Here’s a quick one for you.  I’m back in LA again.  Talking politics a bit with my brother & mother.  My brother drives a package truck and delivers boxes for UPS, his wife is an X-ray tech.   My mother worked as an accounting clerk before she retired; she lives on a cash income in the $20,000-$30,000 range but does fine because she owns her house clear and has low taxes due to prop 13.  My  brother says Obama lost a lot of votes saying that above $150,000 is rich, that the people he delivers to in southern Orange county couldn’t afford their homes if they didn’t make more than that.  He says that if his wife were working full time, they’d make close to that, and my mother chimes in and says “that isn’t that much.”  She asks me, don’t I make more than that?  I say, yes, my husband and I together make more than that, but we vote against our class interests.  I tell them that the median family income in the US is about $45, 000 a year (taking the time to explain the median to my mother).  Well, that may be true elsewhere, they say, but not around here.


the ache shifts from brain to muscle

Hockey, it turns out, really does help a crank like me feel better, in a way that ultimate frisbee does not. Apparently, the running around out in the fresh air on green grass–as awesome and fun and tiring as that is–is not a substitute for smashing into people as hard as you can. Go figure.

I’m playing in a mostly-men’s league, and I’m easily the worst player on the team. On the women’s team I used to play with–the one I quit mid-season two years ago because it was getting in the way of my writing–I was right in the middle, which is much easier on the ego. Still, I prefer this team. It is a great bunch of guys, and Husband is the superstar goalie, and it is so great to get to play with him (yes, it was a spousal hire, but I was on the team first). Kid is our biggest fan, and when we have a day game, he plays with the other kids in the stands–a Canadian tradition.

So, Sarah Palin is still popular, and people all over are wrong about all sorts things, but I think I can keep the rants on the inside now.

that does about cover it.

This little nugget of wisdom courtesy of Matt Damon:

I think there’s a really good chance that Sarah Palin could be President, and I think that’s a really scary thing. Because I don’t know anything about her. I don’t think in eight weeks I’m going to know anything about her. I know she was a mayor of a really, really small town, and she’s governor of Alaska for less than two years. I just don’t understand, I think the pick was made for political purposes, but in term sof governance it’s a disaster. You do the actuary tables there’s a one out of three chance, if not more, that McCain does not survive his first term, and then it’s President Palin. It’s like a really bad Disney movie. The hockey mom, “Oh, I’m just the hockey mom from Alaska!” and she’s the President, and it’s like she’s facing down Vladimir Putin using the folksy stuff she learned at the hockey rink. It’s absurd. It’s totally absurd and I don’t understand why more people aren’t talking about how absurd it is.

It’s really terrifying possibility. The fact that we’ve gotten this far, and we’re that close to this becoming a reality is crazy. I need to know is she really thinks dinosaurs were here 4000 years ago. That’s an important — I want to know that, I really do. Because she’s going to have the nuclear codes. I want to know is she thinks dinosaurs were here 4000 years ago, or if she banned books or tried to ban books. We can’t have that.

Hat-tip to Jason Rosenhouse of EvolutionBlog.

the rant is building

It’s in my brain now, a spicy mix of frustration at a series of events, public and private. The Sarah Palin phenomenon, where insta-fans love her, simply for saying some sassy things in a speech, and then continue to love her even as they find out that many of the things she said were not true, that she doesn’t know basic things about politics, etc. This has been sticking in all of our craws, of course, but you can shout at the top of your lungs that she is an earmarking, book-burning, creationist liar, and you won’t convince anyone who likes her to change their minds.

Add to that the impending tragedy of Hurricane Ike. Coverage indicates that many people are “hunkering down” and refusing to comply with mandatory evacuation orders. I just watched a CNN story in which a small-town police chief is currently wading through chest-deep water (as camera zooms in on a dumpster floating around in the floodwaters), looking for a boat to commandeer to rescue four people who didn’t evacuate and now want to be rescued before the hurricane arrives in a few hours. What makes people stay, when the warnings say that they will be faced with certain death if they do? Continue reading “the rant is building”

up to the minute updates

For those of you who are concerned that the Large Hadron Collider may destroy the earth,* take heart! There’s now an easy way to find out the current status of this dangerous scientific experiment. See this news site to find out if the LHC has destroyed the earth.

Now, if only Sarah Palin would stop destroying my sanity…

This has been a public service message.

* We talked about this recently. And yes, I know "friendofshamus" posted the link in the comments just a short while ago. I didn't find it thanks to him/her but I do think it's funny.

best digression ever

This semester I find myself teaching a new course for the first time in a long while. That is to say, I’ve taught before but have stuck to the same class for a number of years. And, so long as we’re on the subject, that course has traditionally been thought of as dull.* This semester I am teaching a new course and, while I’m ironing out snags involving excessively difficult readings and uneven lectures, it’s going okay.

The best thing, though?

The best thing is that some of my students seem really interested and it gives me a chance to talk about some fun stuff. I mean, orgasmically fun material.

Today I managed to end up talking about the Kardashev scale. In a sociology class.

I. Love. My. Job.

* Seriously: not my fault.

it’s all downhill after the first day

So, how am I holding up under the administrative yoke, you may ask (or not, but the answer will come anyhow). The truth is that the job is demanding–mostly people demanding money for their projects and initiatives, that is, but the position has its satisfactions and successes. As when I chaired my department, however, I think my greatest success came on my first day.

Rewind to four years ago when I started chairing the sociology department and was confronted with an opportunity to address a frustration that has plagued all of us in academia, day-in and day-out: crappy staplers. Continue reading “it’s all downhill after the first day”

the public sphere and working the refs

In Citizen Speak I noted, among other things, that Americans often “think with” a version of the Habermasian public sphere as their implicit ideal. That is, even though we know the idealized public sphere is a fiction, many Americans understand it as a productive fiction, even a heuristic.

How should social scientific scholars of the public sphere deal with the media environment in this election? Continue reading “the public sphere and working the refs”

advice for your first time teaching

A few people have asked me about how to deal with teaching their first course. I’m far from THE person to tell others what to do. But here is some of my very quick advice. Anyone else have suggestions?

1.) Constrain yourself. I have a set time that I have to prepare for class. It is usually two-three hours before class. When I don’t do this I find that I can spend HOURS preparing. But having a hard start and stop time makes me more efficient and cuts down on my total time preparing. Right before class is great, because, well, you HAVE to be done! Continue reading “advice for your first time teaching”

i don’t always give lectures

I always enjoy the rare moments with students that Tina talked about. They are part of what makes teaching worth while. But I have another experience, much more common, that is both odd and a little awkward. It goes something like this:

Student: Hi, Professor Khan!
Shamus: Hi. How are  you?
Student: Fine… [long pause]
Shamus: What’s up?
Student: Nothing much… [pause]
Shamus: Um, how’ve you been?
Student: Good… [pause… continues to look at me expectantly]
Shamus: Good to hear [pause… waiting for a topic, or a question]… well, talk to you later.
Student: [surprised, even a little disappointed] Oh, okay. Bye… Continue reading “i don’t always give lectures”

could this be the end?!?

The end of the world may happen Wednesday. You heard it here first. Can you imagine applying for $10,000,000,000.00 in grants for an experiment? And GETTING them? Wow. I’m very excited about all of this. Knowing about the big bang: awesome.

UPDATE: If the world really were gong to end Wednesday, what would you do Tuesday night? I’m thinking I’d go to this local place that makes great tacos and eat some. And have dessert somewhere on the way home. Then again, I think I’ll do that regardless.