Who runs the nation's "most segregated school system?"


Helping Trump hold power:
Is the New York City Public Schools the nation's most segregated school system?

That's what readers of Vox were excitingly told during the recent Stuyvesant High pseudo-discussion. The passage in question said this:
VILSON (3/22/19): Essentially, [New York City's specialized high schools] enshrined into law the right to ignore school performance, grades, interviews, standardized state exams, or any other qualification in favor of a test that rarely aligns with the standards they learn in school, tacitly keeping these schools out of reach for under-resourced students and schools. The specialized high schools continue to exemplify why New York City has the most segregated school system in the country.
New York City "has the most segregated school system in the country!" That's what liberal readers were told by the great souls at Vox.

In fairness, the claim was exciting. But uh-oh! If readers journeyed onward to The Atlantic, they found themselves reading something different. The passage in question said this:
HARRIS (3/20/19): The public schools in New York State are the most segregated in the country, according to a 2014 study from the Civil Rights Project at UCLA. That’s largely driven by New York City. The selective high schools are by no means the only places where inequality exists in the system, but they are the most visible, the easiest apple to pick.
At this site, the public schools in New York State are "the most segregated in the country." As his source, Adam Harris cited a study from UCLA.

Earlier this week, readers of the New York Times were offered a third assessment. It appeared at the start of an on-line report by Eliza Shapiro—a report which will likely appear in Sunday's print editions, or so we're willing to guess.

The passage begins Shapiro's report. The passage in question says this:
SHAPIRO (3/26/19): New York City is starkly different today than it was 50 years ago. It is politically more liberal, and far more racially diverse. Yet one aspect has barely changed: The city’s public schools remain among the most segregated in the nation.
In Shapiro's account, New York City's public schools are "among the most segregated in the nation." Can anyone here play this game?

In support of her assertion, Shapiro links to this press release from UCLA—a press release which, just to be accurate, makes no such specific statement.

So it goes, for liberal readers, in the current, heavily fraught journalistic environment. In the current environment, the liberal reader can choose from at least three different menu selections regarding the extent of "segregation" in New York City or State:
The three assessments:
At Vox, the liberal reader will be told that New York City has the most segregated school system in the country.

At the Atlantic, that same reader will be told that it's actually New York State which is guilty of that offense.

At the New York Times, the liberal reader will be told that New York City's public schools are among the nation's most segregated.
Whatever! Meanwhile, if the reader clicked the link provided within that Vox report, he or she was taken to an Observer report which carried this banner headline:
NYC Has the Most Segregated Schools in the Country. How Do We Fix That?
In that Observer report, Madina Toure told liberal readers that Mayor de Blasio has been slow to push for "integration of the most segregated public school system in the United States."

Toure offered no source for that characterization, but it moved into the Observer's headline, then jumped over to Vox. Apparently, the Observer's lack of sourcing or documentation was good enough for the slumbering editors at that second site!

So it goes for liberal readers in this fraught partisan age! We find ourselves thinking of Goldberg's Law, the old joke we learned from Paul Reiser in the autumn of '82:
Goldberg's Law
The man with one watch always knows the time. The man with two watches is never quite sure.
So it goes for the modern liberal reader. That said, the modern liberal can be be sure of one thing—wherever he turns, he'll find himself being propagandized. We'd have to say that this holds true even in that latest report by the Times.

Is it true that New York City "has the most segregated school system in the country?" Alternately, are Gotham's schools merely among "the most segregated?" Is it actually New York State which is at fault?

Wherever they go, liberal readers will be pleasured by such related claims. In our view, the original claim comes from a propaganda machine at UCLA, but liberal journalists feel little need to show much care in the way this claim gets recorded.

"Desperate for some ardent glory," propagandists are eager to feed you some version of this pleasing claim. In doing so, they advance the idea that our brilliant progressive values are under attack all over the country.

It isn't just in Alabama! It's just as bad, or even worse, in "New York" City or possibly State!

In our view, this problem started at UCLA, but it quickly spreads all through the pseudo-liberal world. Frankly, it all depends on what the meaning of "segregation" is, and on the desperate tribal desire to keep propaganda alive.

What did UCLA actually say about the schools of New York City and/or State? Even more significantly, what did they mean by "segregation?" What was UCLA's definition of a "segregated school?"

Sometime next week, we'll sort that out. That said, the "rational animals" are running amok within our own liberal tribe.

What did the sachems of Westwood mean by the fraught term, "segregated school?" No one reading Vox, the Atlantic or the New York Times was given the slightest idea!

These claims are designed to generate heat not light. As it turns out, our leaders aren't always excessively bright, nor are they always obsessively honest.

The things they say make us swell with pride. They also keep us dumbed way down, and they help Donald Trump hold power.

How many people watch cable news?

FRIDAY, MARCH 29, 2019

Is Manne the rational animal?:
How many people watch cable news? Our favorite blogger, Kevin Drum, may need to stay in a bit more:
DRUM (3/28/19): There’s a lot of wailing and gnashing these days about whether “the media” reported on the Trump-Russia scandal fairly over the past couple of years. My sense is that the coverage was generally OK, but it turns out that the criticism is mostly aimed at MSNBC, and specifically at Rachel Maddow. Did they blow it? Beats me. I haven’t watched any prime time cable shows for years. I have no idea what they’ve been saying. I consume almost exclusively print media.

So who’s right about this? Again, I don’t know. In one sense, I think it’s fair to say that not all that many people actually watch these cable shows: a few million total, and maybe half a million in the key 25-54 demographic. That’s about 1 percent of the voting-age population. On the other hand, those few million are political junkies who probably have influence out of proportion to their numbers. So maybe it’s fair to say that I’m missing the boat by not watching them and understanding what they’re up to. I wouldn’t dismiss the influence of Fox News, after all.
How many people watch cable news?

Drum says "a few million total." But on Wednesday night, just in the 9 PM Eastern hour, roughly 8 million people were watching Hannity, Maddow or Cuomo.

Roughly 6 million people were watching one of the cable nets during the 8 PM and 10 PM hours—and no, these aren't all the same people. We'll guess that the total number watching cable news at some point that evening was more like ten percent of the voting age population.

In the main, Drum was discussing a recent post in which Paul Waldman agreed with a philosophy professor and a pseudo-liberal pundit about the way female candidates allegedly get abused. The philosophy professor spoke thusly:
WALDMAN (3/25/19): That case came up in a recent conversation I had with Kate Manne, a Cornell philosophy professor and author of “Down Girl: The Logic of Misogyny.” As Manne points out, when each woman currently running entered the race, a fatal flaw was quickly identified: Warren’s Native American ancestry, Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s (D-Minn.) treatment of her staff, or Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) being, well, too ambitious…. “The real fatal flaw is ambition,” Manne says, “and wanting to lead, and wanting to have a male-dominated authority position at the expense of men—and particularly white men—in the race. And that implicitly becomes the basis for suspicion and moral condemnation.”
To our ear, Assistant Professor Manne seems to be working from scripture. Meanwhile, note Waldman's remarkable construction regarding Warren's alleged "fatal flaw."

According to Waldman, the fatal flaw which was quickly identified was "Warren’s Native American ancestry." In fact, the problem involved Warren's decades of ludicrous conduct regarding her claim to have such ancestry.

This ludicrous conduct has extended right into her current campaign, with Warren making some of the strangest unforced errors we've ever seen a major candidate make.

(A DNA test showed that, by any normal assessment, she doesn't have any significant Native American ancestry. Ever so strangely, Warren seemed to think that the DNA test had somehow confirmed her past claims.)

Drum wasn't necessarily inclined to buy the claim about female disempowerment. For ourselves, we'll note a fascinating comment last night by Yahoo's Hunter Walker, who spoke with Lawrence O'Donnell.

Walker is 34. That makes him a graybeard in some "cable news" circles—but even so, his memory only goes back so far:
WALKER (3/28/19): One really important point to make, I'm on the older side of it, but I'm still technically a millennial. And I'm old enough to remember when Obama wearing a tan suit was a scandal.

And it's only in this weird new upside-down world we're in where anyone could be suggesting that the president, you know, exchanging information with a foreign government, encouraging them to hack his rivals, isn't a scandal. I mean, imagine the outcry if Obama had reached out to the Russians or even the British and asked them to attack his Republican rivals. I mean, we would have seen a quadruple Benghazi.

O'DONNELL: Yes. I mean, just to clarify, and I know what you mean, Hunter, that the tan suit for President Obama was something that the Fox News world tried to turn into something disrespectful for a president to do. Of course, they didn't mean it. None of them meant it. They were just desperately looking for that moment. But that same side of the world puts up with every single overt outrage by this presidency that it never questions.
Speaking perhaps a bit puckishly, Walker said he was so old that he could remember when President Obama was attacked for having worn a tan suit.

Apparently, he couldn't remember when Candidate Gore was attacked, by the mainstream press corps, literally for years, for every possible aspect of his wardrobe—for his boots, his suits, his polo shirts, for the height at which he hemmed his pants, for the number of buttons (three) on his disturbing suit coats.

This criticism included the endlessly bruited complaint about Gore's alleged over-reliance on earth tones. Allegedly, Naomi Wolf had told Gore to wear earth tones as part of the process by which Gore had "hired a woman to teach him how to be a man."

These ugly, stupid, moronic critiques were voiced by major mainstream pundits for months leading on to years. Chris Matthews did this in his sleep. He was working for Welch at the time.

Did Elizabeth Warren get criticized for her decades of erroneous claims? Abject lunacy was directed at Candidate Gore all through Campaign 2000.

O'Donnell, of course, does remember all that, but he knew enough not to bring it up. He played a role in the mainstream war which sent George W. Bush to the White House.

Meanwhile, people like Assistant Professor Manne have often spent the past many years sleeping inside logs. In the particular case, Manne seems to be roughly 35, and she seems to hail from Australia to boot. (She arrived in the U.S. for graduate work in 2006.)

Our guess? The chances are very good that Manne has little idea how various American candidates have been treated in past campaigns. But given the way the human mind works, such limitations are unlikely to stand in the way of theory.

All too often, our professors don't have the slightest idea concerning events which have occurred in the actual world. All too often, their predictable assessments seem to be coming, live and direct, from powerful voices inside their heads, and from the realm of dogma.

All in all, our liberal tribe is just very dumb. We prove that when we run to agree with youngish assistant professors like Manne. This is certainly true of someone like Waldman, who understands, very well, that male candidates have sometimes been treated extremely poorly in the not too distant past.

Was man [sic] ever "the rational animal?" Our tribe's reliance on sachems like Manne tends to get people like Trump elected.
With observations like that in mind, we tend to tilt, very strongly, toward the obvious answer:


Fuller disclosure: At the University of Melbourne, Manne's undergraduate thesis bore this intriguing title:

“Toward a Solution to the Problem of Logical Omniscience: An Impossible Worlds Approach to Temporal-Epistemic Logic.”

Out of that solution to that problem, Manne developed her unparalleled knowledge of American campaign activity. As we have occasionally said, it's all anthropology now.

DO BLACK KIDS (ACTUALLY) MATTER: What do those Naep data actually mean?

FRIDAY, MARCH 29, 2019

Mara Gay doesn't care:
How many "brilliant students" get rejected by New York City's Stuyvesant High School each year?

The famously "elite" high school is one of eight "specialized high schools" in Gotham to which admission is gained through the Specialized High School Admissions Test, full stop.

No other factors are considered. How many "brilliant students" don't get admitted to Stuyvesant High based on their score on that test?

There's no obvious way to answer that question. But according to Jose Vilson's recent essay at Vox, it sounds like a lot of brilliant students don't get admitted, including a lot of brilliant black and Hispanic kids.

To what extent is that fuzzy claim actually true? We have no way of knowing!

But if that feel-good claim is true, there's an obvious solution to the problem. Sadly, our liberal world is so freaking dumb, and works in such persistent bad faith, that this obvious solution almost never gets mentioned when we wail and moan, each year, about the vast injustice involving Stuyvesant High and the other high-powered high schools.

Duh! If legions of brilliant students are being rejected at Stuyvesant High, why doesn't the city's spectacularly moral mayor open a "Stuyvesant Annex?"

In one fell swoop, Gotham's brilliantly moral mayor could double the number of seats at Stuyvesant. He could also double the number of seats at such highly selective schools as The Bronx High School of Science and Brooklyn Tech.

This would sharply reduce the number of brilliant students getting turned away by these schools. It would double the number of brilliant students benefiting from the demanding curricula taught at these high-powered schools.

This partial solution to the Stuyvesant problem is so obvious that it squeaks. And yet, this solution almost never gets mentioned when we pseudo-liberals swing into action, complaining, on an annual basis, about the many brilliant kids who are unfairly turned away from Stuyvesant High because Gotham's devious Asian kids are eating up all their seats.

Was man [sic] ever "the rational animal?" Trust us! If you watch our pseudo-liberal world pretend to discuss this matter each year, the answer will be staring you square in the face.

We liberals! When we attempt to discuss the Stuyvesant problem, the spectacular dumbness of our discussions is their defining characteristic. Unless it's the bad faith we seem to put on display as we advance the scripted complaints which make us feel morally pure.

At any rate, how many brilliant black and Hispanic kids get turned down by Stuyvesant High each year? Basic data from New York City's public schools raise a very different question—a question concerning all of Gotham's black and brown kids, not just the talented few percent who matter to people like the New York Times' Mara Gay and Slate's Mary Harris.

Harris came to Slate from stints at ABC News and NPR. This Tuesday, Slate published the unfortunate audiotape of her discussion with Gay about the Stuyvesant problem.

Gay was once an intelligent, free-thinking undergraduate at Michigan (class of 2008). Today, she's a thoroughly scripted, very young member of the Times editorial board.

In our view, the 19-minute discussion at Slate is a showcase for ugly upper-class values, as filtered through a defiantly pseudo-liberal lens.

Repeatedly, Gay slimes the Asian-American kids who dominate admissions to Stuyvesant through their high academic achievement.

As she does, she produced an endless array of pseudo-lib nonsense. That included this all-time head-slapper at the 18-minute mark:
GAY (3/26/19): I guess what I can't stop thinking about is—because, you know, I had parents who advocated for me, like you advocate for your kids.

What I can't stop thinking about is, How many black and Hispanic kids are sitting somewhere in a middle school in East New York or in the South Bronx right now who have great grades, who come to school and are going to—you know, they could cure cancer!

And how many of them are going to be languishing in schools that are not going to get them there, because we are insisting on defending the indefensible?
At some point, it must be asked, as was asked long ago:

In the end, have these people no shame?

Next week, we'll look at this conversation between Harris and Gay in a bit more detail. But this is what Gay has said in that ridiculous passage:

Gotham's lower-scoring black kids would go on to find the cure for cancer if Stuyvesant would let them in! As for Gotham's higher-scoring Asian kids, consider this earlier passage:
GAY: At the end of the day, what do we want our specialized high schools, or any of our high schools, to do?

Do we want them to find the kids who are best at taking this exam? Or do we want them to find the most enthusiastic, accomplished, passionate learners around the city?

I guess I'm somebody who believe that there are kids in every single classroom in this city who have high potential.

You know, these schools, like Stuyvesant—they should reflect the city at large. Because otherwise—

Do you really believe that there are only seven black kids who are qualified for Stuyvesant? No, nobody really believe that.
According to Gay, Gotham's higher-scoring Asian kids "are best at taking this exam."

On the other hand, it sounds like Gotham's lower-scoring black and Hispanic kids are "the most enthusiastic, accomplished, passionate learners." They're the ones who will go on to find the cure for cancer if Stuyvesant lets them in!

Gay aims jibes of that type at those Asian kids all through her ugly performance. It never enters her scripted head to ask the blindingly obvious question:

If so many accomplished learners are being rejected at Stuyvesant High, why doesn't New York City open a Stuyvesant Annex? Why not double the number of kids exposed to its potent curriculum?

That must be the most obvious thought currently found on the face of the earth! But it doesn't enter Gay's head, because she isn't actually seeking a solution to an alleged social problem.

Instead, she's offering pseudo-liberal racial cant. Full stop, all the way down.

Note what Gay seems to imply in the first passage we've quoted. She seems to imply that the higher-scoring Asian kids should be forced to "languish in" lousy high schools so the lower-scoring black and Hispanic kids could get admitted to Stuyvesant.

Why would anyone picture such a miserable, zero-sum solution to this alleged problem? Why should anyone have to languish in some crummy high school? Why can't all these brilliant, accomplished kids attend an expanded Stuyvesant?

Why doesn't that obvious solution seem to enter Gay's head? It's because she's mainly voicing liberal cant all through this brainless discussion. It's because she doesn't seem to care about the vast majority of the kids in the city whose upper-class, pseudo-liberal newspaper she now goes out and shills for.

Next week, we'll examine the colloquy between Harris and Gay in more detail. For today, let's take another look at the data we've posted this week.

Today, we'll look at data from New York City and from the nation as a whole. What do these data actually mean? At the upper-class New York Times, it seems clear that nobody cares:
Average scores, Grade 8 math
New York City Public Schools, 2017 Naep

White students: 290.71
Black students: 255.63
Hispanic students: 263.56
Asian-American students: 306.03

Average scores, Grade 8 math
Public schools nationwide, 2017 Naep

White students: 292.16
Black students: 259.60
Hispanic students: 268.49
Asian-American students: 309.52
What do those punishing data mean? Those data seem to mean this:

They seem to mean that the average black kid in New York City doesn't come close to being prepared to pursue the demanding curriculum of a school like Stuyvesant High.

They seem to mean that the vast majority of Gotham's black and Hispanic kids don't come close to being "brilliant, accomplished students" in that particular sense.

Based on a standard though very rough rule of thumb, those data seem to mean that the average black kid in New York City, and across the nation as a whole, is years behind the average white or Asian-American kid in math. The achievement gap creeps all the way up to an astounding five years, based on that very rough rule of thumb.

Can the gap really be that large? Can the average black kid really be that far behind?

Mara Gay doesn't seem to care. Instead, she traffics in silly, sick dreams—silly dreams which let us pseudo-liberals sleep the sleep of the just.

For the record, people like Gay have been playing these games for at least the past fifty years. Meanwhile, upper-class newspapers like the Times refuse to publish those ugly data from our one reliable testing program. This lets them refuse to tell us what those data actually mean.

Can the gaps possibly be as wide as that rough rule of thumb would imply? According to that very rough rule of thumb—a rule we've seen the Times apply—the average black kid in New York City is five years behind the average Asian-American kid in math when they're still in the eighth grade!

Can anything like that really be true? The New York Times will never ask. Instead, it sends out cretins like Gay to tell us that Asian kids (and their parents) are gaming the system, while Gotham's highly accomplished black kids would go on to find the cure for cancer if we'd just give them the chance.

Why doesn't New York City open a Stuyvesant Annex? This apparent solution to this alleged problem is so obvious that it squeaks. But it doesn't occur to Gay in the course of this mindless discussion.

What do those Naep data actually mean? Gay doesn't seem to care.

We plan to continue this topic next week because it reveals so much about our disgraceful tribe. That said, it's only important if you care about the lives of Gotham's actual kids, not the superhero kids of Gay's ridiculous dreams.

We'll start with kids we taught long ago in the Baltimore City Schools. The kids we have in mind weren't going to find the cure for cancer. Nor would they ever descend to the level of shills like Harris and Gay.

What do these Naep data actually mean? And why won't Gay and the New York Times return from the Hamptons to tell us?

Next week: Numbered among the very best people we have ever known

Michael Avenatti, frog-marched away!


For mimicking Stormy Daniels:
Is Michael Avenatti guilty of the newest array of crimes with which he's now been charged in two separate federal cases?

We have no way of knowing. That said, with headline included, here's the New York Times account of his recent arrest for extortion:
Michael Avenatti Is Accused in Nike Extortion Attempt

Michael Avenatti, the lawyer best known for representing the pornographic film star Stormy Daniels in her lawsuits against President Trump, arrived in New York on Monday for a negotiating session with Nike executives that he believed could net him millions of dollars.

Armed with sensitive information, Mr. Avenatti approached the meeting as though he had the upper hand. He left in the custody of F.B.I. agents.

Federal prosecutors in Manhattan filed charges accusing him of trying to extort millions of dollars from the apparel giant in exchange for evidence he said he had of misconduct by company employees in the recruitment of college basketball players.

The arrest of Mr. Avenatti, who in a separate case was charged by federal prosecutors in California with bank and wire fraud, was the latest development in a spectacular fall by a lawyer who is known for orbiting and representing an array of celebrities and who has been central to some of the most salacious headlines about Mr. Trump.
According to prosecutors, Avenatti told Nike that, if he wasn't given money, he would hold a press conference and accuse the company of misconduct. As a result, he was arrested and charged with extortion!

This raises a possible question. How does this differ from what Stormy Daniels did?

Daniels approached Candidate Trump and said that, if she wasn't given money, she would hold a press conference and accuse Trump of misconduct. But instead of getting arrested and charged, she was hailed as a "feminist hero" and as a "feminist icon."

Why wasn't Daniels charged with extortion? Given the way the game is played, we liberals are unlikely to see such questions asked.

Such questions have been asked at Fox. Forgive us for saying this, but this seems like an obvious question—except within the sub-rational realm where it's narrative all the way down.

Why didn't Daniels get charged with extortion? Frankly, we have no idea.

As heard by The Others: Here's part of the way Daniels' conduct has been limned at Fox:
CARLSON (12/10/18): Is it unfair to describe this scenario as extortion? I say I know something about your sex life. I know a secret about you that you want to keep that's non-criminal, but that you want to keep hidden. And unless you pay me money, I'm going to reveal it.

That seems like textbook extortion to me. Why is it not?

DERSHOWITZ: It is absolutely textbook extortion. And there ought to be a prosecution of any person, man or woman, who approaches any candidate or anybody else and says, "Unless you pay me money, I'm going to reveal a sex act that occurred."

That is absolute classic extortion...
The gentlemen went on from there. But in what way was their analysis wrong?

In what way was Dershowitz wrong? We'll admit we have no idea.

DO BLACK KIDS (ACTUALLY) MATTER: The brilliant students of tribal lore!


At Vox, does anyone care?:
"How did things ever get so far?"

We believe Marlon Brando said that. He was delivering a scripted line from a little-known film, The Godfather.

Brando's question might also be asked about the remarkable state of affairs which seems to obtain in the New York City Public Schools. Yesterday, we showed you the relevant data, which are constantly disappeared:
Average scores, Grade 8 math
New York City Public Schools, 2017 Naep

White students: 290.71
Black students: 255.63
Hispanic students: 263.56
Asian-American students: 306.03
How did things ever get so far? As we look at data like these, we're forced to say that Brando was asking a very good question.

Those data define a vast problem. According to a standard, though very rough, rule of thumb, those data say that the average black kid in Gotham is five years behind his or her Asian-American counterpart in math, just by the time of eighth grade.

If true, that should be a gigantic concern. Almost surely, this explains why data like these are constantly disappeared.

Those data concern average scores by the kids in four different groups. That said, average achievers aren't the kids who get admitted to Stuyvesant High, the source of so much pseudo-liberal hand-wringing last week.

By long-standing design, spots at Stuyvesant go to Gotham's highest achievers. With regard to Gotham's highest achievers, the relevant data say this:
90th percentile scores, Grade 8 math
New York City Public Schools, 2017 Naep

White students: 337.79
Black students: 299.75
Hispanic students: 309.51
Asian-American students: 355.63
Those are ugly, horrible data. Luckily, you'll never see them in the New York Times, an upper-class, Hamptons-based newspaper where it seems that nobody cares a whole lot about the lives, and the interests, of Gotham's black kids..

Those data are drawn from the most recent administration of the Naep, the widely-described "gold standard" of domestic educational testing.

There's no such thing as specialized "test prep" for the Naep; it's just plain straight-ahead testing. Nobody preps for the Naep. For the individual kids who get tested, it's a "no-stakes" test.

Meanwhile, can that very rough rule of thumb possibly be correct? Can it really be true that, at the 90th percentile, Asian eighth-graders in New York are more than five years ahead of their black counterparts?

Should such a rough assessment be believed? Measures like that tend to lose meaning when such large statistical gaps are involved. That said, you'll never see that issue discussed in the New York Times, which joins an array of pseudo-liberal news orgs in selling silly tribal dreams to vastly misled subscribers.

Tomorrow, we'll show you how dumb it can get when the Times sells you those dreams. For today, let's consider "the brilliant students of Vox"—the high-achievers the Ezra Klein rag sold to its readers last week.

Within the pseudo-liberal world, everyone knew what stories to tell when admission offers to Stuyvesant High were accounced last week. As usual, we liberals were told it was all "test prep," with a bit of test bias thrown in.

Kevin Drum objected to the latter idea.
Tomorrow, we'll show you what Drum said about that, and we'll examine some of the clueless comments left by a range of his liberal readers.

For today, let's consider the way we liberals manage to get so misinformed. Let's consider the brilliant students of Vox, the ones to whom we were introduced in this presumably well-intentioned report.

The report was written by Jose Vilson, an experienced middle school math teacher in Manhattan. Vilson didn't mention the brutal data we've shown you. Instead, he started like this:
VILSON (3/22/19): When news broke this week that only seven black students were accepted into New York City’s Stuyvesant High School, an elite public school that supposedly only takes the most advanced students in the city, I wasn’t surprised. In my 14-year career as a middle school math teacher in Manhattan with majority black or Latinx students, I’ve had thousands of kids who were rejected from magnet public schools like Stuyvesant. It breaks my heart every time.


I’ve had to console far too many brilliant students who didn’t get chosen for the high school they wanted to go to. They checked off all the proverbial boxes: great attendance, high grades, strong work ethic, and had positive relationships with adults and peers. They studied hard for the Specialized High School Admission Test—an assessment given to eighth or ninth graders for entry into eight of the elite magnet public schools in New York City—for months. Because a student’s score on that test is the only criterion for high school admissions, the stressful three hours spent taking this exam could determine a student’s future.

As a teacher, I try to assure my students that they will be fine regardless of which school they attend. But I often wonder if we educators are doing a disservice—and perpetuating the lie of meritocracy—by continuing to tell kids that if they work hard and excel then they can get what they want in life.
For starters, who would tell eighth-graders something like that? Who would tell a bunch of eighth-graders that if they work hard and excel, "they can get what they want in life?"

What if they work hard and "excel" but a lot of other kids work hard and excel even more? Already, this essay was making little sense, except on an emotional level.

That said, if Vox readers got all the way to Vilson's third paragraph, they read about the "many brilliant students" who don't get admitted to Stuyvesant High each year. Eventually, the conspiratorial strain would come in, with these readers being told that "none of this is by accident."

As he continued, Vilson noted the remarkable fact that black kids received only 3 percent of admission offers last week to Gotham's eight "specialized high schools." Why are black kids so under-represented? Under a heading about "segregation," Vilson fingered the usual scapegoats:
VILSON: None of this is by accident. Some forty years after Stuyvesant High School opened, New York State passed the Calandra-Hecht Act in 1971 which stated that “admissions to [these specialized high schools] shall be solely and exclusively by taking a competitive, objective and scholastic achievement examination.” The bill was passed to preempt city investigations as to whether these institutions were racially discriminatory.


The Specialized High School Admission Test, much like the IQ tests of yore and the SAT or ACT of the present, has been gamed since its inception. Everything from expensive test prep centers concentrated in specific neighborhoods to private tutors who spend hours with students across the city helps exacerbate admissions, and with it racial disparity.

Any number of initiatives may provide free resources for students to improve their scores. But the history of schooling suggests this will only push the already privileged to seek more advantages. Even if we buy the premise that the test is a valid assessment, which it isn’t, we already see how the multimillion dollar test prep industry makes the prospect of taking this test daunting for black and brown children in our city.
The admission test isn't a valid assessment! Beyond that, the test has been gamed!

"Expensive test prep centers" have helped drive "racial disparity," thus helping "the already privileged." The reliance on an admission test, rather than on a (vastly subjective) measure like grades, has been "tacitly keeping these schools out of reach for under-resourced students."

To some extent, each of these claims may have some limited merit. That said, "expensive test prep centers" don't exist for the Naep, and Vox didn't ask Vilson to tell its readers what Naep data seem to show.

Nor was Vilson asked to say that the Asian kids who dominate enrollment at Stuyvesant come from the least economically privileged demographic group in Gotham. This fact has been widely noted, but it tends to disappear when sites like Vox peddle our tribe's favorite tales.

All is fair in love and war—and in dumbing us liberals down while ignoring the interests of black kids! Vox editors were even prepared to publish this in the never-ending drive to keep our tribe's piddle alive:
VILSON: These days, standardized tests don’t just create inequitable conditions for schools; they also bolster arguments of those who already preferred to consolidate education to the privileged few. In historian Horace Mann Bond’s 1924 paper “Intelligence Tests and Propaganda,” Bond brings this point home: “[T]o claim that the results of the tests given to such diverse groups, drawn from such varying strata of the social complex, are in any wise accurate, is to expose a fatuous sense of unfairness and lack of appreciation of the great environmental factors of modern urban life.”
Yes, you read that correctly. In that ridiculous passage, Vilson claims that Gotham's Specialized High Schools Admission Test is designed to serve the interests of "the privileged few" based upon a real-time assessment of IQ tests as they existed in 1924!

At Vox, some editor put that in print. There's truly no limit to what we'll do to keep preferred scripts alive.

In the process, we refuse to discuss the lives and interests of black kids. We refuse to report, let alone discuss or assess, these data from the Naep.

We started our review with a striking claim by Vilson. He claimed that "many brilliant students" are being kept out of schools like Stuyvesant under current arrangements.

Late in his piece, he returns to this pleasing claim. It's a type of claim our tribe has been making since the 1960s:
VILSON: Especially tragic is that so much of this debate ignores the brilliance that I get to witness on a daily basis from my students of color. I’ve seen the ways my students master scientific notation and systems of equations better than I could at their age. I hear them debate each other—often in vociferous ways—on whether a set of relations determines a function. I, and so many of their teachers, believe in their present and future.
Does Vilson witness brilliance every day from various students of color? We have no way of assessing that claim.

That said, we showed you the relevant data from the Naep. Edited down a tad, those data look like this:
90th percentile scores, Grade 8 math
New York City Public Schools, 2017 Naep

Black students: 299.75
Asian-American students: 355.63
Stuyvesant is currently full of high-achieving Asian-American kids. Does that fact remain a mystery after you've see those data?

Those brutal data from the Naep define "the problem we all [currently] live with." They also define a second problem:

They define the sweeping problem the people at Vox won't tell you about.

They define the sweeping problem you'll never read about in the Times, which uses Naep data for everything else, but won't report data like those.

According to our most reliable data, Gotham's highest performing black kids are many years behind their Asian and white counterparts by the time of eighth grade. That is the sweeping problem confronting New York City and the nation, not the much more limited, upper-end question of who gets into Stuyvesant.

Vox readers were told a pleasing old story last week. They were told that Vilson teaches brilliant black and Hispanic students every day of the week.

That may be true, of course; it all depends on what the meaning of "brilliant" is! But our most reliable data suggest that, as a general rule, their low-income Asian-American counterparts are outperforming them in the classroom by a very wide margin indeed.

Enter the role of disinformation! As liberals, we're kept from hearing such things at our favorite pseudo-lib sites. You will never hear such things at the New York Times.

As such, you'll never hear about a very large societal problem—the problem we're all ignoring.

Does editor-at-large Ezra Klein give a fig about the interests of black kids? Reading the pleasing piddle at Vox, we sometimes feel inclined to say that the answer might tilt towards no.

Tomorrow: Mara Gay hits rock bottom

Isikoff, Hayes savage Steele dossier!


We think there's a great deal to learn here:
It's fascinating to see Rachel Maddow get whacked around in the mainstream press. Today, she's mocked as "the queen of collusion" in this profile by Paul Farhi in the Washington Post.

It's hard to capture the sweep of Maddow's madness in a short newspaper profile. Her astounding bad judgment goes back a long way, but so does her unmistakable ability to "sell the car."

We're thinking of the various crazy things Maddow has done, but also of the various times she's run off and hid in the woods. In July 2016, the Maddow Show actually endorsed Jim Comey's initial attack on Candidate Clinton. That's how ridiculous it can get on this ridiculous program, without a word of concern or complaint from the press corps' "career liberals."

The code of silence held!

At this point in time, there's no way to know how the end of the Mueller probe will play out. That said, a few high-ranking liberals and Trump critics have been evaluating the ways our tribe got out over its skis in the pursuit of collusion indictments.

Consider the conversation between Chris Hayes and Michel Isikoff on All In this past Monday night. Isikoff appeared with his writing partner, our old pal David Corn.

Isikoff and Corn wrote the anti-Trump best-seller, Russian Roulette. In October 2016, Corn became the first major journalist to bring the Steele dossier to light.

This Monday, Hayes asked first about the problems with the William Barr letter. But uh-oh! His second question concerned the many fundamental errors in the Steele dossier.

The dossier was once holy writ. Is Hayes allowed to say this?
HAYES (3/25/19): Here is one set of factual matters I think is fairly established, even with the thin gruel that we've gotten [from Barr], David and Michael.

I'll ask you both, starting with you, David, which is that the most, say, in the dossier, like, the most sort of lurid ideas about collusion, conspiracy are not true, definitively, right?

I mean, the idea that, like, Michael Cohen went to Prague and that there was this like extended and coordinated back and forth that was happening as they were running this operation hand in glove, that comes through in some of the dossier—like, that just did not happen, we know pretty definitively at this point. Would you be comfortable saying that?
Is Hayes allowed to say such things? Hayes was throwing major parts of the dossier under the Soviet-era bus!

He said we now know, definitively, that major elements of the dossier were simply bogus!

In our view, Corn largely ducked these criticisms of the dossier, but then Isikoff jumped in. Here's the way he started:
ISIKOFF: I agree with everything David said, except that the dossier did set expectations, and it did shape what people were looking for, what they thought might have happened. You know, it was endorsed on multiple, multiple times on this network, people saying, "It is more and more proving to be true." And it wasn't!
Good God! Can Michael Isikoff say that? Can Isikoff say that people right there on MSNBC made serial misstatements?

Oof! In one of her typical cons, it was Rachel Maddow who kept telling unsuspecting viewers that large parts of the dossier had been established as true, while nothing had been disproved.

Maddow routinely embellished this point. Mercifully, Isikoff didn't name any names, but he and Hayes continued as follows:
ISIKOFF (continuing directly): And in fact, I think one of the reasons people were so surprised by the Mueller finding is that it undercuts almost everything that was in the dossier, which postulated a well-developed conspiracy between the Russians and the Trump campaign. That's what got people worked up initially and we do have to acknowledge that, you know, that which was alleged has not panned out.

HAYES: That—the first appearance in the public domain, the document that, you know, first begins this sort of real coverage of this during the transition, which I think he was briefed on this document shortly after Buzzfeed publishes it, postulates, in a series of memos, both a well-coordinated attack by the Russians, but a back and forth between—actively, between TrumpWorld and the Russians, and that's the introduction to the notion of what happened that then, you`re right, I think sets a framework.

ISIKOFF: And can I just make one more point, Chris, because a lot of this was—we could have—we did see, some of us, did see, just in the court filings that Mueller was making— Take the Roger Stone indictment. Everybody got worked up about the fact that the Trump campaign was trying to use Stone to find out what WikiLeaks had.

HAYES: Right.

IDIKOFF: Well, go back to what the original allegation was in the dossier, it was that it was all a well-developed conspiracy And the Trump campaign was in on it from the beginning.

HAYES: Exactly. Right.

ISIKOFF: Which means they wouldn't have needed Roger Stone to find out what WikiLeaks had. If the allegations in the dossier were true, they already knew what they were.

HAYES: Right.

ISIKOFF: But those allegations were not true.
Warning! In line with the way this network does business, MSNBC's official transcript is substantially wrong.

Routinely, the transcript identifies Corn as speaking where it really was Isikoff. But there you see Isikoff and Hayes speaking to the reign of error which ran through large parts of the Steele dossier—the dossier which liberals embraced as surely, of course and by definition plainly completely accurate.

We liberals longed to truly believe, and we proceeded to do so. We knew that Steele just had to be right. It turns out that Steele was in la-la land concerning all sorts of basics.

At this point, no one thinks Cohen went to Prague, but do you mind if we tell you something? According to the Nexis archive, Maddow viewers still haven't been told. Maddow's been too busy trying to make the rubble bounce around Paul Manafort's jail cell.

No one believes that Cohen went to Prague. Concerning the manifestly bizarre allegations about the "pee tape," does anyone have any faith in that bizarre story now?

We liberals longed to believe in Steele the Magnificent. As the Carter Family predicted, our idol has turned to clay.

We think there's a very good lesson here. In the future, it will almost surely be observed in the breach, given the way we "rational animals" are wired to play the game.

In closing, Hayes is this network's straightest player. Let's just say that the competition isn't especially strong.

Strange but also not: How strange! Videotape of the Isikoff interview hasn't been posted at the All In site.

According to Isikoff, false claims were made on MSNBC! Are pundits permitted to say that?

DO BLACK KIDS (ACTUALLY) MATTER: The basic data you'll never be shown!


The problem we all ignore:
Last Tuesday, on the New York Times' front page, the headline ran across five columns.

It described the problem we all pretend to abhor. In print editions, the headline read like this:
New York's Most Selective Public High School Has 895 Spots. Black Students Got 7.
It happens every spring! Within our pseudo-liberal world, we express our shock about data like those. We express our shock for several days, then proceed to slumber and snore all through the rest of the year.

Over at The Atlantic, Mark Harris, who seems completely sincere, was especially struck by those enrollment data. That said, he was also struck by the way we liberals are shocked, just shocked, buy these data every year.

Harris began as shown below. He'd gone back five years in time:
HARRIS (3/20/19): The first sentence of the New York Times story was like a blow to the gut. “Seven black students have been offered a chance to start classes at Stuyvesant High School in September,” out of 952 total offers. It was two fewer black students than the nine the school had accepted the year prior in a freshman class of 963 students. In response, a state lawmaker declared that he would redraft a bill he had introduced three years earlier to change the admissions policies at the school; the city reeled. It was 2014.
That's right, folks! The Times wrote that same front-page report back in 2014! As he continued, Harris noted the way last week's report mirrored the earlier effort.

A conspiratorial tone crept in as Harris proceeded from there. But we were struck by the the reaction he attributed to the Times, and to the rest of our pseudo-lib world:
HARRIS: It’s an uncomfortable truth that, at this point, this is the result that the New York City public-school admissions infrastructure seems designed to produce. But the result is so galling that, year after year, it triggers a shocked response. Monday’s Times headline: “Only 7 Black Students Got Into N.Y.’s Most Selective High School, Out of 895 Spots.” A different byline, a different year, the same problem. Only seven students, again.
We pseudos! Not unlike Captain Renault, we're shocked, shocked by these results every single year. Indeed, as Harris finished his report, he predicted that the same darn thing would happen again next year:

"It is likely that next year the internet will be shocked once again by the staggering disparity in black enrollment at Stuyvesant, and there will be another conversation about what needs to happen to fix it."

Next year, we'll be shocked all over again, for at least several days. After that, we'll return to our slumbers.

In our view, Harris was perhaps too kind when he implied that a real "conversation" exists about how to address this problem.

Black and Hispanic kids get very few seats at New York City's most competitive high schools. According to last week's report in the Times, such kids received ten percent of admission offers to Gotham's eight "specialized high schools" this year, even though they constitute 70 percent of the city's public school enrollment.

In fairness, it's true that these figures set off an annual "conversation" of sorts, one which lasts several days.

Some, like Harris, will darkly suggest that this is "the result that the New York City public-school admissions infrastructure seems designed to produce." Others will point the finger of blame at familiar memorized demons.

The admission test is biased, they'll say. "Test prep" makes the whole thing absurdly unfair.

Certain groups are "gaming admissions," certain pseudos will darkly suggest. At a site like Vox, we'll even be told that there are waves of "brilliant students" who don't make the cut for these schools, despite good grades and good attendance.

On that basis, we'll be able to sleep that night, reinforced in our belief that some Very Bad People Over There are responsible for the manifest unfairness described in last week's headline. Gotham is crawling with brilliant students who are being denied their due!

Why do so few black and Hispanic kids gain admission to these highly competitive high schools? We pseudos have memorized the explanations that let us enjoy the sleep of the just.

On an annual basis, we're reinforced in our favorite beliefs by the hacks at the New York Times, who state their loathing for "segregation" as they head out the door, perhaps Thursday at noon, to weekend in the Hamptons.

We pseudos will be told that the problem lies with Them, not Us. But of one thing you can be certain:

If you read the New York Times, you will never see the basic data which underlie this vast educational problem, the current version of Norman Rockwell's famous illustration, "The Problem We All Live With."

In Rockwell's famous illustration, the problem we were all living with involved overt racial hatred. In the modern context, the problem we all don't care about derives from such basic data as these—data you will never see in the New York Times:
Average scores, Grade 8 math
New York City Public Schools, 2017 Naep

White students: 290.71
Black students: 255.63
Hispanic students: 263.56
Asian-American students: 306.03
You'll never see those data in the Times. Reason? The New York Times doesn't care!

Let's make sure we understand what those data seem to mean:

The Naep is the National Assessment of Educational Progress, the federally-run testing program which is considered to be our one reliable domestic source of public school achievement data.

Those data come from the Naep's most recent testing of eighth grade students. Regarding those data, let us say this:

Based on a standard if very rough rule of thumb, the "achievement gaps" between those four groups are very wide, indeed vast.

According to that rule of thumb, ten points on the Naep scale is roughly equivalent to one academic year. Applying that very rough rule to the Gotham data, we see that the average Asian-American eighth grader was four to five years ahead of his or her black or Hispanic counterpart in this most recent testing, after less than eight years of schooling.

The achievement gaps are extremely wide. On the brighter side, you will never see this fact discussed by Eliza Shapiro and the rest of the pseudo-liberal hacks who con you, at the expense of black kids, on the front page of the Times.

Those data show you the average scores for four different groups of kids. That said, average students don't get into Stuyvesant. Kids from these sub-groups do:
90th percentile scores, Grade 8 math
New York City Public Schools, 2017 Naep

White students: 337.79
Black students: 299.75
Hispanic students: 309.51
Asian-American students: 355.63
Those data show you the scores of kids who scored at the 90th percentile for those different groups. At the 90th percentile, the achievement gaps are huge. Do we start to see why so many Asian kids were offered enrollment at Gotham's most competitive "specialized high school?"

We'll offer you one more set of statistics. As we do, we'll remind you that you will never see any data like these in the hackwork you get handed by the New York Times or at your favorite pseudo-lib sites:
Percentage scoring at Advanced level, Grade 8 math
New York City Public Schools, 2017 Naep

White students: 13.2%
Black students: 0.9%
Hispanic students: 2.1%
Asian-American students: 27.3%
The Naep (it's called "America's report card") defines four levels of achievement: Below basic, Basic, Proficient and Advanced.

In Grade 8 math, a student needs to score 333 or above to be rated "Advanced." In the 2017 testing, 27.3% percent of New York City's Asian kids scored at that level.

You can see how the other groups did. Does this possibly start to explain Stuyvesant's enrollment figures?

More to the point, do these data start to define the problem we all currently live with? The problem we basically choose to ignore? The one we don't care about?

Do these data start to define the problem we currently live with? If so, it's time to assail the New York Times, because you will never see basic data like these in that upper-class newspaper.

Why won't the New York Times publish such basic data? We're forced to speculate as we answer your question:

For starters, "Data are hard!" The New York Times is a silly newspaper which tends to sidestep such matters.

Beyond that, though, these data are painful and embarrassing. The New York Times prefers to feed you on tales of "segregation" and "gaming the system" through test prep—tales that let us pseudo-liberals sleep the sleep of the moral and just while dreaming of 1955.

Concerning test prep, the New York Times won't spoil the fun by asking if test prep actually works. Having said that, let us also say this:

There are no specific "test prep" classes for the Naep. No one specifically prepares for the Naep. The Naep is just simple, straight-ahead, competent testing. It generates data like these.

We'll leave you today with a basic point before we continue tomorrow:

The basic problem confronting New York City doesn't involve enrollment at Stuyvesant High. The basic sweeping problem concerns those giant achievement gaps in Grade 8 math—achievement gaps which remove the mystery from Stuyvesant's enrollment patterns.

The achievement gaps in question were recorded during the eighth grade year. What explains the vast size of those gaps? How did those gaps get so large?

The New York Times won't tackle that question, except in its standard amazingly silly ways. The New York Times won't tackle that question because the Times will never show you those data in the first place.

Do the lives of Gotham's black kids matter? Again and again, when we read the Times, we suspect that the answer is no.

This has been true for a very long time. Eventually, we'll quote Ben Johnson in The Last Picture Show.

Tomorrow: The brilliant students of Vox

For all Naep data: For all Naep data, start here.

After that, you're on your own. You'll be traveling through a land where no journalists go.

Led astray by the Steele dossier!


Isikoff lowers the boom:
Today's New York Times features several reports about discouraged liberals who had been led astray.

They'd put their faith in the idea that Robert Mueller was going to frog-march the whole Trump gang away. Many had received this idea while watching their favorite reporters and friends performing on "cable news."

Astead Herndod filed this report about liberals who joined "the cult of Mueller." Amy Chozick, perhaps an occasional hustler herself, summed things up this way:
CHOZICK (3/26/19): Mr. Mueller’s complete report hasn’t yet been released, but on Sunday, Attorney General William P. Barr made public a four-page letter to Congress reporting that the 22-month inquiry did not have sufficient evidence to conclude that Mr. Trump and his associates “conspired or coordinated with the Russian government” ahead of the 2016 election. The news blindsided many liberals—particularly those with an ambient knowledge of Rachel Maddow’s nightly monologues on MSNBC.
It was just another cheap shot at Our Own Rhodes Scholar!

At any rate, forget about Donald J. Trump himself. Mueller didn't indict Donald Trump Jr., and he he didn't indict Jared Kushner.

There were no new indictments for perjury of the type we'd been told to expect. There were no indictments for the infamous, and wholly ridiculous, Trump Tower meeting at all.

"The news blindsided many liberals," Chozick wrote. Just this once, we'll assume that Chozick is right.

According to Chozick, Rachel Maddow played a key role in misleading liberals. In her latest ridiculous time-wasting venture, Maddow spent the past 4-6 weeks trying to make the rubble bounce around Paul Manafort's jail cell.

In our view, the overall performance on anti-Trump cable has been a long-running clown show. CNN was bad, MSNBC worse. They even hired an old Bush hack to tell us, day after day, that we were visiting with "some of our favorite reporters and friends" when we turned to the corporate site to get propagandized by experts.

You can't get talked down to more than that. Our tribe seems to like it.

Distinctions are now being hurriedly drawn. Quite correctly, we're being told that corruption isn't always a crime, and that the inability to prove that a crime occurred doesn't necessarily mean that the crime didn't occur.

These hurried distinctions are perfectly valid. They should have been drawn all along, but the people we liberals loved the most decided to gambol and play.

We'd planned to tell you today about a remarkable appearance by Michael isikoff on last night's All In with Chris Hayes. Isikoff and Hayes threw the Steele dossier under the bus in a way every liberal should ponder.

Because MSNBC has always been a fundamentally unprofessional outfit, the transcript from last night's program hasn't been posted yet. Meanwhile, the videotape of Isikoff's instructive segment wasn't posted at the All In site. It may have been thrown in the bay.

We'll plan to show you the transcript of Isikoff's remarks tomorrow. There's a great deal we all can learn from the way that dossier turned out. So too with the latest criminal charges concerning another great liberal hero, the Blustering Barrister himself.

Yesterday, it was Michael Avenatti in chains, as opposed to Donald Trump Jr. He was being led away for allegedly doing exactly what "feminist hero" Stormy Daniels originally did.

We'll get to that by the end of the week. Tomorrow, we'll show you the transcript from All In.

As it turned out, many liberals were badly misled by the ballyhooed Steele dossier. We think there's a great deal to be learned from what Hayes and Isikoff said.

DO BLACK KIDS (ACTUALLY) MATTER: Black kids don't get into Stuyvesant!


Big newspaper shows that it cares:
Last Tuesday morning, right on its front page, the New York Times showed the world that it deeply cares.

The report was written by Eliza Shapiro, one of the paper's fairly recent ballyhooed hires. Her report concerned, or at least seemed to concern, the lives and the interests of black kids.

Shapiro's report concerned admission figures at New York City's most selective "elite" high schools. In print editions, the headline on her front-page report extended across five columns.

Lengthy hard-copy headline included, her news report started like this:
SHAPIRO (3/19/19): New York's Most Selective Public High School Has 895 Spots. Black Students Got 7.

Only a tiny number of black students were offered admission to the highly selective public high schools in New York City on Monday,
raising the pressure on officials to confront the decades-old challenge of integrating New York’s elite public schools.

At Stuyvesant High School, out of 895 slots in the freshman class, only seven were offered to black students. And the number of black students is shrinking: There were 10 black students admitted into Stuyvesant last year, and 13 the year before.
By any sensible measure, those numbers would seem to be startling. Stuyvesant High is New York City's most "selective" public high school. But out of 895 admission offers, only seven offers went to black kids this year.

In typical New York Times fashion, Shapiro never stated the overall percentage of black kids in Gotham's public schools. But in paragraphs 16 and 17 of her report, she finally offered the statistics we highlight below—and, by any sensible measure, these statistics would seem to be startling:
SHAPIRO: The question of how to racially integrate the city’s elite high schools underscores how hard it is to tackle educational inequality and discrimination. It is a struggle playing out in real time as the future of affirmative action is being challenged at Harvard University and as last week’s college admissions scandal revealed the extreme ways in which wealthy and well-connected families try to game admissions.

Though black and Hispanic students make up nearly 70 percent of New York City’s public school system as a whole, just over 10 percent of students admitted into the city’s eight specialized high schools were black or Hispanic, according to statistics released Monday by the city. That percentage is flat compared to last year.
According to Shapiro's report, black and Hispanic kids make up nearly 70 percent of the city's public school student enrollment. But black and Hispanic kids received just ten percent of admission offers to Gotham's eight "specialized" high schools, Stuyvesant included.

Despite their numbers in the system, they received just ten percent of offers! By any sensible measure, that's an extremely low number.

You'll note, of course, that Shapiro fashioned this state of affairs, in this passage, as a matter of "racial integration." She'd done the same thing in her opening paragraph (see above).

She also fashioned these enrollment figures as a matter of "discrimination." Lumping them in with an ongoing "college admissions scandal," she even possibly seemed to suggest that someone has been "trying to game admissions" to New York City's most competitive high schools.

Without any question, black and Hispanic kids are massively "under-represented" at Stuyvesant High, and at the seven other "specialized high schools."

In the course of her 1566 words this day, Shapiro never offered an overall breakdown of the enrollment figures at these famously "elite" public schools. Three days later, in a second lengthy front-page report, she managed to offer this somewhat jumbled account of Stuyvesant's student enrollment:
SHAPIRO (3/22/19): Asians make up roughly 73 percent of Stuyvesant’s 3,300 students, while white students are about 20 percent of the school. Hispanic students make up another 3 percent, with black students just under 1 percent. The city school system is nearly 70 percent black and Hispanic with white and Asian students making up roughly another 15 percent each.
Let's sort that out:

Asian-American kids are 15 percent of Gotham's citywide student enrollment. But they account for 73 percent of Stuyvesant's student body!

White kids are 15 percent of students citywide. They account for 20 percent of Stuyvesant's enrollment.

Meanwhile, black and Hispanic kids occupy just four percent of the seats at Stuyvesant High! They're massively under-represented there, as compared to their numbers—nearly 70 percent!—in the public schools as a whole.

When admission offers went out last week, the New York Times swung into action. Similar admission figures are reported every year, but the Times is skilled at declaring itself to be "shocked, shocked" every time this happens.

Across the organs of the liberal world, others were shocked as well. Deeply caring professional liberals expressed displeasure with this latest example of "segregation," preparatory to crawling back into their logs and sleeping the sleep of the morally great for the rest of the calendar year.

Deeply caring self-approvers let us know how much they care about this troubling state of affairs concerning the lives of black kids.

Tomorrow, though, we'll show you the story which lies behind this story. More specifically, we'll show you the data you'll never be shown by the deeply caring Times.

Shapiro's deeply caring report touched off a wave of complaints across the nation's pseudo-liberal organs. With robotic precision, the usual complaints were rounded up and given voice:

The admission test for these schools must be biased. Someone must be "gaming the system," presumably through test prep. The admission procedure doesn't make sense. Gotham's schools are full of brilliant kids who are getting hosed.

As pseudo-liberals, we all know how to state these complaints, before we crawl back into our logs to sleep the sleep of the just. We also know what sorts of data we mist never report or discuss.

New York City, like our own Baltimore, is full of good, decent kids. We're struck by the decent young people in Baltimore every day of the week.

That said, do the lives and interests of black and Hispanic kids actually matter to those at the Times? To those at our pseudo-liberal organs?

We sometimes suspect that the answer is no. Tomorrow, we'll start to explain.

Tomorrow: The data you'll never be shown

Have we liberals been propagandized?

MONDAY, MARCH 25, 2019

The pain of the Mueller report:
At this point, what should we think of William Barr's account of the Mueller report?

We largely agree with Kevin Drum. People should think Barr's account is extremely sketchy. Click here, but also click this.

A great deal remains unexplained about the Mueller report. That includes the question of why Robert Mueller didn't state an opinion as to whether Donald J. Trump committed obstruction of justice.

(Full disclosure: as a political matter, we regard that as an arcane, essentially insignificant point.)

Why didn't Mueller state a view regarding obstruction? Is it because of Justice Department policy against indicting a sitting president?

Presumably, we'll get the answer to that question if Mueller's report is ever released. For now, we're amazed, yet not amazed, to see cable pundits discussing this question without this possibility being raised.

Presumably, more information about Mueller's report will become available at some point. That said, it's also true that the principal message from the report is this:
Read his lips. No new indictments!
No new indictments of anyone! No indictment of Donald Trump, Jr. No indictment of Jared Kushner. People, not even Ivanka!

No indictments regarding collusion at all. No indictments involving the endlessly ballyhooed Trump Tower meeting. No indictments regarding perjury during congressional hearings, as we liberals were promised.

No indictments involving the "lies" about the Trump Tower meeting, the "lies" which were spawned on the plane. Carter Page still walking the streets! Perfidy by Cohen in Prague? Long gone, disappeared and forgotten!

Drum is one of those very odd ducks who sits around reading books at night when he could be watching "cable news" instead. For that reason, he may not grasp the extent to which liberals have been assured that more indictments were surely coming—that members of Trump's family and team would all be frog-marched away.

"Cable news" has focused on little except this true crime drama. In this way, this mindless industry has kept displaying its empty corporate soul.

Especially on MSNBC, every guest is required to agree with every other guest. No discouraging words will be heard from (good God!) "our favorite reporters and friends."

Rachel Maddow has been especially crazy in the way she's turned her program into a political version of the true crime program, Dateline. It's been Manafort's sentence and little else, night after night after night.

Climate, health care, public schools? Nobody cares about bullshit like that! On this grinning narcissist's self-absorbed show, it's been Manafort all the way down.

This has been stupid, ugly work. Liberals have been propagandized in the process. Beyond that, we'll guess that Donald J. Trump has been helped toward re-election. Despite what we're constantly telling ourselves, our tribe just ain't real sharp.

In this morning's Washington Post: In this morning's Washington Post, Paul Farhi discusses emerging criticisms of the way this topic has been flogged in the past two years by mainstream and liberal orgs, including MSNBC.

Jonathan Chait and Rachel Maddow get hit especially hard. In our independent view, the work of each has been strikingly poor. Could they be Donald J. Trump's best friends, re-election-wise?

All in all, we liberals don't know how to speak to The Others; we only know how to pleasure ourselves. On the brighter side, the endless ladling of tribal porridge has been extremely good for business in the extremely high-salaried lands where tribal True Belief dwells.

Big stars agree all the way to the bank. Mister Trump gains a new shouting-point:

No new indictments of anyone! In our view, that looks like the biggest news here.


MONDAY, MARCH 25, 2019

Starting tomorrow, black kids (don't actually) matter:
As of today, we'd be inclined to say that Donald J. Trump is likely to win re-election.

It may not turn out that way, of course. But we'd be inclined to favor Trump's prospects with journalists like Blow going wild.

This morning, Charles Blow has opened a previously unexplored "new frontier" in the liberal world's bungling attempt to deal with Trump and Trumpism. It comes near the start of his latest unhelpful rant in the New York Times:
BLOW (3/25/19): The best case against Donald Trump and the age of Trumpism has always been, and remains, the moral case. Criminality is only one facet of that, although it is the one that the courts and Congress can use to punish him.
As for the people, the voters, it is the moral abomination of having a racist, sexist, child-caging, family-separating, Muslim-hating transphobe as president that must remain front and center. That is the only way to move beyond Trump in 2020.
We have to hand it to Blow! It has become tired and tedious to describe Trump as a racist and a sexist. Until this very day, we don't think we've ever seen him described as "a transphobe" as well!

It has long been clear that this type of name-calling is the only play Blow seems to know. That, and the sweeping denunciation of whole groups which constitutes blindly tribal, pre-rational "thinking:"
BLOW: The very symbols of Trumpism—the MAGA hats, the wall, etc.—are more than merely physical objects. They have long since transcended their original meaning and purpose. They are now emblems. They are now the new iconography of white supremacy, white nationalist defiance and white cultural defense.

They are a form of white pride credentialing.

In much the same way that the Confederate flag became a white supremacist signaling device, wearing the MAGA hat and self-identifying as a “Trump supporter” now serves the same purpose.
According to Blow, self-identifying as a Trump supporter is now a "white supremacist signaling device!" So it goes as public figures like Blow work to get Trump re-elected.

They're all white supremacists now! In such ways, sub-rational figures have always urged the tribe to march off to war with The Others, who are of course all alike. Or, as Professor Harari has limned it:
"Tolerance is not a Sapiens trademark. In modern times, a small difference in skin color, dialect or religion has been enough to prompt one group of Sapiens to set about exterminating another group."
"Tolerance is not a trademark" of our tribal, war-like species! Then too, neither is rational thought. In the current context, Trump's re-election prospects will be enhanced by the familiar three-step process which has been quite visible for more than three decades now, dating at least to the crazy decision to take out Gary Hart:
Mainstream journalists and liberal thought leaders: Mainstream journalists and liberal thought leaders will behave in highly irrational ways. On cable TV, they will behave in unhelpful ways designed to help corporate ratings, corporate ad rates and earnings and cable superstar salaries. (Despite our love of transparency, we liberals aren't allowed to know how large those salaries are.)

They'll talk about nothing but The Chase, thereby pleasing the base.

Elite logicians and other academicians: Elite logicians and other academicians will fail to step forward with useful critiques and correctives. On the highest levels, they're too busy trying to determine where the number 3 "resides"—where such "mathematical objects," which have an "actual reality," can in fact "be found."

Rank and file liberals and progressives: Assailed by bad advice from the top, rank and file liberals and progressives will tolerate ludicrous conduct by their thought leaders.

The Others will persistently notice our tribe's persistent ridiculous conduct. As part of an age-old human tradition, they'll tell family and friends about it.
Last week, we discussed the heroic attempts of elite logicians to determine where the number 3 lives. Was man [sic] ever "the rational animal?" Our reports went exactly like this:
Tuesday, March 19: Professor Livio's well-received book! High-order rational animals.

Wednesday, March 20: "When language goes on holiday." Hardy and Godel gone wild!

Thursday, March 21: Fields Medal winners get tons of respect. Mathematicians gone crazy!

Friday, March 22:
Livio's magical mystery tour! Things that go bump in the night.
At the start of last year, we told you "it's all anthropology now." The irrational conduct of leading liberals and elite logicians is a basic anthropological reality—and it's going to help Trump's re-election prospects.

As we said a few weeks ago, we plan to split out focus this year between 1) the work of our elite logicians, and 2) the liberal world's total disinterest in the lives and the interests of black kids.

We plan to return to the frequently comical, bungled work of our elite logicians next week. Tomorrow, we start a series of reports about the liberal world's latest clueless reaction to the latest enrollment figures from Gotham's Stuyvesant High.

As for The Others, they're all white supremacists now! So it goes as a high-ranking "liberal journalist" struggles with the simplest elements of rational thought. Even worse, as he tries to create our next war, as we tribal animals always have done, down through the annals of time.

Our ancestors did this long ago. Our leading "journalists" do it today, even as our "elite logicians" comically stare into air.

Were we ever "the rational animal" in any essential way? Anthropologically speaking, we'd have to say that, in advancing such self-impressed claims, we've been "seeing ourselves from afar."

We must hope for indictments by somebody else!


The propaganda war moves on:
The Mueller report has been dropped! The Mueller report has been dropped!

Last evening, a wave of Paul Reveres rode through the streets of cable news making this announcement. In our view, the gang at New York magazine got one part of this episode right:
HART (3/22/19): Multiple sources are now reporting that Mueller is recommending no further indictments. What does that tell us?

CHAIT: It certainly seems to point toward an anticlimactic outcome.

KILGORE: Since presumably there are people who (unlike Trump) can be indicted for helping him with collusion and/or obstruction, the fact that they likely won’t be is a pretty good thing for Trump.

CHAIT: It’s strange, though, given how many crimes have been clearly hinted at to date.

HART: This fits with the rising tide of chatter in the last few days, from White House sources and Democrats alike, predicting that the report will end up being quite favorable to Trump—relatively speaking.
In the end, will the actual Mueller report "end up being quite favorable to Trump, relatively speaking?" We have no way of knowing.

That said, a vast array of crimes "have been hinted at" in the past year, but the bulk of these crimes, for which we liberals have fervently prayed, didn't end up getting charged. This awkward fact will lie at the heart of the next propaganda war, which has already started.

Good lord! No one got charged for the Trump Tower meeting. Possible targets like Jared Kushner didn't get charged with perjury.

Carter Page is gone and forgotten, after being convicted, again and again, by the likes of "our own hangin' judge," cable star Rachel Maddow. A wide range of crimes which were "hinted at" (and proselytized about) seem to, perhaps and possibly, maybe be dead and gone.

For another example of a crime which didn't end up getting charged, consider the passage shown below.

The passage appears near the end of a lengthy front-page report in this morning's Washington Post. It begins with yet another awkward fact, then moves on to Jerome Corsi:
BARRETT, ZAPOTOSKY AND DAWSEY (3/23/19): None of the Americans charged by Mueller are accused of conspiring with Russia to interfere in the election—the central question of Mueller’s work. Instead, they pleaded guilty to various crimes, including lying to the FBI.

The investigation ended without charges for a number of key figures
who had long been under Mueller’s scrutiny, including conservative writer Jerome Corsi, who said Friday that he felt “vindicated” by the development.

Corsi met with prosecutors repeatedly about communications he had before the November 2016 election with Stone about the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks. In November, Corsi took the unorthodox step of publishing draft court documents Mueller’s team had provided to him as they urged him to plead guilty to lying in an October 2018 debriefing. He said that his memory had been faulty but that he had not intentionally lied, and he refused to take the deal.

“They lost. They tried to give me a plea deal that was a lie and I exposed it,” he said. “They wisely left me alone. Seven months through absolute hell when all I did was try to cooperate.”
Oof! Mueller ended up charging no one with criminal forms of collusion. Over Here in our liberal world, such charges have long been devoutly wished for.

Meanwhile, consider the Corsi matter:

From our point of view, Corsi has been a total nutcase for a good number of years, long predating Trump. That said, was he actually guilty of "lying [to prosecutors] in an October 2018 debriefing?"

We have no way of knowing. That said, the Mueller team tried to get him to plead guilty to such a crime, then ended up not charging him with any such offense.

As citizens, should we be concerned about such prosecutorial conduct? For ourselves, we don't know; we'd like to hear the pros and cons. Surely, though, everyone knows how this episode is going to look Over There.

For many months, we liberals have been mightily pleasured on MSNBC by the prospect of coming indictments. We've been fed this tribal comfort food night after night after night after night, just before going to bed.

Our own hustlers and con men have sent us to bed pleasured by the prospect of such coming indictments. The propaganda war will now move on, with Fox News claiming vindication for Trump, and our own cable stars assuring us that future indictments, from other prosecutors, are right around the corner.

WE liberals have been dumbed way down, for months and years, by our own cable stars. It's propaganda, all the way down. Our cable stars are paid millions of dollars to dumb us down this way, though we aren't allowed to know how many millions of dollars.

(Our big stars love transparency. They just don't love it that much.)

What does the Mueller report really say? We have no way of knowing. But the propaganda war has already moved on, and over here, in our liberal tents, we liberals are still getting clowned.

On the brighter side: Last night, we liberals also got to learn, at several points, about Rachel's "fishing trip interruptus."

As usual, Rachel was selling the car. "I I I I I I I," our angry young analysts said.

Who gets to cruise on the trustees' yachts?

FRIDAY, MARCH 22, 2019

We're just an extremely dumb nation:
A ridiculous fellow named Peter Singer organized a very limited college admissions scam. Recently, he got arrested, along with a few dozen parents.

This scam featured gruesome behavior, but it was very limited. That said, the scam involved Hollywood, wealth and admission to Yale, the only three things which actually matter to much of our national press.

For that reason, this very limited scam has received a blizzard of coverage. Much of the coverage has been stupendously dumb. At this particular point in time, we're just a very dumb nation, and the dumbness keeps getting worse.

The New York Times did some very dumb work concerning race, a very serious topic. We've seen several chunks of dumbness at Slate. This blanket coverage by New York magazine is enough to make brain cells die.

(If you want your brain cells to die, click here, but also click this. This is utterly silly teen magazine stuff. Presumably, it was assigned by some New York magazine editor.)

The dumbness has been general. For our money, though, the dumbest moment occurred early on, on March 13, on Don Lemon's CNN program. It involved the fact that Olivia Jade was cruising in the Bahamas on the yacht of a Southern Cal trustee when the scandal broke—Olivia Jade, the teen-aged daughter of a Hollywood actress and an international designer. (She's friends with the trustee's daughter.)

We'd planned to review that dumbest moment. We don't have the heart to do so.

That said, you can check the transcript yourself. As far as our floundering nation's concerned, there's no clear way out of this mess.

We weren't all that sharp from the start. Along came corporate cable.

MATHEMATICIANS GONE WILD: Livio's magical mystery tour!

FRIDAY, MARCH 22, 2019

Things that go bump in the night:
Was man [sic] ever "the rational animal" is any essential way?

This morning, right in his opening paragraph, Paul Krugman helps answer that question. Don't let your children read this:
KRUGMAN (3/22/19): We’re now in the silly season of the Democratic primary—a season that, I worry, may last all the way to the nomination. There are many honorable exceptions, but an awful lot of reporting seems to be third order—not about the candidates, let alone their policy proposals, but about pundits’ views about voters’ views of candidates’ electability. It’s a discussion in which essentially nobody has any idea what he or she is talking about.
So it goes as the rational animals pretend to cover another White House campaign. And while we're at it, make no mistake:

Many of these "rational animals" went to "the finest schools." It doesn't much seem to have helped!

In truth, Krugman is being too kind. It's hard for us to understand how anyone can still be watching "cable news," a profit-seeking corporate enterprise which now centers, with numbing repetition, on The Chase And Nothing Else.

No one is more obsessive in this regard than Rachel Maddow. Maddow is Our Own Rhodes Scholar and a Stanford/Oxford grad. That said, she continues to center on one entertainment product—Manafort Pictured In Chains.

Public schools don't exist on this program; neither does America's struggle with health care. In fairness, though, the Green New Deal has finally been mentioned.

The plan was designed to save the world; it was released on February 7. Maddow finally mentioned it at the start of Tuesday evening's program, during the throw from Chris Hayes. This is what was said:
HAYES (3/19/19): The Rachel Maddow Show starts right now. Good evening, Rachel.

MADDOW: Chris, I am super-excited about your Green New Deal town hall thing. That's awesome.

HAYES: I am too. You know what? Here's a great detail. It's in the Bronx. It's in the hospital I was born in, which is in Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's district.

MADDOW: That is going to be amazing. That is the last Friday in March, that's Friday, the 29th. Awesome.

HAYES: Yes, Friday next.

MADDOW: I have to find out about these things watching TV!

HAYES: That's how you get it.

MADDOW: Jeez, you know, I work down the hall. You could—

HAYES: Well, you're welcome to come if you want, although you've got to a show to do. All right.

MADDOW: Yes. Thanks. Well done! And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour.

We've got a lot to get to tonight. You can always tell that when my desk is piled up like this before we even gotten started talking about anything.
Maddow told us that her desk was piled up. "I I I I I I I," the analysts quickly said.

At any rate, Rachel Maddow, Our Own Rhodes Scholar, had finally mentioned the Green New Deal! As it turns out, she "has to find out about these things from watching TV!"

In fairness, Maddow probably meant that she'd just found out that Hayes would be holding a town hall program. That said, if Maddow's viewers want to find out about the environment (or about any significant part of their world), they'll have to go somewhere else, to some other TV show, perhaps to a show which originates in some Platonic realm.

What you see in that exchange with Hayes is Maddow's most extended discussion of the Green New Deal since the program was unveiled on February 7. That said, what did she quickly "get to" after speaking with Hayes? In accord with the laws of Pandering Tribal Entertainment, she quickly "got to" this:
MADDOW (continuing directly): But we're going to start tonight with something that arrived in today's news as a surprise.

About a week and a half ago, the Washington Post filed a motion with the federal court in Washington, D.C. that was handling the criminal case of the president's campaign chairman, Paul Manafort...
As always, she turned to Manafort In Chains. Why that would come as some sort of "surprise" is anybody's guess!

Despite this amazingly useless diet, the Maddow Show remains the cable program most heavily watched by us pseudo-liberals. For ourselves, we persistently marvel at the idea that anyone could still be watching this ridiculous program by choice.

In that opening paragraph, Krugman describes the fatuous way our White House campaigns typically get covered. In the case of Maddow, children being born today are going to drown in future years because corporate multimillionaire "rational animals" conduct themselves as she does.

So it goes as our theoretically brightest "rational animals" agree to destroy the earth. Elsewhere, our highest ranking intellectuals—our astrophysicists, mathematical physicists, philosophers and mathematicians—continue to stage their endless pseudo-debate about where "you can find" the number 3, about where such "mathematical objects" "reside."

Where do the numbers 3, 4 and 5 reside? According to Professor Livio, Professor Penrose believes that they resides in "the Platonic world of mathematical forms, which to Penrose has an actual reality"—an "actual reality comparable to that of the physical world."

Newton's laws "reside" there too—or so says Livio, though only while reporting what Penrose, "a renowned Oxford mathematical physicist," allegedly thinks.

In fairness, this is Livio's account of what Penrose thinks; at no point does Livio quote Penrose speaking in his own words. That said, Livio presents this peculiar set of ideas in a fully respectful way, as if the ideas he ascribes to Penrose might seem to make some sort of sense.

It isn't until page 37 that Livio tips his hand. We're going to guess that Professor Livio isn't a "devout Platonist," the term he ascribes to Penrose.

Indeed, we'll guess that Livio, like Professor Goldstein before him, isn't a Platonist at all! We say that because, on that page, he writes this:
LIVIO (page 37): Platonism has become one of the leading dogmas when it comes to the foundations of mathematics.

But does the Platonic world of mathematics really exist? And if it does, where exactly is it? And what are these "objectively true" statements that inhabit this world? Or are the mathematicians who adhere to Platonism simply simply expressing the same type of romantic belief that has been attributed to the great Renaissance artist Michelangelo? According to legend, Michelangelo believed that his magnificent sculptures already existed inside the blocks of marble and that his role was merely to uncover them.
"Where exactly is this world?" Livio skeptically asks. But uh-oh! On its face, his question doesn't exactly seem to make sense, since he has earlier said that the Platonic world of mathematical forms "exists outside space and time."

Whatever! We have to say we're inclined to count Livio among the group to whom we've affixed the moniker, "mathematicians [and others] gone wild." We say that because we've read the first two pages of his book, in which he travels to a dream state which almost certainly has Michelangelo shaking his head.

Like others in his high academic class, Livio has invented a "fairyland" (page 9) by the end of his own fourth paragraph. We'll examine what he says in two steps.

As you can see at this NPR link, Livio starts his book with an explanation of its eye-catching title:
LIVIO (page 1): A few years ago, I was giving a talk at Cornell University. One of my PowerPoint slides read: "Is God a mathematician?" As soon as that slide appeared, I heard a student in the front row gasp: "Oh God, I hope not!"

My rhetorical question was neither a philosophical attempt to define God for my audience nor a shrewd scheme to intimidate the math phobics. Rather, I was simply presenting a mystery with which some of the most original minds have struggled for centuries—the apparent omnipresence and omnipotent powers of mathematics. These are the type of characteristics one normally associates only with a deity. As the British physicist James Jeans (1877-1946) once put it: "The universe appears to have been designed by a pure mathematician." Mathematics appears to be almost too effective in describing and explaining not only the cosmos at large, but even some of the most chaotic of human enterprises.
Please note: before the professor has completed his first page, he is attributing "omnipotent powers" to mathematics—"the type of characteristics one normally associates only with a deity."

Already, Livio is flirting with a highly peculiar "romantic belief" all his own! In part, he gets there by way of a logical error—through his conflation of the terms "describing and explaining" in this particular context.

Can mathematics "describe" the cosmos at large? In many ways, yes, it can.

A few pages later, Livio describes the way Newton was able to formulate "unbelievably accurate mathematical laws of nature" based on a set of observations—observations of the moon and of a falling apple. Those "laws of nature" can be said to describe the way physical bodies act across the cosmos at large.

Newton's laws can be said to describe major parts of the way the cosmos works. But do they "explain" the way physical bodies act? Not exactly, no—and when an astrophysicist blows past this fact, he may soon be indulging himself in things that make us go hmmm:
LIVIO (continuing directly): Whether physicists are attempting to formulate theories of the universe, stock market analysts are scratching their heads to predict the next market crash, neurobiologists are constructing models of brain function, or military intelligence statisticians are trying to optimize resource allocation, they are all using mathematics. Furthermore, even though they may be applying formalisms developed in different branches of mathematics, they are still referring to the same global, coherent mathematics. What is it that gives mathematics such incredible powers? Or, as Einstein once wondered: "How is it possible that mathematics, a product of human thought that is independent of experience [the emphasis is mine], fits so excellently the objects of physical reality?"

This sense of utter bewilderment is not new. Some of the philosophers in ancient Greece, Pythagoras and Plato in particular, were already in awe of the apparent ability of mathematics to shape and guide the universe, while existing, as it seemed, above the powers of humans to alter, direct, or influence it.
By paragraph 4, Livio seems to be saying that mathematics is somehow "shaping and guiding" the universe. Mathematics is no longer being used to provide a description of the way physical bodies move. It's now somehow said to be guiding the moon, and falling apples, in the way they move.

It now seems to exhibit "the type of characteristics one normally associates only with a deity."

In just four paragraphs, while still on page 2, mathematics has been turned into something resembling a god. It's no longer describing the universe. It how has the power to guide it!

This is foolish, incompetent work. It's also the product of our highest-order rational animals—and a great deal follows from that.

This is what happens when mathematicians and physicists leave their areas of expertise and head down to the corner bar for a couple of cool ones. Given the way we humans are, silly "things which make us go hmmm" are the inevitable product.

We debate where the number 3 resides; along the way, we decide that mathematics is "guiding the universe!" This is the apparently endless product of mathematicians, and humans, gone wild.

You'll note that Livio tells us, right in paragraph 1, that he'll be discussing the work of "some of the most original minds" of the past few centuries. We humans have always flattered ourselves in such ways. This helps explain how we came to think of ourselves as "rational animals" to begin with.

In the middle part of the last century, a logician tried to put a stop to this manifest foolishness. According to Professor Horwich, "professional philosophers" in the academy have chosen to throw him away.

Livio's book is a record of primitive thought—primitive thought as conducted by our highest-ranking intellectuals. The fact that nonsense like this can seem deep and wise helps explain the past thirty-five years, in which professional journalists have run wild in the way Krugman describes, with almost none of our vaunted intellectuals stepping forward to offer critiques, objections or correctives.

Our journalists clown as Krugman describes. Our foremost thinkers continue to wonder where the number 3 "can be found."

The clowning and the manifest nonsense have become increasingly general. Are we supposed to be surprised to see climate change threatening the world, to see Donald J. Trump where he is?

Coming: Horwich on Wittgenstein