From the monthly archives:

June 2008

Like Henry, I also participated in the TPM Cafés Book Club discussion of Clay Shirky‘s Here Comes Everybody last week. My contribution continues along the theme of some of the earlier posts concerning inequalities, but my particular focus is why some online organizing efforts are more successful than others and what factor the organizer’s resources play in all this.

In related news, Clay will be joining us as a guest here in a couple of weeks. This advance warning should give you enough time to go and read his book although it’s not a requirement for commenting on his posts.:)

Mapping the political blogosphere

by Henry Farrell on June 23, 2008

via “Ethan Zuckerman”:, a really nice visualization (with clickable information) of the political blogosphere “here”:

Tom Slee has an announcement to make

by Henry Farrell on June 23, 2008

I am excited to announce that I am finally ready to write my next book. It’s going to be great. And here’s the best thing of all: you can help me write it! It’s about the Internet and how it’s changing the world. I’ve got the outline done and I was just thinking I need a research assistant to fill in the details. Then I thought – well, why just one? There are a million research assistants out there – let’s crowdsource!

Any book about the Internet needs a big idea. Not just a kind-of-big idea either, but a Great-Big-Fuck-Off-Massive Idea. The kind of idea that is so big you can’t get your head round it, and yet which you can put in a short phrase so you can trademark it. My Idea is that there are _now more ideas in the world than ever before._ What’s more, these ideas are not just stuck inside people’s heads doing nothing, but thanks to the Internet everyone is putting their ideas out there for the world to see. And then these ideas spark other ideas. So with more ideas than ever before, and better ways of getting ideas acted on, the future just has to be insanely great.

More … much more … to be found “here”: The title of Chapter 6 (With Enough Eyeballs, All Ideas Are Shallow) is especially cruel. For years, I’ve been planning a vaguely similar book, which would aim at selling millions of copies to both the pop-business-sociology and ev-psych markets. It would be entitled (tada!) _The Blink Slate._ My fundamental problem has been figuring out a way to use deprecated HTML tags on hardback book jackets (sorry oldstyle Internet Explorer users – you’re not going to get the joke). Perhaps I too can crowdsource this problem to the masses of CT readers …

Videos on the tubes of the internets

by Eszter Hargittai on June 22, 2008

Time Sink!

If you have some time to kill or need to introduce someone to Internet memes then take a look at this timeline. Zoom in for some of the less visible videos. Any of your favorites missing?
UPDATE: Well, that didn’t last long. A commenter notes that the page is no longer accessible. Here is a screenshot. Use of Dipity for this was interesting since showing all this on a timeline adds something to the information.
UPDATE 2: The timeline is accessible again.

Map of things to do in Budapest

by Eszter Hargittai on June 22, 2008

A lot of people I know are heading to Budapest these days (whether for pure touristy reasons or for one of the many meetings being held there) so using the My Maps feature on Google Maps, I’ve compiled some annotated recommendations for visitors. These include pastry shops mostly visited by locals with desserts to die for. No, seriously, these are a must and visiting the city without going to some of these would be sad and wasteful.

I also include a pointer to a grocery store with the goal of finding the Hungarian snack Túró Rudi (details: check the dairy section for items that look like a candy bar in a red-dotted wrapper). I would say it’s the most missed item by Hungarians abroad. It’s basically lemony sweet farmer’s cheese coated in dark chocolate. Yum! Wikipedia conveniently has more info, not that words can possibly convey the experience. Some companies new to the country in the ’90s have tried to create other versions (e.g., with fruit filling or milk chocolate coating), but I would rather not even acknowledge those as they’re ridiculous imitations. On the topic of grocery stores, someone recently complained that they couldn’t find any fruits and veggies in them. That’s because other than the gigantic supermarkets, these tend to be sold in separate venues.

I didn’t bother listing most of the traditional sights included in guide books, numerous Web sites and guides will point those out. I do highlight, however, an incredibly touching Holocaust memorial on the Danube (first link on my map). It’s relatively new and not something one would stumble upon by chance, yet definitely worth visiting and now you know where to find it.

My dad called earlier today to say that he was about to attend, and speak at, the farewell do for my old school, which is about to be closed after being in special measures for a few years. It made me feel a bit sad – I wasn’t there long, and didn’t have an especially enjoyable time, but to know that somewhere you spent formative years is to be no more is a shame. And formative they were.

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Kevin O’Rourke on the No vote in Ireland

by Henry Farrell on June 20, 2008

“This”: seems to me to be the most interesting analysis I’ve read so far.

A glance at the electoral map suffices to confirm what earlier opinion polls had indicated: the Irish vote divided along class lines in a stark and disturbing fashion. In the most affluent constituencies of Dublin, such as Dun Laoghaire, where even a modest home can cost upwards of €1 million (although that is changing), 60% or more voted for the treaty. In working class areas of the city, it was the no vote which scored in excess of 60%. Brouard and Tiberj (2006) show that precisely the same division between rich and poor, or the skilled and unskilled, can be discerned in the French 2005 vote. …

The argument would be that globalisation generally, and European integration more narrowly, has overwhelmingly favoured skilled workers, at least in affluent countries such as France, Ireland and the Netherlands. Unskilled workers, by contrast, feel under threat from Romanian (or Asian) competition, or immigration from Eastern Europe and further afield. And while those of us who are more fortunate might regret it, it is hardly surprising that — in accordance with Heckscher-Ohlin logic — they vote accordingly. … Unbelievably, given the importance of the vote, there were no exit polls taken which might give us an indication of why those who voted no did so. But I have to say that my bet is that the gap between middle-class and working-class voting patterns has a lot more to do with different interests, real or perceived, than with supposed differences in political sophistication. …

If this interpretation is correct, then the Irish referendum result, in one of the most pro-European members of the Union, should serve as a wake-up call to politicians that if they want to maintain the benefits of open international markets, as I do, they will simply have to take more notice of the concerns of those who are being left behind.

Update: The Eurobarometer report on a flash survey they did immediately post-referendum is available at “”: Thanks to Simon in comments for the pointer.

Kenworthy on Nixonland

by Kieran Healy on June 19, 2008

My colleague Lane Kenworthy reviews Rick Perlstein’s Nixonland, proving in the process that he is a faster reader (and writer) than me.

Is Perlstein right about what happened during these years? Did America harden into two warring camps? I think an argument can be made that something very different occurred: the developments of the 1960s coupled with (and accentuated by) Nixon’s political tactics opened up new fissures that left the political landscape not more crystallized, but more clouded. Instead of shifting from (more or less) one America to two, the shift was, arguably, toward a greater multiplicity of political identities that the two political parties had to struggle mightily to try to shape into manageable coalitions.

More at Lane’s.

Elsewhere on the Internets

by Henry Farrell on June 18, 2008

For thems thats interested, I have a new dialogue with Dan Drezner up at “Bloggingheads”: Perhaps the most valuable bit for me was that as a result of our discussion of the famous Jeremy Paxman demolition job on Michael Howard, one of the Bloggingheads crowd dug up the video on YouTube, and linked to it. “Here it is”:

I’m also blogging in the discussion of Clay Shirky’s new book _Here Comes Everybody_ (Powells, “Amazon”: ) at TPM Cafe. A post on how the proliferation of groups doesn’t end status competitions “here”:, and one about power laws and inequality “here”:

Fat Americans

by Chris Bertram on June 17, 2008

… and, increasingly, fat British too.

For Europeans, one of the really disconcerting things about visiting the United States is the size of the meals. Ok, there’s the phenomenon that the restaurant staff will let you take home what you don’t or can’t eat (and that’s an idea that many Europeans feel uncomfortable with), but there’s still the fact of the sheer volume of stuff that gets put on your plate. It seems it wasn’t always this way. Via someone in my network, I came across “this article on how portion sizes have changed”:–now in the US over the past twenty years. And not only are American meals bulkier, they’ve also increased two or three times in calorific value. That can’t be good.

That’s why they call it ‘democracy’

by Henry Farrell on June 16, 2008

There’s been a lot of outrage expressed by other Europeans (and by “some members of the Irish elite”: )at the Irish vote on Lisbon. Some of this seems fine to me – obviously it is perfectly reasonable to feel annoyed, or even angry, when people vote for what you feel to be the wrong option. Some of the anger, however, seems to me to rest on an unjustified implicit or explicit belief that the Irish were somehow obliged to vote Yes in the referendum. Below the fold, I lay out all the serious reasons I can think of for why you might think the Irish were positively obliged to vote Yes, and why I don’t think that any of them hold (I imagine that there will be vigorous disagreement from many commenters, but reckon that this disagreement will be more useful if the bases of argument are clearer). The emphasis here is on ‘serious’ reasons – I’m not going to get into the “it’s because they don’t like Johnny Foreigner, you know”: stuff, which doesn’t seem to me to deserve proper attention or rebuttal. [click to continue…]

Libertarians and global warming

by John Q on June 15, 2008

I had a set-to with Jonathan Adler of Volokh about DDT recently, so I was pleased to note this piece on free-market environmentalism and climate change, which makes a number of points I’d been thinking about following debates over at the Australian Libertarian blog. Rather than recapitulate Adler’s post, I’ll make a number of points of my own regarding the response of (most, though not all) libertarians to climate change, which I think are in the same spirit

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Ireland’s Lisbon Vote

by Henry Farrell on June 14, 2008

As many of you likely know already, Ireland has voted down the Lisbon Treaty 53.4% to 46.6%. This was a slightly higher margin than I had anticipated (in a private email, I had laid my money down on a 52-48 split). As I noted in my previous post on the topic, the Yes campaign was tired and soporific. I’m trying to place an op-ed on the issue (if I don’t succeed, I will probably just bung it up on CT), so will have more to say about this later. But for the nonce, let me just note how appalling some of the responses from politicians in “other EU member states”: – not so much ‘the people have spoken, the bastards,’ as a Brechtian ‘let us elect a new people.’ In particular, German parliamentarian Axel Schäfer’s comment that “With all respect for the Irish vote, we cannot allow the huge majority of Europe to be duped by a minority of a minority of a minority,” would have a bit more credibility if, you know, the majority of the majority of the majority had been given a chance to vote on the Treaty themselves.


by John Holbo on June 14, 2008

In Plato’s Symposium, Alcibiades compares Socrates to ‘those busts of Silenus you’ll find in any shop in town’. You ‘split them down the middle’ and figures of gods are inside.

Obviously this is going to be something like a Russian nesting doll. Maybe exactly like one. I have seen a lot of Greek art and artifacts. I’ve seen, for example, drinking cups that are ugly Silenus on one side, beautiful Dionysus on the other. But I’ve never seen an ancient Greek Silenus nesting doll. Have you? What, exactly, were they like? Which gods were inside? Surely just Dionysus. If they were available in every shop, at least a few should have survived. Popular craft forms don’t usually just blink out of existence. They evolve down the centuries So where can I see one?

Defending Rachel Carson: the last word

by John Q on June 14, 2008

The Prospect article defending Rachel Carson I wrote with Tim Lambert kicked off a lengthy round of blast and counterblast in the blogosphere. Some of the response did little more than illustrate the continuing gullibility of the RWDB segment of the blogosphere, notably including Glenn Reynolds (start here). The more serious discussion began with links from Andrew Leonard at Salon and Brad Plumer at TNR, and a reply from Roger Bate, claiming that we had greatly overstated his links with the tobacco industry (Tim Lambert responded here and Andrew Leonard here and here, with plenty more evidence on this point). A further piece makes the claim (which I have no reason to dispute) that British American Tobacco has now switched sides and is arguing against DDT use in Uganda.

Through all this sound and fury, some progress was made. No one even attempted to defend the claim that the use of DDT against malaria had been banned, or the outrageous lies of Steven Milloy (still employed by Fox News and CEI, despite his exposure as a tobacco industry shill) who blames Rachel Carson for every malaria death since 1972. It even turned out that the much-denounced decision of South Africa to abandon DDT use (reversed when malaria cases increased because of resistance to the pyrethroids used as alternatives) was not primarily due to environmentalist pressure. As Bate noted in his reply, the main factor behind the decision was the unpleasant look and small of DDT sprayed on hut walls, which often led to repainting or replastering. A minor, but still striking point, is that DDT continued to be used for public health purposes in the US (against plague-bearing fleas) even after the 1972 ban on general use of the chemical, and is still available for these purposes if needed.

Update:Absolutely the last word Via Ed Darrell a quiet victory for friends of Rachel Carson with the abandonment by Senator Tom Coburn of a block on the naming, in her honor, of the post office in her birthplace. It appears that the campaign of denigration against Carson (and, by implication, the environmental movement as a whole) has become untenable.

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