Friday, November 5, 2010



The word τραγῳδία (tragoidia), from which the word "tragedy" is derived, is a portmanteau of two Greek words: τράγος (tragos) or "goat" and ᾠδή (ode) meaning "song", from ἀείδειν (aeidein), "to sing".[1] This etymology indicates a link with the practices of the ancient Dionysian cults. It is impossible, however, to know with certainty
how these fertility rituals became the basis for tragedy and comedy.

Frankly I feel that Wiki is attempting to get my goat.

At any rate, I wanted to speak of Greek theatre, laugh tracks on the old TV comedies and polling.

CHEERING, [1960] the loud voicing of sounds, usually in large assemblies, which encourage or incite to action or show approval or exultation. Cheer originally meant "face"--ill cheer, an unhappy face; good cheer, a happy one. In time only good cheer was remembered, and to cheer meant to make happy, encourage or applaud. Cheering may be peaceful, connected with games, athletic contests and civic and social events, or warlike, connected with participation in battle. The two types are somewhat closely related.
Loudness, an important feature of cheering, is often referred to in history and literature. When the foundation of the Temple at Jerusalem was laid, "all the people shouted with a great shout" (Ezra 3, II). Shakespeare, in the first scene of Julius Caesar, tells how the Romans, welcoming Pompey, made such "an universal shout, that Tiber trembled underneath her banks."
Words, although not essential in cheering, are useful, especially where unison is desired. Words with little or no meaning are often used for this purpose, as in "hip hip hip hurrah," where the three hips, sometimes timed by a cheerleader, served as preparation for the hurrah with its prolonged and noisy second syllable. The expression "three cheers" comes from the ancient tradition that three symbolizes perfection and good fortune.
Cheering sometimes takes on a dignified and solemn form, as when in a British coronation service the people loudly signify their allegiance to the new monarch "all with one voice." This is according to ancient custom, perhaps from the days when a tribe’s fighting men chose their ruler by conclamation, the shouting of many voices in unison.
Cheering is also one form of applause at theatrical exhibitions. Audiences in ancient Rome sometimes chanted their applause, presumably in unison. A well-known amateur actor, the emperor Nero, employed 5,000 soldiers to cheer him "to the echo."
The college yell is a form of cheering popular in the United States and Canada from the middle of the 19th century. It is used principally at athletic contests, to praise and encourage the home team or voice exultation in case of victory. Each college or school has its yell, a rhythmic arrangement of words or syllables to be shouted by the students in chorus, usually directed by one or more cheerleaders. Important games are often attended by well-rehearsed cheering sections, assigned to special seats.
A formula popular in the 1860s was "his-boom-ah!," known as a skyrocket. "Hiss" represented the sound when the rocket is ignited, "boom" the resultant bang and "ah" the delight of the crowd when the rocket sheds coloured stars. A variant is the better-known "siss-boom-rah." The syllable "rah," heard in many yells, is a shortened form of hurrah; it accounts for the name "rah-rah boys" for college students. A tiger is an extra howl or shout at the end of a yell.
The Greek, Roman and Shakespearean theatres would have some of their actors sneak into the audience to get the laughs, and the oohs, and the aaahs and the moans on the right tract so to speak.
Audience reactions are infectious of course.  That is the point of all this hoorahing and hiss-booming and such. I grew up with the ultimate in audience fraud as a child of course:

Historically, live audiences could not be relied upon to laugh at the correct moment. Other times, the audiences could laugh too long or too loud, sounding unnatural and forced or throwing off the performers' rhythms.[2] CBS sound engineer Charley Douglass noticed these, as he put it, "God-awful" responses, and took it upon himself to remedy the situation.[3] If a joke did not get the desired chuckle, Douglass inserted additional laughter. If the live audience chuckled for too long, Douglass gradually muted the guffaws. This editing technique became known as "sweetening", in which pre-recorded laughter is used to augment the response of the real studio audience if they did not react as strongly as desired.[3] Douglass eventually spent countless hours extracting laughter, applause, and other reactions (right down to people moving around in their seats) from live soundtracks he had recorded (mainly from the dialogue-less The Red Skelton Show). He then placed the recorded sounds into a huge tape machine, dubbed the "laff box.

The tracks were so terribly done. Even as a child I thought the effects were unbelievable.

While I was looking into all of this a memory from 1972 came back to me.

The Republican Convention was just winding up and this obese, middle aged white lady, holding a bunch of balloons, was being interviewed on the telly. 

Why are you here? Inquired the reporter.

I like winners replied the repub.

America likes winners. I mean who lost the World Series last year? Who lost the Super Bowl two years ago? Who were the runners-up for the Heisman Trophy last year?

Nobody cares, with the exception of sports nuts and perhaps those from the city hosting the losing team.

The 105 polls released in Senate and gubernatorial races by Rasmussen Reports and its subsidiary, Pulse Opinion Research, missed the final margin between the candidates by 5.8 points, a considerably higher figure than that achieved by most other pollsters. Some 13 of its polls missed by 10 or more points, including one in the Hawaii Senate race that missed the final margin between the candidates by 40 points, the largest error ever recorded in a general election in FiveThirtyEight’s database, which includes all polls conducted since 1998.
Moreover, Rasmussen’s polls were quite biased, overestimating the standing of the Republican candidate by almost 4 points on average. In just 12 cases, Rasmussen’s polls overestimated the margin for the Democrat by 3 or more points. But it did so for the Republican candidate in 55 cases — that is, in more than half of the polls that it issued.

Feel free to click on 538 at the NYT see how badly Rasmussen actually did.

I mean Reid was supposed to lose, maybe even lose bigger because of ‘trends’ and such.

Murkowski was not supposed to win by such a huge margin as a ‘write-in’.

Now 538 will go on and on about the techniques of Rasmussen and other terrible polling organizations.  The old arguments about cell phones vs. land lines come into play. There are tricks of the trade including ‘call backs’. When you have left a message and the person calls back, should you just ignore it?

But 538 notes that Rasmussen was wrong by giving seven dems too  high a score and 55 repubs too high a score.

In the 2008 elections of course 538 prevailed above all other polling organizations. Nobody can beat 538 when it comes to predictions. This year 538 predicted the dems would walk away with 51.38 seats in the Senate. We ended up with 53.

One may only conclude that Rasmussen is really nothing but a laugh track for the repubs. A cheering section bought and paid for by Fox News and the right.


Anonymous said...

I figured out Rassmussen wasn't any good at polling years ago. They mainly are just a narritive poll that the repubs pay for to help push their elections.



Hi Momoe

Yeah, the Rasmussen peeps are just cheerleaders for the repubs. That is for sure!!!

cmaukonen said...

Well DD, I don't usually pay a lot of attention to the polls. I mean after Leh Valensa and the solidarity movement, they really have not done much.

But I digress.

Truth is that people will generally say what they think other people want to hear. So the answers you will get to any political question will be skewed or biased. Add to that the bias of the questioner and what you have is very little truth remaining.

Like one mathematician once said. "Numbers will tell you anything if you torture them enough."


Framing the question is always important C.

The number of possible answers figures into the formula.

But on simple questions like:

Are you going to vote and will you vote for A,B or C is fairly straightforward I should think.

At any rate Rasmussen Pollsters are frauds as far as I am concerned.

And when you actually check predictions with results, I have found no pollsters who put the figures together so well as 538.