Posted by: Patrick Allen Foster | December 5, 2013

Links and Nuggets of Scrumptious Goodness


So! In the past few days, following the epic victory of Auburn over the Forces of Mordor (aka the Crimson Menace, aka Bama), an inordinate quantity of my time and mental energy have been devoted to pondering the deep philosophical question of whether a one-loss Auburn team should go to the BCS National Championship game in preference to an undefeated Ohio State. (See also here.) Viewed objectively, of course, the prudent course of action might be to wait and see whether Michigan State defeats Ohio State this Saturday, which would render the above question moot.

Mainly, the current situation only makes me look forward more to next year, when we will finally have a playoff system for college football. Not a perfect playoff system, by any means, but a playoff nonetheless.

Consider that Auburn will be playing Missouri in the SEC Championship in a few days. Then consider that last year, Missouri was 5-7 (2-6 in the SEC) and Auburn was 3–9 (0–8 in conference play). For Auburn especially, after a 2012 season that was their worst football season in 60 years, the turnaround has been quite remarkable.

Other items for your consideration:

1. ESPN: workers who were cleaning and repairing the field at Auburn’s Jordan-Hare Stadium on Monday “came across cremated remains near the 40-yard line along the Tigers’ sideline. No one is certain whether the remains are human, but school officials did say bone fragments were confirmed to be within the ashes.”

2. The mid-season finale of The Walking Dead was a brutal episode. For those who have watched it, this episode review by Nate Rawlings and this review at Ordinary Times are worth checking out. (Spoilers galore at the links, obviously.)

3. Robert Kelly has “4 Quick Hypotheses on Why China Suddenly Declared this New Air Defense Zone” in the East China Sea. An excerpt: “CCP ideology since Tiananmen is nationalism, not communism. And Japan is the great foreign enemy in that narrative. The CCP may not want a conflict with Japan, but it’s been telling Chinese youth for 20+ years that Japan is greatly responsible for the ’100 years of humiliation.’ So now the CCP is stuck; they have to be tough on Japan – even if they don’t want to be – because their citizens demand it. The CCP has created an anti-Japanese frankenstein at home that has to be placated. They have to ride the anti-Japanese tiger their education/propaganda has created, or risk a domestic backlash.”

4. Ken White: Douchebaggery Is Not A Zero-Sum Game: “boorish behavior is not binary. People are complex, life is complex, and despite our hunger to see the world in simple terms of white hats versus black hats, sometimes all participants in a social media melee are assholes.”

5. Steve Saideman (emphasis added): “Of all the Amendments to the Constitution, the first is the most important, I think, as it creates boundaries that restrict how much the government can be captured by some groups to be used against others. Freedom of speech, freedom of the press are basic fundamental requirements for democracy. But so is keeping religion out of the government.”

6. At Concurring Opinions, Thomas Healy looks at the proposed federal shield law currently making its way through Congress, with a focus on the bill’s definitions of “journalism” and “covered journalist.”

7. Seattle held municipal elections this past November. This site has a number of maps showing how different parts of the city voted. (H/T: LGM.) Basic background: “The basic battle in Seattle is the wealthy, older center-left establishment (the ‘conservative bloc’) versus the younger, more urban set (the ‘progressive bloc.’)”

Seattle, Washington

The most interesting story coming out of the election was the victory by Kshama Sawant over four-term incumbent Richard Conlin for a seat on the Seattle City Council. Sawant, an Indian immigrant (US citizen since 2010) and an economics professor, is a member of the Socialist Alternative Party. (As far as I can tell, she is the first member of that party to ever win an election in this country. It should be noted that, technically, the nine-member Seattle City Council is a non-partisan body, and City Council candidates’ party affiliations are not listed on the ballot; that said, Sawant hardly makes a secret of her party affiliation, and Wikipedia indicates that most of the other members of the City Council, including the outgoing Conlin, are affiliated in one way or another with the Democratic Party.)

Third party victories in US elections are so rare that every instance of a third-party candidate winning election deserves serious attention. Although Sawant is not the first socialist to win elected office in the US (despite what the Times of India may tell its readers), there haven’t been very many. This piece by Dominic Holden looks at some of Sawant’s “refreshingly blunt” rhetoric and at her “brash” campaign style, which allowed her to appeal to a populist base in Seattle’s central city neighborhoods and to paint Conlin as a “corporate politician,” a business-friendly centrist Democratic incumbent in thrall to wealthy donors and established interests. (Which may not be too far off the mark.) Sawant tapped into the anti-business Zeitgeist and “held the progressive bloc together ably.” (At the same time, we probably shouldn’t read too much into this one data point.)

Winning an election is one thing; governing is another. And now Sawant gets to work with a number of those “corporate politicians” who distrust her and who presumably are already looking for ways to thwart her agenda, which includes a $15/hr minimum wage, rent control, a tax on millionaires, and worker ownership of the Boeing Plant. So, we’ll see how that goes. Still, her victory in itself is both newsworthy and historic.

Incidentally, Sawant earned her PhD in economics from NC State. NC State, of course, is 3-9 in football this season, losing 49-17 against Florida Sate and losing 38-20 against Duke. There, I brought the post back to NCAA football. The circle is complete.


  1. “came across cremated remains near the 40-yard line along the Tigers’ sideline. No one is certain whether the remains are human, but school officials did say bone fragments were confirmed to be within the ashes”

    Hm. Has anyone seen Bama’s starting kicker?

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