Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Word of the Day

Sasha Volokh at the Volokh Conspiracy notes today that
OED's word of the day

is bootylicious, first documented in 1994. Now I understand meaning #2, "Esp. of a woman, often with reference to the buttocks: sexually attractive, sexy; shapely." But what about meaning #1: "Of rap lyrics: bad, weak. rare"? Is it really an insult for a rapper to tell another rapper that his rhymes were bootylicious? The statements it gives in context seem ambiguous to me. Can someone who knows something about rap clue me in on this?

My comment (and certainly not a response) is that I much prefer the more elegant "callipygian", a word that comes from more classic roots ("kallos", which in greek means "beautiful", plus "pyge", or "rump"). The word was (to my knowledge) used to describe a famed statue of Venus. Personally I think that "callipygian" is more under the radar and thus can be used conversationally where for whatever reason, the more vernacular "booylicious" might be inappropriate.

Sunday, November 26, 2006


JacksBlackFaSho: i think your writing is clunky and has too many adjectives and adverbs. i think your vocabulary is bombastic, which looks silly on the tattered syntax

What the hell does "on the tattered syntax" mean?

Saturday, November 25, 2006

A good approximation to first

Apparently Donald Wilson, the chap who developed Lexis-Nexis (aka crack cocaine if you are a lawyer or a policy debater) died of a heart attack at 82. Obit here (WaPo).

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Maybe I should have considered Reed

I think colleges should publish a list of the statistics that let potential students more accurately understand the potential cost of a specific college choice. I think this list should include

1. The campus suicide rate
2. STD incidence, by category
3. Metrics indicative of the level of alcoholism
4. Crime data for the campus and surrounding vicinity
5. A metric indicating the hotness of the average student (A jest, spurred by the dismal showing of the university of Chicago in a (relatively) unscientific poll involving facebook and hotornot.com)
6. Data on pass/fail rates of the various core or required classes
7. Citation indices, and other metrics that indicate relative quality of specific professors and not just departments.

I think that the rationale here is that students who pick colleges generally base their decisions on cost, academics, and post-graduation income or career potential (which would include the probability of living through the experience). That's all information that comes with a low cost; Universities generally are very willing to provide that data in the brochures and handouts and websites that they publish, not to mention the ever controversial US News style rankings. However, understanding the costs of a specific location decision, or understanding the real costs of even going to college at all, involve a fairly costly research process. Additionally, even the people who do a great deal of research on college tend to not think of asking questions about things like the suicide rate (which I think might be an indicator of general student happiness).

IEDIT#3 (Jack's right): nteresting anecdotal point: I heard my freshman year that there were 22 suicide attempts during fall 2003 and that one of the more popular ways to go was to jump off Virginia Avenue Parking Garage.

Second edit: Here is the link to the Chicago Crimson article I reference in #5. Turns out the analysis was relatively more rigorous than I'd thought.

Core Curriculua

With recent changes in Harvard's core curriculum for law school and its undergraduate program, there's been a lot of arm chair discussion on what constitutes a good core curriculum. I thought I'd throw out my two cents. My core curriculum would span two semesters and every class would have an integrated writing element - that is to say, every class would be writing intensive. Numbers in parentheses denote credit hours.

Semester 1:
Economic Analysis Core (5)
American Gov. and Contemporary Political Issues (5)
Psychology, Biology, and Human Nature (6)

Semester 2:
Analytic Philosophy Core (5)
Sociology and Critical Theory Core (5)
Empirical Analysis (5)

Semester 3:
Great Books (5)

Economic Analysis Core
This is micro and macro in one semester, with extra emphasis on utilitarianism, public policy, and the philosophy of economics.

American Gov. and Contemporary Political Issues
This is your garden variety American gov. class with additional assignments, discussion section debates, etc. related to contemporary political issues. This will require, and somehow test students on, their reading newspapers, academic journals, and becoming informed of debates on a variety of issues. The goal is to cultivate informed, well-read citizens.

Psychology, Biology, and Human Nature
This is a survey of biology, genetics, evolutionary biology, psychology, neuroscience, cognitive science, and philosophy of mind. Psychology 101 is a joke, and biology is bland, but putting them together and applying them to a broadly important and appealing issue makes for a great class.

Analytic Philosophy Core
Students learn to think clearly and argue persuasively.

Sociology and Critical Theory
Students get exposed to social scientific theories where culture is functionally exogenous to human nature (sociology, anthropology, marxism, media studies, etc.)

Empirical Analysis
Statistics with attention to hypothesis formation. Students will read actual academic journals in all disciplines to learn about a variety of statistical methods to learn how hard scientists, economics, political scientists, pharmacists, financiers, etc. arrive at the conclusions of their disciplines.

Great Books
A variety of sections featuring maybe a book every two weeks and a paper on every book.

Monday, November 06, 2006

pleasant surprise


A friend of mine wrote, produced, directed and starred in this short. I enjoyed it, hope you will too.

pleasant surprise


A friend of mine wrote, produced, directed and starred in this short. I enjoyed it, hope you will too.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Blog Roll: New Finds

1. Homeboy Ben DeClue, Ward 2 Councilman in Jefferson County, MO, has started his own official blog. Hopefully he'll have interesting things to say.
2. Future Chicagoan Shawn Borich has also started his own blog, the tone of which seems to be in tune with Shawn's (debateably) witty, aphoristic, and slighty emo style.
3. Franz Kafka, here. No, seriously.
4. Stumbled across a blog where this guy seems to be posting artistic photos of interesting things. Commentary has a definite slight marxist bent.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Find of the Day

Apparently George Allen has jewish ancestry. Like his mom.

Also, after a bit of reflection I am coming around to agreeing with Jack re: the Corker ad. I think the most potent argument is that any allegation that the ad is inherently racist involves a certain arrogance in that it assumes that the citizens of Tennessee are generally bigots, which is probably by and large untrue.