Total Drek

Or, the thoughts of several frustrated intellectuals on Sociology, Gaming, Science, Politics, Science Fiction, Religion, and whatever the hell else strikes their fancy. There is absolutely no reason why you should read this blog. None. Seriously. Go hit your back button. It's up in the upper left-hand corner of your browser... it says "Back." Don't say we didn't warn you.

Monday, February 28, 2005

Posts on Demand!

Some of you will recall that a while ago I held a sort of contest. Specifically, I challenged my readers, in the spirit of public sociology, to unleash their sociological acumen upon a pair of websites dealing with sex roles. As a reward, I promised to write a post on the topic of the participant's choosing. Well, of all the people who may or may not read this blog, only Tom Bozzo chose to accept my challenge. I think it's a shame that the only guy who was willing to do a little public sociology is an economist... but there you go. Well, I am a man of my word, so I conceded to Tom that I owed him a blog post. He, eventually, got around to giving me my assignment which, in the spirit of economists everywhere, has multiple parts.

And so, dear readers, today I fulfill my obligation to Tom by writing the post he requested. Since the assignment was given to me in list form, I will respond to it in like fashion. For those who haven't read Tom's assignment, and are too lazy to click on the link above, Tom seems concerned that his discussion of a particular newly-minted Ph.D. over on Jeremy's site and elsewhere may have been somewhat offensive. Well, more accurately, he's concerned that it may have been somewhat offensive and that the target of his tirades has become aware of it and/or that it may have reduced the job market potency of said candidate. You know, thus necessitating some sort of job market Cialis. So, relax, sit back, and enjoy my attempt to meet the Challenge of Tom Bozzo! (Cue the dramatic music...)

1. Assess the probability that this was a recreational visit.

Dealing with this issue is relatively straightforward with the application of probability theory. First, get out a sheet of paper. Next, get a pencil. Then, using your paper and pencil, define event B "a search for information on Salvador Navarro of Chicago as part of normal recreation." Next, define event A "a given search for Salvador Navarro of Chicago encountering the post in question." With our terms defined, it is clear that what we have is a question regarding the probability of event A and event B occurring simultaneously. Since events A and B are independent, we can represent this as: Pr(A and B)= Pr(A)*Pr(B).

As a side note: You might argue that, since many people devote more time and energy to their recreation than their work, event A and event B are not statistically independent. I am receptive to this argument, save that Tom has fixed the manner of the search (a google search with particular terms) for us. As such, we really have a special case of A and B where B becomes "a google search for Salvador Navarro as a part of recreation," and A becomes "a google search that identifies Tom's post." You could designate these special cases as A' and B', but I choose to just use the original A and B notation. The relevant detail, however, is that within the context of this special case, ceteris paribus, A' and B' are independent.

Now, having come this far, all we need to do is determine the probabilities of A and B. First, we'll define "A." I entered the search terms referred to by Tom into Google and examined the results, finding no links to his post within the first 150 hits. Further, a number of hits that pointed to information actually on Navarro appeared quite early in the list. Later hits increasingly referred to either El Salvador, or some soccer player I've never heard of. If we assume that most people searching for "salvador navarro chicago" are actually interested in finding information on Salvador Navarro of Chicago, it is highly unlikely that they would follow the google hits back as far as I did. Nevertheless, I'll assume that there was a hit within the first 300 or so links, and we'll assume that some superhuman searcher diligently checked every hit (And we all wonder how those rational actors in Economics get their perfect information...) thus placing the probability of A=1/300 or approximately 0.0033.

Alternatively, Tom reports that the link into his site was on the fourth page of search returns. With ten returns to the page, that gives us a second possible value for A, which I will refer to as A'' (A-double prime). A''=1/40= 0.025.

Next, we must define B. This is a difficult probability to estimate, since it asks us to know what is occurring within someone else's mind. Alternatively, it is necessary for us to assess how "recreational" Navarro actually is. As a first point, let me observe that the first 150 hits via google did not appear to include any porn. I know that's rather amazing, since virtually any web search returns porn, but there you go. As such, and considering that the terms "pron," "porn," "naked," "nude," "pictures," "butt," and "Bukkake," were not among those reported by Tom, I feel fairly confident that the searcher was not looking for that kind of recreation, no matter how attractive Navarro might be. In an attempt to assess the extent to which Navarro might be useful for recreation in other ways, I searched for mention of him on the website for Entertainment Weekly. As you can see I was not remarkably successful in this. Similar poor results were to be had using People Magazine, the Weekly World News, and the National Enquirer. I take this to mean that Navarro is not very entertaining and, therefore, is not much use in terms of recreation. Please note I am not arguing that Navarro isn't personally very entertaining, he might be the funniest fucking economist since Adam Smith (Who could tell a wicked ass joke) but there just doesn't seem to be anything entertaining about him on the web, nor anything to suggest he might be entertaining. Sorry. So, given this, I'm going to conservatively set the probability that the search for Navarro was recreational in nature, Pr(B), equal to 1/100 or .01.

So, now that we know that Pr(A)=0.0033 and Pr(B)=.01 we can calculate Pr(A and B)= (.0033)*(.01)= .000033. So, we estimate that the probability of a search with the characteristics defined by Tom is .000033, or that there is a .0033% chance that the search Tom asks about would occur. If we employ Pr(A'') instead of Pr(A) we get: Pr(A'' and B)= (.025)*(.01)= 0.00025 or, in other words, a 0.025% chance of the search in question.

Now having figured all that out on your paper, ball it up and throw it away, because this math is utterly fucking half-assed anyway. I may be a hardcore quantoid, but that doesn't mean that I think the mere act of assigning numbers to something makes it more accurate or more precise. Let's just say that the likelihood was vanishingly small, okay?

2. Discuss any lack of cultural sensitivity I (and/or just-tenured Jeremy) may have shown in taking pot-shots at a poor grad student.

By "cultural sensitivity" Tom could be referring to a lot of things, but for the sake of argument, I'm going to assume he means academic culture. I really don't see how Navarro's ethnicty might factor in here since, to the best of my knowledge, Jeremy and Tom didn't remark on that and I don't think ethnicity makes anyone immune to criticism. Next, we must consider what Tom meant by "poor." It is, indeed, true that most grad students are somewhat less than wealthy, and I would assume that this characteristic holds in Chicago, but I don't think his economic health is at issue. Rather, I think Tom meant "poor" in the sense of "pitiable and/or wretched." So, what is at issue here is: Was I going against the norms of my community by criticizing a pitiable, wretched graduate student in a somewhat tangential fashion? To this I respond, "No." In a more elaborate answer, I respond: Are you fucking kidding me? You basically argued that the guy's paper title was too long which, arguably, it is. Further, this guy is from Chicago, a school at which I have it on good authority the faculty eat their own young. As such, I should think Navarro would be used to criticism by now, and from figures whose opinions carry much greater weight than our own. Besides, the fact that y'all avoided the whole "post-colon" allusion in an intestinal sense, regardless of the remarks of certain commenters suggests a degree of restraint on your part. Finally: are you seriously asking me to comment on someone else's lack of sensitivity? Jesus.

3. Discuss whether it matters for #2 that the grad student hails from an elite school and has a Nobel laureate for an adviser, and thus is pretty well assured of getting a tenure-track job unless he has some disqualifying personal habits that somehow aren't evident in the first interview.

No. Any new Ph.D. who can't withstand the sort of light-hearted joshing you guys were giving him, particularly in light of the staggering irrelevance of these blogs to anyone, isn't going to get a job anywhere except for Southwestern Kentucky State Agricultural Tech anyway. Stop worrying about it.

4. Would I be a freer man if I suppressed or otherwise channeled elsewhere my urge to drop rhetorical bombs on my academic betters?

No. See, what the NCFM is arguing is that our attempts to rigidly control our behavior according to social standards are damaging to men. Specifically, men should be free to define their own roles in society, as well as their relations to others. Given this assertion, you would not be freer if you redirected your attention away from the pitiable grad student, since this is what academia might be telling you to do. Instead, you would be bowing to the dictates of an external authority and, thus, damaging your man-ness. You would only be freer if you defined your own role, which you indeed appear to be doing by mocking this guy's title. For my own part, I'm defining my man-ness by typing this in the nude with my nuts resting on the spacebar. Have a nice day.

5. Is mentioning this again just compounding the problem?

Yes, but not half as much as having me write this response is. Salvador Navarro, once again, the gentleman you should be yelling at is Dr. Tom Bozzo of the blog Marginal Utility. No, no, don't thank me.

6. Discuss whether this may be related to compulsions to, among other things, drop a few too many neutronium bombs on unsuspecting planets in a computer game of our mutual acquaintance. Does it matter if I play as the Elerians?

Actually, I'd say this is quite comparable to dropping neutronium bombs in MOOII. See, neutronium bombs can fuck things up pretty well, but they don't permanently destroy anything. Whatever they demolish can be rebuilt, often better than it was before. Likewise, your points about this guy's title are valid; it is obnoxiously long, but if he learns from this half-assed critique, his future titles should be sleek and sexy, thus improving his chances to become a mover and shaker in the field. You'd only have problems if you were using the stellar converter, which just blows the bejeezus out of whatever it hits, leaving nothing but rubble and a smear of radio noise in the AM band. In that case it would be up to someone else to pull the fragments back together and make something out of the shattered remnant of the victim. Even then, however, the reformed mentality would be rather barren, requiring considerable re(terra)forming before it would once more be fertile.

As for the Elerians- nah, it doesn't matter, unless you have a problem wearing a solid steel bustier. Somehow, I'm betting you don't.

I mean, I usually think they chafe, but maybe you're made of sterner stuff.


Blogger Tom Bozzo said...

Great, Drek! You have met and, indeed, exceeded your commitments. Per the terms of the assignment, if you want to keep this form of inter-blog communication going, I'm at your service.

Monday, February 28, 2005 10:06:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Please note I am not arguing that Navarro isn't personally very entertaining, he might be the funniest fucking economist since Adam Smith (Who could tell a wicked ass joke) but there just doesn't seem to be anything entertaining about him on the web, nor anything to suggest he might be entertaining."

I have met Mr. Navarro and could therefore comment on his ability to be entertaining, but I think that really might cross over the line. I will, however, say that I didn't hear him utter any wicked ass jokes, although it wasn't a wicked ass joke sort of event. I'm curious, though: if one were to tell a wicked ass joke, would one tell a wicked ass joke as in "that ass joke was wicked" or a wicked ass joke as in "have you heard the one about the wicked ass"?

Monday, February 28, 2005 3:38:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Speaking of ass jokes: "For my own part, I'm defining my man-ness by typing this in the nude with my nuts resting on the spacebar. Have a nice day."

Based on the number of words in your post that contain b, v, g, h, t, y and the surrounding letters, one reckons that your man-ness is negligible. (You set yourself up for that, Drek.)

Monday, February 28, 2005 11:18:00 PM  
Blogger Drek said...

AHEM! You were saying?

Tuesday, March 01, 2005 8:53:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Awfully narrow space between those keys. Personally, I use one of these.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005 9:46:00 AM  
Blogger Drek said...

Just when you thought this comment thread couldn't get any more disturbing...

Tuesday, March 01, 2005 11:12:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, if you can't take the heat, don't make gratuitous gonad references. Just sayin'.

(Christ. I come here expecting sociology and I end up trading anatomical trash talk with a guy named after waste products. I need to get out more.)

Tuesday, March 01, 2005 10:55:00 PM  

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