[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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SEP 18 Here's a story in the New York Times about a New Iberia man who is trying to save his own little corner of Louisiana. A lot of people spend their spare time clearing their land, but Matt Conn works to restore the natural state of his property. It's a fascinating story.
SEP 18 Here's an amazingly personal piece from Naomi Klein, posted on the Guardian. It is long, and intense, a personal telling of her own process of covering, denying and realizing climate change. She addresses the issue of big business pretending to address the issue, the concealment of climate damage for corporate gain, and how her coverage of the BP spill led, she believes, to a miscarriage.
SEP 18 Sure, Louisiana Congressional candidate Lenar Whitney made the first page of Politifact's "Pants on Fire" statements section, and of course that's always entertaining. But really you need to go check out the Pulitzer Prize winning fact-checking website, which is run by former Lafayette journalist Angie Drobnic Holan, because it has a great new design.
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SEP 18 Inspection stickers. They're a pain but you have to have them. Now there's a problem with the recent ones, WVUE reports here: they're peeling off. Last year, word from the state was we would be getting better glue, but apparently that didn't happen.
SEP 18 This week, four Louisiana College board members resigned in protest after Tommy French was re-elected chairman. This post on the Associated Baptist Press website reports that, just a couple weeks ago, French was handing controversial former LC leader Joe Aguillard a medal and the title of President Emeritus.
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SEP 17 If the "when white people fight" video was the war side, blogger Mighty Favog has found the love side. Here's a video of two (let us hope they aren't sober) inebriated white people who got so carried away in their demonstration of, er, affection that they fell. In Tiger Stadium. During the game. The best part is the reaction (or lack thereof) among their fellow fans. (Hey, there's a game going on!)
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SEP 17 Blogger Lamar White Jr. takes a look at Louisiana's Tea Party, and the decision to classify it as an LLC instead of a political party. He also throws in some illuminating facts about the so-called IRS "witch hunt" against Tea Party groups -- which, it turns out, was nothing of the kind.
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