From the monthly archives:

July 2004

Spot the Difference

by Tom on July 31, 2004

Our wise masters at the UK’s Home Office have decreed that, being bears of little brain, Her Majesty’s loyal subjects can’t be trusted to distinguish between Preparing for Emergencies, the official government site designed to scare the living shite out of us all by waving the threat of a terrorist attack in our faces offer useful information to concerned citizens about the government’s plans for coping with a terrorist attack, and this parody.

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1-2, I Got a Crush on You

by Belle Waring on July 31, 2004

Milbarge, blogging at Crescat Sententia, has a nice post up about blogcrushes.

I’ve been talking a lot about this with a friend of mine. My friend confesses to a blog crush here and there, too. But my friend’s position is that the crushes are on the blog, not the blogger. I think my friend believes that the image of bloggers we get via the blog aren’t “real,” and my friend would rather have a crush on the idea of a person, based on what one sees on the blog, rather than the reality.

Do you think blogs reveal a person’s true personality? Is the truth-shading, the omission of embarassing details, etc. one gets in a blog any worse than one would get from a conversation with the person? Or are people perhaps more exhibitionist in print than they would be otherwise? (This must be true for many shy bloggers. And, I think, none of you will be surprised to learn that I am not shy.) A friend who hasn’t seen me in a long while read John and Belle Have a Blog recently and said that it was just like talking to me–that the posts were perfectly Belle-ish. I think that’s true, although I try not to curse so much on the blog. (Then again, now that I have small children I don’t curse in front of them either.) Thoughts? Do any of you hasve blogcrushes? Are we seeing the real Kieran here? Can Little Green Footballs possibly represent the real Charles Johnson, who appears at one time to have been a mild-mannered web designer of some talent, not notably lizardoid in any respect?

The Stalinist delusion

by John Quiggin on July 30, 2004

Tyler Cowen says

If I could have the answers to five questions in political science/sociology, the appeal of Stalinism to intellectuals would be one of them.

I don’t think this is as difficult a question as is often supposed.

Most of the intellectuals who professed support for Communism during the rule of Stalin (and Lenin) were primarily victims of (self-)deception. They supported the stated aims of the Communist Party (peace, democracy, brotherhood), opposed the things the Communists denounced (fascism, racism, exploitation) and did not inquire too closely into whether the actual practice of the Soviet Union and the parties it controlled was consistent with these stated beliefs. I developed this point, and the contrast with the relatively small group of intellectuals who supported the Nazis, in a review of[1] Mark Lilla’s book The Reckless Mind: Intellectuals in Politics

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Bloviator poll now up and running

by Eszter Hargittai on July 29, 2004

Don’t forget to cast your vote in the poll Ross is running over at The Bloviator about what phrase would offer “the best Progressive frame to encapsulate the commitment to remedying America’s myriad problems with health care”. The poll is a result of some lively discussions that occured here on CT while Ross was guest blogging with us earlier this week.

Mobius Dick

by Chris Bertram on July 29, 2004

I’ve just finished another Andrew Crumey novel, his latest, “Mobius Dick”:http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/0330419919/junius-21 . I thought I might be reporting that, whilst I’d enjoyed it, I enjoyed it less than his Mr Mee (which “I completed the other day”:https://www.crookedtimber.org/archives/002241.html ). But the last twenty pages where all the different threads come together with a rush (a bit like a Jonathan Coe novel), gave me such delight that I’d have to rank them equally. Crumey is that unusual thing, a novelist with a PhD in theoretical physics. And here his learning is fully deployed: the Copenhagen interpretation, multiverses, Schrodinger; Schopenhauer, Nietszche and Thomas Mann; mad Nazis, Marxism, and a British Democratic Republic; Robert and Clara Schumann; a tuberculosis sanatorium in the Swiss Alps and a Scottish nuclear power plant; weapons of mass destruction. All there, and he brings off the connections brilliantly (even lacerating literary postmodernists in the process). Fantastic. (Not yet published outside the UK as far as I can see, so my link is to Amazon.co.uk).

Oo, that wicked watercraeft!

by John Holbo on July 29, 2004

Henry and I always make sure to post about China Miéville-related matters (here, for example; click from there for earlier posts. Here’s a more recent one by Henry.) So I have to make sure this exceedingly snarky Adam Lipkin review of Iron Council catches his eye, and gets a comment box (via the Mumpsimus).

I haven’t read Iron Council yet, so it may seem absurd to say I am sure this review is too harsh. But I’m sure it is, so I’ll just clear the air of this sour stuff before – sometime soon – Henry and I have our obligatory exchange.

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Quote for the day

by Chris Bertram on July 29, 2004

Talking of extremism… There’s something I’ve been meaning to post on for some time in the light of the documented connections between Trotskyism and neoconservatives and the continued enthusiasm of some admirers of Trotsky for aspects of recent US foreign policy. Trotsky had a dictum, of which “this passage from The Revolution Betrayed”:http://www.marxists.org/archive/trotsky/works/1936-rev/ch08.htm is just one example:

bq. Foreign policy is everywhere and always a continuation of domestic policy, for it is conducted by the same ruling class and pursues the same historic goals.

I don’t think that’s _obviously_ a true generalization, but nor is it a thought devoid of interest. Discuss, with reference to the domestic and foreign policies of the Bush administration….

Bizarre parallel universes

by Chris Bertram on July 29, 2004

The novel I’m reading at the moment is full of stuff about multiverses, alternate realities and quantum physics, and maybe I’ll post about it in a few days. It was a shock to put the book down, leave the garden, do some surfing and “almost immediately read this by Tim Burke”:http://www.swarthmore.edu/SocSci/tburke1/perma72704.html :

bq. If Kerry is elected, and imposes a kind of extremist political vision root and branch upon the Americans who oppose him….

In what bizarre possible world might Kerry impose an “extremist political vision”? Perhaps one in which he’s actually “a reptoid alien disguised as a human?”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Icke To be fair to Tim, the hypothesis (of extremism rather than reptilism) is one that he dismisses, if only on the grounds that the Republicans have a solid majority! And there are some worthy sentiments in his post. But the very idea that Kerry, who, in European terms is a moderate conservative — and who won’t even “impose” such sensible ideas as “socialized medicine” — might seek to advance an “extremist vision”, shows how disconnected from reality American political discourse is becoming.

[UPDATE: I seem to have read Tim’s post rather too hastily. See comments for details]

Libertarians and war

by John Quiggin on July 29, 2004

Over at the Volokh conspiracy, Randy Barnett poses the question of what Libertarianism as a political philosophy tells us about foreign policy, and comes up with the conclusion “not much”, particularly in relation to war. He says his views are tentative and invites others to contribute to the debate. I’ll accept, partly because it’s intellectually interesting, partly because Jim Henley (who could, I think have done a much better job) has gone into hiatus, and partly because I think internationalism (at least my version of it) shares some points in common with libertarianism, while being opposed on others.

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Shattered

by Eszter Hargittai on July 28, 2004

Since things seem to be pretty low-key around here, you’ll excuse me if I vent a little. Last night I got a call from a kind neighbor letting me know that it seemed as though one of my windows had shattered. I was in the office finishing a paper to meet a deadline so the timing wasn’t perfect, but really, is there ever a good time for that kind of a call? I decided to head home and check things out. To my dismay I found this (or for a bit more artistic version, this). It is completely unclear what may have caused it. My best guess is a bird although there are no traces anywhere (the neighbors were on their balcony when all this happened and didn’t see anything except for the window starting to break up into pieces after a loud bang). This is definitely one downside of home ownership.. and a clear example of why one must always have some money on hand in a checking account. In addition to the lost $$ a really annoying part is the logistics of sitting around waiting for the glass company and the anxiety produced by not having any idea about the costs. Any upsides? I got to meet some nice neighbors and also learned that I have double-pane windows (a very good thing in such a situation, indeed).

So now I’m left wondering whether I should cut back on some of the fun stuff I was going to do in Princeton and NYC in the next few weeks.. to balance out the costs.. or just accept the fact that trying to save on any of what I was going to do would make not a dent in this additional expense so I should just deal with it and move on. Uhm, yeah, probably the latter.

Normblog is one

by Chris Bertram on July 28, 2004

Congratulations to Norman Geras, who “has now been blogging for a year”:http://normblog.typepad.com/normblog/2004/07/first_anniversa.html .

John Passmore

by Brian on July 28, 2004

“Brian Leiter”:http://webapp.utexas.edu/blogs/bleiter/archives/001738.html passes on the sad news that John Passmore has died. “Here”:http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/common/story_page/0,5744,10266391%255E30417,00.html is _The Australian’s_ obituary. If any others appear I’ll try to update this post with links to them.

Road Movie to Berlin Little Rock

by Kieran Healy on July 28, 2004

Hello from a motel in “Little Rock, Arkansas”:http://www.littlerock.com/, which turns out to have free ethernet. (The motel, not the city.) Today’s route ran from near “Salem, SC”:http://www.sciway.net/city/salem.html, up “I-85”:http://www.ncroads.com/interst/ih085.htm to “Spartanburg, SC”:http://www.cityofspartanburg.org/ where I picked up “I-26”:http://www.ncdot.org/projects/I26Connector/ to “Asheville, NC”:http://www.asheville.com/, where you hit “I-40”:http://www.interstate-guide.com/i-040.html. The drive across the “Smokies”:http://www.nps.gov/grsm/ was beautiful, though there were some brutally heavy rainstorms. Then I drove across the whole of Tennessee, lengthways. The first city was “Knoxville”:http://www.knoxville.org/. I swear the smug looking guy in the fancy sportscar who cut me off around there “looked familiar”:http://www.instapundit.com. The longer it went on, the flatter and less interesting Tennessee became, and the more I was forced to resort to strategies like singing in the car in order to keep myself awake. Well, to be honest maybe I didn’t need that much provocation. Here’s “forty seconds’ worth of video”:http://www.kieranhealy.org/trip/day1.mov from a day’s worth of driving. Tomorrow: On to “Amarillo”:http://www.amarillonet.com/! I wonder if we have any readers in Amarillo.

Crooked Timber Financial Newswire

by Daniel on July 27, 2004

You haven’t seen it reported elsewhere, but on the Iowa Electronic Markets”, Kerry overtook Bush a couple of days ago. I don’t know if this is a “convention pop”; needless to say it would be pretty bad news for market efficiency if it were. In related news, the Kerry vote-share contract I bought a while ago is now back into profit, and I am still long. If/when I can be bothered reproducing the files, I will update my system’s equity curve – to be honest it doesn’t look that great, although one might argue that the system did the right thing in keeping me long.

Young Muslims in the UK

by Chris Bertram on July 27, 2004

The (London) Times “is running a series on Muslims in the UK”:http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,7-1192019,00.html . Not profound stuff, but a useful antidote to the demonization that prevails in parts of the blogosphere. Unsurprisingly, it turns out that young Muslims have views about sex and alcohol (among other things) that resemble in important respects the views that many young Catholics have about contraception.[1]

fn1. The article is freely accessible from within the UK, but may require registration from elsewhere. My information about whether those attempting to access from elsewhere need to subscribe varies.