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Posts Tagged ‘contingency management’

Ok, let’s review…

Car crash outside the front window every Friday night… what happens?

Keith Olbermann goes nuclear on an unsuspecting dolt…what happens?

Car crash on 3 corner of Darlington raceway… what happens?

Rush Limbaugh says he hopes the President ‘fails’ in efforts to steer the country… what happens?

The latest, but not the last unfortunately, is Dr. Phil… Dr. Phil has a two-day interview to skewer his “what’s her name” patient and what happens?

(I really hate myself for writing this but there are contingencies everywhere.)

Highly probable that no one will read this any way ‘cause it is not as entertaining as Dr. Phil turning into Dr. Jekyll, the absolutist psycho-blimp – not his physical state necessarily but his approach to working through challenges that float around pop media based on the ratings…

Oh, yeah, the ratings… Up 20%. Gee, that’s a lot… must be a relationship there between getting in front of the best parade in town once you know is being watched on TV and trying to look like the band director.

When combined with his psycho-shock-jock approach about an 11 year-old murder suspect, he is in full stride. His mother is so proud! But, then she is getting a stipend no doubt so that is hardly the criteria to “oh and ah” over. This makes Dr. Phil what???, the “Dr. of talking heads?” Is that different than a “talking heads Dr.”? Somebody else figure that out, please!

Or, it could be a contract year for him at his network and, like any self-focused pro athlete, he is playing for a new contract rather than the integrated best interests of his headline sucking patient.

We are watching the consequences of media at work here. Everyone needing to stay in the limelight has an opinion on those things that they don’t understand or affect. It is hard to tell the opinion of a taxi cab driver in Denver from the pundits these days. Biggest difference is that the taxi cab drivers have no media contracts to pump. Yup, there were 8 or 9 celebs eating their $250 a plate dinners at one of the awards celebrations that had their opinions as well but no solutions.

No, I refuse to weigh in on this nationally pop-news dot. Every time another dot is added, look around. What you see is self-puffery from everyone involved…everyone! Everyone has something to gain from doing what they are doing. Not so you say; prove me wrong.

Oh, …returning to the review above, contingency management is operating there too in each and every example.

In each case there is a greater likelihood…

… you’ll watch out the window on Friday night; you’ll watch Keith parley his tirades to bigger dolts in the future; people will want tickets near the 3rd corner of Darlington next year; and the Rush-ter will get larger columns in the press and media reports than he otherwise wouldn’t received.

And of course, if you attend to Dr. Phil and what’s her name, you are part of Dr. Phil’s contract extension because you were part of that 20% spike. He is just responding to the consequences he’s experienced in the past… just like you and I do.

Move on.

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I am so disappointed.

Mysticism returns to prime time TV with this inane crime stopper series “LIE to ME*” heralding the star (Tim Roth) and his team’s ability to read people’s faces to tell when they are lying about what. Crimes are just the medium for the law enforcement to clean up with all that legal mumbo jumbo.

Forget the advance science of real life CSI groups who offer empirical data as evidence supporting suspicion of involvement or not that is shown or implied in other TV dramas. Too many big words and too much emphasis on logic over folklore. That was wayyyyyy to tough to understand.

So, I guess the Vietnam war injury from a concussion grenade will not get mentioned in the villain’s arraignment. We’ll be able to tell if President Obama really is going to address the issues of the day and, most importantly, whether or not he is embarrassed to have a middle name of “Hussain” after all.

Working with this fantasy, think of where it could all lead: you are successful based on not being able to terse your lips or raise an eyebrow due to Botox.  No more need for matters as suspect as a ‘Twinkie defense.’  It was a facial tick that sealed the doom that the Olympian was using banned substances… Or, your movie is given the green light because you looked the producers in the eye and your nose didn’t flare at the same time…

If only we knew what to look for before Columbine and West Virginia events… And all along those media mongrels were leading down the path of science, contingency management and stem cell hope. But no more…

Enter the latest version of phrenology** and voodoo*** for prime consumption.

I am so disappointed.

* Not the absolute blues-grunt-rock of Jonny Lang’s live version of “Lie to Me”

** Phrenology: a defunct and debunked field of study, once considered a science, in which a person’s personality was first implied and then determined by experts “reading” bumps and fissures in the subjects skull.

*** Voodoo: religion based on mix of Roman Catholic teachings and West African beliefs that there are numerous deities subordinate to a greater god spirit (who does not traffic in matters or events of mere humans). Prayers and incantations to lower gods who show their work by symbolism in everything from tea leafs to smoke – only coincidently related to the smoke from a sacred chimney announcing a new Pope.

Various Blog Coverage:

TV Addict

Chicago Trib

Televisionary


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The last 7 days of Internet blogging and searches have been dominated by Ponzi scheme debate and definition.

For reference, here’s Google Trends for Ponzi/Ponzi Scheme vs. Britney Spears.  I use Britney Spears as a proxy for actual volume because she’s been a top search term for 8 or 9 years.

Ponzi Searches on the Web

Ponzi Searches on the Web

On Time.com blog, Curious Capitalist, we see the commenters and the author trying to define and assign “good” and “bad” judgments to what happened with Madoff and what’s happening with Social Security.

The problem with all the debate, like many important debates, is that we’re arguing about definitions and phrasing, instead of analyzing the real issues and behavior.

Whether Madoff was running a Ponzi Scheme or whether social security is some enlightened version of one is irrelevant to what we do about the behaviors contributing to the financial mess we’re in.

In almost all the current financial situations (Social security, housing, credit slump, Madoff…), the contigency management is very inefficient.  The rewards and punishments for taking on big risk are many degrees removed from the risky behavior.  The reinforcers produced by the situations get lost in translation between computerized trading, industry memos, and the media.   We’re rewarding behaviors in one context and punishing them in another (spending without transparency – the bailout- is OK, but it isn’t OK for these businesses… which is it?)

The rules are not clear at all and so no one can play by them.

You can’t call any of this irrational either.  it’s perfectly rational to keep investing and spending when you get reinforced (returns on investment) over a long period of time.  You come to expect those returns and habituate to the risk involved in investing in companies, financial products and services that don’t have defined outcomes.  You can’t totally blame the originator of these investment vehicles either as people keep investing, further reinforcing the behavior of the originator.  (I’m simplifying a bit here).

Consider the life of Ponzi. (Find better sources than Wikipedia, but this will do for now because it’s online)  His history can be interpreted in many ways.  What strikes me is how it builds behavior by behavior.  All along the way as people wonder, they continue to make him rich, provide for him, write about him.  Even until his death he still found work, press and basically what he needed.  So, was it a character flaw in his gene code that created the great mail fraud, or was it the contingencies all along the way?

What’s to think this scenario, now played out with Paulson, Madoff, AIG… isn’t going to be played out again and again when we don’t change the environment?  The actors in this play are irrelevant pieces.  It’s the environment (the media, the surrounding people, the culture, the financial system..).

Do I have an answer? No.  You have to chip away by managing contingencies both with your own life and the wider public.  There’s no one set of rules or one policy or a perfect economic system.  We have to constantly pay attention and adjust.

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