by Ted on October 15, 2003

There’s a jaw-dropping line in today’s Anne Applebaum column in the Washington Post:

“According to another opinion poll, more than a third of the Germans now think of themselves as “victims” of the Second World War — just like the Jews.”

Applebaum might be correctly representing the results of a real poll question, but I’m amazed. I’d be especially amazed if the question asked Germans to compare their WWII-related victimization to the victimization of the Jews. I don’t know what question was asked, and I was unable to find a corroborating story by Googling. There are some very smart people reading this blog. Does anyone know anything about this?

UPDATE: I emailed Anne Applebaum about this, and she was kind enough to email back. She says that the source was the Polish newspaper Rzeczpospolita, and that the question was “Do you think Germans were victims of the war just like Poles and Jews?” 36% of Germans said yes. She doesn’t have the newspaper article in front of her, but she’s having it faxed to her tomorrow. I can’t read Polish, so I’ll never be able to find it on the Rzeczpospolita site.

In comments, pg links to this story, which is almost certainly the same thing. 57% of Poles said yes. I don’t know what to think of this.

Short cuts

by Ted on October 15, 2003

– The cast of the Antic Muse can write circles around most of us. The best posts I’ll read today are Holly Martins’ hilarious take on David Brooks, while the second best is Ana Marie Cox on New York magazine’s discovery of dirty pictures on the internet.

Daniel Drezner is hosting a debate on the truth or falsity of the statement: “It is a complete fabrication that the Bush administration argued in the runup to the war that there was an imminent threat from Iraq.” It’s being held at a pretty high level; no one has yet been compared to Hitler. So root, root, root for your side. Anonymous Blogger has much more on the question.

Jim Henley has a concise take on the story about US soldiers allegedly bulldozing the crops of Iraqis to punish the farmers for not providing information about guerillas. I sincerely hope that this story isn’t true.

– Finally, my friend Irfan posted a picture of me last night at a farewell party. I can be pretty self-conscious about photos, but I think it turned out pretty well.

Neal Wood has died

by Chris Bertram on October 15, 2003

I just heard that Neal Wood, Marxist historian of political thought and author of at least a couple of books on Locke has died. “The Guardian carried an obit”:http://www.guardian.co.uk/obituaries/story/0,3604,1058891,00.html .

Libel and the left

by Chris Bertram on October 15, 2003

An email this morning brings a copy of a begging letter from Guardian columnist Paul Foot, on behalf of his Socialist Workers Party (British version) comrades Lindsey German and Alex Callinicos. (Full text below). The letter arises because said “comrades” accused Quintin Hoare and Branka Magas, long-time scholars of the Balkans and, as it happens, friends of mine, of being apologists for the government of Holocaust revisionist Franjo Tujdman. Not unreasonably, given that the accusation was wholly false and a grave libel disseminated by the several thousand sellers of the SWP’s literature, Hoare and Magas sought the advice of m’learned friends. German and Callinicos have had to back down and apologise for thus damaging their reputation (apology “here”:http://www.socialistreview.org.uk/article.php?articlenumber=8610 ). Foot’s letter appeals to the convention that disputes on the left should not be taken to the lawyers (a very convenient convention for a an influential and powerful organization which resorts to tabloid-style smears against its opponents). He also claims that “The publisher, Lindsey German and Alex Callinicos cannot possibly afford these sums.” Since the sum involved is about £13,000 and Foot and Callinicos at least are reasonably affluent, this claim is plainly untrue.

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Is “imminent” transitive?

by Daniel on October 15, 2003

Interesting knockabout stuff from two people who’ve decided to take it up a notch in terms of Great Weblog Comments Battles and duke it out in public on Daniel Drezner’s site with $100 at stake. The battle is over the subject “Did Bush Say That Iraq Was An Imminent Threat Or Not?”.

As far as I can tell, the case for the defence is that Bush specifically said that Iraq wasn’t an imminent threat, but that it was about to become an imminent threat and he didn’t propose to wait until it became imminent.

In other words, Bush does appear to be committed to the claim “Event I’ is imminent”, where I’ is defined as “the event of event I becoming imminent” and I is defined as “Iraq being a threat”. Which means to me that this particular line of argument turns on the question of whether “imminent” is a transitive predicate, or in other words, if something will imminently become imminent, does that mean that it’s imminent now?

My guess is that “imminent” is a short-transitive predicate; it’s transitive so long as the chain of “imminents” isn’t too long. Short-transitivity is a somewhat controversial logical property, however, albeit one which would be fantastically useful for economists in making axiomatic theories of revealed preference if it could be put on a rigorous footing. I’ll leave the matter to our resident expert on the subject, Mr Weatherson.

Indexing as artform

by Henry Farrell on October 15, 2003

When I’m swamped with work, as I am at the moment, I like to have a book that I can dip into for quick five minute breaks – thousand page behemoths like Quicksilver get put to one side until normal conditions reassert themselves. And at the moment, I’m very much enjoying Hazel K. Bell’s Indexers and Indexes in Fact and Fiction (University of Toronto Press, 2001). A surprising choice for leisure reading? Not really. It’s light (broken up into 74 bite-sized chapters, refreshing, and very, very funny.

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