Calling all sofa and moving experts

by Eszter Hargittai on August 18, 2005

Super smart and super nice blogger Jeremy Freese is calling out to the blogosphere in a desperate plea to help him figure out how to get his sofa into his new place. Jeremy just moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts and it turns out his beloved sofa won’t make it up the stairs into his new apartment. Even before his furniture arrived earlier this week he had already succeeded in finding wifi and keeping his blog readers updated regarding his move. Not having any furniture for a night didn’t pose any major challenges, but the sofa’s arrival yesterday meant the start of some real stress. It is still standing in the hallway its legs now only held up by the remaining three screws that won’t come off.

Anyone with suggestions on how to solve this puzzle, please leave a note on Jeremy’s blog.

I’m sure everyone has and knows of hellish moving experiences. One of the worst stories I recall concerns a friend gearing up for her last year in graduate school. The university’s housing office told her that they could not accomodate her any longer so she had to move. She packed up all her stuff and transferred everything to the new location. Unfortunately, it turned out that several items among her possessions would not fit through the doorway and hallway of her new apartment. In the end, the univ housing office let her back into her old apartment. But so why exactly was all that packing up necessary?

The winner of the most unfortunate move in my circles is my brother. He was in the midst of moving in between cities and spent a night in a motel. His truck in the parking lot got broken into overnight. The culprits managed to take all the really personal stuff that could never be replaced leaving the few things that were perhaps of any objective value (e.g. a computer). Go figure.

It seems that moving always entails some hellish experience, the question is more about the magnitude of the unfortunate events that will unfold.

UPDATE: Thanks to some helping hands and some power tools, Jeremy’s sofa is now in his apartment.

Strange bedfellows

by Henry Farrell on August 18, 2005

Something that’s been bothering me for a while – the ever-smushier and less critical lovefest between leftwing opponents of the Iraq war and rightwing realist opponents of same. “Steve Clemons”:, who has contacts in both camps, quotes an unnamed _Nation_ person yesterday as saying that “realism has become the new liberal foreign policy ideology.” When it isn’t (quite rightly) ripping shreds out of the “liberal hawk” establishment, Ari Berman’s _Nation_ article reads like a mash-note to an emerging “dissident establishment”: that unites left and right against foreign policy adventurism. Now there’s a lot to be said in favour of building a short-term alliance to push back against the lunacy of recent years, and inject a little reality into foreign policy thinking. Rightwing realists have smart and interesting things to say, and are, all in all, a vast improvement on the crew of yahoos and me-too cheerleaders who gave us “Operation Wishful Thinking”: I’d be delighted to see the Perles, Boots and Ledeens of the DC foreign policy establishment consigned to the outer darkness. But leftwingers who rush too quickly to embrace their new friends on the right should meditate upon the malign example of Henry Kissinger, and the implications of _Realpolitik_ for the causes and issues that they’re committed to. We should all be in favour of the reality-based crowd taking over Republican foreign policy making – it’ll mean that our arguments with them will be conducted on a saner basis. But we shouldn’t fool ourselves into thinking that those arguments will magically disappear. Whatever realism is, it isn’t a good basis for a leftwing approach to foreign policy (though it may have valuable lessons to impart to such an approach).


by Henry Farrell on August 18, 2005

More interesting things from around the WWW.

Scott McLemee is back from a break, with two great columns. The “first”: is on Alfredo Perez’s “Political Theory Daily Review”:, which is one of my daily reads, and imo a simply terrific resource. It beats the better-known “Arts and Letters Daily” hands-down in terms of depth of coverage and (for me) interest. Somebody needs to give this guy a paid job doing this full-time The second is an “essay”: on the mutual disdain of academia and journalism for each other, defending intellectual border-crossing and amateurism, in the original sense of the word.

The American Institute for Contemporary German Studies has set up a “German elections blog”: with commentary in English from German journalists and experts. Speaking of which, I’ve been meaning to give a plug to “Sign and Sight”: feuilletons page for a while; it’s a great way of keeping up with the intellectual debate in Germany and elsewhere.

Tim Harford and others have set up the World Bank’s first “blog”:, which aims to promote private sector approaches to international development.

My old colleague, Ron Deibert has set up “Civiblog”:, a free blogging service for people involved in NGOs and civil society organizations.


by Ted on August 18, 2005

Jesse at Pandagon finds Kathryn Jean Lopez wondering why the media isn’t covering an Amnesty International report on terrorism in Iraq. He notes, among other things, that “this may constitute the first time since September 11th that any conservative commentator has honestly admitted that Amnesty writes anything that isn’t a direct attack on America.”

Publius at Law and Politics has a marvelous look at Hitchens’ “sister cities” article.

I understand the emotional need to attack those who you don’t care for anyway. But the idea that the anti-war Left and the sister city program have one damned thing to do with our problems in Iraq is nothing short of full-blown delusion (though it is interesting from a psychological perspective)…

Just to be clear, if we are unsuccessful in Iraq, the people to blame are the people who caused the war to happen, not the people who didn’t want it to happen. If we are unsuccessful, the leaders who executed the war are to blame, not the liberal groups who had exactly zero influence in the war planning and execution.

You may hate the Left so bad that you’d like to wring all their necks. But that hatred has exactly zero relevance to the larger truth that you may or may not be willing to confront – if this war is lost, then Bush lost it.

I’m afraid that we might be having this argument a lot more in the future.

Beautiful Horizons is a just a terrific blog that doesn’t get as much attention as it deserves, because few other bloggers can talk on Randy Paul’s level about Central and South America.

During the Vietnam war, John Steinbeck was writing to the White House with ideas about weapons and tactics, including the idea for a baseball-sized napalm weapon. Funny old world.

Living in Texas can drive a liberal crazy, but the people here do some things right.

Finally, Brad DeLong has the Concord Coalition’s plausible forecast of budget deficits.

What next

by Ted on August 18, 2005

Orin Kerr recently proposed a useful simplified framework of possible outcomes in Iraq:

1) The U.S. beats back the insurgency and democracy flowers in Iraq (call this the “optimistic stay” scenario),
2) The U.S. digs in its heels, spends years fighting the insurgency, loses lots of troops, and years later withdraws, leading to a bloody and disastrous civil war (the “pessimistic stay” scenario);
3) The U.S. decides that it’s no longer worth it to stay in Iraq, pulls out relatively soon, and things in Iraq are about as best as you could hope for, perhaps leading to a decent amount of democracy (optimistic leave), and
4) The U.S. decides that it’s no longer worth it to stay in Iraq, pulls out soon, and plunges Iraq into a bloody and disastrous civil war with the bad guys assuming control eventually (pessimistic leave).

Speaking only for myself, I’m entirely confident that we could achieve outcome 4, believe that staying the course will continue to lead to outcome 2, and can scarcely imagine outcome 3. What about outcome 1? Is it achievable?

There’s been some good discussion among some war supporters who believe that the situation in Iraq is dire, but salvageable. They aren’t spending a lot of time flailing against a stab in the back from the press or from tricksy liberals. They’re disturbed by the dialing down of expectations, and by official talk of troop withdrawls. See Charles and von at Obsidian Wings, Bill Kristol at the Weekly Standard, Greg Djerejian at Belgravia Dispatch (also here).
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Lego triumph

by Chris Bertram on August 18, 2005

How fitting that the greatest sporting moment (so far) of the 21st century, and one of the greatest comebacks of all time, should be commemorated “thus”: :

bq. WITH a triumphant look on his face, Steven Gerrard can be seen standing next to the Champions League Trophy flanked by his manager, Rafael Benitez.

bq. But look again. For this is not an image from the historic final between Liverpool and AC Milan in Turkey earlier this year – it is a re-creation of the scene made entirely from Lego.

bq. Artists Darren Neave and John Cake – who are known as The Little Artists – have built the work from the toy bricks and it will go on display at Liverpool’s Walker Art Gallery later this week.