Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics

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Dan is a student at Georgetown University. He is currently trying to think of a new biography for this space.

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This blog translated:


Two wrongs don't make a right, but three lefts do.

"There are three types of lies - lies, damn lies, and statistics." - Variously attributed to Benjamin Disraeli, Alfred Marshall, Mark Twain and many other dead people.

Currently reading:

Songbook by Nick Hornby

The Sex Lives of Cannibals by J. Maarten Troost

White Teeth by Zadie Smith

You should read:

One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Alexander Solzhenitsyn

Fever Pitch by Nick Hornby

Bobos In Paradise by David Brooks

Madam Secretary: A Memoir by Madeleine Albright

Damned Lies and Statistics by Joel Best

Books written or edited by my professors (well, only the good ones)

Nick Barr

The Economics of the Welfare State

The Welfare State As Piggy Bank

Chris Dougherty

Introduction to Econometrics

David Gewanter

The Collected Poems of Robert Lowell (ed. with Frank Bidart)

In the Belly

The Sleep of Reason

Meredith McKittrick

To Dwell Secure

John McNeill

The Human Web (with William H. McNeill)

Something New Under the Sun

Max-Stephan Schulze

Western Europe: Economic and Social Change Since 1945

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Abu Aardvark
Across the Atlantic
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Peevish...I'm Just Saying
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Sha Ka Ree
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2004 ESPN Information Please Sports Almanac

"Everything to Everyone" by Barenaked Ladies

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The Partly Cloudy Patriot by Sarah Vowell

"One Plus One Is One" by Badly Drawn Boy

"Sultans of Swing" by the Dire Straits

"Best of the Talking Heads" by the Talking Heads

How Shareholder Reforms Can Pay Foreign Policy Dividends, James Shinn, ed.

Weaving the Net, James Shinn, ed.

Fires Across the Water, James Shinn, ed.

Panasonic ES8017SC Men's Triple Blade Pro Curve Rechargeable Linear Shaver

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Monday, July 26, 2004
Bill Clinton, on the other hand sounds great.

Damn term limits.

I just caught the end of Hillary Clinton's speech at the convo (still, very, very busy with work stuff).

Uh, the last few minutes were not particularly impressive. Not that there was anything wrong with it, just that it sounded like a State of the Union speech, listing 'we need to do X better, we need to do Y better, and we need to do Z better,' rather than actually saying specifically why nor how the Democrats would do things better. Not bad, but not what it could've been.

Thursday, July 15, 2004
Serious internet problems, combined with being extremely busy at work.

Tuesday, July 06, 2004
Yet another sign o' the apocalypse:

"We're going to make this election the hottest, most sexiest thing ever." - Sean "P. Diddy" Combs

I can't seem to find it anywhere on the website, but I have a copy of today's New York Post.

The banner headline reads:

"KERRY'S CHOICE: Dem picks Gephardt as VP candidate"

Er, so much for that one.

Oh, Thank God it's not Gephardt

John Kerry has chosen John Edwards to be his running mate.

The announcement e-mail:

Dear Friend,

In just a few minutes, I will announce that Senator John Edwards will join me as my running-mate on the Democratic ticket as a candidate for vice president of the United States. Teresa and I could not be more excited that John and Elizabeth Edwards will be our partners in our journey to make America stronger at home and respected in the world.

You are the heart and soul of our campaign. You've shattered records and expectations every step of the way. Every time someone said you couldn't do it, you proved them wrong. Because of your incredible grassroots energy and commitment, I wanted to make the first official announcement of my decision to you -- more than one million online supporters at

I want you to know why I'm excited about running for president with John Edwards by my side. John understands and defends the values of America. He has shown courage and conviction as a champion for middle class Americans and those struggling to reach the middle class. In the Senate, he worked to reform our intelligence, to combat bioterrorism, and keep our military strong. John reaches across party lines and speaks to the heart of America -- hope and optimism. Throughout his own campaign for President, John spoke about the great divide in this country -- the "Two Americas" -- that exist between those who are doing well today and those that are struggling to make it from day to day. And I am so proud that we're going to build one America together.

In the next 120 days and in the administration that follows, John Edwards and I will be fighting for the America we love. We'll be fighting to give the middle class a voice by providing good paying jobs and affordable health care. We'll be fighting to make America energy independent. We'll be fighting to build a strong military and lead strong alliances, so young Americans are never put in harm's way because we insisted on going it alone.

I can't tell you how proud I am to have John Edwards on my team, or how eager I am for the day this fall when he stands up for our vision and goes toe-to-toe with Dick Cheney.

This is the most important election of our lifetime, and a defining moment in our history. With you by our side every day of this campaign, John and I will lead the most spirited presidential campaign America has ever seen and fight to lead our nation in a new and better direction.

Thank you,

John Kerry

Monday, July 05, 2004
Scouring the scuttlebutt about the VP nod, a couple of quick thoughts come to mind:

1. Dear God, not Gephardt.

I'm not strongly inclined to find myself fawning over any of the other potential candidates often named - Edwards may be too inexperienced, Vilsack has an Al Gore-like lack of charisma, Wes Clark doesn't seem to come across well on the stump, and Bob Graham ... well, there's the diary thing, for one. That said, I can't understand what the hell there is to like about Gephardt. Basically, the man has proven over and over again that he's capable of winning a politically moderate district in Missouri, and not capable of winning anything else.

Gephardt probably would swing Missouri over to the Dems. Elsewhere in the Rust Belt, his draw isn't as strong, however. Michigan is likely to swing Democratic, as is Illinois, while Indiana will go Republican barring a landslide, and Pennsylvania, while more competitive, leans Dem - which leaves Ohio and Wisconsin, neither of which seems like Gep's stomping grounds.

The man has zero charisma, and a mile-long voting record which seems certain to provide plenty of fodder for the Repubs.

Which basically leaves us back at Edwards. Who, OK, is a bit inexperienced and has the trial lawyer tag. He, however, is a proven strong fundraiser and campaigner who truly excites the base. Realistically, to provide a real bounce, it has to either be him or someone whose name isn't being tossed around among the majors. Sherrod Brown, an Ohio Rep, would seem to be the perfect cross between Gephardt - strong with the unions and the anti-free trade factions - and Edwards - still fairly young (though not quite as young-looking), and charismatic enough. Plus, he's probably the one Dem in Ohio who still has enough statewide name recognition and popularity to swing the state Democratic if he's on the ticket. There are plenty of other strong possibilities as well who aren't being considered too strongly - Gary Locke, Bill Nelson and maybe even Jim Jeffords.

The vaunted ABC report last night that said that Kerry met with a possible running mate - probably Gephardt - last week at Madeleine Albright's house, of course, left out the possibility that Kerry might've just been meeting with Albright. Which would make for a rather interesting legal challenge, in all likelihood, since Albright is ineligible to run for the Presidency (she was born in Czechoslovakia) and might therefore be ineligible for the Vice-Presidency. She'd make one helluva candidate, certainly, and it would make the Republicans look anti-immigrant to challenge her. But it would seem rather unlikely, given that it might well not hold up.

The other thought I find myself having is that it's probably beneficial to get Kerry more positive airtime for a few more days by dragging this thing out. After all, it is still fairly early by historical standards - the vice presidential nominee usually isn't announced until the week before the convention, which is still three weeks away. Just as the Democratic jostling during the primaries focused attention on them and their opposition to Bush, bringing the President downward, the current focus would seem to once again put some positive light on Kerry. Of course, Bush has been doing a pretty good job of bringing his own poll numbers down for a few weeks now, but Kerry has to step forward sooner or later. Then again, if this thing drags on for too long, it risks making Kerry look indecisive. A few more days, maybe even a full week, though, might well help.

Thursday, July 01, 2004
I've been doing a lot of driving lately, and a lot of parking in parking spots with relatively small spots. And, driving the cars of various relatives and friends to get things done, I haven't been driving an SUV (in other words, it's not a choice of my own). The largest car that I've been driving is a station wagon.

And I'm damned fed up with having to park next to SUVs and minivans, and having a hell of a time pulling out of the spots, being unable to see if anything's coming or not. (this is a problem that tends to be worsened by the fact that many larger cars have darkened windows).

So, I put forward the following idea:

Separate parking lots. One for sedans, hatchbacks, sports cars and station wagons. And a separate parking lot for SUVs and minivans, ideally with slightly larger spaces. One would think that this would make things a lot easier, with the larger cars being able to see around each other, and the smaller cars being able to maneuver around each other.

Er, I was just flipping channels, and I swore I just saw an advertisement for an upcoming talk show on CNBC to be hosted by John McEnroe.

This has gotta be one of the signs of the apocalypse.