Monday, February 17, 2014

The Phrasing of Questions Matters

I pulled the block quote below from a post on the Daily Kos blog. Background is that, based on polling, three separate news stories suggested three different, even contradictory, public responses to the proposed Wall St. bailout package, the price tag for which was given as $700 billion. Dig down into the questions from the pollsters and you find how the phrasing of the basic question drives the answers. The lesson for us, I suppose, is that you can ask questions several different ways to tease out attitudes.

From the blog post

The Times/Bloomberg Poll  asked respondents if they believed it was "the government's responsibility to bail out private companies with taxpayers' dollars." A majority said no.

The Pew Poll, by contrast, asked respondents if "investing billions to try and keep financial institutions and markets secure" was the right thing to do. A majority said yes.

ABC/WaPo  (Q 16.): Do you approve or disapprove of the steps the Federal Reserve and the Treasury Department have taken to try to deal with the current situation involving the stock market and major financial institutions? Do you approve/disapprove strongly or somewhat?

To summarize:


Do you think it's good to stave off economic collapse? Well, sure!

But do you think those dirty rotten scoundrels should be rescued with your money? Hell, no!

And as for the specific steps? Well, maybe.

Making Sense of Number Salad

Created these online here.

Monday, February 03, 2014

Some Fire Leads



1.  The old saying, “don’t make the same mistake twice,” isn’t as easy as it sounds for Albert Lofton, even when the mistake in question is lighting his own house on fire.
            According to fireman Norman Young, 28, Mr. Lofton confessed that he was watching David Letterman in the middle of the night while smoking a cigarette and accidentally fell asleep, igniting the sofa while unconscious.
            No one was killed in the fire that raged in the Lofton family house at 1789 Napa Street in Castro Valley, but Lofton’s wife Barbra had to jump out of the bedroom window to escape the fire and consequently sprained her ankle. Mrs. Lofton said she had been awakened by shouts from outside and smelled smoke, thus evacuating the house just in time.  128 words

2. Make no mistake-it was an accident. The fire that cost Barbara and Albert $50,000 in damages to their Castro Valley home was almost like déjà vu. According to Young, officials have evidence on file that Albert, 53 caused a similar fire in the same home two years ago.

            Barbara, 26, lay asleep in bed in the hot weather, as Albert remained awake, downstairs watching television. Barbara stated that Albert informed her of his inability to sleep due to the hot weather.

            Later on that evening, Barbara awoke to what was more than just heat from the summer season; flames blocked her from fleeing to her husband’s side as a fire struck the home. In an attempt to escape, Barbara opened the window and jumped, consequently spraining her ankle. 128 words

3.     Albert and Barbara Lofton are faced with $50,000 in damages to their house in the Castro Valley after a second fire arose in their home. Albert Lofton was carried out of the building by firefighter Norman Young, 28 and resuscitated by Sidney Campion, 35 both from the Mt. Pleasant fire station.

 Barbara Lofton jumped from a second story window resulting in an ankle sprain after waking up to smoke and yells from onlookers.  According to the Young, Albert Lofton was apparently watching David Letterman and smoking a cigarette and fell asleep, causing the couch to erupt in flames and spread throughout the house.  The neighbors, Ralph and Winnie Gleason, said that they were able to help Mrs. Lofton and led her to their kitchen to help with her ankle as well as calling the fire department. 137 words

4.    Castro Valley - Yesterday, a man started a fire in his own house for the second time. “It was hot. I couldn’t sleep, so I went downstairs to watch TV, said Albert Lofton. I remember I was smoking a cigarette; I guess I fell asleep and it burnt the sofa on which I was stretched out. It happened before.”
His wife Barbara was sleeping in her bedroom when her neighbours’ shouts woke her up. “I smelled smoke, I knew something was going wrong, she said. I started downstairs in search of my husband, but I was driven back by heat and flames”. Mrs Lofton had to climb out the window, and jump on the ground. She sprained her ankle escaping the fire. 119 words

5.  Castro Valley- Man sets fire to his house for the second time
            Last week, Albert Lofton, 53, set fire to his house unintentionally with a lit cigarette.  According to his wife Barbara, 26, Albert had been unable to sleep and had gone downstairs to watch television.  She was later awakened by shouts coming outside.  Realizing that she was unable to exit through the downstairs due to flames, she jumped out the window of her bedroom and sprained her ankle.  The Lofton’s next-door neighbors, Ralph and Winnie Gleason, were quick to the seen, and having already called the fire department, helped Barbara into their kitchen.  The Mt. Pleasant fire station was quick to respond on scene. 103 words

6. East Bay residents Barbara and Albert Lofton narrowly escaped a fire which engulfed their Castro Valley home.  According to fire officials this was not the first fire they had put out at the Lofton's home.  Do they have bad wiring or just bad luck?  Neither, it seems.  The fire started after Mr. Lofton had decided to have a cigarette in the middle of the night, leaving his wife upstairs in bed.  Watching TV and smoking, Lofton subsequently fell asleep on the couch and his lit cigarette caused the couch to catch fire.  Mrs.
Lofton awoke to the smell of smoke and shouts from outside.  She attempted to reach her husband but was unable to make it down the stairs as the fire had grown.  Forced, Mrs. Lofton jumped out of the bedroom window and sprained her ankle.  Two firefighters, Norman Young and Sidney Campion, were able to reach an unconscious Mr. Lofton who was given mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and survived. 159 words

7. A fire damaged the Castro Valley home of Barbara and Albert Lofton for the second time in two years, resulting in $50,000 of damages to the house, in which it is believed by fire officials to have originated.  Barbara, 26, and Albert, 53, were going to sleep when Mr. Lofton decided to watch television on the sofa downstairs instead, where he fell asleep with a lit cigarette in his hands.  Barbara Lofton was awakened by shouts from outside and started downstairs before the flames stopped her.  86 words

8. Remember that retro public service announcements (PSA) made by a very animated “Smokey the Bear”?  “Only YOU can prevent forest fires!” exclaimed a firm but friendly grizzly, aptly named Smokey.  The “Smoking Kills” PSA was commonly used as well.  The message, however, didn’t make it as far as Castro Valley, where Albert Lofton, 53, for the second time in two years, started a fire by falling asleep on a couch while smoking.  
The lit cigarette ignited his couch, starting a fire that caused an estimated $50,000 in damages.  His wife, Barbara Lofton, 26, was asleep upstairs, and was awakened by shouts from outside the house.  She then proceeded to escape from an open window. 
Local fire department officials reported that Mr. Lofton was found unconscious, and was revived by firefighter Sidney Campion.  Mrs. Lofton was treated and released from a nearby hospital.  Mr. Lofton is still under observation, but hospital officials have reported that he is in good condition. 159 words







Wednesday, January 29, 2014

A Classic Human Interest Story

Impact or consequence? No, though I suppose it's a variation on the Utopian dream of the lion lying down with the lamb. Might say it's a conflict story in that it's an *anti* conflict story.

Just very sweet with good visuals.