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What, you’re going to argue with Samuel L. Jackson? Just vote no on Prop 8. Or, if you don’t live here but know somebody who does and who might vote yes, offer to buy their vote in exchange for peanut butter cookies. Umm, cookies.


RIP Studs Terkel. He was 96. You can hear some of the interviews for Hard Times, his book on the Great Depression, here. And here he is on The Daily Show.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

The worst cold I’ve ever had? The one that left me perched before a roomful of students, unable to make words? I shared it with the wife. So she’s spent her favorite holiday curled up on the couch “watching” her favorite holiday special when she’s ripped from sleep by hack, cough or Sukhee Kang. (Four calls so far today!)  Like all decent people and (irate dinosaurs), she abhors the sexification of Halloween:

Because the only thing she loves more than me is one-third of Europe dead, I dedicate this Google failure to her. It’s comforting to know some things remain sacred.

On this day in 1892, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes was published. Shortly thereafter, the titular brilliant sleuth was pressganged by philosophers into service as Exemplary Non-existent Object. Regrettably, his skill at singlestick did not save him, and poor Dr. Watson was shanghai’d, too. They have served notably as stock examples of things that do not exist, of characters that exhibit contradictory properties (Dr. Watson’s war wound is described as first in his shoulder and then in his leg), and of instances of cases where what we know to be true about the real world complicates how we evaluate what is true according to the story (the speckled band is not a constrictor, and as such, could not have climbed down the rope to bite the victim.)

But leave that aside.

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This clip has been everywhere. But while I’m struggling with a long post about Rashid Khalidi, I thought I’d put up this bit of McCarthyism as a placeholder.

Ari and I covered some basic material with graduate students yesterday, and I ended up having three guidelines for social science analysis in my notes.

  1. Anecdote is not the singular of data.
  2. If you found something surprising, you’re probably wrong (but conversely:)
  3. Don’t believe everything you think.

Feel free to add your own in comments, or to dispute these, or whatever pleases you, as long as it’s nothing to do with the election.

So I watched Obama’s subliminal message to Kill Whitey! last night. And it was great in a high-gloss, reach-out-to-the-undecided-heartland kind of way. But then, I made a really big mistake. I kept the tv on for a few minutes of Larry King and then a few more of Christopher Matthews. I know, I know, bad move. In retrospect, I’m pretty sure that Obama hypnotized me to enter self-destruct mode. If he can get The Man to take himself out, the Army of Black Liberation — made up largely of the Fruit of Islam and the S1Ws — he has waiting in the wings will save ammo on January 20th. Which means that budget surpluses are just around the corner!

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Man, and here I had thought at the time that the title of my earlier post was over the top, but apparently I was just a couple months early. I would advice these gentle folk that there is plenty in the Bible that they were not supposed to do, including:

  1. Slaughter all the first born.
  2. Harden thy heart against the widow and orphan.
  3. Commit adultery and covet thy neighbor’s ass.
  4. Slaughter thy brother and wander the land with a mark upon their forehead.
  5. Put thy God to the test by throwing thyself off the walls of the city.

Though the republic might thank them for the last.

via the godless apostropher.

On this date in 1969, the inaugural message was transmitted on the Advanced Research Projects Agency Network (ARPANET), a packet-switching network developed by the United States Department of Defense.  The internet’s deep ancestor, ARPANET originally consisted of four Interface Message Processors (IMP), which were sewn together by leased line modems that transferred an astonishing 50 kbit per second.  By early December 1969 — two months after the first message was sent — all four nodes of the original network were linked together.

I’ll be honest.  Almost none of the words in that last paragraph make any sense to me.  But the content of the first message may be viewed below the fold.

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On this day in 1966, the National Organization for Women convened its founding conference in Washington, DC. NOW chose as its first president Betty Friedan, author of the The Feminine Mystique, and drafted its “Statement of Principle”. That document charted a centrist path for the organization, explicitly rejecting separatism by beginning with the words, “We men and women”, before calling for equality between the sexes.

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Don’t answer until the end. Also, the bear’s a nice touch.


Careful what you say, kids. Someone might be taking notes.

All ready for tonight’s variety show? Think it’s novel? Adam Serwer says, not so much.

David Schwartz, the curator of the Museum of the Moving Image and their recent Living Room Candidate exhibit, which explores the history of political advertising in presidential elections, says that Obama’s buy isn’t that unusual. In fact, he says that “It was a tradition…candidates used to buy time on election eve,” in half hour slots in order to make their final case. This didn’t end until fairly recently, Dukakis and Bush I were the last candidates to do so in 1988, and Schwartz says the change in dynamic was mostly because of the rise of cable news, which allowed candidates to get large amounts of free TV time. It’s less clear that Obama’s choice is a wise one, Adlai Stevenson bought eight weeks of 30 minute slots to air a series of his speeches when he faced Eisenhower, who relied on short spots. Eisenhower of course, defeated Stevenson. What makes Obama’s buy unusual is that it is that it will be carried on several networks, it’s airing six days before the election, and that it occurs at a time when buying TV time is considerably more expensive.

Just another way in which Obama harks reassuringly back to America’s finest traditions. I like Ike! And, er, Obe.

In withdrawal because CNN doesn’t feature a crawl depicting audience reaction to all of its programming? Then I’ve got some porn for you, a focus group responding in real time to an anti-Obama ad featuring Reverend Wright attacks. The apparent ineffectiveness of this secret weapon surely is great news for John McCain!

Also, if you’re not reading Hendrik Hertzberg’s blog, shame on you.

Bear with me, I have a headache. So, as I understand it, Obama’s plan to tax the really wealthy consists largely (or entirely) of letting the Bush tax cuts expire instead of extending them. * This is derided as a socialism; but aside from the ridiculousness of the difference between Real American Taxes and Evil Islamic Arugula Socialism being 3% and roughly half a billion bucks…. does this mean we were already socialist during the Bush administration before the tax cuts and didn’t know it?

I thought the socialist barricades would come with a little flag to wave.

*This is the killing vs. letting die distinction, but for taxes!

On this day in 1980, Ronald Reagan, during his debate with President Jimmy Carter, suggested to the American people that they should ask themselves a series of questions before voting: “Are you better off than you were four years ago? Is it easier for you to go and buy things in the stores than it was four years ago? Is there more or less unemployment than there was four years ago? Is America as respected throughout the world as it was?” And on and on.

It was a devastating line of attack against an incumbent President. And Reagan, of course, went on to unseat Carter the following Tuesday.

Yesterday, in Canton, Ohio, Barack Obama rolled out his closing argument, highlights of which can be seen below. If you stick around until the 1:45 mark, you’ll hear Obama re-frame Reagan’s central question.

We’ve heard much of this before, but it’s still great stuff. Obama is, to my mind, the best campaigner I’ve ever seen. He has a gift: not just for rhetoric but also for organization, for tactics, for strategy. Should he win [throws salt over shoulder, spits twice, knocks wood, makes odd hand gestures to ward off the evil eye], I have no idea how he’s going to govern — as a cautious centrist, a bipartisan conciliator, a progressive firebrand, or none of the above — because events, more than anything else, will determine that future. In the meantime, though, I’m going to appreciate his gifts for persuasion and hope for the best.

First: I have to write some comments for a session at the Central APA. The paper I’m commenting on is by a much smarter guy, but I’m pretty sure he’s wrong. So this puts me in a weird position: I confidently predict I’ll make my objections and then he’ll respond in a smart and convincing way. So at some future moment I’ll believe that he’s right. But I don’t know the content of his reply, so I’m stuck with my current belief that he’s wrong. I’m reminded of al-Ghazali’s discussion of taqlid (more or less beliefs held out of uncritical emulation rather than reasonable enquiry) in Deliverance from Error: it seems that continued belief is incompatible with the recognition that your belief is of this sort. And yet reading this guy’s paper, I can’t but think that he’s not correct. Ah, the epistemology of everyday life. (Fine, I know about the al-Ghazali discussion only because Gideon Rosen talks about it. Damn, my Islamist cred is slipping away, isn’t it?)

Second: I got a great referee report in the mail today. Refs one and two wrote up careful, thoughtful comments. Referee number three said only: “Interesting. I don’t agree with all of it, but that’s philosophy for you.”



Wire cast campaigns for Obama, via Spackerman.

RALEIGH— Tomorrow, members of the cast of the Peabody Award-winning drama series, The Wire will attend a Backyard Brunch for Barack in Raleigh. Seven of the show’s cast members will visit the Tarheel State in support of the change Barack Obama will bring across the country and in North Carolina.

Chad Coleman who plays Dennis “Cutty” Wise, Deidre Lovejoy who plays Rhonda Pearlman, Jamie Hector who plays Marlo Stanfield, Clarke Peters who plays Detective Lester Freamon, Sonja Sohn who plays Detective Shakima “Kima” Greggs, Seth Gilliam who plays Sergeant Ellis Carver, and Gbenga Akinnagbe who plays Chris Partlow will all appear at the backyard brunch on Sunday.

On Monday, Chad Coleman, Deidre Lovejoy, and Jamie Hector will visit UNC Chapel Hill and Duke University to encourage students to vote early. Early voting in North Carolina started October 16 and November 1 is the last day voters may take advantage of early voting.

I remember well how, on this day in 2007, I logged in to WordPress and started a new blog. Then, fatefully, I let Ari have the keys. In fairness, though, it was mostly Ari’s idea. The rest of this post is pure self-indulgence and a stab at one or two FAQs so I’ll put it under the fold.
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