Friday, February 25, 2011

Munger on Tenure

If it's a podcast with Mike Munger, you should listen to it.  I don't care what it's about.

His most recent is on tenure.  Very sobering.

The only thing that matters, he says several times, is years 1 - 3.  By year 4, any new projects you start are not going to have had time to make any impact and won't influence your external letters. 

I am now coming up on the end of year 3.

Have a nice weekend alone in the office, Phil.

Poverty, Bargaining, and Civil War Bleg

Three posts in one day?  I clearly need a life.

I'm stuck working on the packaging for one of the papers I'll be presenting at Midwest next month, and I'd love some feedback from you all.

We've got the results, and we think they're pretty interesting, but I'm trying to figure out how to explain them in an intuitive way, sans notation, that makes sense to people without losing all the actual insight (such as it is).  So I'd be curious to know if what you find below the fold sounds 1) trivial and/or 2) confusing.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

My War & International Security Class, Part II

As discussed here, I'm posting material from my undergraduate course War & International Security.  Specifically, here you'll find the second set of lecture slides, the second homework assignment, and the tip sheets I've provided students for each of the three parts of the second homework.

I'm mostly posting the slides in black and white to keep them printer friendly.  In a few lectures, I used color-coding to help students keep track of notation, so you'll find a few of the lectures are in color.  Specifically, in models with incomplete information, I've used different colors to refer to quantities that are defined in relation to specific types.  I'm not sure my students found that as helpful as I'd hoped, but I don't know if that's just because many of them wouldn't be willing/able to follow as closely as I'd like no matter what...

Next time around, I will make more time for numerical examples.  My sense is that students have less trouble with math per se than they do with thinking generally.  But I'd welcome any other feedback on how I might make this material more accessible.

The Fear Wall Broke

A friend and I were discussing events in Libya yesterday.  He sends along this link, wherein a man in Libya explains

"We can speak now.  The fear wall broke. Even after the killing, nobody is getting scared. Their numbers are increasing."
That sums up well one possible explanation for why we're all talking about Days of Rage and the Arab Spring instead of one brave individual who set himself on fire in Tunisia.  That first heroic act was what brought the Fear Wall tumbling down.

My friend (perhaps rightly) thinks I'm reading too much into things, but I still think there's something important missing from this story.  Of course, if you're a regular reader of this blog, you knew I was going to take issue with this romantic story.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

How My Views Have Changed In the Past Three Years

Andy Gelman has an interesting post answering a question raised by Harold Pollack regarding the impact of recent events on one's views.

Pollack asks specifically about domestic policy.  My views there have changed, but no one cares about that, including, most days, me.*

So I'll limit myself to the international realm.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Can the SQ Hold in Afghanistan?

Dan Drezner has a thought-provoking post on whether we should believe the argument that the status quo cannot remain in place for long in Afghanistan. 

I'm going to (try to) answer the question he is right to raise: why can't it?  (Short answer: As I've said on here before, expect it to until a year or so into Obama's second term, then we're going to see everything unravel pretty quickly.  Maybe not in the first year, but it won't take long.)

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Peace and Prosperity Wins Elections?

As Brendan Nyhan reminds us, the outcomes of US presidential elections can be predicted pretty well ahead of time based on real per-capita income growth and combat fatalities, as illustrated by Hibbs' "Bread and Peace" model.

As a matter of prediction, fair enough. 

But prediction is not the same as explanation.  As a matter of explanation, is it true that voters always prefer peace?  (Note, despite the title, even I'm not contrarian enough to question the assumption that prosperity is electorally valuable.)

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Paradoxes of Prediction

The US foreign policy establishment is lamenting its inability to predict the future, and the Duck has offered some great posts criticizing these lamentations.  See here and here.

I agree fully with the points raised in those posts.  A few more thoughts below the fold.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Egypt's Next Chapter

With this post, I may have suggested that, like Glenn Beck, I fear that democracy in Egypt means the Muslim Brotherhood will take over and declare war on Israel.

I did not intend to suggest that, and do not believe that.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Failing to challenge or playing a bad hand?

I'm late to the party with this.  There have been some very interesting discussions about Academically Adrift, particularly the primary recommendation of more rigor.  See, for example, this post at the Duck.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Unseen Benefits of US Military Spending?

John Quiggin keeps the conversation going here.

In response to Dan Nexon, Quiggin says:
"I assume that if military hyperpower doesn’t translate into better standards of living then (given that neither the EU nor the US faces any serious military threat), it isn’t worth having. But, I suppose that if Americans would rather have international “influence” than decent health care, that’s their choice, and this choice seems to be endorsed by the IR crowd."

A few thoughts below the fold.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Collapse of Mubarak Regime -> Peace b/w Israel and Syria?

Interesting speculation here.

In a nutshell, the argument is that if Israel loses its confidence that its past border disputes with Egypt are resolved, it becomes more important to resolve the outstanding territorial disagreement with Syria, lest Israel once more be in a position of simultaneously having disputed borders on its north and south.

I wouldn't bet on Israel returning the Golan Heights any time soon.  But it's an interesting argument.

Incidentally, I found the entire talk worth a listen.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

My War & International Security Class

I've decided to start posting the lecture slides and homework assignments from my undergraduate course "War & International Security", which you can find here (syllabus here).

Only the first section, of four, is up.  I'll be posting as I go.  And yes, I know that Lecture 4 is missing.  I didn't prepare slides that day, just used the blackboard.   

Hopefully someone out there is interested.  My students don't much seem to be...

Blaming Political Science

Read this post by Dan Drezner.

I disagree.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011