Conspicuous by his absence

by Henry on March 29, 2004

Forbes is the latest magazine trying to capitalize on the blogging thing by holding a “best blog competition”:http://www.forbes.com/personaltech/2003/04/14/bestblogslander.html across various categories. It’s interesting to note that no less than “53%”:http://forums.prospero.com/n/mb/viewpoll.asp?webtag=fdcbiz&tid=187&lgnF=y&dlink=1&vote=6&submit=%A0Vote+%3E%3E%A0 of voters say that the best blog on the economy is “none of the above” (no other entry gets more than 11%). I imagine that the glaring absence of a certain Berkeley economics professor from the shortlist helps explain this rather peculiar outcome … (via “The Decembrist”:http://markschmitt.typepad.com/decembrist/2004/03/is_this_one_of_.html)

Books, journals and incentive structures

by Henry on March 29, 2004

As Kieran “says”:https://www.crookedtimber.org/archives/001588.html, social scientists are very easily seduced by their models, even when these models are actively misleading. Good social science should not only develop models, it should test them. Which is all in the way of an extended health warning for the following argument, which I’ve no intention of testing, and am not even sure I subscribe to myself. It’s indisputable that US social scientists look down their noses at their mainland European colleagues, who in turn are quite naturally resentful. Americans often justify their snobbishness by pointing to the failure of most mainland European academics to publish in the top journals of the field (which are usually US or UK based). Europeans tend instead to publish in edited volumes or non-peer reviewed journals. What I want to argue is that this difference isn’t because Europeans are any stupider than Americans, or less able to write interesting pieces – it’s because both Europeans and Americans are responding rationally to different systems of resource allocation.

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Blog coverage

by Eszter Hargittai on March 29, 2004

For the data geeks in the audience, here’s an updated version of the graph I created last year (see disclaimers there) tracking the coverage of the word “weblog” and “blog” in 47 US and international (English-language) dailies. Of course, this doesn’t mean too much except that the term and the artifact of blogging is diffusing in mainstream media coverage (notice the change in the ratio of the two words). It is unclear, for example, how often journalists in such newspapers acknowledge blogs as sources of information when they get a story or an idea from them. That would be something interesting to look at, but would require much more work than running some queries on Lexis-Nexis and may also involve collecting some qualitative data. Since this is not part of my research, I’m going to leave detailed investigations to others.

How do you roux?

by Maria on March 29, 2004

Here is something I just had to share, even though it has nothing to do with politics, philosophy, and the assorted types of cleverology we generally deal with on CT. But it is a solution to a particularly vexed question nonetheless; how to make an unlumpy roux. Roux are the bane of many cooks, since they so often end up either lumpy or burnt. But as they’re the basis of so many sauces, it really helps if you know you can rely on yours.

Like many culinary innovations – malted hops, blue cheese, potato crisps – my discovery occurred by accident/necessity. I was trying to prepare a chicken and broccoli bake and a chocolate and orange cake using only two saucepans and in under an hour to have them both in the oven by the start of the England-France rugby match and be able to serve them at half time.

So, instead of doing the roux in a saucepan (both were being used already), I made it in a tin bowl sitting on top of the blanching broccoli, just as you would to melt chocolate if you don’t have a microwave. The steam of the boiling water melted the butter quickly but didn’t burn it, and the flour mixed in without a single lump as the heat was so evenly dispersed. There was barely any need to stir and the whole thing took about 3 minutes from start to finish.

People are always saying their methods are foolproof when they’re not, but I promise that this one cannot fail…