Chronicle on Cole

by Cosma Shalizi on July 24, 2006

Under the rubric “Can Blogging Derail Your Career?”, the Chronicle of Higher Education has seven bloggers discussing Yale’s decision to not hire Juan Cole as a professor of history, and the role, if any, played by his blog in that decision: Siva Vaidhyanathan, Dan Drezner, Brad DeLong, Michael Bérubé (all: yay!), Glenn Reynolds and Ann Althouse (both: hiss), and Erin O’Connor (null result), with a “response” by Cole, which doesn’t actually address the others’ posts specifically, and reads like a separate essay on the same subject as the others. (Via DeLong.)

(Some of the things which were written about Cole as part of the controversy (e.g.,) give the impression of a professor who attains incomprehensibility not through obscurity but through foaming at the mouth. As it happens, though, I sat in on his seminar on millenarian movements when I was a post-doc at Michigan, and nothing could be further from the truth. I suppose I could have missed all the sessions which degenerated into hours-long rants about Zionist Entities… Of course, I don’t know why Yale didn’t give him the job, but if it was because they thought he was too spittle-flecked to be presentable to parents and alumni, they were misinformed.)

The fact that this post is not filed under “Middle East Politics” isn’t going to stop anyone in the comments, is it?

Critical Sensation

by Cosma Shalizi on July 24, 2006

First off, I should thank Henry and the rest of the Timberites for the kind invitation to guest-post, and that very warm introduction. In exchange, I’m going to blog more or less as I usually would, only here. This means some big bricks of posts about “complex systems”, so called, which is or was my scientific field, more or less; and also any miscellaneous outrages which catch my eye this week. Mounting my usual hobby-horses on this stage is a poor exchange for their generosity, but mounting hobby-horses is why I started blogging in the first place, and anyway I’m big on conscienceless nomothetic exploitation of cooperators.

Today I want to talk (below the fold) about some recent work in the statistical mechanics of disordered systems, which might help explain how our sense organs work, and actually involves some good uses of the self-organized criticality and power laws; tomorrow or the day after I’ll get to the smoldering question of “Why Oh Why Can’t We Have Better Econophysics?”

[click to continue…]

Frank Zeidler is Dead

by Harry on July 24, 2006

Via Scott McLemee I see that Frank Zeidler, former socialist mayor of Milwaukee and all-round good chap, died a couple of weeks ago. A wonderful obit here. Even conservatives can celebrate him — he was married just once, for 67 years, and they had 6 children. A good innings and a great life.

For CT extra credit, which cast member refers to Zeidler in Waynes World?

Guestblogger: Cosma Shalizi

by Henry Farrell on July 24, 2006

Cosma Shalizi is joining us as a guestblogger for a week. I suspect that most CT readers will already know his “blog”: and/or his “notebooks”: Kieran once expressed the wish that he could “upload”: part of Cosma’s brain; while Cosma describes himself as a “philistine physicist who gave up on Gravity’s Rainbow after three tries,” he’s frighteningly well versed in social sciences, philosophy, history and pretty well any other subject you might care to name. He’s also one of the people responsible for the exploding butterfly map of voting patterns in the 2004 Presidential election. Over to Cosma.