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George H. W. Bush (2) vs. William Carlos Willams; Mel Brooks advances

All of yesterday’s comments favored Mr. Blazing Saddles. Jeff had a good statistics-themed comment:

Mel Brooks created Get Smart (along with Buck Henry), which suggests a number of seminar topics of interest to readers of this blog.

“Missed It By That Much: Why Predictive Models Don’t Always Pick the Winner”

“Sorry About That, Chief: Unconscious Researcher Biases”

“I Asked You Not to Tell Me That: How Not to Respond to Replication Failures”

And Jrc has the pithy summary:

Mel Brooks: EGOT

Chris Christie: GTFO

I’d rather see the guy who came up with the line, It’s good to be the king, than the guy who really was king—of New Jersey—and all he did with it was hog a beach.

As for today’s matchup . . . G. H. W. Bush is seeded #2 in the Magicians category but not because of any talent at performing magic; he’s just the second-most-famous person in that category. And William Carlos Williams is an unseeded Jerseyite. It’s your choice: you could get stories about the secret service, Iran-Contra, etc., or some modernist poetry. The winner will probably get wiped out in the second round, as he’ll have to face either David Sedaris or Stanislaw Ulam.

Again, the full bracket is here, and here are the rules:

We’re trying to pick the ultimate seminar speaker. I’m not asking for the most popular speaker, or the most relevant, or the best speaker, or the deepest, or even the coolest, but rather some combination of the above.

I’ll decide each day’s winner not based on a popular vote but based on the strength and amusingness of the arguments given by advocates on both sides. So give it your best!


  1. Ethan Bolker says:

    Who could pass up a chance to hear about what depends on a red wheelbarrow?

  2. Dzhaughn says:

    WCW can speak to scholars in the sciences as well as the humanities, including to issues frequently discussed in this blog. He was a practicing MD, after all. Keep your day job, poets! And, were he freed like our generation from the shackles of musicality and good taste in general, he might have written:

    so much depends

    a red (or pink!)

    near the e

    besides the large

    It seems he experienced the Piranha Principle as a thing immanent in his yard.

    He’s my guy in this whole tournament. Bush has a history of tough draws, except for Dukakis. It is compelling that his initials are an anagram of the station that produced Julia Child’s show.

  3. J Storrs Hall says:

    I have eaten
    the money
    that was in
    the piggybank

    you were probably
    for retirement

    Forgive me
    it was delicious
    so sweet
    read my lips

  4. jrc says:

    This is like a mediocre World Cup group stage match between two countries with the combined population of Florida. No one really cares, the quality isn’t real high, and you just sorta root for the team least likely to ever play in a world cup again.

    It’s now or never for Bush – its not like he’ll crack a Presidents of the United States category. Or Vice-Presidents or Directors of the CIA for that matter. William Williams can compete again in three years in the double-name category. Seed him somewhere between Boutros Boutros and Fan Bingbing.

  5. WCW: “The arts have a complex relation to society. The poet isn’t a fixed phenomenon, no more is his work. That might be a note on current affairs, a diagnosis, a plan for procedure, a retrospect—all in its own peculiarly enduring form. There need be nothing limited or frustrated about that. It may be a throw-off from the most violent and successful action or run parallel to it, a saga. It may be the picking out of an essential detail for memory, something to be set aside for further study, a sort of shorthand of emotional significances for later reference.”

    HWB: “I have spoken of a thousand points of light, of all the community organizations that are spread like stars throughout the Nation, doing good. We will work hand in hand, encouraging, sometimes leading, sometimes being led, rewarding. We will work on this in the White House, in the Cabinet agencies. I will go to the people and the programs that are the brighter points of light, and I will ask every member of my government to become involved. The old ideas are new again because they are not old, they are timeless: duty, sacrifice, commitment, and a patriotism that finds its expression in taking part and pitching in.”

    Does N=1000 cut it? I think it’s more complicated. My vote is for Williams.

  6. zbicyclist says:

    The consensus seems to be for WCW, but let’s look at the other side:

    GHWB gave great publicity to the underappreciated art of lipreading.
    Without GHWB we don’t have George W. Bush, so we probably don’t have the Iraq War.
    Without GHWB, Ross Perot is probably just another billionaire businessman, not the answer to a trivia question about 1990’s politics.

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