June 30, 2005

The 1950s today

David Howard in the New Zealand Herald:

Prime Minister Helen Clark has expressed her preference for removing the Union Jack (correctly the Union Flag) from the design of our New Zealand flag. It is a remarkable prejudice to be found in a prime minister who owes her position to the traditions we have inherited from the British connection.
... snip ...
This shared heritage is both useful and comforting. When we see the Union Jack on a flag we can make certain assumptions about that country: that English will be spoken, that there will be parliamentary democracy with a free press and freedom of religion, that there will be a strong Christian tradition of tolerance and charity, that the rule of law will apply including habeas corpus, that ideals of public service and loyal opposition will be fundamental political concepts.

The first thing a corrupt government would want to do is distance itself from all those positive political values.

What a bizarre argument! Americans will doubtless find this funny in the way they find all worthy Canadian initiatives funny, but the flag-changing movement in Australia and New Zealand really have no greater aim than to have flags more like Canada's. That may seem like setting your revolutionary sights too low, but such are the ways of political change in the Commonwealth.

Posted by robe0419 at 4:52 PM

June 29, 2005


<sarcasm>This is what makes it all worthwhile. The summer days when you swallow your own sweat laced with both sunblock and insect repellant. The days when you promise yourself it will be fun after 5 minutes, and it's still a little bit of a drag at 40. The days you get up at 4.30am to run in the dark in winter.

If you do that you get some rewards. Like this fine trophy. </sarcasm>

If I'd actually been in third place this trophy might mean something slightly more than it does, but I wasn't in third place overall. I was third place in a five-year age group.

(I should have used my new copy stand to take the photo without flash, but I haven't set it up yet.)

Posted by robe0419 at 9:37 AM

June 28, 2005

Supreme Court vacancies

Most all of the speculation about potential Supreme Court vacancies has been about if and when Chief Justice Rehnquist will retire, or whether Sandra Day O'Connor might pack it in at the sprightly age of 75.

Since either or both would very likely be replaced by someone quite conservative, the biggest change to the Supreme Court would come with the exit of one of the liberal justices. Thus, Rehnquist's departure might have the least impact, while O'Connor's "swing vote" departure could be quite important.

The real question is what if John Paul Stevens dies. After all, the man is 85 years old. He's in good health, and has a decent job with good benefits, a relatively flexible schedule, and little physical labor. But really, the force of mortality being what it is, even people in good health can just bite it with little warning at that age.

Public taste and media restraint being what they are we're unlikely to see much speculation on the chances of this happening, and its impact on the Court.

Posted by robe0419 at 12:27 PM

June 27, 2005

Taking my lumps

A week's further reflection on the mini-disaster that was my marathon lead me to think that it was probably 90% a case of "just not my day," and 10% a case of being a little past my peak with the 18 weeks of speedwork leading into the race.

Lots of folks would love to run 3:05, and 3:05 is far, far better than DNF or DNS.

As I feel inspired to think about the summer ahead, and the next attempt at a marathon in Philadelphia in November I'll be keeping the following in mind.

I handle relatively high mileage well, and do well off it. All the best seasons I've had have come off a high mileage base, of at least 75 miles/week. In 1992 (7th form=high school senior, age 17) I dropped my 8km time from 29:low to 27:high in the space of 6 months. I'd stopped growing. I'd been running since I was 11 and doing up to 100km/week the previous year. It's hard to avoid crediting the extra miles for the improvement. I did about 3 months of 120-130km/week before the cross country season, and then did another 6 weeks high mileage aerobic running once cross country had concluded to build up for the road season.

After a couple of bad races in early 1993 I took too much time off and spent the next five years rarely going over 110km/week (70 miles). Results were patchy and inconsistent, and did not fulfil the glimmer of promise of my senior year in high school. 27:high for 8km does not set the world on fire, but when you don't improve on that in the next five years something is not right.

Deciding that if I was going to get out there six days a week for 100km I might as well carry on for at least another 30km/week, I got serious again. Between late 1998 and mid-2000 I worked up to the weeks mileage regularly being between 130km and 160km (dipping down to taper for and recover from a marathon and then taking 3 weeks easy after the road relay season was over to concentrate on exams). Then I put in two months of 100 mile weeks in November/December 1999 and was rewarded with the following revision in PRs in late 1999 and early 2000: 3km 9:38 to 9:12, 5km 17:02 to 16:09, 10km 36:09 to 33:51, 1/2m 1:22:32 to 1:16:42. That made me a believer in what I'd been doing.

Some of my best races have come while just doing aerobic miles, or shortly afterwards. For example, when I took my 5k PR from 17:02 to 16:22 I did it during a 100 mile week. I "tapered" for the race by doing an easy 10 miles the day before. After dropping the mileage I managed to cut a measly 13 seconds off the time. The 3km PR was done 2 weeks after I'd finished the Nov/Dec 1999 mileage buildup, and dropped the miles to 130km/week and started track sessions.

Just this spring, I ran the winter half in 1:20:42, after 3 months aerobic mileage in which I'd averaged 80 miles week (4 weeks at 75, 4 weeks at 82-84, 3 weeks at 90). With the exception of 10 200m strides most weeks and a couple of 5km races in December I'd done very few miles at less than 7 minute pace. But then I got out there and raced at a shade over 6 minute miles.

My best years running have not been continuous seasons, but interspersed with mini buildups. After the Christchurch marathon in June 1999 I didn't race for 8 weeks. I took 2 weeks easy, built the miles back up, and spent most of late July and early-August getting back to 80-90 mile weeks. Then from late August to early October I did 4 races, and ran PRs (or the equivalent) in each one. Same in 1992, after the cross country champs I returned to easy aerobic running, and built up afresh for the road races in September, then another mini-buildup for the next big race in December.

I need to work at different paces to get the best of quality sessions. Staple workouts each week in 1999/2000 were 20-40 minute tempo runs, and shorter intervals (8 x 3 minutes, 4-2-2 with 2 minute recoveries, 10-12 x 2 minutes). It was good to have 6-8 weeks of tempo and marathon paced running in the build-up for Grandma's, but 12 may have been too much for me. Next time I'll mix it up some more.

The best running comes when you can keep up the mileage for a long time.So long as you schedule some downtime into the season, it has been the years when I've put in the miles that have ultimately been rewarding. After the mono, and grad school taking priority for a couple of years I hit 80 miles for a week in June 2004 for the first time in two years. Now I have a year when 80 has been regular mileage, and if I can carry on with that I should be able to see Grandma's as an aberration.

Running at goal race pace is an important part of training When I ran 16:09 it was disappointing not to run 10 seconds faster. But to get that close was the result of running a lot of 76-78 second laps in training. I was able to run a shade over 6 minute miles for 20km all by myself this spring because I'd done lots of 5km tempo runs at that pace. Goal pace training is something I really only have committed to recently, and I need to stick with it.

Hills, strides, stretching, and grass are good for you. In Wellington I could get away with not doing "hill work" since you had to consciously avoid the hills. You can avoid the hills much more easily in Minneapolis. It's not good for you.

When you're young you can get away without doing strides. When you're 30 you can't.

When you're in your teens you can often get away with not stretching. When you're 30 you can't.

Running on grass and dirt lets you increase your weekly mileage tremendously. In my first year in Minneapolis (2000/01) I was seduced by the ease of the flat asphalt paths, and felt sore and bruised at 70 miles week. This spring I felt spry and fit at 100 miles by sticking to the grass when I wasn't doing tempo runs.

Despite the disappointment of Grandma's I think that I should largely stick with what I've been doing. I won't try to do an 18 week buildup again. I will try to mix sessions up over the course of a build-up. Relatively high mileage has worked for me in the past, it should continue to work again.

Posted by robe0419 at 8:33 PM

June 24, 2005

A Jewish Christmas

Great moments in the history of New Zealand-United States relations.

Visiting New Zealander (agnostic, lapsed Unitarian parents): What about Christmas? Do you celebrate Christmas?
American (Jewish): We don't celebrate Christmas. We're Jewish.
Visiting New Zealander: That's funny. All the Jews I know in [Australia and New Zealand] celebrate Christmas.
American: Really. Hmmm ...
Me: The best way to think of it is that Christmas in New Zealand is like Thanksgiving with presents with Memorial Day weather.
Assorted Americans: That's weird.

Posted by robe0419 at 9:29 AM

June 22, 2005


Grandma's was a great marathon. Lovely course. Tremendous organization. However I didn't have a great marathon. Far from it. The self-indulgent reflections on the race are below the fold.

As always the splits tell the story. You can see them in their official glory here.
Here they are with commentary.
1 6:15 6:15 Brakes!
2 12:45 6:30 Now, to average that out ...
3 19:05 6:20 Not quite slow enough, but feeling easy
4 25:29 6:23 "All" I need to do is repeat that for 23 miles!
5 31:47 6:18 Save your energy
10km 39:30 6:15 Just another 3 of those and you're at 40k!
10 1:03:46 24:15 Right on target. And I can still do math in my head!
11 1:10:18 6:32 Don't worry about losing seconds to take water and carbs
12 1:16:48 6:29 Now you are into the territory you know from the 15 mile marathon pace runs. You can do this
13.1 1:24:01 7:13 Right on target! Now to repeat that.
14.1 1:30:28 6:27 After a couple of bad minutes, felt good again
15 1:36:15 5:47 7 seconds over 6:24 pace. Keep focused!
18 1:57:47 21:31 (3 miles) 6:50, 7:10, 7:30. Things are unraveling.
19 2:05:10 7:23 People are really starting to stream past me now. But if I can just keep up 7:30s I can get under three hours?
20 2:13:58 8:48 That drop-out tent looked mighty appealing! But the B&B is 3 miles away. I can drop out there.
21 2:22:35 8:36 Someone (an elite Chinese woman) is having a worse day than me! We swap places for a few miles.
22 2:30:11 7:23 That mile must have been short! Or a little over-ambitious. I feel light headed again
23 2:38:17 8:06 That Lemon Drop Hill is not so bad!
24 2:46:37 8:20 When a medical person at the 24 mile drink stop asks if I want to continue I know that this is an objectively bad day. But I say that I think I will finish. I try not to walk in front of all the people cheering. I am unworthy of their support.
25 2:55:30 8:52 I will not run 9 minute miles! That Twin Cities run last year looks pretty good in retrospect (2:55:55)
26 3:04:02 8:32 Not far now! You can break 3:06
Finish 3:05:39 1:36 WTF?!

The first half, with a couple of minutes of the inevitable feeling that this is not just a training run, felt easy. I felt relaxed and loose. The early tunnel vision that is often a precursor of later problems wasn't there. I was looking around, I was feeling good. I took water at all the stops except 7, and gels at 3 and 11, as I'd practiced on training runs. Just after half-way I had a couple of minutes of not feeling great, but by the 14 mile mark I felt good again. I slipped back a few seconds from half-way to 15 miles, and thought this was just the point where I had to concentrate a little more to keep going. So I picked up the effort a little from 15 to 16, and thought I should have got back to my 6:24 pace. 6:50 signalled things were not going well. I started to feel light headed, so I eased off, and the pace was out to 7:10, and then 7:30. Feeling sick I skipped the gels on offer at mile 17.

The race really came apart between mile 15 and 19, slowly at first as I sunk 20 seconds a mile for 3 miles and then more rapidly in the 19th mile. This did not feel like hitting the wall because I'd gone out too fast, I felt light-headed and weak. The faster 22nd mile, and the 8:06 over the hill from 22 to 23 suggest maybe there was something there, but really they just did me in and I had to walk 50 meters on the downhill just past mile 23.

All in all, it was a long, long way from the 2:47/48 that I'd thought was realistic. After the 1:20:42 half marathon in February, and the solo 1:15:45 20k (in tougher conditions: by myself, hotter, very windy) in early April, 2:48 seemed a realistic goal. I'd done three half-marathon to 15 mile training runs at 2:46 pace, and they'd felt comfortable but I was unsure how that pace would feel at 20 miles, let alone 24. So, I thought that hitting half-way in 1:24 would put me in the position to do a good even race, and if the day was right and I was in good shape maybe even negative-split.

And at half-way it all felt on track, I'd eased off from some slightly too fast early miles and felt I'd got into a good rhythm. And then it all unraveled in the space of 4 miles. I've gone out too fast and hit a wall at 22 miles (Twin Cities 2004) or 24 miles (debut at Christchurch 1999) and I know what that feels like. This wasn't that. This was something else.

Perhaps the humidity, which was apparently relatively high on the Lake Superior shore at that time.

Perhaps I was just slightly overdone. I felt things really clicked about 5-8 weeks ago when I ran the Montreal and Wayzata half marathons as training runs. The three weeks following those I had two workouts that didn't go quite as smoothly, but in the last month the Buffalo half-marathon, and the last long run went smoothly. For Philadelphia, I'm going to do a 12 week buildup, starting in late August, a schedule that fits in well with weather and other things happening.

Perhaps I was a little imbalanced in electrolytes. It's possible I didn't get enough salt in the last few days as I was hydrating.

I had a great spring preparing for this. I felt very fit and prepared going in, and that the plan I followed (Daniels Running Formula, Plan A with a peak of 100 miles) was good. It was challenging but good. The lead-up races showed good progression -- if things were going wrong they would have gotten worse, and they didn't. The fitness is still there (I hope). After some recovery I'll do a 10 mile race in late July and possibly a half-marathon in early August. Sometimes bad days just happen. I can't easily identify what went wrong, and until I've had several bad races in a row I'm not going to say that something systematic was wrong with the training and preparation.

Posted by robe0419 at 4:42 PM

Susan Porter Benson

Susan Porter Benson, author of Counter Cultures, the path-breaking history of department store saleswomen in America has died at the age of 61.

I've probably read Counter Cultures more times than I've read any other monograph. (Saying "book" would be a lie, since there are plenty of children's books I've read more often!) It was reading Counter Cultures for the first time in 1995 that inspired me to do an essay on the Wellington shop assistants union, that turned into an Honours research essay, that turned into part of my successful applications to graduate school in America, that turned into where I am now. Picking up that book is part of how I came to be where I am, and to do what I do. I could have got to a similar place in other ways, but we don't run through life more than once over, and my reading of that book means a lot to me.

When I finished my Honours research essay (150 odd pages, including appendices) I sent an [unsolicited] copy to Susan Porter Benson. She replied with two pages of thanks and suggestions, and an invitation to meet her if the occasion presented it.

I always hoped that our conference schedules would overlap, or that my current research would take me to Storrs, CT (has anyone ever wished that they could go to Storrs?!) but it never happened and now it never will.

It's very sad that she won't complete the projects she's working on now (family economic decisions in the inter-war era) which are still similar to my own interests, even if I've pushed off in the direction of economic, as distinct from social, history.

Posted by robe0419 at 4:06 PM

June 16, 2005


There was a hilarious exchange on a message board I read about the metric system, and America's half-hearted adoption of the same.

It was hilarious that people could get so animated about a measurement system. Neither side did their cause much glory. Here's a hint to American metric enthusiasts: many of your arguments about why we should adopt the metric system either insult the average person's intelligence (Americans are too dumb to see why metric is best!), or insult commonly held views that America is a great country (It's a cause of our national decline and wastage that we haven't gone metric!).

The debate may be hilarious, but it's well-formed, and its participants agree on its terms. Supporters of retaining imperial measurements often argue, and I paraphrase, that Americans are simple people who know and prefer the mile, the pound, and the fluid ounce. They also argue that the [modified] imperial measurements that Americans use are a key part of our national distinctiveness. [Our???!!! ed. Clearly conflicted, and trying to ingratiate myself with my audience]

The metric system will be a long time coming in America if its organized advocates are its best hope. If metric is the way of the future, the US Metric Association's website is the way of the past. They can't even afford their own domain name!

Metric advocates should give it up with the argument that America should convert because other countries have. That argument didn't work for capital punishment, or slavery, or any other change in American history. The argument that "we should do something because foreigners have done it" works well in countries with manifold insecurities. Not America.

Metric advocates should also acknowledge that the mile, the pound and the fluid ounce that you know so well are perfectly good measuring systems for length, weight and volume. On their own.

The advantage of the metric system is that it scales well, so that it's easy to convert between measurements of vanilla extract (millilitres), the amount of blood in your body or gas in your car (litres) and the amount of water in Lake Superior (litres). Or, to convert between the length of your fingernail (millimetres), a school ruler (centimetres), your height (metres), and the distance between your house and Chicago (kilometres).

If you can work out conversions in imperial units, the metric system will be a snap. Metric advocates should flatter Americans into changing measurement systems, rather than insult them by saying that if you understand imperial, metric will be even easier. Metric: a clever system for a clever people.

Or the republic will fall, and those metric Canadians will take over ...

Posted by robe0419 at 6:05 PM

Bumper stickers

Amy Klobuchar has a lock on a small section of the DFL Senate primary.

That's my observation from noting the number of Amy Klobuchar bumper stickers on nice middle class sedans on the Mississippi river roads the last few weeks. Not a Wetterling sticker to be seen amongst this commuter traffic.

Klobuchar stickers bear an uncanny resemblance to the "Mondale!" stickers that were rushed into production in 2002, with the same font, and same blue background. This suggested that Klobuchar may have the backing of the DFL party elite, and going to her website there is quite the list of endorsements from DFL state house members and senators. And from all over the map too. I was concerned that Klobuchar may run well in the cities and inner-ring suburbs but dissipate outside the 494/694 loop. But she seems to have the backing of DFL members from all over the state. That's promising.

Wetterling doesn't even have a list of endorsements that I could find.

By accident or design the DFL seems to be focusing more on 2006 Senate race than the Governor's race. That's curious, since some political scientists suggest that most voters pay more attention to the Governor's race when they are held together. In this theory, candidates for Senate benefit from being associated with their parties candidate for Governor.

Who will the DFL put up against Pawlenty? Say what you will about Mike Hatch, but he's carried a fight to Pawlenty most of Pawlenty's term. That is worth quite a lot to a party that doesn't hold any other statewide office.

Posted by robe0419 at 9:24 AM

June 13, 2005


Closer. Great play. Less great movie. Jude Law was the problem.

We watched a dvd of Closer the other night. It's the movie adaptation of the Patrick Marber play.

It really is a film of a play. I'm pretty confident in saying that other than the four main characters no-one else speaks. Besides a few scenes in a studio and art gallery, the setting of each scene is largely irrelevant to the development of the plot.

When I saw the play in Auckland I liked it a lot. But the movie left me a little cold. The relationships did not appear plausible, the attraction between Dan (Jude Law) and Anna (Julia Roberts) which subverts the other relationships portrayed doesn't appear real. It wasn't clear that they were really attracted to each other. Or, rather it's not clear that Dan is attracted to Anna, and why he wants to leave Alice. He seems to be doing it on a whim without a lot of inner conflict.

That wasn't the sense I got in the play. In the play, it was really pretty clear that Anna, Larry (Clive Owen in the movie) and Dan are all conflicted people with a bit of baggage, who aren't quite sure where their hearts, minds and loins are taking them.

The problem in the movie was Jude Law. That's a pity, because he's a good actor. His portrayal of the manipulative Dickie Greenleaf in The Talented Mr. Ripley was especially good, and some of his other work has shown a range of acting capabilities.

But in Closer Law is emotionally flat -- he doesn't give Dan the range of emotions that appear to animate him on stage. In the movie it's not clear that Dan is capable of loving or lusting either Anna or Alice, let alone both of them.

It reminds me of the review I saw in The Australian of Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise's performance in Eyes Wide Shut that it made "sex look boring."

Jude Law does the same thing for affairs in Closer. He makes them look boring. In its own way that's quite the achievement, and perhaps socially useful, but it doesn't do justice to the script he was paid to portray.

Posted by robe0419 at 4:59 PM

Five day "forecast"

Grandma's marathon is now just five days away.

If Duluth was most inland American cities now would be the time that anxious runners could look at the forecast and start making some kind of mental preparations for the weather ahead. 45 and cloudy, yippee! Or 80 and sunny, holy shit!

Unfortunately Duluth sits beside the largest lake (by surface area)body of inland water in the world. This has two effects on the weather, familiar to those of us who grew up beside the largest body of water in the whole wide world. First, the weather can vary wildly and quickly. Secondly, the weather close to the water can be cooler and windier than the weather just a few miles further inland.

For this reason I put little to no stock in what is currently forecast for Duluth: overnight low of 54 for Friday night and high of 77 on Saturday. That isn't to say that I won't look at the weather channel every day between now and then to see the updated forecast, but just to bemuse myself at how the forecasts five days oscillate around.

Basically I'm just going to wake up and see what the weather is like on Saturday morning at 4.30am. And then know that even that might change significantly in the next six hours.

Posted by robe0419 at 3:07 PM

June 9, 2005

Aqua jogging for horses

Luckily I've never had to experience the frustrating and scenically boring experience that is aqua-jogging for injured runners. But I've heard enough about it that I was able to laugh at this story on the local NBC station about aqua jogging for horses. Horses apparently get the same benefits as injured runners from the pool:

The pool provides a place to train and work the lungs without the pounding on the legs.

Posted by robe0419 at 7:10 AM

June 8, 2005

Grades and summer deadlines

Right now I'm feeling a little of the "Summer Vertigo" that Kieran Healy describes so well, and that afflicts others too. Gallows cameraderie!

In category 1 (Stuff you should be finished with already) I have a manuscript that got a reasonably positive revise-and-resubmit a couple of years ago that I couldn't revise in time for their deadline. I thought then "when I'm ABD I'll have time to revise this." Even then I knew that was optimistic, but it seems even more foolish now. And then there's personal stuff like doing my photo albums from my three-month excursion through Australia, Vietnam and America from five years ago ...

Category 2 (Stuff that’s been on the back-burner for a while, but is doable now you have some time) is spending sustained time on the dissertation rather than little bits of time in between other activities.

Category 3 (Fantasy projects) is remarkably empty. The weight of doing the other stuff has beaten the imagination out of me!

Right now I'm deluding myself into thinking that the month after the marathon will be unusually productive because I'll just be jogging around for 30-60 minutes a day, rather than spending 90-120 minutes out there each day ... We'll see how that works!

Posted by robe0419 at 11:38 AM

June 6, 2005

Things to read together

Articles that unintentionally complement each other.

(1) In the Star Tribune they report that J.C. Penney is trying to reinvent itself, and shrug off that image which had people saying "I wouldn't be caught dead wearing J.C. Penney clothes." (See also here)

(2) The New York Times tells us (so it must be true?) that

Social class, once so easily assessed by the car in the driveway or the purse on the arm, has become harder to see in the things Americans buy. Rising incomes, flattening prices and easily available credit have given so many Americans access to such a wide array of high-end goods that traditional markers of status have lost much of their meaning.

Posted by robe0419 at 4:00 PM

If you keep going round ...

This ad appears in a recent issue of Time magazine.

My interest was piqued by the appearance of New Zealand in the ad. When you grow up in New Zealand you learn to spot a "Z" (that's Zed, not Zee, by the way) in a page of text within 5 seconds.

The point of the ad is that those warm, cuddly and cheap Canadian pharmacies might be selling you drugs from other places. Places that sound far away or dangerous! Or both. Those foreigners might kill you! Or make you sick.

It's both hilarious and insidious at the same time. Of all the countries they mention, I might be worried by pharmaceuticals from China or Vietnam. Might. I just don't know. I guess I'd trust the judgment of the Lonely Planet guides on what to do when sick in those countries.

But the other countries? Israel? Guess that conspiracy theory about all the lobbyists in Washington being intertwined must be wrong if the drug companies put up Israel as an example of places making dark, dirty, dangerous drugs.

It's insidious because the idea that drugs from foreign countries are somehow dangerous preys on all the baseless ignorance a lot of Americans have about the rest of the world.

A word to those people: to get to China, Vietnam and New Zealand it's actually quicker to head west. Don't buy drugs from companies that don't know basic geography. They're trying to scam you!

The final irony in the ad is that the reason American drugs are meant to be so much safer is because of the government approval process. So much for companies being responsible because it's in their own self-interest.

Posted by robe0419 at 1:37 PM

June 4, 2005

nous sommes des fraudes

lindie emails me with the following message:

Subject: hello
Message: je rentre en contacte avec vous afin d'avoir de votre part une assistance
de tres grande importance, car je vous estime digne de confiance.
Je me nome koukebene Lindie, l'épouse du défunt Benoît Koukebene qui était
l'ancien ministre des ressources minérales du Congo Brazzaville pendant
la période du Président Pascal Lissouba avant que son régime ait été renversé
il y a quatre ans. Sur le 16ème vers 2002 mon mari était malade et il partit
en France pour le traitement et plus tard est mort du cancer et il a été
enterré. Pendant sa tenure mon mari a fait la déposition de la somme de
$8, 500,000(huit million cinq cents milles dollars américains) de l'attribution
du pétrole brut qui lui a été donnée par le gouvernement, cet argent était
la société de fiducie fiduciaire logée dans une compagnie de sécurité ici
Abidjan Cote d'ivoire car des objets de valeur de famille et l'expédition
ont été voulus en ma faveur entant qu'au près des parents.

Let me guess! Someone died. Their money is sadly tied up in some African country. But if I give them my bank account number they'll give me a cut for helping them get the money out.

Does anyone know how to reply to "Lindie" in French? And shouldn't it be "bonjour," instead of hello?

Posted by robe0419 at 4:46 PM

June 2, 2005

Comparative Labour History

The latest issue of Labour History (Vol. 88. Not yet posted at History Cooperative) is a bumper one. At least for me.

Following on from their November 1996 issue comparing Australia and Canada, the latest issue looks at labour history in Australia and the United Kingdom. This is complemented by an article by Melanie Nolan summarizing comparative research in New Zealand labour history. She kindly has a paragraph about my own work on department stores in New Zealand and the United States. Always nice to be cited.

As if that wasn't quite enough to keep me reading, there's an article by Miles Fairburn and Stephen Haslett arguing that traditional explanations for why the New Zealand Labour party didn't win office until 1935 are wrong. The working class did not unite behind Labour, making the 1935 win a matter of picking up the small businesses and farmers; Labour had also to secure the skilled working class who were not supporters of it in the early twentieth century. As well as turning over the traditional argument Haslett and Fairburn develop a model for estimating correlations when one variable is measured at an individual level (occupation) and another at block level (voting behavior).

Today the latest issue of the Journal of Economic History arrived, bearing Jason Long's long awaited article on rural-urban migration and socioeconomic mobility in Victorian Britain. He finds (not a surprise) that mostly the people who could benefit from migration did, and others stayed home, though there were some inefficiencies in the labour market. Long makes use of the complete-count 1881 British census data, which you too can use if you have the need.

Posted by robe0419 at 12:52 PM

June 1, 2005

Random reflections from the road

I am back from the jaunt to Buffalo (NY) (not Buffalo, MN which one friend who has clearly lived too long in the state of Minnesota thought).

More random observations from the road may follow at a later date, but for now ...

  • Putting freeways through the middle of cities has ruined many an American city. Unfortunately after the fiscal bonfire that was the Big Dig the chances of similar projects along the Lake Erie shore are slim to none.
  • The Buffalo marathon and half-marathon. So much potential. Not quite complete follow-through. First time in years and years that I have been sent the wrong way in a race. The mile markers were vaguely accurate otherwise. Nice t-shirts. The race was marshalled, not by volunteers with some interest in the sport, but beefy cops (some smoking cigars!) who were probably getting paid too much for the indolent way they carried out their task.
  • At Ryan's Steak House in Elkhart (IN) there were signs in the men's toilets that said "Ask how your church can become church of the month." It wasn't clear to me whether they were being supportive of religion, or by the placement in the toilets, slyly dismissive ...
  • The Wisconsin Union Terrace. Could it be more perfect than to be having lunch on a day when it was sunny, calm, 72°F and we were able to get a table right near the water?
  • A vacation from news is a good thing every now and then. And then to turn on NPR again the day Deep Throat was revealed. Good timing!

I trust all regular [American] readers enjoyed their Memorial Day holiday, and readers elsewhere enjoyed whatever Bank Holiday or Queens Birthday (observed) they might have had.

Posted by robe0419 at 10:00 PM