[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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MAR 12 Here we go! The former vice president of Louisiana College has filed suit against the private Baptist school and its embattled president, Joe Aguillard, the Town Talk reports here. He says he was fired because he blew the whistle on Aguillard. But really -- who cares? This means interrogatories, depositions, and other evidence-gathering activities. That alone will be worth the price of admission.
MAR 12 Blogger Dayne Sherman writes about Gov. Jindal's refusal to expand Medicaid in this post. He asks: if Bobby's so pro-life, how come he doesn't care about the life already here? Dayne, who hasn't posted in quite a while, apparently has been saving up. He's got a lot to say about what Jindal's been up to, including some recent events which saw Jindal as "Pee-Wee Herman acting all John Wayne." Now that's a visual.
MAR 12 This post on NOLA Defender's politics blog covers Gen. Russel Honore's new command, that of a self-named "Green Army" of environmental activists. The Army got together for the first time (in real life; they've been networking online for a while now) this past weekend on the steps of the State Capitol in Baton Rouge. The first aim: protect Louisiana's aquifers from industry that would drain and contaminate them. The army may be small, but already has attracted attention, the blog tells us.
MAR 12 Here's an interesting post on the politics blog of The Lens about the proposed increase in minimum wage. As a business owner, you might expect Chase to come down against it, but in true Chase Family fashion he does not. He argues that paying a "just" wage encourages productivity, adding that discussions about what people are paid should not be limited to economics, but include that concept of justice.
MAR 12 Here's a post by Becky Banks on Salon about True Detective and Louisiana. She's talking here about what she feels to be the elements of a classic southern gothic horror story, as well as the trend in Louisiana "reality" shows to downplay the intelligence of the cast and portray the state as "another country." It's an interesting read but don't go there if you haven't watched the end of TD; the killer's identity is discussed here.
MAR 12 Here's DIG Baton Rouge taking a look at some of the bills prefiled before the session that started Monday. Among them, a bill to make a (very, very old) Bible the state's official book, another that would close our primary system, and one that would allow anyone to carry a concealed weapon without a permit. Now that's a GREAT idea.
MAR 12 Here's an example of how well the death penalty works in Louisiana. This NBC33 story tells us about a man who spent 30 years on death row at Angola -- before being freed this week after it was determined he was innocent of the crime we were going to kill him for.
MAR 12 Blogger Jeff Crouere writes about the governor in this post on Bayou Buzz, and it's not a clipping that will end up on Bobby's refrigerator. He starts out saying that Jindal is weak at home and "irrelevant nationally." And that might be the nicest thing he says in the whole post. The only place Bobby Jindal will ever be President is "in his fantasies," Jeff writes. Yikes.
MAR 11 Two (allegedly) newsworthy things happened on Monday: Bobby Jindal laid out his plan for the legislative session, and Lil Boosie gave his first interview after being sprung from the joint. (Who's Lil Boosie, you say? Click here.) To celebrate these equally fascinating monologues, the Picayune posts this story asking you to determine which luminary uttered which pearl of wisdom.
MAR 11 Columnist John Maginnis writes here of Gov. Bobby Jindal's recent streak of meanness toward the President. Since it is having no effect on his national profile, and Bobby's not delusional (oh, OK - thanks for the update on that) Maginnis opines that Jindal is possibly auditioning to be someone's (anyone's?) vice president. Impressing higher-ups is one of Jindal's abilities, Maginnis reminds us.
MAR 11 Blogger Jason Berry gives us an update on the continuing activity connected to BP oil spill claims. For some time on the American Zombie blog, he's been keeping up with the "shenanigans" at a level not even contemplated by Louisiana's media. (You know, kind of like he did with Ray Nagin. So probably the Picayune will be taking credit for this in a couple years, too.) There are links to his previous posts, as well, so if you're curious this is a good place to start.
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