Day: January 17, 2017

Comedienne

I’m pretty sure the dudes who say women aren’t funny are the same dudes who completely fail to notice when I’m joking. (I’m not making a joke there, even though it sounds like one rhythmically. If you’re not laughing, phew, you made the right call.) The number of times dudes have thought I was funny by ACCIDENT is amazing. (See, they’re the ones making the joke, by repeating the thing I just said, which is funny now that they’ve pointed it out! A woman would never come up with something like that.) My favorite is when they’re sure I’ve not only been funny by accident, but that I’ve been funny by accident because I fundamentally misunderstood the subject matter I was talking about.

I guess it’s an easy mistake to make if you believe all women are beautiful objects passing blithely through the world, like paper lanterns floating on a gentle stream, who inadvertently sometimes catch things on fire.

Incidentally, #notallmen, the smart ones know I’m funny.

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Polling Margin of Error Joke (Mexico Wall Edition)

Polls! There is little I find more delightful than looking at columns of numbers. There’s a lot of interesting stuff in here, but here’s the part that made me laugh. (Fair warning: It will probably only make you laugh if you’re a nerd.)

In basically every poll, there is some percentage of people who respond don’t know, don’t care, no answer. Pollsters sometimes try to push these people to pick an answer anyway, to expose people who say they don’t have a preference (maybe out of embarrassment), but in fact do have a preference. There’s a lot of contention around whether this leads polls to be more accurate or less accurate – and the majority opinion among pollsters at the moment is “less accurate.” This poll, as is typical, has a column for non-responses.

Basically, unless a pollster FORCES this number to be zero, it is never zero. You can ask a group of a thousand people whether they like their own name, and a couple percent are going to say they don’t understand the question or have never heard of themselves or they saw something out the window just now, what is that thing? (You could think of it like a typo rate. No matter who you are, you’re definitely going to mess up a word somewhere, even if you totally know.)

In this poll, EVERYBODY has an opinion on whether Trump is going to build a wall (probably not) and whether Mexico is going to pay for it (firm no). For context, 3% have “no opinion” of Donald Trump. How many people have no opinion about the wall? Zero percent.

This is so COMPLETELY in keeping with my experience every time I or a friend is doing home repairs.

I think a lot of songs need to be rewritten: “Don’t know much about history, don’t know much biology, but I do know that despite not owning a roof I have strong feelings about roofing materials.”

Clinton Foundation Smear Story

Want a window into how state-linked domestic propaganda is going to work?

Two days ago, a smear story about the Clinton Global Initiative showed up simultaneously in The New York Observer (owned by Jared Kushner) and Breitbart News (Steve Bannon’s thing)…and in no real newspapers. The story goes, essentially, “The Clinton Global Initiative is shutting down because nobody’s giving it money anymore! That proves it was always influence peddling.”

It’s ludicrous. The Clintons announced in September that they were shutting down the Global Initiative at the end of 2016, regardless of who won the election. At the time, they thought Hillary was going to win, as did most of us, and this would have allowed them to comply with the Emoluments Clause. However, they committed (in September) to shutting it down even if she didn’t win, because by the time of the November election, the logistical and legal process of shutting down the Initiative would already be two months underway, and hard-to-impossible to reverse. The resources and the staff were moving on to other things. (You can relate this to your personal life if you’ve ever done something like moved house or transferred schools.) Now, as we near inauguration day, it’s wrapping up on schedule.

Repackaged “hot takes” of the Kushner/Bannon smear are now popping up in the expected places, because it’s easier and cheaper for blogs and opinion columns and talk shows to lazily react to what “everybody’s saying” instead of doing independent reporting.

In the National Review, correspondent Jim Geraghty offered the following representative brain fart: “After dramatically increasing its yearly donation in 2014 and 2015, the government of Norway chose to reduce its donation by 87 percent after the election. Why would foreign governments suddenly lose interest in the charitable work the Clinton Foundation purported to do? They wouldn’t, unless the Clinton Foundation and CGI had existed to give foreign governments and businessmen a way to curry favor with a future president from the beginning.”

Norway stopped giving money to the Global Initiative because it NO LONGER EXISTS. I am not in the habit of giving money to initiatives that don’t exist. I can’t imagine the government of Norway differs from me substantially on this point.

Meanwhile, other initatives run by the Clinton Foundation are still going strong and doing fine. The wheels didn’t fall off. This one project is shutting down.

And no, this doesn’t excuse Trump’s conflicts of interest AT ALL.

P.S. if I wanted to bribe somebody in the executive branch, I’d probably spend that money in a more targeted way than spreading it out over 435 million people in more than 180 countries.


If you want to check my accounting of the distribution path for this story, all you have to do is search for recent mentions of the Clinton Global Initiative and look at date stamps. But if we want to get into more speculative territory…the reason I noticed this as it was happening is that the initial New York Observer story briefly showed up on news.google.com a couple days ago in the “top stories” section and I said “Wait a sec” and looked for whether anybody else was reporting the same thing (which at the time no – except Breitbart).

That suggests to me that Trump flunkies did some algorithm maniuplation and botnet stuff that pushed the Observer story onto my dash, in a section that’s normally reserved for more sober reporting by organizations like Reuters, CNN, and the NYT. I have NEVER seen a New York Observer story in there, until now.

An alternate less sinister explanation is that it’s not Trump people, but Google people making a tweak that’s not working well, the evidence for which would be that an Onion article showed up in my news feed today, also for the first time (although not in Top Stories – down in Entertainment)