Did you feel it?

by Micah on December 9, 2003

So I’m sitting in the library today when the shelves around me start to shake. And I’m thinking to myself: death by books? There must be better ways to go. “4.5”:http://pasadena.wr.usgs.gov/shake/cus/ on the Richter scale. Not bad for “Virginia”:http://pasadena.wr.usgs.gov/shake/cus/STORE/Xcdbf_03/ciim_display.html.

bq. UPDATE: the “Roanoke Times”:http://www.roanoke.com/roatimes/news/story159584.html reports that this “was the strongest earthquake in central Virginia since 1875 . . . Central Virginia’s strongest earthquake in the past century took place in August 1984 and was centered near Charlottesville . . . It was a magnitude 4.1.”

Gore and Dean

by Kieran Healy on December 9, 2003

According to William Saletan, Al Gore’s influence over people’s hearts and minds is so strong that his endorsement of Howard Dean threatens to undermine the entire democratic process. Because Gore has asked that Democrats fall in behind Dean, victory is assured — at the cost of voters’ rights to express themselves at the polls.

With that sort of power at his command, it’s a pity that Gore didn’t think to endorse himself during the 2000 election campaign. It would have saved him a lot of trouble.

Boys and their toys

by Ted on December 9, 2003

What does John Lott have to do to get fired from the American Enterprise Institute?

UPDATE: Just a thought- in an unimportant way, Internet sock puppetry is pretty self-defeating. If I see a commentor defending him on a thread, there’s a big part of me that will wonder, “Is that him?”

UPDATE II: Sock puppetry: 1000 flowers bloom…

Without consulting my esteemed colleague, Doctor Krauthammer, I’m unable to identify the syndrome which best describes the kind of nut who would create a fake website and then mock the fictitious author of that website and the presidential candidate supported by the make-believe author.

Doesn’t ring a bell

by Ted on December 9, 2003

Everyone knows that NBC’s Today Show is liberally biased. Which is why it’s interesting that in their segment on the manslaughter conviction of Rep. Bill Janklow, they didn’t use the word “Republican.”

Uggabugga has the audio file. I don’t think that I’ve ever watched the Today show, and I certainly wouldn’t try to use this as evidence of conservative bias. I used to have frequent arguments about the impossibility of “proving” media bias by cherry-picking examples from the hundreds of hours and thousands of pages of media produced every day. But given the intellectual integrity of the most prominent right-leaning media watchdogs, all I can say is: Live by the anecdote, die by the anecdote.

Islam and Economic Growth

by Kieran Healy on December 9, 2003

Tyler Cowen thinks that Islam might be bad for economic growth. The relationship between religious beliefs and practices, on the one, hand and economic prosperity, on the other, is a very tricky question. It’s kept comparative sociologists busy for more than a century. Here’s one of the reasons why it’s tricky, pithily expressed.

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Bunch O’ Links

by Brian on December 9, 2003

Various stuff I’ve seen so far tonight…

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Ten Thousand Strong

by Kieran Healy on December 9, 2003

At some point in the last 24 hours or so, someone left the ten thousandth comment to have been posted in the discussion threads on Crooked Timber. We don’t keep direct links to individual comments so I don’t know who it was. But thanks to all our readers from everyone here at CT. Cheers.

The Poetry of Sadness

by Kieran Healy on December 9, 2003

Mark Kleiman has a nomination, from ancient Greece, for “the saddest poem ever written.” There are likely a lot of contenders for this title, and even a quick survey would reveal the emotion’s many different varieties (and do wonders for our readership), so it’s probably not the right thing to start a ranking. In any event, Mark’s post caught my eye because I happened to read the following lines just yesterday evening:

bq. Andromache led the lamentation of the women, while she held in her hands the head of Hector, her great warrior: “Husband, you are gone so young from life, and leave me in your home a widow. Our child is still but a little fellow, child of ill-fated parents, you and me. How can he grow up to manhood? Before that, the city shall be overthrown. For you are gone, you who kept watch over it, and kept safe its wives and their little ones …

bq. “And you have left woe unutterable and mourning to your parents, Hector; but in my heart above all others bitter anguish shall abide. Your hands were not stretched out to me as you lay dying. You spoke to me no living word that I might have pondered as my tears fell night and day.”

That’s from an old translation by S.E. Winbolt, which doesn’t seem to be available online. The Samuel Butler translation is freely available, though.

Those Canadians are so UnAmerican

by Brian on December 9, 2003

From the National Post.

[A]n American from San Diego is quoted saying: “What bugs me about Canadians, if I may, is that they wear that damn patch on their bags, the Canadian flag patch. That way, they differentiate themselves from us.”


by Henry Farrell on December 9, 2003

There was an “article”:http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A41921-2003Dec6.html in the Post on Sunday that got surprisingly little attention; it talked about documentary evidence suggesting that small rockets had been modified to carry warheads with radioactive material – and had then disappeared. These rockets had last been spotted in the trans-Dniestrian Republic, a semi-independent corner of Moldova which has developed a nasty specialty in black market and grey market arms deals. As the Post describes it

bq. Transdniester is regarded by experts as a prime shopping ground for outlaw groups looking for weapons of every type. It is the embodiment of the gray zone, where failed states, porous borders and weak law enforcement allow the buying and selling of instruments of terror.

How did this unpleasant little anomaly of a statelet come into being, and why does it persist? As the Post tells the story, it comes down more or less to Russian imperialism; the Russians have 2,800 troops, which they have refused to withdraw, despite repeated requests from the Moldovan government and the international community. Whenever the Moldovans have tried to reassert control over the republic (which lies within their nominal borders), the Russians have made it clear that they’ll defend


by Brian on December 9, 2003

David Brooks, who lives in Washington, DC (and has done so for decades I’d guess), attacks Howard Dean, who has lived and worked in Vermont for decades, for describing himself as ‘rural’. Brooks, all the while, is happy to apply that term to himself (perhaps sarcastically). I think Brooks’s view (as far as one can ever read a coherent view into David Brooks) is that where one lived at age 7 is the sole determiner of the appropriateness of this kind of geographic classification. That’s a view, I guess, but not a very plausible one. I don’t have any particular fondness for Dean, but ‘attacks’ like this only make him look good.

(UPDATE: I see Josh Marshall had this one 30 minutes before I did – and with actual data to back up his claims. I should not try and compete with real journalists.)

Compulsory voting, continued

by Micah on December 9, 2003

“Tim Dunlop”:http://www.roadtosurfdom.com/surfdomarchives/001739.php has a posted some reflections on compulsory voting in Australia. My hunch is that he’s probably right that a legal obligation to vote, backed even only by a minor sanction, would improve voter competence–however that is measured. There’s a good doctoral thesis out there for someone interested in sorting this out more systematically.