Monday, 21 March 2005

What we have here is a failure to discriminate

The second exam in American government had good and bad points; the good point was that the average, an 82, was basically where I wanted it to be. The bad point is that, somehow, the standard deviation was 4. So bad, in fact, I was sorely tempted to rescale the scores so there would be a larger standard deviation. Even worse, the correlation between scores on the first two exams was something like 0.2.

In layman’s terms, somehow I managed to ask 30 multiple choice questions, about 25 of which were either too easy (almost everyone got them right) or too hard (the only way people got them right was by guessing); coupled with the essay questions that never seem to discriminate well among students, I produced an exam that was borderline useless. Ugh.


Michael Jennings has photos up at Samizdata from his recent trip to view the highly impressive Millau Viaduct in France.


James Joyner links to an AP article about Coca-Cola’s plans to launch a new product in June, called “Coca-Cola Zero.” He asks:

It’s unclear why Coke Zero will be different from Diet Coke or Coke C2.

Well, the obvious answer is that C2 is not a zero-calorie soda; it’s just half the calories of regular Coke. Diet Coke doesn’t taste anything like Coke. So, the moral of the story is that a “diet Coke” that tastes like real Coke would be worth having; according to Coke’s press release, that’s the plan:

“Coca-Cola Zero is exactly what young adults told us they wanted – real Coca-Cola taste, zero calories and a new brand they can call their own,” said Dan Dillon, vice president, Diet Portfolio, Coca-Cola North America. “Young people today do not want to compromise on flavor or calories and we think Coca-Cola Zero’s taste and personality will appeal to them.”

There’s a product website here, of course.

Move along home

As alluded to below, I am very pleased to announce that I have accepted an appointment as a visiting assistant professor at Duke University for the 2005–06 academic year, which—if nothing else—will make Duke the most blogged political science department in the world. Thankfully for Messrs. Troester and Nyhan, however, Dr. Munger has chosen to inflict me primarily on the undergraduate population.

I’m told that my offer of employment is conditional on learning how to spell Coach K’s full name, so I suppose I should get to work on learning that, as well figuring out why a glorified gym is referred to as an “indoor stadium”—perhaps because the events at the outdoor stadium, absent the good graces of Mr. Spurrier, are such a disappointment.

In other news, the paper I sent to APR got rejected (or, as I like to call it, “revise and resubmit—but elsewhere”). At least it wasn’t in turnaround hell forever.

Update: Will Baude quibbles with my assertion that Duke is now the “most blogged” political science department in the world. If one were to count the joint-appointed and intermittent blogger Cass Sunstein and the silent Jacob Levy, I might grant his point, although I’ll raise him the equally-silent Dan Lee in the Blue Devils’ defense. Of course, Drezner can squash us all like bugs, but on one-person, one-blog rules I think we’re essentially tied.

Further Update: Mr. Troester adds D. Laurence Rice to the list, pulling Duke ahead by my estimation.

The crisis continues: Mr. Baude has dug up two more UC types with blogs. Can my fellow Cameron Crazies meet this challenge?

Think thin(g)

Former Element of Nothingness* Brock Sides notes some controversy about the phrase “you’ve got another thing coming,” used here. Just what I need—another first date question I have to remember to ask.

The rational public

I tend not to put a large amount of stock in public opinion polls, but caveats aside, an ABC News poll shows the public is rather unconvinced of the merits of Congress’ intervention in the case and the case itself, as am I (þ: PoliBlog); there’s more details on the poll here.

Update: Orin Kerr points out some rather serious issues with the question wording of the ABC News poll.

Work that isn't my day job

I just finished preparing my invited presentation for the NAFTA symposium this coming weekend at the University of Memphis. I have absolutely no clue how my presentation on the Interstate 69 corridor will be received among such papers as “Intersecting Capitalism, Patriarchy, and the Environment: Looking at NAFTA through a Gendered Lens” and “NAFTA and the Legal Consciousness of Caribbean Migrant Farm Workers.” Hopefully all will go well.

Anyway, here’s the PDF version of the presentation in all its glory. It’s nothing particularly spectacular, and if you’ve read it’s nothing new, but it gets the job done.