Tuesday, 30 August 2005

Reinforcing stereotypes

Hot on the heels of recent discussions of academic bias, Jeff Goldstein lays the smackdown on a guy who teaches English at Northwestern who should know better. You’d almost think he wants Horowitz’s merry band of nitwits poking around campus.

Maisel on Coach O

Ivan Maisel has a feature up at ESPN.com on Ed Orgeron’s unorthodox approach to head coaching in Oxford, which is coming as something of a culture shock to the team and observers alike. Incidentally, Orgeron’s shirt-off challenge, which has become something of an Internet meme, is neither confirmed nor denied by the coach.

Sunday, 28 August 2005

Campus bias

Matt Stinson has a lengthy post on how conservatives and libertarians should attack bias in the academy. He starts out, however, with a point lost on many outside academe:

The notion that conservatives are inherently opposed to the scientific method seems targeted at ID proponents, but in my discipline, political science, the loudest “anti-scientific” voices come from the left. The “perestroika” movement, a group that rejects the behavioralist turn in the social sciences, is primarily the vehicle of postmodern leftists who deny the existence of objective truth and a scientifically verifiable reality. They have some conservatives on their side, mostly classicists who prefer historical analysis to number-crunching, but it is more generally an outgrowth of the rebellion against “reality” that has been a preoccupation of far left academics since the end of World War II. While the postmodernists are a grumpy minority at research schools, they utterly dominate and thus render “un-scientific” the entire discipline of liberal arts at the top colleges and universities in the United States. Would the Pitt professors similarly scorn left-wing academics for un-scientific views?

For further evidence of Matt’s point, see Jeff Goldstein. Or that Edward Said disciple Rashid Khalidi has a plenary speaking spot on the APSA program—the only plenary awarded to an organized section of the association (the Not New Political Science section).

That’s just a small snippet of Matt’s post; go forth and RTWT. And, while you’re at it, see Jim Lindgren and Stephen Bainbridge; note that a similar sort of the “file-flagging” Bainbridge refers to goes on in other academic fields as well, not just law.


The Road from Bristol finals have arrived: Skip Bayless v. Stuart Scott. Go and vote one of these doofuses out of our misery.

Dullest blades

Patrick @ OxBlog:

ABBREVIATED LIST of places cheaper to fly to from London than Washington, D.C.: Johannesberg, Tokyo. I’m leaving out other less interesting ones, such as, for instance, everywhere else in the world.

Patrick omits the most important factor here, though… even if it were cheaper, you’d still have to fly out of Dulles.

À dieu, New Orleans

Well, I suppose that city was nice enough while it lasted. Here’s my photos from my last visit, back in March; there’s a very good chance that my next visit, scheduled for January, won’t be happening if this bulletin is to be believed.

Walking on broken glass

What I woke up to this morning:

My smashed rear window Cracked rear view Glass all over the back seat of my car

The officer that responded said that mine was the fifth car with a broken rear window in recent days in the neighborhood; like in the other cases, nothing was taken from the car. So now my car looks like one of those mid-80s clunkers with a plastic bag covering the window—although it isn't rusted out or burning oil, so it doesn't quite fit in the ghetto yet.

The only real motivation I can think of: there were TiVo and POW-MIA stickers on that window. I doubt it was a ReplayTV owner, but I suppose it’s possible this could be some sort of idiotic anti-war statement by the Birkenstock brigade. Thank you, Cindy Sheehan!

This is my first ever entry in the OTB Sunday Drive, which seems oddly appropriate.

Friday, 26 August 2005

Bags of sand

In lieu of actual content, I will give some advice. Go see The 40-Year-Old Virgin, the funniest movie I’ve seen in, well, a long time.

Otherwise, meh. Everything is up on the walls here, and most everything is unpacked except a couple of boxes in the study. The stuff I’m taking to the office will get over there tomorrow. Syllabi are close to done. The cable company is coming out to install the extra outlets I need after Labor Day. And, college football season is nearly here. So it could be worse.

Wednesday, 24 August 2005

Settling in

Thus far, I have an office, business cards, and an email account. My apartment looks less like a warehouse than it did a week ago. My interview calendar at APSA is filling up. AC is still working. Dad left, Mom arrived.

Next projects: moving stuff into my office, hanging pictures at home, arranging a few more APSA interviews, finishing syllabi, revising the Quantian piece, and sorting out the study.

Monday, 22 August 2005

Know your current (and future) Cylons

Steven Taylor asks for thoughts on who the remaining Cylons are; assuming Galactica Boomer wasn’t lying in “Resistance,” there are apparently seven human-form Cylon models remaining to be unmasked. The eliminated prospects all seem quite logical to me at least. At this point, the leading contenders for Cylonhood seem to be Gaeta and Cally, but there are plenty of other prospects out there too.

Saturday, 20 August 2005

I want my HDTV

Good news for all those planning to replace a wall with a television screen: prices for large-screen TVs are expected to continue to free-fall. Entirely coincidentally, the layout of my new living room here in Durham is making my eight-year-old 25-inch tube TV seem very tiny.

Thursday, 18 August 2005

Blu Christmas

Will the next-generation video disc format war be over before it starts? Ars Technica notes that two more Hollywood studios have jumped on the Blu-ray Disc bandwagon, while the lower-capacity HD DVD format seems to be floundering.


Well, that was fun. Things are sorta-kinda working here now (including, thankfully, the air conditioning), although I am still two cable outlets short of audio-visual nirvana.

Also: if you’re expecting to hear from me via email, give me a couple of days to get through the backlog.

Tuesday, 9 August 2005

Leaving the South

Russell Arben Fox has penned a retrospective on his time living in the South; it’s an interesting read, and while politically we’re probably quite different I think he captures the essence of the region (both positives and negatives) quite well.

Mind you, a lot of folks would say I’ll be leaving the South too, the Triangle having relatively little in common with Mississippi beyond good-looking women and a physical location south of the Mason-Dixon line.

Monday, 8 August 2005

Lose yourself

Today’s Clarion-Ledger has a piece on network TV’s current science-fiction renaissance, led by the quasi-sci-fi ABC series “Lost.” Sci-Fi Friday also gets some good pub.

Sunday, 7 August 2005

Is this thing on?

Explaining the silence: I was out of town for the weekend in the land of no high-speed Internet access, also known as “Mom’ house.” Thanks to the GOLUMites, including ex-co-blogger Brock, and Alfie for a nice send-off last night, and to the folks who relieved me of a backseat-full of computer bits and pieces. I didn’t get to see everyone I wanted to see, but such is life…

Also: SN will be offline for a few days (probably Friday through Tuesday, perhaps longer) while I physically move the computer; I’m supposed to have my Internet access installed in Durham Tuesday afternoon, so hopefully the blog will be up and running again sometime that evening.

Wednesday, 3 August 2005

Google Maps hack of the day

Use Google Maps to measure the distance along a route of your choice (in this case, how far I will live from the office in Durham). Very cool… and, given the distance, very unlikely I’ll walk it on a regular basis.

þ: Colby Cosh.

The glassy knoll

There’s much discussion about a recent report sponsored by the NSF and APSA on the status of women in political science.

While I hate to be snarky (indeed, I largely concur that there is a problem with attracting women to the discipline and placing them in tenure-stream jobs—then again, there’s a problem with placing people in general in tenure-stream jobs, q.v.), the report has a rather odd mix of good social science and bizarre PC-ism, probably because it was written by committee. Case in point: this rather odd paragraph:

The atmosphere and working style of our profession can be changed for the better by work on women’s advancement. This would be no small achievement. For one thing, a truly democratic workplace could erase a damaging contradiction in our discipline, whose teaching of democratic principles has often failed in execution within our ranks. True, the worst years of exclusion and a chilly climate toward women in the profession are past—but that is partly because a critical mass of women colleagues is now in place; it must be maintained.

A “truly democratic workplace”? One would think that political scientists, of all people, would know what the word “democratic” means—the phrase I think they’re looking for is “diverse (but for only some values of ‘diverse’—all conservatives, please proceed immediately to the Econ Department or Heritage) workplace” or “descriptively representative workplace.” Or “workplace where bleeding heart liberals can be without feeling like hypocrites since they’re all white males who’ve run off all the minorities and women.” Not to put too fine a point on it.

Of course, the conclusion that the discipline sucks for all concerned, although women and minorities get the pointy end of the suckiness a bit more often, would be rather too obvious, but the report makes that conclusion nonetheless:

Men as well as women and minorities will not achieve their highest potential in an institutional culture lacking adequate support, mentoring, and recognition of the “whole life” demands its members confront.

Again, where is KGM in our time of need?

Another quiz thingy

From Amber Taylor

Meat: me in Washington

For the political scientists in the audience: which of the following theories about the APSA “meat market” is true?

  1. Schools use the meat market primarily as a way to whittle down the applicant pool.
  2. Schools use the meat market primarily as a substitute for telephone interviews.
  3. Some combination of the above.

These theories suggest radically different strategies for job-seekers, so it would be nice to know which one is valid (if any).

Related question: I have never met anyone who got a job—or an offer, or even an on-campus interview—in political science after interviewing at the meat market. Do such people actually exist?

Tuesday, 2 August 2005

Le retour

It’s nice to see Matthew Stinson back in the blogosphere after an extended absence. Drop in and take a look around his fancy new digs… and update your blogrolls!

Content analysis of The Daily Show

Paul Brewer presents the results of a content analysis of The Daily Show conducted by some of his students and himself; the statistics lend credence to suggestions that TDS presents a lot of political information to its viewers.

Mind you, whether this is an appropriate substitute for making citizens sit through The NewsHour is an open question, one best left to people with a far more normative bent than my own.

Tales told by idiots

W comes out in favor of teaching Intelligent Design (a.k.a. Creationism with the serial numbers filed off) in public schools. Someone really needs to tell the president he can’t run for reelection, and thus no longer needs to behave like an idiot to gain votes. I take it all back—although, in my defense, I was discussing Congress and not the executive branch.

Unfortunately, the Democrats will fail to extract the correct lesson from this: teachers*, not politicians, should decide what should be taught, and the only way to stop politicians from deciding what gets taught is to get the government completely out of the education business. Instead, they will attempt to back evolutionary theory ad nauseum and further alienate the crowd in Kansas (and the rest of rural and suburban America) which they can’t figure out what’s the matter with.

þ: TigerHawk.

Update: Alex Knapp is sharing my wavelength today.

Monday, 1 August 2005

Slight hyperbole watch

Virginia Postrel, on recent “achievements” of the GOP in Congress:

By jetisoning any pretense to free-market principles, the GOP is defining itself entirely as the party of the religious right.

I’ll grant that the energy and transportation bills were pork-fests (a cornerstone of Hill bipartisanship for the past, well, 200-odd years), but the third example cited by the WaPo—the passage of CAFTA—seems pretty “free-market” to me. And, to my recollection, none of these bills are platform planks of the Religious Right—indeed, CAFTA may antagonize social conservatives against the GOP in many states hit hard by declining trade protectionism.

Mind you, Howard Dean’s Party of National Lameness Liberalism doesn’t seem very well positioned to capitalize on the GOP‘s weaknesses.

Silly quiz thing

þ: Kelley of Suburban Blight:

You are a bit naive, but full of energy and potential. Your optimism and good will are what make you likable to your peers.

You have a tendency to become obsessed with unattainable members of the opposite sex.

Sounds about right. And, given these results, I suppose I can kiss tenure and promotion good-bye.

Bizarre coincidence of the day

I added the paperback edition of The Right Nation: Conservative Power in America as the August book of the month yesterday; today, what shows up in my mailbox at work? A freebie paperback edition of The Right Nation (along with some crappy screed by Lewis Lapham I was sorely tempted to sell on Amazon.com). Spooky.

And, for the record: I paid retail for my hardback copy.