[Editor's Note: A longer version of this story will appear in the October issue of IND Monthly.]
You don’t want to see how the sausage is made. It’s a letdown to see behind the curtain as the magician reveals his tricks. If you are an LSU fan who puts the kids to bed with the tale of The Earthquake Game, stop reading now.
For those who don’t know the punchy titles of LSU victories by heart — the Halloween Run, the Bluegrass Miracle — 25 years ago crowd noise from a Death Valley showdown between Auburn and LSU registered on a seismograph across campus. The tale landed on various sportscasts, lists of classic football moments, Ripley’s Believe it or Not! and is among the university’s self-proclaimed greatest moments. To Tiger fans, it is gospel. The earth moved Oct. 8, 1988. It didn’t happen before and it hasn’t happened since. It was The Earthquake Game. However, the quake might not be unique or as impressive as the legend holds.
On that night, the Tigers were down 6-0, trailing SEC rival Auburn. LSU had just lost two straight games and was hungry for an upset; NO. 4 Auburn wanted a purple and gold feather in its bid for a championship. With 1:47 left, LSU faced fourth and 10 at the Auburn 11 yard line. Quarterback Tommy Hodson hit Eddie Fuller in the end zone. The crowd erupted. Strangers hugged. Nearby residents fled their houses as a roar swept across town. Dormitory lights came crashing down in post-game mischief. A typical Saturday night in Death Valley.
The next day, Donald Stevenson, a geologist at Howe-Russell Geoscience Complex, noticed an increase in seismic activity at the exact time the referee’s hands went up to signal the touchdown. (A later account by LSU claims Riley Milner found it Monday morning. Stevenson says he did not know him during his time at LSU.) Stevenson posted the reading outside his office as it was the first time a seismograph caught a football game. Before he left LSU in 1991, ESPN did a piece on it, calling it The Earthquake Game. A legend was born.
The key to the legend is proximity. The tale is the seismograph sat across campus. Stevenson puts the distance between the complex and the stadium at less than 500 yards. There, the Mark Products L-4 C Seismometer, about the size of a can of orange juice, sat on the complex floor. Both its closeness and it being on the floor and not buried increased the sensitivity of the seismograph.
After all these years, the seismogram Stevenson posted outside his office shouldn’t seem like a big deal. It has grown into a beloved — and factual, yet exaggerated — myth.
“It was not big enough to have Mercalli Intensity,” says Stevenson. “It was only recorded by that one instrument because the origin of the vibrations was located close by. If you look at a seismic record from any given day, depending on where the sensor is located, you may see signals produced by passing cars, trucks and trains. ”
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DEC 8 - Maybe that wasn't such a good idea, after all. This post on the Louisiana Oil & Gas Association's site says we're looking at oil prices that are tanking because there's so much oil coming out of the Gulf. Some are even predicting a glut. What's likely to be the result? Lower gas prices, higher refinery profits, and more pressure on the feds to loosen export restrictions.
DEC 8 Here's the latest from blogger Robert Mann, and it's on one of his favorite topics: Bobby Jindal. He's taking a look at Jindal's record and his current maneuvering, which of course is a ploy to position him for a run for the White House. "America Next," Jindal's current big idea, is just as vague about what it is proposing as Jindal usually is, Mann says. And it won't protect him from his "unimaginative record," as Mann describes it.
DEC 8 - Don't know what that is? Then run on over to LaPolitics and read this post by Jeremy Alford, which serves as a history lesson about the famed tonic and it's purveyor, Dudley LeBlanc. It's really a fascinating story and Alford's description of Dudley as an "icon of Louisiana politics and culture" is not an exaggeration.
DEC 8 In this editorial, the Picayune again urges Gov. Jindal to take the Medicaid money. But the piece's exhortation that Jindal "be sensible" is a little misplaced, isn't it? Because Jindal's not being stupid -- well, maybe he is -- but he's following orders from people he believes can get him into the White House. This editorial is engaging in the argument that Jindal is publicly making, without acknowledging what his true motivations are. Somebody send these guys a clue.
DEC 8 Columnist Mark Ballard is writing about the impact of Vance McAllister's defeat of Neil Riser in this post. He starts out talking about how McAllister's more reasonable approach was more attractive to voters than was Riser's hard-line (tea-party-ish) rants. Dan Claitor, a state lege from BR who is expected to run for Congress soon, expressed it best when he said voters aren't looking for candidates who are "throwing temper tantrums when they can't get their way."
DEC 8 It's always gratifying when a Louisiana son makes international headlines. And our son, David "former KKK grand poobah" Duke is back in the news, making us all proud. This (UK) Telegraph story, unearthed by the Dead Pelican, tells us that Duke has been expelled from Italy but is trying to return. The Italians say he is trying to "establish a pan-European, extremist neo-Nazi group in northern Italy." Huh. You don't say.
DEC 9 This is a kind of puzzling post from columnist Jim Beam, in which he discusses a recent appearance by former Gov. Edwin Edwards in Lake Charles. He said he's surprised by EWE's "grasp of current events." Did Jim never meet Slick Eddie? He's no dummy, and for Beam to assume he is -- well, given he covered the man for 50 years, that's the surprise.
DEC 9 A "suspicious package" shut down part of Zachary Sunday, WAFB tells us in this post. The package, which eventually was "rendered safe" (bomb squad lingo for blown up) was found in a storage unit that someone quit paying on. Other cop gear was found in the unit, so it is possible the thing was a training tool, police say. But they leave out the best part: who bought it? Barry, Jarrod or Darrell?
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