More delicious reasons here.

On the other hand, there’s no reason in the latest salvo against sugar, which popped up offensively in the pages of Nature today.

It’s an opinion piece in Nature’s COMMENT section. It’s not peer-reviewed science, it’s silly, and it’s got this CHART inside that make it look all science-y if you don’t look close.


A chart of what? A chart of who the fuck knows what, that’s what.

The caption says: Global sugar supply … excluding fruit and wine.

The article says: “In many parts of the world, people are consuming an average of more than 500 calories per day from added sugar alone (see ‘The global sugar glut’).”

I say: Global sugar supply and added sugar consumption are two different things. Which is it, supply or consumption? Which is it, all sugar or just added sugar? According to the sideways writing, the chart or its data came from the FAO, but a frenetic half-hour and scores of searches at their web site (without a break for gummies) yielded no answer.

Incidentally, why on a map that appears to provide by-country data is Hawai’i shaded a different color than Alaska and the Lower 48? Would a map of per capita calorie consumption or production — whether of all food or just added food, not only of sugar or just added sugar — look any different? Is 500 calories of who the fuck knows what a lot of who the fuck knows what, or at least enough to justify regulating who the fuck knows what?

Pity the children and the bears.

One Response to “12 Reasons Not To Regulate Sugar”

  1. terri Says:

    yea! for the bears!
    yea! for you!
    yea! for happiness in my world!
    and yea! for sugar too!

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A theretofore charming day, spoiled in the blink of an eye, because I caught sight of the link “David Brooks: Obama’s Very Good Week” in the Times. Brooks isn’t known for sarcastic titles, and it’s been nobody’s good week in Washington. A $25,000,000,000 tax windfall (yes, 25 billion) for the richest 0.3% (yes, less than one third of one percent), and DADT, in particular.

I clicked, but I didn’t read the article. I’m trying hard not to read everything from start to finish that I know in advance will be crazymaking. I wasn’t about to backslide with the likes of Brooks, so I applied the How To Read a Ross Douthat Article approach.

The HTRaRDA approach is this: Type Control-End (preceded by SINGLE PAGE, if available) to reach the bottom of the article, and then read the last screenful. Do not pass Go! You will discover the offensive conclusion without wading through the invidious, lame, emetic screensful that invariably, insidiously, precede it.

Unfortunately, sometimes the insidious run-up extends into that last screenful, and it did today. It was impossible to ignore, because it included numbers.

Warning: The David Brooks quote below is a lie.

According to the most recent Gallup numbers, 67 percent of independents and 52 percent of Democrats support extending all the tax cuts.

Warning: The David Brooks quote above is a lie.

It was painful to follow up on this quote, but I’m still holding onto the belief that it would have been worse to have read Brooks in toto.

On December 1, Gallup reported that “Forty percent [of Americans] want Congress to maintain the tax cuts for everyone, while 44% support setting limits on how much of wealthy Americans’ income is eligible for the lower rates.” In particular, 18% of Democrats preferred keeping the tax cuts for everyone (when offered two alternatives: setting limits or letting the cuts expire entirely). Those can’t be the “most recent Gallup numbers” to which Brooks refers, because 18 doesn’t equal 52, even with rounding. (Maybe at the Times it does, but not on my blog.)

Here are the actual Gallup numbers to which Brooks refers. Over the past weekend, Gallup asked this question: “Suppose that on Election Day you could vote on key issues as well as candidates.  Please tell me whether you would vote for or against a law that would do each of the following.  Would you vote for or against a law that would extend the federal income tax cuts passed in 2001 and 2003 for all Americans for two years?” Fifty-two percent of the Democrats, 67% of independents, and 85% of Republicans surveyed said they would vote for such a law.¹

Quiz. Given three choices similar to those before Congress (A. extend cuts for all; B. extend cuts but only up to a dollar limit for the wealthy; C. let tax cuts expire), Democrat’s least preferred option is to extend all the tax cuts. (Breakdown: 18% answered A, 21% answered C, and 55% answered B). Is it fair to say that 52 percent of Democrats support extending all the tax cuts?

The correct answer is NO.

Kudos to Gallup for the careful and precise phrase to describe the option before Congress: “limits on how much of wealthy Americans’ income is eligible for the lower rates.”

Shame on Brooks for vulpigerating.

¹ I apologize for previously calling the Republican party the “Party of No.” I should have more precisely called them the “Party of No, except when it will make the rich richer.”

One Response to “And in Third Place, with 52% of the Vote…”

  1. Galen Workman Says:

    Our faculty resident in Wig schooled us in how to read newspapers, this during the height of the Vietnam press release wars and false new stories. Eric said he always skipped the two lead stories in the paper. Those were the ones with the built-in hype and spin. If you didn’t try to digest those lumps, then you could get a good sense of what was really going on in the world without raising your blood pressure.

    This isn’t quite the same as your method of reading suspect articles, but it may be a supplement to your guide to readers.

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For your entertainment, some choice quotes from Carl Paladino’s campaign web site, most with pithy commentary. Would that it were all a joke.

  • “Carl will work for charter schools for the poorest of our urban students as an alterative to dysfunctional schools of today.” Unfortunately, this is our universe, not an alterative one.
  • “Carl will consolidate schools to countywide districts to eliminate redundancy of administration and allow for more funds to be devoted to lowering class sizes and excellence.” If anyone knows how to lower excellence, CP does.
  • “This is – and more – long, long overdue.” [No pithy commentary.]
  • “I am particularly incensed Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver’s no-show job at a high-priced personal injury law firm.” We should all be incensed CP’s illiteracy. I am.
  • “(See more HERE.)” (where HERE is not a link). Thank you no. I don’t care to see more.
  • “Carl strongly support the State University at Buffalo 2020 plan and similar programs for other higher education institutions in the State to be able to grow in both size and student population with out State intrusion.” I can has cheezburger, with out State intrusion, please.
  • “[Candidate for lieutenant governor Greg Edwards] graduated Panama High School in 1978 and then went to Allegany College in Pennsylvania.” Where correctly spelling the name of the college is apparently not a requirement for graduation.

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Let me get this right. Writing for the Washington Post about the tragic suicide of Tyler Clementi, Kathleen Parker (“Decency plunged when Tyler Clementi jumped”) doesn’t “want to play down the gay aspect of this travesty [sic], but there isn’t space in a column to tackle everything.” Then she goes on to recommend solving social problems by making people “feel ostracized” and “targeted as pariahs.” She wants to go back in time to when it was “bad manners to display oneself — or one’s affections — in public,” and she thinks people should “make it unattractive and unacceptable to intrude on others.”

Malicious intrusions of privacy are wrong, but Parker’s idea of “respect for privacy” rings loud and hollow. It rhymes with that facetious definition of “privacy” bigoted homophobes want from gay people when they say (not quoting Ms. Parker now), “Just don’t shove it in my face.” Like, by getting married. Or holding hands in public.

How hard is it for people to understand that gay kids suffer, and some of them kill themselves, because the shame of being gay is so painful to bear. Society ostracizes homosexuality. Straight kids might be embarrassed about their sexuality, but so ashamed to love someone of the opposite sex that they take their own lives to escape the pain? Who can imagine that?

Parker writes, “Although Clementi was filmed with another man, one can imagine as easily a roommate spying on a heterosexual encounter.” Sure, but what one can’t imagine is that the unwitting video star would then jump off a bridge.

By the way, I don’t want to play down Kathleen Parker’s callousness in calling this a “travesty” (does she know what that word means?), but there isn’t space in a column to tackle everything. Fortunately there’s just enough space left for me to say “fuck you” to Kathleen Parker and to mention that I do believe ostracism has a place in the world, but not where she wants to put it.

In contrast to Parker, Bloomberg columnist Ann Woolner (Sex Video Suicide Leaves Shared Guilt Behind) is not a travesty. She understands.

2 Responses to “Kathleen Parker Is a Travesty”

  1. Kyle Says:

    Bullshit. Being spied in a hetero sex act spread on the internet would be also be horrific — and would cause too many shy young people terrible damage, even leading to suicide. Stop stating that being gay gives you a monopoly on being terribly hurt.

  2. Mike Sloothaak Says:

    Kathleen Parker begins “The suicide of an 18-year-old Rutgers student following an unimaginable invasion of his privacy has launched an overdue examination of casual… disregard for other’s personal space.” Subsequently Ms. Parker claims ”there are several dimensions to the story, complicated by the fact that the victim was gay.”

    I take issue with the columnist’s contention that Tyler Clementi’s homosexuality was merely a complication– that the real issue is one of invasions of personal space. “How did we get here?” she asks, “How could anyone think that another’s most private, intimate moment was fair game?” While she leads her readers through the evolution of the word “friend” from noun to verb, and the ostracizing of smokers, groping for her own answer, I feel compelled to provide the obvious one: homophobia. She appeals to the good old days, when “respecting others’ privacy was a matter of manners” oblivious to the fact that the privacy of homosexual acts was legally recognized only in 2003 with the case Texas v. Lawrence. Before that, the video would have been evidence of a criminal act and made that Tyler Clementi vulnerable to prosecution (and presumably within the bounds of good manners of law enforcers, at least) Ms. Parker’s strained attempts to ignore the obvious answer actually provide her readers with a subtle yet effective endorsement of homophobia; dismissing it as a complication that can be ignored or minimized even when that requires rewriting history. Her essay exposes a certain lack of scruples on her part, and as she instructs: “When others are victimized by another ‘s lack of scruples, be outraged.”

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Fuck everyone. Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck.

Via Dan Savage:

A gay freshman at Rutgers University is believed to have committed suicide—he may have jumped off a bridge, no body has been found—after his roommate outed him in the most brutal possible way:

Two Rutgers University students have been charged with illegally taping a freshman having sex and posting the images on the Internet. The Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office has charged Dharun Ravi and Molly Wei with invasion of privacy for allegedly placing a camera in the 18-year-old student’s room in the Davidson residence on the Busch campus.

Authorities allege two encounters were taped.

“His privacy was violated, very, very violated,” said residence assistant Daryl Chan of Long Valley of the student who was taped. “His roommate was a very tech-savvy-type dude. He set up cameras all over the room and didn’t tell him.”

For Tyler, it won’t get better. Oh, and a body has been found. Fuck.

One Response to “What Is Wrong with People [2]”

  1. Steve Kass » Kathleen Parker Doesn’t Get It Says:

    […] me get this right. Writing about the tragic suicide of Tyler Clementi, Kathleen Parker “[doesn’t] want to play down the gay aspect of this travesty [sic], but there […]

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This, this, and this. Specifically, foolish nonsense from someone named Todd (Henderson).

The toddtipping point? Right after Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman suggests indirectly that the Drs. Henderson earn about $450,000 a year, which could subject them to $10,000/year in additional taxes under Obama’s proposal to postpone the upcoming expiration of the Bush tax cuts, but only on the first $250,000 of income.

Todd (who would prefer a bigger tax cut for 2011 than Obama’s legislation provides and who threatens to fire his $20/month legal Mexican gardener if he doesn’t get his way) scrumbles¹. Within a single paragraph, Todd refudiates refutes Krugman’s estimate of his salary (“not even close to our income on the high side”) yet sees no contradiction in describing the injury he and his wife would sustain from $10,000/year in additional taxes, which he just implied he won’t have to pay (because his salary is “not even close” to high enough to result in that increase).

Professor Henderson careens further out of control a paragraph later, when he inflates the fictive $10,000 figure by 20%, to $12,000.

All this from someone with degrees in both engineering and law, whose ability to explain (when it suits him, apparently) was recently rewarded with tenure as a professor. In light of the facts of his education, Todd’s behavior doesn’t pass the smell test. I’m calling it toddfoolery. Either something tragic has happened to Todd’s mind since he received his degrees and tenure, or he’s a disingenuous liar. At least those are the only explanations I can imagine.

Update (21 Sep 2010): Yesterday, Todd removed his tomfoolerific posts, along with readers’ comments to those posts,from Truth on the Market, where they had appeared. Todd explains.

Update (21 Sep 2010): Today, Todd “hung up his blogging hat”.

[Note: The links at the beginning of this post are no longer valid.]

Update (12 Nov 2011): An alternate spelling of Toddfoolery (Todfoolery) is now available here: Pity the 1%, and Their Tod(d)foolery.

¹ The verb scrumble will be coined in a future installment of “Word of the Day.”

3 Responses to “Word of the Day: Toddfoolery [updated (3)]”

  1. The rich man’s burden « Bad monkey, no biscuit Says:

    […] He REALLY failed, no seriously, he is so screwed up in his demonstrations that even a nobel prize-winning economist got in on the act of sticking it to him over his method of trying to show how unfair it is. It got so good Steve Kass labeled it toddfoolery. […]

  2. Gray Says:

    It’s shocking. That guy probably HAD to go into academia because he was a huge failure as a lawyer. Just look at his resume:

    “He then practiced appellate litigation at Kirkland & Ellis in Washington, D.C., and was an engagement manager at McKinsey & Company in Boston, where he specialized in counseling telecommunications and high-tech clients on business and regulatory strategy. His research interests include corporations, securities regulation, bankruptcy, law and economics, and intellectual property.”

    How can he possibly do all that in a competent way if he doesn’t even understand the basics of taxation? It’s impossible. Seems to me that guy is hugely overpaid for his meager mental abilities. To imagine that students have to learn something from this jerk, it’s mindbuggling.

  3. Richard Says:

    BTW, I retrieved the post from Google cache:


    Since these guys believe in self-responsibility and free speech (which I support as well), I think it’s only right that as many people as possible get to see how they think, since they have an enormous intellectual impact on one of our 2 main political parties. Words and ideas have consequences, and I’ve never seen any good from hiding them from the marketplace of ideas.

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BabyCNN doesn’t get nearly as much attention as it should, given that they’re easily as irresponsible as their buddies at [expletive deleted]. Today they’re fanning the fires about “illegal immigration,” the current euphemism for people we don’t like because they’re brownish and speak another language especially Spanish. Writer Arthur Brice devotes a big chunk of a 900-word article on CNN.com today to a discussion of “anchor babies,” the current not-so-euphemism for babies of people we don’t like because they’re brownish and speak another language especially Spanish. Here’s my brief rant on the article, “Report: 8 percent of U.S. newborns have undocumented parents.”

Before ranting, though, let me be one of the first to greet all these new and beautiful U.S. citizens: “¡Welcome, and bienvenidos!”

This rant has two parts. First, let’s see what “have undocumented parents” means, so we know more about this 8% on whom the goons will be spreading their invective. The phrase shouldn’t mean anything other than “have undocumented parents,” but somehow it does, and not just because of headlinic license. It means “has at least one undocumented parent.” Here’s the relevant wording (emphasis mine) from the Pew report Brice describes:

A child has unauthorized immigrant parents if either parent is unauthorized. A child has U.S.-born parents if all identified parents are U.S.-born.

Well, that’s stupid. The asymmetry reminds me of the definition of Colored, as in for the purpose of what school you can go to, what train car you can sit in, and what drinking fountain you can use, and, before the 14th amendment was ratified, as in whether you were a U.S. citizen, more or less.

Next thing you know, today’s goons who want to abridge the Fourteenth Amendment will find a way to damn not only these youngsters but sus hijos y nietos también, no matter what, probably because fuck the Constitution and Bill of Rights, God tells them to.

Not to mention that “[s]ome pregnant women from other countries are traveling to the United States to give birth and then taking their babies back home to raise them as terrorists that would return to attack America,” a concern raised by Texas state representative Debbie Riddle, “a Republican,” that Brice thought fit to pass on.

Tattooing the letter U on them to start, maybe? (You can bet they’d have no problem paying for that medical procedure with government dollars.)

Part 2: The word “anchor babies” doesn’t appear in the Pew report, but instead of leaving it out of the article entirely, Brice fills us in. He knows that more people will read an article if it’s about anchor babies.

“Babies born to illegal alien mothers within U.S. borders are called anchor babies because under the 1965 immigration Act, they act as an anchor that pulls the illegal alien mother and eventually a host of other relatives into permanent U.S. residency,” says an organization called The American Resistance, which has described itself as “a coalition of immigration crime fighters opposing illegal and undocumented immigration.”

Minor partial credit to Brice for using the past tense when mentioning The American Resistance, but he forgot to mention that they are “no longer an active – or updated – Website or effort,” and haven’t been since 2006, according to — well, themselves, in a message they left on the web four years ago. The fact that Brice names them at all is goofy, to put it kindly. There are dozens of non-moribund organizations he could have called up. A Youtube link to a [expletive deleted] broadcast from within the last week, maybe.

That’s all. Have a nice week.

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Kiss me goodnight, Sergeant-Major
Tuck me in my little wooden bed
Snog me now Sergeant-Major
We all love you, Sergeant-Major
Even when your neck grows rather red.

Bathroom Images from the public domain.

You’ll find a link to the leaked survey here.

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Millions of Americans were up in arms over the holiday weekend after McDonald’s¹, the fast-food giant, began to use “oyster” packaging, the vacuum-formed, heat-sealed, hard plastic clear containers more commonly associated with batteries and computer peripherals than with restaurant food, for drive-up and take-out orders at all its restaurants in the United States and its territories on Friday.

Clamshell AttributionNoncommercialShare Alike Some rights reserved by bunchofpants

Hundreds, if not thousands, of complaints have appeared on Twitter and from loyal customers who prefer the old paper wrappers.

  • what are u thinking with this crap mcdonald #burgerfail #wendys

On Facebook, dozens of groups have been created in opposition to the change, such as “Admit you’re wrong, McDonalds” and “A Million People in Support of Burgers in Paper,” where users can lodge longer complaints, like this one:

  • “I’ve eaten two Big Macs and a large fries every day since you switched from styrofoam 20 years ago, but McD doesn’t care about its customers any more. I went to Burger King today, and you know what? It tastes better, too. Good riddance, McDonalds.”

Scores of complaints were also lodged on the official McDonald’s website.

According to its June 30 press release, the change addresses two of McDonald’s’s customers’ most pressing concerns. “For years, customers have wanted to be able to check their order without unwrapping everything. The new packages are transparent. Also, customers want their food to be safe from insects and germs, and according to our research, welded packaging provides that impression better than any other option.”

When asked about the public outrage, a spokesman for McDonald’s had this to say: “While it can take time to adjust to change, we’ve tested our latest packaging design thoroughly. We’ll keep monitoring customer feedback so we can continue improving our product.”

McDonald’s aficionados in Detroit, Buffalo, and a few other locations quickly found out they had another option. Canadian locations won’t adopt the new packaging for a few months.

What do you think?

¹ This article is not really about McDonald’s, and McDonald’s did not switch to clamshell packaging. This article is about Google News, and they did switch to something that makes about as much sense as clamshell packaging for takeout food.

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Thanks to Edward Tufte, millions of people have seen Charles Minard’s remarkable chart of the French Army’s losses during its Russian campaign in the winter of 1812-13. Minard’s chart is a joy to behold. It’s the acme of data presentation — magnificent, spectacular, inspiring. So it kills me that Gene Zelazny, who wrote the you-know-from-the-title-it’s-bad book “Say it with Charts” FUCKING SHAT ALL OVER MINARD’S LEGACY.

I learned about Zelazny’s desecration here, though Andrew Abela, who reported it, failed to call it that. “Zelazny notes that the graphic is difficult to read, and proposes that there might be better ways to convey the same information.”

Sure, there might be, just like there might be better ways to decorate the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, but what Zelazny offers is an epic numerical fail, because IT NOT ONLY DEPICTS DIFFERENT (AS IN WRONG) INFORMATION, IT ALSO DEPICTS THE WRONG INFORMATION BADLY (as in we can’t even tell what wrong numbers he wants us to find and what they are supposed to quantify).

Zelazny might as well propose that “there might be better ways to clean up the Gulf of Mexico,” trot out a broken doorknob and a bent bicycle tire, and ask us to wonder with him. Ugh, ugh, ugh. And ugh.

Here are a few of the gory details (of which there can be but few, given how little actual stuff there is in Zelazny’s chart).


Ok, so the spirit levels in the cutesy clipart thermometers don’t match the numbers, only their absolute values (sort of).  But the numbers are wrong, too. Five of Zelazny’s six data points are wrong — misread from Minard’s original. Five out of six. That’s almost all wrong, for those of you who aren’t counting. Badly, differently, and horrifyingly wrong.

Minard reports that there was rain on October 24, and that the temperature was about zero*. Zelazny misread the day of the month (24) as a temperature, then used the only other written figure at that spot on Minard’s chart (8bre, for octobre) for both the month and the day. No explanation short of “Who gives a fuck?” works for this slop.

*Minard’s figures give the Réaumur scale temperature, which detail Minard, lest future readers misconstrue his chart, tells us. Minard cared deeply about communicating. (Zelazny’s figures are wrong in every known temperature scale. He cares less. Much less, like not at all.)

Remarkably or not, almost nothing is correct in Zelazny’s “presentation.” The border between Poland and Russia is misplaced, and all the graphical scales are wrong. I’m no PowerPoint guru, but I assume you have to work very hard to incorporate numbers into a slide this wrongly (as was famously done here, and better).


Even Zelazny’s title is wrong.


Things got bad on the retreat from Moscow. And it’s not clear how many died. Minard charted the number of troops, not deaths. Some who didn’t return were captured. Others may have deserted. And the overall message isn’t “the colder … the more.” The biggest declines were early in the campaign, when the temperatures aren’t given. So the title is all wrong, but hell, IT FIT ON TWO LINES. Shit like this matters. It’s our planet’s fucking history.

Sure, Minard’s correct title (Carte figurative des pertes successives en hommes de l’ Armée Française…, and penned more beautifully than any web typography can be rendered) won’t work projected at WXGA resolution or on your favorite eReader or phone.

THIS IS WHY WE PRINT STUFF ON PAPER. If you don’t have a copy of Minard’s chart, buy yourself one. Fuck, if you’re one of the first five people to ask me, I’ll buy you one.

Now turn off your computer and pick up a beautiful book. Or go to the library. Or write. On paper. Thanks for listening.

One Response to “Let Charles Minard Rest in Peace”

  1. Alex Kerin Says:

    Steve, you have encapsulated my thoughts in a way that I cannot express on my company blog. There was consternation a while back because I used the word ‘wanker’ in a post.

    Good job. And, what’s with the 3D pie charts on the front of Zelazny’s books? Say it with charts? Remind me not to hire McKinsey.

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