Saturday, September 22, 2007 12 Comments

Overcome like a fiend by the urge to link

I will be traveling for a week or so, so posting will be light, although barring emergencies I will get Thursday's update out on schedule. In the meantime, some links you may enjoy.

Frequent commenter Boris Broadside has escaped from LiveJournal and relaunched his blog, Former Kerensky. I have it on good authority that Broadside has a black belt in Public Policy, and wherever he learned to wield his axe, he certainly didn't learn it from me. If you disagree with him, prepare to be bisected.

Edward Williams' Reality, a poem in seven parts: one, two, three, four, five, six, seven. As always, Williams is a little nasty, but neither brutish nor short. My feeling is that these can be enjoyed separately and need not be taken as a single horrendous shot. The poet may disagree, but screw him.

(If you are reading this and you think Edward Williams sucks, please be prepared to make your case by sending me a link to your own work. I will post the link if and only if it is as good or better than Edward Williams. Unless it is really, really bad, in which case I will post it anyway, perhaps along with some mocking commentary.)

Michael Blowhard's infamous interview with Gregory Cochran, part one, part two, in which Cochran comes across as a cross between Richard Feynman and the Soup Nazi - see the comments to part one, in which yours truly straps on the gloves and goes mano a mano with Dr. Cochran. Who in all fairness is playing a sort of sixteen-at-a-time blindfold exhibition match. I think it's pretty clear that one of us gets pwned. But I will leave it to you, dear reader, to decide who. In all fairness, Cochran is literally my favorite living scientist.

(BTW, I'm not kidding about College Bowl. At age thirteen Mencius' team won the Baltimore area It's Academic championship, and as a seventeen-year-old junior he was the anchor of a side that came within thirty points of beating MIT, whose teams were perennially stocked with blatantly-ineligible balding grad students, in the regionals. He has probably lost a step, or even two. He is certainly a lot fatter, and he drinks more. But these victories (we actually beat MIT once, before we lost to them twice) were his great successes in life, and he is prepared to defend them by any means necessary.)

12 Comments:

Anonymous Kautilya said...

College Bowl isn't particularly good at testing either depth or breadth of knowledge. Ditto for the It's Academic format. Both are played by fewer and fewer teams due to a move towards "pyramidal" questions, meaning clues get easier over an ideally smooth gradient.

Indeed, teams that compete in College Bowl are routinely mocked and titles from the It's Academic show wouldn't get you any of the quiz bowl world's equivalent of streed cred.

A Masters level college tournament nowadays would have questions like this.

And a more average college tournament would resemble this.

If you wanted to test your stuff against what high school competition would be like now check out these , in particular this one, primarily because I'm in it, though my team gets killed. I would recommend listening to the pregame from the former link because the rules are somewhat different from what you're familiar with. The questions are relatively easy primarily because they're aimed at average high school teams (i.e, a question on sets that mentions Zermelo-Frankel in the second sentence, leading to a buzzer race), but it's a reasonably good approximation of how competition goes nowadays.

September 22, 2007 at 3:29 PM  
Anonymous tggp said...

I have to say, you're not up to Cochran's caliber.

I'll have to remind myself to keep checking up on Broadside's blog.

September 22, 2007 at 11:52 PM  
Blogger B. Broadside said...

Thanks for updating your link. My old blog wasn't getting many serious responses probably due to (a) people not taking LiveJournal seriously and (b) not many people being interested in both Karen Horney and the Dirty Rotten Imbeciles. My new blog is much more focussed, though it is still teething and it fusses occasionally when not put to bed on time.

As to the Moldbug-Cochran title bout, I really can't say who won. If there was a knockout, it was a technical knockout, and I mean that in the most literal sense of the term "technical". The combination of knowledge about economics, engineering, engineering management, and nuclear physics is beyond me. "Breeder reactors, gaseous diffusion plant, centrifuge, calutron" is included in the debate in parentheses. Oh great, another thing for me to not be an expert on. Also, there's the regional geography (Iraq-Syria border, etc.) that I know only a little about.

I do hope Cochran returns to answer the concerns of tschafer and Rick Darby, which I've been thinking a lot about recently. Not likely the thread will live on, I suppose.

September 24, 2007 at 1:24 AM  
Blogger Mencius Moldbug said...

Kautilya,

No, the quiz bowl world I knew was fairly laughable in its depth and breadth of content. The main skill involved was buzzer speed. It's interesting to see that the game has experienced a renewal. In the '80s and '90s it was a tiny remnant of its heyday, which was really the '50s.

September 26, 2007 at 1:53 PM  
Blogger Mencius Moldbug said...

bbroadside,

I don't think the question is really technical. If you're interested in the details, try the Obeidi book - it's available pretty cheaply.

Obeidi and his team once demolished and rebuilt an entire laboratory in a week, identical to the original, to eliminate uranium particles that inspectors had detected. When the alternative is death, smart people can accomplish some impressive things.

My problem with Cochran is just that he appears to have no significant interest in or information about Iraq or the Iraqi nuclear program, yet he insisted on making some very substantial generalizations about both. Since this is a sin I myself am often guilty of, it's easy to recognize and hard not to call him on it.

September 26, 2007 at 1:58 PM  
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January 31, 2009 at 10:45 PM  
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March 2, 2009 at 9:27 PM  
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March 2, 2009 at 9:28 PM  
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March 6, 2009 at 4:52 AM  
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March 6, 2009 at 4:52 AM  
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March 6, 2009 at 9:02 PM  
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March 6, 2009 at 9:03 PM  

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