[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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APR 16 Lamar Parmentel writes about the latest forecast for Louisiana's future - and it ain't rosy. The fiscal experts in the budget office are predicting a shortfall of nearly $1 billion for the 2015-16 fiscal year, he writes. This is what the "dead beat" governor is going to leave us as his legacy, Lamar says.
APR 16 The extended controversy surrounding Louisiana College may begin to wind down now; the Town Talk reports here that embattled president Joe Aguillard has been reduced to a professor position. It's likely that soon we will begin to see the post-mortems begin -- this story isn't over.
APR 16 Clancy DuBos writes about the McAllister affair in this post, commenting on the moral confusion of a state that votes to "free the sodomites" on Monday and then to make the Bible the state book on Tuesday, as well as the hypocrisy of the Reps, the Dems and our fearless leader. Clancy says he's "not even sure if Jindal's hypocrisy has a limit."
APR 16 The fence blocking the public from Newcomb Boulevard in NOLA came down Tuesday morning, The Lens reports in this post. The fence was put up by neighbors who didn't want just anybody walking on a public street, but there's a big ole picture of a city worker cutting it down in this post. The general public should be able to drive on the street (which they own) in about a week, the story says.
APR 16 Here's a movement to get behind. NOLA Defender reports that there's a push to have A Confederacy of Dunces named Louisiana's state book in lieu of the Bible, which is the current contender. Although there is plenty of sin and politics in the Good Book, it's probably a lot easier to read the more contemporary (and more Louisiana-specific) prose in John Kennedy Toole's book.
APR 16 When you report on something as important as a historic local building, you need to get it right. According to blogger Lamar White Jr., that's just what an Alexandria TV station did not do. In this post, he tells us about a historic ball field that the station reported as targeted for demolition. Apparently, that's not even close to true.
APR 16 Here's a link to ALEC's annual competitiveness report, which ranks states according to that shadowy organization's opinions of good and bad. (Louisiana's on page 23) You can read a very brief lead-in, with a sentence or two about what ALEC is, in this Advocate story.
APR 16 DIG Magazine's Cody Worsham blogs about the Baton Rouge bus system in this post. Although the system has been the focus of extreme controversy, he's focusing instead on his own recent (and pleasant) experience taking the bus. In the end, he didn't turn in his SUV keys for a permanent bus pass, but it sounds like he'll be taking the bus more often.
APR 15 Blogger CB Forgotston is writing in this post about the newest hire by Gov. Bobby Jindal, a press secretary whose only means of contact is (apparently) Twitter. (Yeah, because that worked so good for Kyle.) CB has done a little digging on the lady, but wants more info -- and he's not getting it from the source, because she won't return his twits. Twerps. Uh, tweets.
APR 15 Blogger Elliott Stonecipher has his say on the McAllister mess in this post on Forward Now. Looks like the architects of the plan to oust McAllister are getting a little blow-back, Stonecipher opines, and it reminds him of an old cliche about revenge.
APR 15 Not one to walk past a golden opportunity, Democrat John Bel Edwards says his piece in this Picayune post on the GOP's issue du jour. The hypocrisy of the GOP calling on McAllister to resign and staying silent on Vitter is so massive there's not even a word for it, Edwards says, and so he came up with his own: hypo-hypocrisy.
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