Sam Boyd

Sam Boyd is a former assistant web editor at the Prospect

Recent Articles

LEAVE COMPUTATIONAL LINGUISTICS TO THE LINGUISTS, AP.

I was going to give it a rest with the AP-bashing, but over at Language Log, the Web's best linguistics blog (or at least the only one I read), Mark Liberman has a great post taking apart the psuedo-scientific analysis of Hillary Clinton 's speech performed by the AP's Washington bureau chief Ron Fournier : I think it's turning into a trend -- journalists are becoming linguists. Really bad linguists, but any sort of interest in the analysis of language and communication ought to be a good thing for the field, right? Unfortunately, in this case, it's a bad thing for the nation. Liberman is unhappy with Fournier's claim that by counting the number of times Hillary Clinton used the word "I" in her speech on Tuesday he can discern whether she really wanted to support Obama : As Media Matters pointed out, Mr. Fournier counted wrong: there were actually 21 instances of "I", not 17. (And neither Fournier nor Media Matters seems to have counted "me", "my", "mine" — but never mind). Media...

GREAT SPEECH, TERRIBLE AP COVERAGE.

Obama 's speech was remarkable, a synthesis of ideas and particular policy proposals. The AP, however, seems to have been watching some other guys talk as Keith Olbermann just pointed out: But instead of dwelling on specifics, he laced the crowning speech of his long campaign with the type of rhetorical flourishes that Republicans mock and the attacks on John McCain that Democrats cheer. The country saw a candidate confident in his existing campaign formula: tie McCain tightly to President Bush , and remind voters why they are unhappy with the incumbent. Mostly, however, he touched on major issues quickly and lightly. It's an approach that may intrigue and satisfy millions of viewers just starting to tune in to the campaign seriously. The crowd at Invesco Field cheered deliriously, but Republicans almost surely will decry the lack of specifics. And then the story goes on to highlight places Obama ... talked about details. Then it says this: Even if Obama had talked for three hours, of...

OBAMA STARTS ON OFFENSE.

Wow, Obama started with some good shots at McCain but he's now transitioning into a full-blown critique of conservatism as an ideology (full transcript here ): "John McCain has voted with George Bush ninety percent of the time. Senator McCain likes to talk about judgment, but really, what does it say about your judgment when you think George Bush has been right more than ninety percent of the time? I don’t know about you, but I’m not ready to take a ten percent chance on change. Now, I don’t believe that Senator McCain doesn’t care what’s going on in the lives of Americans. I just think he doesn’t know. In Washington, they call this the Ownership Society, but what it really means is – you’re on your own. Out of work? Tough luck. No health care? The market will fix it. Born into poverty? Pull yourself up by your own bootstraps – even if you don’t have boots. You’re on your own." --Sam Boyd

BARNEY! BARNEY!

How long do you think they had to search to find a guy named Barney Smith who could say we need to "put Barney Smith ahead of Smith Barney." And the crowd loves it -- they're chanting "Barney! Barney!" The whole series of speeches by ordinary folks from swing states about why they like Obama is pretty great -- almost every one is incredibly charming. "I'm Pam ... and wait till you hear what happened to me!" --Sam Boyd

BIDEN TWO: ELECTRIC BIDENALOO.

"When we talked about an open convention this is what Democrats meant." -- A nice way to push back against the idea that the fact that a bunch of people want to see Obama talk suggests he's somehow suspect. Other than that it's a largely unremarkable introduction for a series of speeches by people hurt by Bush 's economic policies. But I do like the "love ya!" at the end. --Sam Boyd

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