You want much more than I’m giving


• Winston Churchill's mother had a tattoo. A snake tattoo. • Randall Munroe is right to complain that this trick probably gets overused: But that's because copy editors know that superlatives are the easiest one of the easiest an easy way to wind up inserting unverified and incorrect facts into a story. See, for example, this superlative mistake in an otherwise fine post from Richard Bartholomew: That would be Mike Warnke, author of the most shameless and grotesque bogus … [Read more...]

7 @ 9: Why I’d be a bad time-traveler


1. "The reason I wrote that you're against national health care is because in 2009 you wrote a column called 'Why I Oppose National Health Care.'" That's a hilarious debate moment, but also an interesting sign of how things are changing. Some of the people who, in 2009, thought it was advantageous to rail against health care reform are now, in 2014, insisting that yes-but-of-course, I've always supported health care reform. Wind socks are useful because they tell us which way the wind is … [Read more...]

Celebrating Krauthammer’s credibility problem


Charles Krauthammer, April 22, 2003, reassuring us that weapons of mass destruction would be found in Iraq, justifying the invasion and occupation his party chose: Hans Blix had five months to find weapons. He found nothing. We’ve had five weeks. Come back to me in five months. If we haven’t found any, we will have a credibility problem. It's been five months, so I'm coming back to this. It's been five months 23 times. Charles Krauthammer, by his own admission, has a credibility … [Read more...]

Perversely insisting you like the unlikable doesn’t make someone else a liar

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Old riddle/joke: Q: How many legs does a dog have if you call it's tail a leg? A: Four. Calling it's tail a leg doesn't make it one. Most of the jokes Jon Stewart tells on The Daily Show are funnier than that one, but it's not at all funny when Stewart contradicts the truth expressed in that joke and says President Obama is lying for not agreeing to count tails as legs. John Stewart just isn't making much sense here. "The president has been somewhat dishonest about the promise of his … [Read more...]

Versus and clobber verses: ‘It’s an almost impossible situation’


Travis Loller's Associated Press piece, "Churches Changing Bylaws After Gay Marriage Ruling" offers a decent overview of how some local congregations who have implicitly opposed marriage equality are now making sure this isn't just an unwritten rule, but a part of their explicit policy. That's a legitimate concern for faith-based non-profits, schools and other agencies who want to practice religious-based employment discrimination -- they need to get that down in writing as an explicit … [Read more...]

‘Reportedly’ is your friend for unverified imaginary girlfriends

Do you really think she'll pull through?

At Scholars & Rogues, Brian Moritz takes a smart journalistic look at the much-repeated, too-long unexamined story of Manti Te’o's imaginary girlfriend: Verifying facts doesn’t necessarily mean being confrontational. It doesn’t mean asking Te’o “Yeah, I want to make sure your grandma and girlfriend really died.” Because yeah, you’d look like a terrible person if you did that. It also doesn’t mean harboring doubts about what you’re being told. It’s doing your diligence. … [Read more...]

Do we have a superstitious belief in widespread superstition?


"Is 2013 an Unlucky Year?" Hemant Mehta asks -- quickly and correctly answering "No." He points us to this Philadelphia Inquirer article: "Those who dread number 13 face a troubling year." But it seems the Inky's Michael Matza couldn't find any such troubled and dread-filled triskaidekaphobes. Everyone he cites is someone who argues against the irrational fear of the number 13. If this is such a big deal for so many people, shouldn't such people be easy to find? When Matza reports … [Read more...]

‘Reality is harsh to the feet of shadows’


Here was a tweet sent out Tuesday night: Obama reelected. For those shocked this wasn't a Romney landslide, I'd broaden your news viewing beyond @FoxNews. That wasn't written by a gloating liberal, but by a frustrated conservative -- Ed Stetzer of LifeWay Research. Stetzer is the chief number-cruncher for the Southern Baptist Convention. (You can think of him as the Southern Baptists' Nate Silver.) Stetzer measures things and reports on those measurements, that's his job. That job requires … [Read more...]