Sunday, 27 July 2003

Things I learned this weekend

I pride myself on trying to learn something new every day. This weekend was a particular bonanza of new factual information—some significant, some not. I present it all and let you decide what’s important and what isn’t.

  • Ypsilanti was originally called “Watertown,” but was renamed in honor of a hero of the Greek revolt against the Turks.
  • Talent at volleyball is apparently not genetically-determined.
  • Ypsilanti’s student ghetto is less impressive than Ann Arbor’s—but somewhat more like a real ghetto.
  • Eastern Michigan University’s PhD program in psychology is only three years old.
  • It’s hard to identify words that rhyme with statistical terms.
  • Some peoples’ buttocks are apparently located half-way up their backs.

And, a few unanswered questions:

  • If you redact 28 straight pages from a report, and everyone with half a brain already knows what those 28 pages say, what exactly was the point of the exercise?
  • If Miller High Life is the “Champagne of Beers,” what is the Cold Duck of beers?
  • Why do women travel in pairs?
  • Is Bob Graham really running for president, or is this just an elaborate joke that nobody has let me in on?

Critiquing the proposed EU constitution

James at OTB links to a Washington Post op-ed by George Will that argues that the proposed European Union constitution is fundamentally flawed. Will’s central point:

The more detailed a constitution is in presenting particular political outcomes as elevated beyond the reach of changeable majorities, the more quickly it is sure to seem dated.

The more quickly, too, it is sure to feed extremist sentiment from those effectively disenfranchised by the enshrinement of certain ideological predispositions in the constitution. In other words, this constitution, by placing so many societal choices beyond the realm of regular political debate, is a recipe for the continued growth of the anti-democratic neo-Fascist movement in Europe—no doubt precisely the opposite goal to that of Valery Giscard d‘Estaing and his fellow delegates to the convention.

Not that this phenomenon is unique to Europe. The persusal of many a state constitution in the U.S. will find enshrined social and economic rights for many different groups in society.