Tired of winning votes, Montana GOP has plan to reduce them

Montana state senator Alan Olson (R–Roundup,) wearing a shirt/tie combination given to him by his girlfriend, Aleister Crowley

MT state senator Alan Olson (R–Roundup) in a shirt/tie combination given to him by Aleister Crowley

Like many state GOP organizations since 2008, Republicans in Helena have a plan to fight voter fraud. The plan is to end voter registration before Election Day, so that people who go to the polls and find themselves ineligible to vote can’t just register on the spot. Since Montana implemented Election-Day registration in 2006, the secretary of state has documented two—count ‘em: two—instances of unqualified voters knowingly casting fraudulent votes. Perhaps more relevantly, 29,000 Montanans have registered and voted on the same day—many of them students, senior citizens, returned members of the military, and other constituencies that traditionally vote Democrat. We must prevent these people from ruining our elections with their .0006% rate of fraud. If that means disenfranchising 2% of the electorate, so be it; I’m sure the Founding Fathers wouldn’t want those people to vote anyway. That’s the argument I make, tongue drifting into my cheek, in my latest column for the Missoula Independent. You should read it. We’ll be back tomorrow with Friday links.



National GOP group buys ad time in nonpartisan MT race

You are way too close to Lawrence VanDyke.

You are way too close to Lawrence VanDyke.

Kudos to The Missoulian for the stubbornly bland headline Independent Groups Raise Profile of Montana Supreme Court Race. That’s one way to describe what The Republican State Leadership Committee Judicial Fairness Montana PAC—catchy name, guys—did when it made this ad and bought $100k worth of airtime to support Supreme Court candidate Lawrence VanDyke in an ostensibly nonpartisan race. VanDyke’s campaign slogan is “following the law, not the politics.” It’s good he doesn’t follow politics, or else he might realize he was the object of partisan mendacity and get sad.

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Pinker on how academic writing sucks, but maybe not why

Steven Pinker completely avoids stereotypical academic behavior.

Steven Pinker thanks you for coming to office hours, where something sexy could probably happen.

Now that we’ve all done our reading for today, I think we can agree that Pinker’s “Why Academics Stink at Writing” might be better titled “How Academics Stink at Writing.” The bulk of his essay documents the quirks and vices endemic to the genre; only in the last 500 words or so does he focus on the psychology behind them. The why of bad academic writing lives less in Pinker’s analyses than in the boldface headings he uses to taxonomize them: hedging, apologizing, “shudder quotes” (Pinker’s name for scare quotes,) et cetera. The insecurities these gerunds orbit help explain why a sentence trying to explain that people read statements marked true and false came out like this:

Participants read assertions whose veracity was either affirmed or denied by the subsequent presentation of an assessment word.

To oversimplify his argument, Pinker believes academics write badly because they’re scared.

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A fun Combat! blog experiment


Props to Sid for inspiring today’s fun experiment by surprising me with work this morning. Kombat! Klients: please call and ask for quick turnarounds on short notice, as I will do that shit and bill you richly. There is no Combat! blog today, because I am a professional writer who solves problems in exchange for money. Hire me, and I will meet your deadline even at the expense of my own projects. Anywhom, more than one of you sent me this article about what’s wrong with academic writing. I have a lot to say about it, but lately I’ve been trying to stay away from pieces that can be described as “here’s what I think about this article.” I’m already presumptuous to think people want my opinions on arbitrarily selected topics; to ask them to read primary-source documents seems narcissistic. But this once, we could all read the linked article today and talk about it tomorrow, and see how we like that. Maybe there could be a Combat! reading club, like a book club but where we all read. Until that day. Which is tomorrow—until tomorrow.

Friday links! The kids are all right of center edition

Right-wing Israeli teenagers in shirts that say "revenge"

Right-wing Israeli teenagers in shirts that say “revenge”

Oh, youth: that magical time in a person’s life when one or the other political party shapes the adult you will become. Of course I’m talking about proto-fascist security states that demand ideological engagement in every aspect of life, which is where youth happens now. From child soldiers in Africa to biology students in Kansas, kids are learning which point of view is right and which one is a threat to their very existence. Today is Friday, but I believe the children are the future. Won’t you indoctrinate them in the conflicts of the past with me?

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