Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Sophistry Is as Sophistry Does
The big media story this morning is about whether He Who Shall Not Be Named actually wanted to bomb the headquarters of Al Jazeera, or he was just kidding around. (I'm on the fence: He may have been serious, or it may have been the Jack Daniels talking. In any event, it's a distinction without a difference.) To me, an even bigger story is the tempest surrounding the Great Dick Cheney X-Out.

Did you hear about this? On Monday, Cheney was performing his Theater of the Absurd show somewhere, and CNN was carrying it. For approximately one-seventh of a second, a large black X appeared over Cheney's face--which caused Matt Drudge to go into conniptions that in turn proliferated all over Wingnuttia: Those goddamn liberals at CNN, how dare they make such an obviously political statement about the vice president! (I tried finding the link to Drudge's original article, but his archives, which appear quite exhaustive, are actually quite difficult to navigate, so the hell with it.) CNN has explained that the X was a technical glitch, which I knew within one-seventh of a second after I first read the story, and so did Drudge, I would imagine. But the opportunity to bash CNN was too good to pass up, so off they went--even though it made them look pretty stupid.

If you're gonna be a wingnut, I guess you can't be afraid of looking stupid. Speaking of which, you should read the Poorman's explanation of "the wanker/wingnut continuum." I haven't laughed so hard at a blog post in a long time.
We define our zero of wingnuttery as Charles Darwin’s classic “The Origin of Species”, and our zero of wankery as Steve McQueen, the only man to live through the 1960’s without ever having a stupid haircut. Moving upwards from our axis of wingnuttery we pass through lines of increasing wingnuttiness, while moving to the right from our zero-wankery line implies ever higher degrees of wankitude, until, after many, many sheets of graph paper, we find ourselves at the Burning Man festival. With this as our guide, we can objectively plot the wingnut and wanker ratings of any individual, and determine what relationship exists between these two seemingly unrelated characteristics.
Clearly, that's a Nobel Prize in the making right there.

Recommended Reading: The Poorman also noted a story from last week about a ballot initiative to be voted on in South Dakota next year that would create special grand juries to look into complaints about judges. (Website registration is required to read the story: get a login at BugMeNot.com.) The grand juries would deal with everything from accusations of graft, which is the kind of thing state legislatures are supposed to deal with, to accusations of "sophistry," which opens a can of worms the size of the Spanish Inquisition. What looks like a way to make judges be fairer to everyone is actually yet another attempt to tilt the playing field in favor of the kind of people who are likely to get all up in judges' business about "sophistry." Folks like this.

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