Thursday, 9 September 2004

George Bernard Shaw predicted this

David Janes passes along word that some folks in British Columbia are planning a monument commemorating draft dodgers. Now I’ve seen everything. David responds:

How about a counter-memorial for all black and poor kids who died in their place?

Au contraire. Such daring heroism as making the mad dash across the Ambassador Bridge in the dark of night or through the shadow of the Peace Arch in broad daylight is clearly worthy of commemoration; I mean, it was just like crossing the Berlin Wall.


Nick Troester was outed as a blogger by his department chair. That’s gotta hurt.

On the other hand, I guess blogging is no longer cool when department chairs start doing it…

Forge it real good

This post is by request from a reader. Never let it be said that Signifying Nothing is indifferent to its audience.

Interesting: it seems that at least some of the documents that are raising questions about George W. Bush’s service (or lack thereof) in the National Guard are forgeries (☣ Little Green Footballs).

Incidentally, I duplicated the experiment here with my copy of Word 2002 SP 3 at work, and also came up with an identically laid-out memo. (The date is indented four inches, if you want to try it yourself.) What may be most interesting about this experiment is not the typeface*—although the “smart ordinal” feature is something of a giveaway—but the default margins, which are 1.25 inches on each side in Word, a size that is relatively atypical.

Does this mean the whole story is fake? Probably not. But it does mean that Democratic operatives need to catch up in the forgery department to the French intelligence services.

More elitism

Matt Yglesias semi-defends Harvard from charges of elitism—albeit ones not made in this Gregg Easterbrook essay, which is based on research that concludes that (controlling for a variety of factors) people admitted to Harvard do no better than those who attend “lesser” schools, over the long term (þ Orin Kerr).

I think there is a minor caveat to mention here, however; Easterbrook writes:

Today an Ivy diploma reveals nothing about a person’s background, and favoritism in hiring and promotion is on the decline; most businesses would rather have a Lehigh graduate who performs at a high level than a Brown graduate who doesn’t.

I think that is true for businesses; however, I don’t think that’s true of academic institutions, at least to the same degree. Look at any college catalog or bulletin—for example this one*—and you’ll see the names of the institutions that faculty members received their degrees from (most will also include dates of degrees). So, clearly this is a selling point of the institution—they wouldn’t include this information if nobody cared about it (heck, when I was looking at colleges as a high school junior and senior, I cared about it)—and colleges that can list a lot of Ivy grads in the catalog will probably attract better students, with some minor exceptions. Which actually, in and of itself, might be an interesting empirical question to examine: do students whose colleges whose faculties have more Ivy grads do better in life, ceteris paribus?

Ivory towers

Hei Lun of Begging to Differ has an interesting rebuttal to claims from the left that most people should vote for the Democratic Party out of economic self-interest. His specific rebuttal is to Chris Bertram, but it applies equally to this, rather more blunt, Mark Kleiman postAlex Knapp). Of course, if you’re someone who rejects the idea that social issues are legitimate fodder for political debate (as opposed to simply being expressions of bigotry and hatred), I can see where you might assume that the economic issues are the only ones that matter.

Plus, this passage at the end of Hei Lun’s argument reminded me of this discussion of a Dahlia Lithwick column in the New York Times:

Lastly, the obvious point, which I guess isn’t obvious to Chris Bertram et al., is that calling people who don’t vote the way you want them to vote “stupid” isn’t the best way to persuade them to vote your way in future elections.

Luckily for the Times, and for the Crooked Timberites, I am reasonably confident that their academic discussion of the general stupidity of their less sophisticated brethren (in whose name, after all, they crusade for social justice and the like) will not filter down to the masses. You can only be insulted, after all, if you know you’re being insulted.