Google Scholar

by Brian on November 18, 2004

“Kai von Fintel”: links to one of the newest (and coolest) toys in the toolbox.

bq. “Google Scholar”:

It returns academic papers matching a search phrase you look for, ranked by number of citations. Hours and hours of fun to be had!

The academic contributions of blogging?

by Eszter Hargittai on November 18, 2004

I realize this topic has been discussed here (e.g here, here, here, here, here, here) and elsewhere (e.g. Brian Leiter, but also in the mainstream media: e.g. The Guardian, Chicago Tribune) numerous times already. I am bringing it up because I have been asked to speak to a campus-wide audience about academia in a digital world and I have picked as my topic: “Can blogs revive academic debate?” I only have about fifteen minutes to talk and I want to touch upon several points. What better way to prepare for such a talk than to try out some of the ideas on a blog? There are two main points I want to address and thought I’d discuss here a bit. I welcome your feedback. First, I want to talk about blogs as a great medium for debate of all sorts that does not always seem possible in one’s immediate physical surroundings. Second, I would like to consider how the material posted and discussed on blogs relates to published material and whether there is any potential for such contributions to count toward one’s academic achievements and service. I elaborate on the second point below. There seems to be some amount of disagreement in the blogosphere on this issue and I wanted to bring it up for some more discussion.

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A mathematician reads the election

by Chris Bertram on November 18, 2004

John Allen Paulos has “a useful piece in today’s Guardian”:,12243,1353369,00.html on the meaning of the US election and the tendency people have to draw sweeping conclusions about the US electorate from the numbers:

bq. Excuse my mathematician’s obsession with coin flips, but consider this. There is a large bloc of people who will vote for the Republican candidate no matter what, and a similarly reliable Democratic bloc of roughly the same size. There is also a smaller group of voters who either do not have fixed opinions or are otherwise open to changing their vote.

bq. To an extent, these latter people’s votes (and thus elections themselves) are determined by chance (external events, campaign gaffes, etc).

bq. So what conclusion would we draw about a coin that landed heads two or three times out of four flips (or about a sequence of two or three Democratic victories in the last four elections)? The answer, of course, is that we would draw no conclusions at all.

The inevitability of corruption (repost)

by John Q on November 18, 2004

Scandals surrounding the Oil-for-Food program and postwar reconstruction in supply contracts, particularly with respect to Halliburton just keep on going. So I thought I’d repost this piece from six months ago, pointing out that it’s silly to try and score political points out of either of these.

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The ugly game

by Chris Bertram on November 18, 2004

I may be the only Timberite who was both able to watch last night’s “Spain–England football”: (soccer to you guys) “friendly” international and who also had the inclination to do so. It was a miserable spectacle on nearly all fronts (the only mitigating factor being the brilliance of some of the Spanish passing). There was petulant violence from the England players, especially the child Rooney who was subsituted before he could be red-carded. Rooney threw the black armband he was wearing for Emlyn Hughes to the ground as he left the pitch (a gesture which won’t be forgotten when he visits Anfield next). England’s footballing display was miserably inept, but though I admired the Spanish on the pitch I was willing Jermaine Defoe or Sean Wright-Phillips to score at the end (they didn’t) as every touch of the ball by one of England’s black players was met by loud monkey-chants from every corner of the ground. Anyone who deludedly believes that the population of Europe consists largely of liberal sophisticates would have received an education from last night’s game.