Thursday, May 31, 2007

Seen on the street.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

A football program with a university attached to it?

This rightfully ought to wreck Notre Dame's academic reputation:
For the past few decades Notre Dame has had one of the few economics departments where grad students interested in non-mainstream topics could study and find advisers for their dissertations. But the faculty's heterodox focus froze it out of the top-ranked journals, which generally don't accept non-neoclassical work, and resulted in a low ranking. In the early part of the decade, as Notre Dame pushed to raise its national stature, the department's poor ranking came under increased scrutiny, and in 2002 a blue-ribbon committee was commissioned to make recommendations aimed at raising its reputation.

"They wanted a more highly ranked economics department as part of a more highly ranked university, and as long as we were eclectic we wouldn't do that," David Ruccio told me recently. Ruccio is one of the department's stars, a wildly popular professor who has been teaching intro economics to undergrads for twenty years. He specializes in postmodern economics and Latin American political economy. With his curly white hair and goatee, working-class inflection and ubiquitous Marlboros, he's the very model of the cool, rebellious professor. When I asked him if his wife was an economist, he was horrified: "Oh, God no!" he said. "She's an anthropologist."

Ruccio emerged as de facto spokesperson for his heterodox brethren at Notre Dame. The administration "made a number of threats to close down the program unless we published in the top five journals," he says. "We resisted that. They brought in an outside chair to punish us and then they...decided to create a new 'real department of economics' and make us the department of 'flaky economics.'" One department, which would focus on neoclassical economics, would get the name Department of Economics and Econometrics, as well as the money to hire several new tenure-track professors and the bulk of grad students, and the other, called the Department of Economics and Policy Studies, would be the home of the heterodox economists (who, it should be noted, constituted the majority of the department). Crucially, though, the heterodox department would be frozen out of the graduate student admissions process: Of the five-person graduate committee, four of the seats went to the neoclassical department.

"We opposed the split," Ruccio says with wearied agitation, "the college council opposed the split. Then through a series of machinations, the chair and the president of the university got the academic council to support it. It was very ugly. We know of no other situation in the world where this exists."

And how did they justify the split? "The official line was, These were--let me see if I get this right--'separate but equal.'"

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Heh, as they say.

The Cunning Realist reads Hugh Hewitt and finds the funny parts.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Criminalizing family snapshots.

Your family photos could get you arrested. Just ask one New Jersey grandmother. Via Eszter's Blog.

Markets in everything.

How bad is it in Somalia? Bad enough that people fleeing the capital have been reduced to renting trees for shelter. It's the sort of thing that happens when drug-addled warlords roam the countryside, imposing taxes of 50 percent on aid recipients. And the sort of thing to be expected of a government whose prime minister, Ali Mohamad Gedi, has publicly accused the United Nations agency feeding the country of spreading cholera along with food deliveries. And that's the internationally recognized government, which enjoys U.S. support, although it is widely unpopular in southern Somalia and the capital, Mogadishu.
Rod Norland in Newsweek, via Laura Rozen.

Friday, May 18, 2007

I love the way this looks.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007


Phil Nugent has quite a bit to say about the recently departed Jerry Falwell.
As a sanctimonious mouthpiece for a fraudulent view of Christianity, Falwell was everything his enemies could ever have asked for, partly because the mask started slipping and melting after only a few months in the public eye, and he never did get it on quite right again.
Oh, and that's just a taste of it.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

New blogs.

Anthony McCune is working hard to find some new blogs. If this is a surfer's paradise, I'm forty yards out, looking for the next swell. It looks like a meme carnival.

The current crisis.

There were two terrific posts yesterday at Balkinization on the U.S. Attorneys scandal, one by Marty Lederman and one by Brian Tamanaha, that are not to be missed. And then you really ought to read this post by Lederman about former Deputy Attorney General Comey's testimony today, or just read the transcript (but skip the first eight pages of senatorial bloviating). Incredible.

The elephant in the room.

Charles Pierce:
[T]he biggest problem I have with the ongoing presidential campaign is that it is a context in which the most serious issue arising from the last seven years can't be seriously debated -- namely, the egregiously anti-constitutional expansion of executive power based of legal theories that seem to be derived from whatever Prussia has for magic mushrooms. It hasn't even come up, as near as I can recall, in either debate, and it's manifestly more serious than, say, abortion. It is the central place from which all of the depredations of the Avignon Presidency have issued -- whether that be unlimited warmaking power, the misuse of signing statements, the politicization of the Department of Justice, Gitmo and Abu Ghraib, the old energy task force and on and on. Only by breaking that power, and by burying forever the legal philosophy on which it's based, can you begin to clean up the wreckage. The problem is that there's no way to run for president on a platform of weakening the office. All you can do is say that you'll handle the power better and more responsibly than this guy did -- which is exactly the same as saying your seamanship's better than Captain Joe Hazlewood's is.
Checks and balances. It's silly to expect a President to relinquish the executive branch's power, but when the executive branch is politically weak, one would expect the legislative branch to seize power back. That would require Congress to move beyond investigations to passing reforms. Perhaps this is in the cards. If not, we need to elect better legislators.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Orange cards?

William Birdthistle is thinking about how to improve soccer's rules. If you ask me, the single best improvement would be to let FIFA (or whoever) assign yellow cards for diving after matches end on the basis of reviewing game tapes.


Guidelines for the Treatment of Political Commissars

In the battle against Bolshevism, the adherence of the enemy to the principles of humanity or international law is not to be counted on. In particular the treatment of those of us who are taken prisoner in a manner full of hatred, cruelty and inhumanity can be expected from the political commissars of every kind as the real pillars of opposition.

The troops must be aware that:
1. In this battle mercy or considerations of international law with regard to these elements is false. They are a danger to our own safety and to the rapid pacification of the conquered territories.

2. The originators of barbaric, Asiatic methods of warfare are the political commissars. So immediate and unhesitatingly severe measures must be undertaken against them.
They are therefore, when captured either in battle or offering resistance, as a matter of routine to be dispatched by firearms.
The following provisions also apply:

2. ...Political commissars as agents of the enemy troops are recognizable from their special badge—a red star with a golden woven hammer and sickle on the sleeves.... They are to be separated from the prisoners of war immediately, i.e. already on the battlefield. This is necessary, in order to remove from them any possibility of influencing the captured soldiers.
These commissars are not to be recognized as soldiers; the protection due to prisoners of war under international law does not apply to them. When they have been separated, they are to be finished off. .


EU update.

Germany, behaving badly.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Coming soon, under Manhattan.

A 200-ton, Italian, rock-eating robot.

Thursday, May 10, 2007


Pakistan's nuclear authority has said there is no cause for concern after it published press adverts for information on "lost" radioactive material.

The adverts urged members of the public to inform officials if they found any "lost or stolen" radioactive material.

They were published in major Urdu-language newspapers in Pakistan.

A spokesman for the nuclear authority said that there was a "very remote chance" that nuclear materials imported 40-50 years ago were unaccounted for.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007


Marty Lederman explains how the Bush Administration has been secretly trashing the Department of Justice.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Abortion and Down syndrome.

Until this year, only pregnant women 35 and older were routinely tested to see if their fetuses had the extra chromosome that causes Down syndrome. . . .

About 90 percent of pregnant women who are given a Down syndrome diagnosis have chosen to have an abortion.
NYT. If I recall correctly, more than 10 percent of Americans express pro-life beliefs. Is there some reason to believe that pro-lifers are less likely to be tested for Down syndrome? Maybe they are less likely to give birth after age 35?

In any event, a choice I'm grateful not to have been confronted with.

And many happy returns.

Happy Birthday, Thomas Pynchon.

All that 1066.

The Bayeux Tapestry, animated:

Via Andrew Sullivan.


This is fun, but not a good link to click on if you've got a lot else to do.

Don't let them get to you.

I like Barack Obama's response to Rush Limbaugh's "Barack The Magic Negro:"
HOST: "I have to do this because Rush is on our station and we'll see him tomorrow, have you heard the parody song, 'Barack the Magic Negro'?"

OBAMA: (Laughing.) You know, I have not heard it, but I've heard of it. I confess that don't listen to Rush on a daily basis. On the other hand, I'm not one of these people who takes myself so seriously that I get offended by every comment made about me. You know, the -- you know, what Rush does is entertainment, and although it's probably not something that, you know, I listen to much, I don't --

HOST: But you said not every day, so you do listen a little then, and why wouldn't you?

OBAMA: I don't mind. I don't mind folks poking fun at me. That's part of the job.
Detroit News, via The Plank.

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