Re: ISIS

1

This is just as ignorant, because I can't remember specifics without googling and I haven't. But you get into problems when the natural resources (oil, water) are disproportionately controlled by one or another ethnic group.

Anyway, ISIS specifically isn't making an ethnic pitch, aren't they literally attempting to establish the Muslim-world-wide Caliphate?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07- 6-14 5:39 AM
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No it's not obviously a terrible idea. It's going to happen anyway in the case of Iraqi Kurdistan, because, against all the odds, the government there has got the Turks on board. They may well add Syrian Kurdistan in due course. Peshmurga are the most effective military in the region (except presumably the Israeli, Turkish and Iranian armies, who are sitting this one out.)

Isis, OTH probably won't be able to hold onto their "caliphate" for long; it will most likely collapse internally. What happens next there is unpredictable, but it's unlikely that a stable new state will emerge, because without Isis there's no obvious candidate to run it.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 07- 6-14 5:40 AM
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Oh good point on the resources.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07- 6-14 5:41 AM
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What happens next there is unpredictable, but it's unlikely that a stable new state will emerge, because without Isis there's no obvious candidate to run it.

Would it help if we bombed it?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07- 6-14 5:42 AM
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No. (Short Answers to Simple Questions)

"al-Baghdadi" would probably love you to bomb it, it would prolong his life expectancy for years.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 07- 6-14 5:50 AM
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Well, what can I bomb?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07- 6-14 5:57 AM
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At the risk of sounding like Bob reading Benedict Cumberbatch Anderson, nations are mostly just imagined communities, right? And one of the problems with those nations is that very few of their residents imagine them to exist in a way that's useful (that's a pretty squidgy word, but I think you know what I mean). Put another way, those nations were, to an extent greater even than is the norm, imposed on their residents by outsiders, and thus they're quite likely to disintegrate. The fact that outsiders of various stripes -- and maybe some residents as well -- hope they'll remain stable, for both good and bad reasons, doesn't seem to help very much and might actually hurt quite a bit.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 07- 6-14 6:02 AM
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On the one hand yes the ME is full of colonial boundaries that are perhaps arbitrary and absurd. On the other, the sanctity of borders is a pretty good principle when the mechanism of change is warfare.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 07- 6-14 6:02 AM
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Yes. Both 7/8 make sense.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07- 6-14 6:03 AM
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(I appreciate the kid gloves.)


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07- 6-14 6:04 AM
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8. Nevertheless, there comes a point where the war is happening anyway and changing the borders (Yugoslavia, Austria-Hungary, East Pakistan) is the most effective way to resolve the war.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 07- 6-14 6:10 AM
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That said, I wouldn't be surprised if in 5 years or so the borders of Syria and Iraq look very much like they did 5 years ago, minus Kurdistan, simply because there is no credible political alternative leadership in the regions which might otherwise secede.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 07- 6-14 6:14 AM
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If Heebie wants to bomb somewhere I suggest Riyadh.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 07- 6-14 6:18 AM
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No one ever expects me to bomb them!


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07- 6-14 6:22 AM
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I mean, me personally. Me as an American, probably people have their guard up.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07- 6-14 6:22 AM
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I agree with 11.

(But I think it's easy to decide as if we'll redraw borders, but truth is that other people will.)


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 07- 6-14 6:23 AM
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You personally? Try P/er/ry's residence.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 07- 6-14 6:26 AM
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15: heh


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 07- 6-14 6:44 AM
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I'm in pretty much daily contact with an Iraqi client, a ways north of Baghdad. He tells me that the focus on ISIS is mostly media hype, and that what's actually happening is that the Sunni tribes are sick of the national government, and are looking for local autonomy. This doesn't sound to me like a mandate to redraw national boundaries, but I guess we'll see how it plays out.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 07- 6-14 7:16 AM
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Do the Sunni tribes really think they are the majority group in Iraq? I read that somewhere and I can remember where.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07- 6-14 7:30 AM
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On the one hand yes the ME is full of colonial boundaries that are perhaps arbitrary and absurd

Isn't this also true of, basically, everywhere in the world? Except for a few nations that don't have any land borders (Iceland, NZ, Australia, Madagascar, that sort of thing) pretty much every country has at least some borders that were set arbitrarily and, arguably, absurdly by one colonising or at least external imperial power or another.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 07- 6-14 7:34 AM
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21. Or by victors in wars, like Paraguay and Bolivia. But often these things get a pass after a couple of hundred years if nothing happens to exacerbate tensions in the mean time. Unfortunately the history of the middle east is one exacerbating factor after another.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 07- 6-14 8:10 AM
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Baghdad, like Brussels, is a problem with partition plans.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 07- 6-14 8:19 AM
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Not to mention the Shia areas in eastern Saudia.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 07- 6-14 8:57 AM
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22: How stable were the Ottoman province borders before pre-Sykes-Picot? Even through the Mamluk period? Often regional political identity survives their transition through different states. Look at the history of Bohemia, or the counties of Ireland, or indeed the United States. I thought one of the critiques of Sykes-Picot Iraq was jamming together three Ottoman Vilayets under one more centrally run Iraqi state.


Posted by: conflated | Link to this comment | 07- 6-14 9:21 AM
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I've been thinking more or less the same thoughts you have, heebs. Except in my case I haven't been nearly so tentative in ascribing the ideas to my own ignorance, even though I am no better informed than you are.

So, male confidence in opinionating for the win.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 07- 6-14 9:22 AM
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25. I don't know enough about the history of the carve up, but under the original agreement northern Iraq was allocated to the French sphere and central and southern Iraq to the British. If borders had been drawn along those lines it might have been better in the long run or it might not, who knows? I have no clue why they changed it. Lloyd George didn't know my father so his reasoning is a mystery to me.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 07- 6-14 9:40 AM
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I think Lloyd George was following the cookie monster theory of empire design.


Posted by: conflated | Link to this comment | 07- 6-14 9:45 AM
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"C is for Counterinsurgency, that's good enough for me"?


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 07- 6-14 9:58 AM
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I was thinking the theory was 'weed, whites, and wine,' but then remembered that was Lowell George.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 07- 6-14 10:04 AM
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Biden proposed a strong regionalism plan in 2006. Here it is reviewed in Politico last month.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 07- 6-14 11:12 AM
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Sorry, that's not politico, that's a silly blog post. Here's the Politico review.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 07- 6-14 11:13 AM
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The tl;dr:

- could lead to ethnic cleansing
- in 2006 it didn't poll well with Iraqis
- dividing up infrastructure is tricky

Since the first is already happening and the second may have changed, might be worth working on the third. Of course any workable federation would require new leadership, which is proving tricky.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 07- 6-14 11:17 AM
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30: +1 for the Little Feat reference.


Posted by: mike d | Link to this comment | 07- 6-14 11:19 AM
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34 -- I was thinking there should be a way to work the Unholy Four, John Wayne, and and Dorothy Lamour into a discussion of Iraqi partition, but I'm not smart enough to find it.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 07- 6-14 11:31 AM
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2: It's going to happen anyway in the case of Iraqi Kurdistan, because, against all the odds, the government there has got the Turks on board

They do ??! I didn't know that. I was figuring that one of the biggest obstacles/threats to establishment of an independent Iraqi Kurdistan was the potential destabilization to Turkey. So ... Turkey's on board with Kurdish independence .. as long as a new Kurdistan promises not to make overtures to Kurds in southern Turkey?


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07- 6-14 12:46 PM
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There's a new Kurdistan/Turkey oil pipeline that's made Turkey and Iraqi Kurdistan much closer. Also suposedly Erdogan wants Turkish Kurds to vote for him.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: Pause endlessly, then go in (9) | Link to this comment | 07- 6-14 1:11 PM
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21 is totally true, but for some reason the absurdity of borders thing seems to come up in discussions of the ME and Africa in particular.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 07- 6-14 1:13 PM
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27: If you haven't read A Peace to End All Peace I'd highly recommend it, though I forget what it says about this specific issue. It's a great account of just how ridiculous and arbitrary Sykes-Picot was in general.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 07- 6-14 1:48 PM
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for some reason the absurdity of borders thing seems to come up in discussions of the ME and Africa in particular.

Well, that's where most of the wars are these days.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 07- 6-14 1:49 PM
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If only Sir Alec Guiness from Lawrence of Arabia had made a better king.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07- 6-14 1:56 PM
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And I know you are waiting for me and Benedict Anderson to opine on the Caliphate, although y'all would be better off reading Juan Cole. Anyway, Benny was a Southeast Asian-South America guy.

yes, the Kurds are gonna get a country.

Shia Iraq, Basra-Najaf-Baghdad, really doesn't give a fuck about Sunni Iraq, oh Mosul-Fallujah-Tikrit, except for the shrines, water, infrastructure. Hydropower. That's a pretty big "except" but Maliki/Shia only sent the bottom of his army to hold Sunnistan, and really slighted them of gov't money.

Sunnistan is not viable...unless. Well, most everybody wants Assad gone, although that ain't working out well, and Israel and almost everybody would like Hezbollah gone, so the survivability path for Sunnistan/Neo-Caliphate looks due westerly to me. Tough fucking fight, and unlikely without a lot of outside help.

Of course there is the pipeline, or several, from Qatar to Turkey or wherever that could make Europe independent of Russian gas, but even if that runs through Sunnistan, doesn't look like a big moneymaker.

I would be interested in a traffic analysis. Anbar is one brutal desert, so the traditional trade path looks to be Basra/Baghdad-Mosul-Damascus. And also a war zone.

Wiki: "Throughout most of the period of Ottoman rule (1533-1918) the territory of present-day Iraq was a battle zone between the rival regional empires and tribal alliances."


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07- 6-14 3:00 PM
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And then I poured myself a scotch and soda and slowly became convinced I had had a stroke or something because it tasted nothing like scotch and "something terrible has happened" is always easier to believe than "I picked up the wrong bottle and this is a rum and soda." Rum and soda is not a very good drink.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 07- 6-14 7:57 PM
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You can avoid that problem by not keeping rum in the house.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07- 6-14 8:37 PM
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Or soda. Frankly, I don't see much use for either.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07- 6-14 9:03 PM
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I would perish without soda. Rum, well, it's nice once in a while. Also you need it for bananas foster. I should have had a creme de banana and soda. That would have been less gross.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 07- 6-14 9:47 PM
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I wish there were an alternative to the SodaStream that didn't involve the grossness of the SodaStream.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 07- 6-14 9:49 PM
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40: and those were the areas where the borders were most arbitrarily drawn on the map for the benefit of foreign powers. They look the way most US state borders do: drawn by a person looking at a map, with little regard to social or geographical boundaries and not forged by war.

(Admittedly, some of them are just "we had to draw a pine through the middle of an uninhabited desert." Fair enough.)


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 07- 6-14 9:57 PM
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Maybe I could get a used SodaStream? Would that be ok?


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 07- 6-14 9:58 PM
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You could steal one.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 07- 6-14 10:01 PM
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Not without becoming a stranger to myself.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 07- 6-14 10:07 PM
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I barely ever use mine because I feel the bubbles imparted by a SodaStream are...flabby. Perhaps you could borrow it.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 07- 6-14 10:19 PM
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I read a menu today that described Vichy Catalan mineral water as the "most intense water in the world" and "mind blowing."


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07- 6-14 10:28 PM
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Sounds pretty metal (paradoxically). I assume you had it, along with an entire steer.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 07- 6-14 10:33 PM
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I opted for a beer instead, because weakness.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07- 6-14 10:38 PM
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Are any alcoholic beverages approved by the paleo diet?


Posted by: Buttercup | Link to this comment | 07- 6-14 10:38 PM
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Surely beer isn't.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 07- 6-14 10:41 PM
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I think you can forage for fermented fruit.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 07- 6-14 10:52 PM
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Kumiss, maybe? Fermented mare's milk. No grain involved. And surely someone could invent a cocktail called a Mila Kumiss.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 07- 6-14 11:15 PM
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Pastoralism postdates agriculture, yo.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 07- 6-14 11:23 PM
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Tequila.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 07- 6-14 11:37 PM
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Tequila also postdates agriculture.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 07- 6-14 11:39 PM
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Kumiss occurred to me (not by name) after I retired.

Honey wine?


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 07- 6-14 11:41 PM
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+!


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 07- 6-14 11:41 PM
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Soda syphons are not gross like the SodaStream, but they produce little soda and that expensively.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 07- 7-14 12:55 AM
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60: kumiss does not presuppose pastoralism; even were one a hunter-gatherer, one could sneak up on a wild horse and milk it speedily by stealth before it knew what was happening. The lack of pottery to ferment it in might be a problem.

On which subject, Lewis Dartnell's "The Knowledge" is a terrific book and you ought to read it. Shorter and much more engrossing than Piketty.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 07- 7-14 1:10 AM
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kumiss does not presuppose pastoralism; even were one a hunter-gatherer, one could sneak up on a wild horse and milk it speedily by stealth before it knew what was happening. The lack of pottery to ferment it in might be a problem.

Nah, pottery doesn't necessarily postdate agriculture. I still find the first part implausible, though.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 07- 7-14 1:15 AM
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Mead.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 07- 7-14 1:23 AM
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I still find the first part implausible, though.

Try it yourself on a passing moose.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 07- 7-14 2:28 AM
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49: the problem is where the cartridges are manufactured. I think there might be other cartridge brands, though?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07- 7-14 4:41 AM
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66

"The Knowledge" was a fun read (as fun as any post-apocalyptic piece can be). What I didn't like about it in spite of that was the Golden Age SF-like jumping from really detailed small survival tricks (opening cans) to handwavium like "... you can also use this technique to recreate industrial-level organic chemistry." The further you get in the book the more of that there is.

Don't take the preceding as a pan; there's tons of good and potentially useful information in it, even accounting for his somewhat restrictive initial conditions (an apocalypse that kills most people but leaves all or most of the physical plant intact).

My favorite ah-ha moment in it was about how the developed world contains hundreds of millions of usable small generators: the alternators in cars.

Think of it as a discursive Boy Scout Manual for the Ebola Pandemic.


Posted by: DaveLMA | Link to this comment | 07- 7-14 6:00 AM
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69: It would probably be better to try a musk ox.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 07- 7-14 7:06 PM
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Teo, did you ever go to Meadowcroft?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07- 7-14 7:14 PM
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No, but I would like to some day. It was on the list of potential sites to visit when I did my big road trip, but it didn't make the final list because it's pretty expensive and has weird hours that didn't match up well with my schedule.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 07- 7-14 7:58 PM
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They don't let you dig at the rocks, but they do have an atlatl you can try. I bought the guy's book and am trying to decide whether to read it in a hurry or put it on the list after Les Capital.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07- 7-14 8:09 PM
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Anyway, they really only let you see the dig site for an hour. They try to earn their money with lots of exhibits on more recent history and, for some reason, harness racing. The harness racing exhibit did have a framed newspaper with a headline reading, "The Gay Wizard of York."


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07- 7-14 8:13 PM
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You'd sold me on the Meadowcroft meetup way before 76.last, but I appreciate the extra details.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 07- 7-14 8:16 PM
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I googled it. Apparently, it's a Saturday Evening Post article.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07- 7-14 8:17 PM
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71, it took a while before I realized "The Knowledge" isn't a Neal Stephenson book.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 07- 7-14 8:32 PM
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79: It's much too short for that.


Posted by: DaveLMA | Link to this comment | 07- 8-14 5:07 AM
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