255_charts

The Pundit’s Worst Fear: When Facts Don’t Support the Narrative

All week, anyone who follows the news has been carpet-bombed with punditry informing them that House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s defeat was because he supported immigration reform. Yet now, polls on both the right and left are revealing that immigration reform was far down on the list of issues that influenced the election’s outcome. Reporting on a poll conducted by Americans for a Conservative Direction, Politico says, “Only 22 percent of Virginia residents who voted for Cantor’s opponent, Dave Brat, cited immigration as the primary reason for their vote. About 77 percent cited other factors, such as the Republican leader’s focus on national politics instead of local issues.” (Tip O’Niell was, is, and will always be correct.)

I doubt, however, that such polls will change the narrative related to why Cantor lost. That the hubris and national aspirations of Cantor were the likely causes of his defeat, don’t fit nicely into a bigger narrative that works for pundits and analysts. Those are too nuanced and local…and personal, and don’t fit nicely into a national debate over one issue.

Continue reading

Untitled

This Interactive Chart is Great, Except for How it’s Not

I really want to love this epic interactive chart on NYTimes.com as much as I’ve loved previous ones.

It certainly succeeds in what it set out to do: present data in a visual form that comes as close as possible to demonstrating the unequal distribution of economic impact during the period in time popularly called, “the Great Recession.” I want to love it because it is so rooted in principles I appreciate as a reader: the use of devices such as “sparklines” that enable a vast array of datapoints to be displayed together, in one cohesive, easily comprehensible block.

Continue reading

tumblr_n61t6iX2gP1s9dnijo1_1280

Even if You are a Baseball Hater, Enjoy This Photo

It makes me happy when I see a photo like the one above from the White House Tumblr account.

I mean, what’s not to love about the President of the United States giving some Little Leaguers a memory of a lifetime?

However, I know lots of people — including several of my friends — can’t stand baseball. Even a wonderful photo like this isn’t going to make them feel any different about their negative opinions on baseball.

Continue reading

puppies

Don’t Use Fake Research When Marketing to Small Businesses

Each May, I receive an avalanche of email pitches from public relations people (who now go by the title, “content strategists”) who want SmallBusiness.com to share with its readers the findings of a new surveys their companies have conducted just in time for Small Business Week.

The email is nicely produced and has links to: (1) A press release about the research, (2) research highlights (3) an infographic that looks like a PowerPoint version of their survey findings and (4) an offer to allow me to interview someone at their company about the survey.

Continue reading

anna-javis

The Moral of the Mother’s Day Founder’s Tragic Story

For most of my life, I had cynically assumed that Mother’s Day was created by some cartel–a Mother’s Day Industrial Complex–comprised of florists, candy makers, buffet restaurants and Hallmark Cards, Inc. Then I learned the tragic story of Anna Jarvis, the woman who led the successful crusade to establish a holiday to honor mothers.

In a tale seemingly ripped from the pages of greek mythology (as recounted in a tabloid account in the New York Post), Ms. Jarvis spent years lobbying for the establishment of a national day to honor Mothers. She was successful and in 1914, Woodrow Wilson signed the proclamation creating Mother’s Day.

But, in the mythological tradition of Pandora when she opened her box, Eve when she bit into the apple and Al Gore when he invented the internet, she discovered that all her good intentions had been hijacked by commercial interests (i.e., the Mother’s Day Industrial Complex).

Continue reading