Posted by: Patrick Allen Foster | September 17, 2013

List of Links for Tuesday: Quebec, Summers, the Naval Yard, and so on

Quebec 1995 Referendum Results

1. Steve Saidemen has some thoughts on politics in Quebec. I found this bit interesting, from a game-theory, political strategy perspective: “the way the ridings (districts) are drawn in Quebec, Montreal is under-represented. Combine that with the ‘safe seats’ where the Anglophones have local majorities on parts of the island of Montreal, it means that Montreal is almost entirely irrelevant for provincial campaigns. For referenda, it is different, because then Montreal is a big hunk of votes. And that leads to a real conflict between the short term and long term interests of the Parti Quebecois — the strategies to win elections to run the place compete pretty directly with the requirements to win an independence referendum.”

2. Lawrence Summers has withdrawn his name from consideration for being the next chairman of the Federal Reserve. Huh. I was not expecting that. I won’t say I’m displeased, but I am surprised.

A number of stock markets rose after the news broke that Summers had withdrawn. Heh.

For analysis of how this came to be, see David Graham in The Atlantic (“How a Small Team of Democrats Defeated Larry Summers—and Obama”), Peter Beinart at the Daily Beast (“Rising Left in the Democratic Party Killed Larry Summers’ Fed Chair Chances”), and Massimo Calabresi at the Time “Swampland” blog (“Three Reasons Summers Didn’t Get the Job”). See also this post by Scott Lemieux.

3. No doubt inspired and energized by the successful recall campaigns against two state senators in Colorado earlier this month, gun rights supporters in Nevada are contemplating a recall campaign against Democratic State Senator Justin Jones over his support for a background check legislation. Joshua Spivak explains why an attempted recall in Nevada is going to be more difficult than the recalls in Colorado.

4. At Crooked Timber, Harry Brighouse on income inequality and college tuition. As Prof. Brighouse notes, highly selective education is a positional good, a signal, and sometimes a ticket for entry into exclusive networks. Therefore, it is entirely rational for parents to bid up the price of spots at elite colleges. (That doesn’t mean we have to be happy about the results of this bidding war, or the system more generally.)

5. Good news, mostly: “Mortality Rate for Children Under Five Reduced by Half Over Last Two Decades.” According to a joint report by the United Nations Children’s Fund, the World Health Organization, and World Bank, “about 6.6 million children died before reaching their fifth birthday in 2012 compared to 12 million children who died in 1990.” Voice of America has more here. An excerpt:

The leading causes of death among children under five years old include pneumonia, prematurity, birth asphyxia, diarrhea and malaria. Globally, WHO says about 45 percent of under-five deaths are linked to under-nutrition.

The report says about half of under-five deaths occur in only five countries-China, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, India, Nigeria, and Pakistan. It notes sub-Saharan Africa is the region with the highest child mortality rates in the world, with 98 deaths per 1,000 live births.

(Here is a link to the report itself.)

6. I don’t have much to say about yesterday’s shooting at the Washington Naval Yard, but the Washington Post and the New York Times are doing a good job with updates.

I do think that USA Today was being a bit crass and tactless with their front page this morning, blaring the headline “AGAIN” — shouldn’t the story be covered on its own grounds, at least at first, without being immediately fit into a ready-made narrative? The headline strikes me as in poor taste.

Also, Reddit has made good on a promise to ban amateur manhunts.

7. In Russia, a “passionate argument” over Immanuel Kant led to a fistfight, which ended when one of the philosophizing fistfighters pulled an airgun and shot the other man in the head. (The man who was shot survived and “hospitalized with injuries that were not life-threatening.”) According to AP, “It was not clear which of Kant’s ideas may have triggered the violence.” Anderson, Eugene Volokh, Tyler Cowen, and Michael Munger all have posts on the story.

The jokes practically write themselves.

(Reuters notes: “Kant lived in Koenigsberg, which is now the Russian city of Kaliningrad…”)

8. On a related note, here are some philosophical Chuck Norris facts. A few of my favorites:

  • Chuck Norris can stand in the same river twice.
  • When Chuck Norris tells a meta-narrative, everyone believes it.
  • Chuck Norris knows exactly how many grains make up a “pile” of sand.
  • When Nietzsche’s demon told Chuck Norris he would live his life over again and again, innumerably, he roundhoused the demon in the face for interrupting him in his loneliest loneliness. The demon called off the eternal recurrence to avoid eternal roundhousing.
  • Chuck Norris has synthetic a priori knowledge that he can kick your ass.
  • Chuck Norris can tell the difference between indiscernibles.

9. “Australian Wild Pig Drinks 18 Beers, Gets in Fight with Cow”: “A feral pig ransacked a campsite and drank at least 18 cans cans of beer before getting into an altercation with a cow in Australia. The incident, which happened in a remote area of Western Australia at the DeGray River rest area, prompted officials to warn campers to keep their food and alcohol secure. … The pig was last seen lying beneath a tree, potentially nursing a hangover.”

(H/T: Judge Kopf.)

Image Credit: Map of the 1995 Quebec Referendum results by provincial riding. Red colours indicate No votes, blues indicate Yes votes, with darker hues indicating higher percentages. Map by or Earl Andrew, 2008, and released into the public domain by the author. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

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