In a 2D Town

Funny result of omitted word(s) in Mike Wise’s column on Kidd finally winning a title:

Confession: I had a built-in bias in the Finals. No, it wasn’t because Nowitzki is from my mother’s home town of Wurzburg, Germany, (Pop. 133,000) — the Bavarian postcard my parents met and were married in while my father was a serviceman.

The town is a postcard. Parents met the postcard. Parents wed in the postcard.

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Wear That Wristband, Boy?

Because Redskins offseason dysfunction is newsworthy like an OJ Simpson quote on a nubile blonde abductee eaten by a Muslim’s pet alligator, it’s no wonder the story that McNabb’s refusal to don a playbook wristband lead to his benching has generated wall-to-wall blogosphere coverage.

Among the tons of chatter is this nugget at Shutdown Corner:

I sort of feel sorry for McNabb this week. He’s been called out by a boxer for not being black enough and now he’s the subject of a story with heavy racial undertones that insinuates he’s not intelligent enough. It’s a no-win situation.

Heavy racial undertones? Seriously?

So because McNabb is black and because the historical paucity of black QBs is most often attributed to the still promulgated (though curiously undocumented) belief that blacks, supposedly due to lower IQs, can’t learn a playbook or lead a team this story has heavy racial undertones?

In the same story Chris Chase contrasts McNabb’s refusal to shed vanity to the detriment of his performance to President Obama’s well-documented reliance on telepromters:

There’s a point when vanity has to be sacrificed for the sake of performance…Carrying around a teleprompter like a security blanket doesn’t enhance Barack Obama’s image, but it’s much better than stumbling over words in a policy speech.

HEAVY RACIAL UNDERTONES ALERT! Obama is black and the stereotype that blacks use poor english when speaking is alive and well, ipso facto Chase’s remark has racial undertones. Gotcha, you racist scum!

I propose a cousin to the golden rule; abjuring racially inspired color choices and alluding to the predominate hue of most athletic fields this rule will be henceforth known as the green rule. The green rule states that reporters should treat sporting news for a black player as they would treat the same news for a white player (and vice-versa).

In practice: If a white Redskins QB refused to wear a playbook wristband and was subsequently benched, would it be news? Yes. Would commentary on the news imply that the story had racial undertones? No.

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I Meme, You Meme

President Obama’s awesome, in part self-congratualatory, announcement of bin Laden’s death has the unfounded ‘I he says; himself he loves’ meme flowing from the pens of conservative political pundits once again.

The fellows at the Language Log have debunked more first-person President claims than the Mythbusters have busted hourly chunks of my life, so when I read Victor Davis Hanson’s slapdash first-person pronoun count and accompanying amateur psychoanalysis I immediately headed their URL.

Sure enough they’d tackled a new occurrence, more accurately they’d highlighted another’s take down:

Using a modified Fox technique, meaning you ignore pronouns like “me” and “mine” but count assorted “I”-contractions, Obama’s late-night speech on Sunday was about 0.7% “I”: eight “I” and two “I’ve” in 1,388 words. He’s a little under Bush’s “Mission Accomplished” speech (May 1, 2003), which was right at 1%, though Bush was down around 0.5% for the beginning of the Afghan war (Oct. 7, 2001).

That’s exctly the data driven analysis I was looking for. Thanks for that really well argued blo…oh fuck:

At this stage, it’s pretty fair to conclude that huffing about Obama’s allegedinfatuation with first-person pronouns is the modern right-wing commentariat’s way of saying “Boy, you lookin’ at something?”

Wait, why is that fair? More importantly, what evidence is that conclusion based on?

If the focus of Headsup: The Blog‘s post was merely to demonstrate that Obama’s first-person pronoun use is below the political speech’s average, the aside would be far less objectionable. But a large portion of the post, and the Language Log post to follow, is spent explaining why first-person pronoun use itself, in the absence of data proving otherwise, is indactive of nothing, certainly not narcissism.

Wouldn’t it follow that unfounded claims of narcissism are not themselves, in the absence of data proving otherwise, indicative of anything, certainly not racism?

I would think so. Of course, I’m not generally guided to post by deeply held political beliefs, so rare is the post where I make unfounded political accusations while debunking another’s unfounded political accusations.

As they say: Pot, meet sandwich bag with the rest of the pot.

AN INTERESTING STUDY could be made of first person use in political speeches. I think, from Headsup’s example, Reagan’s high first-person pronoun use in his Iran-contra mea cupla provokes rather than pacifies the idea that underuse/use/overuse (if, that is, use if has an average baseline from which we can point to a deviation as being inordinately under/over) means something.

My first assumption is that while a speechwriter may take extra effort to claim success, they may also do so for blatant failure, believing the electorate to be more quick to put the issue behind them. How much extra time did we spend analyzing Bush’s mistakes after he, when asked, failed to account for any on his own? Had he just said, “Hmmm…I fucked that, that, that and that up. My bad.” would less time (as a result of that specific question and answer) have been devoted to chronicling what was omitted? Maybe.

Not being a scientist I can’t comment on the required methodology for such a study but I imagine it would include plenty of double-back-super-secret-randomize-blinding.

Beyond determining which pronouns to count and counting them, a study group would have to say whether the speech was concerning a subject that the electorate had negative/neutral/positive view of (i.e. Obama announcing death of bin Laden=positive, Regean Iran Contra =negative).

Rinse and repeat the study to account for possible bias.

Then analyze the % of first-person pronoun use in each type of speech.

Maybe a pattern develops.

The clincher would be if the study demonstrated that its results could predict future first-person pronoun use in a political speech.

If a white coat wearing, clipboard holding scientist reads this: You can take it and run. Free of charge.

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One Does Not Two Make

Sports Journalism for/by Dummies

One guy hears one thing. (“I’m hearing the Redskins are the front-runner for [Vince Young’s] services”)

Said thing is repeatedand repeatedand repeated as reportable info.

And since it’s tough to tell the echos from the originating voice it sounds as though more than one source is making the claim. Just like that a rumor becomes rumors.

Take it away Pro Football Weekly:

The growing rumors of Titans QB Vince Young to the Redskins are coursing their way through the NFL, but one Redskins source claims he hasn’t heard that being touted as head coach Mike Shanahan’s master plan. “News to me,” the source said, neither ruling out adding Young nor giving it much credence.

10 points to Pro Football Weekly for attempting to verify a rumor; 22 for reporting on their inability to do so.

-12 points for calling the singular rumor the plural rumors.

And a whopping -57 points for their stop-the-presses headline:

Young might not be lock in D.C.

That whisper hitting Omar Kelly’s inner ear? That my friends was a lock.

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Hate and Hunks

The International Business Times has a gallery of death cultists protesting the killing of Osama bin Laden. (h/t Michael Totten guest blogging at Instapundit). This image, rather the two naked men on the sign in the background, caught my eye:

Al Gayeda

So many ways to interpret the symbolism. What would Ann Althouse say?

Do they represent the men as they see themselves? As they see Islam? Does the sign represent their repressed sexuality? Their repressed homosexuality?

What do you think? My answer: al Qaeda, more like al Gayda.

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Rumor Milling

Remember one post ago when Omar Kelly said this totally unsubstantiated thing:

I’m hearing the Redskins are the front-runner for [Vince Young’s] services.

Well you were witness to reportable info. Spread the word on sports blogs nationwide:

The Washington Redskins are reportedly the “front-runners” to land Tennessee Titans quarterback Vince Young this offseason.

While championing Young as a prospect for the Miami Dolphins, Omar Kelly of the Sun-Sentinel revealed that the quarterback needy Redskins are the one’s pressing hardest for the former Heisman Trophy winner.

Yes. One dude said that he heard and therefore the Redskins are. Notice we are no longer just “front-runners,” we’re “pressing hardest”. Who are we pressing? No one, of course. They just made that up to fill space.

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It Was A Short Film

Omar Kelly of the Sun-Sentinel claims the Skins may want Vince Young. He also says about the Dolphins QB sitch:

I’ve consistently said (since January that) Denver’s Kyle Orton would be my first choice for the Dolphins, but the price the Broncos will be asking has me concerned. John Elway doesn’t seem too excited about Tim Tebow, or is he just trying to drive up Orton’s price.

I’ve been told Kevin Kolb would be the option that fits the best, but I’ve done the film work on Kolb and it’s a bit concerning. He checks down plenty, and doesn’t have a big enough body of work. So the max I’d give up for Kolb is a second-round pick.

Before I point out what I wrote this post to point out, let me ask you if digital editors are much lower on the org chart at newspapers or if everyone just writes digital articles/posts from their iPhones? The first paragraph appears to have two obvious typos, which, sure, they’re just typos, but for God’s sake it’s an actual newspaper (albeit a blog on a newspaper; some slop is to be expected) where someone is getting paid expressly to heal the wounds of sloppy fingers.

What actually caught my eye is in paragraph two, re: Kolb.

I’ve done the film work on Kolb and it’s a bit concerning.

I have not. I’m going to have to trust you on this one. Could you at least clue me in to your concerns?

He checks down plenty, and doesn’t have a big enough body of work.

Wait, the film concerned you because there wasn’t enough of it? Why didn’t you just say that instead of trying to claim that since you watched the film you have special “expert” insight on Kolb’s pigskin chucking ability?

Then he goes on to say he’d take Vince Young on account of his record, unfortunately for Fins fans, he says, the Redskins are first in line for Vince. Claims he heard it somewhere. I claim bullshit.

I’m dubious of “I heard”, more dubious of arguing that a player’s record is indcative of his talent at the position. You’d think a guy covering the Fins (Marino clearly wasn’t better than Trent Dilfer, Dilfer has a ring.) would share my view.

It’s true, Vince Young has a great win % as the Titans starter (near 75%), and Collins, same team, same years, was under 50%.

Still, by no statistical metric does Young appear to be anything more than an average, maybe slightly above average QB. I don’t see, especially on a team lacking the league’s best rusher, how he’ll suddenly become one.

Of course, the best part of “look at his record” arguments is that almost inevitably a QB will have a lower number on the win side one season, at that point you can bet whoever encouraged you to just look at the record will encourage you to ignore it.

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