Before I get into my rants, not all of them SF related, here's the URL to the review of the new movie, Stardust.
Stardust review by Kristie Groves
The headline said:
"Poll: Majority mistrustful of upcoming Iraq report"
The first paragraph said:
A majority of Americans don't trust the upcoming report by the Army's top commander in Iraq on the progress of the war and even if they did, it wouldn't change their mind, according to a new poll.
Now, who is this "majority of Americans"?
10,000 people polled? 50,000 people polled? NO
"The poll was based on interviews of 1,029 Americans by telephone between August 6 and 8. The sampling error was plus or minus 4.5 percentage points, except for the questions based on the respondents' support or lack of support of the war, which was plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.
Where the heck does the news media get off saying "a majority of Americans" when they talked to all of 1,029 people? No one talked to me - did anyone talk to you? They can't talk to me because I've got caller ID and don't answer any phone calls - I'm sure most people have the same thing. So the people these pollsters are talking to are not "representative" of the rest of the US.
Now having said this, I will say that I am not sanguine about the situation in Iraq. Poorly handled from the get go, I don't deny it. But these poll things are said with such confidence about any subject under discussion, with "the majority of Americans think this" being the party line, and it's always buried at the very bottom that the "majority" turns out to be the "majority" of a wopping 1,029 people. Useless! Except to persuade others, who don't have time to read the entire article, to believe what the news media wants it to believe.
Lost Educational Opportunities
I went into a Toys R Us today. I visit this store every few months, just to see all the new toys and see if any are science fiction or fantasy related. I'd buy some, too, if I had room to display them, not to mention the discretionary funds to buy them...
I picked up a coloring book on dinosaurs - 400 pages worth of dinosaurs, and was surprised and somewhat annoyed to see that not a single dinosaur was identified. Why not? I just don't understand it. If you've got kids interested enough in dinosaurs to want to color them, why not provide the kids with the names so that they can take them as a starting point to learn more about the creatures? Even if only one child out of a thousand paid attention to those names, that would be better than nothing.
Then I went to my local Walmart to do a bit of shopping. It was the middle of the day so of course the parking lot was packed. And, despite the fact that there are "cart corrals" placed periodically along the rows of cars, it sems like at least half of the carts seem to be just left where the shopper wants to leave 'em, cuz he, she or they can't take 30 extra seconds to run the cart over to one of the corrals.
Now, that's nothing new, of course. Ever since I've been going to grocery stores I've seen that kind of thing and I'm sure you have too. As a matter of fact, I always do my good deed of the day and gather up one or two of the carts - if they've just been left in the middle of one of the parking spaces - on my way into the store, just running them into one of the corrals. Doesn't take me any extra time and I admit, I hope it'll have a "pay it forward" effect - other people will see it and do likewise. Probably never happen, but...
Anyway, today, I came across not one but two carts, left in a parking space, just one space over from the cart corral itself. It would have taken the shopper just a second! to put that cart in the corral, but they just couldn't be bothered...
Such rudeness has always boggled my mind...you know that if, on a windy day, one of these carts ran into one of their cars, they'd be the first to sue the store for carelessness for letting the carts sit out there where they could scratch someone's car...