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.Overbye reports a revoltin’ deveopment. This is the place where we stage our lonely protest against this work of popular writing:
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: 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...?” 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.
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.
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.