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Journal: As long as we're quoting McArdle 4

Journal by smitty_one_each
We should note how wildly unimpressed she is with the new Census Bureau policy, which will add a little more sewage to the river of effluent that we know and love as ObamaCare.
Disgrace is the new pride, I suppose.
Ram_Digitstars isn't going to be happy until we get Single Prey-er, so hopefully this latest crap infusion helps him.
User Journal

Journal: Lies, damned lies, and ... oh no, you're going there. 1

Journal by Daniel Dvorkin

[cranky rant warning]

"Lies, damned lies, and statistics." It's coming up again with depressing frequency, being used as an argument instead of a snide observation.

Okay, here's the thing. Can you lie with statistics? Sure. Statistics is a branch of mathematics*, and math is a language; you can lie in that language as easily as in any other. Does this mean all statistics are lies? No more than all statements in any language are lies--and if you believe that, you've gone so far down the rabbit hole of anti-intellectual mysticism that you'll probably never find your way out.

Meanwhile, in the real world, and in the ever-expanding torrent of data we have about that world, statistics as a discipline is pretty much the only hope we have of understanding anything. The low-hanging fruit has been picked. The equations we learn in Physics 101 are as valid as they ever were, but they're not nearly enough. No matter how certain you think you are, no matter how many times you repeat your experiment and get the same result, if you don't do the statistical tests you don't actually know whatever it is you think you know. And if you do the tests--well, you may still be wrong, but you can at least quantify your uncertainty. And you have to do that, because you can always be wrong.

None of this is meant to defend the misuse of statistics, any more than as a writer I'd defend the misuse of natural language. People can and do wilfully misinterpret statistics, or cherry-pick them, or just outright make them up, and those are bad things. Guess what? They do that with every other kind of statement too. At least half of statisticians' job is fact-checking, and it's a charge we gladly accept.

So the next time you're tempted to say "lies, damned lies, and statistics," or "figures don't lie but liars figure," or "correlation does not imply causation" or any of its variants, or post the umpteen-thousandth link to "How To Lie With Statistics," and think you're being clever--please, just stop. Because one thing I am so sure of that I don't even need to put a p-value on it is that if you feel the need to resort to any of those lazy, thought-free responses, you don't know enough about the issue at hand to have an informed opinion, and the best thing you can possibly do for yourself and everyone else is to keep quiet.

*Opinions vary on this issue, but if statistics isn't exactly a branch of mathematics, we can at least say that math is the language in which it's written.

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Journal: Democrats playing the race card? Surely as the sun riseth 25

Journal by smitty_one_each
George Will:

"Liberalism has a kind of Tourette Syndrome these days," Will said. "It's constantly saying the words racism and racist. There's an old saying, 'If you have the law on your side, argue the law. If you have the facts on your side, argue the facts. If you have neither, pound the table.' This is pounding the table. There's a kind of intellectual poverty now. Liberalism hasn't had a new idea since the 1960s, except Obamacare, and the country doesn't like it."
"Foreign policy is a shambles from Russia to Iran to Syria to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict," he added. "And, the recovery is unprecedentedly bad. So, what do you do? You say anyone who criticizes us is a racist. It's become a joke among young people. You go to a campus where this kind of political correctness reigns and some young person says, 'It looks like it's going to rain.' And, the person next to him looks and says, 'You're a racist.' It's so inappropriate. The constant invocation of this that it is becoming a national mirth."

What does Will mean?:

Israel, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, whose major role is the get House members re-elected, told CNN's "State of the Union" that not all of his Republican colleagues are racist.
"Not all of them, of course not," he said. "But to a significant extent, the Republican base does have elements that are animated by racism."

If Israel isn't dropping specific names/instances, then I don't take him seriously and think he's less than forthright.
In defense of Israel, this is the sort of squishy rhetoric that brought you the ruin of ObamaCare, so at least he's consistent with his party.

And of course the usual sycophants will claim that the URLs go to Unapproved Sites or something. Before you bore me: get a life.

User Journal

Journal: Interested in seeing Colbert in a !Report mode 24

Journal by smitty_one_each
I've always liked Colbert. Taking myself too seriously has never been among my otherwise multitudinous shortcomings. Otherwise I couldn't deal with some of the jokers around here at all. Thus, I've always enjoyed Colbert's skewering of his mindless conservative strawman. The strawman certainly isn't real, so what's the harm?
More to the point, Colbert has actual talent. His interviews display a mind that plays chess three moves ahead of the victim, throwing out delightful inversions all over the place.
I think he'll surprise a lot of people on Letterman. I may even try to TiVo an episode, and even watch a couple of minutes.
User Journal

Journal: Benghazi 14

Journal by smitty_one_each
Mighty nice of Boehner:

The administration has not told the American people the truth about Benghazi.
We've been going through all of these hearings, having to hold people in contempt, because they've made it impossible to get to the documents.
They have not been forthcoming. They owe the American people the truth.
And when it comes to Benghazi, we've got four Americans who are dead, and their families deserve the truth about what happened. And the administration refuses to tell them the truth.

Well, I sure am glad that I didn't waste any time on a fool's errand reading Pravda on the Hudson (NYT) or "Dingy Harry's Tale of the Fairy" on the topic of Benghazi.
Not that I doubt that Boehner, himself, doesn't know more than HE is telling, too. If he REALLY had his panties abunch, he might have brought HR36 to a vote.

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Journal: Facts are not evidence, to some 25

Journal by smitty_one_each

Hank Aaron equated Republicans who oppose President Barack Obama's policies to the KKK.
Aaron implied that conservatives are racists who now wear "neckties and starched shirts" instead of hoods.
In an interview with USA Today's Bob Nightengale on Tuesday, "Hammerin' Hank" lamented that the country has not progressed far enough on race relations, saying that though the nation has a black president, "President Obama is left with his foot stuck in the mud from all of the Republicans with the way he's treated."

Correlation is not causation, however; the evil Republicans could have been after Hank with the Orbital Mind Control Lasers and forced him to say that.
Also, a vast swath of public figures elected and otherwise who make idiotic statements does not a conspiracy make.
Let's just not go there.

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Journal: Propaganda 'Truth': Opposition to Obama is Racist 62

Journal by smitty_one_each
Emphasis mine:

A few weeks ago, the liberal comedian Bill Maher and conservative strategist and pundit Bill Kristol had a brief spat on Maher's HBO show, putatively over what instigated the tea party but ultimately over the psychic wound that has divided red America and blue America in the Obama years. The rise of the tea party, explained Maher in a let's-get-real moment, closing his eyes for a second the way one does when saying something everybody knows but nobody wants to say, "was about a black president." Both Maher and Kristol carry themselves with a weary cynicism that allows them to jovially spar with ideological rivals, but all of a sudden they both grew earnest and angry. Kristol interjected, shouting, "That's bullshit! That is total bullshit!" After momentarily sputtering, Kristol recovered his calm, but his rare indignation remained, and there was no trace of the smirk he usually wears to distance himself slightly from his talking points. He almost pleaded to Maher, "Even you don't believe that!"
"I totally believe that," Maher responded, which is no doubt true, because every Obama supporter believes deep down, or sometimes right on the surface, that the furious opposition marshaled against the first black president is a reaction to his race. Likewise, every Obama opponent believes with equal fervor that this is not only false but a smear concocted willfully to silence them.

I can only plead my life, having served with Americans of all stripes: I'm not racist. I don't think you can find substantial actual racism much of anywhere (though somebody is always willing to carry a Confederate Battle Flag for a few bucks, I'm sure.)
No, the race card has just been a convenient foil, no more. A bin into which all legitimate criticism can be swept. In a way, one must confess it's been a handy device.

"Look! There! Evil!.. pure and simple, total evil from the Eighth Dimension!" -- Buckaroo Banzai

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