RatS 8: Donald McNeil Has His Say

Last month, science writer Donald McNeil got shoved out of the New York Times. McNeil has waited until he was formally out of the Times to have his say. Now, he has done so. The whole thing is insane.

Part One: Introduction

Part Two: What Happened January 28?

Part Three: What Happened in the 2019 Investigation?

Part Four: What Happened in Peru?

RatS 7: Taibbi on Dr. Seuss and eBay

It was big news that the estate of Theodor Geisel – aka Dr. Seuss – had decided to cease publication of six Seuss titles, because of their portrayal of people “in ways that are hurtful and wrong”. Seuss is huge, of course, but in the scheme of it the news shouldn’t have been that huge. Geisel-Seuss wrote plenty of mediocre stuff, and some grotesquely racist stuff. It’s complicated. Books – good and bad – go out of print for all sorts of reasons – good and bad. We were a bit surprised by the discontinuance of Circus and Mulberry Street, but they aren’t great, and it’s not like they’ll be hard to find.

But then, eBay decides it will no longer list the Bad Seusses. And, as Matt Taibbi points out, that is batshit insane. Read it and Scream.

 

It’s Square to Be Hipping

It turns out we’re now at an age to require new body parts.* So, tomorrow we go in for a hip replacement. (Life’s a bitch and then you get a hip.)

Presumably, we’ll be back in around a week or so. Of course, everyone should work under the assumption that the next five posts will be drug-induced: no one need take offense or contemplate any  defamatory interpretation.**

Back to you soon.

*) The problem really started 45 years ago, but whatever.

**) Except ScoMoFo.

 

UPDATE (05/03/21)

“You’ll feel like a new man once you get your hip replaced.”

They lied: we feel like an old man with a new hip. But, the surgery went well and we’re recovering well. Looking forward to the day when we can kick a torpedo again.

We’ll soon be up and about, back to the noble work of pissing people off.

 

RatS 6: Bipolar Opposites

We’ve never paid particular attention to Scott Alexander (pseudonym) and his blog, Slate Star Codex (now Astral Codex Ten). Long ago, we ran into a few SSC posts and our very vague memory is that we liked them. Then, while reading more on the New York Times‘s crucifying of Donald McNeil, we came across the Times‘s smelly article on SSC, including the gratuitous and sleazy outing of Alexander.* We explored a little, including reading this thoughtful critique of SSC. Still, we didn’t, and don’t, look to have an opinion on SSC, or on the “rationalism” in which it is supposedly immersed. (We did however, come to the opinion, that the New York Times has lost its collective fucking mind.)

A couple days ago, however, and completely by chance, we ran into an old, 2014 post on SSC. Alexander is a psychiatrist, and this post was on his long and futile attempt to conduct a study of a screening test for bipolar disorder, a test that Alexander suspected was of limited worth and knew was being widely misused. From the introduction to Alexander’s saga:

You ask patients a bunch of things like “Do you ever feel really happy, then really sad?”. If they say ‘yes’ to enough of these questions, you start to worry.

Some psychiatrists love this test. I hate it. Patients will say “Yes, that absolutely describes me!” and someone will diagnose them with bipolar disorder. Then if you ask what they meant, they’d say something like “Once my local football team made it to the Super Bowl and I was really happy, but then they lost and I was really sad.” I don’t even want to tell you how many people get diagnosed bipolar because of stuff like this.

Alexander’s post struck a particularly strong chord. Our father was a clinical psychologist, and he saw the worst. The whole Cuckoo’s Nest thing. More importantly, he didn’t think the not-worst was generally all that much better. In general, he regarded his psychologist and, especially, psychiatrist colleagues as arrogant, narrow-minded, drug-pushing quacks. Alexander’s story is from a different angle, but it fits right in.

Alexander’s post is alternately hilarious and horrifying. Read it. And then scream.

 

*) The kind of thing that a toady like James Massola would do.

RatS 5: Woody to Get Hatcheted Again

We’ve posted previously on the lynch mobbing of Woody Allen. Now, HBO is coming out with a four-hour documentary on Woody and Mia. And here we go again.

Documentary filmmaker Robert Weide has written carefully and compellingly about the nonsense accusations against Woody Allen,. He has spent time with Moses, and he has looked carefully at Golden Boy Ronan.

Weide now has a new post, on the coming documentary, what to watch for and why he doesn’t trust it. If you do not believe Allen molested his daughter, then you should read it. If you do believe Allen molested his daughter, then you’re either ignorant or you’re an idiot and you should read it. Here is an excerpt:

For all the years that Mia, Dylan, and Ronan Farrow have been having their say on mainstream and social media, I’ve never seen them put in a position where they weren’t in control over who was questioning them, so I’ve never seen them have to hold up under cross, so to speak. Now, in this documentary, there might be some very “soft” cross questions to make it look like the interviewers are going for the truth, but these will likely be questions where the responses are already known, creating the illusion of due diligence. (And if the answer doesn’t suit the filmmaker’s needs, it can always be left on the cutting room floor.) I know several people who could question these three Farrows … that, in five minutes, would turn each of them into Cmdr. Queeg in “The Caine Mutiny.”

Ask yourself why Ronan Farrow blocks anyone who ever questions his statements on Twitter, no matter how polite or well-informed they are. (This is the same Ronan Farrow who wrote an editorial for The Hollywood Reporter asking why Woody Allen isn’t asked “the hard questions.”) Why did Ronan Farrow never respond to my Tweets offering a $100k donation to the charity of their choice for a shred of “evidence” of any number of his provably false claims? When Ronan and I were both invited to debate the issue live, on stage, at the SoHo Forum in NYC, I responded, “Fly me out and put me up, and I’m there.” Ronan declined to even respond. Ronan is a lawyer and a Pulitzer Prize winner for investigative reporting. I won a prize as “Most Outstanding Student” from the Rotary Club when I was in 8th grade. So what is he afraid of? 

 

UPDATE (08/03/21)

Robert Weide writes about the HBO train wreck, and Weide publishes his non-interview. On the latter, Weide notes

Woody Allen gave an interview to the WSJ months ago. It was cancelled before publication. He also gave an interview for CBS This Morning that was cancelled just prior to air. This online publication asked me for an interview. I consented. Then they cancelled it. Everyone OK w/this?

A Fine Whine

Last week we were contacted by a long-forgotten (but quickly remembered) ex-student. We met for coffee yesterday and, for no reason we could discern, the student presented us with a bottle of wine:

We are aware that a number of our ex-students read this blog. So, it is important that they not think of this post as somehow a hint or a request to act in kind. They should think of it as more of a demand.

How Not to Ship Books, in Two Easy Lessons

LESSON 1

We received the book below a while back, shipped in the pictured wrapping:

       

Yeah, a reasonable sized and reasonably valuable book. But, wrapped in paper, inside bubble wrap, inside a box, surrounded by air pillows, inside a second box?

On the other hand, …

LESSON 2

The following books arrive yesterday, shipped by Target:

Yep: no paper, no bubble wrap, no air pillows, no nothing except way, way too big a box. And of course one of the books was damaged. Sheesh.

Update (15/12/20) 

At Glen’s request, here’s a page from the old arithmetic book.