Presidential Pronoun Problems

Ron Fournier’s take on Obama’s Sixty Minutes interview:

And then there’s this.

Academic Writing

Why does it stink?

The most popular answer outside the academy is the cynical one: Bad writing is a deliberate choice. Scholars in the softer fields spout obscure verbiage to hide the fact that they have nothing to say. They dress up the trivial and obvious with the trappings of scientific sophistication, hoping to bamboozle their audiences with highfalutin gobbledygook.

Though no doubt the bamboozlement theory applies to some academics some of the time, in my experience it does not ring true. I know many scholars who have nothing to hide and no need to impress. They do groundbreaking work on important subjects, reason well about clear ideas, and are honest, down-to-earth people. Still, their writing stinks.

The most popular answer inside the academy is the self-serving one: Difficult writing is unavoidable because of the abstractness and complexity of our subject matter. Every human pastime—music, cooking, sports, art—develops an argot to spare its enthusiasts from having to use a long-winded description every time they refer to a familiar concept in one another’s company. It would be tedious for a biologist to spell out the meaning of the term transcription factor every time she used it, and so we should not expect the tête-à-tête among professionals to be easily understood by amateurs.

But the insider-shorthand theory, too, doesn’t fit my experience. I suffer the daily experience of being baffled by articles in my field, my subfield, even my sub-sub-subfield. The methods section of an experimental paper explains, “Participants read assertions whose veracity was either affirmed or denied by the subsequent presentation of an assessment word.” After some detective work, I determined that it meant, “Participants read sentences, each followed by the word true or false.” The original academese was not as concise, accurate, or scientific as the plain English translation. So why did my colleague feel compelled to pile up the polysyllables?

RTWT

The Oklahoma Head Chopper

Thoughts from Mark Steyn:

Colleen Hufford was born in 1960. Life is full of grim twists and cruel vicissitudes, but in mid-20th century America it would not have occurred to anyone that one needed to worry about going to work and being beheaded by a colleague. Yet that’s what happened to Ms Hufford on Thursday: She turned up for her job at at the Vaughan Foods food processing plant in Moore, and Alton Alexander Nolen decapitated her.

Why would he do that? Well, as the initial reports were at pains to assure us, it’s nothing to do with terrorism. That’s true, in the sense that Mr Nolen is not a card-carrying member of an officially credentialed state-recognized terrorism-provider such as ISIS or al-Qaeda. It’s true in the sense that he’s not on any official US Department of Homeland Security terror watch list, because, under the geniuses running American national security, that honor is reserved for my fellow Hillsdale cruiser Steve Hayes. And, of course, it’s also true in the sense that Mr Nolen is a recent convert to Islam and, as David Cameron and Barack Obama and many others are ever more eager to emphasize, terrorism is nothing to do with Islam. Mr Nolen had the Muslim greeting “As-salamu Alaikum” – “Peace be upon you” – tattooed upon his abdomen. And he’d tried, without success, to persuade his co-workers at Vaughan Foods to convert to Islam. So he wasn’t just mildly Islamic in the nothing-to-do-with-terrorism sense, he was super-Islamic in the really-totally-no-terrorism-to-see-here sense.

…Salutin’s column was met with near universal derision, but he’s stumbling around in the vicinity of a kind of point. As I wrote all those years ago in America Alone (personally autographed copies of which are exclusively available, etc, etc), Islam is “the ultimate global gang”. In Oklahoma, Mr Nolen had a rap sheet as long as his knife. In London, Mr Salvatore was a not dissimilar type. All that’s happened in the years since I first made that observation is that ISIS has supplanted al-Qaeda as the brand leader of the sharp end of Islam, and made the gang aesthetic even more explicit. As for Mo3’s comrades, if you’re a Canuck or Aussie or Frenchman or American having fun chopping heads off in Syria and Iraq, how much more fun it would be to go “home” and chop heads off in Toronto or Sydney,Toulouse or Minneapolis. Western leaders may insist that that’s nothing to do with Islam, but, as the “reversions” of Messrs Nolen and Salvadore suggest, not all potential Muslims are willing to defer to Obama and Cameron’s doubtless extensive Islamic scholarship. In the years to come, there will be more beheading, by more “reverts”.

It’s time for a rectification of names.

Why You’re Too Dumb To Vote

Five reasons:

Miss Dunham, reflecting celebrity culture at large, makes a fetish of voting, and it is easy to see why: Voting is the most shallow gesture of citizenship there is, the issuance of a demand — a statement that “this is how the world should be,” as Miss Dunham puts it — imposing nothing in the way of reciprocal responsibility. Power without responsibility — Stanley Baldwin would not have been surprised that Miss Dunham and likeminded celebrities think of voting in terms of their sex lives. Miss Dunham, in an earlier endorsement of Barack Obama, compared voting in the presidential election to losing one’s virginity — you want it to be someone special. Understood that way, voting is nothing other than a reiteration of the original infantile demand: “I Want!”

As a procedure for sorting out complex policy issues, voting is of distinctly limited value: If you wanted to know whether the compressive strength of a particular material were sufficient to support a bridge over Interstate 20, you would not go about solving that problem by bundling that question with 10,000 other equally precise and complex but largely unrelated questions, presenting the bundle of questions to the least-informed few million people you could identify, and then proceeding with whatever solution 50 percent +1 of them preferred. That would be a bad way to build a bridge — a homicidal way, in fact — and though it is a necessary instrument of accountability in a democratic republic, voting properly plays a very limited role. For instance, we have a Bill of Rights, which could with equal accuracy be called the List of Stuff You Idiots Can’t Be Trusted To Vote On. A majority of Americans don’t like free speech? Too bad, Harry Reid.

But for Miss Dunham et al., this isn’t a question of citizenship — it’s a therapeutic matter. Voting, she promises, will offer “a sense of accomplishment,” knowledge that one has done the right thing, even “joy.” But checking a box is the most trivial accomplishment imaginable; having done so is no guarantee that one has done the right thing, inasmuch as voters routinely make bad decisions for evil reasons; and one suspects that Miss Dunham means something different and less by “joy” than did, say, Beethoven or Walt Whitman. “I wore fishnets and a little black dress to vote,” she writes, “then walked around with a spring in my slinky step. It lasted for days. I can summon it when I’m blue. It’s more effective than exercise or ecstasy or cheesecake.” And that of course is the highest purpose of our ancient constitutional order: to provide adult children with pleasures exceeding those of cheesecake or empathogenic phenethylamines.

It is very depressing.

Our Prisons

Have they become Jihad factories?

[Update a couple minutes later]

More information is coming to light about the head chopper:

Nolen was telling coworkers Thursday of an Islamic teaching that said women should be stoned for an offense, and that an argument followed the mark, Nolen was later fired and returned later Thursday, when he beheaded Colleen Hufford, the family member said.

The local mosque seems to be disowning him, fortunately.

Neil Tyson’s Latest

“Hey, you just have to trust me on all that stuff I made up“:

Eyewitnesses are a good thing. And if you believe Neil deGrasse Tyson is your lord and savior, his eyewitness testimony is of course sufficient for verifying, for instance, that George W. Bush quote.

But what about those of us who are not in the Tyson faith-based community? Are we “anti-intellectuals” to not trust in his unverified claims? I suppose that will be the continued approach by many in the media, some folks in the Wikipedia community (whose trust in Tyson puts the most devout religious piety to absolute shame), and the other fanboys.

I’ve never been as impressed with him as those who consider themselves my intellectual superiors have been demanding, but wow, he really is a piece of work.

[Update a while later]

Tyson finally admits that he botched the Bush quote:

Tyson claims to be a man of science who follows the evidence where it leads. The evidence here clearly shows Tyson screwed up. Whether knowingly or not, he regularly repeated a false account in order to cast aspersions on another public figure. The only proper thing to do is recant and apologize. That is what a person of integrity does.

I won’t be holding my breath.

Workplace Violence

I’m sure that it’s a complete coincidence that the guy who beheaded a woman in Oklahoma had converted to Islam and tried to get his co-workers to convert before he was fired.

Though, actually, it’s unclear that he’s CCW, because he’s reportedly an off-duty sheriff or deputy, so it may have been his LEO weapon. Either way, a sudden-Jihad syndrome being ended by a legal gun owner crosses the media streams.

[Afternoon update]

But remember, it has nothing to do with Islam.

[Update a few minutes later]
This is purported to be the guy’s Facebook page. Nope, no Islam here at all.

Who The Future Belongs To

It belongs to those of us who mock leftists mercilessly.

[Update a few minutes later]

Here’s a good start: Leftist politicians continue to slaughter innocent and defenseless animals:

Yet another defenseless creature was slaughtered by a left-wing politician, the New York Post revealed on Thursday. Adorable groundhog Staten Island Chuck was “chucked” to his death during an appearance with New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, a raging liberal, back in February. Officials sought to cover up the creature’s demise, so as not to fuel public outrage over the disturbing trend of liberal politicians murdering cute animals. They even lied about the true identity of the victim. . . . As horrific as de Blasio’s crime was, it pales in comparison to the carnage President Obama routinely inflicts upon the animal kingdom. His victims include: bald eagles, golden eagles, kit foxes, baby tortoises, and baby bats. Obama’s preferred methods of killing are significantly more brutal, including decapitation via wind turbine and incineration via solar panel heat laser. The mainstream media has done its best to ignore this trend, but it’s only a matter of time before the American people wake up and demand an end to the butchery.

And don’t forget that fly he callously and brutally murdered.

Less than six weeks until an election. You can stop the carnage.

Soyuz Mission Problem?

It may be in trouble. Initial tracking data tweeted by Jonathan McDowell indicates that their orbit is off in inclination by about 0.4 degrees, which is about 50 m/s (probably a hundred kg of propellant). Their total budget for the ascent is about 100 m/s, and it seems unlikely that they have that much margin. So it’s possible that they don’t have enough to both get to ISS and then do a later deorbit, which means they’d have to abort without going to the station.

But the most likely explanation is that it’s just bad tracking data (maybe measuring during a burn?). We’ll find out at the next trajectory update.

[Friday-morning update]

Well, they docked, so presumably, they also have enough to get home.