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Economic crossword clue 

A rare appearance of economics in a crossword. From today’s Guardian: “The deficit say between Dixieland and a piano (5,3)”.

Answer at bottom of today’s postings, with an explanation for those not used to cryptic crosswords.

Acton’s top 100 

A friend has pointed me to a listing of Lord Acton’s hundred best books.

I reckon there are only six books on it that would make a contemporary list. What is interesting, however, is the heavy representation of German political and religious theorists and nearly as many French writers (both in the original, of course). It would be hard to think of any modern Anglo-Saxon politician who had such a thorough grounding in continental thought.

Just rub your hands with glee 

While good things are happening in Boston, here in the UK the Conservative party is once again tearing itself apart.

My trusty guide to UK politics, British Spin, is uncharacteristically tongue-tied: “I wanted to produce a sophisticated, nuanced analysis of the malaise affecting the Conservative party, but after I came up with the mental image of headless turkeys voting for Christmas I couldn’t think of anything else to say.”

I’m just enjoying myself.

Technique v politics 

Jay Rosen, in a long pre-convention omnibus post, makes a telling point about what passes for political discussion in the media:

  I was watching Washington Week Friday night, which this week was broadcast from the Institute of Politics at Harvard. Gwen Ifill, the host; Dan Balz of the Washington Post, Richard Berke of the New York Times and Susan Feeney of NPR, were giving a “convention preview.” Mostly what they meant by this is taking turns at answering the question: what does Kerry have to do at this convention to come out with a win?
  I listened to each of them make their points, which basically meant naming some areas where polls showed soft support, and then turning that into something Kerry “has to do” at the convention. “He’s has to show that…” “He’s got to appeal to…” “He has to get over the hump with…” It’s a discourse anyone who follows politics will recognize.
  Now if four political consultants were sitting around having a conversation about the upcoming convention, they would ask the same kind of question and give the same kind of answers, and cite the same kind of polls, and strike the same tone. To me there is something strange–and very screwed up– about that. And it was accompanied by a strange emotion: I was embarrassed for Harvard that it would host such a discussion, bring students to it, and call it “talking politics.” It isn’t politics. It is just technique.

Crossword answer: trade gap. Dixieland is trad jazz, eg (exempli gratia) is “say”, and a piano is ap.

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