The ObamaCare jobs lost archive

Bob Kerrey is politically dead, and de mortuis nihil nisi bonum, so I'm going to replace his archive with a link to ObamaCare job losses.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Fake quotes: Ruth Thone and the Lincoln Journal Star

Ruth Thone is the wife of former Nebraska governor Charlie Thone. She has no particular distinction, except being a cranky old lady with a history of self-destructive habits. She's jumped on various feminist bandwagons, co-authoring books about women, weight, and aging. Oh yes, and she hates Israel.

Her latest effusion is a 'local view' column in the Lincoln Journal Star, a rabidly one sided castigation of Israel for its conduct in Gaza. Here, however, I'll just note that to attack the very existence and foundation of Israel, she used a nasty fabricated quote. This she attributes to David Ben Gurion, whom she calls 'an early prime minister of Israel' (He was first Prime Minister of Israel. Was that so hard to look up?). She attributes this to him:

We must use terror, assassination, intimidation, land confiscation and the cutting of all social services to rid the Galilee of the Arab population.
Now, if you Google this, you'll find it attributed to two sources; Ben Gurion is one, and the notorious Koenig memorandum is the second. That's the first big clue it's false; made up quotes are frequently attributed to multiple authors. Now the Koenig memorandum has been translated into English, and you can read it; it doesn't contain the quoted text. Go look. And the only source given when attributing it to Ben Gurion is the 1978 biography by Michael Bar-Zohar; wherein it doesn't appear. It's also completely out of character for Ben Gurion, who, while he was by no means a pacifist, would not have held these views and certainly would have never acknowledged them publicly. It is therefore almost certainly false. Not only did Ben Gurion never say it; most likely it's completely fabricated.

The Internet is awash in false quotations and false attributions. Often they're innocent. Anything said about intelligence or pantheistic deism is usually attributed to Einstein; anything wryly humorous to Twain; anything upliftingly patriotic to Churchill, etc.. But often, as in the present instance, they are downright malicious. My advice is the following; believe a quotation if it

  1. Appears in a primary source: i.e. a book by the author
  2. Appears in a contemporaneous secondary account from a reputable reporter: e.g. a New York Times account of a speech by Fiorello LaGuardia
  3. Appears in a reputable, careful compliation of quotations, like Bartlett. In my experience, Wikiquote is pretty reliable; note that the above quote does not appears in its list of attributed Ben Gurion quotes. But always, if the quote denigrates the person to which it's attributed, check a primary source!
  4. Appears in a reputable biography; a good biographer will almost certainly provide you with the primary source
Anything else is junk. Be especially careful if you find yourself chasing quotes from one web page to another, or if the quote's attributed to more than one person.

The second quote given by Thone

Why should the Arabs make peace? If I were an Arab leader I would never make terms with Israel. That is natural: we have taken their country
...can actually be properly sourced, to Nahum Goldmann, in The Jewish Paradox : A Personal Memoir of Historic Encounters that Shaped the Drama of Modern Jewry (1978). It's a 22 year old recollection of a conversation Goldmann said he had with Ben Gurion in 1956, and it supposedly is part of a pessimistic reflection by Ben Gurion on the future fate of Israel. Of course, Ben Gurion here is reporting the Palestinian point of view, not his own. And it's not really a quote from Ben Gurion, but an old recollection of a conversation with Ben Gurion, reported by a third party.

Lies, by my definition, do not just include deliberate falsehoods; they also include falsehoods repeated negligently, without due diligence as to their veracity. Thone, by this metric, is a liar, and the Lincoln Journal Star reproduced the lie. Their acknowledgment of this

The quotes at the bottom of this column by David Ben-Gurion are fake, some sources say. Their authenticitiy is in question.
is inadequate; the first quote is certainly falsified, and the second is a paraphrase of dubious reliability. Moreover, instead of owning up to an apologizing for publishing this trash, the LJS has tried to bury the evidence, by omitting Thone's piece from their opinion index.

What a pitiful excuse for a fishwrap.

(8/20/2014) The newspaper finally took the quotes down.
The original version of this column contained quotes from David Ben-Gurion, the first prime minister of Israel, that the Journal Star has concluded he never said. While the quotes have appeared in various publications, scholars have found no evidence that they can be attributed to Ben-Gurion. As a result, the Journal Star has removed them from this column.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Krugman wrong again

I know, I know, dog bites man. But he's wrong in an amusing way. To try to bolster his case that true scientists are Leftists (and not merely science fanbois) he shows the following.
Trouble is, the poll in question was not a random sampling of scientists, but was conducted among members of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. The vast majority of scientists are not AAAS members, and conversely AAAS members tend to be unrepresentative of scientists as a whole. You don't even have to be a scientist to be a member of AAAS. They don't ask if you have a science degree or work in a scientific field. AAAS also has a reputation for liberal advocacy and, now that Science magazine is available online to most working scientists, so you don't have to be a member to have easy access, it's increasingly an organization for people interested in 'Science policy'. The poll data were presented in a format that mentions the skewed sampling method only in an appendix, and Pew should be ashamed of themselves.

In any case, Krugman, an economist, probably claims to be a 'social scientist', but he's forgotten one of the most important principles of quoting other people's data: learn how they gathered it, before you cite it.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Lincoln Journal Star fails geography again

Their usual vacuous twaddle on the border crisis includes this:
Instead politicians are putting on sideshows, like Rep. Steve King’s assertion that Detroit has a worse murder rate than the countries the kids are fleeing. What buffoonery. Guatemala City has a murder rate twice that of Detroit.
Uhhh, Guatemale City isn't a country. Guatemala is. Guatemala had a 2012 murder rate of 39.9/100,000. Detroit had a 2012 murder rate of 54.6/100,000.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Heil Holder

The US Department of Justice sent a functionary to Norfolk, NE, today to 'investigate' the outbreak of political dissent, manifest in the 'Obama Presidential Library' float. The clear purpose of this is to intimidate the city and its residents, and to make it clear that open mockery of the Dear Leader will not be tolerated. And we slide further and further down the slope towards Banana Republic.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

"open to an interpretation that it was bigoted"

The eponymous nonsensical turn of phrase is used by the Lincoln Journal Star this morning to castigate the infamous Norfolk parade float which represented the Obama Presidential Library (yet to be built) as an outhouse. The phrase is nonsensical, of course, because everything of human construction is open to the interpretation that it is bigoted, especially in the hands of a skilled player of the race card. The newspaper naturally can't actually say it was bigoted, because there is nothing at all bigoted about it, and any claim to the contrary would be laughed at. The Norfolk float is trenchant political satire, but as I've shown multiple times, far less brutal than much of what was thrown at President George W Bush.

Beyond that, the editorial has essentially nothing to say; a few quotes from local polticians from Norfolk trying desperately to straddle the fence, allowing it was perhaps not quite in the very bast of taste, an American of Kenyan origin whom the Journal Star itself unearthed and who feels (in the absence of any actual argument) that criticism of her fellow American of Kenyan origin might be racist. They say nothing substantive, because they have nothing substantive to say. The float was protected political expression, not especially harsh by recent standards, and no one to my knowledge has come up with a cogent argument that it was racist.

This is, therefore, another sad example of liberal intolerance. It is crucial to remember that the Left can sometimes endure criticism, but it cannot ever abide mockery. The Left takes itself incredibly seriously, and experiences almost physical revulsion when held up to ridicule. All the more reason why the Left's opponents need to defend Mr Remmich and his float, because the Left would, if it could, shut down this entire area of contrary speech.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

My design for an Obama Presidential Library

Given the tempest in a teapot over the Norfolk Obama Presidential Library/Outhouse (trenchant but legitimate, if perhaps crude, prairie humor, IMO) I thought I'd do a much more eggheaded proposal for the design of the Obama Presidential Library, to be located, of course, on Oahu. Here are the 12 highlights.

(1) NSA intercepts reading room; here, in quiet surroundings, you will be able to settle into a comfortable computer desk and read the private emails of thousand of your fellow Americans! Find out what they think of their girlfriend's mother! Find out what they think about their boyfriends schlong! There will be selfies galore! And sexts! Even Anthony Wiener sexts!!

(2)The 'most transparent administration ever' FOIA room. With the help of our trained docents, yuu will be guided through the process of submitting a valid federal FOIA request. After submission, you can return in 2 or 3 years to pick up a genuine facsimile of a government document, with all but the words 'and' and 'the' redacted!

(3)'If you like your plan, you can keep your plan' healthcare center. After checking all your stuff with the guard at the door, you will experience a stunning multimedia experience, bouncing from '404 Page Not Found' to 'This server is temporarily busy, serving thousands of other customers' pages, until you finally get to select your very own healthcare plan, at only twice what you were paying last year! Then, on the way out, will will keep all your old stuff, but give you a bunch of new stuff you didn't want! Be sure to do this early, ss prices are going up up up!

(4) The Susan Rice Aviary. Watch and listen as carefully trained parrots squawk out dozens of human-sounding expressions, from 'It was all an internet video' to 'Iran will not be allowed to build nuclear weapons'.

(5) The 'Executive Order' whack a mole game! You get to play a Supreme Court Justice, trying to whack down Obama's unconstitutional actions as they pop up. You have to be sharp; when it comes to violating the constitution, no President has been as active as Mr. Obama.

(6) The 'Foreign Policy' reading room. This is completely unlit, and nobody knows what's going on in there, except it isn't good.

(7) The Obama toilet. No, it ain't an outhouse! This opulent, Hollywood-furnished pissoir (thanks, John Kerry!) has gold plated toilet paper holders which dispense copies of the constitution on soft, 3-ply tissue, as well as floor mats carefully inscribed with the words of the Fourth Amendment.

...and for the kids
(8) The Drone Targeting game. Here you get to select targets: 'wedding', 'orphanage', 'Tea Party', 'Samuel Alito', and 'Taliban*' But be careful. There's a 10% chance your drone may hit something you didn't expect!
*this may at any time be changed to 'Israel', depending on John Kerry's mood.

(9) The 'Fast and Furious' Massive Multiplayer Game. A true innovation. Like no other online game, Fast and Furious lets you earn weapons for your enemies, not yourself. Then they invade your territory and kill your guys! And if you make it through to the end, you get rewarded with a 'Contempt of Congress' sticker!

...and finally
(10) The Presidential Newspaper Reading Room, where copies of USA Today will brief you on all the shite your administration has been up to these last 6 years, while you were golfing on the...

(11) 36 Hole Private Presidential Golf-course. You can even play the course, for a $100,000 donation to Organizing for America!

...and last, but not least...
(12) The IRS 'what's your politics?' quiz. A simple online game that will challenge whether your political views are correct. But be careful! Score too low, and you'll trigger an audit!

Now, all together, 1, 2, 3, RWP is a racist!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

"It's soccer, not football"

Interesting piece on the usage of the word 'soccer', which peaked in the UK in 1980 but has been in decline since. The author suggested that American adoption of the word has been a driver of British disuse of it. I have another hypothesis.

While the word 'soccer' was widely used in the UK and Ireland while I was growing up, it tended to be used by 'quality' newspapers in the UK, and its purpose was to distinguish proletarian association football from rugby union football, which was played by the wealthy. My conjecture is that if you screened for usage rates of 'soccer' vs. 'football' by the Times and Telegraph, on the one hand, versus the Mirror and Sun, on the other, you'd find big differences. In Ireland it was somewhat different; we used 'soccer' to distinguish the game from Gaelic football. The working class in Britain just called soccer 'football'.

As the British boomers grew older and adopted leftish views, in a sort of inverted snobbery that's particularly common in the UK, they rejected their parents' 'soccer' in favor of 'football', as they embraced the egalitarian association football and rugby union became stereotyped as a game played by rich thugs. Now the word 'soccer' is associated with America and is rejected even more vehemently by these same people, but in 1980, when use of 'soccer' in Britain began to decline, nobody knew or cared much about American sport, or what words they used to describe it. It's only with the internet Britons have become so conscious of American usage.

So while the author's data on word usage are invaluable, I think his explanation is somewhat off-base. 'Soccer' iniitially became unfashionable in the UK for an entirely different reason.

Oh, and a belated h/t to Roger Pielke Jr. for tweeting the link to the piece.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Trademark cancellation request.

To: US Trademark Trial and Appeal Board
From: Gerard S. Harbison
Re: Request for revocation of trademark serial number 73305529, to University of Notre Dame
Date: June 18, 2014.

It has come to my attention that the University of Notre Dame, Indiana 46556, was granted a trademark on March 8, 1983, for the figure depicted below. As a dual citizen of the United States and the Republic of Ireland, I request cancellation of the trademark registration, per section 2 of the Trademark Act, 15 USC §1052, for the reason that it is grossly disparaging of citizens of the Republic of Ireland as well as Americans of Irish heritage.

The figure is classed ( inter alia) as a human engaged in sport, and is apparently associated with the nickname Fighting Irish, which the above institution has appropriated (without official sanction) for several of its sporting teams. The figure is a grotesque representation of a demeaning Irish stereotype, being misshapen; dwarfish; balding; with s garish shamrock-bedecked hat; a scowling expression; a deformed skull; a tiny emaciated body; huge feet (or badly fitting shoes); and a ridiculous beard. His (its?) fists are raised in a pugilistic attitude.

Note that Ireland is a peaceful nation which, unlike the United States, has fought no foreign wars since its independence, is officially neutral, and has contributed continuously to United Nations peacekeeping missions since 1958 (including no fewer than 13 current missions). Ireland has 10% of the per capita violent crime rate of the United States. The stereotype is therefore not only disparaging; it is grossly erroneous.

In addition, please note that the University of Notre Dame has no legitimate association with Ireland or the Irish. It was founded and is still run by a French religious order. It has been suggested that the nickname 'Irish' was originally an ethnic slur based on a perceived association between Irish and Roman Catholic. The name and the depiction are therefore offensive both in origin as well as current application. I fully understand that had they called themselves the 'Fighting French' the result would have been universal mockery. Still, that is no excuse.

I have previously complained to the President of Notre Dame about their use of the slur and the offensive depiction. I received only a form letter in reply. I therefore request that the US Trademark Trial and Appeal Board review this and similar trademarks held by Notre Dame and cancel those which are clearly ethnically offensive.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Pleistocene overkill confirmed

Peaceful indigenous people, living in harmony with their environment...

Uh, no. A study just published has confirmed the unfashionable but extremely plausible theory called Pleistocene Overkill. In summary, as our ancestors left Africa and spread out, first over Eurasia, Australia, and then to North and South America, they slaughtered and most probably devoured most of the the large animals. The totals are Africa 18, Asia 38, Australasia 26, Europe 19, North America 43 and South America 62. The extinctions correlate strongly with the arrival of hominins, and are far better correlated with our arrival than with climatic events.

The relationship between hominin palaeobiogeography and extinction magnitude is striking, with universally low extinctions in sub-Saharan Africa (maximum 13%), where hominins and the megafauna have long coexisted, but widespread exceptionally high extinction in Australia and the Americas, where modern humans were the first hominin present.
So if you think it's a shame there are no saber-tooth tigers, dire wolves, or marsupial lions any more, blame Native Americans or Australian Aboriginals. On the other hand, if your folk hailed from Europe, don't be smug; they wiped out pretty much everything, including mammoths, cave lions, wooly rhinos, and the magnificent Elasmotherium, a rhino-like beast as big as an elephant. Africans had the lowest body count, but probably only because the big beasts co-evolved with humans on that continent and learned to run away.

I still think Pleistocene Overkill would be a great name for a heavy metal band.