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A voice for flood survivors

It appears likely that the library will join hands with others in the community to help give survivors of the May 23 a voice in print.

Some of us met this morning, and we generally agreed we will solicit survivor stories from throughout the community, transcribe them and publish them, along with some photos, in a softback book.

All profits will go to flood victm funds already established.

More on this later.

Meanwhile, we will not publish Wimberley Voices.

More info needed

One ad running regularly on network TV these days sends a message that seems to this old white guy to be counter-intuitive while sending no message at all about what it's selling.

See, I can remember the plot, but I can't remember the product.

What happens is this: A girl with a boy in hand goes into a home office and there sits her dad, who greets the young man as Steven.

The girl, obviously looking for privacy, rolls her eyes and heads for another room where the two find Mom, who greets the boiy as Steve.

Exit girl and beau to the living room where little sis is watching TV. Sis leaves, scene shifts to show boy and girl PLAYING A VIDEO GAME.

So, that right there is the counter-intuitive part: A girl has a boy over to play a video game.

I mean, video games are boy stuff, right?

Well, that's what I have long been thinking. Obviously, the maker of this ad know something I don't.

And that is now confirmed by research done by Charlie Kuhn, Ashley Brunch and Rosalind Wiseman, reported today at the Time Tech blog online.

The three surveyed junior high kids, boys and girls, and found that both genders don't care much for rank sexism in video games, both genders couldn't care less about the gender of heroes.

This is a 1,400-kid sample, maybe not enough to spot a good trend. But, you can bet that an advertising outfit doesn't spend good money on a commercial if it doesn't believe it can capture and keep an audience. OK, forget for a minute that I can't remember what they're trying to sell me.

Make that movie

Quiet on the set!

Action!

It's time to start making that award-winning movie so you can enter it into the second annual Wimberley Film Festival before the end of the year.

We're accepting original indie films no longer than 7 minutes with credits in two categories: 17 and under and 18 and older.

Last year, we had more than a half-dozen entries, and we had a lot of fun at the festival itself, which this year is on Jan. 23, 2016, at the Emily Ann Theater.

We'll have a special screening of the zombie movie we made here in June. And we hope to have some entries from stop-action animators.

By the way, we'll have a stop-action expert in the library all day on Aug. 1 to show you how to make that stop-action film.

Need more information? Call me: 847-2188.

Is it Greek to investors?

How will the U.S. stock market react today to yesterday's vote by Greeks to reject an austerity plan put forward by wealthy Europeans and their banks?

My guess, put into play here on Monday morning, is that the market will take a dive.

What I don't know is why that should be the case. I only know that in the past few weeks as Greece has shown resistance to the new European financing plan the market seems to be following the Greek reaction very closely. Thus my prediction.

Let me say that again: I don't know why U.S. market should tumble because of what happens in Greece.

The market didn't go into the tank when the Chinese marketplace had a hiccup recently. Greece is not nearly as significant as China.

I have long thought this: The U.S. stock market is no longer rational, no longer based on logic or reason. It's computerized to the max; trades happen in nanoseconds; humans are marginalized.

Worse, most Americans, including economists, don't have good enough information about what's going on in the world to be able to make rational decisions even if they could.

This was confirmed in the Sunday New York Times Magazine in an article written by Adam Davidson, a contributing writer. Davidson points out how antiquated oiur economic references, terms and statistical inputs are.

Davidson wants an upgrade using modern computer equipment so we have better information.

Would better information help the Greeks out of their mess?

I don't think so.

Innumeracy ...

Like other forms of illiteracy, innumeracy seems to me to be a growing problem and one that is most certainly a threat to democracy.

Since a guy named Huff invented the word back in the '50s, lots of math-literate writers have warned about how the media and politicians can mangle "data" in the service of whatever scoundrelly purpose they are up to.

The examples are too numerous to mention here.

But, thanks to Jordan Ellenberg of the University of Wisconsin at Madison and author of a book on math and society we are reminded about how numbers can be made to lie.

Ellenberg's piece is in The Wall Street Journal of 6-27-28.

I have seen much on the challenges of dealing with Big Data recently, but little on how even small data can be changed to meet the needs of liars and thieves.

Ellenberg makes a strong point: We need people in the newsroom who can check not only a number's value but also its meaning.

Amen, brother.

My experience as an editor informed this perception: Few reporters go into the news business because they are good at math. It's up to editors to make them learn what they need to know in order to be responsible purveyors of the truth.

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