The Phony Campaign

2016-08-22 Update

The PredictWise "choose your doom" punters assign a 79% probability of a Hillary win, down from last week's 80%. And in the phony poll, one candidate has made a dramatic come-from-behind showing:

Query String Hit Count Change Since
2016-08-14
"Jill Stein" phony 1,020,000 +180,000
"Donald Trump" phony 896,000 +23,000
"Hillary Clinton" phony 756,000 -115,000
"Gary Johnson" phony 44,100 -3,200

  • What is behind Jill Stein's remarkable phony showing? Who knows? But a recent article by Caitlin Johnstone has encouraging news for Jill Stein supporters who have begun to doubt their own sanity: "No, Jill Stein Supporters, You Are Not Crazy".

    What is the definition of insane? According to Einstein, insane is trying the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Trying to vote for the “lesser evil” in the desperate hope that this will somehow move us away from evil. Trying to vote for a woman who has shown us time and time again that she will push for military aggression at every opportunity in the desperate hope that this will somehow lead to less needless destruction and chaos. Trying to vote for a party that has already clearly demonstrated hostility to the progressive agenda in the desperate hope that this will facilitate a progressive agenda.

    That’s what’s crazy. You are healthy, wise, and right. Keep fighting the good fight, my bright-eyed brothers and sisters. You’re the only thing keeping things sane.

    Well, first: that "Einstein" saying is both (a) apocryphal and (b) one of the tiredest clichés in the lazy writer's toolbox.

    But in other news: if you're encouraged in the slightest bit by some dippy true-believing leftist telling you that "you are healthy, wise, and right" … well, maybe you should seek professional help. That's only one step up from the voices in your head telling you things.

  • In related news, the New York Daily News reported recent Texas polling:

    The Green Party doctor's support in the Lone Star State, 2%, is the same as support for Harambe the gorilla and less than that for joke candidate Deez Nuts, according to a new poll.

    "Deez Nuts", the article explains, is "the fictional politician sprung from the brain of Iowa teenager Brady Olson." Harambe is the gorilla Cincinnati Zoo officials shot dead earlier this year. No word as yet from Caitlin Johnstone on the sanity of Nuts/Harambe supporters.

  • Buried in this Buzzfeed article, "Juanita Broderick Wants To Be Believed" was the mutation of Hillary's web page on the topic of "campus sexual assault". As I type, there's a "Hillary" quote:

    "I want to send a message to every survivor of sexual assault: Don't let anyone silence your voice. You have the right to be heard."

    Buzzfeed points out the unsubtle change from the previous version:

    “I want to send a message to every survivor of sexual assault: Don’t let anyone silence your voice. You have the right to be heard. You have the right to be believed, and we’re with you.

    The change was made after Juanita Broderick pointed out that Hillary doesn't believe in any of that, if the perpetrator of the assault is named "Clinton".

  • There's been some back and forth among the contributors at the linguistic blog Language Log about the verbal stylings of Donald Trump. But my favorite analysis (so far) is Mark Lieberman's: "The em-dash candidate". Trump's words don't come across well in standard sentence/paragraph form, but "it works pretty well if printed as free verse." I'll reproduce Mark's transcription of a passage in full:

    I'll tell you in particular lately
    we have a newspaper
    that's failing badly
    it's losing a lot of money
    it's gonna be out of business very soon
    the New York Times OK?
    I love it!
    And
    they wrote a story today
    "anonymous sources have said"
    three anonymous sources, anonymous this, anonymous that
    they don't use names, I don't really think they have any names OK?
    but "anonymous sources have said"
    there are no anonymous s- you know with my campaign, I'll be honest with you
    it's me
    it's me
    they never call me
    they don't call me
    but these are the most dishonest people
    The good news is- I love- you know I put down
    "failing @ New York Times"
    the newspaper's going to hell
    they got a couple of reporters in that newspaper who are so bad
    with- I mean lack of talent
    but it's going to hell
    so I think maybe what we'll do
    maybe we'll start thinking about taking their press credentials away from them
    maybe we'll do that
    I think so
    I think so
    you know
    when they write dishonest stories
    you can't read em it's so much
    you can't read em there's so much I'd be reading all day long.
    When they write dishonest stories
    we should be a little bit tough, don't we agree, you know?
    Real garbage they're garbage it's a garbage paper OK
    So here's the story folks, talking about garbage
    talking about garbage
    talking about garbage
    you have a governor in this state who's done a very poor job.

    I did some of this myself during the 2008 election cycle. My victim was Elizabeth Kucinich, Dennis's lovely wife.

  • Our state's current governor, Maggie Hassan, is running for the US Senate seat currently occupied by Kelly Ayotte. Apparently a CNN interviewer decided to get in Maggie's face a bit, and… "Hassan Can’t Say If Clinton Is Honest, Even After She’s Asked Three Times"

    The Hillary-related questions asked by the CNN interviewer were:

    1. “Do you think that she’s honest and trustworthy?”
    2. “Do you think she’s honest?”
    3. “But do you think that she’s trustworthy?”

    You can read Maggie's non-responses at the link. But to be fair, it's difficult to know how to answer such questions if you have political reasons for not being honest yourself.

    A few days later, a local radio station tried again, and confidently reported: "Gov. Maggie Hassan now says 'Yes,' Hillary Clinton is trustworthy". Whew!


Last Modified 2016-08-22 8:50 AM EDT

The Three-Body Problem

[Amazon Link]

I heard nice things about The Three-Body Problem recently. Specifically, I participated in a blog comment thread discussing the novel Decoded by the Chinese writer Mai Jia, which I'd read a couple years back. Somebody else in the thread mentioned this book as a better example of recent Chinese literature, and it did win the 2015 Hugo award for Best Novel. And (best of all) I still have borrowing privileges at Dimond Library of the University Near Here, it was available there, so…

It's a mind-blowing tale of interstellar chicanery, but first there's a horrifying tale of how China essentially went insane during the Cultural Revolution of the late 1960s. This was also a plot point in Decoded—apparently it's allowed for current Chinese writers to honestly examine that period. (Don't get your hopes up; the censorship in China is still pretty bad. Tianmen Square? Fahgettaboudit.)

The Cultural Revolution smashes apart the family of Ye Wenjie. Her physicist father is killed when he refuses to renounce relativity, quantum mechanics, and the big bang theory. One of his denouncers is his wife, Ye Wenjie's mother. Ye Wenjie is an astrophysicist by training, but, politically suspect, she's banished to Mongolia to harvest timber. She gets into even more trouble there, involving a copy of Rachel Carson's Silent Spring.

Eventually, however, she's rescued, recruited into working on the mysterious "Radar Peak" military installation. Which turns out to be a Chinese effort to communicate with extraterrestrial civilizations.

Jumping ahead to the (roughly) present day, Wang Miao is a researcher working on nanotech. He gets unexpectedly recruited by a police investigation into a wave of suicides among physicists. He is led into playing the immersive virtual-reality game "Three Body", the origin of which is mysterious. The game itself is set in a nightmarish world continually thrown into chaos by its unpredictable orbital path around its three suns. In related news, it seems that the very underpinnings of physics are being ripped asunder. (I hate it when that happens.)

The book is not without humor. One of the other "Three Body" players is described: "The strangely dressed woman was a famous writer, one of those rare novelists who wrote in an avant-garde style but still had many readers. Your could start one of her books on any page."

I laughed out loud at that one.

Bad news: The Three-Body Problem is part one of a trilogy, and it ends in kind of a cliffhanger.


Last Modified 2016-08-22 8:57 AM EDT