Structured procrastination, oh yeh. I have an unfinished review of Doug Henwood’s “After the New Economy” on the computer in front of me, which is looking like taking me longer to write than he took to write the book, plus James Surowiecki‘s new book is out, covering a couple of areas which he’s argued with us about on CT[1]. And what am I reading and reviewing? The latest work by that noted metaphysician, David Icke. “Tales from the Time Loop”. Icke is a bit of a guilty pleasure for many of us here at CT, and a few others. But I’m rather afraid that with this latest one, he’s jumped the shark. See below the fold for my Amazon review, which to be honest I’m not anticipating getting posted. I’ve added a few links so that non-Icke fans can get up to speed. I don’t know why I’m so bright and breezy today btw, it’s actually rather sad.

Update Richard Kahn in comments points me to this forthcoming paper for the Journal of Utopian Studies. Opinions on this kind of free-wheeling, name-dropping postmodern cultural studies writing are somewhat split on CT, but I’m inclined to be a bit softer than the median. When this sort of thing comes off, it’s really good, and I rather think that Richard’s Icke paper comes off pretty well.

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D-Day in the Public Mind

by Kieran Healy on June 7, 2004

With all the “hoopla over D-Day remembrances”:, I found myself wondering whether remembering the anniversary had become more or less important in the last twenty years. To this end, I spent twenty minutes getting “LexisNexis”: to email me _New York Times_ stories mentioning D-Day since 1980, running it through the world’s kludgiest Perl script to clean it and drop irrelevant entries[1], and looking at the data in “R”:

The result is the figure to the right, which shows the number of stories per year over a 25-year period, though of course the 2004 data only go to June 6th of this year. D-Day stories in the Times The number of stories per year varies from zero to 120 with a median of about 17. The two biggest years by far are 1984 and 1994, the 40th and 50th anniversaries respectively. A “smoothed regression line”: picks out a gentle but consistent upward trend in coverage. There are more stories as time goes by. It’s not surprising that the big anniversaries are the most covered. Beyond that, coverage seems to be increasing as the D-Day cohort ages. The contemporary political benefits of making a big deal of such a praiseworthy event probably amplify this trend. This would lead us to expect the D-Day commemorations to decline as time goes by, though on the other hand World War II lives on in our culture (as a good war as well as the biggest one) in a way that most other wars do not.

Of course none of this tells us anything about the _substance_ of the commemoration and whether that’s changing over time. Historical events are remembered in the light of present-day concerns, and very well-commemorated events or major monuments are reinterpreted or “forgotten”: as circumstances change. I wonder how long this upward trend will continue: it’s a question of whether D-Day is tied to the cohort who fought it, or whether its commemoration is attached to its veterans or whether it will become a more general event as time goes by. Probably the former, but it’s hard to say.

fn1. Mainly paid death notices of people who had served on D-Day — casual Lexis-Nexis queriers should beware of this kind of thing.

Fellatrix superiore

by Chris Bertram on June 7, 2004

Eszter’s post has put me in mind of the excellent Financial Times preview of the latin oration on the (hypothetical) occasion of Bill Clinton assuming the Chancellorship of Oxford University:

bq. Sed Eheu! Magnum disastrum suscepit sua maxima culpa. Per noctem, Novembre MCMLXXXXV Alia Occidentalis Domus Albus laborante, sibi pizza donata est a Monica Lewinsky, puella pulchrissima, sensuosa californicante, fellatrix superiore.

bq. ‘Non coitus est cum hac femina,’ dixit. Sed, per laborem longus et penetrante Kennethi Starri, procurator independentus, et senatoribus Republicanis agitates, testimonia inculpata; togam maculatam, cigarrus grandus, revelata sunt. Domus Representatis imperator Clinton defenestrare tentavit. Senatus, 50-50 divisa est, absolvit.

The “full text is here”: .

Middle school orals

by Eszter Hargittai on June 7, 2004

A post about exams? Not quite. Belle already blogged about this NYTimes Magazine article a few days ago, but I thought it was worth some more discussion. The piece is about how widespread oral sex seems to be among high school students and how casually teens approach the topic. (I should note that it’s not clear how representative the sample on which the author draws is of high school students in general, but the topic is worthy of consideration even if it represents only a fraction of students, I think.) I am certainly not in favor of abstinence-only education and am all in favor of teaching teens about safe sex. My concern is about the one-way approach many teens seem to be taking. In the following sentence, Belle addresses the problem of girls performing oral sex on guys without any reciprocity: “If letting some guy just show up at your house so you can suck his dick is empowering, then I’m Henry Kissinger.” In case that doesn’t make that much sense out of context, be sure to read Belle’s post with a relevant quote from the article. By the way, for an additional reality check, note that this is not only a high school phenomenon, it seems to start in middle school for some. Also, for those (including a commentator on Ogged’s blog) who think that you can’t get STDs through oral sex, this may be worth reading.

UPDATE: I should have mentioned this when I wrote this post. There is a great data set that addresses lots of related issues and has led to lots of publications: Add Health. There’s room for more work on the new data especially, if anyone’s interested.:)

Celebrity sightings

by Eszter Hargittai on June 7, 2004

I spent the beginning of last week at my graduation at Princeton. (Although I defended almost exactly a year ago, I had missed the deadline for marching in the ceremonies last year.) I am really glad I went back. I had always envisioned graduation from grad school as a fairly anonymous event where I would be hooded amongst lots of people I did not know. This was not at all the case. It turns out that I knew many of the people finishing at the same time and that made the ceremonies all that much more special. (And as usual, I was hanging out mostly with economists.. go figure.)

Princeton usually does not have a Commencement speaker although the President of the University does say a few words. However, the senior class has a Class Day the day before Commencement to which they do invite a speaker. Last year I got to see Seinfeld this way and this year Jon Stewart gave quite a funny speech kindly sprinkled with local references as he is from that area. The unexpected celebrity sighting had come during Reunions on the Friday before though. I was waiting for the green light to cross Washington Road just in front of the Woodrow Wilson School when I spotted a security guard right next to me. I knew it was Reunions weekend and there are enough big deal Princeton alums that there could be all sorts of reasons for this so I was not that surprised. Nonetheless, it is not too common to see such obvious out-of-a-movie security personnel. So I thought I would glance to his right to see if I could spot someone famous. I did. Donald Rumsfeld was waiting for the green light as well (not something he is necessarily known to do…), back for his 50th I guess. Although Jon Stewart did mention in his Class Day speech that no matter who wins the presidential elections this year we can blame Yale, I’m afraid that doesn’t leave all Princetonians exempt from related responsibilities…