Monthly Archives: January 2008

every talk is a job talk, especially ones called a job talk

People often say that every talk is a job talk. I think this is a reasonable approach. And to be clear, “job talk” refers to more than the presentation itself. It’s about the time spent at the host institution overall. You want to make a good impression when you go and visit a school. Making a good impression includes showing at least some level of interest in the department where you are giving a talk. I guess one could argue that in some cases a person can afford to be smug (e.g., seniority, fame, etc.), but personally, I see little reason for such behavior. Continue reading

black vs african american

This may be the wrong network for this question, but here’s a try. In general, the terms “Black” and “African American” are considered non-derogatory among people in that group, with some preferring one and others the other and many people using them interchangeably. By contrast, many White young people are being taught that “African American” is the only acceptable term, and that “Black” is insulting. I am getting feedback from my students — few of whom are Black, some of whom have gone to integrated schools — that there are places where young AfAm/Black people take offense at the term Black, and other places where young AfAm/Black people laugh off or dislike African American and strongly prefer Black. So I’m pretty sure this is varying. My question is, does anybody know the parameters of how it is varying? What geographic areas or types of places go one way or the other? My hypothesis is that the only places where African American is preferred and Black is seen as derogatory is in White-dominated schools where the Black/AfAm kids are picking up what White kids are taught. But that could be wrong. Continue reading

how often does this happen to you?

You pick up a journal. You look through it. You know that what’s in there is “sociology”. But then you think to yourself, “I don’t recognize this stuff as what I do. It seems like an entirely different discipline; one I’m not remotely interested in!” It happens to me more often than I should probably admit. More of an indictment of me than of our discipline. And the experience becomes more jarring when I think of Science and Nature – the breadth of disciplinary bounds that those journals cover, yet still make attempts at being somewhat coherent.

canadian women more feminist than american?

That is what this essay by journalist Michael Valpy on the decline of religious identity and attendance in Canada implies. The article goes through several explanations of why Canadians have become sharply less religious since the 1960s. Rejecting other explanations, such as the postmodern condition and declines in voluntary participation in general, the article focuses in on the oppression of women by numerous religious institutions.

Basically, Valpy claims that Canadian women refuse to tolerate their church-assigned role as asexual, submissive supporters of their husbands and families. Continue reading

way to perpetuate stereotypes

From a video by the Stanford Environmental Health and Safety group (actual video not available without an ID):

“So clean your toaster, or get your mom to come here and live with you.”

And no, it’s not just on some obscure video one can only view with a campus ID , it also got blasted to tens of thousands of people via the university’s monthly email newsletter as the featured “heard on campus” quote of the month.

’twas the night before Tax Day… or is that Happy Helicopter Day?

A correspondent asks:

I’m searching for economic advice. If I were to create a national holiday meant to coincide with the stimulus package being planned in Washington, when would be a good time to have the holiday?

It’s not so much an economic question, and I dunno. Perhaps, like “Love Day” from The Simpsons [*], it should fill in the gap between established spending opportunities. In one of many cases of life imitating The Simpsons, many of those gaps have been filled — as Easter, for one thing, is being marketed increasingly as Christmas II rather than Chocolate Bunny Time. Otherwise, I don’t think windfall opportunities for the Mobility are consistently timed enough to locate the day that’s the statistical middle of them.

Any thoughts?

Added: Ben Bernanke’s birthday is in mid-December, but Alan Greenspan’s (March 6) is sitting there right in the late-winter doldrums.


[*] Not to be confused with “Love Day” (2004) from Blue’s Clues [**], though I’ve wondered whether that’s a deliberate wink at parents trapped in front of the Tube with their toddlers.

[**] And I never thought I’d say it, but Dora the Explorer makes Blue’s Clues look like Twin Peaks.

my first ever meeting on a university-wide committee

Being tenured means more committee work. Yesterday I had my first meeting as the social sciences representative on a small, but university-wide, committee about the future of research computing at Northwestern. Five minutes in and it was clear I am not going to have much to contribute, as several of the other members are computing experts with intimate familiarity of Northwestern’s computing. The meeting was scheduled for one hour but went for an hour and forty minutes. One man, an executive in Northwestern’s IT office, was especially enthusiastic about what the committee might be able to accomplish over its meetings between now and April, and he was quite eloquent in explaining Northwestern computing as it now stands. He also was good about articulating specific steps for the next meeting, and he closed by describing how he would coordinate our figuring out our schedules for subsequent meetings. Tonight I get home from having dinner with some friends and there’s an e-mail and:

Continue reading

lyrics of the day:

“Sometimes you’re the windshield. Sometimes you’re the bug.”

~ Mary Chapin Carpenter, “The Bug”

’nuff said.

fun times: mission statements

I’ve blogged before about the pointless activity of writing mission statements. Today I received a link to this dandy little article which reveals some of the incredibly profound discussions surrounding the writing and adoption of mission statements.

“How can you possibly say our mission is ‘research and teaching?’ It’s so obvious that it’s ‘teaching and research!'”

“The heck you say! It’s not ‘research’ anyhow! That leaves out performance and visual arts!”

And it continues. Worth a read.

memory lane: shirley chisholm

I’d forgotten until I saw a mention of her on another blog.  My first big foray into politics was in 1972, when I worked on the Shirley Chisholm campaign in North Carolina.  “Unbought and Unbossed.”   My memories of this are hazy.   My biggest excitement was meeting her and getting her autograph.  I think most of the people in the campaign were White feminists.  I remember accosting some Black guys selling the Black Panther newspaper, urging them to vote for her.*  I remember going to a precinct meeting where it turned out the McGovern forces had organized a railroad.  She wouldn’t have done any worse in the general election than he did.  Some links: one and another.

*My racial politics were what could be called well-meaning, egalitarian and naive in those days.

which blog would you choose to review your book?

Or, would you prefer traditional peer review?  Which do you think would most improve your manuscript?

See this article in today’s Chronicle.

is it because they’re all voting for edwards?

Story on, right now:


I notice that is not presently running a companion story: “Gender or race: white male voters face tough choices in S.C.” (Update: Continue reading


Like our illustrious fellow blogger, I suffer from insomnia. And now I know why. Okay, so maybe I don’t really know why. But it could be a reason. Save your money, Jeremy! Don’t go to a sleep center. First try not talking on the phone before bed. I also cut out caffeine after 5. Which makes me seem much older than my 29 years. I may go to one of those sleep centers still. These days in NYC it seems like the hip thing to do.

whorls of will

I write this from my elliptical trainer. I suppose one might see pathology in someone squeezing his laptop into his elliptical trainer’s magazine rack, but at least my water bottle holder contains a bottle of actual water, not Coke Zero like yesterday morning. The real point for this post is that I don’t especially want to be on my elliptical trainer right now, and the only reason I am is because of the public resolution I made on the New Year’s Day either to work out 200 days in 2008 or pay $25 to some despised cause for each day below that. I have to work out 11 out of 20 days to meet that goal, and this will be my 12th goal star in 2008’s first 20 days, so I’m staying just ahead like the electric rabbit at a dog racing track. Continue reading


Joining blogland has been interesting, if time consuming.  I’ve been particularly interested in tapping into the universe of Black & biracial blogs, the debates about adoption, and the academic blogs.  I also realized I have been on a run of non-sociological experiences this week.  After a week spent nose down finishing a grant proposal (the sociology part), I have had or will have the following experiences within a four-day period.  (1) The final meeting Friday of a  commission hammering out proposals to address issues of racial bias.  I’m the only academic in the group, which has lots of lawyers, judges, social service professionals, and public officials.  About half are Black.  Very different from the very pale academic circles that I usually move in, and an interesting good experience, although not without its frustrations in terms of process.  (2) Spending the night sleeping on a cot at my church, where I’m doing my turn as a volunteer in a program providing temporary housing for homeless people.  A couple of new families had moved into the program and the women sat up late last night talking with each other, forming relationships and getting to know one another, while my husband and I went to sleep on cots in the other room.   This morning we got up at 6 to put on the coffee and provide whatever assistance we could, as the families had to be up, have all their possessions packed for the move to the next church, and out by 7 am to go to the day center while volunteers came in to clean out the rooms so they would be ready for Sunday School by 9.  (3) Tomorrow I’m supposed to give a lunch talk to a group of Democrats about racial issues in my community; they want an update about what has been happening in the Commission.  I have not figured out what to tell them.  I’ll have to call the organizer to remind myself what to say, as they won’t be set up for my usual PowerPoint spiel.  I also suddenly realized this morning that classes start Tuesday and I don’t have the syllabus updated and printed for my 150 students, so I’m going to have to (one again) impose on the good will of the office staff to get it ready on time.  At least the class is in the afternoon.  And I have a ton of work to do to get ready for my Wednesday graduate seminar.  Moving right along.


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