Thursday, 29 June 2006

Screamin' A. Smith + Cheetos = Comedy Gold

Here’s everyone’s favorite volume-always-at-11 NBA analyst Stephen A. Smith at the NBA Draft, with color commentary by the amateur cameraman:

þ: Radley Balko

Wednesday, 28 June 2006

Apartment found

I think I found an apartment today; the price is a little more than I wanted to pay, but after spending a year underpaying for an apartment in Durham I suppose it all evens out. And I get a garage, storage space, dishwasher, disposal, breakfast nook, ceiling fans in the bedrooms, and cable outlets in the living room and bedrooms… all of which are upgrades from my existing apartment. And it's like a stone’s throw from the Galleria, where Brian seems to think I need to hang out. (Actually, I got some cheap T-shirts there at Champs Sports, but somehow I think Brian was referring to the Apple Store.)

Now if I could just figure out if it’s in Clayton, Richmond Heights, or Ladue, so I know which division of The Man to tithe to, I’ll be set.

The only real down side (other than the rent) is that MoDOT is planning on spending the next 3 years destroying the freeway between my apartment and work. But that’s what MetroLink is for, right?

Tuesday, 27 June 2006

Steve saves me $50

Steve at Begging to Differ has played NFL Head Coach and gives it a pretty blistering negative review. At least the football gaming blahs will be over in three weeks after the release of NCAA Football 07. At least… I hope so.

Monday, 26 June 2006

Getting my money's worth

I paid $24 today to the Gateway Clean Air Program to hook up one of these to my car under the misguided belief that this is a fool-proof way to ensure that my car isn't polluting the environment. Then I paid another $12 to NTB so a mechanic could look at my car and prove that it wasn’t falling apart, only to be passed on I-70 by a car that I am 99% certain would fail any safety or emissions inspection miserably.

Tomorrow I get to go stand in line at City Hall to prove I don’t owe any property taxes to Missouri on my car, then I get to stand in another line in the same building to get my plates. No word on how much in fees, taxes, and kickbacks that will entail.

Wednesday, 21 June 2006

Am I becoming a Mac geek?

I got an email today announcing the big grand opening of the Apple Store in Raleigh at Crabtree Valley Mall (I’d have figured on them going to Triangle Town Center, but whatevs) and, disturbingly, I am actually contemplating dragging my butt out there at an ungodly hour for a free T-shirt and to enter a drawing. So long as I don’t end up buying anything—cash flow being a tad on the negative side these days since I’m basically unemployed for the next two months—I suppose it could be fun.

Tuesday, 20 June 2006

As promised

All the photos from Fort Collins are now up at Flickr; here are two of my favorites:

Our table at the AP Reading
Our table gathered at the end of the reading.

Stoner Construction
After Mark took this photo, some dude on a bike rode by and called us druggies.

Monday, 19 June 2006

Back and sweaty

My $30 gamble on getting to the Denver airport early paid off by getting me home two hours earlier and giving me a little breathing room on the Denver-Dallas leg; Dallas-RDU was packed to the gills, as always, including two Edmonton Oilers fans who carried on a replica Stanley Cup. Plus I got to eat lunch in Dallas in a faux Irish pub watching Ukraine beat down Saudi Arabia (in stretch-o-vision, alas) with German commentary.

Basically all I’ve done since getting back in Durham is sweat profusely. On the upside, at least I’m more confident there’s sufficient oxygen content in the air I’m breathing.

I should have a few more photos up in the next day or two.

Sunday, 18 June 2006

The new blacklist

I’m not sure whether compiling a master list of libertarian professors is a good or bad thing, but my gut feeling is bad. Particularly if/when my name shows up on it.

þ: Division of Labour.

Thursday, 15 June 2006

Your SN moment of zen

I talk Ole Miss football and the legend of the Orgeron with Orson Swindle in Part 2 of the “Dirty South” roundup, the latest installment of the EDSBS Podcast.

It’s amazing how reading the Athlon SEC preview and my football conversation last month with Frequent Commenter Alfie can make me sound semi-expert on the topic.

Park photos

We had a bit of a bus adventure on Wednesday night when we headed up to Rocky Mountain National Park—but despite a few minor setbacks (most notably, two buses breaking down and our bus driver wiping out a stop sign in the park), I was able to get some great photos from the park.

Monday, 12 June 2006

Fort Collins

I’m mostly enjoying my stay in Fort Collins thus far, thanks in no small part to the helpful bar staff at Woody’s Woodfired Pizza. I should have a few scenic photos up at Flickr shortly, although the big trip to Estes Park isn’t until Wednesday.

Saturday, 10 June 2006

Come fly away

Tomorrow morning I head to Fort Collins (via DFW and Denver) to spend a week grading exams. Hopefully that’s not quite as bad as it sounds like it could be.

Actually, I’m dreading the ten hours on airplanes more than the seven days of grading. You’d think someone would have a non-stop flight from Raleigh to Denver, but no such luck.

Thursday, 8 June 2006


Well, after doing all the recoding I needed to produce binary “correct/incorrect” scores for all the respondents, I ran the IRT model on the 1992 NES, and my computer at work (not exactly shabby – a 1.15 GHz AMD Athlon XP with 1 GB of RAM) ran out of memory when it tried to save the respondent abilities after about 30 minutes of pegging the CPU and eating up my memory and swap. I guess I had more respondents this time than when I did the Dutch model for my dissertation.

The moral of this story: rerun the model with a bit more thinning on my faster AMD64 box at home.

Update: It works much faster (and without killing my computer) when the data matrix is actually set up correctly. Go figure.

Taking the Boeing

As Kurt Angle would say, “It’s true, It’s true”; I’m joining James Joyner’s Outside the Beltway as a contributor, along with Robert Prather (who was a co-blogger here for a while) and Alex Knapp of Heretical Ideas.

Going forward, most of the academic and personal blogging will stay here at Signifying Nothing, but my political blogging will (for the most part) be appearing at OTB. It should be fun and I’m looking forward to it.

Wednesday, 7 June 2006

Memo to Apple

My Nokia Bluetooth headset will pair with my Mac mini, but Skype won’t do audio in or out through it when it’s set to use the headset in the preferences pane. I spent 15 minutes fighting with it to no avail. So much for stuff “just working” with the Mac.

Evaluations yet again

Margaret Soltan ponders student evaluations; I generally agree with her view that they largely should be taken with a grain of salt—in large part because you’re simply never going to please everyone. Now that I’m a bit more comfortable in my professorial skin, I don’t worry quite so much about them, but it’s not like I can stop thinking about them any time soon.

Speaking of evaluations, how do folks handle written evaluations in job applications? I’ve only ever included my numeric summaries of evaluations, since I couldn’t figure out any sensible way to include the written evals I have, at least, not in any way that would make it obvious that they were student evaluations instead of figments of my own imagination.

Face to face with reality

My rental agent is showing the apartment today, I’ve requested 3 in-home estimates for movers, and I picked up a giant box at Costco filled with moving supplies. I guess I really am moving to St. Louis.

Of course, it would help if I had an apartment there to move into, but I suppose one has to take these things one step at a time.

Tuesday, 6 June 2006

No rest for the (future) unemployed

The political science job market is pathologically insane; already, ads for two jobs I’m interested in starting in August/September 2007 have hit eJobs, and it’s barely June.

Hopefully I can stay sane the next six months or so by repeatedly reminding myself of my firm pledge not to go to APSA in Philadelphia this year.

Thought of the day

Poring through the 1992, 1996, and 2000 NES codebooks looking for any variable that might possibly be perverted into a measure of political sophistication is not exactly fun. On the other hand, now that I’m done doing my penance, I get to go play with the IRT models in MCMCpack for a while, which is.

Monday, 5 June 2006

Another sign of the apocalypse

My TiVo recorded NFL Live this afternoon on its own whim, but for some reason the show it ran around 2 minutes short and I was treated to the beginning of Jim Rome is Burning (a show I have mocked in the past under its previous, presumably untrademarkable title). But instead of Jim Rome, who I suppose is otherwise disposed with 6/6/06 approaching, I was presented with the balding pate of Jim Gray, the man who nearly rehabilitated Pete Rose’s reputation and spent much of the 2002–03 basketball season embedded in Kobe Bryant’s rectum. Oy vey.

Explaining the satellite trucks

The Duke administration officially reinstated the men’s lacrosse team today; Margaret Soltan greets the news positively.

While I agree the institution didn’t take the easy way out—something of a surprise to me, especially given the charges given the various and sundry committees convened by President Brodhead—I am rather unconvinced of the central premise that Demon Rum (and its relatives) is the scourge at the root of the “campus culture” problems of the modern residential college or university, either at Duke or anywhere else.

I particularly wonder whether the university will detect the difference between promoting the responsible use of alcohol with the neoprohibitionist agenda. Given universities’ general willingness to be deputized by the MPAA and RIAA already, adding MADD (née the WCTU) to the alphabet soup would be another easy—but wrongheaded—step.

RHCP: Petty plagiarists

BigJim alerts me to evidence that the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ latest hit “Dani California” is a rip-off of Tom Petty’s “Last Dance for Mary Jane.” I thought “Dani California” sounded pretty familiar when I heard it the first time, but I just chalked it up to RHCP imitating themselves à la Nickelback.

Abolish the conference?

Steven Taylor posts an interesting column on the strange beast known as the conference committee, probably the most secretive part of the contemporary legislative process in Congress. While I’m not sure I concur with Steven’s conclusion that conferences should be abolished, I do think making them more accountable to the floor of both the House and Senate, or instituting rules circumscribing the scope of the amendments that a conference committee can make to reconcile the two bills, would be a good thing.

Whole Foods as a fashion accessory

James Joyner has an interesting critique of a whiny piece from the New York Times Magazine on Wal-Mart’s entry into the organic foods market.

My general sense of the whole “organic foods” craze is that, like the $3 cup of coffee at Starbucks (or, better, the local “fair trade” coffee place), it is another way for the upper-middle class to avoid shopping with the riff-raff while proclaiming their moral superiority over those who can’t waste money on such accoutrements—in other words, the traditional conspicuous consumption of the well-to-do spackled with a thin layer of altruism.

Thursday, 1 June 2006

Oh inverted world

Things are clearly topsy-turvy when Michelle Branch has gone country while the Dixie Chicks have gone rock-and-roll. Not that the two genres are all that distinct these days, mind you (or, for that matter, historically).

I leave it to my readers to guess which album I purchased.


I just got back a response on the Damn R&R which asks me to further revise the paper by whittling it down to, as best as I can tell, about a paragraph once figures and references are accounted for, and which only promises publication if the authors I am responding to are willing to own up to their mistake in print by responding to the piece (I sense an incentivization problem here).

Oh, well, in a world where I have zero pubs to date, it’s not like I can say no…

Forms of address via email

Margaret Soltan provokes the latest professorial discussion of modes of address between students and faculty in email. I have taken to aping Frequent Commenter Scott by signing off emails to students with my initials (followed by the standard sig block), although if it’s 3 am and I am dispatching the latest email in a 17-round volley with a student I may slip up and use “Chris” like I would in correspondence with anyone else.

As for how to address students, I uniformly use the first name they have petitioned to go by (some schools like Duke are these days kind enough to include this on class rosters; at others, I have had to learn as I go). Alas, I am nowhere near being old and crusty enough to get away with “Mister” or “Miss” except in the most sarcastic of veins.

Update: Michelle Dion shares her thoughts on the matter.

Wilmington Race Riot commission issues recommendations

The AP has a story on the release of recommendations from the state commission investigating the 1898 Wilmington Race Riot, a chapter of the state’s political and social history reasonably well-known to those who study Southern politics but one that’s been rather obscure otherwise.

There is something of a strange passage in the story, however:

[State Rep. Thomas] Wright said the next step is to file a bill with the recommendations—which include that the parties responsible for the violence atone for their own involvement and that the true story of the incident be taught in North Carolina schools—in the Legislature. That won’t happen before 2007 because the deadline for filing new legislation has passed this session, he said.

My suspicion is that the “parties responsible for the violence” are, without exception, dead, so they probably won’t be doing a lot of atoning. I suppose the North Carolina Democratic Party could issue some resolution of apology, but I’m not sure it would reflect anything other than empty symbolism as the current party, other than organizational continuity, has nothing much in common with its century-old counterpart.