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Tuesday, October 31, 2006

I Write Letters

Just e-mail Rep Maralyn Musgrave. I do hope that Angie Paccione is the Dem candidate in her district or I just made a fool of myself.

My letter

Dear Congresswoman Musgrave

I am not a resident of your district, but I think that you care what I think, because I just donated $ 100 to Angie Paccione's campaign. This is my first campaign donation this cycle. I think you are very special.

I just saw your refusal to respond to the question "if you had a choice between saving a soldier's life or preventing a gay marriage which one would you stop"

and here

I assume that you refused to answer the question, because your honest answer would have been that you would rather that a soldier die than that two people of the same gender marry, and you know that all decent and normal people would be disgusted and appalled by your moral idiocy.

As you must know by now, the first of these sites recieves hundreds of thousands of visits every day. I don't expect all such visitors to the site to have had the same reaction I did.

I would also like to mention that you seem to employ criminals who use illegal means to hamper debate. The activist who aggressively asked you the question described the actions of your employees as "very close to assault." On this point I absolutely disagree with the activist. The actions which are clearly recorded on the film were clearly criminal assault. I wish (but do not hope) that the assailants will be prosecuted for their crime, not because I think simple assault should usually be prosecuted, but becausze the crime was part of an attempt to block politica debate. Part of the reason I made my contribution was to attempt to convince you and other Republicans that crime doesn't pay.

Congresswoman Musgrave I very much hope that very soon you will no longer be a congresswoman and that you never hold any elective office again.

Sincerely your fellow citizen

Robert Waldmann

The autoreply seems especially silly

"Thank you very much for contacting my office. As your Member of Congress, I take the job of representing your views seriously and I appreciate hearing from you. [snip]"

My claim about my donation is honest and accurate.

I didn't advise Rep Musgrave on what I thought she should do given that I consider her unfit for elective office. I would really like to see a stage performance staring Maralyn Musgrave and Maralyn Manson, but I didn't think the suggestion would be appreciated.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Why was "Necessarily" Necessary

Pointlessly piling on I quote Kevin Drum

Via Atrios, I see that ABC News is running a story today about right-wing attack ads. The story acknowledges that "the nastiest rhetoric right now is coming from the political right," and Jake Tapper and Greg McCown document this with several examples. Then they end with this:

Democrats aren't necessarily running clean campaigns, though. As the races tighten in the next couple of weeks, the left will likely unleash its garbage as well.

Needless to say, they present exactly zero evidence for this.

OK so Tapper and McCown have already been blasted by Atrios and Drum, but now they are in for some real trouble. Drum goes on to politely note that they must know that , as suggested by all of the specific evidence they present, Republicans are principally responsible for lowering the level of debate. He concludes "no one who's followed politics for the past decade or two can pretend not to know how we got where we are today. For some reason, though, they sure do try." He has an important point which he expresses perfectly. I want to add some pointless quibbles.

The word "necessarily" serves no legitimate semantic purpose. It does not change or even clarify the meaning of the sentence. I don't see how it could possible be true that "Democrats aren't necessarily running clean campaigns, though" if the claim in brackets [Democrats aren't running clean campaigns, though] is false. Nor do I see how the quoted claim could be false and the modified claim could be true. I know that logical postivism has its problems, but I can't resist believing that two claims such that either both are true or both are false are equivalent claims.

Logically, semantically, in terms of truth values or, I think, meanings, the word "necessarily" adds nothing and subtracts nothing. It was a waste of time to say it on the air and quoting it (again and again) is a waste of pixels.

Now consider the edited 2 sentences "Democrats aren't running clean campaigns, though. As the races tighten in the next couple of weeks, the left will likely unleash its garbage as well." Here we have a claim in the present continuous which is not supported by any evidence. Instead, the final sentence is speculation about what might the future. Clearly, the claim in the edited sentence is libelous. It is an accusation, and the accusers go on to confess that they have no evidence for their claim and believe that there is no evidence for their claim. The argument that a currently false accusation might become true in the future is, of course, no defence in a libel suit.

Instead Tapper and McCown's defence would have to be that their statement is rendered arguably true by the word "necessarily." I find this odd, since I don't think that addition of that word could possible have changed a false statement into a true one. The key word in my proposed legal strategy is "arguably." Ah yes, that is another matter. It is impossible to describe any way in which the word "necessarily" changes, adds or clarifies meaning. It is also impossible to prove that it makes no difference. It is semantically useless verbiage which can only create confusion.

I think the purpose of the word "necessarily" was exactly to create confusion -- to make people unsure that they had understood the sentence so they wouldn't be sure that Tapper and McCown had lied.

One of the principles of reading and listening is to attempt to interpret what people say so that all words are necessary. It is generally useful to assume that people aren't wasting their breath. This appears to be something we do spontaneously, automatically and effortlessly (Gricean attribution theory I think). It is useful, even though people often do waste their breath, since there are many many ways to uselessly toss useless words around (this blog is proof if further proof were needed).

Semantically useless words serve a rhetorical purpose, because they cause listeners to doubt their comprehension. They create confusion which can be useful when one feels the need to make a patently false assertion.

Now why would ABC reporters feel the need to make accusations against Democrats which they believe to be false ?

Back to Drum

ABC News political director Mark Halperin on Bill O'Reilly's show last night:

As an economic model, if you want to thrive like Fox News Channel, you want to have a future, you better make sure conservatives find your product appealing.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Remedial Ethnogeography

Evidently Senator Joseph Lieberman (MeMyselfI-CT) thinks that Iranians are Arabs.

“I’ve traveled to just about every Arab country except Iran” and learned the importance of this issue, Lieberman said.

Well as someone who has been to just about every European country other than Zimbabwe and every Moslem country including the Vatican, I think this is worse than calling his opponent a "goddamn Son of a bitch."

This cartoon, however, is unfair. Via Michael Froomkin

Monday, October 23, 2006

Someone whose native language appears to be Arabic just visited this site after
a google search for "competing risks" "power point".

I have had doubts about google before, but now I am seriously concerned. I am extraordinarily ignorant about power point, which I detest. Also I don't really have anything original to say about competing risks. Google listed this blog first.

With all due respect for the google searcher, I fear that the second link is more what he or she sought.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Did Mark Foley singlehandedly save America from it's own political idiocy ?

My understanding is that the IM texts which might do to the Republicans what all of their crimes did not were probably generated with a single hand as Rep Foley's other hand was otherwise engaged.

sink sink socks has left a new comment on your post "10/11/2006 03:52:00 PM":

The psychic apparatus which,with the sensory organs of the P-system, is turned to the outer world,is itself the outer world fette haengetitten kostenlos for the sensory organ of Cons.

I am fairly sure that this is some sort of spam, but it is so weird that I had to share it.
Quoque Tu Georgie Fili Eius**+

Reading in the Washington Post that the US Navy has named an aircraft carrier the George H.W. Bush I thought of the Brutus who helped assassinate* his (alleged) biological father Julius Caesar whose last words were reported to be “quoque tu brute, fili mihi”**+ that is “you too Brutus my son,” probably by Brutus himself who was angling for the parricide vote. Actually Brutus stressed his notianal connection with his mother’s husband, that is, his presumptive father who I will call Gais H.W Brutus because I don’t know his name.

I was reminded, in particular, of a coin minted by Gaius W Brutus Jr to pay his army which was presented in a book I once read as solid proof that the Roman Republic was dead even before Augustus finished off his enemies starting with Brutus. The converse of the coin showed a manumission cap (which a slave owner put on the head of a slave to free him ) representing Brutus’s claim to be the restorer of Roman liberty. The Obverse was the image of Gaius H.W: Brutus making the coin an unmistakable declaration of monarchy.

The evidence that George Bush is a monarchist is much more massive than a coin, though marginal less massive than the Oil Tanker Condoleeza Rice ***.

Here’s a totally false historical analogy written just to show that I understand I am being silly when I say we can deduce that the Republic is in danger because of the naming of a ship. Given all the proof that Bush considers himself a monarch, making a big (or any) deal out of the name of a ship is like Senator Marcvs Mvlitsis telling Senator Atrivs “I think the Republic is in danger” when Caligula made his horse a Senator.

Of course, I know this analogy is faulty, since Caligula was assassinated before he acted on his declared intention of making his horse a senator*. Besides I would fall into a logical contradiction if I claimed that Bush is the reincarnation of Caligula, since I have already claimed that he is the reincarnation of Caligula’s nephew.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

* NSA take notice. I am not advocating assassination. I compare Bush to Brutus not Julius and the assassination of Caligula ruined my analogy. Also you don’t really think I want Cheney to be President do you ?

** Elisabetta Addis helped me with the title of this post but I tried to remember the original quote by myself so the Latin is probably faulty.

*** which has been renamed at least for the briefer of the durations of the Bush administration or the Republic one of which must end.

update: + I thank Anonymous for assistance.

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "10/11/2006 07:06:00 AM":

quoque tu brute, fili mihi

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Anne Coulter is the finger of God

The Poor man agrees. Go there and consume *his* band width clicking on the youtube.

Now I believe that His purpose is to find the ultimate abyss of idiocy and I am to be not the hand of God but his ... you know that other thing that's larger than a finger and many people like to pretend that they think that Coulter has one.

Wait I didn't understand that last little bit "like Iraq Canada sent no troops to Vietnam".

Is the voice over guy really claiming that Iraq sent no troops to Vietnam ? That would be the implication of his statement in English but I guess he might be speaking Canadian or something.

I mean this is crazy. They say Canada sent no troops to Vietnam and now they say that Iraq didn't either.

I want to ask these people the following question: If we had so few allies in the war in Vietnam, why exactly did we win the war in Vietnam ?

Monday, October 09, 2006

Joe Frank is not a happy Virginian

He sent me an e-mail with the subject "Virginia Conspires To Prevent Voting ". I wish I were sure that Virginia is simply webincompetent.

He writes

I have tried over the last few days to get information but I can't find out where to vote or even who is running because The Virginia Board of Elections website displays the following message:

The page cannot be displayed
There is a problem with the page you are trying to reach and it cannot be displayed.

Please try the following:

* Click the Refresh button, or try again later.
* Open the home page, and then look for links to the information you want.

HTTP 500.100 - Internal Server Error - ASP error
Internet Information Services

Technical Information (for support personnel)

* Error Type:
Microsoft OLE DB Provider for SQL Server (0x80004005)
[DBNETLIB][ConnectionOpen (Connect()).]SQL Server does not exist or access denied.
/../../extcms/Cand/LocalCandidatesList.asp, line 156

* Browser Type:
Mozilla/5.0 (Windows; U; Windows NT 5.1; en-US; rv: Gecko/20060909 Firefox/

* Page:
GET /cms/Cidate_Information/Cidate_Lists/CidatesList.asp

* Time:
Sunday, October 08, 2006, 2:23:35 PM

* More information:
Microsoft Support

Clicking here I get

Unable to connect

Firefox can't establish a connection to the server at

* The site could be temporarily unavailable or too busy. Try again in a few

* If you are unable to load any pages, check your computer's network

* If your computer or network is protected by a firewall or proxy, make sure
that Firefox is permitted to access the Web.

Monday, October 02, 2006