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Danehy

Tom ponders TV news, credit derivatives and Canadian cash

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A few things worth mentioning:

• Am I the only one who is dismayed by local TV-news people calling in "body-language experts" to try to discern whether there's something fishy about the way the parents of missing 6-year-old Isabel Celis are acting? You've got people going over the footage of press conferences, freezing frames and saying, "Oh, look, her eyes went up 22 degrees above horizontal. That means something." Yeah, maybe a fly buzzing around in the lights caught her attention, or maybe she was stifling a sneeze. Or maybe it does mean something sinister, but what, exactly? I just find this desperate attempt to find an "angle" unseemly and unprofessional.

I remember when the father of basketball legend Michael Jordan was killed. Media outlets stumbled over themselves to be the first to get "the story." There were hurriedly put-together stories about how the murder might have been connected to Michael Jordan's well-known gambling habit. Maybe the star had failed to pay a lost wager, or maybe he had gambled with the wrong people. Another story questioned whether it might have been racially motivated.

As it turned out, James Jordan Sr. was returning from a funeral when he pulled his brand-new Lexus into a rest stop on Interstate 95 to take a nap. Two knuckleheads—one white, one black—came upon the shiny new car, shot Jordan to death while he slept, and stole the vehicle. Pretty much Knucklehead 101. Then they stole a couple of NBA championship rings from the car and used James Jordan's cell phone to call people, which is how they got caught so easily. Advanced Knucklehead.

Oh, and the white guy was wearing a Michael Jordan T-shirt when he got arrested.

I know it's sometimes boring and mundane to just report the news—plus, it's sweeps month, and everybody wants to move up to the No. 69 media market. (Tucson is No. 70.) But, gee whiz, people, show a little decorum.

• I actually looked up that media-market thing. Our homies at Inside Tucson Business ran a piece on how Tucson's TV market actually shrank. I don't see how that's possible. I've been in Best Buy on the day after Thanksgiving.

Tucson had been as high as No. 66 in the country and was at 67 before the latest adjustment. Somehow, Tucson lost 4.2 percent of its TV households from the previous year. Phoenix lost 3.7 percent to drop from No. 12 to No. 13. Of the top 20 markets, only Houston, Miami and Orlando gained TV households.

The most amazing thing is that more than two-thirds of the U.S. TV markets (141 of 210) lost TV households. You don't think that those VW buses with the "Kill Your Television" bumper stickers are actually having an impact, do you?

• Note to all those Republicans (Jesse Kelly) and other misfits who think that the problem with corporate America and the banking industry is too much regulation: JPMorgan Chase lost 2 BILLION DOLLARS in a very short period of time due to bad bets on credit derivatives (which should not be regulated, but should be outlawed altogether). Not only that, but the $2 billion in losses could be traced to one guy whose sole job is to hedge bets to make sure the bank doesn't lose too much money on any one deal.

Here's what the bank said in its press release: The chief investment office "has had significant mark-to-market losses in its synthetic credit portfolio, and this portfolio has proven to be riskier, more volatile and less effective as an economic hedge than the firm previously believed."

Synthetic credit portfolio?! That sounds like a flesh-eating disease, which, in a way, it is.

You know how you should never buy a hamburger at a pizza place? Why can't banks just be happy doing bank stuff? Making loans, overcharging for checking accounts, ... you know, crap like that. Why do they feel the need to make huge bets on things that don't even exist? Maybe if a few bankers went to prison, the ones who follow in their tiny footsteps would think twice before rolling the dice on an arcane mathematical formula that no one understands.

• Finally, did you see the thing about the new Canadian $20 bill? They're using a polymer note with a variety of images to help prevent counterfeiting and extend the life of the bills. They commissioned a study to check on Canadians' responses to the new bills—and got quite an earful.

On the front of the bill is a picture of the Canadian National Vimy Memorial, which is in France and commemorates the 1917 Battle of Vimy Ridge in World War I. Unfortunately, the majority of Canadians who looked at the bills mistook the memorial for the twin towers of the World Trade Center. Plus, there are Grecian statues of nude women representing truth, justice, charity, knowledge and peace—statues that most of the swingin' Canadians found to be "pornographic."

This isn't the first time this has happened. Members of focus groups saw a skull and crossbones and Pinocchio on the new Canadian $50 bill. And on the new $100 bill, some people mistook the double-helix DNA strand for a "sex toy" or the Big Dipper, which might just be redundant.

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