The strategic use of restraint in internet arguments

Sometimes, I like to argue. I spent eight years engaged in competitive debate in high school and college and the activity prepared me for scholarly research in ways that my classes in both of those settings could not. Early on, in the early frontier days of the internet in the 1990s and early 2000s, it was only natural for me to take my co-curricular skills and use them in earlier versions of social media—IRC, messaging services, public forums, listservs, and other budding spaces. Of course, conversations and heated debates online were a much different beast than academic debate (even when Continue reading The strategic use of restraint in internet arguments

Poli Sci Fi

I am thrilled to share that my co-editor, Justin Vaughn, and I have just published the book, Poli Sci Fi, with Routledge. The collected works feature several different authors, including three other bloggers from the Quantitative Peace. The volume connects central research and themes of political science to science fiction films and TV shows (specific episodes). The target audience for the book is first or second year undergraduate students; a potential introductory course on political science could focus on understanding political science through science fiction (the book closely follows several introductory political science texts). Naturally, other audiences certainly can enjoy the book as well. Often, Continue reading Poli Sci Fi

Mapping subnational administrative areas

Between teaching classes and a couple of projects that I’ve been working on lately, I’ve been finding Stata’s spmap command to be a really useful tool for generating maps to display data. One project in particular has involved the collection of some new data for examining various developmental outcomes at the subnational level. To some extent this is new territory for me, but the idea of being able to display the geographic distribution of some of the key variables that we’re interested in was really attractive. I’ve found shapefiles for generating global maps, as well as maps of the US, but Continue reading Mapping subnational administrative areas

Why Don’t We See Party Organizations In Faculty Senates?

What kinds of features would a legislative or pseudo-legislative situation need to have before would we expect the emergence of parties (or pseudo-parties)? The organization of political parties is usually argued to be a response to the collective action problem inside legislatures (Aldrich 1995) or outside legislatures (Cox and McCubbins 1997). But is the mere presence of one or both of these problems enough to trigger the development of organizations that look like parties? I’m thinking particularly of a setting that many of us are probably familiar with – faculty governance. Different colleges and universities have different institutions, but are Continue reading Why Don’t We See Party Organizations In Faculty Senates?

Recent Lessons from Games for Political Science

The board and video game world this past week have at least two compelling reports that offer some lessons for political science. First, David Hill did both a write up for Grantland and a segment on This American Life about the Diplomacy (the game) world championships. Players in this game have to focus on territorial control and creating/maintaining alliances. This strategic game from the 1950s lacks a true randomization component (dice, coin flips, etc.). However, the game is not Chess either.  Instead, the components that makes the interaction dynamic from game to game are the relationships between the players (up to seven) and the Continue reading Recent Lessons from Games for Political Science

Fictional Political Scientists

Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Carla Martinez Machain. She is an assistant professor in the Department of Political Science at Kansas State University. In having a recent conversation with one of my colleagues in the English department, she noted (with much regret), that the most common characteristic of English professors in fiction is a wish (fulfilled or not) to sleep with their students.  I ran through a few examples in my head (here and here, just to name two); she clearly had a point.  Soon after that, I spoke with someone in the Anthropology department, who decried the Continue reading Fictional Political Scientists

Data Collection Project: Songs that Mention Being a Specific Age

This complicated and strange project began innocently enough when I decided to make a mix CD for my friend’s birthday and went searching for relevant songs. But ‘songs about being xx’ turns out not to be a very straightforward thing to search for and so after burning the CD I was left with a burning question: why had I found so few songs? In this blog post, I look at which ages get sung about and which don’t, and I present a comprehensive list of 189 songs that mention being a specific age. You can download the list here, and Continue reading Data Collection Project: Songs that Mention Being a Specific Age

Star Wars as Civil War

Wookieepedia It should come as no surprise that, in addition to gaming (board, video, and card), enjoying comics and comic book movies, and about everything else that is nerdy, I enjoy speculative fiction (and fantasy) and that includes the high fantasy in space that is Star Wars.  The past six months or so have been a good time to be a Star Wars fan as the takeover by Disney has allowed us to speculate as to what they will do with the franchise, enjoy the news that they are continuing the saga, and encourage some debate as to whether the prequels Continue reading Star Wars as Civil War

The Military and Competitive Sports

I missed my last post, but thankfully I'm on top of this week's edition.  Kyleanne Hunter and Oliver Kaplan have a piece at Political Violence @ a Glance discussing some of the military roots of the biathlon. I've never known much about the sport's history, but it certainly makes sense that its origins are so closely tied to the kinds of security needs that Hunter and Kaplan cite. This was particularly interesting to me as both my wife and I grew up close to Lake Placid, New York. Lake Placid hosted the winter Olympics twice—once in 1932 and again in 1980—and continues Continue reading The Military and Competitive Sports