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April 30, 2008

Thank mankind for stopping global cooling

The latest pronouncement from the global-warming crowd (via Ace) is that there might not be any global warming at all for the next decade, because natural cooling is canceling out the warming.

Global warming will be "put on hold" over the next decade because of natural climate variations, scientists claim.

A study of sea temperature changes predicts a lull as traditional climate cycles cancel out the heating effect of greenhouse gases from pollution.

* * *

... the study by Dr Noel Keenlyside, of the Leibniz Institute of Marine Sciences in Germany, predicts the temperature of the North Atlantic around Europe and North America may cool slightly.

* * *

Writing in the journal Nature today, the scientists said: "Our results suggest global surface temperature may not increase over the next decade."

Dr Richard Wood of the Met Office Hadley Centre, said: 'Such a cooling could temporarily offset the longerterm warming from increasing levels of greenhouse gases.

"That emphasises the need to consider climate variability and climate change together when making predictions over timescales of decades."
But they don't want anyone to get complacent about the threat of warming, just because it's not actually happening.
But scientists say rising carbon dioxide levels caused by man will send temperatures up again after the natural trends peak and will continue to rise in following decades.

UN experts have said global temperatures are expected to increase by 0.3c over the next decade.
Let me explain this in mathematical terms. If NC is natural cooling and GW is global warming, then the change (△) is this:

△ NC + △ GW ≤ 0

Because of natural cooling, the increase in temperatures caused by global warming is at least fully offset.

This is a lot more interesting, however, if you look at it the other way. Without global warming, we'd be seeing a significant drop in temperatures. With global warming, that drop is small.

To put this differently, we should thank mankind for preventing global cooling.

Click here to read more . . .

April 29, 2008

Doom at the Democratic Convention

Some of us thought it couldn't get any better. Hillary and Obama were mercilessly attacking each other, causing their supporters to become embittered (without clinging to guns and religion). The superdelegates were dithering, leaving the resolution of the nomination to the Convention itself. People were suggesting that a totally new candidate be brought in. Some groups were threatening violence in Denver, shades of Chicago 1968.

But now, it does get better, much better: The Democrats have hired Microsoft to run the technical end of the Convention.

Get a load of this, from the link above: "For Microsoft's part, the software giant said in a statement that the Democratic National Convention Committee (DNCC) picked it to 'create a technically flawless event and engage more people in the Convention experience using cutting-edge technology.'"

Microsoft? A "technically flawless event"? Seriously?

Here's what I foresee. Obama or Hillary up on the stage, giving the acceptance speech for the hard-fought nomination.



And right there in the middle of the speech, Microsoft's technical prowess is put on display for millions of viewers to see:





UPDATE: Old Bill Gates video.

UPDATE: Is that you, Bill?

Click here to read more . . .

Obama goes all pre-Socratic

"No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it's not the same river and he's not the same man."

-- Heraclitus


"The person that I saw yesterday was not the person that I met 20 years ago."

-- Barack Obama

Click here to read more . . .

April 28, 2008

Peter James chats with Ron Paul's cocker spaniel

"Peter James is our Republican candidate in Maryland's 4th Congressional District. Peter faces a special election on June 17, which provides a unique opportunity for us to pick up this seat. There will likely be low voter turn out, so it is absolutely essential that Republicans, and liberty-loving independents and Democrats, go out to vote for Peter. Time is short and this election is rapidly approaching, please do what you can to help Peter today."

-- Ron Paul


Peter James: I can't tell you how tickled I am to get Dr. Paul's endorsement.

"Dr. Paul's" Cocker Spaniel:

Peter James: You know, this is big. Really big.

"Dr. Paul's" Cocker Spaniel:

Peter James: Because there's no one in the world more highly regarded by the voters in Maryland's Fourth Congressional District than Dr. Paul.

"Dr. Paul's" Cocker Spaniel:

Peter James: I mean, just the other day, I went into a grocery store in District 4, and all they could talk about was monetary policy and the private banking monopoly.

"Dr. Paul's" Cocker Spaniel:

Peter James: It was in District Heights. You know the store I'm thinking of, right?

"Dr. Paul's" Cocker Spaniel:

Peter James: They just love Dr. Paul.

"Dr. Paul's" Cocker Spaniel:

Peter James: They agreed with me that it was outrageous how Dr. Paul was blamed for the things someone else wrote in Dr. Paul's newsletter under his name.

"Dr. Paul's" Cocker Spaniel:

Peter James: It was just like the way people are punishing Barack Obama now for belonging to Jeremiah Wright's church.

"Dr. Paul's" Cocker Spaniel:

Peter James: You can't expect a man to know what his pastor has been saying for 20 years, and you sure can't expect a man to know what's being written in his name in his own newsletter.

"Dr. Paul's" Cocker Spaniel:

Peter James: Because Dr. Paul's a busy man.

"Dr. Paul's" Cocker Spaniel:

Peter James: Fighting efforts to cover up the answers to what happened on September 11.

"Dr. Paul's" Cocker Spaniel:

Peter James: Not that he believes that George Bush personally ordered the destruction of the World Trade Center.

"Dr. Paul's" Cocker Spaniel:

Peter James: Just that questions have been raised, and if you can't trust the government to tell the truth about monetary policy, how can you be sure it's telling the truth about controlled demolition?

"Dr. Paul's" Cocker Spaniel:

Peter James: And all of the liberties we've lost since that day are nothing but attempts to provide an unattainable security for us.

"Dr. Paul's" Cocker Spaniel:

Peter James: Because the only way for us to have complete security is to build a maximum-security prison for all of us.

"Dr. Paul's" Cocker Spaniel:

Peter James: And if we can't have complete security, then we should surely have none.

"Dr. Paul's" Cocker Spaniel:

Peter James: At least if it interferes with our liberties.

"Dr. Paul's" Cocker Spaniel:

Peter James: Like our God-given right to use controlled substances.

"Dr. Paul's" Cocker Spaniel:

Peter James: And our right to sacrifice animals.

"Dr. Paul's" Cocker Spaniel:

Peter James: Only kidding about that. Because, you know, Santeria was the official state religion of Maryland for five years.

"Dr. Paul's" Cocker Spaniel:

Peter James: Google it.

"Dr. Paul's" Cocker Spaniel:

Peter James: You'll find it on my official campaign website.

"Dr. Paul's" Cocker Spaniel:

Peter James: So it's obviously true.

"Dr. Paul's" Cocker Spaniel:

Peter James: I'm sure Dr. Paul would agree with me.

"Dr. Paul's" Cocker Spaniel:

Peter James:

"Dr. Paul's" Cocker Spaniel: Yeah, I'll bet. The man probably paid as much attention to your endorsement as he did to what appeared in his newsletter. You beat that Zionist Likudnik "Moshe" in the primary, which was more than enough for him. And it's my considered opinion that you have as much chance of joining the man in Congress as you have of seeing over 4000 vaginas, like the man himself.


UPDATE (5/13): In my previous update below, I said that I didn't take a screenshot of the Peter James campaign website before it was redesigned and the Santeria statement removed. But upon checking one of my other computers, I discovered that I actually did take a screenshot. Click on the image below to see a larger version.




UPDATE (5/10): Pillage Idiot gets results? I'm not sure, but...

Sadly, I didn't take a screenshot of James' website, because James's re-designed site now leaves out his claim that Santeria was once the official state religion. But I can leave you with this, from the site of Steve Schulin, the District 4 candidate of the Maryland Independent Party, whatever that may be:
Congratulations to Peter James for removing Santeria story from his web page

My opponent has removed the Santeria story discussed below from his web page. He has also removed his disclosure of how he intends to spend most of his time if elected to be our Representative. I don't know if he has changed his mind about his priorities. I hope he'll publicly elaborate on the matter.
Schulin's entry (the "story discussed below") is this:
A call to Peter James to back up what he says about the Santeria story

As part of trying to verify the interesting story offered by my opponent (as highlighted here a couple of days ago), I called up the Library and Legislative Services librarians at the state Department of Legislative Services in Annapolis. A very nice librarian named Anette found no evidence for the specific claim about the 1987 rider or the 1992 repeal. She also looked through the entire record of who had served in the state legislature and there is no Charles Highweather amongst them. She also searched her Department's clippings during the alleged repeal timeframe from Baltimore paper the The Sun. No mention. So I respectfully ask Peter James to back up the story or stop spreading it as if it were fact.
And here's a small screenshot from Schulin's site (in case that gets re-designed) quoting James's claim about Santeria. I've outlined the key part in red:




Previous:

Ron Paul chats with his cocker spaniel, Part 4

Ron Paul chats with his cocker spaniel, Part 3

Ron Paul chats with his cocker spaniel, Part 2

Ron Paul chats with his cocker spaniel

Click here to read more . . .

April 27, 2008

Lolmichelle, Part 3

Click here to read more . . .

Sunday evening linkfest

Passover has (finally) ended, and now, once again, it's time for a linkfest of links that have been forming plaque on the walls of my intertubes for the past two weeks or so. Some of them are seriously OLD, but I want you to have them, anyway. Please stay with me till the end, because way at the bottom of this post, I have a couple of future classics from the Sunday New York Times that are almost worth the price of the paper.

1. In the past couple of weeks, the biggest issue in politics, in case you're a Japanese World War II fighter who's been holed up in the Pacific until yesterday, has been whether Obama flipped the bird at Hillary while speaking to his supporters following the final debate in Pennsylvania. The Hillarosphere demands to know. And Baseball Crank has another photo that may provide circumstantial evidence.

2. The Democrats' Nightmare Scenario (via Instapundit)

3. More popcorn, please!

4. McCain goes to NOLA, and an African-American participant at a town-hall meeting says this: "I want to inform you that everybody in the camp here is not a Republican." Does he mean (a) literally no one is a Republican, or (b) colloquially, not everyone is a Republican? Who cares, anyway, besides anal-retentive grammar wackos like me?

5. As Warner Wolf might have said, if you studied math in school since about 1961 . . . YOU LOST! On a related topic, Hillary Clinton does some math trolling for delegates and votes from Michigan.

6. Gov. O'Malley calls a special session of the legislature to pass a law declaring the official state dessert of Maryland. (Only kidding about the special session. Beats the hell out of raising our taxes, though.)

7. The man-cave: "Like most stories that end up with a man mowing his friend's lawn in a dress, it started out innocently enough." (via Fark, of course)

8. Sometimes it pays to test your personal machinery before reporting its theft by voodoo to police. As the police chief himself put it: "'I'm tempted to say it's one huge joke,' Oleko said.
'But when you try to tell the victims that their penises are still there, they tell you that it's become tiny or that they've become impotent. To that I tell them, "How do you know if you haven't gone home and tried it",' he said."

9. Public Service Announcement: Be careful when eating in Canadian restaurants.

10. "Le Petit Singly is a farm that specializes in making cheese from women's breast milk." (via Ace)

11. This one's so old, it's already been overtaken by events. You remember the McLean school that banned tag in the schoolyard? Well, tag's back, but not before a week of "reorientation lessons on playground safety." I swear I'm not making that term up.

12. Patch (for women) aims to make you (not you, you) feel sexy. (via Ace)

13. Rick Monday saves the flag. In 1976. But now, there's a video.

14. American expat in Paris whines about the falling dollar. My heart bleeds.

15. False advertising from Moron Pundit: a very non-moronic defense of the tax deduction for child dependents.

16. Doubleplusundead on more misery with McCain. For me, if you want to know why McCain hasn't sealed the deal with conservatives -- I'm going to vote for him, anyway -- read George Will's column this morning. Two words: campaign finance.

17. The Children of Israel were enslaved in Egypt by a Pharaoh who took great pleasure in persecuting gays, who were brutally forced to arrange flowers for the Egyptians. Hence, the orange on the seder plate. Funny, I had always heard that it was supposed to represent Pharaoh's fear of the vagina.

18. And finally, the moment you've been waiting for -- the two classics from today's New York Times: (a) In the travel section: "In 2007, nude recreation represented a $440 million industry — up from $400 million in 2001 and $200 million in 1992." (b) In Sunday Styles: A family adjusts to the father's sex change -- "Through Sickness, Health and Sex Change."

Click here to read more . . .

April 25, 2008

Mets botch an easy one

Last night, I had a chance to see my first game at the new Nationals' Park in Washington. The Mets were in town, and since I'm a fan, I took a friend for his birthday, along with my sons. This photo is taken from the plaza in left-center field, where you arrive if you come in from the Metro.


I bought the tickets online about two weeks ago. Although it turned out there were many empty seats at the game, for some reason the only seats they would sell me two weeks ago were up in the Goodyear blimp, if you know what I mean. At least I had a partial view of the Capitol dome.


It seemed as if most of the people there were Mets fans, at least up in the Mets Ghetto, where I was sitting in nosebleed territory. Whenever the few Nats fans would start a cheer, we'd shout them down. My own contribution was to shout, "Boring! Boring!" We used to do this in college, when the other school's marching band was performing at half-time. This, I want you to know, is called highly mature behavior.

The seats may have been in the stratosphere, but they were otherwise not too bad. For example, if you wanted an aerial, bird's eye view of the Carlos Delgado shift, we were in exactly the right location. This is a picture from the fifth inning, showing the infielders on the right side of the diamond. (The third baseman was slightly to the left of second base.) Delgado grounded into a fielder's choice at second base -- 6-5, shortstop to third baseman. Seriously. (Considering Delgado's hitting below the Mendoza Line these days, the whole shift is a waste of time.)


The worst thing about the seats was that people kept coming and going, forcing the folks in front of us to stand and block our view.


The Mets blew a 3-run lead with abysmal pitching and failed to catch up with lackluster hitting. Totally pathetic. But we saw Felipe Lopez hit a grand slam for the Nats. Yes, THE Felipe Lopez. (Earlier this week, the Mets gave up a grand slam homer to THE Ronny CedeƱo of the Cubs.)

Here are reports on the game from Yahoo and MetsBlog. I can't stomach any further description myself.

Click here to read more . . .

April 23, 2008

Just say yes

Students in high school are sometimes a bunch of twerps, and students who run high-school newspapers are sometimes twerps squared. But this doesn't mean they're always wrong.

This fact is a useful one to keep in mind when you're a high-school administrator who's considering whether to permit an article to be published in the high-school newspaper.

Case in point: Moreno Carrasco, the principal of Richard Montgomery High School, one of the county high schools located in Rockville, has come under scrutiny for possibly running a consulting business on school time (and allegedly plagiarizing promotional materials for his training program). Carrasco is now on medical leave for an unspecified condition. The allegations have been the talk of the town.

So naturally the kids who run the school newspaper wanted to write an article about it. Veronica McCall, the acting principal, told them they couldn't publish the article while the investigation of Carrasco was continuing. The kids took it upstairs to the "Community Superintendent," who allowed the article to be published.

Why would the acting principal try to stop an article on what seems like a perfectly reasonable subject to write about?

McCall said she still disagrees with printing the article and thinks it is a "disruption to the instructional environment" with year-end exams coming up.

"I am not in support of publishing the article in The Tide newspaper," she said. "I want the students and staff to be focused on education."
This explanation makes no sense whatsoever. The matter has been discussed repeatedly in the local press. And why shouldn't students read about it in the school newspaper, assuming they read the school newspaper at all? It hardly seems to be a disruption to the educational environment.

I've actually had the opportunity to meet Ms. McCall in a professional situation, and I was very impressed with her. So I chalk this up to a simple error in judgment based on the uncomfortable position she must feel she's in.

But there's always going to be something uncomfortable for a school administrator, and there will always be a sense that students working for the school newspaper are annoying twerps. It's at precisely those times that a school administrator needs to keep this fact in mind: Sometimes the simplest and most correct answer is Yes.

UPDATE (4/30): The article in the student newspaper has been published. For the record, it contains one allegation involving Ms. McCall similar to the one I edited out of the first comment to this post.

UPDATE (6/12): Carrasco cleared, moved to another job.

Click here to read more . . .

April 22, 2008

Lolmichelle, Part 2

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April 21, 2008

Expanded template

You may have noticed a change in the Pillage Idiot template to three columns. I owe the modifications to this amazingly clear post.

I did it, because I was concerned that my sidebar was getting way too long and that some of the important elements were being lost. The three-column format is a little busy, but I think I'll get used to it. I hope you will.

Click here to read more . . .

Lolmichelle

Click here to read more . . .

Carnival of Maryland -- 31st edition

The 31st edition of the Carnival of Maryland is up at On the Red Line. Click on over and check out all the posts over there.

The 32nd edition of the Carnival is scheduled for Sunday, May 4, to be hosted at Inside Charm City.

Send in your submissions by using the Blog Carnival form.

Click here to read more . . .

April 18, 2008

Note

I'm away this weekend, visiting family for the seders.

Be sure to check On The Red Line on Sunday for the 31st edition of the Carnival of Maryland.

Click here to read more . . .

April 17, 2008

Throwing open the prison doors

Arthur Schlesinger Jr. had a theory that history occurs in 30-year cycles. That seemed intriguing to me at first, but I stopped believing in it when we failed to have massive turmoil on campus during the 1990s.

Still, there's a slight element of truth to it, especially if you read Marie Gottschalk's op-ed piece in Tuesday's Washington Post, which is called "Two Separate Societies: One in Prison, One Not." The piece ostensibly is about the civil-rights crisis we now face, because we have so many people in prison. But the real goal of the article is to turn the clock back 30 years to the 1970s, when we had a lax attitude about punishment for crime and (not coincidentally) a high crime rate.

Laying the foundation for her argument about two societies, Gottschalk starts out by quoting the report of the Kerner Commission.

Forty years ago, the Kerner Commission concluded in its landmark study of the causes of racial disturbances in the United States in the 1960s: "Our nation is moving toward two societies, one black, one white -- separate and unequal." Today we are still moving toward two societies: one incarcerated and one not.
The Kerner Commission report's outrageous statement about 1960s America was not even correct when the report was released in February 1968; our nation, which had recently seen the enactment of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, not to mention the Fair Housing Act soon thereafter in 1968, was then moving with determination toward eliminating the two separate socities, which already existed. There was strong support then among white Americans for that goal, or else it could not have been achieved. And in the years since 1968, the report has proved to be a lot of alarmist nonsense.

This is what Gottschalk uses to make her rhetorical point about prisons.

She has two main arguments. First, she claims we have too many people in the criminal-justice system. Gottschalk is alarmed by the fact that 7 million people are "either incarcerated, on parole or probation or under some other form of state or local supervision." Here are the actual data, from the Bureau of Justice Statistics: as of the end of 2006, roughly 2.25 million people in federal or state prison or jail (about 1.5 million of whom have been sentenced) and a little over 5 million people on federal or state parole or probation. When she uses the figure 7 million, it's a trick, because parole and probation, which account for about 70 percent of the total, are far less intrusive kinds of supervision than prison and jail. It's not 7 million people in prison.

But how many is too many people, anyway? If people are committing crimes, shouldn't they be punished? Can we possibly be better off when criminals are not in prison?

(Let's agree to leave aside for now the debate over punishment for drug offenses. About 20 percent of state prisoners are there for drug offenses, which is well below what the anti-drug-war rhetoric would suggest.)

In the 1960s and 1970s, when policy-makers tried to accomplish Gottschalk's goal of reducing the prison population, the results were not pretty. Based on the FBI's Uniform Crime Reports, the rate of reported violent crime per 100,000 population in America rose from 160.9 in 1960 to 363.5 in 1970 to 596.5 in 1980. I would argue that this was largely the result of a decrease in the use of prison to punish criminals during that period. For purposes of comparison, with 2.25 million people in prison today, the violent crime rate nationally was 473.5 per 100,000 in 2006. The reported violent crime rate is lower than in 1980. Prison, anyone?

Second, Gottschalk tries to turn this into a racial issue.

Many of today's crime control policies fundamentally impede the economic, political and social advancement of the most disadvantaged blacks and members of other minority groups. Prison leaves them less likely to find gainful employment, vote, participate in other civic activities and maintain ties with their families and communities.
She also claims that "one in nine young black men is behind bars." I don't have the data on this, but let's assume the statement is true. If it's true, then what? Let them out?

In 2005, nearly three-quarters of single-victim/single-offender violent crimes against black Americans were committed by other blacks. (Source here, Table 42) This is the lowest figure I've ever seen; traditionally, it's hovered around 85%. But no matter the precise figure, it's clear that the vast majority of violent crime against blacks is committed by other blacks.

Is it somehow politically incorrect to mention this? I would say definitely not. Here's why: When you invoke race in order to reduce the black population in prison, you are consigning law-abiding blacks to an increase in violent crime.

Let me rephrase this even more bluntly. If you care about furthering the success of black Americans, you can take the side of the unfortunately significant number of criminals or you can take the side of the innocent, law-abiding black Americans who are their victims. For me, the right policy -- the only moral one -- is to help rid urban areas in which large concentrations of blacks live and work of violent crime, even if the criminals happen to be black. That is the only way to help black Americans flourish.

Gottschalk's plea for more of the same policies that we tried in the 60s and 70s -- the same policies that failed us in the past -- is the true racial outrage.

[Note: I'm away for the weekend. Any response to further comments will have to wait till I return.]

Click here to read more . . .

Brother, can you spare 41 cents?

Ever since I made a substantial contribution to the Bush re-election campaign in 2004, my one serious political contribution in my life, I've been on a list of donors that the RNC regularly sends letters to, calls, wines and dines, and so on. Well, maybe not wines and dines, but you get the idea.

I always turn them down, of course, but I have to say I'm a little concerned about the latest fundraiser, which I received in the mail today. As the image below will show you, the RNC appears to be a little hard up for cash.

Click on the image to enlarge it.


Click here to read more . . .

April 16, 2008

Kitniot and Godzilla

Passover is approaching, and just as winter turns to spring, the birds return from the south, and the sounds of baseball fill the air, I inevitably get a lot of visitors searching for the term "kitniot."

I'm pleased to report that if you search for the term "kitniot" on Google, the very first article you will reach is my three-year old post called "The four stages of kitniot." Now, I'm not going to claim that this post is the best thing I've ever written, but for some reason it's the one that's drawn the most over-the-top compliments, namely "approaching genius," "damn near perfect," and a "landmark." I still blush.

I don't mention this to toot my own horn. If you check the sidebar to the right, you'll notice I tend to highlight disparaging comments about me. But I was thinking about what makes the "four stages" post work, and I've concluded it's this: First, kitniot are baffling and a little scary, and thus they're a good subject for humor. Second, the allusion to Kubler-Ross lends mock seriousness. Third, it's topped off by my friend Martin's hilarious letter, which I quoted in full in the post.

So, in honor of Martin, I'm going to translate the entire post, including his letter, into Japanese. Why Japanese? I don't know. Why not Japanese?

Click here.

Chag kasher v'sameach.

Bonus: An article in the NY Times today about the author of the "Kosher by Design" cookbook series, which now includes "Passover by Design." To overcome being "frum from birth," she's quizzed chefs about how to duplicate certain tastes, like Thai, which she's never experienced. All well and good, but when I eat kosher Thai, I want it made by someone who knows what the tref version tastes like. Quizzing chefs may or may not work.

Super-de-dooper bonus: "Worrying about the propriety of eating kosher cheeseburgers is no different than worrying about eating kitniyot on Pesah." (via Kitniyot Liberation Front)

Click here to read more . . .

April 14, 2008

Er, make that a FOURTH World city

From the Department of Can't Possibly Be True:

The "Mayor" of Baltimore doesn't have the paperwork to be mayor, because she asked Gov. O'Malley to swear her in, instead of the Circuit Court Clerk, who traditionally performs the honors. So the Clerk, a fellow named Frank Conaway, won't place his seal on the "certificate of incumbency" that attests to "Mayor" Dixon's status. After all:

"The only way I'm going to attest to anything like that is if she comes in and I swear her in," Conaway said. "I can't attest to something I didn't do."
Just a little fracas, you say? Not really. "Mayor" Dixon can't sign off on a bond deal, because she can't really prove she's "Mayor."

If she's not "Mayor," then we need to cut off all state funding STAT, I would say.

And a bonus story: "In an unrelated story (or not), Conaway’s home has been burglarized three times since October."

Click here to read more . . .

Heavy weaponry would have been better

Iraq Fires Policemen, Soldiers

Wash. Post, Apr. 14, 2008


Click here to read more . . .

Holiday from ethics

Tonight, once again, we turn to the repellent Randy Cohen, the so-called "ethicist" who writes a column for the New York Times Sunday Magazine. In Sunday's column, a writer tells him (second item) that he, the writer, used to work in an insurance company, where the only Jewish employee was a friend of his. The Jewish employee invented Jewish holidays to take off. Was it ethical of the letter writer to remain silent, when he (unlike the employer) knew these were fake holidays?

Before I tell you the answer Cohen gives, let's consider this outside the context of Jewish holidays.

The situation is basically equivalent to a far more common situation: someone has a friend he knows is regularly faking illness when he calls in sick. Does the person have an obligation to tell the employer about this? Probably not, right? That's not his job. If he was directly asked about it, though, it's not his job to cover up for the friend, either. But probably, if he stays silent, without any actual participation, he won't incur ethical guilt. (The person might have some qualms about remaining friends with the crooked guy, but that's another matter.)

This is roughly what Cohen advises. Cohen's short answer about the Jewish holidays is this: Remaining silent "was an acceptable choice. Your coming forward was permitted but not required; you had no obligation to police the vacation requests of your co-workers (or to steer your friend to the path of righteousness)."

Fair enough, but as usual Cohen just can't shut up when he gives the short answer.

The first qualification of his answer, which I think is a joke (though with him it's hard to tell): "Of course, had you been asked directly if Kasha Varnishka was an authentic Jewish festival, you would have had to reply: yes, it commemorates the glorious victory of the Maccabees over a recalcitrant side dish." Ha, ha.

Next, Cohen states what should be obvious: "This is not to justify your friend’s actions. He lied to his boss and burdened his co-workers, who presumably filled in for him while he was out cavorting."

Also good, but he still can't shut up.

What bugs me is that Cohen adds:

So says my head . . . but my heart says mazel tov! This imaginative scheme imposed a tax on ignorance, penalizing an employer for lacking even a cursory grasp of a world religion's holidays. Such a plan could encourage all of us in our diverse, immigrant nation to learn more about our neighbors, or reward them with extra vacation time if we cling to our provincialism. Diwali — real or imaginary?
A tax on ignorance? That's like saying that an employee's theft is a tax on the employer for having inadequate security. Who gives that employee the right to impose a "tax"? Or, to put it more bluntly, who gives the right to that employee to claim that his fraud has some public benefit? Randy Cohen, that's who.

We don't know from Cohen's column whether the Jewish employee was an observant Jew who observed the real holidays but also added a few of his own, or whether he was someone who just took advantage of the fact that Jewish holidays exist. That information would have added a little color to this story. But it's really not that important.

The Jewish employee's fraud is not entirely a private matter between him and his employer (and his God, for that matter, if he believes in one). The fraud, if it comes to light, exposes other Jews to unfair suspicion when they observe the holidays. In this case, we're told, the employee was the only Jew at the company, but if he had been caught, the employer would have had every reason to feel suspicious about requests from Jewish employees who were hired in the future.

Besides, if there were ever a way of planting the seeds of antisemitism in people who have no opinion about Jews one way or the other, I'd say this is a pretty good way to do it. Being a Jewish crook is bad enough; being a crook who uses his Jewishness to defraud is far worse.

Far be it from me to accuse someone of insufficient maturity, but I'm going to do it, anyway: Cohen's making light of this is pretty damn immature.

Previous: Martha's Vineyard morality, Aging boomers' endless introspection, Picking the right ethicist

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April 13, 2008

Spammers' delight

Every once in a while, it's amusing to check your spam filter to see what you're missing. And by "your" I mean "mine," of course.

While a lot of the spam has to do with Rolexes and cheap prescription drugs, an increasing amount offers male enhancement products, usually spelled in funny ways in an unsuccessful effort to elude those same spam filters (\/1@ g-r/\, for example).

At my office, our filtering software sends us an email every morning that lists the blocked spam by sender and subject line, just in case something was blocked that wasn't supposed to be. If there was a false positive, we can click a link to move the mail to our in box and allow the sender's address in the future. (I once found a message from my wife in the list. Never figured out how that happened.)

I've been looking at the subject lines for the past two weeks or so, and for some reason, very few of the enhancement emails fall into the category of deliberate misspellings of product names. I've noticed that there are several other approaches these spammers use in their subject lines.

1. The simple and direct approach.

* Enlarge
* Girls like big
* Size is very important
* Your measurement calls for improvement
* 9 massive inches in weeks

2. The slightly, but only slightly, elliptical approach.

* Don't be looser lengthenn your banana [that's how it was spelled]
* Don't satisfy your wife. Here is the solution
* Increasement of your baby-maker length is not a dream [increasement?]
* Gain valuable growth on your package [not malignant growth, I'd hope]

3. The polygamous approach.

* Enlarge your baby-maker and you will have sex with any wife you want

4. The New Age approach.

* Define your masculine identity

5. The dramatic approach.

* Be the superman she always wanted

But I think my favorite approach -- the one that actually made me laugh -- would have to be called . . .

6. The "even lions will fear you" approach.

* Even lions will fear you

The amazing thing is that these pitches seem to work for some people. There are actually dupes out there who open these spam emails, and some of them even order the pills or creams or whatever it is these folks are selling.

But I believe in Truth in Advertising, and if you advertise that even lions will fear you, we should certainly hold you to it. Just stride confidently right in to that lions' cage at the zoo. Because I'm selling tickets to the event.

Click here to read more . . .

April 10, 2008

Traveling in pairs

One of the benefits of getting a ride home from the Metro earlier this week, instead of driving, as I usually do, is that I got to look around at what's happening around me. Sure, it's only Rockville Pike, a particularly hideous six-lane road that goes through Rockville, but still, it lets you can catch up on who's no longer in business, who's starting up, and so on.

You'll be happy to know that there's a new Hooters starting up along the Pike. But strangely enough, it's located only about a block south and across the street from the existing Hooters. To give you an idea of how close they are, here's a fragment of the map. The arrow represents the existing location (actually, the restaurant is set back from the road), and the X that I drew on the map represents the new location.


I forced myself to visit the Hooters website, and there's no indication that a second location exists in Rockville. Which I find puzzling.

In any event, you have to wonder about the strategy of locating two restaurants so close to each other. Unless the original site is closing and moving to the new site, this looks a lot like the Starbucks strategy, which is called "infill," defined thus: "adding stores in cities where its mermaid logo is already commonplace. In some cases, that means putting a Starbucks within a block of an existing store, if not closer."

Now, let your entrepreneurial imagination warm up for a minute. If you're thinking Starbucks and Hooters combined -- you know, coffee delivered by women in skimpy clothing -- forget about it. It's been done. It's called Cowgirls Espresso in Seattle. Go ahead. Click the link. It's to me, and I have the photo there.

So after all this, we're left to ponder two Hooters locations within, maybe, 200 yards of each other.

I think, though, that I have the answer. Remember the Woody Allen movie called "Everything You Wanted To Know About Sex *But Were Afraid To Ask"? There's a sketch in the movie in which Woody is pursued by a giant breast, which is trapped in . . . you got it, a giant brassiere. (Fragment here.) After it's trapped, he says he's still worried, because "these things usually travel in pairs."

Just like Hooters.

Click here to read more . . .

April 09, 2008

Wednesday linkfest

This is the place where I drop links that I've been collecting but haven't had time to write about while I've been trying to figure out my mother's taxes.

1. From the distaff side of the moronosphere, S.Weasel has a delightful tribute to Charlton Heston. Well, to his buttocks, anyway.

2. Speaking of the moronosphere, check doubleplusundead regularly for his daily roundups, called "around the moronosphere in 80 iq points." I think the Moron-in-Chief was responsible for that name.

3. Since it's tax time, I'd like to bring you this: "Woman Apologizes for Pitbull Attack on IRS Employee." (via TaxProf Blog)

4. Here's the barbecue guy who loves the NoKos. The FBI already knows about him, thanks to his dad. Really. Will there be a place for him as Secretary of State in the Obama Administration? And this: A coincidence?

5. Will you be more in love with your wife if she learns to play poker? This article says you will. It sounds totally asinine to me, because you play poker precisely to be alone with the boys, but there are some other tips for women that sound a little better than that.

6. If you live in Minnesota, your tax dollars are funding what may be a madrassa.

7. Ace writes about a post by a user at Obama's site attacking the Jews. A commenter finds the cached link after the post is taken down.

8. From the Department of Old: "Woman's Lawsuit Claims Bra Injured Her / Victoria's Secret Denies Claims." (via Ace's headlines last week)

9. From the Department of Not So New: Starbucks won't let you customize your card with "Laissez Faire" but will let you use "People Not Profits"? (via Volokh)

10. Child "maths" genius-ette becomes a call girl (with probably NSFW photo) (via Fark)

11. Get your ice cold Mets motivational poster, courtesy of Baseball Crank. Not that I've already given up on them -- that'll take another few days like yesterday.

Click here to read more . . .

April 08, 2008

Visitor of the day -- 4/8

Wow! That's some really vintage fragrance, there. Ours doesn't last more than five minutes or so.

Bonus: Get a load of the out click. That's where I refer my flatulent readers.


Click here to read more . . .

April 07, 2008

Senator Reid goes to Nigeria

After yesterday's entry about Karl Rove's lottery notification email, I asked myself, "Who could be the well known political figure involved in the next fraudulent email scheme?" My guess was Harry Reid.

And, sure enough, today I received the following email message, with the subject line "Request for Patriots Act on international fund transfer in your favor." It was from "Sen. Reid of Nevada, Senate Majority Leader."

The body of the email was this:

www.senate.gov
www.congress.org
7TH MARCH, 2008
FROM: -
THE CHAIRMEN AND RANKING MEMBERS OF THE SENATE COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN RELATIONS,
THE SENATE COMMITTEE ON APPROPRIATIONS, THE HOUSE COMMITTEE ON APPROPRIATIONS,
AND THE HOUSE COMMITTEE ON INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS.

Approved and Witnessed by -
Sen. Russell Feingold, D-Wisconsin
Rep. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wisconsin
White House and House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Illinois,
Sen. Russell Feingold, D-Wisconsin, Senate filibuster.
Senate Majority Leader Sen. Reid of Nevada.

ATTN:
Subject Matter - Request for Patriots Act on international fund transfer in your favor

After very long meetings held by the above mentioned officials and the Minister of state for finance including the Board of Directors of the World Bank, the United Nations and the International Monetary Fund, to see to the release of long term debt owed to many foreigners around the globe who have been denied of their funds, the United States Senate has been authorized to handle the urgent release of all funds owed by any of the financial institutions or Government that is a member of the United Nations, this is based on the loans and disbursement agreement signed between the US Government and Governments of these debtor nations, the release of your fund will be supervised by the World Bank representatives in Nigeria to ensure immediate payment in your favor and avoid delay.

From the records of outstanding claims due for payment submitted by the United Nations, your name is next on the list of the outstanding bills to be settled, I wish to inform you that your payment is being processed and will be released to you as soon as you respond to this letter.

Kindly re-confirm the following information to SENATOR JEREMY WILLIAMS the US SENATE REPRESENTATIVE AND HEAD OF THE PAYMENT CENTER IN NIGERIA for final verification of your details so that the funds will be transferred in your favour, please contact SENATOR JEREMY WILLIAMS via email: senate_usgov@keromail.com

1) Your full name
2) Phone number (mobile should be included).
3) The claim amount
4) Your complete Banking details to avoid mistakes

As soon as the above information is received, your payment will be made to you without further delay. Note that the senate officials in NIGERIA have been authorised to handle this payment to keep a clean slate of foriegn debt settlement because some Government officials and individuals have tried to transfer this fund to you but failed due to dishonesty and unneccesary demandfor fees,

You are hereby advised to stop any further communications with any one else or any other financial institution and comply to this to avoid any further delay.

Please note that the United Nations and Government of the debtor country will not be interested in any complaint from you if you fail to receive your fund via this programme or fail to abide by this instruction.

Your urgent attention is expected

Sen. Reid of Nevada
Senate Majority Leader
Naturally, before I agreed to this plan, I wanted to verify that this actually came from Senator Reid's office. I did have a suspicion about its bona fides, because I didn't think the Senate would use Nigeria as its base of operations. I figured it would be a call center in India.

So I decided to write to Senator Reid in response. His website says he has no real email address and can only respond to requests from Nevadans, from people with ties to the state, or from people who make large campaign contributions in small, unmarked bills.

I gather that's all a brick wall set up so he doesn't have to answer questions from people who question his sanity, but I wasn't sure how to get around it, so I figured I'd post my response here. I know he and his staff are regular readers of Pillage Idiot.
Dear Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid,

In response to your email to me earlier today (below) where you offer an international funds transfer under the Patriot Act, I'm uncomfortable with this whole scheme. I realize you have a lot of experience as the leader of the WORLD'S GREATEST DELIBERATIVE BODY, and I see that your plan is approved and witnessed by several leaders of both parties, but maybe you can explain to me why I should do what you tell me to do.

1. First thing is I don't trust things when the Democrats and Republicans work together. If no party is attacking the other, they've probably both lost their senses.

2. I think "Jeremy Williams" isn't a real senator. I think you meant Jerome Williams, who pitched for Washington last year, and the team isn't called the Senators any more. It's the Nationals. Besides which, I'm sure you know what a lousy job Williams did on the mound for the Nats. Based on that, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't entrust my fortune to him.

3. Your idea of running this operation out of Nigeria raises some red flags. What would the Washington Post say? Don't you know that both Sen. Obama and Sen. Clinton are attacking free trade agreements with other countries? Using Nigeria as a base for this could really hurt their position in the November election. Also, did you realize that a lot of Nigeria is Muslim, so how do we know that the funds won't be diverted to support our terrorist enemies? Do you realize how embarrassing that could be for you and the Senate, not to mention for all Americans?

4. You asked me to send you my "complete Banking details to avoid mistakes." I'm wondering what kind of mistakes you intend to make? If you might make mistakes, should I really go along with you on this scheme? Or maybe are you saying that I'm the one who will make a mistake? What I want to ask you, though, is I'm not an expert at computers, but pretty much every one I've heard from says don't give out your personal information to somebody you don't know. So if I'm going to do this thing you want me to do, can we meet in person? I'm free for lunch Wednesday and Thursday next week. I can meet you in the Senate lunch room. I ate there a long time ago, and it was a blast. (That's just a saying. No reason to get jumpy about it.) Can you take me there? I promise I won't eat much. And then I can give you my banking information in person so there won't be any mistakes.

Please let me know by reply. If this will work, I'll give you my unlisted phone number.

Best regards,

Attila P.
Maybe one of my other readers can forward this to Sen. Reid, because I suspect we can do a deal.

Click here to read more . . .

April 06, 2008

Cutting it

When you get a bunch of doctors together, the talk inevitably turns to bagel injuries. Those of you who don't eat bagels may not realize this true fact: that so many people arrive in the emergency room having sliced their hands in a foolish attempt to slice a bagel that the ER personnel can tell immediately what the cause of the injury is.

So this weekend, during one such discussion, I explained the proper way to cut a bagel, which involves holding the bagel on its edge from above and running the knife through the arch formed by your thumb and forefinger so that it won't slip and cut your hand.

Someone jokiningly suggested that I write a book about the zen of cutting bagels. But I think if I wrote about cutting bagels, I would also want to write about cutting other things, too.

Here's the chapter outline of my book, called "Cutting It."

1. Cutting a bagel.
2. Cutting classes.
3. Cutting up.
4. Cutting corners.
5. Cutting the cheese.
6. Cutting the crap.
7. Cutting bait.
8. Cutting loose.
9. Cutting in line.
10. Cutting the mustard.
11. Cutting to the chase.
12. Cutting taxes.
13. Cutting wit.

I've found that most of these are far safer than cutting a bagel.

Click here to read more . . .

You magnificent bastard

I'm sure you're familiar with the fake-lottery spam, right? You receive an email that says you're being notified that your email address won some European state lottery, as if lottery entries were made by email, and as if you could win without entering. People who are greedy are dumb, and there must be a few who fall for it.

Well, from the lottery email I received today I now know who's behind this phony lottery scheme. It's the magnificent bastard himself:

Contact our accredited claims agent Mr. Karl Rove, for immediate processing of your winning with the information below;

Name: Karl Rove
E-mail: uknational_officerove@yahoo.co.uk
I always knew there was more to this than appeared on the surface. Undoubtedly, this is a scheme to dupe the Obama campaign into revealing sensitive campaign strategy. Be forewarned.

Click here to read more . . .

Carnival of Maryland -- 30th edition

The 30th edition of the Carnival of Maryland is up at Creating a Jubilee County. Click on the link to check out some of what's been happening in Maryland over the past weeks.

The 31st edition is scheduled for Sunday, April 20, to be hosted at On the Red Line.

Send in your submissions by using the Blog Carnival form.

Click here to read more . . .

April 03, 2008

Frontiers of plastic surgery

Everyone once in a while, a story emerges that contains the four basic food groups: plastic surgery, male member mutilation, an exotic foreign culture, and pizza. Sadly, however, this story contains only the first three.

I told Soccer Dad (who sent the story to me) that I wasn't going to use it, but I feel I owe a duty to mankind -- or what was at one point in its life mankind -- to spread the word, because obviously I have a wider circulation than Reuters, from which the story originates.

What I mean by "what was at one point in its life mankind" is this: If you're Thai, and were born with male organs, but you're a member of the so-called "third sex," you may well want what is delightfully referred to as "cosmetic castration," especially if you want to appear in the type of transvestite beauty pageant I wrote about nearly three years ago. But the fact that you want it doesn't mean the authorities want you to have it.

Thailand's health chiefs barred hospitals and clinics on Wednesday from castrating would-be "ladyboys" amid growing concern about the operation being seen as a cheap and quick alternative to a full sex-change.
If you don't know much about Thailand, consider this: If Britain is world famous for haute cuisine and dentistry, and France is famous for snails, white flags, and body odor, then surely Thailand must be famous for something. And it is.
The tolerance shown towards the "third sex," as it is often referred to, has led to the country becoming a world leader in sex-change surgery.
Way to go, Thailand! Aim for that gold medal!

The problem with a ban, of course, is that if castration is outlawed, only outlaws will be castrated. Especially because the ban is so hard to enforce. A senior official admitted that "policing the temporary ban might be difficult as cosmetic removal of the testicles was such a quick operation and easy to conduct in secret." Not to mention the inevitable black market in cosmetically removed testicles.

Which is why I'd also advise you not to eat in a Thai restaurant while you're visiting. Mm-mmm!

UPDATE (4/4): After feeling a little doubtful about this on reflection, I did a search this morning. If I'm being punked, then a lot of others are, too.

Click here to read more . . .

April 02, 2008

Coffee au naturel

When I saw this headline -- "Marlborough man orders his coffee in the nude" -- I naturally figured this guy had wandered into Starbucks. Without his shirt and jeans.




It's a strange image, really, because a tough he-man like that doesn't belong in Starbucks even with his clothes on.

Starbucks doesn't allow smoking.

Click here to read more . . .

April 01, 2008

Stupidity squared

As my regular readers know, I'm something of an expert in stupidity, mostly my own. But that's not what I'm referring to right now.

I write for a living, and I'm also anal-retentive enough to be careful about grammar, usage, and spelling. Not that I never make a mistake, but you're not going to find totally illiterate writing here, the way you might in some sectors of internet-land.

So I had to ask myself: How difficult is it really to distinguish between coherent writing and stupid, illiterate writing? Not at all difficult is my answer. But apparently some people think it's necessary to have a computer analyze the writing to determine whether it's stupid. (And this is not some April Fool's joke, like that pathetic joke Google put up on Blogger Buzz.)

Here's the deal. Go to stupidfilter.org and you find this: "Too long have we suffered in silence under the tyranny of idiocy. In the beginning, the internet was a place where one could communicate intelligently with similarly erudite people. Then, Eternal September hit and we were lost in the noise. The advent of user-driven web content has compounded the matter yet further, straining our tolerance to the breaking point. It's time to fight back."

Sound annoying enough yet? Well, just wait.

The solution we're creating is simple: an open-source filter software that can detect rampant stupidity in written English. This will be accomplished with weighted Bayesian or similar analysis and some rules-based processing, similar to spam detection engines. The primary challenge inherent in our task is that stupidity is not a binary distinction, but rather a matter of degree. To this end, we're collecting a ranked corpus of stupid text, gleaned from user comments on public websites and ranked on a five-point scale.
And just how useful do you think this project is? Consider this: "u r dum !!11! lol" is stupid to the extreme. But do we need a computer applet to tell us that? Not really, but that's what we find at stupidfilter. From the FAQs:
The idea is that the most egregiously stupid comments will also be the easiest to detect while remaining ignorant of context; comments with too much or too little capitalization, too many text-message abbreviations, excessive use of "LOL," exclamation points, and so on.
And how hard is it to rate comments like the one I made up above? Not very, but that's what we find at the same FAQs:
Keep in mind we grade stupidity on a scale of 1 to 5. Someone might get a 1 or 2 for a comment that used no punctuation, whereas a comment consisting of nothing but text message abbreviations with a dash of LOLLLLL thrown in for good measure would probably rate a solid 4 or 5.
Oy, vey. Well, just to show I'm a stand-up guy, I decided to give the program a chance.

Test 1. I took two phrases from a relatively recent post of mine about some stupid parent in Montgomery County who was arrested at his kid's elementary school when he got over-aggressive about his desires for his kid's curriculum.

First, here's a baseline test: "Is it just me or is it somewhat odd for a parent to be arrested (second item) when discussing his kid's elementary school work with school officials? I don't know. I've lived for over 20 years in Montgomery County, where helicopter parenting takes on a whole new meaning, and yet this still seems a little out of line." Fairly non-stupid, at least for Pillage Idiot, right?

Here's the result at stupidfilter:
Text is not likely to be stupid.

CLASSIFY succeeds; success probability: 0.5066 pR: 0.0114
Best match to file #0 (/home/sfp/code/nonstupid_cor.css) prob: 0.5066 pR: 0.0114
Total features in input file: 11472919
#0 (/home/sfp/code/nonstupid_cor.css): features: 11472919, L1: 240419182 L2: 340256281 L3: 553124907, l4: 1327203205 prob: 5.07e-01, pR: 0.01
#1 (/home/sfp/code/stupid_cor.css): features: 1510682, L1: 29910336 L2: 41683685 L3: 67105951, l4: 160824653 prob: 4.93e-01, pR: -0.01
I have no idea what most of that means, but perhaps that's because I'm, er, stupid.

Next, I checked the statement of the man who was arrested, who said this: "According to an arrest document, the 6-foot-4 Rogers 'stood up, cupped his hands around his mouth and screamed very loudly, "'I am Rosa Parks. I will not ride on the back of the bus."'" That's about as stupid as a person can be, but here's what the stupidfilter computer showed:
Text is not likely to be stupid.

CLASSIFY succeeds; success probability: 0.6175 pR: 0.2080
Best match to file #0 (/home/sfp/code/nonstupid_cor.css) prob: 0.6175 pR: 0.2080
Total features in input file: 11472919
#0 (/home/sfp/code/nonstupid_cor.css): features: 11472919, L1: 130118990 L2: 202077007 L3: 390256047, l4: 1207598011 prob: 6.17e-01, pR: 0.21
#1 (/home/sfp/code/stupid_cor.css): features: 1510682, L1: 16486110 L2: 23417883 L3: 38819315, l4: 94786575 prob: 3.83e-01, pR: -0.21
It's "not likely to be stupid," eh? Well, I guess the "not likely" gives them an out. Yeah, yeah, I know the filter isn't directed to substantive stupidity. That's my point.

Test 2. Hillary's early response to the Tuzla exposure was this: "You know, I think that, a minor blip, you know, if I said something that, you know, I say a lot of things – millions of words a day - so if I misspoke, that was just a misstatement." Totally stupid, right?

A little surprise here:
Text is likely to be stupid.

CLASSIFY fails; success probability: 0.4605 pR: -0.0688
Best match to file #1 (/home/sfp/code/stupid_cor.css) prob: 0.5395 pR: 0.0688
Total features in input file: 1510682
#0 (/home/sfp/code/nonstupid_cor.css): features: 11472919, L1: 136163155 L2: 194867166 L3: 334824012, l4: 914439786 prob: 4.60e-01, pR: -0.07
#1 (/home/sfp/code/stupid_cor.css): features: 1510682, L1: 17608926 L2: 25394698 L3: 45709338, l4: 138558262 prob: 5.40e-01, pR: 0.07
I guess it must have been all the "you know's." To verify this, I deleted them and tried it again: "I think that, a minor blip, if I said something that - I say a lot of things – millions of words a day - so if I misspoke, that was just a misstatement."

The results? A surprise again.
Text is likely to be stupid.

CLASSIFY fails; success probability: 0.4804 pR: -0.0340
Best match to file #1 (/home/sfp/code/stupid_cor.css) prob: 0.5196 pR: 0.0340
Total features in input file: 1510682
#0 (/home/sfp/code/nonstupid_cor.css): features: 11472919, L1: 118999011 L2: 174065450 L3: 306798586, l4: 865356242 prob: 4.80e-01, pR: -0.03
#1 (/home/sfp/code/stupid_cor.css): features: 1510682, L1: 15294168 L2: 22135632 L3: 39684900, l4: 120275436 prob: 5.20e-01, pR: 0.03
And now, I've rewritten Hillary's stupidity so that it reads well, even though it's still substantively stupid: "It was a minor blip. I say perhaps millions of words a day, and this was just a misstatement."

This time, the result is negative:
Text is not likely to be stupid.

CLASSIFY succeeds; success probability: 0.5241 pR: 0.0420
Best match to file #0 (/home/sfp/code/nonstupid_cor.css) prob: 0.5241 pR: 0.0420
Total features in input file: 11472919
#0 (/home/sfp/code/nonstupid_cor.css): features: 11472919, L1: 71720625 L2: 104271070 L3: 181129542, l4: 487604746 prob: 5.24e-01, pR: 0.04
#1 (/home/sfp/code/stupid_cor.css): features: 1510682, L1: 9177190 L2: 12891812 L3: 21612594, l4: 56643680 prob: 4.76e-01, pR: -0.04
Well, I'm a little tired of this, and I'm sure you are, too, which is why you're not even bothering to read this post any more.

What I'm looking for is a computer that can distinguish substantively stupid writing, like my rewrite of Hillary's statement, or some of the rantings of her supporters, or the New York Times editorial page. Find it, and that's when I'll be interested.

Click here to read more . . .