Saturday, December 08, 2007

Online reading group

of interest to political theory and political philosophy folks: Public Reason is hosting a reading group on David Estlund's Democratic Authority over the next few months. Intellectually worthwhile, as well as a nice expansion of the boundaries of the scholar-blogospherically-possible. On the latter point, see also: the first book rolls of the presses of John Holbo's Glassbead Books.
In which I yet again show myself to be behind the geek pop-cultural times

He who sucked all the life and joy out of "Gilmore Girls" is really very good in "Heroes," isn't he? Goes to show how much a basically good actor can lose under a creator who treats him as a Gary Stu.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

There's been...

about 16" of snow in Montreal in the last 72 hours. None of it has melted away.

Forecast for today: light snow.
Forecast for tonight: snow showers.
Forecast for tomorrow: snow showers.
Friday: snow.
Saturday: "few snow showers".
Sunday: "few snow showers".

So begins what's slated to be the toughest winter in 15 years.

Curse you, Al Gore. Curse you for delaying our precious global warming by even a day.

With at least four work trips in the next eight weeks, I'm starting to look at plane reservations, and wondering how much possible-weather-delay-time to build into my travel plans. Must I always plan to arrive the night before?

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Also from the Chronicle...

A report on what might be the first truly worthwhile activities of the McGill student General Assembly.
Tetlock wins Grawemeyer

From the Chronicle:

Berkeley Professor Wins Grawemeyer Award for Ideas Improving World Order

Philip E. Tetlock, a professor of business administration and political science at the University of California at Berkeley, has won the 2008 Grawemeyer Award for “ideas improving world order,” the University of Louisville has announced. Mr. Tetlock will receive the $200,000 prize for his research on the accuracy of high-profile advisers on issues of public policy.

Predictions on political issues are frequently wrong, says Mr. Tetlock, which is unfortunate because lawmakers frequently rely on such analyses to shape policy. In a 20-year study of 27,000 predictions made by 284 “experts” cited in the news media, he found that, very often, the professionals were no more accurate in their crystal-ball gazing than ordinary people.

“In this age of academic hyperspecialization, there is no reason for supposing that contributors to top journals—distinguished political scientists, area-study specialists, economists, and so on—are any better than journalists or attentive readers of The New York Times in ‘reading’ emerging situations,” writes Mr. Tetlock in his 2005 book about the study, Expert Political Judgment: How Good Is It? How Can We Know? (Princeton).

Experts need to receive more training and be held publicly accountable for their advice, he argues in the book.

Dan Drezner blogged about Tetlock's findings here, here, and here. Tyler Cowen called Expert Political Judgment "one of the (few) must-read social science books of 2005." I worried about the propensity of public-intellectual academics to make pronouncements as if their expertise went far beyond its genuine boundaries my very first substantive post on this blog (scroll down, permalinks that old seem to have rusted away).

Monday, December 03, 2007

DeLong on Schumpeter

at the Chronicle.
Moi je reste calme

I have no idea how to embed youtube videos, but have a look at this (sent to me as a "cautionary tale"). The song is in French, but non-francophones will still get the idea pretty easily.

Full lyrics. I've always thought that rhyming seems unfairly easy in French...

"Pour bien commencer
Ma petite journée
Et me réveiller
Moi, j'ai pris un café
Un arabica
Noir et bien corsé
J'enfile ma parka
Ça y est je peux y aller

«Où est-ce que tu vas ?»
Me crie mon aimée
«Prenons un kawa
Je viens de me lever»
Étant en avance
Et un peu forcé
Je change de sens
Et reprends un café

A huit heures moins l'quart
Faut bien l'avouer
Les bureaux sont vides
On pourrait s'ennuyer
Mais je reste calme
Je sais m'adapter
Le temps qu'ils arrivent
J'ai l'temps pour un café

La journée s'emballe
Tout le monde peut bosser
Au moins jusqu'à l'heure
De la pause-café
Ma secrétaire entre :
«Fort comme vous l'aimez»
Ah mince, j'viens d'en prendre
Mais maintenant qu'il est fait...

Un repas d'affaire
Tout près du Sentier
Il fait un temps super
Mais je me sens stressé
Mes collègues se marrent :
«Détends-toi, René !
Prends un bon cigare
Et un p'tit café...»

Une fois fini
Mes collègues crevés
Appellent un taxi
Mais moi j'ai envie d'sauter
Je fais tout Paris
Puis je vois un troquet
J'commande un déca
Mais recaféiné

J'arrive au bureau
Ma secrétaire me fait :
«Vous êtes un peu en r'tard
Je me suis inquiétée»
Han ! - J'la jette par la f'nêtre
Elle l'avait bien cherché
T'façons faut qu'je rentre
Mais avant un café

Attendant l'métro
Je me fais agresser
Une p'tite vieille me dit :
«Vous avez l'heure s'il vous plaît ?»
Han - Je lui casse la tête
Et j'la pousse sur le quai
Je file à la maison
Et j'me sers un - devinez ?

«Papa, mon Papa,
En classe je suis premier»
Putain mais quoi ?
Tu vas arrêter de m'faire chier ?
Qu'il est con ce gosse !
En plus y s'met à chialer !
J'm'enferme dans la cuisine
Il reste un peu d'café

Ça fait quatorze jours
Que je suis enfermé
J'suis seul dans ma cuisine
Et je bois du café
Il faudrait bien qu'je dorme
Mais les flics vont m'choper
Alors je cloue les portes
Et j'reprends du café..."

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Get smart

Fabio Rojas on the limits of "smarts" as a tool of academic evaluation. (I've seen at least one, er, very lively discussion at a hiring meeting about just this question.)