Etiquette tips, please

by John Quiggin on March 3, 2005

Here in Brisbane, we’re not really up with which fork you should use first and so on, so I was concerned to this piece from the New Statesman by Nick Cohen (reprinted with the usual delays in Australia by the Financial Review)

I think you can smoke in the Groucho[1], but you can’t in Waitrose or at any Islington dinner party I’ve been to in the past decade. The social taboo against smoking is becoming absolute, in the middle classes at any rate … it is social death to put a cigarette in your mouth, not to stuff cocaine up your nose.

I’m obviously out of touch here. Last time I checked the etiquette manual was de rigeur to go to the bathroom to snort cocaine, and to go out to the porch to smoke. But now I fear total embarrassment at my next middle-class dinner party: obviously I should have the cocaine served at the table. Can anyone give me more details here – are individual salvers the way to go, for example, and is it OK to ask guests to bring some of their own?
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Bullet points

by Daniel on March 3, 2005

Lots of post ideas stacked up, so time to clear them by just publishing my notes:

Lessons from the Argentinean crisis and default, with applications to the current state of the US economy

  • Massive devaluations work

(this could be part of a series including “Lessons from the UK experience, Lessons from the Asian crisis, the Mexican crisis etc etc etc)

Thoughts on current developments in Lebanon

  • The important thing to note is that when the USA acts alone, a hundred thousand people die. When it stands together with France, putting the rogue state on notice that it can’t depend on its historic friends, we win without firing a shot. And this is a victory for unilateralism in foreign policy?

An introduction to Linear Algebra for Econometricians, pitched at a level which ought to allow you to read a graduate-level econometrics textbook

  • X’X means a sum of squares
  • (X’X)-1X’Z is a linear regression of Z on X
  • Most of the rest you can pick up from context.

That’ll do for the minute, cheers.

Body Parts Sociology

by Kieran Healy on March 3, 2005

I have left the bitter “Sonoran desert”:http://www.desertusa.com/du_sonoran.html behind and am in balmy Chicago for a “conference about body parts”:http://www.law.depaul.edu/institutes_centers/health/pdf/body_parts.pdf. Packing my suitcase, I realized that I’m going to have some trouble keeping my own body parts at a reasonable temperature: where are all those Winter clothes I used to own? Didn’t I live in New Jersey and Connecticut for years? So I just brought everything I had.

The conference should be interesting. Mainly lawyers and bioethics people, along with some economists. I am the token sociologist. I’ll be talking about some work I’m doing on organ procurement rates in seventeen OECD countries, so obviously I am on the panel titled “The Battle Between Bioethics and Religion.” As it happens, my friend “John Evans”:http://sociology.ucsd.edu/faculty/EvansJ.htm wrote “the book”:http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0226222624/kieranhealysw-20/ref=nosim/ on the battle between bioethics and religion. The final score was Bioethics 3, Religion 1.

Wifeswap

by Harry on March 3, 2005

Kieran says that in the ‘battle between bioethics and religion. The final score was Bioethics 3, Religion 1.’ This, I would say, was about the score in last night’s Wifeswap: Leierwoods 3, Patricks 1. The Patricks changed their own behaviour more than the Leierwoods did — a lot more. The Leierwoods would have won by more if only they hadn’t raised their son to be a bumptious clever clever, who spent the entire show trying to prove to American conservatives that liberals are a bunch of know-it-all insensitive bastards.
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Perry Anderson on Rawls

by Chris Bertram on March 3, 2005

The latest “New Left Review has a piece by Perry Anderson”:http://www.newleftreview.org/NLR26501.shtml on the thinking of Rawls, Habermas and Bobbio on global order and justice. Since I’m busy teaching Rawls’s “Law of Peoples”:http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0674005422/junius-20 at the moment, I thought I’d give it a read. The article has all the classic Anderson hallmarks — the arrogant pronouncement of judgement from on high, the frequent lapses into Latin, a will to the most unsympathetic reading possible. Typically, Anderson is incapable of reading his targets in any other way that as providing pragmatic cover for the American hegemon. On the one hand he seems to adopt the stance of high principle against the unwitting tools of US power whose every argument is accounted for in terms of their personal history and psychology, but on the other it seems hard to know where the critical principles can be coming from since it is hard to see how, on Anderson’s world-view, principles can ever be anything other than the residue of power politics as false consciousness.

The central charge against Rawls and Habermas is that of providing left philosophical cover for Western intervention in Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq. In Rawls’s case, this is because Rawls argues in general terms that “outlaw states” which violate human rights and threaten their neighbours cannot claim immunity from intervention from liberal states. Does Anderson advance a counter-argument to the effect that the state sovereignty of such regimes is inviolable, or that considerations such as those adduced by Rawls are insufficiently weighty to over-ride such considerations? No, of course not. Anderson wouldn’t stoop to construct such an argument: for him, all that counts is the interest of powers.

Two examples which especially annoyed me of Anderson misresepresenting Rawls to his readers are below the fold, no doubt others could be found.
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Little Lord Fauntleroy Smash!

by John Holbo on March 3, 2005

I’m reading Ronin Ro’s Tales To Astonish, about "Jack Kirby, Stan Lee and the American comic book revolution." So far I’m not finding it clearly written. Of Jack "Jacob Kurtzberg" Kirby’s early days:

It was a difficult time to be a twelve-year old boy. Everywhere, kids were forming gangs. Kids on Suffolk Street became the Suffolk Street Gang and fought the Norfolk Street Gang. Then they fought Irish and black gangs. Some of his peers started running with the well-dressed mobsters hanging around the neighborhood. If he couldn’t become an actor, Jacob figured, he’d do this, too, or become a crooked politician, like the ones he saw holding conferences and spending money in neighborhood restaurants.

But thoughts of the future had to wait. For now, he had to maintain his reputation and look out for his brother, David. Their mother wanted David to wear nice clothes, but velvet pants, a lace collar, and shoulder-length curly blond hair (at the height of the Depression) had made the kid a perpetual target. Five years his junior and over six feet tall, David was stocky and tough, but no match for the street-hardened gangsters stepping up to confront him. David did what he could when the gangs attacked, but sometimes Jacob would leave school, see his brother under a pile of opponents, and leap at them with both fists swinging.

Lessee: David, aged 7, over six feet tall, stocky, dressed in … Can you even BE stocky if you are over six feet tall? I’m getting a Little Lord Fauntleroy Smash! vibe off this. Gangs of New York era tyke, Bruce Banner, after inheriting a fortune and being exposed to gamma radiation, is taken by "Dearest", to live with … It’s the sort of thing only Kirby could dream and draw. [If Mary Pickford is unavailable, I think ‘Dearest’ could be a sort of ‘Motherbox’, like Orion has got.] The gangs, the kids, the bizarre monstrosity. Clearly Kirby grew up with it all.

Kirby dating Roz: "Her father worked in a factory as a seamstress on women’s dresses." Now this is not clearly wrong. See this definition. But I think ‘worked sewing womens’s dresses’ would avoid the problem.

On Jack Kirby’s war experience: "War was a series of events." That’s right up there with "And, inevitably, the years passed."

Still, I’m such a Kirby fan. I’m enjoying it despite the stylistic lapses.

Get the Shots Already

by Belle Waring on March 3, 2005

Now that the link between MMR jabs and autism have been debunked for the tenth time, could people please start having their children vaccinated? Because when their child gets a mild case of rubella, and then comes in contact with a pregnant woman her child may suffer from fatal or debilitating birth defects? Thanks.

Scientists have examined rates of autism among children in Japan, where the MMR vaccine was withdrawn in 1993. They found that the number of children with autism continued to rise after the MMR vaccine was replaced with single-shot vaccines.

I have to say that living in a place where any random person on the street might have arrived from a polio-endemic part of India the night before really focusses the mind. I like to take my children to rural Indonesia, too. I’m ready for extra shots. Sign me up!