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October 23, 2004



Weisbrod's statement is even harder than you thought, because it's also ambiguous. It could mean:

You want to know about our objective, but the easiest way for me to tell you what our objective was is to say what it wasn't and let you do the logical negation. So, our objective was not the following -- to recruit a single, particular sportsmanlike guy who would behave in a gentlemanlike way when we lost a game.

Now, if in fact that's what Weisbrod meant, it was ill-conceived, because it leaves open the question of which is the salient negation of the straw objective. It might be that Weisbrod wanted a team composed solely of sore losers; that's equivalent to the other parsing. Or it might be that Weisbrod wanted more than one non-sore-loser.

In fact, of course, Weisbrod meant "I want a team of sportsmanlike, tough players, who will fight hard to win but not throw tantrums when they lose." He just got a little carried away by the magnificent possibilities of multiple negation.

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