“Have you ever wondered if Chef stacks the deck for the staff poker game?” Professor Plum inquired. “I’m not saying she does. I’m just asking.”

He read the mail. (More)

Having asked the question, Professor Plum left with Ms. Scarlet to join the resident faculty in the wine cellar library, where they’ll spend the weekend drinking thinking on our motto of Magis vinum, magis verum (“More wine, more truth”). Chef took no umbrage, in part because we’re all out (note to self: restock) and in part because the staff poker game uses a shuffling machine. The players take turns operating the machine, except for the Squirrel, who has avoided it since an unfortunate incident involving his tail.

Indeed the Professor of Astrology Janitor had just run the shuffler and dealt the cards, so there was no way Chef could be responsible for the Seven of Clubs and Deuce of Diamonds he found when he peeked at his cards. Feeling adventurous, he opened with a raise and Chef called. He concealed his delight when the King of Hearts and the Seven and Deuce of Spades came on the flop, and offered a pot-sized bet. Yet again, Chef called. The Jack of Clubs on the turn seemed innocuous enough, so he bet again. Now Chef raised, and the Professor of Astrology Janitor faced a quandary. Might Chef have a pair of Jacks, for three of a kind? A King and a Jack, for a higher two pair? Might she be bluffing with the King and another Spade, hoping he would fold or that she would make a second pair or flush at the river?

He decided his adventure with Seven-Deuce – the worst possible starting hand in Texas Hold’Em – had come to an end, and turned over his cards as he folded. Chef graciously showed him her King and Jack of Spades, and he began his plaintive mewling. Chef left to make Cheesy Pigs in a Blanket, leaving your lowly mail room clerk to review the week’s correspondence….

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Dear Ms. Crissie,

I wasn’t kidding in my Tweets about President Obama cooking this month’s jobs report. Those Chicago boys couldn’t change the debate so they changed the numbers. I have no evidence of corruption. None whatsoever. So I should have put a question mark at the end of that, let’s face it. But it’s too important to not have a long discussion about how it’s arrived and what the assumptions are. It is ironic the assumptions came this way the month before the election. You draw your own conclusions. I’m just raising the question.

Jack in MA

Dear Jack,

We applaud you for admitting that you have no evidence to back up your outlandish claim. We also agree the media should learn and help Americans better understand the data and models that are used to estimate and forecast unemployment and other key economic statistics. As New York Times‘ statistics maven Nate Silver notes, these estimates are based on incomplete data and are often revised later, and initial reports of job growth should be read with the phrase “plus or minus about 170,000 jobs.”

That’s not an indictment of economists at the Bureau of Labor Statistics, career employees who use the same process every month and work with the best data they can get. But that data is inherently fuzzy, and monthly job reports use numbers that are gathered in different ways. However, this month’s job report fits other recent data such as consumer confidence and auto sales – which both recorded post-2008 highs last month – and the BLS revisions for July and August brought their numbers closer to earlier reports by the independent firm Automatic Data Processing.

Yet while we agree that Americans should read all initial economic reports with caution, we also note that you and other Republicans applied no such caution to negative reports. For example, Mitt Romney described the August jobs report – since revised upward by almost 30% – as “a hangover” after the Democratic National Convention. We’re left to wonder why you and so many Republicans cheer when hard-working American families get bad news, spew outlandish conspiracy theories when those hard-working families get good news, yet still campaign under the slogan “Believe in America.” It seems you only “Believe in America” … when someone from your party is in the White House.

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Dear Ms. Crissie,

I saw the words “data,” “numbers,” and “statistics” and my mind went blank. So, is the Squirrel’s tail okay after that incident with the shuffling machine? Oh, and how do I make Chef’s Cheesy Pigs in a Blanket?

Mindless for Breakfast in Blogistan

Dear Mindless for Breakfast,

We are pleased to have helped you achieve that Zen-like state, and pleased to report that the Squirrel’s tail is fine. He lost a few hairs, but they quickly grew back.

As for Chef’s Cheesy Pigs in a Blanket, the recipe is very simple. First fry eight links of breakfast sausage in a skillet, then open a package of refrigerated crescent roll dough and lay each roll out in a triangle. Cut four slices of cheddar cheese in half diagonally, place one half-slice on each roll, then place a link of breakfast sausage on the cheese and roll the dough around it. Place the rolls on a lightly-greased cookie sheet and bake at 375° for 12-15 minutes, until golden brown. Bon appétit!

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Sources:

Jack in MA; have no evidence of corruption; should have put a question mark at the end; draw your own conclusions; just raising the question; plus or minus about 170,000 jobs; career employees who use the same process every month; jobs report fits other recent data; closer to earlier reports by ADP; a hangover.

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Happy Sunday!