It can’t have been easy to pick finalists for the Atlanta Journal- Constitution‘s contest for World’s Worst Book Title — not with candidates such as Letting It Go: A History of American Incontinence and Everything You’ll Need to Remember About Alzheimer’s.

I’m not sure how the contest was run, or if it was fair. A lot of times with these things it’s all about who you know.

Still, the results are in, and AJC has announced that the winner is Cooking with Pooh. This title is for real. But I’m sure readers can come up with worse titles than that, just as real.

(hat tip: Michael Merschel)

Bilbo, “the Man” vs. Bilbo, the halfling

by John Holbo on November 24, 2007

Matthew Yglesias links to an interesting paper:

“I call on every red-blooded white man to use any means to keep the niggers away from the polls; if you don’t understand what that means you are just plain dumb.” These were the words of United States senator Theodore G. “The Man” Bilbo of Mississippi, as he addressed white supporters during his successful re-election campaign in June 1946. His inflammatory language ignited a firestorm, however, that prevented him from taking his Senate seat in January 1947 and ended the career of one of the nation’s most flamboyant politicians.

“The Man” fell because of the growing intolerance among many whites toward public racism and anti-Semitism. Throughout the 1920s and 1930s, white elites outside the South—defined here as leading daily newspapers, weekly magazines, organizations, and political leaders—largely ignored Bilbo’s racist incitements. World War II, however, brought about a significant change in elite attitudes. Due to the ideological war against Nazism, America’s emergence as a superpower, and the unifying nature of the conflict, the kind of virulent public racism that was a trademark of Bilbo’s career was no longer tolerated outside of the South. Bilbo’s career, from his return to the governor’s mansion in 1928 through the Senate debate over his seating in 1947, parallels and illustrates the declining tolerance of overt racism and nativism in the United States.

Yglesias files this under ‘the past is another country.” That’s only the half of it. [click to continue…]

Oh frabjous day!

by John Q on November 24, 2007

Not only has the Labor party won a crushing victory in Australia’s national election but conservative Prime Minister John Howard has, very probably, lost his own seat. Details here.

Given that the economy is going very well, and that the Iraq war, while unpopular, was not a central issue in the campaign, I think it’s reasonable to mark this down as the first national election in which climate change played a pivotal role. Howard, following Bush, refused to ratify Kyoto. This was highly unpopular, and served as a more general symbol of a government stuck in the past.

The other big losing issue for the government was the passage of a package of anti-union laws called Workchoices.