Caught my eye

by on March 6, 2006 at 1:55 pm in Current Affairs | Permalink

1. Amartya Sen reviews Bill Easterly

2. Peter Leeson argues that anarchy is better for Somalia; most indicators of progress have gone up since the government fell.  This is an excellent paper but I wonder how much "the end of war" drives the results, and is the current situation of warlords really "anarchy"?

3. Unchosen: The Hidden Lives of Hasidic Rebels, the title says it all.  Some might find the text insulting ("…underneath the garb, Yossi was just a guy who liked Adam Sandler movies and country music…") but it offers a fascinating look at how small groups resist pressures for assimilation.  Try also Paul Kriwaczek’s new Yiddish Civilization for a broader historical perspective; Born to Kvetch rounds out the recent trilogy.

4. Which countries are most proud of themselves? Venezuela does well, or poorly, depending on your point of view.

5. Here is a map of where the world’s ships are located (NB: this link doesn’t always work), hat tip to

6. Chris Masse’s yearly Prediction Market Awards.

7. Dave Schmidtz on when inequality matters.  Here is Dave’s new book, Elements of Justice.

8. "Stichomancy," the art of fortune-telling through randomly-chosen book passages.  Check out Caterina’s blog more generally.  She links to this post on turning parking spaces into parks

9. Netbanging: street gangs who slug it out over the Web.

1 Anderson March 6, 2006 at 6:33 pm

“Sortilege” is also used for book-divination, though it refers more generally to the use of lots.

Judge Fernandez of the 9th Circuit is especially fond of the word. All 5 uses of the word in the Westlaw courts-of-appeals database are in opinions by him. He seems to use it especially in the sense of seizing upon parts of a statute in a selective manner:

“Tang entered this country without inspection and she would like to remain. We are unable to say that no provision of law will permit her to do so. That is not before us. What we can say, however, is that no amount of sortilege can turn the plain text of the CSPA into a statute which waives the ยง 1255(a) requirement that an alien be ‘inspected and admitted or paroled into the United States.'” (Tang v. Reno, 77 F.3d 1194 (9th Cir. 1996).)

Judging by the origins of the word “stichomancy,” it refers originally to selecting a verse from the Bible at random.

2 joe o March 7, 2006 at 7:36 pm

In the confessions, St Augustine describes using stichomancy. He even cheats and picks another passage when he doesn’t like the first passsage selected.

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