Ian Macdonald

by Tom on September 8, 2003

It’s sad to read that Ian Macdonald, the music critic, has died.

Macdonald deserves the description ‘music critic’ rather than the more workaday ‘rock journalist’, in my view, simply on the strength of his extraordinary book Revolution in the Head: The Beatles and The Sixties.

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Think of a wonderful thought…

by Ted on September 8, 2003

From Donald Rumsfeld:

Mr. Rumsfeld did not mention any of the domestic critics by name. But he suggested that those who have been critical of the administration’s handling of the war in Iraq and its aftermath might be encouraging American foes to believe that the United States might one day walk away from the effort, as it has in past conflicts.

From Christopher Durang:

You remember how in the second act Tinkerbell drinks some poison that Peter is about to drink in order to save him? And then Peter turns to the audience and he says, “Tinkerbell is going to die because not enough people believe in fairies. But if all of you clap your hands real hard to show that you do believe in fairies, maybe she won’t die.”

So, we all started to clap. I clapped so long and so hard that my palms hurt and they even started to bleed I clapped so hard. Then suddenly the actress playing Peter Pan turned to the audience and she said, “That wasn’t enough. You did not clap hard enough. Tinkerbell is dead.” And then we all started to cry. The actress stomped off stage and refused to continue with the production. They finally had to lower the curtain. The ushers had to come help us out of the aisles and into the street.

You hear that? CLAP LOUDER!

More from Patrick Nielsen Hayden, Arthur Silber, Kevin Drum, Atrios, and Tim Dunlop.

Beneath the city

by Chris Bertram on September 8, 2003

Teresa Nielsen Hayden’s latest post – The Fabric of the City – deserves a wide readership, both for itself and for the wealth of resources it links to. Lots of stuff about New York’s transportation infrastructure, abandoned subway stations and so on. There’s something about abandoned stations (especially underground ones) that calls to mind murder, mystery, romance (the stuff of old movies basically). There used to be such a station, perhaps more than one, on Berlin’s U-Bahn. It was part of the West Berlin network but was situated under East Berlin. The trains would pass through slowly, the old station was illuminated by a few 40w light bulbs and (I think) sometimes there were East German police on the platform with dogs.

Department of Cheap Shots

by Brian on September 8, 2003

From the campaign trail:

bq. Schwarzenegger, campaigning in a heavily Hispanic Los Angeles suburb, said his pronunciation of “California” was just one of the words Davis didn’t like to hear. “He doesn’t like ‘lost jobs,’ he doesn’t like that word,” Schwarzenegger said.

Of course, Arnie comes out of this exchange looking much better than Gray Davis, whose pathetic appeal to anti-immigrant sentiment started it all. Davis should be feeling ashamed of himself, but instead he’s reverting to the time-dishonoured ‘it was all a joke’ defence.

Chronicle of a death foretold

by Henry Farrell on September 8, 2003

Sad news, if not unexpected; “Warren Zevon”:http://www.ew.com/ew/report/0,6115,483368~7~0~iconoclasticrockerwarrenzevon,00.html has just died. A few months ago, Michael Swanwick wrote this “short short story”:http://www.michaelswanwick.com/fiction/zevon.html which is, I think, about as good a pre-emptive obituary as Zevon could have asked for.

Update – incorrect link fixed thanks to Patrick Nielsen Hayden, who himself “records Zevon’s passing”:http://nielsenhayden.com/electrolite/archives/003482.html#003482.

Confusing the public about global warming

by Chris Bertram on September 8, 2003

One can’t be a blogger for long before being reminded of the sad truth that people tend to believe information that is congenial to their interests and disbelieve that which isn’t. The blogosphere, and the internet more generally, provides people with a ready made source of prejudice-confirming information. There’s a ready-made market then for sites like TechCentralStation that have the convenient look of authoritative sources but are actually largely written by bloggers of a libertarian and/or conservative cast of mind to provide easy, prejudice-congenial op-ed-like material.

I spent some time looking at TCS’s global warming pages at the weekend. These are largely devoted to debunking the view held by the majority of expert opinion that CO2 emissions have contributed substantially to global warming. It would, after all, be pretty convenient if conventional opinion turned out to be mistaken: I haven’t done a survey but I’d be willing to wager that an average member of TCS’s core demographic emits rather more carbon than typical human beings do.

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by Kieran Healy on September 8, 2003

Dan Drezner quotes Clive James to good effect on snarky literary reviews. James is the author of the poem “The Book of my Enemy has been Remaindered,” which captures the quintessence of literary schadenfreude that we get a whiff of when reading snarky reviews:

The book of my enemy has been remaindered
And I am pleased.
In vast quantities it has been remaindered
Like a van-load of counterfeit that has been seized
And sits in piles in a police warehouse,
My enemy’s much-prized effort sits in piles
In the kind of bookshop where remaindering occurs.
Great, square stacks of rejected books and, between them, aisles
One passes down reflecting on life’s vanities,
Pausing to remember all those thoughtful reviews
Lavished to no avail upon one’s enemy’s book —
For behold, here is that book
Among these ranks and banks of duds,
These ponderous and seemingly irreducible cairns
Of complete stiffs.

Blogging and Writing

by Brian on September 8, 2003

I just got the offprints for my most recently published article, as it happens a reply to the article mentioned by Brad DeLong last night in his theology post. It’s quite pretty too, since The Philosophical Quarterly put nice covers on their offprints.

This article was interesting from a blogging perspective for a few reasons. First, I got the idea for it from reading blogs. Second, I even cited the relatively well-known blog from which I got the idea. Third, the paper itself grew almost entirely out of some blog entries.

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Right-Wing Postmodernism Again

by Kieran Healy on September 8, 2003

While we’re over at John Quiggin’s blog, we can add another example to his discussion of right-wing postmodernism. (Thanks to Kevin Drum for having the fortitude to read the Corner.)

Existence Theorems are Reductios

by Kieran Healy on September 8, 2003

John Quiggin gives a modest defence of existence theorems in economics, one of the three real vices of economists according to Deirdre McCloskey.

bq. Existence theorems, for McCloskey are the archetypal example of ‘blackboard economics’, mathematical games yielding purely qualitative results that can be overturned with modest changes in assumptions. They were the high point of mathematical economics in the 50s and 60s … There are a wide variety of ‘impossibility theorems’ demonstrating the non-existence of index numbers with various properties [an area of research interest for John]. Familiarity with such theorems can save a lot of pointless effort, and they are therefore worth looking for. But an impossibility theorem is just the negative form of an existence theorem (or, if you prefer, an existence theorem proves the impossibility of the corresponding impossibility theorem).

bq. This is a rather prosaic defence, that certainly does not justify the high status accorded to the kind of theory exemplified by existence theorems. But the argument can be pushed a bit further by considering the most famous impossibility theorem, that of Arrow who showed (roughly speaking) that no voting system having a set of seemingly desirable properties could work for all possible sets of voter preferences. This impossibility theorem precluded a lot of potential effort in designing ideal voting systems. [Emphasis added.]

This is a nice parallel. Actually, it’s so nice that it may prove more than John intended. (I absolve him of responsibility for what follows.)

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