Archive for the 'fish vs shorebird' Category

I blame fish

There have been multiple complaints regarding this blog and the propensity for extensive arguments. The Ombuds collective acknowledges that arguments must be avoided at all costs as they have a tendency to make David Broder uncomfortable. It has also been noted that these arguments are taking place without the proper safety training as required by Article E, Section M, Subheading U. So before we continue, it is required that you all view this argument training video:

Fish stole the video. Let us proceed then. A rigorous statistical analysis of the argument phenomenon that is occurring in the greater 3Bulls(!) blogosphere revealed only one  common causative modality with a P Value reaching significance (p=0.0): fish. Yes, it appears fish is a major root cause of argumentation. I am afraid that an intervention is required.

There is a problem however. How does one actually intervene with a chronic arguer? The first step is to recognize the signs of the arguing addict to be sure the diagnosis is correct:

1) Does the individual head into the bathroom carrying a copy of Debaters Weekly and mumbling something about becoming a “Master”?

2) Do you have to put parental controls on the TV to block The McLaughlin Group?

3) Must you never say the words “designated hitter” out loud in his or her presence?

4) Have you heard enough about salt already?

Given criteria such as those above, it is clear to the Ombuds that fish has a serious problem and runs the risk of making David Broder cry if he does not get the help that he needs.

This Ombud has a few recommended actions:

1) pick up apparatus; use apparatus, play video of Kennedy/Nixon debate while playing Rush at full volume.

2) mark fish’s IP as spam and then initiate an argument between Mandos and Plover on the post-modern theory as applied to the inherent sexism of Linux use in the movie Avatar.

3) Read Matt Yglesias’ justification for the Iraq War out loud and apply strong electroshock every time he audibly snorts.

4) Cancel his subscriptions to Z Magazine and the Utne Reader. Force him to subscribe to and read TNR, Slate, and The Nation. Refuse to discuss or consider any points of view other than David Corn’s.

5) Any time he brings up Chomsky, say that “Jonah Goldberg really has a more interesting take on this topic”.

6) Agree with everything he says. (this may be an unworkable solution)

I am sure with aggressive treatment, we can get fish to allow someone else to speak once in a while. If he continues on his current path, he is in danger of using up all the letters on the internets. Let’s get him re-socialized and ready to become a productive member of society again. Won’t you help fish instead of cursing him?


fish vs shorebird, sort of: Use and abuse of narrative, part 4

The sheepish look on a particular shorebird at, with this post, disturbing the tranquillity of those who thought this particular brouhaha had subsided a month ago caused one of our editors to suggest filing it under “fish vs ovine”, but said editor was, to easily imaginable effect, threatened with being locked in the room with the ombudscrew.

Perhaps this post will function as a kind of outreach to the zombie community.

Either that or when the cart heralded by “Bring out your dead!” arrives, it will simply be bundled on to it, protestations that it is, in point of fact, not well characterized as “dead” notwithstanding — though whether that is because those protestations are ignored, or are, as it turns out, never made, is probably not within my purview.

Prior installments: part 1, part 2, Part 3.

Continue reading ‘fish vs shorebird, sort of: Use and abuse of narrative, part 4’

fish vs shorebird, sort of: Use and abuse of narrative, part 3

I’m sure these Acme Jet-propelled Skates will work this time.

Prior installments: part 1, part 2.

Continue reading ‘fish vs shorebird, sort of: Use and abuse of narrative, part 3’

fish vs shorebird, sort of: Use and abuse of narrative, part 2

When I put up the previous post in this mishegas, I left a comment at fish’s saying:

I’m afraid I’ve ended up engaging in disproportionate response again.

It has been suggested to me that this should be my tag line. Sadly, I can find no argument against that.

Below the fold, find “epic ploveriness” or “an amazing cure for insomnia” or “a tragic misuse of space where there should be moose jokes and Goobie pics” or “an evil ploy by sink lettuce” or whatever it is the kids are calling it these days (now with annoying Wittgensteinian numbering system!).

Continue reading ‘fish vs shorebird, sort of: Use and abuse of narrative, part 2’

fish vs shorebird, sort of: Use and abuse of narrative

A week ago, fish posted an excerpt from an SEK LGM post lambasting the film Avatar for having a racist narrative logic, along with a critique of SEK’s argument. The burden of fish’s argument, being of a sort to cause strange colors in shorebirds, led to an exchange of comments (which starts here) and eventually to the slab o’ text making up the main part of this post.

[In 3D where available]

Continue reading ‘fish vs shorebird, sort of: Use and abuse of narrative’

fish vs shorebird file — part “Gators for Nader”

Back in February, on the occasion of Ralph Nader again declaring his intention to run headfirst into a brick wall for President, Sifu Tweety Fish of The Poor Man Institute decided that, a sufficient amount of something having somethinged, that the time had come around to annoy Nader supporters.

The current post, however, is not intended to annoy anyone and is not really about Nader, but rather about inconsistencies of American politics that make analyzing voting patterns very difficult.

In the comments to the aforementioned thread, fish posted the following:

Gore lost by around 750 votes. Nader got 97K votes in Florida. Bush got 200,000 votes from registered Democrats. 50% of all registered Democrats didn’t even bother to fucking vote in Florida.

Yeah, your right, it was Nader’s fault.

The part of this I want to focus on is “Bush got 200,000 votes from registered Democrats”.

While I have never looked at detailed data from the 2000 election, I did end up toying with data from Florida in 2004.

An early statistical analysis of the data from the 2004 election indicated that there might have been problems with the voting machines in Florida. My opinion at the time appears to have been that various articles had “quot[ed] these statistics indiscriminately” and that people on all sides had failed to recognize that “it was an incomplete analysis and [thus one should] not jump to conclusions”.

In the course of the discussion of that analysis, I took my own look at some of the data to try and figure out what was going on in some of the counties.

For example, the numbers for Taylor County looked like this:

Registered Republican 18.90%
Registered Democratic 75.60%
Total Registered 11481
Voted Republican (Bush) 5466
Voted Democrat (Kerry) 3049
Total Votes 8580
Expected Republican Votes 1622
Expected Democratic Votes 6486

The “expected” numbers just being the registration percentage applied to the actual turnout. Ignoring for the moment anyone not registered D or R, Democrats voted for their own candidate at less than half the rate expected and Bush received votes at over three times the rate expected and amounting to two-and-a-half times the number of registered Republicans.

When one considers that there were almost certainly Kerry voters who were not registered Democrats, the Democratic turnout looks even worse. And even if one assumes that:

  • every registered Republican turned out to vote and voted for Bush (2170), and
  • every registered voter who was registered neither Republican nor Democrat turned out to vote and voted for Bush (631)

that total (2801) would still require that 2665 registered Democrats voted for Bush. (Call this measure of required Democratic votes for Bush R.)

There are twenty-eight counties in Florida which voted for Bush in 2004 at nearly or over twice the “expected” (that is, percent registered R times total actual votes) rate (for eleven counties it was over 3x). These are all low-population counties: more than a third have fewer than 10,000 registered voters, and only two have over 30,000.

At the time, some people were pointing to results like this and screaming that it was clear evidence that the Republicans were stealing votes. If I recall correctly, I, too, may have believed this at first. In any case, I decided to check out what the voting history was in such counties in prior Presidential elections. For Taylor County, I found the following:

         Democrat       Republican         Third       Other
2004  Kerry    35.5%  Bush      63.7%                  0.8%
2000  Gore     38.9%  Bush      59.6%  Nader     0.9%  0.6%
1996  Clinton  44.8%  Dole      39.9%  Perot    14.3%  1.1%
1992  Clinton  35.6%  Bush      37.3%  Perot    26.7%  0.3%
1988  Dukakis  30.0%  Bush      69.1%                  0.9%
1984  Mondale  30.0%  Reagan    70.0%                  0.0%
1980  Carter   50.5%  Reagan    47.3%  Anderson  1.3%  0.9%
1976  Carter   62.3%  Ford      36.7%                  1.0%
1972  McGovern 15.5%  Nixon     84.5%                  0.0%
1968  Humphrey 18.6%  Nixon     15.7%  Wallace  65.7%  0.0%
1964  Johnson  39.1%  Goldwater 60.9%  Unpledged 0.0%  0.0%

Note especially the 1968 results.

The conclusion I came to at the time (based, to my recollection, both on this data and some independent confirmatory information) is that the counties in Florida which follow this pattern are rural counties with very conservative populations which are governed on a local level by Democratic establishments of a form little changed since Reconstruction. Thus, many people are registered Democrats because of how local politics works, but this does not correlate meaningfully with how these voters make their choice in a Presidential election.

Applying measure R — which is obviously an underestimate — to the twenty-eight counties in the group I’ve described one finds that there is an absolute floor of 47,314 Democrats who voted for Bush (17% of registered Democrats).

If one uses the number of votes by which Kerry underperformed estimated expectations, something like 85,000 votes for Bush probably came from registered Democrats in these twenty-eight counties. That too may very well be an underestimateA better figure would require the turnout figures broken down by party affiliation, which are not in the data I’m looking at. as it assumes no one voted for Kerry who is not registered Democrat. These counties are home to around 4% of Florida registered voters. There are, it stands to reason, rural areas in counties which include urban centers where this pattern also holds but where it is not visible in a coarse-grained dataset.

What I think this shows is that an unqualified statement like “Bush got 200,000 votes from registered Democrats” can not be effectively employed in an argument applied to a state where there exists a significant population for whom party affiliation with the Democrats is not predictive of Presidential preference. I have no particular point here to make about Nader or the 2000 election; I just consider this a useful example of the slipperiness of political statistics.

fish vs shorebird file — part “It’s all the mammals’ fault”

What follows is a response to fish’s contribution to the previous episode of fish vs shorebird file. As it turns out, it also functions as a response to Mandos’s most recent comments on that thread.


While the arguments and the words I use to describe the situation often sound like this is a secret cabal of 5 guys with cigars sitting in a smokey room making all the big decisions, this is not what I am trying to describe (I am sure my lazy language and argumentation is at the heart of this).

I’m not entirely happy with my own language on this topic either. There is an element of the Chomskyesque argument that can sound like conspiracy theory — sort of. It’s not, but I haven’t yet found quite the right conceptual approach to talk about it. I suppose in pointing it out in those terms, I’ve been hoping the resulting discussion might clarify things. Either that or I just get too entranced by my own rhetoric.

The next section is a really nitpicky reading of the rest of your description. There’s not much in it that I disagree with in a broad sense. Perhaps, my tweezing at it will reveal something about my approach.

Continue reading ‘fish vs shorebird file — part “It’s all the mammals’ fault”’

fish vs shorebird file — part [CLASSIFIED]

We have met the enemy and he is us.
— Pogo

Long, long ago (the past few days), in a galaxy far, far away (fish’s blog):

fish posted a selection from the more worrisome quotes of the Democratic Presidential candidates concerning their respective approaches to national security. AG and BP commented on that post to the effect that making worrisome statements about national security is an apparently unavoidable aspect of campaigning for president in the US.

In reply to these comments, fish made the argument that polling shows Americans are less pro-war than the national security positions of our candidates and Presidents would indicate, writing:

Continue reading ‘fish vs shorebird file — part [CLASSIFIED]’