A Boy for Dad

by Harry on May 12, 2006

I’ve already let this slip out in a couple of threads, so I might as well announce that my wife is expecting our third child in September. We have two girls (9 and 5); they are thrilled. Some people will be relieved, and others shocked, that even in liberal Madison the number of people who have immediately said “A boy for dad” to one or other of us is now into double figures. I am neither relieved or shocked, but utterly bemused (this is apparently a common sentiment; I didn’t know). Anyway, we’re delighted, though only my 5 year old was gunning for a boy (why? No idea).

Naming a boy is going to be difficult, mainly because one of us (not me) doesn’t like many boys names, and the other (me), after coming up with two or three good names (Reginald, Alfred, Clement etc…) stops taking it seriously and starts proposing absurdities (Zebedee; Egbert; Canute etc…(no offense meant to holdrs of these excellent names, but you can see that someone who rejects Reginald wouldn’t even consider these)). Eszter sent me to this amazing site, which is no help at all, but a great time waster. So, there is a point to this post. Via the voyager I discover that my own name, which I have always liked despite its tendency to produce confusion, has completely collapsed in popularity since records began. What is amazing to me (but not at all distressing, is that its decline has not been halted at all since the arrival of on the scene of Henry Potter. Why would that be?

Show of Hands on Mike Harding

by Harry on May 12, 2006

Show of Hands are brilliant. English folk with a rock beat, a sense of humour, and political passion. They sound like nice thoughtful guys, too. Hear them on this week’s Mike Harding show and make up your own mind. You can download two singles legally; Are We Alright and Crooked Man. Their home page is here. An inexpensive 2-CD sampler here. Tell me if I’m wrong.

Election Fraud? In America? Shurely Not

by Kieran Healy on May 12, 2006

“Yet another flaw”:http://www.nytimes.com/2006/05/12/us/12vote.html?ex=1305086400&en=5b3554a76aad524a&ei=5090&partner=rssuserland&emc=rss has been discovered in Diebold’s electronic voting machines. Company spokesman David Bear presents the watertight case for the defence:

bq. “For there to be a problem here, you’re basically assuming a premise where you have some evil and nefarious election officials who would sneak in and introduce a piece of software,” he said. “I don’t believe these evil elections people exist.”

This guy should get some kind of prize. America is the country that gave us the word “ratfucking”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ratfucking, where party operatives “jam the phone lines”:http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/phonejamming.php of their opponents on election day, and where people say they want to die in Chicago so they can remain politically active.

Becker and Murphy on advertising

by John Quiggin on May 12, 2006

During the discussion following the death of JK Galbraith, the issue of advertising came up. In the Affluent Society Galbraith dismissed the idea that advertising is informative, and argued instead that it was used to manufacture demand for goods and services people would otherwise not want. The NYT obit suggested that Gary Becker and George Stigler had disproved this, a proposition that attracted some attention, mainly focusing on the work of Becker and Murphy.

Although Becker and Murphy don’t present it this way, their model actually supports Galbraith in most respects.

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Laptop choice bleg

by Chris Bertram on May 12, 2006

So here’s a topic on which CT readers are bound to have opinions: which laptop should I buy? Or, more exactly, what should I be looking for? Productivity-wise I need a machine that will run a LaTeX implementation — currently I use MiKTeX plus WinEdt on my desktop machines (XP based) in the office or at home — but just about anything will do that. And I’d like something that will be generally OK for surfing, playing the occasional video-clip or mp3, but that’s about it. And, of course, wireless is essential (though I’ve got a spare wireless card for a notebook as it happens … it came packaged with my router). How much memory? What size HD?

I had thought about making the switch to Apple, having seen a grad student’s neat little iBook. But since Apple is moving to Intel and their low-cost laptops haven’t yet made the switch, that seems a bad choice at the moment. (If I’m wrong about that mattering, then I’m sure some Apple-fan will set me right.)

Beyond Broadcast

by Eszter Hargittai on May 12, 2006

Berkman in Second Life
Today (Friday), the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at the Harvard Law School is hosting a conference on Reinventing Public Media in a Participatory Culture. In addition to the face-to-face discussions, the conference is also integrating digital media in neat ways for participation by those who can’t be at the meeting physically. For example, there is a Berkman Island (including a 3D replica of the Ames Courtroom at the Harvard Law School) in Second Life. If you get a chance, come join us, it looks like there will be some very interesting presentations and discussions.