Friday, 30 May 2008

Policy can be fun

My review copy of Munger’s policy book finally arrived today; good thing I’d already decided to adopt it sight-unseen for the fall—I’d already used a book from the same series before, Stewart’s Analyzing Congress, and liked but hadn’t had an opportunity to really use Morton’s Analyzing Elections, so I figured the series editor knew what he or she was doing.

I’m still not convinced I’m the best person to be teaching this course—my back-of-the-envelope math suggests that there are sufficient PA folks in the department to have avoided assigning the graduate public policy course to the rookie non-PA person on the bench—but I think I can approach it from a reasonably political-science heavy direction. We’ll see if that survives contact with the students, but I think it will be fun.

The universe is a jihadi

That’s the only thing I can conclude after learning that the universe may be donut-shaped and Dunkin’ Donuts is the tool of the PLO. We are all doomed!

Nothing is ever simple

Reading CRANberries this morning I remembered that I’d never gotten around to packaging Amelia for Debian. So I dutifully filed my ITP and got to work on adapting the package to build with Debian, which thanks to Dirk’s hackery on R support in cdbs was pretty easy—copy over the debian directory from my Zelig package, update the copyright file, fix up the control file, update the Debian changelog, fix a lintian warning or two (FSF address in the copyright file), and it’s basically done.

Then I discovered that Amelia also throws in a couple of Tcl/Tk libraries. One, BWidget is already packaged, so all I had to do was delete the copy that’s installed by the Amelia package and add a dependency on it. The other is Combobox, the exact license of which follows:

completely, totally, free. I retain copyright but you are free to use the code however you see fit. Don’t be mean.

Yay. I get to play license negotiator again. I really love creating extra work I really don’t need for myself…

Paging Dr. Occam

Ezra Klein sees sinister relationships everywhere:

Mark Schmitt wonders why John McCain has had such an interest in America West’s runway operations throughout his career. The answer, it turns out, is predictable enough. “America West was a major financial backer of McCain, and one of his top aides, John W. Timmons, became America West’s lobbyist. America West donated a charter plane to Cindy McCain’s charity, American Voluntary Medical Team, for a trip to Kuwait, and this story in says that Cindy McCain’s Hensley Group holds a large stake in US Airways, the successor to America West.”

How about a simpler explanation: America West was and US Airways is headquartered in Arizona. John McCain is the senior senator from Arizona. McCain has thousands of voters in his constituency employed by AW/US, so maybe it makes sense for him to do things in their interests.

This logic also works for Democrats, by the way. Or are you going to tell me that Barack Obama (you know, from Illinois) has never done anything to support Chicago-based (that’s a city in Illinois) carriers American and United?