Monthly Archives: November 2007

sociology in the news!

From the Washington Post blog [HT: rdstevens]:

“A very attractive woman — looked like she just got finished teaching a sociology class at Bryn Mawr College, if you know what I mean — she said, ‘Senator Biden . . . I came fully prepared to be unimpressed with you.’ I said, ‘Well, thank you very much.’ “Joe Biden , telling a Concord, N.H., audience about a young woman who challenged him for wearing a flag pin (as reported by the Concord Monitor’s Ethan Wilensky-Lanford).

Insight into what he means welcome. (Also, here are the people who actually teach sociology at Bryn Mawr.)

sociologists to the rescue – stat!

Earlier this month, columnist Paul Krugman wrote about Giuliani’s misrepresentation of the differences in US and UK prostate cancer survival rates and  their role in his  misrepresentation of health care reforms proposed by Democrats.

A more extensive listing of Giuliani’s mis-stats appear on the front page of today’s NY Times.

Perhaps one of our home departments should offer up a first year quant/stats student to help candidates with their counting (I’d say “with their calculating” but I don’t think that’s the problem!)…

(singing)

Happy Birthday to me, I’m thirty-three.

In honor of that, eleven trios about me. Continue reading

anomalies of rational choice

Why, rather than bringing myself short-term joy by looking at cheery photos on Cute Overload, or promoting my long-term well-being by being asleep, am I instead reading different accounts of this story over and over again, despite it being one of the more depressing and horrifying things I have read in some time? I mean, really, I feel like if I could, I would choose to take some magic pill and forget that the incident reported in the story ever happened, because it makes me feel so morose and angry. Yet, not only am I not forgetting it but I’m perseverating in reading source after source about it. Of course, given that I just identified the story as depressing and not something that would bring one any kind of happiness or obvious other form of utility, it’s unclear why you would click on any of the links to see what I was talking about. I hope you are more rational than I am–here, check out this adorable photo of a quokka instead.

i want to be on the editorial board of this journal

http://math.rejecta.org/

I think it’s actually serious. Thanks to Mitchell Stevens for pointing it out to me (give credit where it is due!).

what’s my line?

I was at a function this afternoon where I entered into conversation with a pleasant woman in her mid-twenties:

“So what do you do?”
“Most of my job is stalking professors.”

Quiz feature: What is her job?

Answer: Continue reading

go “elf” yourself

This is all over the internet, but now it’s here too: http://www.elfyourself.com.

We all know Omar can blog, but can he dance? Check it out as our household elfs it up.

how do you say, “no”?

Seriously, Any advice on how to say no? I’m not good at it. And it creates problems.

bite me, thomas

Just in time for holiday shopping, those of us who had to return items from the Thomas the Tank Engine trains because they were recalled for lead paint contamination were just sent a friendly email from RC2 Corporation, Thomas’ manufacturer.

Dear Thomas Wooden Railway Parent,

Because you participated in our recent recall relating to Thomas Wooden Railway toys, we thought this information regarding our production quality assurance and testing practices may be of interest to you.

RC2, the parent company of Learning Curve and creator of Thomas Wooden Railway toys, was featured in news coverage concerning the actions toy manufacturers have taken to ensure the quality of their toys and to ensure your child’s safety.

We invite you to watch the report that originally aired Monday, October 29 on ABC’s World News Tonight.

Um, pardon me, but you exposed my 3-year-old kid to lead paint. I’m not watching, and I’m not buying. Ever.

diffusion or confusion

The other night I had dinner with a group of people. Two of them had only met me once before. One of those two runs around in a former social circle of mine, the other does not. Despite the fact that when initially meeting them some time ago I had introduced myself as Jessica, and that’s what everyone around here calls me, the former referred to me as Jess in conversation.

It reminded me of the origin of Jess as part of my semi-public life. Continue reading

tomorrow never comes

Procrastinators have all kinds of things they want to do, they just don’t want to do them today. Maybe they don’t feel like it; maybe there are so many other things they feel like they must do today they can’t possibly contemplate embarking on the others. The problem is that it is always today, and so if you don’t do tasks some today, you will never do them. Sure, one might think changing “someday” to “some today” involves just deleting the middle syllable, but if that was the case then why are there so many things I’ve been meaning to do someday that any realistic appraisal would indicate I’m never going to get around to?

A cognitive-therapish check for “I’ll do it someday” is just to ask oneself: Continue reading

get a theory, would ya?

I’m currently in midst of writing reviews for 21 NSF proposals (which need to all be filed by 5:00 tomorrow before I head to the airport to fly out to Washington for the Sociology Panel…argh). Having read most all of them at this point, I can make a couple of recommendations to future writers of NSF grants, but I’ll limit myself to just one in this post. This same recommendation flows just as much from my experience editing the journal Mobilization and from watching innumerable job talks over the last decade. That advice is: get a theory.

The biggest problem with the vast majority of these grant proposals is that it is not apparent that many of the authors have a theoretical project at all, or if they even know Continue reading

gettin’ old

My parents are just hitting that time when they are getting too old to do some stuff, and we are about to begin some difficult negotiations over what they should give up doing and when. Driving is an especially sore point, since they live in the suburbs, where the nearest bus stop is a relatively long walk away. An even bigger hurdle to public transit is that they have never used it, and now that they get disoriented on occasion, it is probably past the time when they can learn.

That said, other than occasional confusion and some typical hearing and vision loss, they are perfectly fine staying in their home and taking care of themselves. I want to provide some support for them to stay there as long as they can, such as hiring someone to clean the house, maybe take them grocery shopping and to the bank, and find a driving alternative for them, like perhaps a taxi service that is senior friendly (for example, where they might get the same driver time and again).

My folks live in the Bay Area, so I am thinking there will be more services there than other, less populous, places. However, after doing some web research, I have discovered that the easy-to-locate services are for homebound seniors with big health needs. Fair enough, but any ideas where/how I can find a business that caters to more able seniors, as opposed to a social services model for those in the most need? Does such a business even exist, or am I stuck with hiring various cleaners/errand-runners/drivers on my own?

academic etiquette now that there’s that wiki

Departments that bring in assistant professor candidates and then make them find out they didn’t get the job from the wiki, rather than notifying them promptly themselves, are the academic-institutional equivalents of people who dump their significant others by leaving a voicemail. Continue reading

asa: a lobbying organization?

I just got the new issue of Footnotes. It fit in well with my attempt to look busy but avoid doing my immediate work. Two pieces were what I would consider “lobbying” or “position-taking” on the part of the organization (excluding a South African Scholar from the US and a letter of protest to the ASA Israel Boycott resolution). And I began to wonder what the implications of this kind of position-taking is for our discipline. My intuition is that it weakens our position both in public policy arenas and in the academy more generally. But rather than make arguments about it, I wonder if anyone has actually looked into this. Anyone out there know of some kind of work done on this questions (it doesn’t have to be about sociology, just organizations in general).

But now to my own uninformed mind. Thinking about the ASA I can’t help but wonder about PAA by contrast. As far as I can tell, PAA takes the approach that it is an information clearinghouse. Want to know something about demographic trends? Ask PAA. They’ll tell you (or tell you about someone who can tell you about it). ASA’s approach, by contrast, is to generate policy statements. Often on issues that no one has asked about. Continue reading

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