From the monthly archives:

March 2007

Next time you don’t like what you read here..

by Eszter Hargittai on March 31, 2007

.. just start marching.

It’s cute. I had already found the dinosaur steps blogworthy two years ago, but this newer option is even more amusing.

Recipe Corner: Treacle Tart

by Harry on March 30, 2007

In response to popular demand (well, a single request from vivian) I’m going to try to do a semi-regular recipe post. I’m aiming for one every couple of weeks or so, but if Eszter, Belle and others join in perhaps we’ll manage weekly. I’m hoping they join in, because my recipes tend to be so be so unhealthy that we’ll kill off the readership.

Today’s recipe is Treacle Tart. Treacle Tart is completely familiar to our British readers, but unheard of by most of our US readers (and I don’t know about the rest of you). If you have a Whole Foods near you you can find Golden Syrup in the syrup section, or, amazingly and very cheaply, at amazon. (It’s also great on pancakes or, if you don’t care what the neighbours think, and I don’t, on toast).

Update: Of course, all our American readers have heard of treacle tart, I apologise. As the last person left in the world who has not read Harry Potter, I didn’t realise that treacle tart had become world famous. This is it, and golden syrup is the key. Now American CT readers can delight their children. Serve with heavy whipping cream, unwhipped. Or, if you dare, Bird’s Custard.

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Discipline and puzzle

by Michael Bérubé on March 29, 2007

Late last year, I had <a href=”http://chronicle.com/free/v53/i16/16a00801.htm”>lunch with David Horowitz</a> on the <i>Chronicle of Higher Education</i>’s dime, and this world-historical event was noted on <a href=”https://crookedtimber.org/2006/12/05/horowitz-v-berube/”>this very blog</a>. Alas, not everyone understood what I was trying to do in that little encounter. Moreover, those who did understand my approach, including various CTers, disagreed as to whether I did the right thing. <a href=”https://crookedtimber.org/2006/12/05/horowitz-v-berube/#comment-181414″>Harry</a> thought I pretty much blew it, whereas <a href=”https://crookedtimber.org/2006/12/05/horowitz-v-berube/#comment-181433″>Henry</a> thought I took exactly the right tack. Which is fine, really, because as you’ve already gathered, I seem thoroughly incapable of winning universal assent to stuff I say. I’m tempted to blame this on <i>the very structure of language itself</i>, but much of the time it’s my fault; my tactics misfire, I misgauge the occasion. And sometimes people just disagree with me.

But here’s what I was thinking at the time: OK, I’ve agreed to meet David Horowitz. In this context — the <i>Chronicle</i>, as opposed to <i>Hannity & Colmes</i> — this grants Horowitz, and his complaints about academe, a certain legitimacy. My job, therefore, is to contest that legitimacy, and to model a way of dealing with Horowitz that does not give him what he wants: namely, (1) important concessions or (2) outrage. He feeds on (2), of course, and uses it to power the David Horowitz Freedom Center and Massive Persecution Complex he runs out of Los Angeles; and most of the time, we give it to him by the truckload. Liberal and left academics need to try (3), mockery and dismissal, and thereby demonstrate, as I put it <a href=”http://www.michaelberube.com/index.php/weblog/its_just_lunch/”>on my blog</a>, that when someone tries to blame tuition increases on Cornel West’s speaking fees, that person needs to be ridiculed and given a double minor for unsportsmanlike bullshit.

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Running on empty

by Maria on March 29, 2007

Rather worrying news from Ireland where figures from the last quarter of 2006 show that, as expected, new building is declining, but also that exports dropped by 10% when they’d been expected to rise by more than 2%. [click to continue…]

How long would it take to swim across the Atlantic Ocean?

by Eszter Hargittai on March 29, 2007

Google Maps has the answer for me if I am headed from Stanford to Budapest. The only part left for me to figure out is how much to subtract for driving from California to Massachusetts and then from France to Hungary. Subtracting that from 31 days 14 hours I should have the answer. Alternatively, I can do a search for Boston to Brest, France and calculate it from that although I don’t get why they’re making me reach the coast at Le Havre since that’s quite a bit of extra swimming. Google Maps estimates that trip at about 29 days 5 hours, which makes me wonder how they got 31 days 14 hours for the other trip.

Hmm.. maybe I’ll stick to flying.

(Skip down to direction #33 on the first map or #9 on the second if this is all too cryptic.)

[thanks]

The Sincerest Form of Flottery

by Kieran Healy on March 29, 2007

This is just too funny. John Lott, having had his lawsuit against Steven Levitt and _Freakonomics_ thrown out, has gone and written a knock-off called — I’m not making this up — Freedomnomics: Why the Free Market Works and Freaky Theories Don’t. The jacket design is right out of the “David Horowitz playbook”:https://crookedtimber.org/2007/03/22/cover-story/, too.

Presumably it’s blurbed by Mary Rosh. Now if you’ll excuse me I have to get back to the final chapters of my two forthcoming books, Greedonomics: A rogue trader shoots first and Fritonomics: Exploring the hidden side of snack foods.

Bloggingheads and the EU

by Henry on March 28, 2007

A new “bloggingheads”:http://bloggingheads.tv/video.php?id=233 between Dan Drezner and meself is up, in which, as the blurb puts it, “Dan and Henry analyze Bh.tv’s new business model and then defy it by failing to yell at each other.” One of the topics we discuss is the economic future of the EU, and Andy Moravcsik’s recent “article”:http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/17659940/site/newsweek/ on it. As a slightly belated EU 50th birthday post, and an addendum to my previous “disagreement with Andy”:https://crookedtimber.org/2005/06/16/not-frightening-the-horses/, I’d like to point to this “brand new paper”:http://www.mpi-fg-koeln.mpg.de/pu/mpifg_dp/dp07-4.pdf (pdf) by Martin Höpner and Armin Schäfer at the Max-Planck Institut in Cologne. The take home point is that the EU’s market integration processes aren’t neutral and technical, as they are often described as being, but are instead highly political, and have adverse consequences for coordinated market economies. This feeds into the EU’s legitimation problems.

Deregulating the economy is a genuinely political decision that cannot be left to independent agents. … Whether the member states need a ‘neo-liberal’ corrective is not for the observer to choose but must be the result of public deliberation and parliamentary decisions – otherwise, the price to pay is a serious democratic deficit. However, instead of a strengthening of input-oriented legitimacy, we witness ongoing – yet increasingly unsuccessful – attempts to de-politicize EU politics. European-level actors transform essentially political matters into apparently technical ones. An extensive interpretation of the ‘four freedoms’ of the European Treaty allows Commission and Court to enforce
liberalization measures juridically. The law shields these attempts from political resistance especially in organized economies.

Which leads me to wonder, after having read Dani Rodrik’s “critique”:http://www.ft.com/cms/s/1b13320e-dbb5-11db-9233-000b5df10621.html of the cheerleaders of globalization in the _FT_ yesterday whether the EU isn’t being badly misinterpreted by outside observers, especially in the US. The usual claim that one reads is that the EU’s problems are the problems of creaking economies refusing to modernize, rejecting sensible proposals such as the original, tougher form of the Services Directive etc. But can’t this be interpreted from the other direction? Couldn’t one reasonably argue that the near-stalling of the EU’s market integration process demonstrates how over-strident efforts to deregulate are liable to result in political stalemate and backlash from an increasingly truculent public? In short, can’t the EU’s political problems be interpreted not as a failure of the European social state, but as a demonstration of the political limits of attempts to introduce global deregulation, free trade in services _und so weiter_ without real public discussion?

Time’s Arrow

by Kieran Healy on March 28, 2007

A photograph of family members, every June 17th, since 1976.

Bookstores again

by Henry on March 28, 2007

Scott has a “new article”:http://www.insidehighered.com/views/2007/03/28/mclemee over at _Inside Higher Ed_ talking about Borders, and reviewing the “Indies Under Fire”:http://www.indiesunderfire.com/index.html movie that I “mentioned”:https://crookedtimber.org/2007/02/16/indies-under-fire/ a few weeks ago. It sounds like a more complex and interesting movie than I expected from watching the trailer. Which reminds me – Jim Johnson suggested a while back that I should do a post on good bookshops, and consider linking to them in addition to/instead of Powells and Amazon when I review books. I have mixed feelings about linking to Amazon, which is a vociferously non-union operation, but get the impression that many or most CT users buy stuff there. So what good, alternative bookstores are out there? I’ll start by singing the praises of “Prairie Lights”:http://www.prairielights.com/ in Iowa City which I visited this weekend, and which was teh awesome. Fabulous selection of small press books, and a book buyer who, after a brief conversation about Rick Perlstein’s forthcoming, came over to snoop shamelessly through the pile of novels that I was buying at the cash register (the kind of customer profiling I can live with happily). Other recommendations?

The White Tyger

by Henry on March 28, 2007

I blogged a while back about Paul Park’s “A Princess of Roumania,” which was the first in a series of four fantasy novels. I recently finished the third in the series, The White Tyger (“Powells”:http://www.powells.com/partner/29956/s?kw=Paul%20Park%20White%20Tyger, “Amazon”:http://www.amazon.com/gp/redirect.html?ie=UTF8&location=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.amazon.com%2FWhite-Tyger-Paul-Park%2Fdp%2F0765315297%3Fie%3DUTF8%26s%3Dbooks%26qid%3D1175103188%26sr%3D8-2&tag=henryfarrell-20&linkCode=ur2&camp=1789&creative=9325) which is just as wonderful. The novels are profoundly character driven in a way that few genre novels are; they deliberately and specifically refuse to conform to a conventional quest narrative. No-one knows exactly what they’re supposed to do; they’re making it up as they go along. All of the main protagonists (and some of the minor ones) are in some sense or another _doubled_; their selves are split in two so that they have difficulty in explaining their motivations to themselves. The book is less a conventional fantasy story in which the story is external to the characters, determining who they are and what they do, than a working through of the ways that individuals make up their own fantasies, spinning out _ex post_ narratives to explain their actions to themselves and others. The main protagonists don’t know themselves.

This is most obvious in the character of Baroness Ceaucescu, who sees herself as the heroine of an opera, smoothing away the grubby and selfish motivations for her actions and reconfiguring them as the essential elements of a grand and inexorable tragedy, where she has no personal responsibility for what she does. She steals every scene that she’s in. The three novels are vertiginous, and a little jarring. They don’t have the feeling of safeness and stability that most fantasy novels do. All that is solid melts into air. Yet nor are they self-consciously or coyly reflexive (their contingency doesn’t seem playful to me; rather it appears like a very serious attempt to talk about how the world is). I don’t want to say more about _The White Tyger_ for fear of ruining surprises; I do want to recommend it (and I can’t wait to see what the fourth and final novel does).

Gnomewatch

by Harry on March 28, 2007

As the resident gnome watcher, I’m bound to report that the latest gnome kidnap case has gone to trial. The kidnapper faces jail.

Alloa Sheriff Court heard that the mother-of-three was arrested along with friend Ann McCallum, of Delphwood Crescent, also Tullibody, following an 11-day undercover operation involving officers from both Central Scotland CID and the force’s tactical crime unit.

I guess most of you are watching it on Court TV.

McCain Space

by Kieran Healy on March 27, 2007

John McCain’s “MySpace page”:http://www.myspace.com/johnmccain “borrows” Mike D.’s page template and also hotlinks to images on his server. So he “makes a few changes to them.”:http://mike.newsvine.com/_news/2007/03/27/633799-hacking-john-mccain


Via John “You’re having a membership drive but you still haven’t mailed me my t-shirt, it’ll be three months on Friday” “Gruber.”:http://daringfireball.net/

Scholarly activism

by Henry on March 27, 2007

Patrick Jackson and Stuart Kaufman have an interesting short piece (summary “here”:http://duckofminerva.blogspot.com/2007/03/piece-that-i-wrote-with-stuart-j.html, pdf “here”:http://kittenboo.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2007/03/PoP_Jackson_Kaufman.pdf) in the new “Perspectives on Politics”:http://www.apsanet.org/section_328.cfm on the Scholars for a Sensible Foreign Policy letter that they co-organized to express the opposition of IR professors to the Iraq war. They describe the letter as having had “remarkable success” in building a consensus among IR scholars, but having been a “miserable failure” in terms of its impact on public debate. The letter appears to have been self-consciously intended as an exercise in ‘Weberian activism.’ Max Weber draws a strong distinction between the vocation of the scholar and the vocation of the politician. Roughly speaking, the responsibility of the first in the public arena is to strive for understanding and education; the responsibility of the second is to persuade others to adopt the politician’s viewpoint. For the politician, words are weapons; for the scholar, ideal-typically, they aren’t. Thus, Jackson and Kaufman argue that Weber’s ideas provide a “guideline for how we social scientists should think about intervening in the political realm in a way that does not compromise the detachment and the nonpartisan character of our enterprise.” This didn’t work in the case of the SSFP letter, because the media aren’t equipped to deal with scientifically detached analyses, but academics should persist in seeking to be Weberian activists; that is, they should participate in the public space on issues of their expertise, without getting sucked into partisan debate. [click to continue…]

Eumerica

by John Quiggin on March 27, 2007

There’s been a lot of discussion of a recent Pew Research Center study of US voters, mainly focusing on this graph, which certainly suggests a strong reaction against the Bush Administration and the Republican Party

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But the underlying picture is much worse for Republicans than this, as Gary Kamiya observes. On the one hand, the Pew Survey shows that Democrats and Independents are becoming pretty similar in the views to people elsewhere in the developed world (such as Europeans) – liberal on social issues, moderately social-democratic in social policy, preferring peace to war and so on. Not surprisingly, this translates to a strongly negative view of the Republican party, just as it does everywhere else in the world.

On the other hand, Republican support is contracting to a base of about 25 per cent of the population whose views are getting more extreme, not merely because moderate conservatives are peeling off to become Independents, but also because of the party’s success in constructing a parallel universe of news sources, thinktanks, blogs, pseudo-scientists and so on, which has led to the core becoming more tightly committed to an extremist ideology.

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Northern Ireland Settlement

by Maria on March 26, 2007

Wonderful news; power-sharing in a devolved Northern Ireland administration will begin on 8 May. I’m rather surprised, as it looked to me as if the DUP would delay agreement at least for a few days. I suspect at least part of the reason the UK could make a credible ‘now or never’ threat was the fact that Gordon Brown was more than willing to cut the purse strings to the assembly. Bravo to one and all.