Tuesday, 7 January 2003

Just look at it as an increase in the per-passenger subsidy

Bitter passes on news that our friends at the National Railroad Passenger Corporation, better known as Amtrak, is cutting fares by up to 25% on certain routes (but not the ones anyone rides). You too can enjoy the pleasure of slowly travelling on someone else's schedule at prices comparable to fares offered by the major airlines. But at least nobody's going to be futzing with your package on the trip (or at least, they won't be TSA employees).

By the way, shouldn't that really be www.tsa.homelandsecurity.gov or something?

Pucker Up!

I won! My winning entry:

If women should be admitted as members of Augusta National Golf Club, why shouldn't men be admitted to [preppy New England womens' college]?

However, I can't condone the alcohol consumption associated with the judging. Binge drinking should be reserved for special occasions, like political science conferences and summers in Ann Arbor.

Interesting Grammy Nominations

For a change, this year's Grammy nominations are moderately interesting; certainly there are a few choices to disagree with (for one, I don't see the appeal of Vanessa Carlton), but there's some good stuff nominated this year — 3 Doors Down, Michelle Branch, Avril Lavigne, Pink, Bruce Springsteen, and Tonic all received multiple nominations (see the full list). And (perhaps) disturbingly, Eminem is starting to grow on me in small doses.

Statistical noise = fact

Daniel Drezner posts that John Zogby's overhyping his own numbers on the Democratic contenders. Trying to read anything into single questions in a survey with under 500 respondents is problematic at best, and it's downright foolhardy to draw any conclusions out of marginals that show virtually everyone in the poll in a statistical dead heat. Meanwhile, Jacob T. Levy speculates that Richard Gephardt will bomb spectacularly in New Hampshire.

Ah well, at least Atrios isn't yet predicting that we won't have a 2004 election. Maybe next week.

Rhetorical Question

If the National Review polices the conservative movement, as Jonah Goldberg alleges (paraphrased by Jacob T. Levy), does that mean that the anti-immigrant views of Paul Craig Roberts and blatant anti-homosexuality and odd racial views of NRO contributor John Derbyshire fairly represent the modern conservative movement?

Cramer on Bellesiles (updated)

(Via Glenn Reynolds:) Clayton Cramer writes on the problems with Michael Bellesiles' research in Arming America; he concludes that a lack of critical analysis by historians (including poor quantitative reasoning skills) and political diversity within the discipline allowed Bellesiles' work to pass largely uncriticized. While his discussion largely centers around history, there are lessons for other disciplines — including political science.

I find political science to be a more politically diverse discipline than history (and most of the humanities and social sciences, with the exception of economics), perhaps due in part to the strong influence of economists on the quantitative part of the discipline, although the political left is predominant (the “right” of the discipline is mostly libertarian and neo-conservative; I have yet to meet a paleoconservative political scientist). However, there has been a backlash in the form of the “perestroika movement” over the past two years; for a lighthearted look, see “Some Thoughts on Perestroika on Political Science”. (For the record, I'm an empiricist who mostly does quantitative work.)

Glenn Reynolds (Sith Lord) passes on word that Knopf is stopping the print run of Arming America.