fun links on the bailout

These come from Daily Kos:

1.) A great list of standards/questions/concerns any reasonable citizen ought to raise about the bailout.

2.) From the Republican Party Platform:

We do not support government bailouts of private institutions. Government interference in the markets exacerbates problems in the marketplace and causes the free market to take longer to correct itself.

i podcast my intro soc class and here’s why

Inside Higher Ed has an article on “lecture capture,” an automated way of podcasting class lectures so that students can download them at their convenience. The article reports that a new survey shows that students prefer to have access to this technology, and it shares some faculty concerns that podcasting lectures diminishes the quality of education.

I don’t think there is an easy answer to the dilemma of providing a quality education to more and more students with fewer and fewer resources, but I don’t agree that podcasting on its own is reducing the quality of education.  Continue reading “i podcast my intro soc class and here’s why”

khan’s understanding of the economy

Perhaps I’m being smug, but I think that the financial crisis is clouded in enormous mystery, when the problems are not actually that complex. And perhaps it’s because I’m not as smart as I think and don’t understand the situation. So, at the risk of being patronizing and/or revealing myself as a fool, let me outline the financial situation as I understand it. And I look forward to being corrected. Andy’s post is worth visiting on the political fallout. And I my colleague’s blog is helpful (he knows more than I about this stuff). In what follows I outline what I understand the problems to be, and what the solutions might look like. Continue reading “khan’s understanding of the economy”

the ruling class and the bailout

Whew. I found myself in uncharted territory this afternoon. On my way to picking my son up from school, I heard Newt Gingrich interviewed on NPR about his opposition to the bailout, expressed in his recent post on the National Review blog. And I agreed with him. Ugh! The Newt Gingrich, the one of Contract On America fame. So then I began wondering: who the heck is actually for this harebrained bailout idea anyway? More after the break. Continue reading “the ruling class and the bailout”

bureaucratic insanity

I’ve taken over the phone for my mother, whose is once again on hold, as she has been for at least 20 hours since Aug 12, including 3 or 4 hours today.  She bought a “deluxe rider” to her health insurance to cover vision care (among other things).  The insurance provider assures her she has the insurance, but she does not “show up in the system” at the health care provider for the vision benefit.  There are three parties to the problem: her health insurance provider, the organization that handles most of their vision insurance, and her health care provider organization.  At all three organizations, you can never direct dial back to the specific person you spent several hours with the last time, you have to start over with a new person and retrace the same steps multiple times.  Many times she has been assured that the problem is resolved and she will show up in the system in 24 hours, 48 hours, or a week.  Apart from the first visit, where she was shocked by her lack of coverage and had to pay a larger-than-expected copay at her optometrist, she’s been told she’s good to go twice, only to be told no on site after she has paid her neighbor to drive her to the office to get the glasses.  She is exhausted and near often tears with frustration.  Many different interpretations have been offered as to why the problem exists and what needs to be done to resolve it.   This week, while I’ve been listening on the speakerphone,  the phone people have been humane and sympathetic and willing to do a lot to resolve the problem, but even humanity seems to have limits when running up against an insane system.  According to today’s people — including a very helpful Sharon in Wichita who with her supervisor spent several hours yesterday and personally faxed a document to organization #2 and who today spent several hours in a multi-way conference call with the health care provider (even insurance company representatives have to wait on hold when they call each other!) — the problem is that most of the insurer’s customers are assigned to company #2 for vision benefits but my mother is in the 10% who were assigned directly to her health care provider.  This is why all the attempts to get her in the system at company #2 did not work.  At this point, I just spoke to a person at the health care provider’s patient services who says that she has been assured by Sharon that the benefit exists and is assigned to them, that she personally will be calling someone else (!) to get the information entered into the system, and that we should get a call from her or the optical department when this is done.  She also gave me her direct line phone number so I can follow up with her.   Now we will see if it works.

2020 hindsight

Although I don’t know the technical details, Northwestern has moved to an e-mail system in which new students are encouraged to choose addresses like JeremyFreese20##, where 20## is supposed to choose the year they will graduate. Especially with graduate students, I wonder if this is going to result several years down the road in which people look at the To: field in their inbox and have this embittering little continual reminder of how naive they were when they started graduate school about how long it would take.

day

Barack Obama has this morning inched back over having a 50% chance of winning according to intrade.net.

Interesting contiguous sentences on the Rasmussen Reports website:

McCain leads 58% to 38% among those who regularly shop at Wal-Mart while Obama leads 61% to 36% among those who don’t frequent the retail giant. Overall, Obama leads among those who earn less than $40,000 a year while McCain leads among those with higher earnings.

P.S.: Regarding my vow that I will exercise 200 days this year or donate $25/day to the George W. Bush Presidential Library, do not confuse a lack of updates with a lack of progress. Today was day 151, which puts me 7 or so days ahead of pace.

P.S.-P.S.: Intrade is running a state-by-state map that now has the markets predicting the scenario I personally think is most likely, which is All Kerry States + Iowa + Colorado + New Mexico for Obama. This wins, right? 273-265? Intrade says this is a 273-265 win for McCain instead. I think this has to be a mistake, or they have a Kerry state going for McCain and I’m not seeing it.

ethnic conflict: them

My reading is full of racial/ethnic conflict these days.  Audible.com was featuring Nathan McCall’s Them: A Novel , which caught my eye as my mind was sensitized to issues of gentrification by David Wilson’s Cities and Race: America’s New Black Ghetto.   The story is told from the point of view of Barlowe Reed, a Black printer who lives with his ex-con pigeon-raising nephew in a rented house in Atlanta’s historic Old Fourth Ward, home of Martin Luther King.  The story follows the area as it is settled or invaded (depending on your viewpoint) by the so-called “urban pioneers” – that is, White yuppies searching for in-city housing bargains.  I could imagine teaching about the sociology of racial/ethnic conflict using this book.  And as many of Amazon’s reader comments say, it would make a great book club discussion book.  It is about the conflicts arising from wildly different backgrounds and experiences and the very real difficulties in bridging these differences.  The conflict is very much two-sided.  The Black residents don’t want the Whites there and try to get them to go away, with tactics ranging from a general refusal to speak to the Whites to muggings and thefts.   For their part, the Whites see themselves as racial liberals and integrationists, but enact largely-unconscious White racial supremacy as they take over the neighborhood, replacing local institutions with their own, and destroying people’s lives in the process. Continue reading “ethnic conflict: them”

either way, sociology disses the yankees

Social Psychology Quarterly is the only ASA journal with the good visual and business sense to have a changing photograph on its cover. Now it’s taken this innovation to the next step by sponsoring a vote on the cover for an upcoming issue. My first reaction upon seeing the options was, “Hey, it’s old-school evolutionary psychology [option #2] versus new-school evolutionary psychology [option #1],” but I realize I am largely idiosyncratic within sociology in this respect. My second reaction was “Hey, I wonder if there could be a vote about the semantic vitality of ‘gendered’ as an adjective,” but I realize I am largely idiosyncratic within sociology in this respect as well.

Non sequitur: No Internet in my apartment yet. I am surviving, although I am gaining weight from the place that serves up chocolate-and-peanut-butter malts with free Wi-Fi across the street.