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Benny Johnson and Turning Point USA at UNL: stealing people's stuff to own the libs

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The newly 'recognized' Turning Point USA UNL chapter have immediately put paid to speculation they might be any different than the other chapters of the alt-right campus freak show, by recruiting the unsavory Benny Johnson as their first speaker. Benjamin Arthur Johnson graduated from the University of Iowa in 2009. Although it's been variously reported he also has a degree in Organic Chemistry, U. Iowa seems to think he only graduated in Psychology. Since he was an honors student, I hoped to find the thesis he is supposed to have written; running that through a plagiarism checker might be a laugh riot. Unfortunately, it seems not to be in their digital repository. Johnson commenced his career with a listicle-laced gala performance of promiscuous plagiarism at Buzzfeed, which led to his firing. He stole from no fewer than 41 articles. Then, after a brief break to let the scandal die down, he got a job at IJR Review. The man has no shame; a hate click, he claims, i…

Three Little Goons from the GOP...

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Three little goons from the GOP
Gunning for the university
From liberal profs we’ll set you free
Goons from the GOP
Three little goons, are we!

Three little goons from the legislature
Hitler clones by our very nature
IQs below room temperature
Goons from the GOP
Three little goons, are we!

One little goon his name is Brewer
O Halloran joins him in the sewer
Erdman makes three, and no fewer
Goons from the GOP
Three little goons, are we!

Thank you, I'll be here all week!

Another day, another deranged right wing lunatic.

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Last October 1, a friend and colleague who inhabits the office next to mine, and who happens to be, ahem, somewhat right of center -- but I like him anyway, even though he's a Yankees fan -- banged on my office door, and said I'd been called out on Coby Mach's radio show, which is a low-rent local version of Rush Limbaugh. I think his exact words were 'what have you done now?' I was mystified. He said a 'retired airforce general' had reported me to the FBI, CIA (?!) and Board of Regents. I asked why? He said I had issued death threats to students. He recited some of what he'd heard, and damn it, it was the Mikado! Yes, this vicious little piece by society offenders William Schwenk Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan.
And then I realized. it was my version of "As some day it may happen.." I posted on my Facebook page two weeks previously. Apparently some right-wing loon has been patrolling my facebook page and thinks W.S. Gilbert was a terrorist. O…

Hoaxing journals, or, get another hobby

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By now you've probably heard of the 20 paper, partially-successful hoax pulled by Peter Boghossian (clue right there!), James Lindsay and Helen Pluckrose. If you can stand the self-congratulatory tone, it's described here. I don't have a lot to say about it that hasn't already been said, but here are my thoughts 1. Boy, do these people have time on their hands. I waste a lot of time myself, but time to generate 20 bogus papers to prove a point? Gosh, couldn't they have done something more useful with that time -- say, go down to their local park and pick up trash? 2. And it's not much of a point. Ever since I've been in academia, it's been a truism that if you select a bad enough journal, you can publish your laundry list, even in science. In what they call Grievance Studies , well, it's not my field, and I haven't devoted any time to studying it (see point 1), but I imagine with a bit of verbosity you can get away with murder. And things h…

Men: 100,000 Years of Uselessness

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One of the books I've most enjoyed in the last 10 years was Hanna Rosin's The End of Men: and the Rise of Women. Despite its somewhat click-baity title (but hold muh beer, Hanna, and watch this!), TEOM wasn't an anti-male screed. In fact, I got the sense that Rosin was quite sympathetic to the men whose imminent demise she was predicting. The thesis of the book was that as manufacturing industry had declined, the traditional model of male breadwinner/female mom had disappeared. Women were now better than men at getting jobs in the new service/information economy, and while they were hard pressed to be both breadwinners and moms, they were surviving. Men, meanwhile, had been slow to adapt, refusing to take over part of the traditional female role while women were coopting theirs, and were mostly just 'going fishing'. And women, reasonably, were asking why they needed a full-time male, when they could always get one when needed. What's fascinating is that it …

Requiem for a right-wing outrage

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Amie Wilkinson of U Chicago, and Benson Farb of the NYJM, issued statements yesterday rebutting Ted Hill's apparently mendacious account in Quillette of his junk-science paper and its retraction. Wilkinson's statement.Farb's statement. Prediction: Quillette and the people who should know better (Pinker, Christakis) who jumped all over this will acknowledge no fault, and next week we'll do it all over again.

There ought to be a law, or, my career as a mathematician

I've been a chemist, formally, for 32 years. Before that I was a biochemist or biophysicist. And one of the frustrating things about chemistry is all the important laws seem to be taken, and also that they all seem to have to be of major scientific importance. So we have The Second Law of Thermodynamics (big) and the Law of Definite Proportions (important, if not always obeyed) and the Ideal Gas Law (ditto). After 32 years in the field, you'd think I could have a law too, but it looks increasingly unlikely. Sad trombone. But then I found out that in mathematics, apparently there are all sorts of laws lying around to be discovered, that don't seem that, well, important. Like Benford's law. Benford's Law says if you have a big list of random natural numbers, the most common leading digit is 1, followed by 2, followed by 3, etc. I've explained it all in a previous post. The great thing is, once I'd gotten over the astonishment that they would actually call t…