At least they’re honest

Gotta love the pro-Bush Kerry-haters.

"When all is said and done, Kerry’s campaign is deader than McGovern’s in ’72. In fact he’s looking worse than McGovern, which takes some doing.

"Come November, the Beeb will end up looking extremely foolish after its extensive happy-clappy coverage of Kerry’s campaign — at least amongst us American readers. Will the majority of British people even notice, though? Or will it all come down to, ‘those Yanks were too stupid to go for that wonderful guy in the French shirts’?"

George McGovern, one of the most honourable people to stand for election in recent times, lost by a landslide to Richard Nixon – the worst president of the last century. The enormous defeat came chiefly because Mr Nixon’s dirty campaign falsely painted Mr McGovern as weak on defence.

Less than two years later, Mr Nixon resigned after admitting that he’d taken part in a criminal conspiracy while in the White House. Meanwhile, Mr Nixon did exactly as Mr McGovern had planned, and withdrew US troops from Vietnam.

In short, if there was ever an election in which the American public earned the soubriquet ‘The Yanks were too stupid to go for the wonderful guy (and elected the criminal scumbag instead)’, 1972 was it.

Strangely enough, I always assumed that the *anti*-Bush side would be the only people to mention that particular election this time around…

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Web idiocy

Ever wanted a simple, 18-page overview of General Relativity? Apparently, there’s one here. I wouldn’t know, since it’s only available in PostScript, PDF, and DVI formats, which (unless I’m being paid) I don’t download on principle.

If it’s on the web and you want people to read it, post it in fucking HTML. If it’s on the web and you want machines to read it, post it in XML. There is absolutely no reason, logic or excuse for not making a document available in one of these two formats.

By all means, provide a PDF alternative for people who want to print it out – but note the use of the word "alternative".

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The most law-abiding?

Like many people, Laban Tall is angry about the fox-hunting ban. The debate has been more done-to-death than a typical post-hunt fox, so I’m not going to chip in. Rather, I’m going to take issue with his characterisation of foxhunters as ‘the most law-abiding community in the country’.

This is strange: I suspect that the community of urban professionals is at least as law-abiding, if not more so. Unlike many of the ruralites of my acquaintance, we tend not to drive when pissed, dodge taxes, or own unlicensed guns. I’d also suspect, although this is pure conjecture, that our level of domestic violence is lower.

Indeed, the only crime I can think of that our community regularly commits is consumption of the occasional banned substance – and I’m having trouble thinking of a civil liberties justification for hunting that doesn’t also require cannabis to be legalised…

Perhaps Laban is thinking of a right-wing fantasy world, where Guardian reading and sentimentality about animals are criminalised (actually, the latter would have its merits).

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Lies and liars

Some crooked partisans dishonestly attempted to discredit the presidential candidate they hated. The media, with some help from bloggers, exposed their fabrications within a few days. This happened twice, once to each candiate.

The candidate who wasn’t complicit in the lying, and against whom the accusations were false, is the one who has suffered at the hands of the press and the public. The candidate whose political organisation was complicit in the lying, and against whom the accusations were entirely true (but presented in a faked format), seems hardly to have suffered at all.

I reckon it must be the liberal media bias at work.

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Jedi test

Another interesting point from Squander Two: "The only real problem with The Return Of The Jedi is the whole "I’m evil and I’m going to kill you but if you kill me then that’ll make you evil and then I win anyway" thing. Bollocks, more like."

Although Star Wars isn’t exactly philosophically rigorous, this seems like an interesting and significant dilemma to me – not just bollocks. It’s also got an obvious relevance to the current War On Certain Ethnic Groups Some Of Whom Are Terrorists.

Perhaps it would be interesting to survey people on their reaction to the plot of Return of the Jedi, and then correlate the survey results with their views on indiscriminately slaughtering suspicious-looking brown folk.

Update: probably ought to make clear that I don’t really think War on Terror fans are racists who "have been looking for an excuse to murder brown folk. Thank God those towers fell, eh?". That bit was silly hyperbole; the point was more one of whether massive and fatal angry retaliation, inevitably including civilians and the innocent, is a good way to deal with evil people who think slaughter is kinda groovy and that they’ll go to heaven if we kill them.

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Non-sequitur of the week

Also, ‘silliest idea for a website of the week’. LGF Watch Watch wins hands down on both counts.

LGF is nasty (and yup, that is pretty much all you need to know about it). LGF Watch is a site that exposes LGF’s nastyness (in between shooting fish in barrels). LGF Watch Watch is a site that nominally exposes LGF Watch’s lies – but since there aren’t any, it tends to go on traditional desk warrior tangents.

The award-winning post is the rhetorical question: "If Charles Johnson hates Arabs/Muslims, why is he kicking Dan Rather’s ass?". Now, either I’ve managed to go through life unware that Dan Rather is famous for hating Arabs, or the question is really, astonishingly bizarre.

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Silly survey

The Chinese survey ranking the world’s top universities has received some coverage recently. It’s nonsense: just for starters, only the craziest partisan would rank Caltech above Oxford, or put LSE below Birmingham.

As the examples above might suggest, the survey’s science bias is bordering on the silly. 70% of the marks are awarded for Nobel prizes, articles published in the Nature and Science journals, and articles in the Science and Social Science Citation Indices. Various UK-specific rankings often have a similar bias, sometimes because they look at spending per student (under which, the best measure of performance is ‘the number of medicine students enrolled’).

I’m not sure why this is: it wouldn’t be beyond the wit of a team compiling such a survey to include scores for articles in humanities and law journals; to look at alumni who went on to become important in non-scientific fields; and so on.

Of couse, it might be because only a research team with a heavily quantitative focus would bother carrying out such a survey in the first place…

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