Gender genie

by Micah on October 31, 2003

Continuing on the lighter side of things, this “program”: claims to predict an author’s gender based on a writing sample. I tried it with a sample of my own over 500 words long and it succeeded. But it failed for some entries on this blog. Only slightly more surprising, it also failed when I tested the last page of Susan Moller Okin’s “Justice, Gender, and the Family”: and the first two pages or so of Catherine MacKinnon’s “Toward a Feminist Theory of the State”: It might be interesting to test some longer samples, but my hunch is that this algorithim will usually predict male for samples in the genre of philosophical writing.

Watch out for the cereal killer

by Eszter Hargittai on October 31, 2003

There are lots of serious issues to ponder these days, but we shouldn’t forget about Halloween, which comes with its own set of challenges. One such challenge is finding a fun yet easy costume.

One year I cut up some cereal boxes, colored parts of them red with a marker, made some paper knives and plastered these all over the clothes I was wearing. I forget whom to credit with that but I thought it worked well. Nothing like a cereal killer on the loose.

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Libertarianism without inequality (3)

by Chris Bertram on October 31, 2003

Below the fold are some reactions to chapter 3 of Michael Otsuka’s “Libertarianism without Inequality”: (previous installments “1”: and “2”: ). Mike is giving a paper — “Skepticsm about saving the greater number” — “in my department this afternoon”: , so I wanted to get some thoughts down independently before they became contaminated by conversation with him. As always, comments are welcome from anyone who is either reading or has read the book.

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Michael Howard

by Chris Bertram on October 31, 2003

Michael Howard, the soon-to-be-leader of the British Conservative Party is clearly a man who is trying to reinvent himself. Chris Brooke of the excellent “Virtual Stoa”: reminds us of “one of the key paradoxes about the man”: : that the child of an asylum seeker has promoted policies under which his own father would have been denied entry to the UK. Tom Watson MP “lists some of the reasons why Howard was once so reviled”:


by Kieran Healy on October 31, 2003

That would be the fifth Rugby World Cup of course, which is being played down here in Australia and has, I’ve noticed, generally escaped commentary in the blogosphere. But any game where France walk all over the U.S. can’t expect much love in the strongholds of blogging. Here at CT we have a strong representation from the Six Nations, though I don’t know how many of them (if any) are rugby fans. Here’s an update on what’s happening, including details of how the left-wing solidarity of Crooked Timber might be overwhelmed by the false gods of Nationalism.

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League tables

by Chris Bertram on October 31, 2003

There’s much to amuse in David Cohen’s “survey of education journalism”:,9826,1074093,00.html in today’s Guardian. Those of us who are fed up with league tables evaluating and ranking university departmant can take heart from one published by Canada’s Globe and Mail which awarded high marks to some nonexistent institutions: York’s medical school and the medical and law schools at Waterloo. The methodology does seem somewhat suspect:

bq. According to the market research firm responsible for the rankings, the results had been based entirely on student responses to an online survey on issues such as the quality of teaching assistants, class size, availability of courses and the library services at their colleges.

Political compass

by Chris Bertram on October 31, 2003

“Brian Leiter”: and “Larry Solum”: have been posting about the political compass test. “Brian”: finds the rightist bias of law professors depressing and expresses hope that more of the blogosphere’s philosophers will take the test (including me). So here goes. And yes, unsurprsingly, there I am in the “bottom left-hand quadrant”: . I’m not sure about the company I’m keeping, though. George Orwell, Tom Paine and even Joseph Stiglitz and the Dalai Lama I can live with, but Naomi Klein and Tariq Ali? This chart needs another dimension.

Darkling planes

by Henry Farrell on October 31, 2003

On the one hand, Bruce Sterling “waxes lyrical”: about the weirdness of dark matter in WIRED this month. On the other, Jacques Distler “links”: to the rather more skeptical (and funnier) “Dark Matter Flowchart”: We blog; you decide.

Dept of Fair and Balanced

by Kieran Healy on October 31, 2003

David Bernstein, who has been relentlessly flogging his book via his Volokh posts over the last few weeks, complains about NPR:

bq. TYPICAL NPR ‘BALANCE’: I listened to part of the “Kojo Namdi Show” on WAMU, Washington, D.C. today. The promos said there would be three women Jerusalem residents on the phone, one Christian, one Moslem, and one Jew, talking about their daily lives. … [T]he Christian and Moslem [were] Palestinian spokespeople who had clearly undergone extensive media training … And the Jew? An extreme leftist who … seemed unwilling to defend Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish nation. … Kojo did try to note that none of the political movements represented in the current Palestinian government believe in non-violent resistance, but he backed down when the Palestinians objected. Disgusting.

Indeed. To coin a phrase. Decent people with a concern for standards in broadcasting ought to be appalled. Meanwhile, David says in his next post,

bq. You can catch me on the Rush Limbaugh Show, guest host Walter Williams, tomorrow (Friday) at around 2:05.

Yeah, yeah I know what you’re going to say about the difference between NPR and Rush. And believe me, I fully agree. One has for years received the benefit of a modest public subsidy and so has an obligation to be objective and balanced in all aspects of its broadcasting mission, perhaps even its phone-in talk shows; whereas the other has for years been the platform of a drug-addled, draft-dodging, hypocritical old bigot who spews lies and hatred like a slurry spreader shifts pigshit. You’re right, you’re right. I’m sorry.