We Can’t Be Friends Anymore

With all of the recent bluster about North Korea, I’ve started thinking more about how far the NK regime can push its luck before it finally starts to become a burden to China, rather than an asset.  They seem to pop up every couple of years with some sort of wild antics, so I wonder if this time is any different?   The benefits of having NK as a sort of buffer state really seems like a relic of the Cold War.  This might have made sense on an ideological basis, as well as a security basis, at one point Continue reading We Can’t Be Friends Anymore

More More or Less

This episode of the radio show 'More or Less', available in podcast, has a nice discussion of Arrow's impossibility theorem. It's a consistently good show for anyone interested in quantitative social science, especially how to teach it. http://www.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/series/moreorless/

The War We Don’t See

This is a topic that I’ll probably expand on later, but I was just reading an article discussing the role of Hamid Karzai’s brother in the present Afghan conflict.  This article gets at an issue that I’ve thought about before.  From the FP article cited above: But he could not exist without the support of coalition forces. AWK has long worked closely with, and perhaps been paid by, the CIA, for whom he helps operate a paramilitary force, according to press reports.   As some of my research interests deal with the role of bureaucratic agencies in foreign policy, I find this particular chunk Continue reading The War We Don’t See

Scribtex: online collaboration for LaTeX

Michael Flynn and I have been discussing a new project based on recent data we have discovered and our mutual academic interests.  Given that we both have become LaTeX savvy, I was hoping to find a convenient way for us to collaborate without using the archaic system of emailing each other back and forth.  My first inclination was to check Google wave as I knew it had some LaTeX written scripts for it. However, the scripts are for formulas and not complete documents.  Google Docs is another option where we write the document in LaTeX code, download the document to Continue reading Scribtex: online collaboration for LaTeX

Lessons From the Past? Or Justifying an Idiosyncratic Research Agenda?

I remember reading Michael Tomz's book Reputation and International Cooperation: Sovereign Debt Across Three Centuries for a seminar a couple of years ago, and someone having made a remark about how Tomz was probably just really interested in the time period or the subject matter, but had to frame the research in such a way as to justify its relevance beyond what might be the author's more narrow interests.  Since then I've had a few discussions with some of my advisers on the topic of how we frame our research–essentially how we sell a line of research as relevant to our Continue reading Lessons From the Past? Or Justifying an Idiosyncratic Research Agenda?

The Development of Geocentric versus Heliocentric Models of the Solar System: The Predictive versus Explanatory Powers of Models

        The predictive power of a model does not always mean that it is accurately represents the true nature of what it is trying to explain. The geocentric model of the solar system is an example of such a case. Geocentric models dominated astrology and astronomy for almost 2000 years before scientists realized that these models, despite their predictive power, did not correctly describe the nature of the stars, the planets, and their movement. And even when the proper model, the heliocentric model, was discovered, it was not fully accepted until it produced better predictions. This case calls into question whether Continue reading The Development of Geocentric versus Heliocentric Models of the Solar System: The Predictive versus Explanatory Powers of Models

Economy of Force and Asymmetric Conflicts

Joshua Keating at Foreign Policy had a piece posted a couple of days ago that just caught my eye.  It basically talks about the current status of terrorist training camps and what the itinerary for the typical attendee entails.  It's pretty brief, but I think it covers some interesting subject matter.  And let me preface the rest of my comments by also saying that I am no expert on terrorism.  The following passage is the one that I focused on: Typically recruits are given lessons on how to handle small arms such as AK-47s and PK machine guns as well as Continue reading Economy of Force and Asymmetric Conflicts

Faculty Salary, Compensation, and the Cost of Living.

Voir Dire posted a working paper yesterday that is worthy of reposting given its broad implications. The paper "University Rankings by Cost of Living Adjusted Faculty Compensation" by Terrance Jalbert, Mercedes Jalbert, and Karla Hayashi in the International Journal of Management and Marketing Research can be found at SSRN. The abstract can be viewed at either Voir Dire or SSRN, so I will save the space and not repost it here, but a bit more information can be found after the jump.  It is perhaps sufficient to say that the aggregated and averaged data can be tremendously interesting to any Continue reading Faculty Salary, Compensation, and the Cost of Living.

Best Practice in Political Science (or Any Field)

Over the past year or so I've been getting more and more into network analysis–Both for its theoretical and methodological components.  For the most part, this methodological approach has not seen widespread use in political science, although network approaches are steadily growing.  Emilie Hafner-Burton, Miles Kahler, and Alexander Montgomery have a relatively recent article about this issue, although it deals primarily with the application of network methods to the field of international relations (which suits me just fine as I happen to be an IR guy).  I had started reading some texts on network analysis last spring, and subsequent to taking Continue reading Best Practice in Political Science (or Any Field)