Archive for February 24th, 2008

Classification of people in politics and a moral

February 24, 2008

Brad DeLong classifies and tells us the moral too:

There are two kinds of people who get involved in politics–those who care about the substance of policy, and those who want to get White House Mess privileges, or as a consolation prize become media celebrities. The first kind–the policy people–will be loyal to a politician as long as he or she is trying his or her best to achieve the shared policy goals. The second kind–the spinmasters–will be loyal to a politician as long as he or she is a winner who favors them. If a politician stops looking like a winner, or if a politician starts favoring others for what they hoped would be their west wing job, they will jump ship as fast as they can–and you will start seeing the “infighting” stories.

The moral? A politician with an ideological policy compass is best off not hiring spinmasters as his or her senior aides. Hire people who care about the substance of policy instead.

Two strands that post-docs have to attend to, to attain tenure track

February 24, 2008

Chris Rowan at Highly Allochthonous tells what they are:

I’ve come to the conclusion that if you want to maximise your chances of getting on the tenure track, there’s two main strands you have to attend to. The first is pedigree – establishing a solid and consistent research output, most tangibly expressed by your publication record. Do your papers make significant contributions to the field? Has your output, and its quality, been maintained across different labs and projects, or might you just be riding on the coat-tails of a supervisor or collaborator?

The second strand is a bit more tricky: it’s about establishing your potential, your capability to move up from working within someone else’s research programme to devising – and funding – your own. By definition, if you’re a post-doc then you’re not a principal investigator on a project, but you still have to try to exhibit signs of intellectual growth in the years after your PhD, by pursuing new avenues of research as the opportunities present themselves, and being more involved when new projects are started up rather than jumping on board later as a hired gun.

A must-read post!

A linguistic question!

February 24, 2008

John Hawks puts together several links which ask and try to answer the question, namely, whether language extinction is a good thing. A very political, and emotional question, indeed! For example, consider Hawks’ quote from Pullum:

Pullum reflects on this point, paraphrasing it and calling for tolerance of this view:

In short, widespread faith in the ideal of linguistic and cultural assimilation should — especially in a democracy — be treated with respect and considered thoughtfully, not snapped at as if it were ignorant bigotry.

Which makes me sort of wonder just how sore this point is among linguists.

Having grown up in the Indian democracy that is both multilingual and multicultural, it is very difficult for me to accept the faith in the ideal of linguistic and cultural assimilation, however widespread it be.

The other effects!

February 24, 2008

Mozart effect is rather well known: Scott at Musical Perceptions links to a post that lists other effects such as Wagner, Mahler, Schoenberg, Stravinsky, Brahms and Cage — here is Cage effect for example:

CHILD SAYS NOTHING FOR 4 MINUTES, 33 SECONDS. PREFERRED BY 9 OUT OF 10 CLASSROOM TEACHERS.

I am thinking if there could also be Chembai (the child cries without opening its mouth), Kunnakkudi (child rolls its eyes more than it talks), Bhimsen (the child cries in a single note for a long time, and then rapidly changes notes) and Gangubai (the child’s voice drowns all the other sounds in the room) effects!