Category Archives: cryptic

ethnicity is the curse of culture

I wrote the above phrase in an email to a senior scholar (not a social scientist) I enjoy arguing politics with. I’m not entirely sure what I meant by it, but he liked a lot so I thought I’d flesh it out here.

I think the point I was getting at is that culture is about patterned behaviors, ideas, thoughts, styles, skills, habits–it’s something that’s done or thought. By contrast, ethnicity is a static label–a categorization implying exclusivity. It’s based on culture (whether practiced or just perceived), but it’s more than culture. Ethnicity is culture ossified, abstracted from culture and (re)presented to the bearer of culture, confronting her as if it were an alien reality beyond her control.

puzzling sign from campaign ’09

vote-no Continue reading

adventures in new york

So this morning I’m calling to set up an appointment to get my hair cut.

Shamus: I need a hair cut.
Salon: Great! [Details…] Oh! And we’re having a special right now. With a hair cut you get a free make-up consult.
Shamus: Um… I’m single. [Meaning: there’s no one in my life who could use that]
Salon: PERFECT! This could be that extra thing to give you a boost in your dating life.
Shamus: Um… something tells me… [Interrupted]
Salon: You know, a lot of men are using make up to enhance their natural features. How old are you?
Shamus: Um…29
Salon: PERFECT! I mean, you’re much too young for a little nip/tuck! But you’ll find that eye liner and a little foundation can do wonders, and even hold off that knife for a few years.
Shamus: Um… something tells me you’re not the salon for me…
Salon: WHAT? We could be just what you need.
Shamus: If you met me, you’d realize how surreal this conversation is.

Continue reading

conflicted

I have an old email account I check on occasion. Others sometimes mistype their own account and register for services using this email address. Most services ask for confirmation so there’s not much of a problem. In such cases I don’t confirm and that way the registration doesn’t really go through. Presumably the person eventually realizes this and registers with the correct address.

However, not all systems go through such verification. I just checked this account and noticed that someone has signed up on one of those social sites (you know, the ones like MySpace where you connect up with friends) and has since been accumulating numerous connections. I get a notification about both friend requests and friend acceptances requested by “me”. Continue reading

sometimes things just don’t add up

In having some drinks with Josh Whitford last night (and a group of Pakistanis and Indians), Josh brought up a nice point about “one of the fundamental insights of sociology:” sometimes things just don’t add up. Continue reading

speaking of snobbery

You try to keep the faith. You want to be fair. You certainly do not want to prejudge people based on where they are employed. The author/speaker is doing something with a title that seems maybe obliquely relevant to your interests, and just because they are based at a college you’ve never heard of–even though, by this point, you are a little surprised that there remain colleges you’ve never heard of–is no grounds just to presume it won’t be any good. And yet then, again and again: whoa! Holy bother is there some crazy botherbother going on in the hinterschools of social science! What the botherbotherbother is the impression of sociology that students get from these people?

I know, sounds bad. I will continue to keep the faith. And one does see good work, don’t get me wrong. Still, though. Holy botherbothering botherbother.

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