Those pesky facts

WND covers the Southern Baptists and the public schools:

“Southern Baptists have been playing the ‘ostrich with its head in the sand’ routine long enough,” Arnold said. “The time is way overdue that we acknowledge the devastating effects public school is having on the faith of our children.”

Arnold takes issue with Baptist leaders who argue that having their children in public schools is being “salt and light,” a Christian influence and witness.

But Arnold points to the denomination’s own data — the SBC Council on Family Life Report of 2002 — which says 88 percent of those Southern Baptist children after graduating from government high school are leaving the church.

I have long stated that the argument that children from Christian families should attend public school as Christian witnesses to other children is utter nonsense. In my opinion, children are not yet Christians, as they do not have the spiritual, mental or emotional maturity to make such decisions. I do not believe that a five year-old child’s profession of faith is any more meaningful than his declaration that he is going to be an astronaut.

Considering that the only non-anecdotal evidence we have strongly indicates that the anti-Christian public schools are winning converts far more effectively than these little missionaries being thrown to the spiritual lions, I don’t see how anyone should be permitted to make that argument – which, let’s face it, is almost surely made as an ex post facto rationalization than a factor in a decision – without being laughed at.

I can’t prove that the report’s statement with regards to “leaving the church” is synonymous with “leaving the faith”, but based on denominational growth statistics, one can state with assurance that these former Southern Baptists are not all becoming Methodists, Episcopalians or Lutherans.

The best of Barkley

I would vote for this man for President. In a heartbeat. I even met him once, at a Minneapolis health club before the All-Star game some years ago. It was a funny situation, as I came out of the locker room ready for an evening out on the town and happened to see him checking out my brother’s old girlfriend, a pretty model who was accompanying TPAM and I that evening. When she turned around and gave me one of her typically overenthusiastic greetings – you’d have to know her – Sir Charles mistakenly concluded that she was my girlfriend and immediately walked over to apologize.

Most guys wouldn’t have done that, let alone so effusively. We didn’t bother correcting him and it was just as well because by the time he finished, everyone within earshot was cracking up. Fortunately, someone has taken the time to collect the wit and wisdom of the man:

“Cat was fantastic but when you lose to a woman, it means you suck at something. There are two times when you know you suck at sports — when you can’t beat the women and when you can’t beat the smart kids.”

“I’m bilingual. I speak profanity and English.”

“I don’t think there’s any doubt. Anybody in their right mind knows I’m the best forward in basketball. Well, the only person comparable to me is Karl Malone, but his body is so different from mine. Even my wife loves his body, and that’s the main reason I say I’m the best. With a body like that, he is supposed to be awesome. With a body like mine, I’m supposed to be a couch potato.”

“I know we have to work a lot during the playoffs, and that’s part of working. But I look at those five months of vacation where I do nothing but play golf and go to Vegas and lay on the bench and be the big sex symbol that I am.”

“My family got all over me because they said Bush is only for the rich people. Then I reminded them, ‘Hey, I’m rich’.”

“People keep saying I’m crazy as hell, but sooner or later they’re going to realize I know what I’m talking about.”

“You should be able to go and pick out one fan a game, and just beat the hell out of him.”

Kenny Smith was going on and on about his two championship rings. He said that, in a show of appreciation for their efforts, he gave one ring to his father and the other to his brother because “they were the ones who helped me get them”. Charles: “You should have given them to Hakeem.”

“I trust the public to have a little common sense. If they’re not smart enough to have a sense of humor, they’re just stupid and I don’t worry about it.”

“Politics is too corrupt. You know how you can tell politics is corrupt? President Bush is going to raise $250 million for a job that pays $400,000. Now tell me there isn’t something wrong there.”

“If you just want to be one of the guys, then cut your salary and make what the other guys make. They don’t pay you a lot of money to blend in. There’s a reason Shaq makes $20 million a year. You can’t just blend in — you have to lead the team.”

“If you’re working at Wal-Mart and have 10 kids, quit having kids.”

“Ex-teams are like ex-wives. Deep, deep down, you know you can’t stand them.”

EJ: “Auburn is a pretty good school. To graduate from there I suppose you really need to work hard and put forth maximum effort.”
Charles: “20 pts and 10 rebounds will get you through also!”

“Today is Jimmy Hatter’s birthday — he’s the gay guy we got workin’ behind the scenes, y’all. We hire them all at TNT. We do not discriminate. We hired the pimp last year, Craig Sager, and now we got Jimmy Hatter. We got all the ethnic groups covered.”

“If push came to shove, I could lose all self-respect and become a reporter.”

On the movie Space Jam: “Obviously, my part is terrific. But Michael is the leader. It’s his movie. I think it’s going to be very funny, great entertainment for the kids. I hope everybody likes it. But, really, I don’t care because I’ve already been paid.”

On throwing an elbow at an Angolan: “Well, he might have pulled a spear on me.”

Disrespecting Krugman

Daniel Okrent writes in the NYT:

For a man who makes his living offering strong opinions, Paul Krugman seems peculiarly reluctant to grant the same privilege to others. And for a man who leads with his chin twice a week, he acts awfully surprised when someone takes a pop at it.

Because only a fool or a supply-sider would eagerly engage in a debate on economics with Prof. Krugman, I’ll try to eschew argument and stick to facts – or, at least, the sort of statements that he himself represents as purely factual:

1. I offered him only three examples of “shaping, slicing and selectively citing” (for some reason, he’s left one out of his rebuttal) because I was at home when he began bombarding me with outraged demands for retraction and apology; I’d completed my tenure as public editor the preceding week, and did not have any files with me. When I had the chance to consult some of my reader mail later in the week, some of his greatest mis-hits immediately came to the fore. I’ll get to a few of those in point No. 5, below.

2. This was the first he heard from me on these specific issues partly because I learned early on in this job that Prof. Krugman would likely be more willing to contribute to the Frist for President campaign than to acknowledge the possibility of error. When he says he agreed “reluctantly” to one correction, he gives new meaning to the word “reluctantly”; I can’t come up with an adverb sufficient to encompass his general attitude toward substantive criticism. But I laid off for so long because I also believe that columnists are entitled by their mandate to engage in the unfair use of statistics, the misleading representation of opposing positions, and the conscious withholding of contrary data. But because they’re entitled doesn’t mean I or you have to like it, or think it’s good for the newspaper.

3. The mixing of household and establishment numbers in his 5/25/04 column: Missing from the BLS chart he cites is any number that even resembles the 140,000 new jobs each month needed to keep up with the growing population a statistic he cites in the column, and upon which he seems to have based some of his computations. To my knowledge, that number only appeared in the household survey.

4. The Polivka-Miller paper: On the substance, readers can come to their own conclusions by examining the report themselves, particularly the chart and related narrative addressing “Duration of Unemployment” on page 23 (pdf). On Prof. Krugman’s defense of his unfamiliarity with it, he’s effectively saying, “If I didn’t know about it, it must not be important.” This is a polemicist’s dodge; no self-respecting journalist would ever make such an argument.

5. Some other examples of Krugmania that popped out of my copious files:

His 1/27/04 assertion that the cost of unemployment insurance “automatically” adds to the federal deficit. This two-fer misrepresents a pair of facts: that unemployment insurance is largely borne by the states, and that major federal contributions to the states come about only because of an act of Congress, which is hardly automatic.
His 2/3/04 assertion that tax proposals offered by Democrats would help the 77 pecent of taxpayers in the 15 percent bracket or less. The most recent generally accepted figures available at the time indicated that the number was actually 64 percent.
A very recent example that nonetheless escaped my memory until Prof. Krugman generously reminded me of it in his letter: His 5/9/05 column on progressive indexing. The column itself (without the ex post facto explanation) suggestively conflates “retirement income” and “social security benefits” without sufficient explanation, but with plenty of apparent point-making.
Believe me — I could go on, as could a number of readers more sophisticated about economic matters than I am. (Among these are several who, like me, generally align themselves politically with Prof. Krugman, but feel he does himself and his cause no good when he heeds the roaring approval of his acolytes and dismisses his critics as ideologically motivated.) But I don’t want to engage in an extended debate any more than Prof. Krugman says he does. If he replies to this statement, as I imagine he will, I’ll let him have what he always insists on keeping for himself: the last word.

I hate to do this to a decent man like my successor, Barney Calame, but I’m hereby turning the Krugman beat over to him.