August 12, 2005 - August 5, 2005
Wednesday, September 15, 2004
(CHAPTERS 14 THROUGH 18)
. We won't pretend to be objective about Dan Rather. He's always
rubbed us the wrong way. Here's what we said about him in the 2000
edition of Who's Who in Shuteye
(where the names are changed for reasons of malice):
Ratter. Network TV
anchorman and all-around a__hole. He wants people to like him the way
liked Walter Cronkide. He's tried sweaters, a female
co-anchor, and now he's really working at those suspenders. Maybe it's
helping. They make him look like an a__hole in suspenders. But nobody's
ever going to like him. He's a rude, know-it-all Texus
punk who got old without getting smart, and just who is it anyway who
a cracker grandfather? Go away, Dan, and give the suspenders back to
He should have taken our advice. If he had, he'd be safely retired
instead of starring in a ludicrous act of self-immolation on national
TV. If Dan is intent on publicly destroying himself, as he seems to be,
we wouldn't ordinarily care. He's a bomb that's been ticking for a long
time. But we can't help noticing that his colleagues in the press are
stressing out over the question of why
he would behave as self-destructively as he has in the MemoGate affair.
(This example of a "why" column by Neal
is typical in
content, if less solicitous about poor Dan's reputation.) As he slowly
goes down in flames, we expect there'll be hundreds of column inches
wasted on what seems to many a mystery -- and seems to us as
straightforward and simple as his jackass personality.
Still, we thought it would be fun to do some research on Dan to help
the angst-ridden pundits find the answer to their question. To keep
things professional, we conducted our research CBS-style --
perfunctorily, arbitrarily, carelessly, and with an eye to confirming
our own most extravagant whims. However, we did resort to the use of
computer technology, which Dan seems to eschew (except, of course, in
support of evidence fabrication). We found some stuff to show you that
may explain Dan's bizarre behavior.
At Wikipedia, there's a bio of Dan. Here's something about his early
years (links are Wikipedia's):
We couldn't help noticing that there's something missing here. Dan is
exactly the right age to have fought in the Korean War. But he seems to
have been a reporter for UPI instead. Should some supercilious blowhard
anchorman look into that scandalous circumstance? There was still a
draft in those days. Did Dan fake a way to fail his physical? Did he
wangle a deferment via his good old boy connections? The American
people have a right to know, don't they? How else do you find the
rationale for what's happening right now than by digging through the
remote past for twenty-something indiscretions? What if his vendetta
against George W. Bush is a projection of his own long buried guilt for
having failed to serve in Korea?
Pursuing this particular explanation for Dan's current kamikaze act
would have required considerably more research, though, so we decided
that wasn't the right avenue of attack and pushed on to another website.
Bush and Rather are both from Texas. Could that have something to do
with it? Bush was the rich kid who went to Andover, Yale, and Harvard.
Dan, on the other hand, was a lowlife hick who went to Sam Houston
State Teachers College. Maybe if you're from Texas this kind of
disparity results in undying hatred. We chased down a site devoted to
famous Texans and uncovered a possible reason for Dan's recent behavior
we hadn't quite hit on before. The site
numerous on-air quotes by the great anchorman. Here's a sampling:
- "If a frog had side pockets, he'd
carry a hand gun."
- "We're going to go to some of those longnecks from a long time ago."
- "What we know is that there will be no decision until some of those
races are decided."
- "...in Austin, between the 10 gallon hats and the Willie Nelson head
- "It doesn't matter if you're a Democrat, Republican or a mug wamp,
elected officials play it straight."
- "Frankly we don't know whether to wind the watch or to bark at the
What?! What?! If a frog had side pockets...?! Uh, could it be that
Dan's brain has just plumb shut down like a pickup truck with a
shorted-out alternator? As an explanation it might work, but it's not
satisfying. A diagnosis of dementia seems like letting him off the
hook. And it's not as if the MemoGate reportage is somehow inconsistent
with his past exploits, including his verbal assaults on Nixon and Bush
Sr. Besides, if there's something to this theory, we'd probably have to
look up a lot of tedious information about brain chemistry to make the
argument look authentic. Too much work.
Our next stop was a movie database that actually has a Dan Rather filmography
- AFI's 100 Years...
100 Movies (1998) (TV) .... Himself
- We Were There: CBS
News at 50 (1998) (TV) .... Himself
- Victory in the
Pacific (1995) (TV) .... Himself - Co-host
- Legacy of Shame
(1995) (TV) .... Himself
- Last Party, The
(1993) (uncredited) .... Himself (at Democrat, GOP conventions)
- Real Malcolm X,
The (1992) (TV) .... Narrator/Interviewer
- Who Killed JFK?
Facts Not Fiction (1992) (TV) (also archive footage) .... Himself -
There's a lot more than the few entries above. He stars in all these
productions as himself
he's gradually come to believe that he really is the star of
contemporary American history, that it couldn't have happened without
him, and that he gets to decide what's news and what isn't. That would
make it easier to understand why he takes the position that he
can put any old crap he wants to
on the air and if anyone doesn't like it, they
have to come up with definitive
evidence that would convince Dan Rather... right.)
We were about to settle on that theory when the idea of "stars" began
to resonate and radiate in our little heads. Then a really REALLY
simple explanation leapt out of the ether. We had Dan's birthdate:
October 31, 1931. We checked out an astrology database. It turns out
that Dan is a Scorpio
Here's what the astrology gurus have to say about this sign (emphases
Scorpios are the most intense,
profound, powerful characters in the zodiac. Even when they appear
self-controlled and calm there is a
seething intensity of emotional energy under the placid exterior.
They are like the volcano not far under the surface of a calm sea, it
may burst into eruption at any moment. But those of us who are
particularly perceptive will be aware of the harnessed aggression, the
immense forcefulness, magnetic intensity, and often strangely hypnotic
personality under the tranquil, but watchful composure of Scorpio. In
conventional social gatherings they are pleasant to be with, thoughtful
in conversation, dignified, and reserved, yet affable and courteous;
they sometimes possess penetrating eyes which make their shyer
companions feel naked and defenseless before them.
In their everyday behavior they give the appearance of being withdrawn
from the center of activity, yet those who know them will recognize the
watchfulness that is part of their character. They need great
self-discipline, because they are able to recognize the qualities in
themselves that make them different from other humans, and to know
their utterly conventional natures can be used for great good, or great
evil. Their tenacity and willpower are immense, their depth of
character and passionate conviction overwhelming, yet they are deeply
sensitive and easily moved by their emotions. Their sensitivity, together with a
propensity for extreme likes and dislikes make them easily hurt, quick
to detect insult or injury to themselves (often when none is intended)
and easily aroused to ferocious anger. This may express itself in such
destructive speech or action that they make lifelong enemies by their
outspokenness, for they find it difficult not to be overly critical of
anything or anyone to whom they take a dislike.
They can harness their abundant energy constructively, tempering their
self-confidence with shrewdness and their ambition with magnanimity
toward others provided they like them. They
relate to fellow workers only as leaders and can be blunt to those they
dislike to the point of cruelty. In fact they are not above expressing
vindictiveness in deliberate cruelty. They are too demanding, too
unforgiving of faults in others, perhaps because they are not aware of
the shortcomings within themselves, and extravagantly express their
self-disgust in unreasonable resentment against their fellows.
They do, however, make excellent friends, provided that their
companions do nothing to impugn the honor of which Scorpios are very
jealous. Part of the negative side of the Scorpio nature is a tendency
to discard friends once they cease to be useful, but the decent native
is aware of, and fights this tendency.
Is it possible that MemoGate is just a truly accurate demonstration of
who Dan Rather is and has always been? Because we are such meticulous
journalists, we followed up by finding a site that would give us an
astrological report about Dan based on his exact date of birth and
exact place of birth. When they asked our name, we said "Dan." That
wasn't true, of course, but journalists have to use their judgment in
pursuit of a larger truth. The report we got said this about Dan:
Section 1: The Inner
You: Your Real Motivation
Quiet, deep, emotionally complex and intensely private, you are not a
person who is easy to get to know and understand. You are extremely
sensitive but disinclined to show it, and you allow only a special few
into your inner world. Like a wary animal, you are cautious and
mistrustful of those you do not know until you "sniff them out". You are very, very instinctive and intuitive.
You usually have a strong, immediate
gut reaction to people, even though you may be unable to clearly
articulate why you feel as you do. Your feelings and perceptions
go deeper than words.
Section 2: Mental
Interests and Abilities
You have good mental concentration and the ability to become completely
immersed in your work. You seem to
know things at an instinctive, nonverbal level and prefer learning
through direct experience or apprenticeship rather than vicariously via
books or lectures. You have
mechanical ability and work well with your hands. You could
become adept at sculpture, pottery, carpentry, stained glass, or
anything that involves doing and making
things manually. Biology (and related fields such as medicine)
interests you as well. You also have an instinctive rapport with
animals, and may feel you relate better to them than to people! You tend to become narrowly focused upon
your own specialized interests and may not have much to say or
communicate outside that field.
Hmmm. It seems as if the stars are saying Dan might have manifested
his visceral Scorpion hatred of George W. Bush by forging the letters himself
anybody know what word processor is installed on Dan's desktop
computer? Well, it's a theory, and we're sticking by it come what may,
regardless of any facts that get in the way, because we are journalists
and we've put in the hours, by God.
There's a lot more in the report, including stuff about Dan's love
life, but they wanted cash money for the rest of it, and we
professional journalists never pay our sources. If you amateur
pajama-wearing partisans want to get the real deep-down scoop on Dan,
you're perfectly entitled to fork out some bucks for the full report.
All we'll say in closing is that based on our in-depth research,
Astrology.com has a better explanation of why Dan destroyed himself
than any of the network pundits are likely to have. The stars have
spoken, and perhaps it's time for one
of them to shut the hell up.
Is our bias showing?
Friday, September 10, 2004
Our Two Cents
We just watched the Dan Rather defense of the forged TANG memos. The
document expert cited was one Marcel Matley. He looked about a hundred
years old. Here's his bio
Marcel Matley studied handwriting
analysis with Rose Toomey and was certified by the Paul de Ste. Colombe
Center. In 1985 he became a full time professional document
examiner and has other interests in medical and psychological research,
paleography, education, Western formal penmanship and Oriental
calligraphy. He is the author of several published monographs and
articles, taught private classes and seminars, and presented at
conferences. The American Handwriting Analysts Foundationís library, as
well as a collection of more than 4,000 forensics and handwriting
articles, is located in his home in San Francisco where it is available
for reference by appointment.
Sounds like he knows tons about typewriters and computers. (No wonder he seemed to care about nothing but the signature.) He's also
on a website advertising expert witnesses
for litigation: we all know how objective professional expert witnesses
am not a crook."'
I'll begin by professing my awe and admiration for the "happening"
(that's how us sixties children used to refer to sponaneously
meaningful events) which occurred at Little
It was a demonstration of the near-infinite power of the internet to
swarm a topic and accomplish meticulous research while maintaining an
air of humor, self-consciousness, and purpose. The mainstream media
will never recover from this. In the space of a few hours, more
intelligence and research capability than the arrogant mass media have
ever been capable of was applied to a subject on which the blogosphere
possesses more expertise than an army of Ivy league journalists could
ever lay claim to. In real time, LGF attracted expertise
in the areas of office systems history, military conventions and
usages, and computer software, hardware, and output devices. The
combined effort resulted in a humiliation of the mainstream media that
forced CBS to put its ass way out on the line, which it did -- very
Now, InstaPunk wishes to make its own contribution. This is in the area
of statistical probability. I'll preface my argument by noting that we
are standing at the precipice of a glaring generational divide. Even
the MSM conservatives who wish to take credit for the miraculous mass
research effort of LGF are incapable of doing so, regardless of their
intellectual credentials. They simply don't understand modern
technology well enough to be sure
of the implications that have been handed to them on a silver platter.
Stephen Hayes, Fred Barnes, Sean Hannity, and Brit Hume may be approximately
certain that a
definite rat has been pinned in the spotlight, but they cannot know
. They remain tentative and
provocative rather than contemptuous. No matter how overwhelming the
evidence piled up by the blogosphere, they continue to think in terms
of odds and probabilites rather than fact. Why? Because they don't
fully understand the technology issues which convert suspicion to prima facie
proof. It's the same
ignorance which led CBS into the hubris of convenient and foolish self
The memos CBS advanced as the work of Jerry Killian are forgeries. This
is fact, not theory. The only argumentation missing from LGF is
statistics, i.e., the mathematics of probability theory. The bloggers
intuitively understand that half a dozen technical issues are each
sufficient to prove that the CBS memos are forgeries. They are no doubt
chafing at the mainstream media approach of singling out one or two or
three of these issues and proposing (or disputing) that a technology
existed in 1972
to refute the truth that is self evident to bloggers. But there is a
way to end the appearance of controversy.
The fact is that the onus is on CBS News to demonstrate that in 1972
any single typewriter existed which could:
1. Produce a superscript "th"
2. Proportionally space letters
3. Employ 'smart' single quotes
4. Print in the Times New Roman font
5. Achieve mathematically precise centering
6. Space lines exactly 13 points apart
7. Duplicate the production of all the above variables
using the default settings of Word 2003 without any change in word
wrap. line length, and document mirroring (i.e. the happenstance that
text typed in default Word mode would precisely duplicate the
supposedly typewritten memos forwarded by CBS News as 1972 indictments
of George W. Bush) .
In short, fellow bloggers, you have identified what probability theory
calls a dependent series. The remoteness of the odds that the first of
the enumerated items could be achieved by a 1972 typewriter must be
multiplied by the remoteness of the odds that items 2, 3, 4, 5, AND 6 could
also be achieved. This adds up pretty quickly. If there is (extremely
charitably) a 10 percent chance that each of the requirements listed
above could be achieved by the 1972 (or older) typewriter in Lt Col
Killian's office, the odds that his typewriter produced all
these outcomes can be computed
as: .10 x .10 x .10 x.10 x.10 x.10 = 000001. In reality the odds
are considerably less than that. Only the IBM Executive typewriter was
capable of proportional spacing. No typewriter of the time could
produce the Times New Roman font. No typewriter of the time was capable
of exact centering. No typewriter of the time used a 13 point space
between lines. Most importantly, because of the dependent series
circumstance, any requirement corresponding to zero odds eliminates the
possibility that the documents are authentic.
In short, it is a mathematical certainty that the documents in question
are forgeries. All that is missing from the discussion is the technical
competence of the pundits. When they speak of "maybes" and "what ifs,"
they are wrong. Since they cannot understand the technical issues, and
never will, what bloggers have to do is make the statistical argument:
Zero odds on any requirement is absolute proof that the documents are
forgeries. Get the mathematicians to agree, and then CBS, Dan Rather,
and (probably ) John Kerry are toast.
Just to explain the headline: innumeracy is the counterpart of
illiteracy. Lefties almost always suffer from innumeracy, which
they excuse in themselves by accusing everyone else of illiteracy.
What's a Zerone, Dan?
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