My Palin number

During South Korea’s latest presidential election last December, my colleague Han and I closely followed the race and collected Web data built around the candidates’ respective e-campaigns. We were very excited when a preliminary analysis of a part of the data was invited to the plenary poster session at the Harvard Networks in Political Science (NIPS) conference last June, but for a combination of various reasons, neither of us could make it and we therefore had to turn it down. Childish as it may sound, I was most disappointed that I had missed the chance to see with my own eyes if the campus is really like how it was romantically described in the Paper Chase. 😛 Things are kind of “on pause” at the moment as (IN THE MOST DETERMINED VOICE) it’s time for me to end my student life first.

Anyway, from this occasion, I was put on the PolNet-L, a moderated listserv set up as an outcome of the conference and have been regularly receiving messages about what’s going on in this field (For anyone interested, the moderator Scott McClurg can be reached at mcclurg [at] This post is about a recent entry by James Fowler.

As many of you know, starting in the 1960s, mathematicians had fun at parties (no, really) by trying to figure out their Erdős number. This referred to their minimum collaboration distance between themselves and the extremely prolific mathematician Paul Erdős — Erdős has number 0, people who coauthored a paper with him have number 1, their coauthors have number 2, and so on.


Well, today I learned from my neighbors that Timothy Carr, the man from whom I bought my current house, was leaning towards voting for Obama until McCain announced his vice-presidential nominee (stay with me here). But in what must have been a stunned voice, he said “I can’t vote for Obama now — I kissed Sara Palin when I was in high school!” (Needless to say, Carr is from Alaska)

So, astonishingly, this seems to give me a “Palin number” of at most 2 […]

As American politics always sounds very far to me, I didn’t think it was a message relevant to me at first and was gonna quickly cast it aside. Then it struck me that a friend from high school had worked as an interpreter at the meeting between President Lee of South Korea and President Bush at Camp David last April. This means, hang on, my Palin number is actually no bigger than 3!!!

Me — Kim JY — Bush — Palin

Hmmm, the world might be as small as people say it is.


2 thoughts on “My Palin number

  1. Oh my god – I suspect that mine is 4 as well! I have a friend who works in Downing Street, which leads, via the PM to Bush, to Palin. I might even be able to get it down to three if I thought very hard (in fact, through some of the people I interviewed for my PhD, it is certainly a 3!).

    But this is an aside. The key question is what your name would be if you were born to Sarah Palin! Try the Sarah Palin baby name generator to find out. Mine is Snowshoe Man Palin.


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