Maddow doubles down, plus the sum of all natural numbers!

FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 7, 2014

A mission of national import: We’re headed off for the Amtrak ride to Rhinecliff, New York which we periodically take.

(That’s where the train lets you off.)

As we depart, we’ll recommend our favorite piece of journalism from this week. And we’ll suggest you watch the tape from the first segment of last night’s Maddow Show.

For our favorite piece, click this. It’s Dennie Overbye’s piece in Science Times about what happens if you “add the natural numbers, 1 plus 2 plus 3 and so on all the way to infinity.”

Aw what the heck. This is the way it starts:
OVERBYE (2/4/14): This is what happens when you mess with infinity.

You might think that if you simply started adding the natural numbers, 1 plus 2 plus 3 and so on all the way to infinity, you would get a pretty big number. At least I always did.

So it came as a shock to a lot of people when, in a recent video, a pair of physicists purported to prove that this infinite series actually adds up to ...minus 1/12.
Overbye reports a revoltin’ deveopment. This is the place where we stage our lonely protest against this work of popular writing:
OVERBYE: In modern terms, Dr. Frenkel explained, the gist of the calculations can be interpreted as saying that the infinite sum has three separate parts: one of which blows up when you go to infinity, one of which goes to zero, and minus 1/12. The infinite term, he said, just gets thrown away.
We didn’t understand that paragraph. For decades now, we’ve been fascinated by the amount of everyday writing which, at its heart, resembles that rather impenetrable paragraph.

Go ahead—give Overbye’s piece a try. We hope to discuss it at some point. Your reactions may differ from ours.

Back to the here and now:

Last night, Rachel Maddow doubled down on her claim that Chris Christie changed his story about the Fort Lee mess during his radio appearance this Monday night.

For our previous post on this topic, click here. This is the way last night’s declaration began:
MADDOW (2/6/14): Now, the governor has started telling a new story about those top two aides and his own role in this scandal as it unfolded.

MSNBC can report tonight that the new explanation that Governor Chris Christie has given this week about how he responded to the shutdown of access lanes onto the George Washington Bridge is contradicted directly by the governor’s own earlier statements on this matter from late last year.
“MSNBC can report tonight...?” This was delivered with the gravity and drama normally reserved for the announcement that some state has gone to some candidate on presidential election night.

Take a look at the tape of that segment, or review the transcript when it becomes available. For ourselves, we won’t be able to discuss the evidence Maddow offered until perhaps the start of the week. (We’ll try to do so tomorrow.)

Just be forewarned if you watch:

On that tape, you will see Maddow presenting tape of statements Christie made in mid-December. Those statements concern his attitude toward the Fort Lee matter at that time.

You will be told that those statements “directly contradict” what he said Monday night. In that statement, Christie was describing what he thought and did on or around October 1, when he says he first learned that there was a controversy about the lane closings.

It may be that all those statements by Christie were false. But that isn’t the claim that is being made. Maddow is claiming that Christie’s statement from Monday night is “directly contradicted” by what he said in mid-December. Rather, that’s what MSNBC is able to report!

We were provisionally stunned when we watched this segment last night. We can’t review its claims this morning. Be forewarned if watch.

According to Overbye, if you add all the natural numbers, the sum is minus one-twelfth. On its face, that doesn’t make sense.

The Daily Howler can report this morning that Maddow’s rolling journalistic “disclosures” are perhaps even more puzzling than that.

122 comments:

  1. Yes, how dare Maddow compare Christie's old stories (and there were many) with his new one.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What is to be gained by doing this? Too close a consistency would indicate he is lying. But wait, too many discrepancies indicate he is lying too. Christie is damned if he does and damned if he doesn't tell exactly the same story. How are we to know then whether he is lying or not? By knowing what is true. But that depends on time and more investigation and Maddow has to fill her quota of hours in the meantime.

      Delete
    2. It isn't just details and minor points. Christie has told so many lies about what he knew and when he stopped knowing it that he can no longer keep them all straight.


      Delete
    3. Name two lies. Provide the proof that shows it was a lie.

      Delete
    4. It's not just that Christie previously mentioned this minor detail that he had dispatched his two top lieutenants to the PA to investigate what was going on, it's that he openly mocked even the suggestion by reporters that might have investigated. And he affirmatively stated that he had no interest in investigating the problem.

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    5. And do not forget Christie's notion, as he mocked reporters who dared ask him questions, that this was all a nothingburger cooked up by Wisniewski and Weinberg.

      That is also no longer operative. We are back to tough, no-nonsense Chris Christie, making omelets no matter how many eggs he has to break.

      This is one tough cookie. Sent his two top guys who discovered it was a traffic study. Then told all his staff members they had one hour to 'fess up.

      Wow! That's getting to the ample bottom of this thing!

      Delete
    6. And don't forget, he has now hired a national law firm to interview the people working for him and find out what's been happening in his office. And he "can't wait" to find out.

      Delete
    7. Apparently he had to call in the outside lawyers to investigate because he can no longer trust his counsel and chief of staff to do it.

      They must now be "unreliable."

      Delete
    8. Those aren't examples of lies. Further, you don't seem to understand that people's attitudes toward events might evolve with passage of time. Christie has explained that initially this didn't seem like a problem to him because he doesn't get involved in disputes about traffic studies. What made this a problem was the suggestion that it was being done as a political reprisal, the lying about it to him by his staff (based on the fact that they clearly knew about it from their emails), and the threat of spread into a larger corruption investigation. That brought the "problem" up to his level of attention. Ignoring that governors don't typically get involved in squabbles over traffic studies and implying that he should have launched a full investigation from day one is unfair to Christie.

      You are completely ignoring the timeline. That is not clear thinking. Given the way so many people reason here, I wouldn't want any of you on my jury.

      Delete
    9. So sorry to hear about your troubles Anonymous 1:00

      When is your trial?

      Delete
    10. Translated 1:15 PM:

      Yeah, we got no actual confirmed lies. So, we'll pretend to misunderstand your use of a common metaphor, as if that were what's relevant..

      Delete
    11. Relax, it was a joke. The appropriate response is "the same trial all sensible readers of TDH endure when they have to read the comments of trolls."

      Q: What's the difference between a GWB troll and a GWB toll?

      Delete
    12. "Ignoring that governors don't typically get involved in squabbles over traffic studies and implying that he should have launched a full investigation from day one is unfair to Christie."

      I am implying nothing of the sort from which you freely infer.

      All I am saying is that the world of Bob and the Christie Defense Team would be much easier if the governor would pick one lie and stick with it.

      Delete
    13. "That brought the "problem" up to his level of attention." Anon 1:00 PM

      And when precisely was that?

      Delete
    14. MM, wan't it when the e-mail from Kelly was made public?

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    15. AC/MA,

      I don't know. Depends on which version of the ever shifting story by Christie you want to take.

      The email from Kelly was made public January 8, 2014. That's when Christie got real sad. But according to this new story from Christie he dispatched his two top guys to investigate after Foye's memo was released, which was October 1, 2013.

      ****
      CHRISTIE: As soon as I was aware of the fact that there was a problem, which was when Pat Foye`s e-mail came out, I had my staff say, go find out what`s going on over at the Port Authority. Why are they fighting with each other over this? And what happened?

      As soon as I knew that there was some issue here, I asked my staff to get to the Port Authority and find out what`s going on. The first time this really came into my consciousness as an issue was when Pat Foye,
      executive director of the Port Authority`s e-mail about this incident was leaked to the media. That`s when I asked my chief of staff and chief counsel, I said something, hey, would you look into this and see what`s going on here?
      *******

      So that was in Octobor 2013.

      But in December 2013, when he's asked by a reporter,

      ****
      REPORTER: What evidence makes you accept there really was a traffic study?

      CHRISTIE: Because they told me. I have no reason to believe that they lied. They told us. I didn`t have direct conversation with them, but they told us, they told the assembly committee that Chairman Wisniewski
      chaired. I heard Senator Baroni`s testimony.
      ******

      So what happened? He's asked directly what evidence he has and he never mentions that he directed his two top lieutenants to investigate?

      Delete
    16. deadrat asks:

      Q: What's the difference between a GWB troll and a GWB toll?

      A: Trolls have EZ Pass and get on before Ft. Lee.

      Delete
    17. Nope.

      A: You only get annoyed with GWB tolls half the time.

      (Ask if you don't get it.)

      Delete
    18. mm that is all well and good.

      But just because Christie didn't say he sent his top staff to the PA in October when asked in December
      doesn't mean he just didn't feel like making this addition to his story he felt like making in February back in December.

      Remember it was Carol Ann, a radio show caller he was answering this week. Back in December it was just some damn journalist.

      Delete
    19. mm, I'm a trial lawyer and a lot of doing that involves trying to get to the bottom of things, being involved in battles between 2 sides, each trying to sell a different story, and trying to attack the other side's version. Your argument that Christie is changing his story on this particular issue isn't particularly strong. The truth isn't always easy to unravel, but it's a natural tendency to come to firm conclusions based on inconclusive, ambiguous or partial evidence. Dispatching his 2 top guys is not necessarily inconsistent with sending his staff to investigate. I don't like Christie myself. The real question is whether Christie was involved in, or knew about beforehand, the decision to close the traffic lanes, and from what I can see, that remains in the realm of possibility, but isn't a proven fact.

      Delete
    20. AS/MA, I understand. This isn't a 100 % clear smoking gun. It doesn't prove anything by itself. It's just one more piece of the puzzle. But I did find it interesting and totally inconsistent with all his previous public utterances to this scandal. And it opens up more questions in the investigation. That's all.

      But I certainly do not understand why Rachel Maddow has earned more mockery and derision for even bringing the subject up. That's what's so bizarre. And btw, I'm not a trial lawyer, I'm an engineer, and I can tell you this cover story of a traffic study designed by David Wildstein is downright offensive.

      Delete
    21. mm, I agree, it's virtually beyond dispute, that the "traffic study" explanation is mind boggling. It's perhaps a fine point, but it appears the lane closings were at the time they were initiated justified or presented as being a traffic study to see if closing Fort Lee's lanes would help the other main traffic coming from the south. I don't think, based on the testimony of the port authority officials that I've read that it is correct to this was an excuse made up after the fact. What it was from evidence at this point is a seemingly bogus traffic study. Christie is claiming he was in the dark beforehand, and skepticism is understandable.

      Delete
    22. AC/MA, I think most of us who are looking at this understand that the "study" cover was not made up after the fact. That is hardly a mitigating factor. In fact, it is entirely understandable, given the enormity of what they had to do to close the lanes. It really doesn't matter.

      The funny thing is, I would be willing to bet that Bob spent a lot of time searching the record for any previous statement made by Christie asserting that he had sent his top two guys to investigate in October. Just so he could show that Maddow was wrong. And you know what? He came up empty. So he's left with mocking her and talking about some mathematical riddle. It's sad really.

      Delete
  2. Bob doesn't care about sick children in West Virginia.

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    1. "musings on the mainstream "press corps" and the american discourse"

      Delete
    2. "musings on what Rachel Maddow said last night"

      I count five straight posts with Maddow in the headline.

      Delete
    3. "And you do?"

      Rachel Maddow does.

      Delete
    4. ""And you do?"

      Rachel Maddow does."

      As if...

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    5. "As if . . ." Bob's pleasing tale that Maddow is on Christie at the expense of far more important stories isn't quite true as we launch into another day of Somerby vs. Maddow.

      He did refrain from mentioning her handsome salary, though. I will give him credit for that.

      Delete
    6. Here you use the same device as Maddow. You take a statement Somerby made earlier and apply it to one of Maddow's later shows appearing after he made that statement. Hardly seems fair, whether she does it or you do.

      If I believed for a second that Maddow cares about anything she reports on, perhaps she wouldn't make my skin crawl. Narcissism thy name is Maddow. She IS doing a wonderful job of serving her plutocrat masters. I will give her credit for that.

      Delete
    7. I keep forgetting. "Massively ginned-up controversy" is no longer operative. We can now forget that he ever said it. In fact, it is one of the Rules of Bob's Tribe that makes him 100 percent right, 100 percent of the time, like he demands of others.

      Delete
    8. " . . . perhaps she wouldn't make my skin crawl. Narcissism thy name is Maddow. She IS doing a wonderful job of serving her plutocrat masters."

      Might I apply a bit of Bob Tribe logic here? If Maddow makes your skin crawl, why the tribe's obsession with her?

      Or, in the words of the great John Oliver, do you gravitate only to those blogs that express opinions you already hold?

      Delete
    9. Won't it be funny when you guys find out Maddow has been working for Kochs or someone similar whose plan is to knock Christie out of the race in favor of Paul Ryan or Jeb Bush or Marco Rubio -- because Christie seems too willing to be bipartisan and won't carry out the obstructionist conservative agenda the way the money-guys prefer? Won't you feel foolish then?

      Tribalism is one explanation but I think there is also an evolved, inherent natural revulsion aimed at phoniness, fakeness, because it is odd and unnatural and thus may be indicative of mental illness or some other interpersonal danger.

      There are no blogs that express opinions I already hold. Sometimes there are occasional commenters that do.

      Delete
    10. We see a comment not only made Anon: 10:58's skin crawl, it got under his/her skin, made it all the way to the brain and out popped a possible Koch/Maddow conspiracy coupled with projections of mental disorder and a hint of interpersonal danger our favorite blogger might describe as "fuzzy."

      Who planted the "plutocrat master" notion is this person's head. Could it be BOB? Nah! He deals only in facts and proof, Anybody watching his careful use of Salem witch trial analogies mixed with hangman's noose nostrums could tell you that.

      KZ

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    11. You think Bob invented the term plutocrat?

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    12. No. In his service as a blogger he took the initiative to create the notion in someone's noggin that the petty piddle with which rubes are preoccupied serves plutocrats well.

      Delete
    13. Karl Marx said much the same thing.

      Delete
    14. Karl Marx invented the internet?

      Delete
  3. Overbye's piece is essentially mathematical nonsense. There is no sense in which 1+2+3+... adds up to -1/12, any more than 1+3+9+27+... = -1/2, although we can show that, too, by similar logic. There is a more precise statement that is true, however.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Calling all pseudo-intellectuals! Like the famous Monty Hall Problem, Bob can't wrap his brain around a very complex idea so he simply dismisses it as nonsense.

      Delete
    2. Damn Bob for failing to be a mathematician!

      I didn't see him dismiss anything as nonsense. I saw him state that he didn't understand a paragraph and complain that other writing is similarly opaque in today's media.

      Delete
    3. I've gotten the same thing just by setting left-overs on the eggs.

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    4. (I hadn't read the Overbye piece, should have been more clear - the video in that Overbye piece is the nonsense.) Overbye is wrong that there is "broad agreement that a more rigorous approach gives the same result." The rigorous statement is a very different statement from this statement - they can hardly be called "the same."

      Delete
    5. "I didn't see him dismiss anything as nonsense."

      "According to Overbye, if you add all the natural numbers, the sum is minus one-twelfth. On its face, that doesn’t make sense."

      Which is not quite what Overbye says if you actually click on to Bob's link and read it.

      Delete
    6. Yes, so Bob didn't understand it. That's what he says. "We didn’t understand that paragraph."

      Delete
    7. So instead of another attempt to tie two completely random thoughts off the top of his head together, Bob should perhaps stick to what he does understand?

      But of course, he'd probably be out of business in three days.

      Delete
    8. The common denominator is lack of clear explanation.

      Delete
    9. "He did refrain from mentioning her handsome salary, though. I will give him credit for that."

      I regret he did not mention whether she stroked herself or perspired.

      Plus the fact he left both problems unsolved while he rides the train gives me a piddling fuzzy assertion inside. Does anything add up to ad infinitum or is Madddow trying to hang Christie or dunk him?

      You tell me. Wait till Saturday. Or maybe next week. Watch this space!

      Delete
    10. String theory is well-known enough to be the subject of jokes on sit-coms, so it seems to me like this Times article was a good start on introducing the counter-intuitive math that goes on in those ivory towers. Though the Times article was pretty useless other than bringing up the topic and then linking to the video...

      By the way, the video has 1.6MM hits over the past month.

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    11. MM = millimeter?

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    12. MM = Popstar employed by Chrysler before Bob Dylan to sell cars during Superbowl.

      Delete
  4. "We were provisionally stunned when we watched this segment last night. We can’t review its claims this morning. Be forewarned if watch.

    According to Overbye, if you add all the natural numbers, the sum is minus one-twelfth. On its face, that doesn’t make sense.

    The Daily Howler can report this morning that Maddow’s rolling journalistic “disclosures” are perhaps even more puzzling than that."

    Fuzzy math. Fuzzy charges. They was fighting at da PA. We sent
    the boys over to find out what's got 'em sauced. They said it was a study. End of story. It ain't like I wasn't joking when I said I moved the damn cones myself. What are youse, stupid or something? Fuggedaboudit.


    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Mocking NJ accents. Classy

      Delete
    2. I thought I opened mocking Somerby's syntax.

      You could say the greatest American novel mocked
      southern and black accents. Or you could call it dialect.

      Delete
    3. The mere fact that the lying, jealous Bob would say "Take a look at the tape" proves his disingenuousness and the depths to which he will lie to try to make a false point against someone who is obviously superior and of whom who he is obviously jealous. It's not tape. It's digital. They haven;t used tape in years. This shows his towering hypocrisy and disproves his broader thesis about progressive media.

      Delete
    4. Tribal rubes. Bob describes you well, but you do an even better job demonstrating what you are.

      Delete
    5. Vile troll. We are all equal in the eyes of our creator and the Constitution He inspired.

      Delete
    6. Every time I read the comments section, I feel sad for Bob.

      Delete
  5. You blog is excellent and well written. How do you do that on a solid basis with such topics of varying detail and still put your name on it with no fear?

    I might have nothing further to say on this topic but check it out and see if you like my past blogging.

    Ed G. Wall

    http://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2014/02/04/article-2551608-1B1D301000000578-706_634x378.jpg

    ReplyDelete
  6. Overbye did two unsound things. He asserted that 1-1+1-1+1-... adds up to 1/2. That has intuitive appeal, but it's wrong. under the usual definition, that series doesn't converge. It doesn't add up to anything. He also added non-converging series term by term, another intuitively appealing but incorrect step.

    I think Bob is claiming that Rachel Maddow similarly reasons from propositions that have intuitive appeal, but which are not actually correct.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Very intuitive of you Mr. In Cal. But either BOB's claim is fuzzy or you have disappeared the fact about what might be false.

      We say "fuzzy" because BOB could mean Maddow is as unreasonable as Monday in Salem Village, or it could mean that all those statements by Christie were false. In which case there would, of course, be no contradiction, just an ever evolving pack of lies. But that would mean you are correct that Maddow is not correct.
      Of course that would make Maddow's "cover story" angle correct, which would be provisionally stunning.

      In any case, since anything we just don't know can't hurt you and is as possible as anything and everything until journalistically disproven, keep up the good work.

      KZ

      Delete
    2. Schizophrenic wordplay is not cute -- it is sad.

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    3. "I think that Bob is claiming ..." ZZZZZZZZzzzzzzz.

      Delete
    4. Why do they have to keep telling us what Bob meant when we obviously don't care?


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    5. 223: Reading Comprehension Failure.

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    6. People keep telling you what Bob wrote because you obviously don't understand it.

      Delete
    7. People keep telling you what Bob really, really meant because they can't defend what Bob actually wrote.

      Delete
    8. What is there to defend when Somerby says he doesn't understand what Overbye wrote?

      Delete
    9. Don't think so. TDH is sometimes on target, sometimes off, and sometimes he misfires entirely. But he's as subtle as a sledgehammer. Whether I agree with him or not, it's clear which of his pet themes he's pounding on. Hard to believe there are people like you who don't get it. Harder still to believe that some have the patience to explain it to you.

      Delete
  7. OMB (LISTEN UP YE ERRANT RUBES OF SALEM VILLAGE)

    The One True BOB warned you only yesterday:

    "This is a classic artifact of scandal culture. Hustlers search every comma their target has emitted, praying to God that they will be able to locate a “change of story.” OTB 1/6/14

    Would you just look at all the commas Maddow is pointing to here on the videotape.

    In his most thorough debunking of the village dunker BOB said:

    "It also isn’t a whole new story or a whole new explanation.... a person isn’t “changing his story” when he simply adds additional detail to a claim he has already made."

    So here we present you with a new version of the old "contradiction" scandal culture scam, entitled:

    Mayor Sokolich Seems to Change His Story

    In retelling this tale, we will reprint a scandal culture version. We will insert things that should have been said in parentheses in order for the story to be told in the scandal culture free standard of OTB.

    "To us, it sounds like the mayor has changed his basic story. See if you agree:

    Mayor Sokolich last week: “I’ve said this many times. I don’t recall a specific request to endorse.”

    Mayor Sokolich this week: “I said, ‘Yes, I'll consider it, because I'll consider anything.’...I never called and said no, I never called and said yes.''

    To us, it sounds like the mayor is changing his story. (Or perhaps he is just adding additional detail, speaking with refreshed memory, the blogger is leaving out context, and infinite is possible because anything is. Or he could be lying. We just don't know.)"

    KZ


    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. KZ -- you focus in on the parallel that change was alleged in both cases. You ignore that in one case the change with trivial but in the other it was important to the meaning of what happened. When you focus on superficialities instead of substance you reveal yourself to either be a troll (stirring up the water to obscure meaning) or someone incapable of telling the difference (mentally ill or brain injured). It doesn't matter to anyone except you which you are, but the effect of your comments is distracting and interferes with discussion here. Wouldn't you benefit more from a walk in the sunshine?

      Delete
    2. But we'd all benefit more from his napping with the sunfish.

      Delete
    3. Anon @ 1:05

      We ignored nothing. We never suggested one change was more important than the other. We are not covering the substance of the events.

      BOB is not covering the substance of the events. He is covering press coverage of the events. We are covering blog coverage of the event.

      You want us to focus on substance rather than superficialities? Talk to BOB.

      You want to argue with us over which change is more important? We are more than happy to do so later.

      But, since you do broach the topic of stirring up the water to obscure meaning, lets compare this post to the story of the contradictory Mayor. You know, the one who Malala visited before the Blitzer interview according to BOB, and the one that wicked meme ridden font of errant journalism, the NY Times, partially quoted.

      Non stir BOB seemed (appeared) angry no press coverage was given to what he saw as a contradiction. Maddow is now covering what she sees as a contradiction. BOB is faulting her for that.
      He admits Christie's entire story (the substance) could be a lie. His concern is that the latter statement is either a mere addition to a true tale or an addition to a pack of lies. It is not, therefore, technically a contradiction.

      In Sokolich's case, he chose to highlight part of one Sokolich answer to one question and leave out what was in the rest of the interview. Then he chose to drop everything but the highlighted version, including the question Sokolich responded to. He contrasts that with the best quote, taken out of context, from the NY Times article, that makes his case that Sokolich has changed his story. Then he focuses on how the NY Times ignored the contradiction. You, the clever reader, see the two short quotes together and conclude BOB must be right. Except the Times wasn't interviewing Sokolich to find out if his story would be consistent with what he told Blitzer. And we have no idea what the Times asked Sokolich or what he answered because most of their story is told without questions or quotes. BOB, however, was searching every comma.

      You want to know how honest BOB is? Look at the quote BOB presented from Sokolich answering Blitzer in my comment above. You rmember what the question was? To paraphrase, Blitzer asked if the Chrisite folks really expected him to endore the Governor. The first words out of Sokolich's mouth were, "I guess." BOB disappears that. Then he supplies the quote. Then he disappears the rest.
      He does exactly what he criticizes the press for doing it at the same time he makes the accusation.

      KZ

      Delete
    4. "BOB is not covering the substance of the events. He is covering press coverage of the events. We are covering blog coverage of the event."

      Why are you covering blog coverage of the event? In the comments section of the blog? So you're "covering" one blogs criticisms of the media? It's called trolling. If you feel like it's your mission is to correct every post, you're trolling.

      I think everyone gets that you think Bob is a hypocrite. You've made your point. Do you have any others to make?

      You're the guy in class who keeps raising his hand to derail the whole discussion and point out why the reading list is totally biased. Not the person who raises the criticism once but the guy who does it every day. You feel obligated and entitled to derail any conversation or constructively add to the group.

      Why don't you get your own blog to do the work you so clearly feel chosen for? Oh right, no one would ever read that. You could critique and parody Bob to your hearts content.

      Having your own blog might also help you to not feel so persecuted because you're forced to read one guys opinion on a blog that most people have never heard of.

      Delete
    5. OK, k(ray)Z, if you say so, I don't have an hour and half to tell if your criticism of TDH is valid re the mayor. You either write fast or have a lot of time on your hands to be to THD what TDH is to the media (or the portion of the media he addresses, O for the days when he went after Fox more), do you have a job? Anyway, are you saying that none of the criticisms of Maddow are justified? I can't really know for sure, because I haven't watched her show for a long time, because to me she was unwatchable.

      Delete
    6. AC/MA You also don't have an hour and a half to tell if any criticism TDH makes of anyone is valid either.

      We think there is ample room to be very critical of Maddow. We have not made it a point to defend her. There is also ample room to point out that BOB in Maddowesque in his criticism of Maddow. We didn't watch Maddow much either until we started reading BOB. Then we realized just how important she is in this whole collapse of intellectual culture BOB is telling us is happening but most of us do not see.

      That said, Anon. @ 1:05/3:31, how is offering a comment that sparks additional comments derailing anything? By making you uncomofortable with the points I raise? Don't read them. And, heaven forbid, don't respond.

      Delete
    7. Offering comments that spark additional comments is the essence of trolling. The goal is to see if you can get people discussing something other than what the blog has offered up as a discussion point.

      You consistently discuss what Bob has written only to try and correct him. You have one single point to make and you make it every day, sometimes in multiple posts. Bob is a hypocrite. That's not constructive nor does it add to what Bob's discussing. It leads to a discussion of Bob's hypocrisy . Which is the same discussion that you try to lead every day no matter what is being discussed.

      I'm not uncomfortable with your posts, I just think you're a boor. I wonder if you have any points to make beyond your one true point. Or any other thoughts that would be relevant to people who read TDH.

      Or, you know, you could go ahead making the same point over and over again.

      Delete
    8. Well then it begs the Bob Fan question: If you find him/her/whatever such a boor, then why go to all that trouble to answer him? Especially if you sincerely believe that his whole purpose is to "spark additional comments"? Can't help yourself.

      As for me, I read this blog as a unintentional satire of a serious political blog as Bob flails away at a cable talk show host drawing a miniscule audience (all of them do including the O'Reilly the Great, and if you don't think he's great, just ask him).

      Good lordy, Bob rails against the lack of attention paid to important issues and he has spent five straight posts on Rachel Maddow? Saying the same thing he has said since her show debuted five years ago, and even before?

      And if you can't see the comedy in that, I don't know what kind of sense of humor you possess.

      Equally, if not more, hilarilous is the comment box, which made it's first appearance just a few years ago, after Bob spent the first 13 years of his blogging career stuck in the state-of-the-art circa 1998.

      I get daily belly laughs at the very few remaining Bob fans who pretend that Somerby is on a mission of national import, telling us daily how Rachel Maddow and Maureen Dowd are bringing the entire Republic, nay the entirety of Western culture, to ruin, and all the "rubes" that follow them.

      And how handsomely they are paid for doing so.

      I especially relish those comments that explain that Bob really, really, really, didn't mean the words he wrote. He really, really, really, meant that brilliant point that they just thought up that Bob didn't speak.

      So I come here to laugh at. On a daily basis. And, of course, that makes me a horrible person. I also laugh at the best of Mel Brooks' films as well, and still issue peels of laughter when the Three Stooges walk into a room where there is a table full of pies.

      Delete
    9. Well at least you finally admitted to being a troll rather than pretending to some higher purpose. Like pointing out that Bob's a hypocrite. I guess we'll see if you have any other tricks up your sleeve now. Or any other thoughts period.

      You're not a bad person for laughing at Bob or reading the blog however you want to. It does mean you have horrible reading comprehension skills, a desperate need for attention, and a general disinterest in doing anything but irritating other people. You're not bad, just socially inept and tone deaf.

      If it was really about being funny, you wouldn't have to talk so much. You could just laugh to yourself and move on. Keep telling yourself it's not about getting attention.

      But, in the end, I'd readily engage in a debate about the importance of Maddow or Dowd or MSNBC or the NYT. I actually do think they are important. I actually think it matters that people who have prominent positions in our society and are considered liberal are millionaires and work for ad driven institutions. Which isn't Bob's idea. It's an idea debated seriously in most university com depts here and abroad. Chomsky's been writing about it for 40 years.

      But, it's good to you know you don't actually want to debate or discuss that.

      Because your a troll. Good for you.

      Delete
    10. 643: aren't you freakin' generous.

      Delete
    11. Ah yes, the old standard, "You have horrible reading comprehension skills" when confronted by an idea you can't argue against. How Bob of you! How serious and adult!

      And how hilarious!

      And sorry, if you truly, deep down, in the very fibers of your being, actually believe that Rachel Maddow and Maureen down hold "prominent positions in our society" then you really leave no room for debate.

      But much for further laughter.

      Delete
    12. And yes, the mark of a true pseudo-intellectual:

      "Chomsky's been writing about it for 40 years."

      By all means, drop the name of a progressive favorite, as if that alone will carry the day, without of course having the slightest real understanding of Chomsky or what he has been writing about for.

      Just to help you out a bit, Chomsky has been writing for more like 70 years, not 40. I'm sure you don't want to look like, say, an ass again by so severely shortchanging such a truly brilliant career.

      Delete
    13. peels of laughter when the Three Stooges walk into a room

      But presumably only after they slip on the banana skins.

      Delete
    14. ""You have horrible reading comprehension skills" when confronted by an idea you can't argue against."

      Right, because this whole thread has been about me laying out a case against your reading comprehension. Did you catch the sarcasm there?

      And, ok, fine why aren't Maddow and Dowd in prominent positions. Oh wait, I forgot you don't actually want to discuss that. You just assume it's a silly position to adopt. Meanwhile they get paid millions of dollars and are closer to the centers of power and decision making in both politics and the media than we'll ever be. But, yeah, how gut busting to even suggest prominence. What's your super awesome definition of prominence?

      Oh, and you should check out when Manufacturing Consent was published. Unless you want to discuss theories of generative grammar. Or whatever essays you can dig up about vietnam. Sigh...but yeah lets play gotcha. Yay.

      The point, of course, was that Bob's focus is in keeping with Chomsky's take on the media. Bob's position has deep roots in analysis that stretch back at least as far as Manufacturing Consent if not all the way back to the Frankfurt School. Do you want more citations. Oh right, you don't care.

      Cause you're a troll.

      Delete
    15. "Meanwhile they get paid millions of dollars and are closer to the centers of power and decision making in both politics and the media than we'll ever be."

      Wow, what a perfect recitation of our present celebrity culture. You really think that because they are famous and make a lot of money, that they are close to the centers of power.

      Yes, I know the date Chomsky (co-author Edward Herman whom you disappear) wrote "Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media/" It was not 40 years ago, but at the sunset of the Reagan administration and at the very dawn of the Information Age.

      I suspect that written today, Chomsky and Edwards might cheer the fact that the grip of the "mass media" has been broken through technology and the ability to tap into vastly numbered new sources of information instantly -- including blogs such as these.

      But then again, they might lament the "balkanizing" effect it has had as the public tends to gravitate to those sources that uphold opinions they already hold, and are quick to dismiss others who disagree with such easy names as "troll."

      This is what I tried to impress on Bob and his readers when Bob's only take on the Rodeo Clown story was "There go those liberals, throwing around the R-word again."

      This was a story broken, not by the corporate-owned media, but by a very average guy who had a Smartphone and a Facebook account, and it went global in a matter of hours.

      In other words, the "mass media" no longer has the power to prevent us from knowing anything we really want to know, and the 1988 definition of "mass media" applies less with each passing day.


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    16. OMB (Can't Wait)

      We just can't wait for BOB to cover the latest change in what Sokolich has been saying. Er, cover what the coverage of how Sokolich has changed his story.
      We rate it a quasi consistent addition to either a true or false story. Anyone else?

      KZ

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    17. I wonder if Bob will even know unless Rachel Maddow says something about it.

      Delete
  8. Taking a tape of what a politician said in the past and comparing that with what he's saying today and pointing out inconsistencies between the two -- isn't that what made Tim Russert the greatest and most influential journalist that ever lived?

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    1. What's, sadly, mostly missing though is Maddow doing a non-bullshit job of that critical step, "pointing out inconsistencies between the two."

      Delete
    2. It depends on how the Bob tribe now defines "non-bullshit" but I thought putting Christie on screen saying the words that actually came out of his mouth, then and now, was pretty straightforward. Maybe I would agree or disagree with her, but she used Christie's actual words to back up her thesis.

      Bob, instead, uses some guy adding numbers together to get to a result he doesn't understand to support today's thesis about Maddow.

      So excuse me if I have another opinion of who the real bullshit artist is.

      Delete
  9. 5 Maddows in a row. Can I get a 6?

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    Replies
    1. Silly Anonymous troll. Can't you read?

      "For ourselves, we won’t be able to discuss the evidence Maddow offered until perhaps the start of the week. (We’ll try to do so tomorrow.)"

      If it gets in Saturday it will extend the streak. If it waits until Monday then the streak is threatened. Dowd plays on her home court on Sunday and Rand Paul has said some new things about the Clintons. Passing up on Dowd on Clinton action just to extend a streak would be too much for team Somerby.

      Bottom line. 50-50 it hits 6. No way it gets to seven.
      Unless Maddow does something tonight. Rachel could mention Gennifer Flowers. Or slight Al Gore. Then we get a doubleheader Saturday. Anything is possible

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    2. Ah, but first we must define what a "Maddow" is. Is it a Maddow if Bob has Maddow in his headline, then spends 80 percent of the post meandering through whatever random thoughts cross his mind?

      Delete
    3. Good ppoints. Dowd will probably break the streak, which actually started after his last Dowd post.

      Right: Paul/Hillary will be catnip for Dowd, who is always catnip for Bob.

      If we can get through the weekend, maybe we have a shot at 6 or 7. If we can get to 7, then 8 or more is a possiblity.

      Delete
    4. Dowd + Maddow + Gore = Trifecta

      Delete
    5. How come Dowd doesn't get commenters like the crew thatTDH gets?

      Delete
    6. Because we want to keep our views secret from TDH.
      He'll never read them here.

      If we wrote them over there he'd read them for sure and maybe even copy them into a post.

      Delete
  10. The traffic study may well have been a cover story in the way Bob described. But as two bridge officials described in sworn testimony on December 9, Wildstein went through the motions of seeming to conduct some sort of traffic study, or test, both during the week of the closings and dating back to August. Has everyone lost sight of this most salient fact.

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    Replies
    1. Explain how that is "salient." Was he going to tell Durando, then Fulton, to shut down the lanes to "create traffic problems in Fort Lee"?

      Delete
    2. I dunno. I was just quoting Bob. I wish there were more.

      If the news media reflected this sort of intelligence and perspective, we might have an adult culture, an intellectual national dialogue, and a moral frame-work for both.

      There's no voice like this anywhere else.

      Delete
  11. Read all about 1+2+3+4+… at Wikipedia.

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    Replies
    1. As with the New York Times article, the Wikipedia entry makes no sense other than to possibly a professional math theorist. What is the point of writing so that ordinary people cannot understand what is written?

      Delete
    2. Giving values to infinite, divergent sums belongs to fairly advanced areas of mathematics. Few ordinary people will have taken the time or effort to pursue these topics. Unfortunately, the problem and its solution may be presented as a topic in the arithmetic of rational numbers (not "reasonable" numbers but ratios, i.e., integer fractions or repeating decimals), a not-so-fairly advanced field, which just about everyone can understand.

      But it's not a problem in arithmetic, where all operations performed must be finite. The axioms tell us what happens when we add two fractions, x+y -- we get another fraction using the rules we learned in the 4th grade. And what happens when we're confronted with three fractions, x+y+z. The associative axiom tells that the grouping doesn't matter, so we can calculate with the first two numbers to get w = (x+y) (which we know how to do from the first rule) and then figure w+z, again two numbers. (Subtraction, x-y, is just adding the negative of y: x+(-y)).

      The rules don't tell us what to do with infinite sums.

      If we're willing to expand our numbers to include real numbers (not "actual" numbers, but all decimals, those that repeat and those that don't), we can make sense of infinite sums that converge, i.e., that have a bound. We do this by playing the limit game. For an infinite sum, you supply a distance we'll call D, a positive number no matter how small, and I'll try to give you in return a number L and a place in the infinite sum, call it the Nth place, so that the distance between any sum beyond the Nth sum is less than the distance D from L. If I win, we say that the limit of the sum is L or that the sum converges to L. All the proofs involve only partial sums, so everything is still finite.

      It turns out that these infinite sums are well behaved, in that they obey same rules of arithmetic. So we can say that when a infinite sum converges to a limit L, its sum is L.

      Divergent sums, those that don't have a bound, like 1+2+3+… or that have more than one bound are different. To deal with these we have to expand the definition of addition to give a finite answer for non-convergent sums but in such a way that the operation gives the standard answer for finite sums and infinite convergent sums. There are numerous ways to do this, one of which appears early in the video for the sum 1-1+1-1+1... This doesn't have a single bound, every odd partial sum gives you 1 and every even partial sum gives you 0. You can define a sum for this sequence by splitting the difference and taking the average of the two answers, giving 1/2. This procedure is called the Cesàro sum, after the mathematician who suggested it. The problem with these procedures is that they can end up violating the rules of arithmetic. For instance, under some expanded definitions, adding zero to a divergent sum may change its value, something that can't happen in simple arithmetic.

      It turns out that these sums look like the numbers we're used to, but they're actually the real-number shadows of complex numbers (not "difficult" numbers but those involving the the square root of minus one).

      Delete
  12. If I may, allow me to insert into this discussion a serious, non-frivolous, non-cable-obsessed discussion of Christie, one from an actual progressive, and one that doesn't lose the forest for the trees:

    http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/the_trouble_with_chris_christie_20140112

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    Replies
    1. A very interesting read.

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    2. As this site is devoted to musing on the "press corps," perhaps its author might see fit to take a pause from all-Maddow-all-the-time and consider the generally fawning press coverage Christie has received in recent years; the extent to which Christie is a creature and beneficiary of that coverage; and the important issues and implications that that coverage has overlooked.

      Delete
    3. Exactly. At one time, before this blog went, as you say, All-Maddow, Somerby used to write brilliantly how easily a candidate could get his "narrative" -- or image -- across.

      Bush, the guy you want to have a beer with. A uniter, not a divider. McCain, the straight-shooting maverick, willing to buck his own party on important matters such as campaign finance reform. Mitt, the super-capable administrator. And Chris Christie, the ball-busting average guy, just like you and me, who knows how to get things done.

      I disagree with Hedges to a degree anyway about the "horrible" press coverage of this thing. To me, this is the way journalism is supposed to work -- you don't take bullshit for answers and you keep digging until the truth finally comes out, and it is and it will.

      But I do agree that Christie's carefully constructed image gets in the way, particularly when you keep hearing "this makes no sense" as they examine what is now evident -- that this was no "traffic study" that went bad. This was a boldly and carefully calculated act of retribution against SOMEBODY, many even many somebodies, that involves at least the governor's staff and his campaign at the highest levels.

      But against that revelation is Christie's carefully constructed image of a guy who brilliantly works with everybody for the good of the common person, to the point that he will stand on a beach after a massive storm with the hated President of the United States and praise him one week before a semi-close national election, without regard to the political calculus of doing so.

      Set aside that image of Christie, champion of the common man. Examine the evidence as it comes pouring in and don't let what you think you know about him get in the way.

      Then you might get down to the notion that Chris Christie has never done anything except for the direct benefit of Chris Christie. Never has, never will.

      Then the fact emerges that he really didn't give a damn how many people were caught in in those week-long traffic jams in Fort Lee. By golly, he had elections to win, both in 2013 and 2016, and by golly, he was going to do it and anyone in his way be damned, no matter the collateral damage to how ever many other "small" people.

      Bob even stumbled across this when he railed against his $12 million "theft" of calling a separate election, not wanting to share the ballot with Booker. But again, he ignored the entire forest around that tree, from which Bob fashioned another club to beat Maddow, et al, accusing her of ignoring an issue she certainly did NOT ignore.

      What is unfolding before us is a major, heavily corporate-backed and billionaire-backed early "frontrunner" for his party's nomination as president of the United States have his entire "narrative" come crashing down around his ears.

      There once was a time when Bob Somerby would cheer that, while pointing to ample examples of certain Christie cheerleaders still clinging to the old script against all reason and logic and evidence.

      Instead, we get a Somerby open to all "possibilities" favorable to Christie, including the long discarded (even by Christie himself because even he realizes that bullshit doesn't fly) notion that this was a real traffic study all along that was simply bungled, and cooked up by a single corkscrew whom Christie barely knew before he appointed him, or signed off on him (take your pick) for the No. 3 position on the very critical Port Authority daily operational staff.


      Delete
    4. Yes. mch. And I do hope I am truly out of here.

      Delete
    5. Again and still, TDH is not "open to all 'possibilities' favorable to Christie." He'd just to see fact presented instead of bullshit. Nobody, but nobody -- and that includes Christie and TDH -- believes that this was a "real" traffic study.

      This was, as you say, a "boldly and carefully calculated act of retribution against SOMEBODY." If by "bold" you mean stupid, by "careful" you mean reckless, and by "calculated" you mean blindly ignorant. For my part, I'm going to withhold judgment on the retribution part until I find out who was targeted and why.

      YMMV, and evidently does

      Delete
    6. By bold, I mean bold. By careful, I mean careful. By calculated, I mean calculated. Those are not big words, and they need no further translation.

      Somerby is so caught up in his loathing for all things Maddow that he can't set aside the bold, careful and calculated script about Christie that he and his handles presented.

      No, Chris Christie was never this take-charge maverick who works with both parties to get things done for the good of his people, regardless of whom he might offend along the way.

      He is a vicious, vindictive political animal whose only concern is Chris Christie. Is now, always has been, and always will be.

      So you can set aside the latest Christie bullshit talking point that makes the governor an unknowing victim of a rogue staff. He's up to his eyeballs in this. Even if he didn't directly order the "traffic problems in Fort Lee", he certainly created an atmosphere that allowed his deputy chief of staff to think it was a swell idea. And that is the kindest thing that can be said about him at this point.





      Delete
    7. Just in case you really are this literal minded, let me "translate" my words. I know what you meant by "bold," "careful," and "calculated." It's just that these words don't seem to apply to Bridgegate, which seems to have been ridiculously ill-conceived and badly planned. It doesn't even seem to make sense as retribution.

      You have a narrative about Christie to counter his own. And I happen to agree with yours. Your conclusions about Bridgegate are certainly consistent with this narrative, and I'm more than willing to believe those conclusions and worse about Christie. But first I'd like some facts.

      I understand that you don't need facts. For you, it's enough that he created "an atmosphere." But for me "up to his eyeballs" means that he planned it, ordered it, knew about it beforehand, or covered it up. If he did none of those things, it won't change my judgment about Christie as a politician, just about his guilt in this particular case.

      Delete
    8. Thank you for this. This is how I feel too. I don't like seeming to argue in support of Christie but I also don't like jumping to conclusions without facts. It will be nice when another topic emerges here.

      Delete
    9. There you go again, deadrat. You can't argue against what I said so you have to reinterpret it into something you think you can argue against. How Bob of you!

      "Up to his eyeballs" means "up to his eyeballs" And I very carefully explained that the order didn't have to come from Christie himself for him to be "up to his eyeballs" in this..

      He is very much responsible for the people he put in positions to create "some traffic problems" and very much responsible for the atmosphere he created in which these very people did what they did and thought it was a good idea.

      But you go and cling to the Somerbyesque notion that Christie is the victim of his own staff. Still doesn't make Christie no less "up to his eyeballs" in this mess.

      I would, however, appreciate it if you could find at least enough ingenuity to be at least clever in your utter dishonesty.

      But that may be like asking a leopard to change his spots.

      Time for you once again to rewrite what I just said in plain English? No doubt. Fools finding themselves in holes seldom stop digging.

      Delete
    10. I just delivered a powerful argument against what you said. You may call me dishonest or a fool, but insults won't change that fact. I can't argue against what you mean when you have private definitions of English idioms. But that's different.

      If you think that Christie is responsible for the Bridgegate mess because he created an atmosphere conducive to that kind of nonsense and because he hired and appointed shortsighted people willing to effect that kind of nonsense, that's fine. But outside the bounds of your skull, "up to his eyeballs" means more than having ultimate executive responsibility.

      The context here is how much direct involvement did Christie have. That's why people want to know whether the motivation was payback, and that's why people are parsing Christie's words for inconsistencies. Answers to those questions can bring this affair beyond complaints about managerial style and into a consideration of political malfeasance.

      Now, I know that you have a private definition of political malfeasance that let's you consider Christie already guilty. Other people like me are using the standard definitions. Which is why I'm not "clinging" to the "notion" of Christie as a victim of his staff. I don't know enough about who did what when, and I'm waiting to find out. And that's the real Somerbyesque notion.

      Your own private script written in your own private language has led you to believe that you know what Christie gives a damn about, that you know the lanes were closed as retribution against somebody (sorry, make that SOMEBODY), and that there's a torrent of evidence "pouring in" to confirm your prejudices. Your script makes you think that those not on board with you are bending over backwards to defend Christie with favorable "possibilities," including the existence of a "real" traffic study.

      It must be frustrating when people point out that none of that is true.

      Too bad.

      Delete
  13. The math behind

    1 + 2 + 3 + .... = -/12

    is fascinating ( not that I understand much of it - but what the Brit prof demonstrates in the video is very misleading ) - none other than the great Ramanujan claimed it in a letter to the British Mathematician G H Hardy.

    I must thank the blogger for bringing this to his readers' attention.

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  14. Your Daily Howler is Ahead of the Curve

    Dumbest journalist on the planet Andrew Rosenthal gets a writeup in the New York Observer - http://observer.com/2014/02/the-tyranny-and-lethargy-of-the-times-editorial-page/

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    Replies
    1. Thank you. That was very interesting.

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    2. For those here who think Bob Somerby is the only "liberal" critic of "liberal" journalism, an excellent example. mch (only to encourage commenters here: yes, learn from Bob what you may, but there's a large world out there)

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  15. This conservative media criticism site quotes the AP as being somewhat critical of MSNBC. http://newsbusters.org/blogs/tim-graham/2014/02/08/ap-admits-it-msnbcs-leftist-loose-lips-offer-plenty-ammo-critics

    I was amused by the following quote:

    The funniest line may be about MSNBC’s president, Phil Griffin. “Griffin, who declined comment through a spokeswoman, has quietly put the word out to hosts to avoid personal attacks.” That can't be quite right. MSNBC wouldn’t last ten minutes without a personal attack on conservative motives.

    Then, this: “Rachel Maddow's meticulous, fact-based criticisms of conservatives is looked upon as the network's model.”

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