Monthly Archives: September 2011

ask a scatterbrain: lecture recording

A reader writes in, “I discovered today that some number of students have been audio recording my lectures. I never gave my permission for these recordings to be done. I am willing to allow them to keep the existing recordings and make additional ones, as long as they promise to use these digital files for their own purposes, and not sell or distribute them to anyone else without my express permission. I’d like them to sign an agreement to this effect. Can anyone point me to a useful model, and is there anything else I should consider about this issue?”

wait, why are we paying for this twice?

To promote an item Gabriel left in a comment to its own post: Princeton University has apparently approved a policy that prevents faculty from being able to sign away all their copyright privileges, or at least to require a special waiver otherwise. At particular issue is the ability of journals to demand that authors sign away rights to circulate work on their own webpages or to deposit it in online archives.

The robot dialogue I linked to before points to the issue where journal authors receive nothing from publishers for their articles, who in some cases make a good deal of money. (In the case of journals that are run by non-profit associations, like some major sociology outlets, the profit goes to the association, or the association plus whatever for-profit partnerships they have forged.) But, of course, it’s often not the case that this means the author gets “nothing” compensation-wise for their article. Rather, the article provides a basis toward getting a university job, obtaining a lifetime employment arrangement from that university, and getting raises from that university. So universities are paying people to publish their research in journals. And, especially with the steady evaporation of individual journal subscriptions, where does the revenue for journals primarily come from? Again, universities.

With electronic publishing, it seems like perhaps universities are beginning to get a little suspicious of this arrangement.

ASA Annual Report

We’ve been asked to be sure Scatterplotters read and comment on ASA’s first-ever annual report, prepared in response to our and other gripes about lack of information in the past.  Here’s the link: http://www.asanet.org/about/annualreport.cfm

sign here

Video of an imagined dialogue between a scientist and for-profit journal publisher [HT:JS]:

everybody hurts

Correlation, or causality? Within, as far as I can tell, roughly a 30 hour period: R.E.M. announces that they are breaking up; Presidential candidate Thaddeus McCotter is sought out by the media and says that he is “bummed” about the breakup; McCotter announces that he is dropping out of the Presidential race.

Incidentally, for nearly the past two decades, every time I have moved I have brought along and stuffed in the back of a new drawer a ziploc bag containing some 3.5″ floppy disks from when I was an undergraduate. The top one is labeled “G.H.M. and R.E.M.” and is a paper I spent a bunch of what-now-feels-horribly-misspent hours on, applying George Herbert Mead and symbolic interactionism to the observation that [now, what we would call "early"] R.E.M.’s music was more meaningful precisely because their albums didn’t include lyrics sheets and one could only occasionally make out what they were saying.

age of visualizations, cont’d

Awhile back I posted a link to a visualization of the expansion of the United States by the location of post offices. Here is an interesting visualization of the opposite sort: the change in Indian lands over the 19th century. Some of the comments on the linked post are also striking in a cesspooly way. [HT: SH]

diction alert!

A manuscript reviewer points out: “Comprised of” is incorrect. And they’re right! Given my battles against related things like the use of “impact” as a transitive verb–I have, in the past, asked graduate students to refrain from this as a personal favor to me if nothing else–I am embarrassed to have been caught unawares.

crimes of disambiguation

(What happens if you enter “Howard Becker” into Wikipedia. Incidentally, P. vs. S. led to a recurrent confusion among grad students when I was at Wisconsin, as the origin story of Wisconsin Sociology’s rise to greatness involves a story about the nowadays lesser-known and half-century-dead Howard Becker. Somebody should add it to his Wikipedia entry, although make sure you edit the right one.)

can you imagine if they proposed doing the same thing with handguns in west virginia?

The University of West Virginia was embarrassed earlier this year when a student wearing a T-shirt that said “West [expletive deleted] Virginia” appeared briefly during a live broadcast of a football game. Of course, what can they do, they are a public university? Apparently they can’t even legally stop people from wearing the t-shirts to the game. So, instead, they have instituted a buyback program where students who have the shirt can exchange it for $20, “no questions asked.”

beautiful questions

Beth Duckles of Bucknell University has written a passionate post on asking students beautiful questions.

Beautiful questions don’t rest, but rather are generative. These are the questions that create more than they stay still. Beautiful questions inspire discussion, debate, engagement, inquiry and reflection.

This is a very thoughtful response to the problems of grade inflation, lack of critical thinking, and a good counterpoint to our complaints of students asking what material will be on the exam. Duckles puts the onus on us to ask more of our students, and also of our teaching, and offers some good suggestions how to do this.

In my own teaching, I don’t have the resources to do much evaluation of critical thinking skills. It’s a shame, but it’s not something over which I have control. This post reminds me, however, that I can still hope to inspire more deep thought among my students during class.

the end of don’t ask, don’t tell

Today is the first day of the U.S. military’s acceptance of lesbian, gay, and bisexual personnel (which, by the way, scatterplot predicted last year–who says sociology can’t predict the future?). The NY Times has a very moving story of one Airforce officer, Lt. Josh Seefried, who came out of the closet this morning at 12:01am. Lt. Seefried had covertly organized 4,000 LGB military personnel in an underground social movement group. 4,000! That it “no longer matters” whether someone is gay or straight matters very much to these people, of course. Continue reading

godlessness pervasive in canada?

I don’t expect Canada to be anywhere near as religious as the United States, but these latest poll numbers indicate that only 53% of Canadians believe in God. The almost-half of Canadians who don’t believe includes 23% of people who regularly attend religious services, and a whopping one-third of Catholics. Given that the questionnaire is behind a $95 paywall, I can’t rule out wording issues, but even then, it’s quite a jump from a previous poll that put godlessness around the 25% mark.

kanazawa and racism (take 2)

Remember this? When LSE professor Satoshi Kanazawa wrote a post asking why Black women were less attractive? So, LSE has completed its internal review and disciplinary hearing. The result? Kanazawa is not allowed to publish anything that isn’t peer reviewed for one year, and won’t be teaching any required courses at the school. And he has to write an apology. Their response, and Kanazawa’s apology, after the break. I’m not sure how I feel about the response. But I am glad, for the rest of us, that we don’t have to hear his idiocy for the next year.

Continue reading

through the looking-glass

Nearing the end of a four leg part-business/part-pleasure European trip, from Helsinki to Tallin to Berlin to Luxembourg. Sure, I could post about all the marvelous and beautiful things we’ve seen, but I’ve never been much for travelblogue.

Instead, let’s talk design. Because Scandanavians are renowned for it, various slight adjustments that either prefer the aesthetics or functionality of things that might otherwise have seemed to be working pretty well as they were.

When I was in Oslo last year, the hotel where I was staying included these wrapped toothpicks that were slightly thicker and curved on one end and included, on the packaging, why this design was superior to the standard toothpick. And, you know what: they were right, and excavating stray bits from my teeth with an ordinary toothpick has felt substandard ever since.

In Berlin, we stayed at a Scandanavian-themed hotel, which also had various tweaks of design. The bathroom door, for instance, was a sliding panel that doubled on both sides as a full-length mirror. But that led to the curious design consequence shown here:

Continue reading

obesity or the octagon. up to you.

Spotted near campus: Parents, either you can have a sedentary child who sits around and plays video games all day, or you can pay to have them transformed into trained cage fighters.

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