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A Sunday in July

It’s my day off, it’s bloody hot, and I’ve already posted once, but here are a few additional snippets.

The editor’s heavy hand: Bryan Garner has fallen victim to the kind of editor who reflexively changes that to who. He tweeted yesterday, “The NYT editors changed my "that" in the final sentence to "whom"--thereby changing the sense entirely.”

Here’s the sentence in question: “Short of such reform, the future for new law school graduates looks dismal. And the future of continuing-legal-education seminars for the practicing lawyers -- the kind whom I teach -- looks very bright indeed.”

The antecedent is seminars, not lawyers, as a more careful reading of the sentence would indicate. That would have been OK even if lawyers had been the antecedent.

That hair trigger: James Fallows has some strong words to say about a remarkably stupid column by Jennifer Rubin in The Washington Post about the attacks in Norway. A key sentence: “We don't know if al Qaeda was directly responsible for today's events, but in all likelihood the attack was launched by part of the jihadist hydra.”

No doubt there is a reason—it eludes me—for which people quick to condemn what they call “Islamofascists” fail to response with the same verve to ordinary white fascists, especially when they go to church.

For your further amusement, I am linking to Jeffrey Goldberg’s attempt to justify Ms. Rubin’s column.

Same again, please: On Twitter, @debcha is one of many people linking to an article with this headline: “Study: Beer beats water for hydration.” I haven’t read the study; the headline suffices for me.



Posted by John McIntyre at 4:35 PM | | Comments (12)


Nothing like tweeting to keep one up to date on the latest scientific finding. Oh wait, the Telegraph article [] was published on 1 November 2007. This information was released at a news conference. No publication was found for this study after a quick NLM and pubmed search.

Is this another beautiful theory killed by an ugly little fact?

I guess Mr. Goldberg ends well, but he comes off trying to park a 12-foot-long argument into a 10-foot no parking zone.

Responding to the criticism, Jennifer Rubin has posted a mealy-mouthed there-is-evil-in-the-world response:

The most astonishing thing about Rubin's original blog posting is that it was timestamped at 5:06 p.m. on Friday. If she had bothered to turn on a TV or radio before hitting "send," she would have known the killer was an ultra rightist and native Norwegian, as the authorities had already identified him by that time. So anxious was she to hang this on the Islamic "hydra" that she couldn't be bothered.

And then the feeble follow-up on generic "evil." If right-wing Christian fundamentalist anti-Muslim hatred leads to violence, let's condemn it, too. By name.

Why don't people go all wobbly about Christian nutcases? Why don't we get conspiracy theories about them?

This guy was just as much of an unbalanced extremist as any jihadist - he even had a manifesto to prove it. But somehow no one seems interested in making sweeping conclusions about the Christian hydra, or the impending apocalypse that will result if it gets into power (oh, wait...), or its evil agenda designed to remake society in the image of its misogynistic, homophobic, violent, xenophobic religious dogma (oh, wait, again...).

Actually, Melissa Jane, I have seen even-handed denunciations of Christianity and Islam both by militant atheists, though they usually concede that most varieties of Christianity have been defanged politically.


I don't know where you come off calling it a "remarkably stupid" column.
Jen was entirely justified in stating that in all probability, the attack was perpetrated by Islamic terrorists.

Simple Bayesian inference will tell you that. So probabilistically speaking, she was right on the money. Over the past several decades, Muslim terrorists have have launched hundreds if not thousands of terrorist attacks. So it's pretty obviously their the way to bet.

Add to this the fact that a number of Islamofascists were quick to take credit for the bombing, and I really can't fathom why anyone would think Miss Rubin's speculation to be so contentious let alone "remarkably stupid". It was ultimately wrong, of course. But it's not some baseless assumption completely lacking any warrant.

Also John:

There are other very good reasons to have assumed it was a Islamic terrorist attack.

Just after the bombing, the Atlantic posted a great article on Islamofascists targeting Norway. Furthermore, the deportation of a very prominent, Krekar, was imminent. Also this was a simultaneous attack on both the youth camp and downtown Oslo. Those who are knowledgeable about Islamic terrorist attacks of the past, know this is a hallmark.

Journalists are allowed their initial hunches. And this seems a perfectly reasonable one. I mean, really, you have to be brain dead not to have at least wondered if this was an Islamofascist attack when you heard about it. About 100% of people did, I'd wager. And for obviously good reason.

If you'd all waited longer before plunging into the fray, you'd have learned that the white guy has strong sympathies with the Muslim extremists -dating, it seems, from the slaughter in Bosnia, where "our Muslim brothers' were being killed. And his close friend of recent years is a Muslim. So much for pure white Christian extremism.

Well, AJ, those of us next door to Northern Ireland know that, over the past several decades, Christian terrorists have launched hundreds if not thousands of terrorist attacks.

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About John McIntyre
John McIntyre, mild-mannered editor for a great metropolitan newspaper, has fussed over writers’ work, to sporadic expressions of gratitude, for thirty years. He is The Sun’s night content production manager and former head of its copy desk. He also teaches editing at Loyola University Maryland. A former president of the American Copy Editors Society, a native of Kentucky, a graduate of Michigan State and Syracuse, and a moderate prescriptivist, he writes about language, journalism, and arbitrarily chosen topics. If you are inspired by a spirit of contradiction, comment on the posts or write to him at
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