Surnames

by John Quiggin on December 16, 2003

Surnames were invented sometime in the Middle Ages in response to the crisis caused by the oversupply of men named John. Since the same problem has alreadycaused some interesting confusion, I’ve breached CT style by switching to my full name. I hope this isn’t a problem.

Eyesores

by Kieran Healy on December 16, 2003

Architects like to think of their work as social theory made real. Conversely, paging through the examples in James Howard Kunstler’s Eyesore of the Month is like reading a stack of freshman essays on Smith and Marx written by students who didn’t do any reading and were too drunk to come to lectures.

Incidentally, I had no idea that the Dark Tower of Barad-Dur — eye of Sauron and all — is now located in Nashville.

Rough trade

by Ted on December 16, 2003

I had half-written a post about the latest adventures in dumpster-diving, but Gary Farber beat me to it.

I have to say that the ever-increasing recent trend of many political bloggers — some from both sides of the column as they perceive it, though I’m seeing more from the right guilty of this of late (but that might be sample error on my part) — to react to any news event they perceive as likely to be politically polarizing by going to a site known to be full of what H. L. Mencken called “the booboisie,” mouthing off with sub-simian mewlings admidst the mouth breathings, is not a pretty sight. It would seem to be a masochistic endeavor, but no! It has a purpose! Because then said blogger can pull up this eagerly sought handful of soiled straw and proclaim: this is what The Other Side believes! That Other Side! They’re so stupid! Ha ha ha, stupid other side! Me not stupid like them! Me smart. Stupid other side!

The world is full to the gills with stupid people who say awful things on the Internet. Pointing this out doesn’t constitute a political argument.

Philosoraptor has some related thoughts. Philosoraptor is also a really excellent, thoughtful website, and we should encourage him to keep blogging. I’m not pointing to any one post because it’s all good.

Update your stylebooks

by Ted on December 16, 2003

Greg Beato identifies yet another irregular verb:

* We engage in refreshing, hilariously politically incorrect humor
* You (pl.) push the boundaries of good taste
* They wallow in profanity and ethnic slurs

WSIS – better late than never

by Maria on December 16, 2003

First off, apologies that the guest blogger I’d promised, Gus Hosein, didn’t manage to post. Gus had trouble logging in from Geneva, and as he’s no slouch with IT, I put it down to the dodgy wireless connections at the conference. (and yes, it’s pretty wild that a World Summit on the Information Society couldn’t get this right.)

Anyway, I’ve been mulling over the world summit for days now, trying to decide for myself what, if anything it all meant. I’ve even checked out the world summit blog by several young journalists imaginatively sponsored by the British Council, and some other accounts of the event. But the disparate nature of all that went on there means attempts at synopsis keep slipping through my fingers.

The difficulty in pinning down a result may be because most parties to the summit went there with the aim of checking the moves of their opponents. And everyone pretty much succeeded.

(Warning; it’s a very long post. Maybe you had to be there…)

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Tis the season to be girly

by Maria on December 16, 2003

These are v. serious days indeed on CT, but I wanted to share with you the most perfect girly evening I have had in a long time.

It started in Le Bon Marche, the frilliest department store in Paris, where I bought gift boxes, tissue paper and ribbons (predominantly pink of course). Le Bon Marche is the place you go to if you absolutely must spend 11.65 euro on glace cherries. Everyone there was much too posh to make me feel out of place in my shabby runners, though I did have to make the walk of shame to the farthest corner of the booze shop after I asked for cooking brandy.

Then home to combine hot cider and brown sugar with currants, candied orange peel, freshly ground almonds, cloves, 3 granny smiths, juice and rind of a lemon, a cinnamon stick and said cherries in a pot over a low heat for 40 minutes*, sipping the remaining fresh cider while stirring as the sauce reduced, and re-reading for the umpteenth time the final two chapters of Persuasion. Result; lovely christmas-y cooking smells and the best mincemeat I’ve ever made.

Tonight, I just have to bake the pies (pastry is ‘resting’ in the fridge as we speak), shake some icing sugar over them, wrap them in the lovely boxes, tie their little ribbons and work out how and when to deliver them, red riding hood style.

And if that’s not girly enough for yiz, you should try a personality quiz courtesy of spacefem, and via the cadetblue Invisible Adjunct. I am blueviolet. I don’t know what you have to answer to be pretty pink.

*Adapted from Nigella Lawson’s recipe in domestic goddess, though I’ve a lot less time for her after hearing via Ophelia of Nigella’s contribution to the MMR debate. Perhaps, as retaliation, those of us who know nothing about cooking should wax outraged about how the tv chef business is driven by uncaring, orthodox, control freaks who are in hock to Sainsburys and don’t care a damn if our children get, um, fat?

Hoare on the Left on Yugoslavia

by Chris Bertram on December 16, 2003

Marko Attila Hoare has “a review essay”:http://www.bosnia.org.uk/bosrep/report_format.cfm?articleid=1041&reportid=162 in the latest “Bosnia Report”:http://www.bosnia.org.uk/bosrep/default.cfm on books on the left about the NATO intervention in Yugoslavia. I won’t attempt a crisp summary here (Hoare’s judgements won’t secure everyone’s agreement though I largely concur with them). One passage was of particular interest to me though:

bq. The journal _New Left Review_ (NLR) commissioned the present author in October 2000 to travel to Belgrade to write an article on the popular rebellion against MiloÅ¡ević that was then taking place. NLR paid my air-fare and I arrived in Belgrade on the day that MiloÅ¡ević fell. But when I produced my report NLR refused to publish it: editor Susan Watkins [that’s Mrs Tariq Ali by the way – CB] explained to me that the editorial board objected to my article’s implied support for the Hague Tribunal and for Serbia’s integration into European institutions – these views were considered politically unacceptable. I was reminded of this some months later while reading Michael Parenti’s _To kill a nation: The attack on Yugoslavia_ , published by NLR’s sister organization, the publishing house Verso. The book is simply an outright apologia for MiloÅ¡ević and his regime. Period. Thus while it would appear that supporting the prosecution of war-criminals at the Hague Tribunal is unacceptable to NLR/Verso, actually supporting the principal war-criminal himself – orchestrator of the worst acts of imperialist aggression and racial mass-murder in Europe since the death of Stalin – is entirely acceptable. Lest any reader believes I am exaggerating Parenti’s views, his book recently appeared in Serbian translation (Majkl Parenti, _Ubiti Naciju: Napad na Jugoslaviju_ , Mediagraf, Belgrade 2002) – with a foreword by none other than Slobodan MiloÅ¡ević himself.

Full disclosure here: I’m a former member of the NLR editoral committee and resigned along with Hoare’s parents and blogger Norman Geras (and most of the rest of the EC) following an office coup in 1993. I’m also a former employee of Verso. Our resignation statement, heavily self-censored for legal reasons, is “here”:http://groups.google.com/groups?selm=1993Mar5.145426.988%40bristol.ac.uk&output=gplain (the full story might get disclosed to people buying me enough beer in the right circumstances).

Opportunities and outcomes

by John Quiggin on December 16, 2003

Among the many points raised in the discussion of Chris’s thread on Sen was the old distinction between equality of outcomes (like life expectancy) and equality of opportunity. This distinction has long been a staple of debates between market liberals and social democrats, and now defines a central point of distinction between supporters of a Third Way (such as Blair) and modernising social democrats (such as Gordon Brown), who may be indistinguishable on issues like privatisation that formerly acted as litmus tests.

A look at the evidence suggests that a position supporting equality of opportunity while accepting highly unequal outcomes is not sustainable. The most important observation is that, contrary to popular belief, there is less mobility between income classes in the United States than in European social democracies. A good, and fairly recent study in this is The Real Worlds of Welfare Capitalism by Goodin, Headey Muffels and Dirven, which I reviewed here, along with Barbara Ehrenreich’s Nickel and Dimed.

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Books I Did Not Read This Year

by Kieran Healy on December 16, 2003

As 2003 draws to a close, it’s time for me to reflect on all of the great books I did not read this year. This has been a particularly good year for not reading books. I would go so far as to say that there are more books I did not read this year than in any year in the recent past. Although a significant part of my job consists in sitting somewhere and reading something, I have still managed to find the time not to read a very wide range of material from many different fields. In special cases, I have bought the book and then not read it. Mostly, though, I did not get around to even doing that. I thought I would present my ten favorite nonfiction books I did not read this year. I hope that they will not deepen your knowledge or broaden your mind in 2004, as they didn’t with me.

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