Assimilated by the Borg

by John Q on July 12, 2013

Following up on Chris’s 10th anniversary post, I thought I’d add my own recollections of the early days of Crooked Timber. Back in 2003, there weren’t many blogs around – few enough that you could keep up with all of them, or at least all that mattered.[^1] So, from July of that year, I rapidly realised that all my favorite blogs were disappearing, assimilated by the mysterious Unicomplex that was Crooked Timber. It soon became apparent that resistance was futile, so when I got an invitation to do a guestblogging stint at the end of 2003, I grabbed it with both hands, and refused to let go when my stay came to an end. So, I became the 13th guest at the supper, and have stayed ever since.

John and Belle followed a little later, bringing us to the size of a rugby team, where we stayed for a long while. This was the 2004 lineout

Crooked Timber has been a great experience for me, and I’d like to thank my fellow Timberites, past and present, and even more, our readers. I tend to mix it with the commenters more than most, and I’ve got a lot out of that, so I’m sure they won’t be offended if I thank especially the much larger group of people who read the blog, but don’t take an active part. I meet CT readers in all sorts of contexts, and the positive responses I’ve had are a big encouragement to carry on.

[^1]: A situation that seems to be returning, at least as regards independent blogs like this one.



Eszter Hargittai 07.12.13 at 10:49 am

Yay, love the graphic! And the sentiments. And I agree that there are fantastic readers and commenters around here.


Chris Bertram 07.12.13 at 11:32 am

Ah, so my post was inaccurate John. I thought you were a bit later, apologies, it is hard to remember this stuff.


js. 07.12.13 at 4:27 pm

Wow, that diagram makes no sense at all. Are all of the players on one team? (And if so, why are they wearing five or six different colored jerseys?)

…And yes, I don’t know the first thing about rugby.


Kieran Healy 07.12.13 at 6:00 pm

The diagram makes perfect sense. Players form a single team but, their jerseys signify home or adopted country as appropriate (with some exceptions). Ordering is standard, with the front row of Davies (loosehead), Bertram (tighthead) and Quiggin (hooker), second row forwards H. Farrell and Barlow (locks), Weatherson (blindside flanker), Holbo (openside flanker—or wing-forwards if you prefer), and Schwartzman at number 8 (number 8). On the back row, M. Farrell at scrum-half (half-back), Runnacles at fly- (or outside- or out-) half (i.e., first five-eighth), on the three-quarter line are centres Hargittai (inside, or second five-eighth) and Waring (outside, or center), and wingers (outside backs) Brighouse and Mandle, with myself at full back. Simple.


Trader Joe 07.12.13 at 6:31 pm

What I’d like to know is why JQ placed Maria at Hooker*, she’d hardly seem the type.

Likewise he put himself at Right Wing wing clearly the least desireable position for any CT regular.

*For those not up on Rugby League each position has both a number and a name which is constant on all teams – the name associated with jersey number 9 is the hooker and that position is usually responsible for organizing a defense to stop an opponent if they try to ‘hook’ around the edge of the scrum – a bit like middle linebacker in American Football. Whilst no doubt plenty of hookers have availed themselves of hookers they need not be hookers to play the position.


js. 07.12.13 at 7:16 pm

I now realize what it must have sound like when I try to explain cricket to some of my (American) friends. That the bottom of the diagram represents the front of the field was a revelation, in any case (seems a bit backwards if you ask me).


Trader Joe 07.12.13 at 7:33 pm

Indeed anyone who doesn’t know their Silly Point from their short leg is bound to hit a slip when running for cover.

P.S. England looked quite stout this afternoon, the tourists from down-under will need to be quite aggressive if they hope to give chase


Eszter Hargittai 07.12.13 at 7:51 pm

Having watched some Australian rugby (granted, not for more than a couple of minutes), I’m surprised they’re not all within about 1 cm2 of each other. Glad though.


John Quiggin 07.12.13 at 8:06 pm


Kieran (at full-back) picked the positions. On this layout, I’m hooker, Maria is scrum-half, and Jon M is right wing.

Also, “Rugby” refers to Rugby Union, while, in Australia at least Rugby League is called “League”.

BTW, we are now sized for an Australian rules team, with a couple of reserves. I bags rover.


Trader Joe 07.12.13 at 8:50 pm

I would have figured this was more of a Union than a League crowd, but my word play wouldn’t have worked had I looked at that way. The difference in numbering is curious though.


TheSophist 07.12.13 at 9:52 pm

As I was on vacation (and consciously avoiding the internet) during the original anniversary thread, let we use this post as my opportunity to sincerely thank all of the CT authors (and many of the commenters) for the many, many things that they have taught me over the years. I say little on here, but read much, and learn much. Thank you.

And, regarding rugby (both union and league) isn’t the hooker so-called because his (or her) task is to hook the ball backwards when it is thrown into the scrum? I remember being a pre-teen hooker – at that age 90% of scrums collapse, and so I would spend one afternoon a week being buried under my larger classmates. The team’s fullback was one Jonathan Webb, who went on to, well, be fairly good, but I certainly wasn’t.


TheSophist 07.12.13 at 10:38 pm

Addendum to my last: I was introduced to China Mieville here. For that alone my gratitude is boundless.


floopmeister 07.13.13 at 12:25 am

Ok so it’s rugby then – I was trying to work out why the goal posts went up over the crossbar…


js. 07.13.13 at 2:57 am

Indeed anyone who doesn’t know their Silly Point from their short leg is bound to hit a slip when running for cover.

Well, if they’re running for cover, they’ve already got some problems. And yes, England are sitting pretty at the moment.

On a barely more relevant note, it doesn’t inspire confidence that what “rugby” refers to is in dispute!


Layman 07.13.13 at 12:39 pm

Speaking as a Yank, and therefore a layman, rugby is a great sport, and it’s rugby; whereas rugby league is a great sport, but, well, not rugby. And Footy? What’s with that?


John Quiggin 07.14.13 at 2:09 am

“Football” is the subject of bitter, if trivial, dispute in Australia. Supporters of Association Football (aka soccer) have tried to claim sole rights to the term, with some, but not much, success. “Footy” is everywhere used for the dominant code, (Rugby League in NSW and Queensland, Australian Rules elsewhere). The general tendency now is to refer to sports by the name of the league. (AFL, A-League and so on).


minnesotaj 07.15.13 at 7:42 am

It’s been a great ten years–though according to the GOOG, I’ve only been lurking for 9 of them. Love that you have Brighouse as left wing (though I suspect he is not, on-the-whole, the “left-winger” here). Hope to enjoy 10 more years of contributions… and, you know, lurking (with the occasional non-academic commentary).


AlanDownunder 07.16.13 at 5:55 am

No no no. Farrell plays 10, or 12. For England and Lions. Good kicker.


Will 07.17.13 at 9:25 pm

I’ve never commented at CT, but have read it regularly since 2005, and, for me, it’s still probably the most interesting blog out there. Congratulations to you all!

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