Iterated PD

by Chris Bertram on October 20, 2004

Tyler Cowen “had a discussion of this”: a few days ago, but I think it worth a mention here: tit-for-tat was beaten in a recent iterated PD computer tournament. The winners entered a large number of different strategies programmed to communicate with one another. By signalling their existence to their confederates and adopting master and slave roles, some strategies were able to gain full exploiter’s advantage over many rounds and thereby build up huge scores. Non-confederates were systematically punished by strategies from this stable, thus damaging the scores even of conditionally co-operative rivals. Full details “here”:,1284,65317,00.html?tw=wn_tophead_6 .


by Henry Farrell on October 20, 2004

Two must read pieces by “David Glenn”: and “Mark Schmitt”: (discussion below fold).

[click to continue…]

Quantifiers and Sports

by Brian on October 20, 2004

It’s impossible to think about anything other than baseball today, so time for a little Yankee-bashing. One of the odd things about the Yankees self-promotion (which I’m sadly exposed to being back in NY) is their frequent comparison between themselves and all other teams in _the world_. This can lead to problems, because while the Yankees have won more titles than any other team in major North American sports, they haven’t won more titles than lots of teams in major sports outside America. But it can also lead to interesting questions. Here’s an example from “Steven Goldman”:, who is in general one of the best sportswriters on the internets.

bq. New York has won more sporting championships than any other city in the world.

Is this true?

My first instinct was that Glasgow would have more championships that New York running away, but maybe that’s overlooking the New York teams (especially the baseball Giants) that have left. Or maybe it’s unfair to include Glasgow. It’s certainly unfair, for example, to include all the AFL championships won by Melbourne teams from back in the years when all, or all but one, of the AFL teams were from Melbourne. So which is the most successful sporting city _in the world_?

Iaora Tahiti

by Maria on October 20, 2004

Pop quiz: name a wily old political operator who relies on the French Right to keep him out of jail and in power indefinitely while he out-manoeuvres the opposition and bamboozles the tax-payer.

No, not Jacques Chirac. His buddy Gaston Flosse, aka Papa Flosse, the president-in-waiting of French Polynesia. Chirac’s unbending desire to keep Flosse in power has thrown French Polynesia into a political and institutional crisis, sparking the biggest protests ever seen in Tahiti, and accusations by the French Left of a legal coup d’etat.

[click to continue…]

It’s not too late

by Ted on October 20, 2004

Bush is pushing Congressional leaders to pass the 9/11 Commission bill as soon as possible. The bill is in conference now. Katherine has a good post about the language re: outsourcing torture in the House bill. (The Senate bill has no such language.) It’s an exemplar of the saying, “Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays virtue”. Under the House bill, we’d still ship suspects to countries where they could expect to be tortured (like we did with Maher Arar). But we’d first get worthless assurances that the suspect wouldn’t be tortured (like we did with Maher Arar). Outsourcing torture is not only immoral, it’s irrational- since when do we trust Syria? Says Katherine:

It had occurred to me that even if one accepted that torture was good policy, it did not make much sense to rely on countries like Syria and Egypt to interrogate suspects under torture for us and faithfully describe their confessions. At a minimum, they were likely to exploit it to harm domestic opponents as well as dangerous terrorists.

We have an opportunity to contact the members of conference committee to politely let our concerns be heard. Here they are.

House Democrats:

Robert Menendez (NJ)
Jane Harman (CA)
Ike Skelton (MO)

House Republicans:

David Drier (CA)
Pete Hoekstra (MI)
Henry Hyde (IL)
James Sensenbrenner (WI)
Duncan Hunter (CA)

Senate Democrats

Joe Lieberman (CT)

Carl Levin (MI)

Dick Durbin (IL)

Jay Rockefeller (WV)

Bob Graham (FL)
Frank Lautenberg (NJ)

Senate Republicans

Susan Collins (ME)
George Voinovich (OH)
Norm Coleman (MN)
John Sununu (NH)
Pat Roberts (KS)
Mike DeWine (OH)
Trent Lott (MS)

Time management tips

by John Q on October 20, 2004

If you’re reading this, it’s a fairly safe bet that you’re in need of time-management tips[1]. On the other hand, the idea of a blogger giving time management tips is problematic, to say the least. Undaunted by this contradiction, I’m going to offer a few. The details reflect my main activity, which is academic research but may be more or less adaptable to other kinds of jobs.

[click to continue…]

Baby pictures on homepages

by Eszter Hargittai on October 20, 2004

If anyone has the time, I would love to see a systematic study of how many male versus female academics (or other professionals) portray themselves on their Web sites with or without babies. I realize the complications, e.g. really hard to sample people’s homepages, really hard to control for whether said person portrayed on a Web site even has a baby, but I’d still be curious to see someone gather data on this.

Here’s my motivation for the question. I recently saw a job talk where the candidate had pictures of his kids on his computer’s desktop. I have never seen a woman give a talk with this kind of background illustration (granted, I had never before seen a man give such a talk either). It made me think that this person could pull it off because as a guy he does not have to be concerned about committee members wondering whether he has a spouse who will need a job as well or whether he will take his work seriously despite the fact that he has children. But I recall plenty of cases of women who are married without children or on the market as mothers worrying considerably about how to downplay such personal information.

My impression is that men tend to put up pictures of their children on their professional Web sites more often, but I do not base this observation on any systematic analysis of the situation. I suspect the reason for this (assuming it really is the case) is that for male professionals to show themselves with a baby counts as a positive quality, or, in the least, will likely not count as a negative. It suggests that he is a concerned and proud father who takes his parental duties seriously (okay, that may be a leap:), he is an enlightened man. In contrast, I suspect women still feel that they have to prove themselves as professional first, parent second (or in the least prove that the latter doesn’t trump the former) thus prompting them not to be quite as forward about personal information on their Web sites. I guess one could argue that if for someone a proud father means an enlightened man then a proud mother should not come with negative repercussions, but it is not clear that the mothers feel that way about it.

Just among the people I know, I can think of at least a few couples where the man’s Web site has relatively prominent family information whereas the woman’s site downplays any such content. Even if it is simply about the parents projecting onto their environment how they may be perceived, that is already something to consider about how mothers versus fathers are made to feel about their family situations in professional settings.

May-December Marriages Again

by Kieran Healy on October 20, 2004

For the sake of reducing the general level of snarkiness in the world, the pursuit of truth to its innermost thingys, and of course the children, I’ve looked a bit further at the question of “May-December marriages”: and what that tells us about “revealed preferences”: As is often the case, the data tell us both more and less than you might think. The amateur demography continues below the fold, at “Holbovian”: length.

[click to continue…]