Ignorant Mistakes

Lake Oswego, Ore., is a tiny grid of low, clean buildings wedged into the apex of the Willamette River and the eponymous, oblong lake. It looks like something a model train might trundle through, the crisp white buildings and black rooftops encircled with perfect pine trees.
- Emily Flitter, A Wealthy Suburban Community’s Disturbing Open Secrets, NYT, March 29, 2018 [In fact, the trees encircling Lake Oswego are predominantly firs or spruces; there are few pines.]

Mr. Trump’s critics should continue fighting fiercely against his attempts — on Twitter and off — to undermine the rule of law, to rig the system in favor of himself and his cronies and to take down not only the Constitution but also quite possibly, if he gets the chance, the Ptolemaic model, Newton’s Law, and maybe even the Pythagorean theorem in order to establish himself as the sole arbiter of truth.
- The Editorial Board, Trump’s Foes by Any Other Name ...., NYT, Nov. 19, 2018 [The editors of the Times appear remarkably ignorant of the distinction between the Ptolemaic and Copernican models and/or careless about the details of what they publish. The silver lining is that at least a few readers caught the mistake; Todd Pytel of Chicago commented, for instance, Not to detract from the broader substance of the article, but I'm pretty sure the editors intended "the Copernican model" in the closing paragraph? The Ptolemaic model had been discredited a good 400-500 years before Trump was born.]

Some right-wing writers see even darker origins in the outbreak of a lethal blaze.
The Gateway Pundit, a conspiracy website with a healthy online following — its chief writer, Jim Hoft, was welcomed to the White House by Mr. Trump — published posts asserting that left-wing anarchists were to blame, not the environment.

“Many arsonists have already been arrested in Oregon, Washington and California, but the Democrats continue to blame the wildfires on climate change,” a Gateway Pundit story said on Monday, alongside a video purportedly showing a woman in Oregon confronting an arsonist on her property. The site claimed that mainstream news outlets were ignoring this story because “it goes against their global warming and anti-gun narrative.”

A man in Oregon was charged last week with starting the destructive Almeda Fire in a small town that was under orders to evacuate. But the authorities say rising temperatures are a predominant cause of this year’s outbreak.
- Michael M. Grynbaum and Tiffany Hsu, ‘Nothing to Do With Climate Change’: Conservative Media and Trump Align on Fires, NYT, Sept. 15, 2020

In fact, the Almeda fire was already burning when the arsonist was seen lighting a fire nearby:

A man was arrested on arson charges Friday for allegedly setting a fire earlier this week in southern Oregon, while the region was already beset with the Almeda Fire. ...
When Oregon State Police troopers and Jackson County Sheriff's Office deputies arrived, Bakkela "was standing close to a very large fire threatening several homes," the sheriff's office alleged.
The fire eventually merged with the Almeda Fire, which had started about six hours prior in Phoenix, police said.
- Meredith Deliso, Man charged with arson in connection with Almeda Fire in southern Oregon, ABC News, September 11, 202

The Jackson County Sheriff’s Office announced Friday it has arrested a man for arson after he allegedly started a fire while a chaotic wildfire grew nearby.

Police accused Michael Jarrod Bakkela, 41, of starting the fire near the railroad tracks in Phoenix, Oregon. The case is separate from the devastating Almeda Fire, which swept through Phoenix and Talent this week, causing widespread destruction.
- Ryan Haas (OPB), Southern Oregon police make arson arrest for second blaze set during Almeda Fire, Oregon Public Broadcasting, Sept. 11, 2020

A 41-year-old transient was arrested on arson and drug charges after a fire was set during the Almeda Fire that destroyed much of the southern Oregon town of Phoenix.

The Jackson County Sheriff’s Office made it clear that Michael Jarrod Bakkela is charged for an arson that “is separate from the Almeda Fire investigation.”
- KOIN 6 News Staff, Man arrested for arson near Almeda Fire in southern Oregon, KOIN, Sep 11, 2020

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