Japanese Disasters Need-to-Know Glossary Update

Added: Chest x rays, Black swans, Dinosaur extinction event, Two packs-a-day

AUSTIN, Texas, March 21,  2011 — (Updated Daily) The Global Language Monitor has assembled the Japanese Disasters Need-to-Know Glossary to help understand the sometimes obtuse and ofter obscure terminology used in describing the concurrent Japanese Disasters that we are now witnessing.

We will add to the document as events continue to unfold.

“This is a tragedy of unprecedented proportions.  We believe it is our responsibility to help people around the globe more fully understand the depth of the destruction and the nature of the circumstances that have already have and continue to unfold,” said Paul JJ Payack, President and Chief Word Analyst of the Global Language Monitor.

Can Your Family or Business Survive a Disaster for Three Days? Click Here!

Term Definition
1.6 microseconds Number of microseconds the Earth’s spin was increased by the Sendai earthquake
9.0 magnitude The Japanese quake was 9.0 on the Richter Scale. This makes it about 700,000 times more powerful than last year’s Haitian earthquake. (See Richter Scale.)
12.5 magnitude Theoretical magnitude of the Chicxulub asteroid impact 65,000,000,000 years ago that led to the extinction of the dinosaurs. (However, mammals live through it.)
900 kph The waves of the tsunami traveled traveled about as fast as of typical passenger jetliner (About 560 mph/900 kph)
Black Swan Black Swan: rare but Nation-destroying disasters: an asteroid hitting the earth; a super volcano (Yellowstone Caldera) rending half a continent lifeless; a solar flare that destroys all modern communication systems. The Japanese Tri-Crisis qualifies as a Black Swab.
Cesium-137 Metal of the Alkali group that can signal the presence of a nuclear reaction. The half-life of Cesium 137 is 30 years. This means it would take about 200 years for something contaminated with it to lose all signs of radioactivity. Its name is derived from the Latin for a bluish-gray color
Chernobyl The Chernobyl incident in Ukraine in 1986 was considered the world’s worst nuclear accident until now. A carbon-fed fire sent the radioactive elements high into the atmosphere affecting every country in Europe.
Chest X Ray Each chest x ray exposes you to about .04 mSv. A major surgery might require 1,000 x rays, which would result in 40 mSv. A single CT heart scan results in a 12 mSv exposure.
China Syndrome Theory that a molten nuclear core breeches its containment vessel (in the US) and proceeds through the Earth’s core all the way to China. This is not actually possible. (See Tierra del Fuego syndrome.)
Containment Building (or vessel) Reinforced concrete structure made to serve as final barrier to entrap radioactive gases
Earthquake Shaking of Earth’s crust due to underlying tectonic forces
Epicenter The center of the earthquake, ofter miles underground.
Fuel Rods The affected Japanese reactors have thousands of 12-foot long, zirconium-alloy fuel rods. Each contain thousands of uranium-oxide ceramic pellets. The fuel rods are densely packed into the reactor.
Fukushima 50 The fifty workers serving as the final defense against a catastrophic meltdown at Fukushima Daiichi.
Fukushima Daiichi The nuclear reactors site with six boiling water reactors. 1, 2 and 6 were built by General Electric. 3, 4 and 5 were built by Toshiba. Fukushima Daiichi is 241 km (150 miles) from Tokyo.
Half-Life The time it takes radioactive material to expend one half of its radioactivity. The longer the half-life, the more dangerous the material.
Hiroshima Bomb The Hiroshima atomic bomb was detonated on August 6, 1945. It’s yield was estimated between 13 and 18 kilotons of TNT. It was set equivalent to a 6.2 magnitude quake.
IAEA International Atomic Energy Agency is headquartered in Vienna.
Indian Ocean Tsunami The Indian Ocean Tsunami on Boxing Day in 2004 resulted in waves over 18 meters (50 feet) high. Over 250,000 people were killed, some 5,000 km (3000 m) away.
International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale (INES) The INES, introduced in1990 by the IAEA, has seven levels, with 1-3 considered incidents and 4-7, accidents. The Fukushima incident was recently moved from Level 4 to 5 (equivalent to Three Mile Island). Chernobyl is the only Level 7 accident on record.). The French Nuclear Agency suggests Fukushima to be a Level 6.
Iodine-131 Iodine-131 is a highly radioactive element that signifies at least a partial meltdown. The half-life of Iodine-131 is about 8 days, which means that it decays far faster than Cesium-137. The radioactive iodine is concentrated in the thyroid, however taking iodine potassium tablets fill the thyroid to capacity so the radioactive Iodine -131 is more likely to be excreted.
Krakatoa Indonesian Volcano that exploded in 1883 with a force equivalent to 8.5 magnitude (and some 200 megatons). Purported to be the loudest sound ever heard up to 5,000 km (or about 3,000 miles). The sound waves were measured to circle the earth seven times.
Linear No Threshold Model LNT basically it means that even a small exposure to radioactivity will increase the chance of cancer occurring in a corresponding small percentage of the population. The smaller the exposure, the smaller the risk, but the risk never falls to zero. The LNT model is generally accepted by most governments and scientific agencies, but is considered controversial in some scientific circles. This is why you hear conflicting views from experts on the cancer risk.
Meltdown When a core meltdown catastrophic melting of the core of a nuclear reactor due to a loss of cooling
No. 5 The earthquake was the fifth strongest since 1900.
Nuclear reactor Devices that use chain reactions of fissionable materials to boil water to create steam. The steam runs through turbines to create power.
Plate tectonics Theory that the continents rest on plates that drift into each other, causing earthquakes and mountain building
Prefecture States or Provinces of Japan. There are 47 prefectures.
Richter scale The logarithmic scale that measures the strength of an earthquake named after Charles Richter. It is a base-10 logarithmic scale. This means that an earthquake that measures 3.0 is 10 times more powerful that one measuring 2.0. The scale is open-ended, though the 1960 Chile quake measured at 9.6.
Sendai Earthquake At 9.0 the Sendai earthquake was the fifth largest since 1900. The Sendai quake was equivalent to about 100,000 Hiroshima-class bombs.
Sievert and millisievert (and millisievert) A unit of measurement for radiation dosage. According to the World Health Organization, the average person is exposed to about 3 millisieverts a year from natural sources and 3 mSv from human-made sources.
Three Mile Island In 1979 Unit No. 2 of the Three Mile Island Nuclear Generating Station near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania experienced a partial meltdown. Later it was found that the molten radioactive material penetrated within 1 centimeter of breaking through the containment barrier. Because of its location and the prevailing wind patterns, the fallout could have traveled over the heavily populated Eastern Seaboard, passing over Philadelphia, New York and possibly Boston with a population of more than 30,000,000.
Tierra del Fuego Syndrome The China Syndrome when applied to the Far East (See China Syndrome.)
Tokyo Capital of Japan with more than 30,000,000 people in its metropolitan area.
Tsar Bomba The largest hydrogen bomb ever detonated, by the Soviet Union in 1961. It was about equal to a 7.8 magnitude quake in the general range of the San Francisco earthquake 0f 1908 and the Mount Saint Helen’s volcanic explosion in 1981.
Tsunami From the Japanese tsu (harbor) and nami (wave); waves caused by undersea land movement; usually caused by earthquakes. A tsunami gathers destructive force as it nears land. Depending on the configuration of the shoreline, wave rise over ten-times in height.
Two Packs a Day Smoking two packs of cigarettes a day exposes you to about 17 mSv per year. Smoke for a lifetime that’s 850 mSv.



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Casualties in Japan Disasters could reach 25,000 or more

AUSTIN, Texas, March 14, 2011 — According to Global Language Monitor’s NarrativeTracker Technology the ultimate number of casualties resulting from the Japanese Quake and Tsunami could ultimately climb to over 25,000 and possibly reaching 50,000, or more.

“The depth of this tragedy is even deeper than what we had already imagined it to be” said Paul JJ Payack, President and Chief Word Analyst of the Global Language Monitor. “Only our understanding of the true magnitude of the tragedy, will enable us to move beyond it, to rebuild what needs to be rebuilt and renew what needs to be renewed. Our hearts and prayers go out to the families of those who were struck down – and the survivors who carry on.”

The analysis is based on NarrativeTracker’s analytical methodologies.  Statements by public, corporate and military officials as well as outside agencies and various experts were complied and examined with appropriate trendlines extrapolated.   The progression has been noted from the earliest reports where casualties were said to be ‘several hundred’, then ‘nearly a thousand’ and now in the ‘tens of thousands’..  At the same time, GLM noted the many reports of still-missing trains, ships, and good-sized villages where fewer than half the population has as not yet been accounted for.

The analysis compared trends in casualty-reporting with several  disasters including the Haitian earthquake, Hurricane Katrina’s inundation of New Orleans, and the Southeast Asia Tsunami.

The analysis assumes that there are no deaths associated with the partial meltdowns of a number of nuclear reactors.  GLM notes that this is an analysis is an estimate that is based on trending factors and should be considered as such.



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Top News Stories of 2010 by Internet Ranking

South African World Cup tops iPad Launch and Rise of China;

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US Healthcare Reform & Wikileaks follow

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First time a product launch contends for the top spot; First time a sporting event reaches the top spot

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Austin, TX December 19, 2009 – In an exclusive global analysis performed by the Global Language Monitor, the Top News Stories of 2010 are South African World Cup, the iPad Launch, the Rise of China, US Healthcare Reform, and Wikileaks.  The Tea Party movement, the fall of Obama, the Gulf Oil Spill, Haitian Earthquake, and the Political Anger and Rage witnessed in the major western economies, followed.  The list is notable for two firsts:  the first time a sporting event tops the list and the first time a product launch contends for the top spot.

Chinese Dignitaries
Chinese Dignitaries

“The globe has witnessed the major news sources of the 20th century fragment into thousands of micro-focused outlets in the twenty-first.   At the same time, the major global media are playing an ever-more important role when major events occur, as aggregate communities for shared experiences,” said Paul JJ Payack, President and Chief Word Analyst of the Global Language Monitor, the media analytics and trend tracking company.  “For these reasons we performed two independent analyses.  The first focused on the number of citations found over the course of the year on the Internet, blogosphere, and social media sites.  The second focused on the top 75,000 print and electronic media sites.  Finally, the two analyses were normalized with the final results appearing here.”

The Top News Stories of 2010 follow.

Rank/Story/Comment

1.  South African World Cup —  The South African World Cup towered over all other news stories.

2.   iPad – A product launch is the No. 2 worldwide news story!?

3.  Rise of China – Top Story of the First Decade of the 21st century, still very strong.

4.  Health Care Reform – The debate over the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Ac t continues unabated.

5.   Wikileaks – Not a wiki in the usual sense of ‘an open environment which anyone can edit,’ the story of revealed institutional secrets that will continue to resonate well into 2011.

6.  Tea Party – The US political movement which emphasizes scaled back government intrusion, influence and spending.

7.  Fall of Obama – His fall is relative to the great heights to which he ascended.

8.  Gulf Oil Spill – An unprecedented environmental catastrophe broadcast live around the world via the BP Spillcam.

9.  Haitian Earthquake – Hundreds of thousands killed, millions displaced and the agony continues.

10.  Political Anger and Rage – Frustration in the US and  much of the developed world about the financial and political situation.

11.  EU Financial Crisis – The economies of Ireland, Portugal, Greece and Spain threaten to consume Billions of Euros in bailouts.

12.  Shanghai Expo – The “Grand Gathering of the World Cultures” was visited by some 70 million in 2010.

13.  Growth of Facebook – With 400 million members it now touts itself as the fourth largest nation on the planet.  However, there is no word of UN membership or plans for a standing army.

14.  Pakistan Floods – Garnered more attention worldwide than in the US.

15.  Scott Brown Election – The turnover of the ‘Kennedy seat’ after half a century to this upstart, pickup-driving Republican caused quite a stir.

16.  Tiger Woods – Previously notable for the first golfer to earn a billion dollars, the news of his serial infidelities continues to impact the golf world.

17.  British coalition government — David Cameron and Nick Clegg lead a new coalition into power.

18.  Chilean Miners – The dramatic saga and rescue of Los 33, provided riveting drama (and television) to a world weary of disheartening news.

19.  Polish President Killed — Lech Kaczynski, his wife, and dozens of high government officials died en route to a memorial service honoring the 20,000 Poles who died in the Katyn forest.

20.  Global economic restructuring – Also known as the Great Recession in the US, but felt worldwide especially among developed Western nations.

21.  Vuvuzela –  The brightly colored plastic horns  that caused much consternation at the South African World Cup.

23.  Ground Zero Mosque – Officially known as 45 Park Place, the controversial Islamic center planned a few blocks north of Ground Zero.

24.  Icelandic Volcano – The unpronounceable Eyjafjallajökull volcano that disrupted air travel over much of Northern Europe.

25.  Snowmageddon –  The unusually heavy snowfalls that virtually shut down Washington, DC during an exceptionally snowy winter.



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Avoiding an American ‘Lost decade’

“What we are experiencing is not a recession, neither great nor small, but rather a global transference of wealth, power and prestige on an unprecedented level, carried out, in von Clausewitz’s words ‘by other means’.”

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Note:  This is the second in a series; you can see the first article directly below this one.
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November 30.  Where do we go from here?  We’ve already established that this is not a typical business cycle and this recession falls out of scope of previous recessions. Even the Great Depression was typical in the sense that it set off a worldwide fall in demand and productivity. It is now widely understood that while government intervention did stop the catastrophic collapse of the global economy, this intervention did little to revitalize global economic growth which did not resume until the onset of World War II.

This post first appeared on TheHill.com

Now, fast forward to September 2008 and months following shortly thereafter. There is wide agreement that the direct and dramatic Bush/Obama interventions did, indeed, prevent a global economic collapse. However, for many nations, including the U.S., the revitalization has yet to occur. While the stimulus spending saved many jobs in the public sector, few jobs were created in the private or wealth-creating sector. In retrospect it now appears that the stimulus was the equivalent to eating empty calories when hungry; a temporary rise in blood sugar without sustained nutrition.

This lack of wealth-building focus has led to a weak economic performance of 2.4 percent projected growth in GDP, hardly what one expects after such spending. (This growth rate has already been revised downward to 1.6 percent in the last quarter.) If this scenario does play out as expected, the eight million lost jobs will be replaced with new ones — by the 2020 time frame. By way of comparison, the “Reagan Recovery” created over 11,000,000 new jobs with four years.

While President Obama’s economic policies and overall execution of leadership is the current focus of many commentators, it remains a fact that this situation didn’t sneak up on us. The United States manufacturing sector has declined as a percentage of non-farm employment from about 30 percent in 1950 to just 9.27 percent in 2010, according to the October estimate of the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Also, an underlying statistic is that the U.S. has been losing not just manufacturing jobs, but entire factories, over 40,000 of them since 2000. The ramifications here go far beyond the manufacturing sector itself. Indeed, by some estimates, there is a 15-1 multiplier between other jobs (including manufacturing and service) and each manufacturing position. Therefore, this unprecedented loss of an industrial base and its concomitant plethora of supporting positions leave a greatly reduced platform upon which to launch a successful and timely recovery.

And so the question remains: Where do we go from here?

First, take a deep breath, look in the mirror and repeat; the world is different from what it was in 1982 and wishing and acting like it was the same will not bring those lost manufacturing jobs back. No matter what we do, trying to recapture global leadership in industries where the average U.S. salary (excluding benefits) is over $20/hr where the similar cost in China or Mexico is between $2-$6/hr is a losing proposition. This is not to say that the U.S. should not continue to innovate and look to manufacture world-class products, only that we will have to pick our battles in places where we have a strategic competence and a willingness to compete. Specifically, management must be willing to continually analyze each process for best in class behaviors and continually work to improve in order to maintain a leadership position.

Second, focus strategic investment in industries where the U.S. has a substantial lead or could develop one in future. Good examples here are in the area of information technology, where private investment continues to create new enterprises and wealth and “green technology” whose future is yet to unfold. We need to remind ourselves of the effectiveness of the U.S. Space Program, not only in accomplishing its primary mission, but creating entire industries and market that are still returning value to this day.

Third, fully accept that the old manufacturing jobs will not be repatriated and implement a program that will both create true value for the economy while putting people back to work. In past recessions, workers were typically called back to their jobs as the economy improved. This time however, with the loss of so many factories, the jobs platform is significantly smaller and is unable to support the type of recovery we have seen in the past. Now, we must both create jobs in new markets and industries as well as find employment for those whose skill base will not readily transfer to the new jobs platform(s).

A good example of this is the proposal by the Center for American Progress that outlines a plan to develop an energy efficiency industry to retrofit approximately 40 percent of the country’s buildings (approximately 50 million structures) within the next decade. This would require more than $500 billion in public and private investment and create over 600,000 “sustainable” jobs. Under the plan, energy use in those buildings would be reduced up to 40 percent and generate between $32 billion and $64 billion in annual consumer savings. Those savings would be used to re-pay the construction loans that would support the program.

This type of program would both create private sector jobs and help re-build U.S. infrastructure for the next five decades, all the while creating a buffer between the current economic environment and the one that will emerge.

One word of caution: we need a dozen or more initiatives of this kind to even come close to replacing the 8,000,000 lost jobs.

Paul JJ Payack is president of Austin-based Global Language Monitor. Edward ML Peters is CEO of Dallas-based OpenConnect Systems. Their most recent book is “The Paid-for Option”, which describes how healthcare reform can actually pay for itself through the application of process intelligence and its attendant gains in productivity.

Evacuee, Apocalypse & Hiroshima: Katrina Continues to Impact Language

Katrina Continues to Impact Language, Media and Politics

 

AUSTIN, Texas.   (August 30, 2010) – Katrina had a deep and lasting impact on how America looks at catastrophes and crises in the early 21st century.  And Katrina’s influence is becoming all the more pervasive as the effects of the crisis linger and the reality of the magnitude of the destruction continues to come to light.  An exclusive analysis by the Global Language Monitor (GLM) using it analytical resources, underscores how some five years after the event, Katrina continues to have an out-sized impact on our cultural landscape.  Last year, GLM ranked the Top Stories in the Global Media during the first decade of the 21st century.  Katrina ranked No. 8.

Background:  It is often said that the war in Viet Nam was the first war to be broadcast directly into American living rooms (back when people still gathered for dinner together and watched network news broadcasts).  We watched in horror at the mass destruction of the Towers falling a quarter of a century later, many of us on our computer screens.  But it was the unfolding of the inundation of New Orleans after the levees gave way that provided us with any number of up-close-and personal tragedies that would unfold (and float) before our disbelieving eyes.

Among the most prominent example of Katrina’s continuing cultural impact include:

  1. Refugee vs. Evacuee – At the time GLM’s analysis found that the term for the displaced, refugees, appeared 5 times more frequently in the global media than the more neutral, evacuees.  At the term, refugee was cited as racially insensitive.  Never endorsed by the AP Stylebook, currently the word refugee is used in the media some fifty times more than evacuee.
  2. “Heckova job, Brownie!” – GLM named this paraphrase of President Bush’s actual remark, “Brownie, you’re doing a heckuva job” as the most memorable phrase of 2005.  The phrase, according to a Reuter’s report at the time, “became a national punch line for countless jokes and pointed comments about the administration’s handling of the Hurricane Katrina disaster”.  Even now variations of the phrase are used to criticize less-than-stellar efforts, such as when New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd wrote, “Heck of a job, Barry” (her nickname for President Obama) in her Dec. 29th, 2009 column.
  3. Apocalyptic Imagery — The Southeast Asia Tsunami that killed over 200,000 people occurred nine months before Katrina, so audiences were somewhat familiar with horrific images of exotic locales as scenes of mass destruction.  However, the thought of the devastation unfolding in a major, revered US city, with the world watching the only remaining superpower, apparently unable to mobilize the necessary resources to stop the ongoing destruction and loss of life proved more than the press could handle.  Immediately, the global press echoed with apocalyptic imagery.  The Times in London led with: “Devastation that could send an area the size of England back to the Stone Age” and continued describing “a paranoid post-apocalyptic landscape … where corpses lie amid a scene of Biblical devastation, any semblance of modern society has gone.”
  4. The Hiroshima Analogy – Katrina hit landfall shortly after the 60th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima.   AP cited Mississippi governor Haley Barbour “Struggling with what he calls Hurricane Katrina’s nuclear destruction … [showing] the emotional strain of leading a state through a disaster of biblical proportions”.  However, the analogy continues to be used in light of the lingering effects of a drawn-out and, some would argue, less-than-successful recovery effort.  There are still 55,000 uninhabitable buildings half of which the new mayor has pledged to remove by 2014; many still lack essential services; the levees remain in questionable condition, and most importantly, some 20-to-25% of the population has failed to return.

5.  Storm and Scientific Terminology — The public has a much better understanding of the specific terminology surrounding hurricanes and tropical storms.  This would include:

  • Saffir-Simpson Scale, which predicts the destructive power of a hurricane,
  • Category or Hurricane Scale that measures the strength of a hurricane’s strength, from low to high (1 to 5).  Katrina peaked at Category 5 but at landfall fell to Category 3.
  • Storm Surge, the wall of water pushed in from of a hurricane.  Katrina’s was about 30 feet, the highest on record.
  • Levee, the massive, supposedly impermeable earthen walls, meant to hold back storm surges.  New Orleans has some 350 miles of levees.  An unfortunate fact about levees, once they let water in, they can actually prevent it from going out.
  • Naming System for Hurricanes, which has been in place for some fifty years.   They names are alphabetically sorted, alternating men’s and women’s names. The list was exclusively female until 1979. Names are recycled every 6 years. Influential hurricanes have their names retired.  Katrina was obviously retired.

6.  The name Katrina, according to the Social Security Administration, has fallen sharply in popularity.  In 2004 Katrina was the 274th most popular names for girls born in the US; in 2009 it ranked at 815.

For historical coverage of Hurricane Katrina from the Global Language Monitor, go here.

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World Cup 2010’s Dubious Linguistic Achievement

Vuvuzela accepted into English language lexicon

Austin, TX July 12, 2010 – The World Cup 2010 was an historical affair in many regards, the a first for the African continent; a first for the South African people and, of course, a first for Spain.

Another perhaps unintended consequence of World Cup 2010 is the acceptance of the word, vuvuzela, into the English language lexicon according to the qualifying criteria established by Austin-based Global Language Monitor.

The vuvuzela are the seemingly ubiquitous brightly colored plastic horns, said to have the potential to inflict lasting hearing loss because of the loudness and pitch of a typical vuvuzela (B flat below middle C, according to the BBC).

“Vuvuzela appears certain to achieve a place (or at least some notoriety) within the ranks of the English language.  Vuvuzela has already appeared some 2450 times in a recent search of the New York Times archive,” said Paul JJ Payack, president of the Global Language Monitor.  “That is quick a few citations for the ‘first draft of history; even a quick Google search yield  over 6,000,000 hits on the term.”

The thresholds to cross into the English Lexicon include 25,000 citations meeting criteria for breadth of geographic dispersion along within a depth of media formats including the Internet, blogosphere and social media along with various formats of print and electronic media.  Since 2003, the Global Language Monitor has been recognizing new words or neologisms once they meet these criteria.

The word vuvuzela, itself of uncertain origin.  Some think it is related to the summoning horn, the kudu, for African villages.  Others speculate it to be derived from an onomatopoeic Zulu word for the sound ‘vu-vu’, or a word for noise making, while many believe it to be ‘township slang’ for shower (of noise).

English gets a new word – thanks to SA

Jul 18, 2010 12:00 AM | By Sashni Pather


The World Cup was historic in a few ways: a first for the African continent, South Africa’s people and for Spain.

WHAT A HOOT: Vuvuzela has won global recognition

Read More



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Healthcare NarrativeTracker Detects Growing Concern about Containing Costs

Keeping Costs Low vs. Rising Costs

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DALLAS & AUSTIN, Texas, July 7, 2010The Healthcare NarrativeTracker™ has detected a growing wave of concern throughout the nation about containing rising Healthcare costs. The catalyst stems from the new regulations being now written to implement The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. At this point the affordability issue is coalescing around the President Obama’s oft-stated pledge that you can keep current Health Insurance plans if you so choose.  As M.I.T. health economist Jonathan Gruber recently stated, “It’s unclear that companies will want to have the same insurance plan in 2014 that they have in 2010.”

These facts have not gone unnoticed by the public and are considered by many to be a significant turnaround from earlier analyses, where people took at face value the President’s oft-stated words: “If you like your healthcare plan, you’ll be able to keep your healthcare plan, period.” Obama declared in a speech to the American Medical Association last June, “No one will take it away, no matter what.” In fact, the New York Times recently reported that the government calculates that while 70 percent of small-business plans will remain grandfathered in 2011 that number will drop to 34 percent in 2013. Apparently, even the routine changes that occur every year as employers search for better products can be defined as changing the plan enough to obviate the provision that allows you to keep your current insurance, potentially leading to increasing costs for employer and employee alike.

Subsequent analysis of the Internet, blogosphere, the print and electronic media, as well as new social media sources (such as Twitter) has shown that the public is aware of this shift. The results of the Healthcare NarrativeTracker Index™ (NTI™) were reported by OpenConnect, the leading company in event-driven intelligence solutions, and The Global Language Monitor, the media analytics company.

“Policies need to be evaluated by the effect they will have on the cost incurred with their implementation. The economics of healthcare reform need to be based on changes that help pay for themselves rather than make the problem worse. Only by realizing the type of efficiencies that have kept America in the forefront of world economic growth for the past century and a half will we be able to keep costs under current projections. All that is necessary is to summon the courage to make the tough choices ahead,” said Edward M.L. Peters, CEO of OpenConnect and author of The Paid-for Option, which details the methodology that has proven effective in the healthcare industry.

The Healthcare NarrativeTracker has detected rising concern about price increases perceived to be associated with the implementation of yet-to-be written regulations. The public is well-aware of the overall trillion dollar cost of the program, as well as associated costs, such as the so-called ‘Doc Fix’ not directly counted with the Healthcare Reform effort budget.

In the first three months of this year, conversations about keeping the price of insurance low were exceeded by conversations with those concerned about the rising costs of their healthcare by some 40%.

In the same manner, in the first three months of this year, conversations about keeping one’s insurance were surpassed by those about losing their insurance by some 54%. For the first six months of this year, the conversations about keeping one’s insurance were surpassed by those about losing their insurance by some 43% but with volume of the conversations increasing over 11,200%.

In summation, the media discussion resonating throughout the Internet, blogosphere and social media is driving the online discussion and conversations. This is particularly true when such narratives are being driven by articles such as those written by Dr. Marc Siegel who concludes, “the regulations impose a major vise on private insurance, restricting a company’s ability to increase cost sharing (such as coinsurance, deductibles and out-of pocket limits) as well as copayments (“more than the sum of medical inflation plus 15 percentage points or $5 increased by medical inflation”). So it is unlikely that many insurers will be able to remain viable without raising premiums (not restricted by the regulations) or slashing services.”

The NarrativeTracker Index is the first product specifically designed to use social media-based monitoring to better understand the issues driving healthcare reform. Because the Healthcare NTI is based on the national discourse, it provides a real-time, accurate picture of what the public is saying about any topic related to healthcare, at any point in time. In addition to the NTI, the NarrativeTracker Arc™ follows the rise and fall of sub-stories within the main narrative to provide a comprehensive overview of the opinions surrounding a single issue.

The NTI is based on the GLM’s Predictive Quantities Indicator™ (PQI™). The PQI tracks the frequency of words and phrases in global print and electronic media on the Internet, throughout the Blogosphere and other social media outlets as well as accessing proprietary databases. The PQI is a weighted index that factors in long-term trends, short-term changes, momentum, and velocity.

The Healthcare NTI is released monthly. The first analysis completed in May 2010 details the various narratives surrounding Massachusetts Healthcare reform, a healthcare model which has been adopted in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, more commonly known as the national healthcare reform bill.



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The Internet’s Fury Scorned

Obama Oval Office speech analysis provokes unprecedented response


Austin, Texas, July 2, 2010.  The first decade of the 21st century has witnessed a great many terrible, sad and historical events, with a few, unfortunately fleeting moments of great joy sprinkled between the dirges.  We have done our best to analyze the impact of these events on the global print and electronic media as well as on the Internet, throughout the blogosphere, and now the emerging social media.

After analyzing political speeches for a decade now, as well as all 55 Presidential Inaugural Addresses and transcripts of historical interest (including Washington’s Farewell Address, the Lincoln-Douglas Debates, FDR’s ‘Live in Infamy’ radio address, Martin Luther King’s ‘I have a Dream’ speech) you would think that we had seen and heard everything by now.

However, it wasn’t until our analysis of the President’s Gulf Spill Oval Office address, that we experienced the full force of the Internet’s fury scorned.

And this for an analysis that we considered basically non-newsworthy.

President Obama had given yet another address to the nation.  GLM used the same standardized, widely available, language tools that we used to name Obama’s Grant Park  “Yes, we can!” victory address as one that ranked with the greatest of presidential orations.  Now these same standardized, time-tested tools are being conveniently criticized as of questionable repute.

We were told that our analysis was either ‘bashing Obama’ or ‘excusing Obama’. At the same time, we were either ‘insulting the people’ or ‘insulting the President’. Finally, it was suggested that we were rather transparently calling for the President to ‘dumb down the rhetoric’ so that one and all might understand  the superior intelligence of ‘his highness’.  Whoa!

Apparently, many readers never got over the headline, missing the actual analysis and what the numbers told us about the speech. Our concern was that our initial headline, Obama Oil Spill Speech Echoes Elite, Aloof Ethos might be considered demeaning to the President.  Wrong.  It was considered demeaning to everyone on the Left and the Right.

For general information on the readability tests used by GLM, click here.

For scientific literature about readability tests, enter Flesch or readability into the ERIC database.

We were surprised to learn that offense was, apparently,  taken in equal proportions by both the Right (Language Expert: If You Didn’t Like Obama’s Oil Spill Speech, It’s Probably Because You’re Stupid) and the Left (Obama Oil Spill Speech Criticized By CNN’s Language Analyst For Not Being Moronic Enough) of the political spectrum.   Nevertheless, we were quite amused by The ColbertReport’s send-up of our (and CNN’s) report, which somehow struck a middle chord.

It was also enlightening to see a significant proportion of this criticism to be ad hominem attacks, focusing on ourselves rather than our analysis.  (Read FAQ about GLM and Paul JJ Payack here.)

This past December, we encountered fierce criticism from the Chinese government dailies because  we named ‘The Rise of China” as the No. 1 news story of the decade.  (You can follow the narrative arc of this controversy here. )  But the criticism that accompanied the Obama Gulf Spill speech, was a good bit nastier, indeed.

Our analyses of the three preceding US Presidential elections were praised from many quarters from the New York Times to Nicholas Kristof to NPR to the worldwide media.  During the preceding ten years, few alleged political motivation, or denounced the standard language-measurement tools as inherently flawed. In fact, as long as readers basically agreed with the more predictable outcomes, there were few complaints.  Here were some of those results:  Ross Perot scored the lowest we’ve ever recorded, John F, Kennedy and Ronald Reagan were stars, both Bushes settled in the middle of the middle school years, and Obama’s ‘Yes, we can!’ speech had nearly equivalent numbers to Martin Luther King’s “I have a Dream’ speech and Lincoln’s ‘Gettysburg Address’.   So far, so good.  We did have a few outliers, such as Sarah Palin achieving quite a high score during her debate with Joe Biden, which was duly noted by New York Magazine and quite easy to explain.

Here’s what we attempted to communicate:

1.  Obama’s speech, though deserving a ‘solid B’ did not live up to his past efforts.

2.  Obama’s most well-regarded speech came in a at 7.4 grade level.  This is not talking down to the American people.  This is communicating clear and concisely to his audience.  This is Obama at his best, communicating with a deft combination of vision, passion and rhetoric.

In fact, our headline for that effort read: Obama’s “Yes, We Can” Speech Ranked with “I have a Dream,” “Tear Down this Wall,” and JFK Inaugural. Rather high praise, indeed.

Our commentary read:

Obama’s “Yes, We Can” speech delivered Tuesday night in Chicago’s Grant Park ranked favorably in tone, tenor and rhetorical flourishes with memorable political addresses of the recent past including Martin Luther King, Jr.’s   “I have a Dream” speech, “Tear Down this Wall,” by Ronald  Reagan and John F. Kennedy’s Inaugural Address.

“As is appropriate for a forward-looking message of hope and reconciliation, words of change and hope, as well as future-related constructions dominated the address,” said Paul JJ Payack President and Chief Word Analyst of the Global Language Monitor.  “Evidently, Obama is at his best at connecting with people at the 7th to 8th grade range, communicating directly to his audience using simple yet powerful rhetorical devices, such as the repetition of the cadenced phrase ‘Yes, we can’, which built to a powerful conclusion.”

Well-regarded, indeed (and well-deserved).

3.   GLM and our predecessor site, yourDictionary.com have analyzed every presidential inaugural since that of George Washington.  The idea was, and continues to be, to look at the presidents’ words in the total historical context of the American presidency.

In 2001, we were quoted as saying,

Our goal was to spot trends that are all to easily overlooked in the political (and all too partisan) passions of the moment” [and continued that our] analysis included patterns of word usage choices, the use of such grammatical constructions as passive voice, the length of words and sentences, the number of paragraphs, and other parameters of language to gauge the content [including] the well-regarded Flesch-Kincaid Reading Scale.

4.  The use of Industry-standard language analytics.  The Fogg Index, the Flesch Test, the Flesch-Kinkaid Reading Scale, and many others, are used in all forms of publishing from technical manuals to ensuring proper comprehension levels for textbooks used for various ages and classes.  This has been true for more than fifty years.

The reason we choose to use the standard tests and analytical tools was a simple one:  to enable the same set of measurements over any period of time.  And also that these analyses could be replicated by scholars and historians and journalists the world over.

5.  We use our proprietary tool, the Predictive Quantities Indicator or PQI to measure media analytics, narrative tracking, and TrendTopper Media Buzz, as such we do not use the PQI for this task.

By the Way, here are a few historical precedents;

  • Washington’s Farewell Address of 1796 — 12.0.
  • Lincoln-Douglas debates, 1858 — Stephen Douglas’ seven speeches averaged a 12th-grade level 11.9; Lincoln’s averaged 11.2.
  • President Franklin Roosevelt’s declaration of war in December 1941 — 11.5.
  • Nixon-Kennedy Debates, 1960 — The first nationally televised debates:  Kennedy, 9.6 ; Nixon, 9.1.
  • Carter-Ford Debates, 1976 — Carter, 10.4; Ford, 11.0.
  • Carter-Reagan debate  — Carter, 12.0; Reagan, 10.7.
  • Reagan-Mondale debates — Reagan, 9.8;  Mondale, 8.7.
  • Dukakis-Bush debates of 1988 — Dukakis, 8.9; Bush, 6.7 grade.
  • Bush-Clinton-Perot debates of 1992 — Carter, 8.5, Bush, 6.5, Perot, 6.3.
  • Bush-Gore debate of 2000 — Bush, 7.1, Gore, 8.4.
  • Cheney-Lieberman, V.P. Debate — Lieberman, 9.9; Dick Cheney, 9.1.

And for good measure, Hamlet’s ‘To Be or Not to Be Soliloquy’, Shakespeare, c. 1600, comes in at 10.6.

Now Kathleen Parker has considerably upped the ante when applied readability statistics in her premise about Barack Obama as the first ‘feminine president’ ….

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Keep Presidential Speeches Smart

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Medialand

Trevor Butterworth, 06.22.10

Trevor Butterworth is the editor of stats.org, an affiliate of George Mason University that looks at how numbers are used in public policy and the media. He writes a weekly column for Forbes.

If the Gulf oil spill is a national tragedy, the arguments over President Obama’s response to it have descended into a national farce. When former law professors go looking for “ass to kick,” they end up looking like the eponymous hero of Kickass, a nerdy kid copying moves he’s seen in comic books. The difference is that the fictional Kickass was ennobled by failure, which, sadly, is not the kind of outcome open to the President of the United States in matters of national importance.

Obama’s mistake was to respond to the Rock’Em Sock’Em Robots of punditry. The country didn’t want Spock at the helm during environmental armageddon, they protested; the situation demanded a theatrically-appropriate response–as if the presidency was the background music to the movie of our lives, rousing in adversity, compassionate in suffering, a boom box of linguistic effects.

If style is the image of character, you cannot go from the calmest, most judicious intellectual in the room to a Schwarzenegger character in leather trousers and expect to be perceived as authentic. This is why responding to his critics was the wrong thing to do. By following their lame advice, by trying to be someone he isn’t, Obama sounded bathetic.

All of this is an object lesson in how democracy isn’t helped by the media. Just as an analysis of the Katrina response shows that it was a complex systematic failure of government and not a simple fumble by George W. Bush and “heck of a job” Brownie, the Gulf oil spill is not really in the league of a car wreck caused by distracted texting. The very intractability of the problem demands openness, an admission of complexity and a detailed description of solutions that are being pursued. And yet, according to one manufacturer of conventional wisdom, the problem was not that Obama’s White House address on the spill was too simple or vague, it was that it wasn’t simple enough. As CNN reported:

“Obama’s speech may have gone over the heads of many in his audience, according to an analysis of the 18-minute talk released Wednesday by Paul J.J. Payack, president of Global Language Monitor. Tuesday night’s speech from the Oval Office of the White House was written to a 9.8 grade level, said Payack, who gave Obama a ‘solid B.’ His Austin, Texas-based company analyzes and catalogues trends in word usage and word choice and their impact on culture.”

The president’s 19.8 words per sentence apparently “added some difficulty for his target audience.” But 19.8 words is well within the breath of television’s cutthroat culture of political sound bites, which now stands at seven seconds. Indeed, as Elvin T. Lim notes in his brilliant historical and linguistic analysis of presidential rhetoric, The Anti-Intellectual Presidency, the average presidential sentence in recent years (as defined by speeches) has ranged from 15 to 20 words, well within the assumed attention span of the presumptive television viewer.

But now, even this is apparently too difficult for most Americans to follow. It gets worse. Take the following sentence from the President’s speech, “That is why just after the rig sank, I assembled a team of our nation’s best scientists and engineers to tackle this challenge–a team led by Dr. Steven Chu, a Nobel Prize-winning physicist and our nation’s Secretary of Energy.” According to Payack, this is the kind of phrasing that makes the President seem “aloof and out of touch.” It’s too professorial, too academic and not “ordinary enough.” Perhaps the President should just have tweeted “I got smart folks fixin’ to fix the oil spill” and let everyone go back to their regular broadcast fare or communicating with each other in grunts and clicks.

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Language mavens exchange words over Obama’s speech

STORY HIGHLIGHTS

  • Nearly 2,700 words with little jargon
  • People understand spoken and written word differently
  • Payack gives Obama “Solid B”

(CNN) — Language experts weighed in Thursday after poring over the nearly 2,700 words of President Obama’s Oval Office speech on the Gulf oil disaster.

“It was straightforward and easy to understand,” said Ron Yaros, assistant professor at the Philip Merrill College of Journalism at the University of Maryland, referring to the explanations of the crisis and its possible solutions. He divided the speech into 1,200 “idea units,” each of which represents a point the president was trying to make.

He then looked at how many of those idea units contained jargon — unexplained terms that the average person might not recognize — and found none in the 65 idea units that explained the problem.

Of the 417 idea units that discussed what Obama planned to do, “I found only one idea unit that probably would be potentially confusing to a nonexpert. That was the term ‘relief well.’ He never explained that.”

BP is digging a relief well that is expected to intersect with the blown-out well in August. At that point, BP plans to pump heavy drilling fluid into the runaway well, ending the flow.

“If you look at the entire speech, and you look at the amount of jargon, it came out to 1.5 percent,” he said.

iReporter:Obama’s speech too fuzzy on details

But Obama’s speech may have gone over the heads of many in his audience, according to an analysis of the 18-minute talk released Wednesday by Paul J.J. Payack, president of Global Language Monitor.

Tuesday night’s speech from the Oval Office of the White House was written to a 9.8 grade level, said Payack, who gave Obama a “solid B.” His Austin, Texas-based company analyzes and catalogues trends in word usage and word choice and their impact on culture.

He singled out this sentence from Obama as unfortunate: “That is why just after the rig sank, I assembled a team of our nation’s best scientists and engineers to tackle this challenge — a team led by Dr. Steven Chu, a Nobel Prize-winning physicist and our nation’s secretary of energy.”


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See “The Colbert Report’s”  Send-up of GLM’s Oval Office Analysis

“A little less professorial, less academic and more ordinary,” Payack recommended. “That’s the type of phraseology that makes you [appear] aloof and out of touch.”

Yaros disagreed, supporting the quality of the president’s explanation for spelling out the efforts under way, even if they have not succeeded in ending the flow.

“He’s just trying to be transparent,” Yaros said. “We can’t cure cancer, but I’m comforted to know that the best researchers in the nation are devoted to finding a cure.”

Payack found these three sentences insensitive: “Already, this oil spill is the worst environmental disaster America has ever faced. And unlike an earthquake or a hurricane, it is not a single event that does its damage in a matter of minutes or days. The millions of gallons of oil that have spilled into the Gulf of Mexico are more like an epidemic, one that we will be fighting for months and even years.”

“You shouldn’t be saying that in Katrina-land,” said Payack, referring to the 2005 hurricane that devastated the Gulf Coast. “New Orleans lost a third of its population [to evacuees who did not return]; it’s still recovering.”

But he praised Obama’s phrase “oil began spewing” as active and graphic.

Obama’s nearly 10th-grade-level rating was the highest of any of his major speeches and well above the grade 7.4 of his 2008 “Yes, we can” victory speech, which many consider his best effort, Payack said.

“The scores indicate that this was not Obama at his best, especially when attempting to make an emotional connection to the American people,” he added.

Though the president used slightly less than four sentences per paragraph, his 19.8 words per sentence “added some difficulty for his target audience,” Payack said.

Mark Liberman, a linguist at the University of Pennsylvania, was unimpressed with Payack’s criticism of the sentence length.

“I think we can all agree that those are shockingly long professor-style sentences for a president to be using, especially in addressing the nation after a disaster,” Liberman wrote on his blog.

“Why, they were almost as long as the ones that President George W. Bush, that notorious pointy-headed intellectual, used in his 9/15/2005 speech to the nation about Hurricane Katrina, where I count 3,283 words in 140 sentences, for an average of 23.45 words per sentence! And we all remember how upset the press corps got about the professorial character of that speech!”

Yaros challenged the value of Payack’s analysis. “There’s a tremendous amount of difference between analyzing the written word and interpreting the spoken word,” said Yaros, a former science reporter who studies how to make complex topics understandable.

Payack acknowledged Thursday in a telephone interview that his analysis is indeed based on a written version of the speech, but said that does not necessarily render it invalid. “With the internet, probably as many people read the transcript as heard it,” he said. “To think it’s not read and analyzed by tens of thousands of bloggers is looking at the old model.”

Yaros countered that he doesn’t just count words and sentences, but instead measures the audience’s comprehension of news content.

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