the coase theorem in action is a terrible idea

Oh come on now, surely you see the problems with this idea:

The Coase Theorem says that — absent large transaction costs — resources will end up being efficiently allocated, regardless of who holds the initial property rights.

NYU Law School is providing its students valuable real world experience with the Coase Theorem, according to this ABA Journal article.

Continue reading “the coase theorem in action is a terrible idea”

the media, their spin, and sociology in public

I was called on Saturday to comment for a local news channel about John Edwards and specifically whether these revelations would be a “black eye” (the producer’s choice of terms) for the Democratic Party. My view and expectation: no, frankly, because Edwards has been receding from view for a while and because sexual infidelity and peccadillos are very much equal-opportunity behaviors with respect to political party.  The story that resulted is here. What do you think–overall I think the reporting was fair, but she really dug to find the couple of things I said that matched the “black eye” frame, I thought. Others have told me I need to learn to stay “on message.”

plagiarism and peer review

A friend brought this to my attention. Essentially, the author (Josh Rosenthal, about whom I know nothing) apologizes for using material, including both original quotes and the theoretical orientation of the article, from David Grazian’s article four years earlier.  You now know everything I know about the episode, but it does seem to raise both obvious questions of research ethics but also of peer review: how did one or more competent reviewers on the 2008 article fail to notice this before publication?

N.B.: I have the PDF of the now-unavailable Rosenthal paper for comparison’s sake, but don’t know if it’s appropriate to post given the situation.

notes from montréal

The whole family is in Montréal, hanging out while Husband brings music to the people. The VIA One train ride from Toronto to Montréal is like its own little vacation. For $150 or so, you get six hours of beautiful people carrying your bags, serving you food and drink, and using silver tongs to hand you a lemon-scented hot towel. Continue reading “notes from montréal”

public sociology in farmtown: extracts from #4 white supremacy

I will get back to finish the Farmtown series.* As my last post in the series (#4, White Supremacy) was characterized by one friend as “the world’s longest blog,” by my spouse as “I know I said I liked the longer posts, but . . . ” and by another friend as “you don’t write blogs, you write articles,” I thought I’d pull out the incidents that I most wanted to share with others. If you waded through the long post, there is nothing new here.

A Black professor in his sixties gives a lecture whose point is to explain how simple differences become schisms between people because of inequality. He then develops an example using the two white police officers sitting next to me that is an extended tale about what if you (white man) were always knocked down by her (white woman) every time she saw you, what would you do? The white man says “lash out” (most don’t hear him say it) but the speaker says that you’d just lie down to avoid being knocked down, and then goes on to say that you’d teach your children to just lie down and avoid the woman and her children, and the children would do it even if they did not know why. And, he says, the woman’s children would expect the other people to lie down, but not know why they are doing it. I find these different perceptions of how people respond to oppression to be important and telling. I think lashing out is what most whites do think the most common response to oppression is, not having actually experienced it. And even as much as I teach this stuff, I am struck by the speaker’s emphasis that you lie down to avoid being knocked down, and that you can teach that to the next generation. Continue reading “public sociology in farmtown: extracts from #4 white supremacy”


I’m sure you’ve all seen this.  Email sent to outdated list.  Sender not only uses outdated list but puts the LIST in the “reply to” field!!  So people respond saying they are no longer the contact person.  Snide person tells the first one to learn the different between reply and reply/all: THAT goes to the whole list.  Snide person number two calls out snide #1 and THAT goes to the whole list.  Increasingly irritated messages continue to fly around  to the whole list for several days after.  FYI I was able to send  the info about the out of date list to the original sender AND send my own snide comment to snide commenter #1 without sending to the whole list by manually copying the email address of the intended recipient into the TO field.

are you watching the opening ceremonies?

Whoa!  This is incredible.  The world needs more gigantic nations with something to prove.

BTW: Special good luck wishes to a friend who is knitting for her country in the “Sock Put” event of the Ravelympics.

BTW-BTW: I was sitting in a chair a couple nights ago and made the mistake of standing up and somehow completely screwed up my back.  I’ve long dreaded the possibility of becoming one of those creaky individuals with A Bad Back, and I’m worried that time is here.

desperately seeking drek

Hello, my name is...
Hello, my name is...

Some of you are probably reading this post with a sense of deep foreboding. I promise you, that unease is justified as I am, indeed, posting on Scatterplot. Those who know me are, of course, already struggling to hold back their horror at my appearance. For those who are unfamiliar with my past escapades, don’t worry: you will learn soon enough.

How did this state of affairs come to pass? How is it that I am posting on Scatterplot? Well, rather than simply tell you, I will allow you to choose your favorite from two possible options.

Option A: At the recent Scatterplot Party at the ASAs I plied Tina and Jeremy with liquor and praise until, in a moment of weakness, one of them gave me the keys to the blog. And like all good one-night stands, it’s now coming back to haunt them and the ones they care about.

Option B: The Scatterbrains had a secret meeting at the ASAs to discuss the state of the blog. They realized that Scatterplot has become a bastion of erudition and intelligent conversation, dominating the socioblogging world alongside the dreaded Orgtheory. In the hopes of finally becoming the true socioblogging hegemon, however, they realized they needed something else. They needed to exploit the disaffected twenty-something jerk market segment. They needed to start writing posts that were juvenile, foolish, and generally beneath the dignity of sociology. And so they called me.

I think these are both good options to explain my presence but, if you want to be really fancy, give appropriate props to my pal Werner and just believe them both. Think of it as a sort of causal superposition.

Continue reading “desperately seeking drek”

conference boycotts

Does this happen to you sociologists? In brief, the organization for legal academics is called the American Association of Law Schools (AALS). Like you all, we have annual meetings that everyone hates attending and where the scholarship presented/panels organized are of even more dubious value than what you lot complain about (mainly because publishing is very ad hoc in our system of student-edited, mostly non-peer reviewed law journals). But it’s a big schmooze-fest, and I always think the panels on legal pedagogy look interesting if you care about pedagogy (which everyone should, but that’s neither here nor there).

At any rate, some law professor groups are threatening to boycott AALS events held at the Manchester Grand Hyatt in San Diego, because the hotel’s owner contributed $125,000 to an initiative to ban same-sex marriage in California. In particular, the legal writing institute has issued a letter of intent to boycott the conference by refusing to hold their awards ceremony at the hotel.

Continue reading “conference boycotts”

[i/he/she] should [not?] have ______ed [her/him]

While I am fussing with my receipts and trying to catch up on e-mail, Anomie and others are using Google to develop a sociology of regret (HT: Belle). I think if they expand to more verbs they might have enough material for a paper.

UPDATE: Someone on Yahoo answers did a search that is my 2×2 Table Of The Day:
I SHOULDN’T have slept with HER: 7
I SHOULD have slept with HER: 9
I SHOULDN’T have slept with HIM: 377
I SHOULD have slept with HIM: 14

minibar mystery!

I was in the Westin at ASA, which appeared to be the Official Conference Hotel For Procrastinators Who Made Their Reservations At The Last Minute.* I was running behind the last day and so didn’t check out, but instead had the bill e-mailed to me. Now that I look at it, there is a charge of $8.45 for the “honor bar.” I may be a sucker for room service at conferences, but I reserve using the minibar for moments of true life distress. Thankfully no such occasions arose at ASA.

I was going to call the Westin and complain, but the $8.45 wasn’t actually included in what they charged my Visa. In other words, the bill they sent me charged my Visa for everything except this $8.45, and I have $8.45 listed as “Balance Due.” Has anyone had this happen to them? I should still call them and figure this out, right?

* BTW, one person at the conference I talked to got a room at the Westin for $110 on Priceline, vs. a conference rate of $205.

whence the ap?

I have been here long enough to disclose the reason for the “ap” avatar I chose. Here it is. When I arrived at college and began writing others via email and newsgroups (then on a VAX 8810), there was someone in the year ahead of me, and like me in many ways, named Andy Perry. We both had begun signing messages –Andy, which made things very confusing. So I began signing them ap, both for distinction and in recognition of the fact that the monikers were indeterminate since each would be reasonable for both of us. I guess it just stuck.

My avatar version is just an enlarged screenshot of ap in Luxi Sans, an open-source font I rather like.

asa – the view from here

I love the ASA, but this year was the absolute best one yet. At lunch with a good friend on Monday – the last event of the weekend – we decided that it was so much better to be at the ASA after we had some publications, when we had experience presenting, when we knew people and people knew us, and when we didn’t need to find a job. All the alienated, marginalized, not-good-enough-to-be-here feelings are a thing of the past. I am one lucky bastard, and I wish the best to all you awesome early-career folks who have to deal with all that stress. Continue reading “asa – the view from here”

i heart asa

There, I said it. I love ASA. When I don’t get to go to as much of it as I would have liked, I miss it. I know we’re supposed to be cynical about how half-*ssed the papers can be, how much posing is said to go on, and so on. But I love a gathering of several thousand oriented toward thinking, in some way, sociologically. I love the receptions and the thoughtful self-congratulations of the section business meetings. I love the students feeling like they’re part of something big, I love noticing that a big name is a real person, I love meeting somebody new whose work I find interesting, I love reconnecting with my discipline and its foibles. I love wandering through the book exhibit and feeling overwhelmed with how much I’d like to read, not to mention picking up pens and pads and little bags of M&Ms. I love the presidential plenary and the awards and the “in memoriam” moment of silence. I love the Coser Award lecture and the Swarthmore Alumni in Sociology dinner and the Berkeley party (which I had to miss this year :( ). I love seeing friends I won’t see for another year and students whose dissertations I chaired beginning faculty jobs (two of ’em this time around! woo-hoo!).

There, I said it.