Wednesday, 21 March 2007

Greek Professor Gets Mixed Evals

This Chronicle piece including some “student evaluations” of Socrates has been getting a bit of play around the blogosphere and is pretty damn funny. I thought this was the funniest part:

He always keeps talking about these figures in a cave, like they really have anything to do with the real world. Give me a break! I spend serious money for my education and I need something I can use in the real world, not some b.s. about shadows and imaginary trolls who live in caves.

He also talks a lot about things we haven’t read for class and expects us to read all the readings on the syllabus even if we don’t discuss them in class and that really bugs me. Students’ only have so much time and I didn’t pay him to torture me with all that extra crap.

þ OTB (among others).

For it while he was against it

DiA observes that Barack Obama may be taking the “all things to all people” schtick a little too far.

Stats stuff

I’ll pitch a couple of items from the Harvard Social Science Statistics Blog worth mentioning.

First, Sebastian Bauhoff plugs a number of summer quantitative methods programs. My overall review of ICPSR would be more positive than his, but as he mentions much depends on the courses you choose: Charles Franklin’s MLE class is generally a subject of rave reviews, and I can personally vouch for Bill Jacoby’s class in scaling and Doug Baer’s class in latent variable structural equation modeling (LISREL models). I’ve also heard that the advanced MLE course has vastly improved since I took it in 2001 (when it batted around .500 while rotating four instructors). Other advanced classes that seem to get good reviews include Jeff Gill’s Bayesian class and the simultaneous equations class. Historically I know time series and categorical data analysis were somewhat hit-and-miss; the latter was regarded as excellent when taught by Jeremy Freese, but I’m told it has gone downhill since.

Second, James Griener expresses concern that people may start applying statistical models willy-nilly to explaining lower-court decision-making, on the basis that decisions are not iid but instead controlled largely by precedent. Certainly sticking circuit court opinions in as the dependent variable in a logit would be stupid without paying some serious attention to the error structure. But that hardly forecloses interesting analysis.

Also, my vague applied notion of the ideal-point model is that items (decisions) are not actually believed to be iid (there is at least one latent variable explaining them, so by definition they are not truly independent of each other), so I don’t think using an item-response theory model would be problematic—however, you’d certainly end up recovering a “respect for stare decisis” dimension in addition to the ideology dimension(s) you recover from the Supreme Court, which might actually help contribute to interesting substantive debates.

The horse’s mouth

A public service announcement: anyone who needs to know my employment status for 2007–08 would be best advised to ask me directly. But as of this moment I have not accepted any job offers and do not expect to do so in the next two weeks, barring some unforeseen circumstances (i.e. a new offer).

There goes one reason to avoid moving to Louisiana

Louisiana governor Kathleen Babineaux Blanco, whose response to Hurricane Katrina made fellow Peter Principle exemplars Ray Nagin and Mike Brown look positively competent by comparison, won’t be seeking a second term in the wake of polls that showed Republican Rep. Bobby Jindal wiping the floor with her in a potential November contest.

The smart money for the Democrats is on former senator John Breaux, last seen on K Street. Whether he can complete the Haley Barbour impression by successfully imitating Barbour’s transition from hobnobbing in Gucci Gulch to appealing to the Earl Hickey set remains to be seen.

Jim Cramer on violating securities laws for fun and profit

Via Democracy in America, I present to you Jim Cramer: