English as she is Spoke

by Kieran Healy on November 29, 2006

“Dan Drezner”:http://www.danieldrezner.com/archives/003030.html takes an online quiz and finds he has a “midland” accent. His evaluation says:

bq. “You have a Midland accent” is just another way of saying “you don’t have an accent.” You probably are from the Midland (Pennsylvania, southern Ohio, southern Indiana, southern Illinois, and Missouri) but then for all we know you could be from Florida or Charleston or one of those big southern cities like Atlanta or Dallas.

The number of people who sincerely believe they do not have an accent is quite astonishing. Maybe quizzes like this are partly to blame.

Reputations are made of …

by Daniel on November 29, 2006

At this late stage in the occupation of Iraq, many of Henry Kissinger’s old arguments about Indo-China are being dusted down. One of the hoariest and worst is that we need to “stay the course” (or some similar euphemism) in order to maintain “credibility” – to demonstrate our resolve to our enemies, who will otherwise continue to attack us. It reminds me of my one and only contribution to the corpus of game theory.
[click to continue…]

The MLA Meme

by Scott McLemee on November 29, 2006

An experiment is underway over at Acephalous to test the velocity at which a meme spreads across the blogal landscape. As Scott Eric Kaufman explains the hypothesis being tested:

Most memes, I’d wager, are only superficially organic: beginning small, they acquire minor prominence among low-traffic blogs before being picked up by a high-traffic one, from which many more low-traffic blogs snatch them. Contra blog-triumphal models of memetic bootstrapping, I believe most memes are — to borrow a term from Daniel Dennett’s rebuttal of punctuated equilibrium — “skyhooked” into prominence by high-traffic blogs.

I’m not sure where CT fits in this particular schema, though probably we are of the middling sort. Anyway, please check out the rest of SEK’s entry. Here’s that link again.

And if you have a blog — be its traffic high or low — please consider joining the experiment with just the short of (otherwise content-free) entry you are now reading.

Remember, it’s all for Science, albeit of the MLA variety.

Hard to believe

by John Quiggin on November 29, 2006

Writing in the LA Daily News, in a piece full of harrowing stories of flight from Iraq, Pamela Hartman states

The United States has not liberalized its refugee policy in response to the worsening crisis in Iraq. More than 1 million Iraqi refugees of all religious backgrounds have poured into Lebanon, Syria and Jordan. In fiscal year 2006, just 202 Iraqi refugees were resettled in the United States.

The 1 million figure is broadly consistent with other estimates I’ve seen, but there’s no source for the amazingly low figure of 202 refugees (If anyone can point to a data source that would be great.) I assume this excludes people like many of Hartman’s clients who’ve found some other route such as a family relationship, but that can’t change the fact that the US is ducking a central responsibility here.

Of course, the same is true in spades for Australia. At the same time as promoting the disastrous Iraq venture, many of our local warmongers have enthusiastically backed the view that we have no obligations to the refugees it has created, or, in comments on my blog, only to the Christians among them.

There’s no real way to salvage the disaster we’ve created in Iraq. But we must at least accept the responsibility of providing a haven to those fleeing the carnage we have created.