.

After some significant searching and testing I have narrowed my list to a few that I think are worthwhile. I am writing this paragraph with one of the better apps: Notify. Notify is one of the few note taking apps that does handwriting recognition. However to do this Notify makes use of software, via an in-app purchase, from another app called: WritePad. WritePad will only do handwriting recognition , but Notify does a lot more . More about the handwriting recognition later. For now I will just say that it is interesting and almost useful. But because of its limitations I will write the rest of this on my computer.

After checking out 10 or so note-taking apps, I zeroed in on the following roughly in order of usefulness (for me): Notify, Note Taker HD, Notability, WritePad, Ghostwriter, and Penultimate. However I would say only the first 4 are apps I will actually use.

Some of my requirements for a note taking app were that I needed to be able to take note by writing – not just by typing, that I need to be able to draw small diagrams (and doodle), and that I would like to also have some extras including typing if I wish, inserting figures, and a reasonable means of emailing and exporting as a long-term, reasonably accessible, document format like a PDF. Some of these apps are free, and some cost a modest fee. They were all obtained in late December 2011.

One of the problems with iPhone apps in general is that there are very few conventions regarding the interfaces used. It is similar to the situation with computer programs back in the early days of personal computing, each app has its own unique look and each had different ways of saving/exporting files or dealing with export to email. For that reason I am still learning these apps, so I may have missed some important things.

In the table below I have summarized my experience with these apps.

Overall Notify and Note Taker HD are my favorites. I have used Note Taker HD more, and actually used it for taking notes during a two day symposium last week… it worked fine. For taking handwritten notes I like it a bit better than Notify because Notify’s “ink” is a bit blurry when zoomed. On the other hand, if you want to try handwriting recognition from time to time then Notify would be the better option, assuming you have made the in-app purchase of the handwriting recognition tool. These two aps have very different interfaces but both are reasonably understandable. Note Take HD is less versatile for exporting, although you can “open-in” another app that allows export and syncing… for example using PDF expert. Notify, on the other hand, has a number of export and syncing options.

At first I was less fond of Notability, but the more I use it the better I like it. It has very clear “ink” when zoomed, and has a very user friendly optional auto advance when hand-writing. However the zoomed writing window can’t be enlarged as in Notify and Note Taker HD. Notability also has a wider range of export and linking possibilities than Note Taker HD. It is especially good at creating and placing text boxes, figures (which are created in a dedicated window), photos, and web clips, (although you must select text mode to resize and reposition such windows).

WritePad is a completely different type of app in that its only use is for handwriting recognition… the creation of text documents from your handwriting as you write. WritePad’s handwriting recognition engine is also used in Notify. Use WritePad if you want a clean interface for handwriting recognition and that’s all. In my opinion, with my handwriting, writing style, and spelling mistakes, WritePad in not something I could use to take notes.   It is actually very impressive, but makes too many “mistakes” to be useful as a note taking tool.   This is because correcting the mistakes slows my note taking. On the other hand, I can write very slowly and carefully… but then that is too slow as well. If you use this app be sure to examine and test the variety of settings that adjust how it works. For example you can tell it the general shape of letters you use, use a spell checker, have it learn your handwriting style, including an option for printed handwriting, among many others. I think that if you have a consistent neat writing style (and don’t do any doodling) this could be a very useful app. Also, notes taken with WritePad, because they are text, are computer searchable, which could be a big advantage.

The other two apps I tried, Ghostwriter and Penultimate, are not among my favorites, but others may like them better. Ghostwriter has no full window zoom, and its “ink” is a bit blurry. It has more limited features, but has an uncluttered and intuitive interface. Penultimate uses a very straightforward shelf/notebook/page paradigm and has a very nice interface. The notebook page is the size of the iPad screen and cannot be zoomed. Basically this is slightly larger than my favorite real notebooks: the 5×8.5 inch (21x13cm) Moleskine brand. Because of this similarity one might think that this would be my favorite app. However, writing on the iPad is a bit different than writing in a small notebook. Although I use a stylus, and I very strongly recommend you do too, a stylus does not have a fine point… even though you can draw a fine line. So placement of small text is a problem unless you use a zoomed window. In fact my handwriting on the iPad is roughly 2 to 3 times as big as my handwriting in a notebook, but writing in a zoomed window means that your writing is normal size in the actual document. Nevertheless, if you are only making brief notes, reminders, and that sort of thing, penultimate is a nice clean and straightforward interface.

Have fun.

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Holy Macro

This little Syrphid Fly (probably Toxomerus geminatus) on a Black-eyed Susan (Rudbekia) petal is one of my favorite macro photos – so far.

I'm not really sure why I like taking macro pictures so much. But it probably has something to do with the fact that you enter a different world when you use a macro lens. For some reason, most macro pictures tend to be of flowers and insects– mine included. However macro photographs don't need to be limited to that type of thing. So I should try to convince myself to look at some other things through my macro lens.

I also think macro is interesting because it's a bit cheaper and easier than telephoto, another option for playing and spending lots of money, and I think macro is actually more interesting as well. Telephoto typically only gives you a closer view of something you would see any way, although relative size of objects in telephoto photos can be very different depending on the lens focal length. But macro can actually opens a new world, one that you haven't seen before.

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Not Messing with WordPress

As a follow-up to my previous post… of course if I use LiveWriter (or some such blogging tool) on my computer and then post to the blog I can avoid dealing with the WordPress editors at all!  Or at least I can make a blog post from within LiveWriter and then tweak it if necessary from within the WordPress editor. 

Well that seems much too reasonable….   Actually it took me about three days to figure out how to get LiveWriter communicating with WordPress.  So instead of writing blogs about happenings in the real world, I'm writing things about blogging – at least from my perspective.

But hopefully all this stuff will get sorted out and stabilized.  Actually I've only mentioned two minor issues – so far!    There were lots of others. 

And I should be in my garden!

20110529 15 garden

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Messing with WordPress

I'm not a geek– really I'm not! And this messing with WordPress to get these blogs up and running is certainly not very straightforward. I had a blog on another site – the Google site: blogger. And that works very well. But I just couldn't help myself. I wanted to learn about blogging, and how it's done. So I started thinking about WordPress which is a widely used blogging software.

The problem is, WordPress is an open source software. That's good, but that also creates some "issues". In my view open source software tends to be more geeky than other software. When you add the complexities of the blogging world, it's all on the web, it's on other people's servers which have their own peculiarities, there are many people writing extra code in the form of plug-ins or other add-ons, well… things get confusing.

For example nothing is very clear, and if you need help it's certainly not clear who to ask.  Perhaps if you're on the site which is a commercial site developed by WordPress creators, you probably have better options for professional assistance, maybe.  But in my case I'm using  form of the software and in this case help is in the form of various forums where very straightforward questions tend to get very cryptic, geeky, answers.  Answers having to do with editing the such and such file.  No big deal – that's what you'd expect.  But still that makes things more difficult.

Just for example after having this blog up for a few weeks – just testing – I find that the editor built into WordPress stopped working correctly.  Instead of showing black text on a white background it was showing white text on a white background!  So where do I go for help on that?  Nowhere in particular… Based on my past experience getting help from either my Internet host (iPage) or from the WordPress forums I know I'm actually better off doing a search on Google and finding a lot of answers none of which are exactly what I need.  But, at least I learned that other people are having the same problem!   So at least it wasn't something that made me uniquely foolish.

Obviously something is screwed up. But with the WordPress installation, because it's open source and open to re-editing by many very creative users, is a collection of files.  So many of the solutions to this problem (of white text on a white background) involve so-called "workarounds" that may solve the problem but don't tell me why it happened.

Seemingly, this problem occurred because I had added a "plug-in" that change the way the editor worked – making it work more like a word processor – with more options.  But the next day when I went to edit a blog entry I saw only a white screen!

My solution? Also a workaround :-).  I uninstalled the editor plug-in but that alone did not solve the problem – now the "native" editor seemed also to be damaged the problem did not disappear.  So my next "workaround" was to install another plug-in – another editor (interestingly called FCKEditor) which works – and works fairly well.  At least I have black text on a white background.

At least so far.  Who knows what tomorrow will bring.

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Carol’s Garden

Carol in her garden :)  20110605 08 Carols garden

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Some Family Pictures from my Photo Site

Click on the picture to go directly to the web site.

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More on Fair Media Coverage… What is it?

I left my last post somewhat up in the air. What is the best coverage an idealistic unbiased news reporting organization should use to present news about candidates? How much coverage should they give each candidate?

It seems that just giving everyone equal coverage would be wrong because it promotes marginal candidates. But giving coverage based primarily on current popularity would also be wrong.

As I mentioned before, what we really want is:

Media coverage that does not alter public opinion
except through the information the candidates
themselves present in one way or another.

That’s easy to say, but how can be accomplished.

Most likely this approach might involve using public opinion surveys (previous election results in the case of primary elections) to determine the amount of coverage but delaying the implementation of each revised coverage percentage for perhaps a 10 to 14 days, or until the next major event election event. Ideally this delay time should allow be long enough to allow anything a candidate does and says to be fully absorbed into the public awareness.

In this way candidates would be given a chance to prove their viability before their coverage is lowered.

Of course the forgoing argument assumes that the public’s view of a candidate is not based only on the amount of media coverage …. but on what the candidate actually says and does.

Another problem to ponder… if you agree with the above. If there are only two candidates we seem to assume that the coverage should be 50-50. Then why with, say four, candidates shouldn’t we give each 25% of total coverage…. even if their popularities were very different.

So… maybe equal coverage for all candidates really the better approach? Or is this approach reserved for the one on one election (which may not always be one on one).

OR…. should the news media deliberately try to level the playing field?!
AND… What about all that opinion that entertains us…. more later??

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Interconnections – Media Coverage and Candidate Success: What is the Ideal Approach?

While I was sleeping…. I was thinking about the relationship between news coverage and presidential candidate popularity. It is easy to imagine that the popularity of a candidate is directly related to the amount of media coverage that each receives.

But that is not correct. We know, for example, that candidates who have had previous TV coverage (Hillary Clinton, Fred Thompson) are not automatically the front runners compared to those with less previous media coverage like Barak Obama. Oh, but wait! They probably are more popular than they would otherwise be without that coverage.

I think we can assume that media coverage makes candidates more visible than they would otherwise be without this coverage …pretty obvious.

Of course then there is the issue of what kind of coverage is provided. Is this media coverage positive, negative, or neutral?

So there is a difference between simple media exposure and media exposure that directly influences opinion. These two influences can be difficult to separate. In fact, the same media exposure event may produce different opinions in different people.

For the sake of argument let’s think about what an idealistic media outlet should do to provide fair news coverage for presidential candidates. Let’s further assume that the coverage overall will be neutral — and that is, both positive, neutral, and negative aspects of each candidate will be perfectly presented.

So… the only issue under discussion here is: Ideally how should media coverage be allocated to the many candidates?

Everyone’s first impression is that the best approach would be to give all candidates equal media exposure. Is that really the best option? Equal coverage for minority candidates immediately enhances their standing beyond what would otherwise be. This requires us to rethink what we mean by ideal coverage.

What is ideal coverage anyway? Surely, ideal coverage will present candidates as they exist in the real world without altering their popularity. This means that media exposure should not alter the standing of the candidates, it should merely report the news. But we know this is not the case. Media exposure is what candidates need to stay in the race because it will alter the race.

Ideally, factors outside the media, what the candidates actually think, what they say, what they have done in the past, their policies…. these are the things that should determine a candidate’s popularity. Separating media coverage from these things is impossible, because the media coverage is about these things. But ideal media coverage would allow these things, and the candidates, to speak for themselves.

But this still does not answer the question of how much coverage should be given to each candidate. If all candidates are given equal coverage, the very act of providing that coverage to minority candidates makes them appear more important than they would otherwise seem.

Many might agree that this is the ideal role of the media — to level the playing field, not to promote certain candidates. But presenting all candidates equally may defeat this very idea. It does not really level the playing field but rather it promotes candidates who are doing less well in the polls by giving them more coverage.

So what is the fair media outlet to do?


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