Moral Relativism

by Brian on September 18, 2004

“Matt Yglesias”: and “Kevin Drum”: have been discussing various ethical buzzwords that have been flying around recently, all starting from “this post”: of Eugene Volokh’s. I don’t have enough expertise to helpfully say very much here, but I thought I’d try adding some small points.

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Big-time College Sports

by Jon Mandle on September 18, 2004

A recent study commissioned by the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics looks at the economic results of big-time college athletic programs. The author, Robert H. Frank, a Cornell economist, reviews the literature concerning two kinds of indirect benefits that athletic programs are often claimed to generate: “1) that a winning athletic program leads to additional contributions from alumni and others; and 2) that a winning program generates additional applications from prospective students (resulting, presumably, in a higher quality freshman class).” Frank reports that while the findings of these studies are mixed, “the overall message is easily summarized: It is that if success in athletics does generate the indirect benefits in question, the effects are almost surely very small.”

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Spinning the blogosphere

by Henry Farrell on September 18, 2004

The Washington Post “hints as strongly as it can”: that the blogosphere’s counterattack against the Killian memos began at the White House.

bq. In another development, the Los Angeles Times reported that an Atlanta lawyer with conservative Republican connections posted the first Web log entry questioning the authenticity of the CBS documents less than four hours after the initial broadcast on “60 Minutes.” The paper identified Harry W. MacDougald as the “Buckhead,” who became a hero of conservative Web sites after pointing out technical problems with the documents, such as fonts and proportionate spacing.

bq. MacDougald declined to say how he learned about the problems with the documents so early. In addition to being released by CBS, copies of the documents were e-mailed by the White House to reporters as “60 Minutes” went on the air.

It’s unlikely that we’ll ever know quite what happened, but it seems highly plausible to me that the White House is communicating with bloggers to spin the news. We already know that the White House’s Internet Director thinks that blogs are “pretty important”: Equally, I’d be very surprised if people in the Democratic party aren’t communicating with some bloggers in order to try to get their spin across (if they aren’t, they’re bad at their job). As Kieran “said”: a couple of days ago, there is a mythology of the blogger that sees him (or more rarely, her) as a lone hero speaking truth to power (or the “New York Times” as the best local approximation). The reality is murkier. To the extent that blogs help set the agenda for the media, pols have an incentive to spin the blogs, just as they have good reason to spin reporters. Blogs aren’t critiquing the system from outside – they’re increasingly part of the system. Expect more of this over time, not less.

New CT corporate HQ?

by Chris Bertram on September 18, 2004

Mira Bar-Hillel has an “interesting piece in the Spectator”: about the way in which English Heritage has undermined its own role by backing a deal not to reconstruct the Baltic Exchange in the City. I did a little googling to find out what the old building looked like and I was surprised to discover that the whole thing is up for sale in a dismantled state! Not on ebay, but on a web page of “Complete Large Buildings for Sale”: (scroll down). I happen to think that the Baltic Exchange would serve nicely as a new Crooked Timber corporate headquarters, though getting my colleagues’ agreement on location might be difficult.