Saturday, December 06, 2008

Getting ready for the deluge

Universal Grade Change Form

To: (professor/teacher/instructor)________________________


I think my grade in your course,_________________, should be changed from___to___for the following reasons:

  1. ____The persons who copied my paper made a higher grade than I did.
  2. ____The person whose paper I copied made a higher grade than I did.
  3. ____This course will lower my GPA and I won't get into:
    __Med School __Dental School __Chiropractic School
    __Acupuncture school __Grad School __Mickey Mouse Club
  4. ____I have to get an A in this course to balance the F in ___________.
  5. ____I'll lose my scholarship.
  6. ____I'm on a varsity sports team and my coach couldn't find a copy of your exam.
  7. ____I didn't come to class and the person whose notes I used did not cover the material asked for on the exam.
  8. ____I studied the basic principles but the exam wanted every little fact.
  9. ____I studied the facts and definitions but the exam asked about general principles.
  10. ____I understood the material; I just couldn't do the problems.
  11. ____I can work the problems, but your exam expected understanding.
  12. ____You are prejudiced against:
    __Males __Females __Protestants __Chicanos
    __Jews __Catholics __Muslims __People
    __Blacks __Whites __Minorities __Jocks
    __Students __Young people __Old people
  13. ____If I flunk out of school my father will disinherit me or at least cut my allowance.
  14. ____I was unable to do well in this course because of the following:
    __mono __acute alcoholism __drug addiction
    __VD __broken finger __pregnancy __fatherhood
    __I have allergic reaction to brain work __I am intellectually challenged.
  15. ____You told us to be creative but you didn't tell us exactly how you wanted that done.
  16. ____I was creative and you said I was just shooting the bull.
  17. ____The lectures were:
    • __too detailed to pick out important points
    • __not explained in sufficient detail
    • __too boring
    • __all jokes and no material
    • __too serious--not enough entertainment to keep me awake.
  18. ____All my other profs have agreed to raise my grades.
  19. ____I don't have a reason; I just want a higher grade.
  20. ____This course was:
    • __too early, I was not awake.
    • __too late, I was tired.
    • __at lunchtime, I was hungry.
  21. ____My (dog, cat, gerbil) (ate, wet on, threw up on) my (book, notes, term paper) for this course.

From Donald Simanek, hat tip to John Palmer.

And here I thought rock was the Devil's music

People, from beyond the grave, John Denver continues to stalk this planet wrecking mayhem:

"A gunman in Thailand shot-dead eight neighbours, including his brother-in-law, after tiring of their karaoke versions of popular songs, including John Denver’s Country Roads.

Weenus Chumkamnerd, 52, put his gun to the head of a respected female doctor and seven of her guests as they partied at her home in Songkhla Province, South Thailand....

A neighbour said that the karaoke group normally sang Thai pop and southern Thai ballads, but one particular western tune could be heard often - John Denver’s ‘Country Roads’.

Country Roads is a hugely popular song in south east Asia and the neighbour said the revellers had been singing it over and over again."

For more karaoke issues in Asia see here.

Hat tip to LeBron.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Okies got Wings!

Both Hanky and Panky

This is pretty bad stuff.

This is not the first time a Republican administration has tried to block the emergency withdrawal provisions; in the early 1980s, a federal judge rejected a challenge brought by Interior Secretary James G. Watt.

Asked why the new rule was necessary, Chris Paolino, another department spokesman, said that the law had been dormant since the early 1980s, but that “it has again come forward and that makes this an appropriate time to address this sticking point in our regulations.”

The Bush administration is not unique in seeking to put its stamp on rules in the final days of its term. The Clinton administration, for example, did, too.

This week another rule made it easier for coal companies to dump rock and dirt from mountaintop mining operations into streams and valleys.

Anonyman has the red ass, a little. From an email:

I know I've opined on the danger of ignoring democracy to pursue ideological goals. But with the recent actions in Canada, which essentially has established a dictatorship for the next 2 months, and our spending a few trillion in Iraq to teach them about how a democracy works, I think these pale in comparison to an federal agency actively rewriting rules so that Congress cannot conduct oversight claiming a procedural flaw in a law. I was bemoaning the state of Rs to a friend, who's a D, he thought it was hilarious and said I was the last republican standing. Too bad they broke both my knees on the way out.

The Juice is no longer on the loose

Not after a Big Gulp swiggin' Judge threw the book at him in his sentencing hearing today. He got 15 for kidnapping (parole eligible after 5 years) an open ended enhancement for using a gun (to be served consecutively) and another open ended consecutive sentence for burglary. I am not a lawyer, but it seems like about 10 years minimum for OJ.

I was shocked to see Ron Goldman's parents in the audience for the sentencing. Maybe that is why the Judge made a lengthy speech about how this sentence was exclusively for this case and had nothing to do with past history.

Canada is Closed; Citizens Feel Safer

Reminds me of the old, possibly apocryphal, story about the laconic border guard on the Canadian side. American tourist asks if they can get back across the border, even if it is after midnight. Border guard tells her, "Yes ma'am; Canada never closes."

Well, yes it does. If the Parliament were open, there would be a vote of no confidence. So....close the sucker. The Iraqis, and other people whom we tell so condescendingly that they should have "democracy"...they must be so PROUD right now.

(Nod to Anonyman)

Women Should be Tools of Change?

Will Wilkinson, as always, makes some very fine points.

TruthThroughAction is not content to communicate merely that Republicans are a disgusting caste apart, but suggests that men with the right politics deserve to be sexually rewarded, or should at least be encouraged to believe that, not only will they escape painful shunning for registering Republican (or Green or Liberartian), but that the chances are good that they will be sexually rewarded for registering, voting, being Democrat. Implicit in this message is that the bodies of faithful Democratic women are tools for securing the success of Democratic politicians and their clients. For what is the sexual life of a young woman if not a means to the greater glory of the Service Employees International Union? What is casual fornication if not a Duty to the Party.

Lagniappe: Why oh why is "Gordon Tullock Sucks" the most common search over on widget on the middle right?

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Poor Mrs. Angus

According to the calculator at, here are my chances of becoming divorced:

People with similar backgrounds who are already divorced: 14%
People with similar backgrounds who will be divorced over the next five years: 2%

Looks like she is just plain stuck with me at least for another 5 years, I guess.

Hat tip to Justin Wolfers.

Phil Gramm Comes Up Big

Phil Gramm, in the NYT:

“Some people look at subprime lending and see evil. I look at subprime lending and I see the American dream in action,” he said. “My mother lived it as a result of a finance company making a mortgage loan that a bank would not make.”

Two differences, though:

1. Phil's mom actually tried to pay the thing back. No bailouts. If we get into the bailout business, why would ANYONE actually suck it up and pay back? Much easier to blame those "predatory" bastards whose money you borrowed, and wasted on a now worthless house.

2. More people seemed to understand that there is a positive relation between "risk" and "interest charges." Lending institutions have been under so much pressure to make loans (1) to people who can't afford to pay back, and (2) at rates that don't account for risk differences.

Now, was private greed complicit, or worse, in the subprime debacle? Sure. But you can't blame dogs for eating out of the garbage. FNMA and the rest of the clownish illiterate fellows who "manage" mortgages laid out a garbage buffet, all you can eat, free, come back for more.

(Nod to Neanderbill, who pays cash for everything)

Dems standing down in Minn?

As foreshadowed here yesterday. Incitatus, ooops I mean Al Franken, is withdrawing a boatload of challenges to ballots in the Minnesota Senate race. So maybe it's 42 people to read out loud from the phonebook for the next two years.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

The Animals Strike Back

Oh, and don't use elk urine as a mouthwash. Deer HATE that.

(Nod to GameBill)

Gridlock lives!

Well, kind of, anyway. The Republicans managed to capture the runoff in Georgia, denying the Dems a filibuster proof majority in the World's Greatest Deliberative Body. Maybe now that the dream is gone the Dems will ease up in Minnesota. They can't really want Al Franken in the Senate can they? Isn't that eerily close to Caligula making his horse a Senator?

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Meet my neighbor

No joke, people, Barry lives right across the street!!

Thanks, Marc!

Back at ya, Marc! And thanks for the ink.

Theory Theory

My little entry on the poliscijobrumors, on the thread:

Do political science depts even care about normative political theory anymore?

My response:

This is certainly a legitimate question, though wading through the dross and cleverness of many posters is difficult.

Economics went through something of the same debate, though there it was cast more in terms of the (non)centrality of "History of Thought." And with the exception of the a few rearguard actions (including Duke, at the History of Political Economy program), History of Thought has been relegated to something outside economics, simply a part of intellectual history.

I think that the place of Theory in Poli Sci is something more than intellectual history. At least, it should be. Ideas matter, or they MAY matter. Even the most doctrinaire Marxist historian thinks that the particular ideological superstructure erected around evolving economic relations matters for how the society functions. So, even if self-interest and materialist forces of weather, resources, and population movements are the driving forces behind history, ideas matter.

Grad students at Duke have to take at least one Theory course. Sometimes it works (students feel it is valuable), sometimes it doesn't. But I certainly find it useful to have a Theory group of faculty to talk to. (Two of our theory faculty are formally joint with our very good Philosophy Dept., btw, for those who think Political Theory is Philosophy, Poor Done). There are many questions that have troubled human societies for thousands of years. Sure, we have no definitive answer, but knowledge of the history of the arguments is something any educated person should have.

And, the consideration of the basis, and validity, of rights claims lies at the heart of many of the key questions in economics and political science. What is the dividing line between what is mine, and what is ours? How might we decide? How could we think of deciding such questions without a knowledge of Rousseau, Marx, Hume, Locke, Rawls, Nozick, and (I could obviously go on, but....)

I do think that the growing irrelevance of Theory that many here seem to perceive results from the willful, and self-conscious, distancing of SOME Theorists from the social choice literature, and the formal theory of institutions. Claims about good, or just, or moral, political institutions have to be founded on a set of principles of what is possible, and how institutional features interact. Unguided speculation about outcomes one finds appealing, on some abstract justice claim, are not very interesting as guidance for designing a constitution.

Many (not all, not even most, but many) Theorists are proud of their ignorance of the institutions literature. And, frankly, they have a lot to be proud of. So, Theory would be more relevant to Poli Sci if all Theorists would actually STUDY Poli Sci.

To me, the Political Scientologist who has never heard of Rawls, or Walzer, is no better than the Poltical Theorist who has never heard of Arrow, or Zaller. A pox on both of you.

Mike Munger
Duke University

The funniest sentence I've read this month

Ok it's still early but this is gold, people:

"Oh, how the letters UN must strike mortal fear into the hearts of Liberian squirrels."

from the irrepressible Chris Blattman

Monday, December 01, 2008

Starbury gets Keyshawned

After again failing to agree on a buyout, Stephon Marbury has been told "not to participate in practice or attend games until further notice,” by GM Donnie Walsh.

Steph had (allegedly) recently refused to play for the now undermanned Knicks and has been scorching his teammates and coach in the press (see the article linked above).

For those who don't get the title of this post, check here.

This is an ugly situation, people.

Older Blacks Appear To Perceive Their Overall Health Differently Than Whites With Same Abilities

Science & Medicine | Older Blacks Appear To Perceive Their Overall Health Differently Than Whites With Same Abilities, Study Indicates
[Nov 26, 2008]
Elderly blacks are more likely than their white counterparts to rate their health as poor, even when they are in good physical health, according to a study in the January issue of the Journal of Gerontology: Social Sciences, Reuters reports. Lead researcher Melinda Spencer of the University of South Carolina hypothesized that older blacks were more pessimistic about their health than whites and likely would rate themselves more poorly. According to Reuters, self-reported health can predict a person's risk of dying over the next few years, as well as whether the person will need care in a nursing home.

For the study, researchers examined the self-rated health of 2,729 people ages 70 to 79. About 41% of respondents were black. Researchers also tested participants' ability to stand from a sitting position, balance in different standing positions and walk on a narrow path. They recorded participants' walking speed as well.

Both whites and blacks were "functioning extremely well," according to the study. Black participants had worse scores on the physical function tests, were less educated and were less satisfied with social support. The study found that 27.3% of blacks and 8.2% of whites rated their health as fair or poor. Among whites, 17.6% said they were in excellent health and 34% rated their health as very good, compared with 8.7% and 25.3% of blacks, respectively. Researchers found that the racial disparity was greater among those who tested highest in the physical function tests.

Spencer said, "It didn't seem that physical functioning was really responsible for the overall rating of health. We saw that as an indication that definitions of health are very much culturally constructed." She said it also is possible that the accumulated affects of racism could influence elderly blacks' perception of their health.

"Fundamentally a person knows that what's going on in their life, what's going on in their body is true to them," Spencer said, adding, "It really takes a life course perspective to understand how health is at any given snapshot in time" (Harding, Reuters, 11/25).

(Nod to Carolina Guy)

The Internet is for....Pups!

I have said, in the past, that the internet has really one primary purpose.

But, perhaps not. The internet is for pups!

The NYTimes take on things.

(nod to Anonyman, who is en fuego, or "esta in llamas," in actual Spanish, rather
than ESPN Spanish)

Rules are GOOD, if they are OUR rules

A moderately disgusting development.

The Bush administration had promised not to pass any last-minute, hurry-up-for-political-reasons, new rules.

But, here we go.

Anonyman sends along a little ob. dicta:

The point at which I realized I could no longer be part of the new R party that W created was when I argued that as Rs, we should not be giving more power to bureaucrats to create rules (that have the force of law) just because we agree with the rule. We are essentially feeding the beast and undermining the R party as well as democracy. The reaction was a room full of blank faces and horror. I was seen as the apostate. Obviously, the people that thought I was nuts are still there (for now), I'm not.

The particular rule proposed here makes some sense. But I am worried about future NONsense, if this keeps up.

The other shoe drops

"Chavez no ira!" which being translated is "Chavez will not go!", which is what Chavez his ownself told his supporters at recent rally in the capital:

"President Hugo Chavez asked supporters Sunday to petition for a constitutional amendment that would let him seek indefinite re-election and buy more time to build a socialist economy in Venezuela.

Chavez, who was first elected in 1998, is barred from running again when his current term expires in 2013. He sought to abolish term limits last year, but Venezuelan voters rejected the bid, voting down a package of proposed constitutional changes.

"Last year, when we lost the referendum, I said I should accept the majority's decision," the former paratroop commander told a crowd of red-clad government supporters at a rally in Caracas. But now, he added, "I say you were right: Chavez will not go."

Any new attempt at a reform, which must be approved in a nationwide referendum, would open a new front for tensions between government-backers and their rivals — many of whom warn that Chavez wants to be president for life."

Wow a Latin American president trying to amend the constitution to stay in power, who could have seen that coming?

Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Abomination has spoken

The Sooners have pushed past Texas in the BCS standings with their 61-41 victory over OSU in Stillwater. This breaks the 3 way tie for first in the Big XII South and puts OU into the Big XII title game against Missouri.

If the Sooners win, they'll likely be in the national championship game against the winner of the SEC title game, which features #1 Alabama vs. #4 Floriday.

People, Texas beat OU and Texas Tech beat Texas. Here's how OU got the nod:

Big 12: Oklahoma (fifth tiebreaker)

1. The records of three teams will be compared against each other (all are 1-1)

2. The records of three teams will be compared within their division (all are 4-1)

3. The records of three teams will be compared to next highest placed teams in their division (all beat Oklahoma State, Baylor, Texas A&M)

4. The records of three teams against common opponents (all beat Kansas, only common North opponent)

5. Team with top BCS ranking (No. 2 Oklahoma, No. 3 Texas, No. 7 Texas Tech)

Is anyone up for a Borda count or something?

The Candy Man is back

I love the powder tossing Lebron commercial. The music is fantastic and seemed very familiar, so I looked it up and yes, it's Candy Man by Cornershop from their great late 90s album "When I was born for the 7th time". Cornershop is one of the all time favorites at Chez Angus.

Cool beans.

The spot also features the incredible Jaime Nared doin' her thing.

It's Lebron's world people and we are lucky to be living in it.