Most humorous wikivandalism ever. (via Dave Moles.)

Perhaps one shouldn’t laugh at such things. It encourages bad behavior. For example, here’s vandalism more genuinely annoying and not creative or delightful in the least. Will Baude emails to inform that somehow Crescat Sententia lost their domain to some search engine optimization outfit. Which then offered to sell it back at an extravagant mark-up. Crescat Sententia has declined their offer and moved here. From org to net. Update bookmarks accordingly, and do not favor the old address with your custom, if possible. Apparently for a while the lovely SEO people were hosting a cache of an old page in the hopes of disguising what had happened. Naughty, naughty.

UPDATE: In defense of wikipedia be it noted that the vandalism only lived for 38 minutes before being reverted. Hmmm, there’s a good idea for a story. An eccentric treasure-hunter is sent off on a months-long quest for a lost tribe in South America, on the unfortunate evidential basis of a vandalized wikipedia page he read in the 12 minutes between when it was posted and reverted by the ever-watchful editors. Of course it turns out that, quite by coincidence, everything the vandalized page said was true. The vandal himself is somehow ensnared in the plot and ends up sacrificed to a giant snake.

UPDATE 2: It’s coming to me, as in a dream. It turns out wikipedia itself is an elaborate plot concocted by the Knights Templar, together with the greatest of their hashhashim enemies, one al-Whikid (!). To ‘hide their greatest treasures in plain sight’, they conspire to create wikipedia. During the Middle Ages it was maintained by monks on scrolls. A specific pattern of reversion edits constitutes … a map! So there is an esoteric as well as an exoteric wiki. Fortunately, Nicholas Cage stumbles on the aforementioned vandalized page. It contains a jpeg of a map to a tribe. The map is part of the true map, but the vandal was just using it as likely mash-up material. So the film will be like National Treasure meets Hackers meets The Da Vinci Code (‘don’t I know you?’). There will be a scene in which the true wiki is surreptitiously handed off in a USB thumb-drive shaped like Quark‘s head.

UPDATE 3: The vandal is played by Steve Buscemi. (Because he and Cage had chemistry in Con Air.)

UPDATE 4: And Ed Harris plays an earnest wikipedia command editor, thus reprising his stern, steady role in Apollo 13. When the Knights realize their plan has failed they attempt to sabotage the entire wiki, reverted every single page to stuff about Buffy the Vampire Slayer Firefly. In the wikipedia command room all the editors (buzz cuts, thin black ties, pocket protectors) are frantically scribbling their corrections to the erroneous Buffy Firefly posts on paper. Harris: “with all due respect, sir, I believe this will be our finest edit.”

UPDATE 5: Who do you think would win in a fight between Wikipedia and Aquaman?

Keynes’ Amazon Bulldog

by Kieran Healy on November 9, 2006

I came across “The Cambridge Companion to Keynes”:http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1163114559/ref=nosim/kieranhealysw-20 in the bookshop yesterday and went to add it to my Amazon wishlist this morning. When I looked it up in the catalog I saw that it had a rating of only 2 stars and my first thought was: I bet _that_ guy is responsible! And I was right. A while ago I was poking around in the literature on Keynes and Post-Keynesianism and anytime I checked a book on Amazon there would be a review from “Michael E. Brady”:http://www.amazon.com/gp/pdp/profile/A1UI9T8WKJPZN5/ref=cm_cr_auth/002-9644667-3828001. Typically, it would be a long, desnely-written single paragraph of criticism, complete with page references to the literature and especially to Keynes’s works.

In fairness, his “complete list of Amazon reviews”:http://www.amazon.com/gp/cdp/member-reviews/A1UI9T8WKJPZN5/002-9644667-3828001?ie=UTF8&display=public&page=3 (333 of them at current count) shows he is perfectly capable of writing a generous review. But he does have a couple of bees in his bonnet. “He”:http://www.amazon.com/gp/product//B0006C2TOW/ref=cm_aya_asin.title/002-9644667-3828001 “doesn’t”:http://www.amazon.com/gp/product//1858986532/ref=cm_aya_asin.title/002-9644667-3828001 “like”:http://www.amazon.com/gp/product//0802022960/ref=cm_aya_asin.title/002-9644667-3828001 people who Get Keynes’ Macroeconomics Wrong at all. Even beyond the macro stuff, however, he gets very annoyed at critics of Keynes’ “Treatise on Probability”:http://www.amazon.com/gp/product//1596055308/ref=cm_aya_asin.title/002-9644667-3828001, whom he sees as slavishly following the “allegedly mistaken”:http://www.amazon.com/gp/product//0199279551/ref=cm_aya_asin.title/002-9644667-3828001 (and ad hominem) views of Frank Ramsey. In a way, Brady’s own reviews on this topic can be read as an effort to undo the effects of what “he clearly thinks”:http://www.amazon.com/gp/product//9812384081/ref=cm_aya_asin.title/002-9644667-3828001 of as the worst book reviews of all time, namely Ramsey’s 1922 and 1926 comments on Keynes’ _Treatise_, whose malign effects have propagated down through the literature. A true believer. Here is “his own book”:http://www.amazon.com/Essays-Keynes-Michael-Emmett-Brady/dp/141344959X on Keynes.

Watching football on Ceefax

by Chris Bertram on November 9, 2006

Though you can sometimes get the same effect by neurotically pressing “refresh” on Soccernet or similar, I know all about “this phenomenon”:http://www.wsc.co.uk/articles/229cfax.html :

bq. Everyone who watches football on Ceefax will have a favourite text moment, even if it’s just the thrill of seeing the screen refresh to reveal, with great dramatic timing, that in fact it’s still 0-0 and you’re staring intently at a black rectangle with some numbers on it. Occasionally I’ve watched the last 20 minutes of a cup tie, or sat through a penalty shoot-out. Sad, perhaps, but surprisingly engrossing. It’s not just football, either. With my four housemates I watched the last 200 runs of Brian Lara’s record-breaking 501 not out for Warwickshire in 1994 on Ceefax. And it was great.

Apparently, Ceefax and Teletext will be phased out from 2008. Life will not be the same.

Kinky Friedman …. why?

by Chris Bertram on November 9, 2006

Ok, so I’m genuinely mystified. The (largely British based) “decent left” seems to “have”:http://hurryupharry.bloghouse.net/archives/2006/11/08/election_observations.php “been”:http://normblog.typepad.com/normblog/2006/11/not_kinky_in_te.html supporting Kinky Friedman for Governor of Texas. As far as I can see, the main reason these advocates of being “morally serious” in politics backed him was that he is a Jewish country singer. His platform seems mainly to have consisted of getting tough on illegal immigration – taking steps to “stem the tide of illegal immigrants penetrating our border” – and moaning about political correctness “gone mad”. Pat Buchanan-lite, if anything. Commenters who can see the positives are invited to enlighten me.

Fistful of Euros

by Maria on November 9, 2006

A Fistful of Euros has re-launched with a snazzy, more interactive design and the promise of podcasts. Fistful is always worth a read for its insightful coverage of EU issues, but this week has an interesting take on the French ‘non’ to an expansion of NATO’s role into ‘fighting terrorism’, aka bringing the Echelon countries into a formal cooperation. Worth a read.

How many votes ?

by John Quiggin on November 9, 2006

A couple of questions, one substantive and one rhetorical

1. What share of the aggregate popular vote did the two major parties receive in the US House elections ?

2. Why isn’t this reported anywhere (at least anywhere I can see) ?

As regards 2, I know that the aggregate popular vote doesn’t determine anything, but that’s true in all constituency systems and for indirect elections like the US Presidential elections, and the popular vote is generally reported in these cases. Also, I know there were some uncontested seats, but there are usually ways to adjust for this kind of problem.

Update Andrew Gelman writes:

Regarding your blog question on votes, you might be interested in our post-election summary here:

The short story is that the Democrats did much better in 2006 (56% of the average district vote) than the Republicans did in 1994 (when they only received 51.3%). In terms of national voting, the Democrats received much more of a mandate in 2006 than the Republicans did twelve years earlier. Our graph is helpful too, I think, both in showing this pattern and putting it into a longer historical context.

I’ve seen a range of estimates of the Democrats’ share of the two-party vote, from 53 to 57, but I’ve generally been impressed with Gelman and his cobloggers, so I’ll take this as the best estimate.

I still wonder that US national media don’t care about this. Even the exit polls reported by the NYT, which had all sorts of breakdowns, didn’t make it easy to get the aggregate result.

Further update Andrew Gelman has written again to advise that a more detailed recalculation produces an estimate of 54.8 per cent.