Re: Reporting

1

Huh. The Shel Silver story, much as I generally think ill of him, looks like the kind of thing where I don't trust the Times. That is, there's proof that the other Shel Silver did work for the organization in question at around the right time, the question is how long he worked there. On that kind of thing, I wouldn't take his wife as authoritative for something that happened forty years ago -- on a full-time job, maybe, but not involvement with a charitable organization.

Here, if the Times is wrong, I don't care much, other than an abstract devotion to the truth: any damage to Silver is good for the state of NY. (And Silver seems to have lied about at least one letter.) But this is reminding me of the Times attack on Blumenthal, the guy in Connecticut. I'd like to see the UJC resolve it.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-22-14 4:00 PM
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You gotta read the whole thing, homie.

As the case reached its conclusion seven years later, Mr. Silver wrote to the court that he had met with the aggrieved worshipers at United Jewish Council headquarters to discuss their wishes. And he left little doubt which Mr. Silver he was.

"I am also the assemblyman for the district in which the synagogue is located and have a keen interest in having the plaintiff congregants continue to use their synagogue in the future," he wrote.

Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 05-22-14 4:03 PM
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I'm not doubting that Assemblyman Silver had some involvement with the UJC in relation to the relevant matters. But I really don't trust the Times, and we're relying on them both for an accurate description of the evidence, and on exactly what Assemblyman Silver is now denying.

That is, I'm sure that Assemblyman Silver wrote the letter to the court that the article quotes -- it'd be a matter of public record. I am less sure that his writing that letter is inconsistent with what he's now saying, or that the Times didn't in the initial article actually attribute some actions of the wrong Shel Silver to him.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-22-14 4:09 PM
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Ezra Klein admits to being jeans! Film at 11.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 05-22-14 4:10 PM
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Seriously, if the Times takes down Silver by lying about his having sex with goats, while it's not the best method, I'm reasonably happy about the outcome.

This just sets off my distrust of the Times: Silver admits that he was involved with the UJC, but denies some unclearly specified things we said about his involvement, and says we misattribute some parts of his involvement to another Shel Silver. The other Shel Silver's wife, remembering back forty years, thinks we're right -- we don't have a quote from the UJC itself. And we have a letter proving that Silver was involved with the UJC. So Silver's denials are lies.

There's a lot of wiggle room in there of exactly the kind I don't trust the times with.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-22-14 4:20 PM
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Unfortunately (I've already identifed as, and thus committed to being, a Vox hater) the explaining the news thing on Vox is the real problem, even worse than the more-boring version of Buzzfeed jeans washing articles. So the problem goes way beyond whatever is or isn't bad about Facebook.

Honestly I do think that for all its flaws the one US organization that has held its own best for actual news is an actual newspaper, the New York Times. The Guardian in the UK has also seemed to do pretty well, and even the hollowed-out shell of the LA Times still has some actual reporting on a variety of stuff that's really good now and then. I'd take any of those over Vox or Gawker media or 538.com any day of the week.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 05-22-14 4:21 PM
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Like many of the commenters on the second story, I find it funny that Hudack is complaining about this when facebook itself is one of the biggest drivers of traffic to upworthy-like stories. Facebook could drive more traffic to what Hudack calls "real" reporting, if they chose to. Of course they don't, because that would reduce site engagement and ad revenue.

At the same time, I don't really blame facebook, since facebook is just giving people what they want. The reason these stories are everywhere is that when you A/B test these things, content-free stories about THIS MIND-BLOWING FACT THAT 9 OF 10 AMERICANS GET WRONG win.

What I do blame facebook for is not using their fancy machine learning algorithms to recognize that I've never clicked on an upworthy story. How come I get the same crap in my feed that everyone else does? Fb is able to recognize that there are certain people whose stories I don't care about and hide those. Why isn't it able to recognize that there are people whose stories I care about, except when they link to clickbait stories?


Posted by: sral | Link to this comment | 05-22-14 4:24 PM
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I wrote 6 before seeing LB's comments here, but it's a nice juxtaposition. My general view of the NY Times is that it's the worst news source, except for every single other news source.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 05-22-14 4:27 PM
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LB, I feel like I'm arguing with a flat-earther. At issue is which Sheldon Silver was the lawyer for Uwhatever in the 70s and 80s. On one side, we have a crooked politician who says, "Totally the other one," and for proof produces two letters that match the widow's recollection, and nothing else. On the other side, we have the widow's recollection, the fact that no one not in the employ of the pol is saying "the other one," and lots of letters signed "Sheldon Silver," and not "Sheldon E. Silver," which is how the two short letters are signed, including one where that Sheldon Silver says "I'm the assemblyman."

If the fact that this is appearing in the NY Times is your main objection, and you won't believe it until someone else confirms it, fine, earth is flat, you win.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 05-22-14 4:28 PM
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Granting Facebook not being nationalized or nonprofitized in the foreseeable future, perhaps they've bound themselves to not show everyone everything so they can charge for eyeballs, but surely they could at least make a "non-commercially-promoting individual" category which doesn't get arbitrarily/randomly hidden.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 05-22-14 4:29 PM
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I'm getting into close reading here. But read the article:

But the office held on to one claim of mistaken identity: The "Sheldon Silver Esq." identified as counsel to United Jewish Council on the group's letterhead from all those years was not the assemblyman, but the other Mr. Silver. As evidence, the office produced two one-sentence letters from 1973 to the Internal Revenue Service from the council signed by Mr. Sheldon E. Silver.

Now, the Times seems to have said that Assemblyman Silver was literally the "Counsel" for the UJC -- not just that he had some involvement with them, but that he was the guy on their letterhead (an example of which is linked). Assemblyman Silver is denying that he was the guy whose name appeared on the UJC letterhead, and in support of that denial, has real evidence that there was a different Shel Silver, an attorney, who was writing letters on behalf of the UJC in the right time period.

With that evidence, I'm leaning strongly toward believing that Assemblyman Silver, although he was involved with the UJC in relation to the relevant real estate deals, didn't have the title of "Counsel" for the UJC, and wasn't the guy whose name appeared on the UJC letterhead. I'd change that belief if a spokesperson for the UJC said "No, Assemblyman Silver was the name on our letterhead", but the Times somehow either didn't ask them or couldn't get them to say that.

Shel Silver's a crook, generally. But the Times is sloppy, and doesn't like admitting when it's screwed up.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-22-14 4:37 PM
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the fact that no one not in the employ of the pol is quoted in the Times article saying "the other one,"

lots of letters not linked in full so we can read them signed "Sheldon Silver," and not "Sheldon E. Silver," which is how the two short letters are signed, including one where that Sheldon Silver says "I'm the assemblyman"

I'd like to see the "I'm the assemblyman" letter, to see how Silver describes his relationship to the UJC. If he described himself as, or signed himself as, "Counsel" to the UJC, it's peculiar that the Times didn't quote that bit.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-22-14 4:43 PM
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Is it not pretty telling that UJC admits it looked, in response to a request from Silver's office, for evidence that E. was counsel at any point past 1973, and could find nothing? (Most of the activities described in the original article are in the late 70's or later.) And that UJC is full of his associates?


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 05-22-14 4:50 PM
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LB, I feel like I'm arguing with a flat-earther.

Slander! We live inside a hollow earth. The pyramids were built by aliens who came from the center of the Earth, which is "up" in the "sky."


Posted by: Lizar D. Breath, Esq. | Link to this comment | 05-22-14 4:51 PM
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It is clear that Assemblyman Silver was closely involved with UJC and with the relevant deals. But that doesn't establish that he was their counsel or represented them as an attorney, in the absence of someone with direct knowledge saying he was, where there was a different guy with the same name who did work for them as an attorney.

And I shouldn't argue too hard here, the Times might have it right. But there really does seem to me to be wiggle room where they haven't backed up their case.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-22-14 4:58 PM
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LB, you read the part about the speaker's office dropping their request for a correction? Their one remaining claim is that the name on the stationary refers to another Sheldon Silver. This is irrelevant and just an attempt to save face; the fact that the organization can't find any evidence of Sheldon E. Silver's involvement other than two letters matching the timeframe of the widow's recollection is very nearly dispositive, no?

This is such an opportunity for you to grow as a blogger, a commenter, and a person. You could throw in the towel, go hug your children, and listen to the familiar comforting hum of car horns and idling trucks.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 05-22-14 4:59 PM
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Their one remaining claim is that the name on the stationary refers to another Sheldon Silver.

Well, their remaining claim is that Assemblyman Silver wasn't "Counsel" to the UJC, and didn't represent them as an attorney. And that seems to me to be plausibly true, still. If someone with direct knowledge contradicted Silver on this, I'd believe them, but I'm not seeing it from the linked article.

What this looks like to me is that the original story was basically good -- Shelly was in the UJC thing up to his neck. But the Times may have gotten it squarely wrong on the limited question of whether he was counsel to the UJC or represented them as their attorney, and now they're blowing smoke rather than issuing a correction on that point.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-22-14 5:03 PM
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You can dismiss that sort of thing -- a correction on a point that's not fatal to the overall story -- as irrelevant, and there's something to that. But if I'm right about what the Times is doing, they shouldn't act that way.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-22-14 5:05 PM
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You know that semantic saturation thing, where a word you hear too often stops sounding like a real word? I get a similar effect from stories about people in New York. Let's call it Soho saturation.


Posted by: Todd | Link to this comment | 05-22-14 5:11 PM
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LB, they address that. The evidence isn't airtight, but they have the recollection of a non-elderly widow, and the fact that the name on the stationary matches the assemblyman's registered name, but not the other guy's name. It could all be a wacky mix-up! But not even you would bet that way.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 05-22-14 5:16 PM
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21

I thought it was "satiation".


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 05-22-14 5:17 PM
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Man, I had forgotten that Blumenthal nonsense. THat was a great example of some reporter going on a snipe hunt, convinced he or she was the next Woodward.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 05-22-14 5:17 PM
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If to you 66 is non-elderly, the senior citizen discounts disagree. But she remembers that her husband didn't represent the UJC past a point, not that Assemblyman Silver did represent them. Who knows how long they kept using the same stationery, without buying new because Silver didn't work for them anymore? And the middle initial thing is silly -- because Sheldon E. Silver used his middle initial sometimes, any usage without the initial couldn't be him?

What I don't see in the documents linked by the Times is anything that shows that Assemblyman Silver acted as an attorney for the UJC or had the title of "Counsel" for them.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-22-14 5:22 PM
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It could all be a wacky mix-up! But not even you would bet that way.

Once you really do have another Sheldon Silver really working as an attorney for the same organization in about the right time period, it's not wacky. The implausible bit of the coincidence -- two Sheldon Silvers involved with the same organization -- is well-attested truth.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-22-14 5:25 PM
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You and Karl Rove agree that 66 is elderly for the purposes of assessing probably memory loss. Now I have to keep blogging long enough for you to call me sexist when I say it would be irresponsible to vote for Hilary Clinton.

As for the name thing, the fact that E. signs with his initial at the least makes it more likely that he'd be identified that way on the stationary. But the key here is that the letters we do have from E. are on completely different stationary, which is plain, and doesn't list anyone as counsel. That's consistent with his (poor, disrespected) widow's story that he only worked for them when they were first starting up, and makes the alternate theory that they kept stationary from the E. era a non-starter. Maybe they ordered the stationary before he was let go, and received it after, and then found another Sheldon Silver to take his place, to save money. Jews, you know.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 05-22-14 5:49 PM
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Doesn't it shake you that the Times couldn't come up with any documents where the assemblyman signs as counsel for UJC, or identifies himself as representing them? If he acted as their attorney, documents like that should be out there. But either the Times didn't find them, didn't link them, or they don't exist.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-22-14 5:53 PM
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I have no insight into this story beyond reading it, and I guess being elderly myself? But I want to endorse LB's habitual mistrust of the NYT.

You never could rely on just one paper, and now you don't have to. Yes, it's more work, but I usually start with the wire services. and see what variation there is. Often it's quite easy to see how different stories have a common source, which may be complete nonsense.


Posted by: idp | Link to this comment | 05-22-14 5:55 PM
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28

Is the Facebooker's thing worth reading at all? I didn't get past the initial both sides-ism.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 05-22-14 6:09 PM
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29

"stationery"

Carry on.


Posted by: slolernr | Link to this comment | 05-22-14 6:20 PM
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30

LB, he filed documents in court on their behalf--documents in which he identifies himself as an assemblyman--and he's listed as counsel on their stationary. The Times quotes from the former and links to a scan of the latter. If there's some technical meaning of "counsel" or "represent" by which these things can be true, and yet he can be telling the truth, you might know it, but I don't.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 05-22-14 6:25 PM
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31

Thanks, slol, you pedantic dick.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 05-22-14 6:26 PM
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32

Oh, thank goodness for 29.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-22-14 6:29 PM
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33

It's going to turn out that Assemblyman Silver wore a mustache during the 70s and 80s, isn't it?


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 05-22-14 6:29 PM
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34

Some things are hard to let go.


Posted by: Slol E. Rnr | Link to this comment | 05-22-14 6:29 PM
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35

21: Google Scholar search results favor "saturation" so I went with that one.


Posted by: Todd | Link to this comment | 05-22-14 6:29 PM
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I'm waiting with breathless anticipation for ogged to still spell it "stationary".


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 05-22-14 6:33 PM
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Semantic stationry.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 05-22-14 6:36 PM
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Semitic stationary.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05-22-14 6:39 PM
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Pedantic falconry.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 05-22-14 6:47 PM
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Crap, 35 is wrong because I forgot about ADJ not being the default operator and forgot to use quote marks in the searches. Satiation is the favored term.


Posted by: Todd | Link to this comment | 05-22-14 6:58 PM
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But she remembers that her husband didn't represent the UJC past a point, not that Assemblyman Silver did represent them.

But it appears that Assemblyman Silver maintained all along that a "Sheldon Silver" was counsel to UJC during the 70s and 80s. He seems to agree now that it wasn't S.E. Silver, except for a brief period in the early 70s. Which means he's either admitting it was him after that, arguing there S.S. 3.0 out there, or that he has to explain why he was saying S.S. 2.0 was counsel to UJC for that period. Because SS 1.0 saying that SS 2.0 was counsel of the UJC is sort of hard to explain except as a dodge.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05-22-14 7:00 PM
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30: "Sheldon Silver" is listed as counsel on their stationery. With a different SS working for them as an attorney in a reasonably close time period that doesn't establish anything unequivocally. So forget the stationery.

Filed documents in court on their behalf? It really is weird that those aren't linked in the article. On the basis of the quote, I'll believe Silver wrote the letter in support if the UJC's position, but without seeing it I don't trust the Times in saying that he was representing them as an attorney.

You've brought up that there's nothing from after 74 showing that SES continued to work for UJC. But the Times hasn't shown us anything that establishes that SS represented UJC ever.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-22-14 7:12 PM
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Ok, either you're using a sense of "represented" that I don't know, or you just didn't see, about halfway down the page, past the halfway point of the article, on the left side, a series of pdf documents (and a "page 1 of 3" notation there) that have Silver involved in various ways in UJC business.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 05-22-14 7:18 PM
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I might be using a sense of represented you don't know. "Representing" someone, as their attorney, is a specific legal relationship. I saw all sorts of documents showing that Assemblyman SS was involved in stuff with UJC -- he was the president of some affiliated corporation, he was writing letters to HUD for them, he was part of the whole deal.

What I don't see is anything that says he was literally representing them as their attorney, which is different (other than the letterhead, which plausibly could refer to SES). If the Times was wrong about that, it's not the core of their story, but they owe him a correction. And while I'm not sure they're wrong about it, I'm not seeing documentary evidence that they're right. I might have missed it, but I'm not seeing it.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-22-14 7:29 PM
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Thurber with the best description of semantic satiation ever:

I thought of every other town in the country as well as such words and names and phrases as terra cotta, Walla-Walla, bill of lading, vice versa, hoity-toity, Pall Mall, Bodley Head, Schumann-Heink, etc., without even coming close to Perth Amboy. I suppose terra cotta was the closest I came, although it was not very close.
I began to indulge in the wildest fancies as I lay there in the dark, such as there was no town, and even that there was no such state as New Jersey. I fell to repeating the word "Jersey" over and over again, until it became idiotic and meaningless. If you have ever lain awake at night and repeated one word over and over, thousands and millions and hundreds of thousands and millions of times, you know the disturbing mental state you can get into. I got to thinking that there was nobody else in the world but me, and various other wild imaginings of that nature.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 05-22-14 7:29 PM
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And the court filings that the Times refers to but doesn't link should be unequivocal on that point, which makes the failure to provide them strange.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-22-14 7:30 PM
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47

Ok, what does this mean?


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 05-22-14 7:35 PM
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Means he will accept service on the entity's behalf. Doesn't, I believe, make him their lawyer.

It's a limited caveat -- he'd be absurd to say he wasn't deeply involved with UJC and to the extent he tried to make that claim (which he probably did, but we're relying on the Times' characterization, so the exact extent of what he was claiming, I'm not dead sure), he is absurd. But the Times said he represented UJC as their lawyer, and I'm not seeing that established. Still could be true, but I don't see it.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-22-14 7:42 PM
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After Mr. Silver's office saw those documents, it dropped its request for a correction on which Mr. Silver pressed for the mall in the 1970s.

so, he's already made one claim, namely, "there was this other sheldon silver and we were always getting confused, I never did that thing with the mall." then the times produces evidence that when "hypothetical sheldon silver who isn't the assemblyman" wrote about the mall he did so explicitly as assemblyman, at which point he says, "oh never mind about that correction I was demanding then, that was in fact me, thanks." silver's wrong-footed at this point and the times has the advantage, I think. then his claim devolves to two pieces of letterhead that are plausibly from 1973 with the other silver's name on them, and he's contradicted by a well-informed eye-witness who says sheldon e. silver left in early 1974? and the other sheldon silver always used sheldon e. silver but the 1974 incorporation docs show one sheldon silver as the attorney? if sheldon silver the assemblyman can come back with some evidence he never lived at 550 grand st or someone at the synagogue who will say "yep, we had good ol' sheldon e on the scene from day one until he died of being-old-death in 1994," or something I might buy it, but I think your (not unreasonable) times-gotcha-skepticism is leading you astray here, L-Beebz.


Posted by: alameida | Link to this comment | 05-22-14 7:43 PM
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dude, I've been on a train headed to perth amboy and still kinda been like, "perth amboy?" the machine-gun recitations of all the remaining stops on the outbound LIRR trains are similarly entrancing.


Posted by: alameida | Link to this comment | 05-22-14 7:45 PM
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partly because they so often go to babylon. who the fuck names their city babylon? and how do the many people of jamaican origin who live there deal with it when they listen to reggae? maybe they feel like they're in captivity in the evil kingdom of nassau county, I don't know. better there than when I lived in floral park and commuted to columbia because hs boyfriend moved to LI to be near me. not near enough though.


Posted by: alameida | Link to this comment | 05-22-14 7:54 PM
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Railfans love reciting all the stops on the NY commuter lines, and the ferry crossings too. There's a fine documentary film about the coastal NJ railroad that goes through Perth Amboy, all the way down to towns like Red Bank.

There's another film about the Northwestern NJ trains, that go to near where Buck is from.


Posted by: idp | Link to this comment | 05-22-14 7:55 PM
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These urban railroad movies have been shown for years on the rural Satellite Channel RFD-TV, for some reason.


Posted by: idp | Link to this comment | 05-22-14 8:04 PM
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"The breakfast garbage that they throw out in Troy,
They drink for lunch in Perth Amboy.*"

*East coast variation.


Posted by: Tom Lehrer | Link to this comment | 05-22-14 8:05 PM
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I should be happy that you've gone from "leaning strongly" toward thinking he wasn't counsel, to noting that it hasn't been proven beyond all doubt, but you really can't dismiss the stationery. We have two letters from E., on UJC stationery that doesn't list a counsel. Then UJC stationary with "Sheldon Silver" listed as counsel, from six full years after E.'s name appears in UJC business, and well after the date his widow says he was let go. What's your explanation?


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 05-22-14 8:11 PM
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If the stationery remained stationary from Silver to Silver the Silver on stationery could have been stationary, too, is LB's argument?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-22-14 8:16 PM
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Um... 42 to 55? I think?


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 05-22-14 8:21 PM
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42 doesn't work, at least not by a standard I'd call reasonable. Our last evidence for E. doing work for UJC is in 1973, and that's the last his widow says he worked for them. In 1979, we have UJC stationery listing "Sheldon Silver" as their counsel. Did they order 100,000 sheets of stationary right before they let Sheldon E. Silver go?


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 05-22-14 8:27 PM
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What's the over/under on how long ogged and LB can drag this out?


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 05-22-14 8:43 PM
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I can't get past the first paragraph of the NYT story:

To Sheldon Silver, the powerful speaker of the New York State Assembly, it was nothing but a simple case of mistaken identity.

Isn't the Times arguing the exact opposite? That to Silver, it wasn't a case of mistaken identity at all.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 05-22-14 9:24 PM
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If Assemblyman Silver was NOT the council for the organization, why doesn't anyone besides his office want to go on record as making that claim? Here we have all of these people who were intimately familiar with the workings of the organization, and were close associates of Assemblyman Silver, surely one of them must still be alive and could put the matter to rest with one phone call, if indeed Lawyer Sheldon E. Silver was the person associated with the UJC.

LB wants us to believe:
1. The only Sheldon Silver ever listed on UJC stationery was the one who was let go in 1974, according to his wife, but in reality he worked for them for another 5 or 6 years at least.
2. That Assemblyman Silver was, while closely associated with the UJC, to the point of doing legal work for them, not actually their counsel, and that his name's appearance on the stationery identifying him as such was merely a bizarre coincidence due to the similarly named lawyer who apparently secretly worked for them the whole time, while concealing this fact from his family for reasons unknown.
3. That the NYT vendetta against Assemblyman Silver runs so deep that they have created a series of articles with prose so Jesuitical that it can simultaneously seem to prove Silver's involvement and not prove it for those who know what to read between the lines.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 05-22-14 9:28 PM
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I admire both Ogged and LB for this. I appreciate that LB has taken Iron Maiden's "If you're gonna die, die with your boots on" to heart but I think that it's over. Though I'll admire her more if she keeps swinging.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 05-22-14 9:31 PM
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But, really, this is how we all should be commenting. That's the important thing. Die with your boots on.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 05-22-14 9:35 PM
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Semitic stationary.

If it were Semitic stationery then it wouldn't have vowels.

Smtc stnry


Posted by: Buttercup | Link to this comment | 05-22-14 11:56 PM
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I think you mean yrntts ctmS.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 05-23-14 12:04 AM
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This thread makes my head hurt. It also makes me think of Shel Silverstein, which is unpleasant. I was hoping for comments hating on Ezra, and ended up with a bad touch. Not nice!

(I don't think I've looked at Vox, rarely read his WaPo site, and only occasionally looked at his blog out of a sense of duty when it would get mentioned. This is because earnest young Ezra is one of the most boring writers I encountered in the blog world. I'm sure his new site would drive me mad, but I'm protected by no longer reading any news.)


Posted by: JL | Link to this comment | 05-23-14 2:33 AM
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Back to the Silver thing (and I'm really not arguing that I'm sure Silver's right. I'm arguing that on the basis of the evidence the Times has put forward, I don't trust the Times not to be bullshitting.)

Evidence that SS was heavily involved in the UJC and their real estate deals:

Lots and lots -- the Times has linked a whole bunch of documents. No question about this.

Evidence that SS was the attorney for the UJC, did legal work for them, or had the title of "Counsel" for the UJC

The letterhead. Nothing else.

The Times hasn't shown up with a court filing SS signed on behalf of the UJC (they've referred to an affidavit, but that's something that wouldn't necessarily be from the UJC's lawyer, as opposed to someone who was involved in the case providing factual support for the UJC's position.) They haven't shown us any correspondence where SS signs as Counsel, or says in the text of the letter that he's representing the UJC. Any case I ever worked on, the court record is full of publicly available documents with my name in the signature block. Any matter I ever wrote a letter for a client on, the first paragraph includes a sentence saying that I'm representing X in this matter. If SS was the UJC's attorney, there should be a lot of this stuff.

The Times also doesn't have a statement from anyone at the UJC saying "SS was our attorney." (And in an article where I'm being suspicious of the Times' good faith, I'm not taking the absence of evidence that would help SS as dispositive that it doesn't exist.)

Reasons I think the letterhead isn't conclusive

(1) SES was involved with the UJC at its founding. His having the title of "Counsel" to the organization and appearing on the letterhead is plausible.

(2) It's a local nonprofit, that didn't necessarily need someone actively acting in that role, but the stationery looks impressive with lots of names on it. Whenever SES left, using up the old stationery wouldn't be even a little strange until they had someone else in the "Counsel" role who got touchy about having the stationery wrong. If they didn't have a new Counsel, even reordering the stationery without changing it wouldn't be strange. And using up stationery takes a while -- back in the days of printing presses, you might order a thousand sheets of letterhead at a time. And this kind of non-profit might not write more than a letter or two a week: we're not talking GM here.

(3) I don't think the widow's necessarily right about the dates of SES's involvement. First, it's forty years ago; that's not about dementia, it's about the passage of time. Second, she might perfectly well know when he'd done active work for them and when he stopped, but not know that he was still nominally "Counsel" to the organization and still on the letterhead, if he wasn't doing anything active about it.

The Times is relying on the letterhead alone, when there should be better evidence easily available. Doesn't mean the better evidence doesn't exist, but it does mean I don't trust the Times.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-23-14 4:55 AM
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And Shel Silver was happy. But not really.


Posted by: bill | Link to this comment | 05-23-14 5:04 AM
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He should still die, unloved, by the side of the road, of course.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-23-14 5:05 AM
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It also makes me think of Shel Silverstein

Shel Silver would probably get sued if he solicited campaign contributions via a Giving Tree, but it would so be worth it.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05-23-14 5:14 AM
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52: Oh, North Jersey Coast Line, I know you too well. (But Red Bank isn't that far down. Probably a good hour north of Bayhead, the end of the line.)


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 05-23-14 6:12 AM
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Probably a good hour north of Bayhead

That's right. It's all NJT or something now, isn't it? Is it like the Metra North line, with better scenery?


Posted by: idp | Link to this comment | 05-23-14 6:30 AM
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SES was involved with the UJC at its founding

This is misleading. Actually, according to the widow's recollection, it's false. SES's work for the organization happened after they'd been founded. The implication that he was there "at" the founding, and therefore might have held a position of import, such that we might expect his name to show up on the stationery, is belied by the fact that all UJC can find is two short letters he wrote for them.

we're not talking GM here

No, but they do update their stationary. April of 1977, Secretary Jerome Goodman. April of 1978, Secretary Hy Rapfogel.

it's forty years ago; that's not about dementia, it's about the passage of time

But she has two clear anchors for the memory. First, they had just gotten married, and then he lost the job. Second, they gave him a parting gift. The second fact also undermines the possibility that he was still nominally, ephemerally, and somehow still their counsel.

Can we still carve space for the logical possibility that Sheldon Silver isn't the Sheldon Silver ESQ listed as counsel on UJC's stationery? Of course! Logical possibility is the last refuge of the stubborn interlocutor, after all, but we're clearly in "I didn't say he was blinking in code, just that he could" territory.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 05-23-14 6:45 AM
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"It was only six or nine months, a very short period of time," Ms. Silver said. "They needed him because they were just starting up, but once they got up and going, I guess they didn't need him anymore."

How is this after, rather than at, the founding? Is there something else you're looking at?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-23-14 6:50 AM
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That is, it seems to unambiguously say that SS was doing work for them during the period when they were starting up. The reference to the date when the UJC was incorporated seems to say that it was as he was graduating from law school, but the work he did for them was during their startup period.

You're not reacting at all to what seems to me to be the big issue with the story, that's really what gives me pause -- that the Times hasn't provided anything that positively shows that Assemblyman Silver did do legal work for the UJC. The stuff that should be conclusive, they refer to but don't provide.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-23-14 6:56 AM
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It's possible you're the only one who ever asked. He's admitted that he was using confusion over names to blame some other guy for at least some of what he did*. That seems sufficient for me to ignore the rest of what SS says about the SS/SES matter.

* Not that he put it so bluntly.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05-23-14 7:02 AM
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I have been annoyed in the past at newspapers' expecting people to take as gospel their own unshown sources - I once wrote to the NYT complaining that an article about the decline of French cafes relied heavily on anecdata, individual places closing, and got back something very petulant from the author along the lines of "if it wasn't happening I wouldn't have reported it."

But what you're describing is simply not a big part of anything. You've admitted above that it's clear from the reporting that the two-named Silver was heavily and longstandingly involved in attempts to stop public or low-income housing in this neighborhood, and that he recently barefacedly and unsuccessfully tried to disown these efforts. That's the substance. Whether he was official counsel or just a closely associated lawyer is barely even interesting: since SES's widow's story is consistent with the NYT's, and precisely because it's not that consequential, I'm fine with taking it as given.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 05-23-14 7:06 AM
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And to cleanse the palate, judge as kindergarten teacher:

As I explained to Plaintiffs' counsel at the hearing, a court cannot order the Defendants to be nice to the Plaintiffs.

Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 05-23-14 7:17 AM
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Whether he was official counsel or just a closely associated lawyer is barely even interesting

It's not nice to disparage the hill that LB has chosen to die on.

How is this after, rather than at, the founding?

"Just starting up" is a colloquial phrase that takes its sense from the duration of the event being described, whereas "founding" has a much narrower sense. So someone might say, "When the game was first starting up," meaning those few minutes, a few minutes ago. Or they might say, "When the business was first starting up," which can mean those few years, forty years ago. A typical speaker of English wouldn't use "when it was founded" to encompass a period of years, unless they were talking about the Roman Empire.

the Times hasn't provided anything that positively shows that Assemblyman Silver did do legal work for the UJC

Remember that the claim that the assemblyman is not the Sheldon Silver listed on the stationery is a reaction to the documents in the story, not the other way around. The story makes it clear that they showed him the docs before running the story. He did the same thing you're doing: find the one fact that the documents don't seem to indisputably controvert, and hang his hat on it.

But go back to the documents we do have and consider the logic. We know that by 1978, UJC's stationery has been updated. So,

1) Maybe someone else, not named Sheldon Silver, or Sheldon E. Silver, or even Chaim Goldberg, is their counsel, but the updated stationary, due to oversight, or acrimony between the printer and the counsel, or some other reason, doesn't list that person's name. I think this scenario is unlikely.

2) Maybe no one is officially their counsel. Knowing themselves to be crooked slimeballs, perhaps they have some reason to not have an official counsel, and use the convenient fact of Sheldon E. Silver's existence and involvement to produce plausible deniability for assemblyman Silver. This is probably your best best, and some back of the envelope calculation puts the possibility of this being the case at 0.000001%. Hey, if it's good enough for Ann Althouse...

3) Or maybe, despite a search of UJC's archives turning up no work from SES after 1973, and despite his widow's contention that he got a parting gift and had nothing to do with them after that, and despite SS being fully involved in UJC's business in 1978, SES is still, in some sense known only to you, the UJC board, and Assemblyman Sheldon Silver, their counsel. I think this scenario is unlikely.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 05-23-14 8:04 AM
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I guess I was wrong to worry that this thread would be a rehash of earlier Vox threads.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 05-23-14 8:15 AM
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Whether he was official counsel or just a closely associated lawyer is barely even interesting

This is fair, and I haven't meant to say anything different: the original story has Silver dead to rights on the merits of his involvement in the real estate deals, whether or not he acted as UJC's attorney. And it's a good piece of journalism, even if the Times is wrong on that point -- the existence of SES and his involvement with UJC is fluky and unexpected enough that I'd call it a full excuse if the Times did err.

But the linked article is abusing Silver for asking for a retraction on the specific point of whether he acted as UJC's attorney (it says he asked for and then withdrew a broader request for a retraction, but doesn't quote the broader retraction). And it doesn't put forth any evidence on that point beyond the letterhead. Representing an entity as their attorney is an innately public relationship, that should generate unambiguous documents, and the Times is claiming to have unambiguous documents but isn't showing them.

Silver's a bad guy, and Halford's right that the Times is the best American paper there is, despite how bad it is. But I still don't trust them on this kind of thing.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-23-14 8:16 AM
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Should be "doesn't quote the broader request".


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-23-14 8:17 AM
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I think 47 is conclusive. You can't be an attorney and agree to accept service of process for a client without acting as the client's attorney. There may be some argument about scope of representation, but if the Silver linked in 47 in Assembly Silver then that's the end of the was he acting a their counsel in some sense argument. Also I really wanted to tag in to help LB but honestly this is just too boring and hard even for me.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 05-23-14 8:59 AM
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83.last is right.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05-23-14 9:02 AM
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Of course, reading the first chapter of Piketty, let alone summarizing it, was too boring and hard for me.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05-23-14 9:05 AM
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I did hold a copy in my hands and flip through it for long enough to realize I was never going to read it.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05-23-14 9:06 AM
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The Free Silver Movement traditionally eschewed crucifixions, it's true.


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 05-23-14 9:07 AM
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Oh, if only someone had gotten a picture of Moby, he'd fit right in!


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 05-23-14 9:09 AM
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He's not the registered agent for UJC, but for the South Manhattan Development Corporation (a related corporation). And of course you don't have to be an attorney to be an agent for service of process.

I mean, he was president of a different affiliated corporation -- he was deeply involved with the whole thing. But all of the evidence other than the letterhead is sort of like trying to show that two people were married by saying that they keep on showing up at holiday dinners together. Yes, it's the sort of thing that's very compatible with being a married couple, but if that's all the evidence you've got, I'm going to think that there's something missing.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-23-14 9:10 AM
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How does that help him if everything you said is true? If he was working for them as their lawyer, he could at least argue that he was obligated to represent the case they wanted to make.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05-23-14 9:15 AM
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88: I was slinking out embarrassed because I asked them to hold me a copy and then decided not to buy it because $40. I'll only go as high as $25 for a book I have no intention of reading.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05-23-14 9:16 AM
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The Free Silver Movement traditionally eschewed crucifixions, it's true

I just read the Wiki on the Cross of Gold Speech. I recommend it. What I wanted to know was whether the recording I remember of Bryan was 1896 live or a later re-enactment. I'm guessing the latter.


Posted by: idp | Link to this comment | 05-23-14 9:21 AM
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90: Globally, it doesn't help him at all against the basic thrust of the original article. Like I said in 81, the Times has him dead to rights on the merits.

What seems possible, from the article linked in the OP, is that in the course of saying a whole lot of true things about Silver: that he was intimately involved in UJC's real estate deals, the Times also said a false thing: that he represented UJC as their attorney. Which is a pretty trivial point, and not important to the main thrust of the original article. But if the Times was wrong about that, they were wrong, and if Silver asked for a retraction on a point where they were wrong, they should retract on that point rather than fighting over it.

And I'm not committed to the Times having been wrong on that point, I'm just not convinced in the absence of unambiguous documentation.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-23-14 9:24 AM
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The Vincent Voice Library had a recording of Bryan reading from the speech made years later. I found it online and assume it's still up somewhere. I don't think it was the whole speech and I remember it not being very interesting.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 05-23-14 9:26 AM
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Doesn't the article also say that he represented them specifically as counsel in 1979, to sue a synagogue that was trying to sell to a Buddhist temple? And that he signed an affidavit identifying as Assemblyman Silver in that context? It's true I don't see that linked so therefore in blog terms it doesn't exist, but unless the Times is just lying about that content it seems pretty irrefutable on the representing as counsel point.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 05-23-14 9:38 AM
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I am suspecting the Times of lying on that point because that would be irrefutable, and they had it because they quote it, and they link all sorts of other stuff, and they don't link that.

I'd bet there is an affidavit from him, but without seeing it that doesn't establish whether it was a fact affidavit or he was their lawyer. Same with the letter -- I'd bet it exists, and says he's the assemblyman, but without seeing it I'm not going to take it as authoritative on whether he was representing them.

Seriously, if you trust the Times not to be intentionally bullshitting to cover a mistake, then there's enough here to trust them with. But after Blumenthal, and the ombudsman's insane reaction to the Times' screwup on the ACORN/O'Keefe-as-pimp thing, and so on and so forth, that's exactly the context where I don't trust them as far as I can throw them.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-23-14 9:46 AM
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Can't you just look up the case yourself on the Manhattan Supreme Court website or something? I figure you must have access.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 05-23-14 9:49 AM
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I don't think anything's digitized that far back, but let me go look.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-23-14 9:50 AM
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Earliest UJC case on the website is from 1987, and the documents in the case aren't signed. I'd have to go down to the courthouse and look for paper files.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-23-14 9:51 AM
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Oh, like we could trust LB not to cover it up. History's most tenacious monster!


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 05-23-14 9:52 AM
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Documents in the case aren't scanned, not signed -- I can't see anything about the case other than that it exists.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-23-14 9:52 AM
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Time to put a law school intern to work.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 05-23-14 9:54 AM
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Or maybe the Giants will lend you a cheerleader.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05-23-14 10:01 AM
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Let's see some of that old-fashioned shoe-leather commenting!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-23-14 10:01 AM
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I'm wearing rubber-soled shoes.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05-23-14 10:03 AM
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I assume LB is dressed exactly like Hildy Johnson, same as always.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-23-14 10:09 AM
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I assume Hildy is some cat-suited super hero.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05-23-14 10:14 AM
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No, but she wore the best hats ever. And had a mean tackle.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-23-14 10:17 AM
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The Queen Mother?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05-23-14 10:24 AM
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|| Megan, how worried should we be? |>


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 05-23-14 10:42 AM
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I wanted LB to be right, but I fear she is wrong. So where does that leave the score, LB 73 ogged 2? Something like that.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 05-23-14 11:23 AM
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96: and the ombudsman's insane reaction to the Times' screwup on the ACORN/O'Keefe-as-pimp thing

So as to be prepared in case I ever become famous, I have already written in my head a massively-footnoted blistering screed as to why I will refuse to be interviewed by the NYTimes. The two prominent journalistic sins I intend to highlight is their role in pushing Whitewater, and their awful, awful, awful ACORN stuff.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 05-23-14 11:28 AM
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I'll mention Iraq (probably the worst, but has also already gotten a lot of coverage) , and the war on Gore, and refusing to call torture torture. But those two burn the hottest for me.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 05-23-14 11:30 AM
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We've reached Sumerby territory: the fact that the events have been the subject of a story or two in the NYT may mean we'll never be able to disentangle what's true and what isn't.


Posted by: idp | Link to this comment | 05-23-14 11:46 AM
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114: So we should expect daily two-thousand-word update posts for eight weeks?


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 05-23-14 11:50 AM
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||

Old, but doesn't look to be in TFA: Poe's Law at its finest (video).

|>


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 05-23-14 11:57 AM
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The documents from the Buddhist suit would be nice to see, but until there's an alternate theory of the 1978 letterhead, there's really no room for reasonable doubt about who UJC's counsel was.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 05-23-14 12:00 PM
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Oh no, you said reasonable doubt.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 05-23-14 12:01 PM
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I've got an alternate theory -- SES was still in the role enough to be on the letterhead, and his widow isn't clear on the dates of his involvement with a charitable organization forty years ago. You don't like it, but it's a theory.

And I'm not committed to that theory, I just don't think the Times has done enough to rule it out.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-23-14 12:08 PM
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Time-traveling theologian Jonathan Edwards is the real father of Frances Quinn. Prove me wrong.


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 05-23-14 12:15 PM
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So the theory of 79(3). But she would have to be unclear on much more than "the dates" of his involvement. She'd have to be wrong that he only worked with them a few months, as opposed to half a decade, and she'd have to be wrong that he got a parting gift for being let go. And we'd also have to believe that while he was "in the role enough," they have not a single piece of paper with his name on it past 1973.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 05-23-14 12:24 PM
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None of that sounds that weird to me, if he were doing active work for them for a few months during the setup period, and then retained the title passively for a number of years afterward.

Honestly, the parting gift for being fired after an employment relationship of a few months seems more peculiar to me.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-23-14 12:35 PM
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So your theory is that there is a Sheldon Silver, also an assemblyman, who did a lot of legal work for UJC during the late 70s, and also a Sheldon Silver who did a little bit of legal work for them during the early 70s, and their letterhead from 1978, when referring to their counsel, intends the latter Sheldon Silver.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 05-23-14 12:44 PM
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So your theory is that there is a Sheldon Silver, also an assemblyman, who did a lot of legal work for UJC during the late 70s,

No. If I thought that the Times had established that Assemblyman Silver had done legal work for UJC in the late seventies, it wouldn't matter what was on the letterhead. Have I not been clear about that in 12, 15, 17, 23, 26, 44, 48, 67, 75, 81, and 93?

(And saying that it is my theory that SES exists and acted as UJC's attorney is a little weird. No one's contesting that he existed and was UJC's attorney. The only question about him is whether he's the guy on the letterhead.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-23-14 12:53 PM
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So your theory is that there is a Sheldon Silver, also an assemblyman, who did a lot of legal work for UJC during the late 70s, and also a Sheldon Silver who did a little bit of legal work for them during the early 70s, and their letterhead from 1978, when referring to their counsel, intends the latter Sheldon Silver.

This is a fair summary, no?

But really I should be taking LB's side, that's where the fun is. Remember when we were talking about playing the Allies side in the old Avalon Hill wargames. I feel lame for not doing so.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 05-23-14 12:56 PM
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And it really is very possible that the Times is in the right on this point, and just didn't present their evidence the way I wanted them to.

But it's kind of weird that they showed all their documents to Silver's people, and Silver backed off his request for a broad retraction, but despite having seen the Times' unequivocal proof that he acted as the UJC's attorney -- the Buddhist temple lawsuit documents -- didn't back off his request for a retraction on the question of whether he acted as the UJC's lawyer.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-23-14 1:05 PM
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I'm with LB here. Whether he was council or not should be easy to prove, and if the Times didn't know it and Silver asked for a retraction they should have retracted that (small) part of the story.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 05-23-14 1:09 PM
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LB, don't die with your boots on! Urple died defending the proposition that birds were not dinosaurs. Was it worth the cost in human life? I say it was not.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 05-23-14 1:12 PM
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I should take 126 as a concession, but I don't think we're fully there. If you read the article closely, you'll see that what they showed SS wasn't every document mentioned in the piece we're discussing, just two specific ones from the original piece. Bolding mine.

But the documents cited in the article make clear that Speaker Silver -- a master at distancing himself from controversies and scandals in his chamber -- was in fact the person who pressed New York City officials to allow an international mall to be built on the site, instead of low-income housing. The letter quoted was written on his official stationery from the Assembly. And minutes of the meetings with city officials clearly identify Mr. Silver as the lawmaker, not the similarly named lawyer from Brooklyn.

After Mr. Silver's office saw those documents, it dropped its request for a correction on which Mr. Silver pressed for the mall in the 1970s.

Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 05-23-14 1:19 PM
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This looks like it might be part of the same Buddhist temple case: http://goo.gl/mQVRTQ

Daniel D. Chazin and Sheldon Silver are listed as counsel for plaintiffs. At page 908 the opinion states that the "United Jewish Council of the Lower East Side" had previously been "removed" from the case "as being without standing."

That tends to corroborate the NYT article's statements about the case, at least. I suppose it doesn't rule out the possibilities that the linked opinion was in fact some other case; or that the UJC, before being dismissed as a plaintiff, was separately represented (i.e., not by Chazin and Silver); or that the NYT article is simply fabricating the affidavit that identifies the Silver who appeared in the case as assemblyman. But one must proceed in such matters bit by bit.


Posted by: widget | Link to this comment | 05-23-14 1:24 PM
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You mean you should take my statement that it's possible the Times is right as a concession? Sure. If you wanted to do that you could have done it after my 15, 48, 67, or 93, but you could also do it now.

And you're arguing that maybe Silver hasn't backed down on their request for a retraction because the Times didn't show his people the documents that unequivocally establish that Silver was acting as the UJC's attorney, kind of in the same way that the Times hasn't shown them to us? But they really do establish what the Times says they do? Could be, I suppose.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-23-14 1:26 PM
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130: That's solid, the Times is right, Silver is not owed a retraction.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-23-14 1:27 PM
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(I mean, yes, the caveats Widget spells out are still logically possible, but while what the Times linked in the article wasn't enough to get me to logically possible but practically absurd, the linked opinion is.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-23-14 1:31 PM
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I think you mean yrntts ctmS.

I hope this can be mouseover text.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 05-23-14 1:34 PM
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At an informal meeting in January, 1979, in order to bring the number of trustees to three, Gulker appointed his attorney, Seymour Shyman, and one Saul Goldstein as trustees.

Are we to suppose that the alleged "Seymour Shyman" and Assemblyman Sheldon Silver are actually two different people? That strains credulity as much as anything in the Times story. Clearly Assemblyman Silver is playing both sides against the middle, while taunting the judiciary by using barely distinguishable versions of his name in different contexts. He is obviously a machiavel of the first water!


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 05-23-14 1:43 PM
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If this situation with cast of names and characters were to appear in a novel it would be derided as stupidly implausible not to mention anti-semitic.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 05-23-14 1:46 PM
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"Sheldon Silver" is also an anagram for "Hornless Devil". Are we to believe the various crimes attributed to Old Scratch over the years are also the work of this blameless public servant?


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 05-23-14 1:50 PM
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Okay, so now we have to deal with the question of the mysterious third Sheldon Silver. What was his role? Was he even real?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-23-14 1:57 PM
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The fourth and fifth Sheldons Silver we can, I think dismiss out of hand.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-23-14 1:58 PM
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Whereas "Seymour Shyman" is an anagram for "Oh, My! Aneurysms!"


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 05-23-14 2:01 PM
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That's up there with Garth Marenghi.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 05-23-14 2:12 PM
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The third Sheldon Silver was retconned out of existence by the new X-Men movie.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 05-23-14 2:26 PM
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143

Of course birds aren't dinosaurs, for fuck's sake.


Posted by: David the Unfogged Commenter | Link to this comment | 05-23-14 2:30 PM
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144

Are we all fish since we're descended from fish? Come on!


Posted by: David the Unfogged Commenter | Link to this comment | 05-23-14 2:31 PM
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145

I AM SHELDON SILVER!


Posted by: OPINIONATED SPARTACUS | Link to this comment | 05-23-14 2:36 PM
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146

That was Urple's argument! Let's get it started again.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 05-23-14 2:36 PM
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147

You're a fish. I'm descended from archaebacteria.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 05-23-14 2:39 PM
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148

YOU CAN'T RETAIN THE SAME SHELDON SILVER TWICE.


Posted by: OPINIONATED HERACLITUs | Link to this comment | 05-23-14 2:39 PM
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149

I was on urple's side at the time, but I've switched sides. Small theropods seem like they all had feathers. They probably looked much more like birds than like lizards.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 05-23-14 2:46 PM
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150

Do I have to link the 3 little dinosaurs http://wwdocumentary again?


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 05-23-14 2:59 PM
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If you went back in time and saw a bunch of small theropods you'd think they were weird birds. Birds just aren't that different from other theropods.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 05-23-14 3:00 PM
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152

Oops: http://video.nationalgeographic.com/video/bob-marley-three-little-birds-wm


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 05-23-14 3:00 PM
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153

144: Aha! "Am I a bony fish?" Counterpoint: "Me too! I'm a bony fish."


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 05-23-14 3:23 PM
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154

At what point did Sheldon Silver start being a dinosaur?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-23-14 4:29 PM
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155

Which one?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05-23-14 4:41 PM
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156

Triceratops?


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 05-23-14 4:50 PM
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157

Wait, is Sheldon Silver not a planet anymore? Christ.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 05-23-14 5:07 PM
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158

It's Sheldon Silvers all the way down, young man.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 05-23-14 5:15 PM
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159

Seldon Shilver
Sildon Shelver
Selden Shilvor
Sendel Shirvol
Lendes Lorvish
Deslen Vishlor
Sleend Shloirv


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 05-23-14 8:41 PM
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Have we ruled out the possibility that both/all Sheldon Silvers are fakes and part of an elaborate long term performance piece by Andy Kaufman?


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 05-23-14 8:53 PM
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161

Sheldon Silver seldom shivs Shel Silverstein.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 05-23-14 9:01 PM
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162

Shallow Sheldon Silver sells seldom-shadowed shells and silver-soled shivs on the sea shore.


Posted by: torrey pine | Link to this comment | 05-23-14 9:55 PM
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163

Sitting this sixth shiksa shiva, Sith shill Sheldon Silver shall shit six shivs.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 05-23-14 10:04 PM
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164

132 comments to comity, looks like. Not even close to a record.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 05-23-14 11:38 PM
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165

Sheldon Silver is the best Speaker of the House that New York State has ever produced.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 05-24-14 2:07 AM
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Because of the huge expansion in the number and type of ecological niches filled by mammals as well as the changes in climate and plant life, I don't think you can say birds are dinosaurs. Dinosaurs and birds are different manifestations of therapodness.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05-24-14 3:56 AM
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167

Sharks get to still be sharks despite the above because they have a better agent and didn't evolve their teeth away.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05-24-14 4:09 AM
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168

Not even close to a record.

Widget screwed it all up by bringing in outside evidence.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 05-24-14 4:28 AM
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169

||
Bike thread!
|>
Which leads to the on-topic observation that when you say a mix of intelligent and dumb things to the videographer and reporter, they can easily make you look either depending on whether they want to write a positive story.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 05-24-14 5:45 AM
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166: But what about the birds from back before the K/T? Are they birds or dinosaurs?


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 05-24-14 6:10 AM
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Beta birds.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05-24-14 6:14 AM
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Are you claiming that you can easily tell the difference between birds and beta birds?

Relatedly, would you say that pre-K/T mammals aren't mammals and should be given a different name?


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 05-24-14 6:58 AM
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173

How about pre-K/T plants? Are those beta-plants?


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 05-24-14 7:07 AM
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Mammals are mammals regardless as it's a technical term. "Birds" is a common English term created by people who couldn't even conceive of the scope of geological history that would allow something like dinosaurs to exist and shouldn't be used for anything back that far. "Aves" (or whatever the exact term is) exist both now and back through (I think) the late Jurassic. "Plants" is just way too broad to be limited to a certain time period, but if there was something that looked like an oak tree back when the dinosaurs were around, it would be a beta oak tree (or boak tree).


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05-24-14 7:16 AM
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Relatedly, would you say that pre-K/T mammals aren't mammals and should be given a different name?

At the risk of pedantry, cladistic nomenclature does exclude quite a lot of pre-K/T "mammals" from Mammalia, placing them in a wider group called Mammaliaformes. This doesn't work for birds/beta birds/dinosaurs though, because dinosaurs are the most inclusive group, of which theropods are a subset, and coelurosaurs are a subset of them and maniraptora are a subset of them and so on through several more layers until you get to Aves. Sorry.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 05-24-14 7:17 AM
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Wait what, Mammals is technical and Birds is common english? Huh?

At any rate, I just don't agree with you that the common language meaning of the word "bird" is meant to exclude this critter or this one.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 05-24-14 7:25 AM
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Dinosaurs are not of course the most inclusive group. That would be eukaryotes in this context. Fuck that.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 05-24-14 7:25 AM
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What sold me on "birds are dinosaurs": many dinosaurs did look like weird ass birds; (b) I'd never had any problem with my 70s kids books that said dinosaurs were giant lizards, so switching to birds are dinosaurs instead was nbd; (c) realizing how long the dinosaurs lived and how different they were, such that Stegosaurus lived further away from T. Rex than T. Rex does from Sparrow and also that T. Rex is much more similar to Sparrow than T. Rex is to Stegosaurus. Basically if you include Stegosaurus as a Dinosaur you have to include Sparrow and no way am I dropping Stegosaurus as a dinosaur.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 05-24-14 7:32 AM
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Anyhow I've tried to train the kid to call birds "flying dinosaurs." She mostly just calls them birds.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 05-24-14 7:39 AM
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Are you denying that you're a eukaryote? Look at chris y, puttin' on airs.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 05-24-14 7:41 AM
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181

"My opponent has consorted with eukaryotes."


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 05-24-14 7:44 AM
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Proud to be eukaryotic! We've been eukaryotes in this family since my archaean great-grandpa absorbed a bunch of energy processing bacteria back in the day! And we mean to keep it that way!


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 05-24-14 7:45 AM
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T. rex might seem scarier than most of the dinosaurs that are around now, but I'm worried about the dinosaurs of the future.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 05-24-14 7:48 AM
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184

When the great Aves/human wars begin, I'm pretty sure I can get the penguins to switch sides.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 05-24-14 7:56 AM
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185

That is indeed worrying from a synapsid point of view.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 05-24-14 7:57 AM
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I BELIEVE THE DINOSAURS ARE OUR FUTURE.


Posted by: OPINIONATED WHITNEY HOUSTON | Link to this comment | 05-24-14 8:01 AM
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164, 168: Apparently I was missing the point of the enterprise.


Posted by: widget | Link to this comment | 05-24-14 8:38 AM
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176.2: Those look like they have teeth.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05-24-14 8:51 AM
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I was curious what kinds of complex multicellular eukaryotes there were besides animals, plants and fungi, and I've learned that there are also... three different kinds of seaweed. What the fuck, nature?


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 05-24-14 8:54 AM
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So is Sheldon Silver a dinosaur or a bird?


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 05-24-14 9:06 AM
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191

From my dreams last night:

1. Are there such things as anti-photons? Like black light? If so, that would be really trippy.
2. If all the matter in the universe immediately became anti-matter, would DC electric motors run backwards?


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 05-24-14 11:52 AM
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If all the world were apple pie
And all the sea were ink,
And all the trees were bread and cheese
What would we have to drink?


Posted by: Mother Goose | Link to this comment | 05-24-14 11:57 AM
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193

What's the speed of dark.


Posted by: Steven Wright | Link to this comment | 05-24-14 12:03 PM
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