Category Archives: Technology

Looking for a laugh? Page through this forum discussion on Mom2Mom about the ethics of banning books. Sample quote: As far as banning the books, it depends what you mean by banning. Do I think they should be burned? No. Trenchant!

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Filed under Media, Technology, The Arts

@Worthlessness: Star Reporter Uses Twitter To Obsess Over Autumn, Mexican Food

whatcronkletonistweetingaboutAs I am frequently reminded, I am alone among this site’s contributors in failing to grasp the value of Twitter, that vogue-ish haven of solipsism social networking tool that all The Kids seem to be talking about. Call me crazy, but I’m a bit skeptical on this whole “not worried about profits” thing; haven’t we been down this road? It also seems that for every user sharing news and links, there are ten users sharing their thoughts on the weather and what they plan to eat for lunch. Case in point? The Star‘s Robert Cronkleton — owner of the most awesomely dinosaurian name in all of local media — and his Twitter feed, which satisfies us all with scintillating updates (again, and again, and again…) on his most pressing personal issues. The latest? Mexican food, and his lack of ingredients therein. Oh, and how much he loves fall. MORE

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Dear KC Old People,
PLEASE STOP FALLING FOR INTERNET SCAMS. They’re really pretty easy to spot. Seriously.
Love,
Everyone

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Star‘s Toilet Story Dabbles In Puns, Scatalogical Humor, Populism

theyinventedsomethingslightlymoreadvancedthanthisSo apparently there’s a manufacturing company HQ’d in Lee’s Summit that makes toilets. Like, awesome toilets. The kind of toilet whose innovation and sheer technological genius will bring tears to your eyes. The city’s paper of record, rightfully so, has opted to showcase this font of waste-centric brilliance with a glowing front-page article. But all of that takes a back seat to another, more important exercise: allowing the paper’s staff to have a little fun with the subject — starting with the headline: “Lee’s Summit inventor flush with pride.” Oh, I see what you did there. The fun continues, though:

Murphy didn’t go to MIT or any other hoity-toity technology school. He went to Metropolitan Community College-Longview. But mainly he grew up in Independence a curious boy who liked to take things apart and put them back together.

Huh? How did pseudo-populist rage sneak into a front-page article? You couldn’t have gone with “didn’t go to an engineering school” or something similar? You really had to slam MIT (which is far more than a mere “technology school”) just to provide further evidence of the massive chip on this city’s shoulder? Odd. More:

“You’re going to see something you’ve never seen before,” he said.

He put 35 golf balls into the bowl and pushed the flush button. The balls danced about before shooting down the drain.

Next, he placed five units of artificial debris — shaped pretty much like you would expect — into the bowl. He thought a moment and added five more.

“That’s double the load,” he said.

A-hem. Pretty much like you would expect, eh? And “double the load”? Was this story written at a Sigma Chi party, perchance?

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KCK Man’s Tenuous Grasp Of Statistics Results In Embarrassing Letter To Star

alrollsdoesntreallyunderstandthisThe last campaign season saw a new obsession with the science of polling, with RealClearPolitics and 538 seeing spikes in popularity they’d never expected (though Nate Silver probably expects everything). A common question, though, is just how these polls work. Can you really evaluate the national mood based on a survey of 1,500 people? How about 600? Turns out, given our advances in statistical technology, that: yeah, you totally can. But you know who doesn’t buy a word of that mumbo-jumbo? Al Rolls of KCK, who reveals little more than a basic misunderstanding of math in his letter to the editor today.

Polls, polls, polls. The media spout poll results as if they are a true reflection of the opinions and thoughts of the majority of Americans.

The reason some pollsters do not tell us how many people are polled is because it is a very small number. Most of us do not get to express our opinion except on Election Day. I have voted every year for more than 45 years, and I have never been polled about anything.

Think about it. How does anyone know what TV show you watched last night? The Star could enlighten the public by doing its own poll asking how many people in the Kansas City area have ever been polled. The low number compared with our population would open eyes and shed light on this ruse.

Dear Al,
Without getting too technical, here’s how it works. To achieve statistical accuracy, you basically need a margin of error under 3 percent. You find that by dividing one by the square root of the number of people in the survey. As luck would have it, polling a relatively small number of people actually does extrapolate accurately to larger populations — and that’s why we’re able to poll 1,600 people and get a startlingly accurate snapshot of the American mood.

As for your question re: knowing what you watched last night, the short answer is “same thing.” And we’d merely point out, on the subject of you never being polled, that it’s wrong to mistake correlation for causation. Of course, given your Fermatian math skills, you probably already knew that.

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C.W. Gusewelle Finally Gets Cable TV, Watches Something Other Than Birds

theproblemwithcablenewsperhapscdubStar columnist, purple prose aficionado, and nature enthusiast C.W. Gusewelle is plumb tuckered out. You see, he’s grown weary of simply staring out his window and writing about what he sees. And there certainly aren’t any more ducks to rescue, alas. Besides, he really needs a hobby before he’s reduced to writing about misshapen trees or someth — oh, right. Well, it’s a good thing that C-dub finally figured out how to work those consarned rabbit ears, because now he can watch cable news! And do you care to guess how he feels about it? Hint: it rhymes with “shmurshmudgeonly.”

It used to be that individuals of varying political persuasions sat around a table and engaged in the examination of some matter about which they held competing views.

Yes, sometimes the debate was heated, but the rules of civility prevailed. Each participant was allowed to present his or her case and, when challenged, was afforded a chance for rebuttal.

Today, what used to be a contest of ideas is more often than not a screaming match.

Especially annoying is the now-popular split-screen format, in which the host is seen at his studio desk, while the two antagonists, speaking from other locations, appear in separate boxes at the side.

The subject is put forward, and one of the participants is invited to go first. He or she has hardly more than begun, however, when the opponent interrupts with a pre-rehearsed rebuttal.

The host attempts to restore order, but now both guests ignore him — shouting at one another, their arguments lost in the racket, faces contorted, their unintelligible rants coming finally to resemble the wild barking of dogs.

It is in that moment that I thank merciful Providence for the mute button on the TV remote.

Yes, it is annoying. The problem, C-dub, is that it’s been that way since the repeal of the Fairness Doctrine — so where’s the all-too-crucial timeliness element of your column? We realize you’ve earned a certain amount of journalistic street cred by writing wistfully for all these years about the halcyon days of your youth, when you frolicked amongst the apple trees or something, but you’ve got to give us something worthwhile to read. Everyone knows cable news is a screaming match. It’s beyond cultural saturation — like a comedian making a joke about men not asking for directions. Understand? It’s not new, and it’s not worthy of discussion or column space. Never thought we’d say this, but maybe you should stick with nature columns.

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Filed under Entertainment, Media, Technology, The Arts

Mom2Mom Discovers This Whole ‘Twitter’ Thing The Kids Keep Talking About

42-15277528So have you heard of this silly little microblogging service? Apparently it lets you post your thoughts and opinions in 140 characters or fewer. Oh, right: of course you’ve heard of it — because you can’t pick up a goddamn newspaper without finding a lede like “In the age of Facebook and Twitter…” Sheesh. Way to be creative, MSM; this is up there with “In this economy…” Well, you know who just discovered this crazy “Twitter” phenomenon? The bored housewives over at Mom2Mom, the Star‘s underwhelming blog about celebrity gossip and chocolate issues affecting modern KC mothers. Mom2Mom editrix Kady McMaster — which we’ll admit is kind of an awesome name; sounds like an Elmore Leonard character — has instructed all her mindless drone followers to look into this whole Twitterizing thing themselves.

I learned a TON, but my No. 1 take-away? Twitter, Twitter, Twitter! If you are a blogger and you don’t yet Tweet, you will be soon. It’s the THING. It’s a great, speedy way to share links and get people to your blog quick.

Mom2mom’s Twitter handle is mom2momkc. Check us out on Twitter.com. And follow us! We update every day with a link to the newest blog on the site. And after the BlogHer conference, I’ve vowed to update even MORE on site topics of broad interest. Stay tuned on that one. 🙂

Oh, lord. Mom2Mom is Twitterifying? Yes, it’s true. And the updates are just as scintillating as you might imagine.

Today’s Blogger: We’re Not Coming to Your Birthday Party. You’re Welcome. http://bit.ly/19R23F12:33 AM Sep 12th from twitterfeed

Today’s Blogger: To Tuck or Not to Tuck, That is the Question http://bit.ly/3RxZgS12:56 PM Sep 9th from twitterfeed

Wow, what a wonderfully useful social tool. Thanks, Mom2Mom.

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