in which a good deed receives appropriate punishment.

Most people who know me realize that I am far more in love with research than teaching. Nevertheless, I invest a considerable amount of effort in my teaching and work hard to make my students comfortable. Generally this seems to work as I have fairly good evaluations, but that’s not the point. The point is that one of the ways I try to make my students feel comfortable is by keeping a candy jar on my desk. Given my departmental rank I can only afford to stock it with the lowest of low-grade hard candy but, for the most part, the undergrads don’t seem to mind.

Sometimes I wish they did.

Continue reading “in which a good deed receives appropriate punishment.”

now this made me mad

I wanted to scan this in myself, but my scanner isn’t working, so here’s the pictures from Daily Kos.  This came to my son, a newly-registered voter.  Note in particular the set up of the outer page where the address occurs, the way the quote is positioned to look like it is coming out of Obama.  Paid for by the Republican Party of Wisconsin it says.

us and them

I’ve been mulling over writing a post called Me and Barack and God, about why I find Obama’s rhetoric so powerful because I share his religious tradition, as well as working intermittently on a post about talking about race that I can’t bring to conclusion because, I realize, I don’t know what the conclusion is.  But a narrower post about us-them language in the election I think can raise some of the themes I’ve wanted to address.  For the first time I can remember, Republicans are getting mauled in the media for saying that some people are “real Americans” or for questioning the patriotism of people who disagree with them.  They are actually having to back down and apologize, at least when the national news is watching.  I’ve never seen this before.  I think Obama’s refusal to engage in tit-for-tat is why we are seeing this.  In Pennsylvania, where a Democrat referred to white voters in the western part of the state as “racist” and then as “rednecks” when he tried to correct himself, McCain got more of a pass when he called people the “most patriotic part of America” because he was countering an attack on them, and the name-calling seemed more balanced.  My daily “spirituality and peacemaking” email arrived today with this quotation from Henri Nouwen in Peacework: Continue reading “us and them”

wedding plans

It has been an intense couple of months, with personal life and public life bouncing into each other, and into me.  My mind and heart feel exhausted.  I’d like to tell you about one strand of this.  In late August, my daughter E and her boyfriend B told us they’d decided to get married within the next few months.  Within the next week, E became unexpectedly unemployed so job applications rather than wedding rose in importance for a while, our family friend Daniel was killed in an auto crash, and her fiance’s father told them he had a brain tumor, which he said was slow growing and no big deal.  (His mother passed away several years ago.)  We wanted to meet B’s family, but first I had a two week trip to California and then my spouse had a ten day business trip. Continue reading “wedding plans”

what we talk about when we talk about love

(warning: insanely long post)

There’s been a good bit of soc of culture blogging lately.  I have no idea what y’all are talking about when you say that it’s either marginalized/making a triumphant comeback, because doggone it, I’m a maverick outsider when it comes to sociology. Cough. So let me add my inexpert, interdisciplinary two cents.

Continue reading “what we talk about when we talk about love”

this election makes me feel very odd sometimes.

This past weekend I was out walking my dog and admiring this year’s bumper crop of political campaign signs. We’ve got your McCain/Palin signs and your Obama/Biden signs and a whole gaggle of local election signs for people that, as a grad student, I barely care about. Nonetheless, I’ve been pleased at the level of political awareness in my area.

That is until this weekend when I noticed a Buick with foreign plates stop at an intersection. A college-age male then jumped from the back seat, ran across a different street to someone’s yard, ripped up their Obama/Biden sign, and retreated back to the car.

Continue reading “this election makes me feel very odd sometimes.”


I see in Footnotes the American Sociological Association theme for 2010 is going to be “Toward a Sociology of Citizenship.” Citizenship to me seems fine as a subject matter. My own preference would be that ASA presidents not select conference themes that sound like manuscript titles. Still, better than “Allocation Processes and Ascription,” and, the worst theme of all my years in sociology, “Accounting for the Rising and Declining Significance of Sociology.”

Good themes, btw, have been “Worlds of Work,” “The New Politics of Community,” and, best of all, “Public Sociology.”

I never decided what I thought about “The Question of Culture?” largely because no one would tell me what the question was. Culture people are so cliquish.

ancillary benefits to recent electoral developments

1.  I’ve read two Christopher Buckley novels in the last three days with no internal conflict whatsoever.  (I mean, other than that I was spending time reading novels.)

2.  At various times during the election, I’ve remembered that, whatever may be said about McCain now, he would have been a far, far, far-far better president than George W. Bush had he won the nomination and been elected back in 2000.  I enjoyed being reminded today that the real Republican missed opportunity in 2000 was Colin Powell.

one day you’ll hear the dulcet tones of jeremy’s voice, too

Long before Gang Leader For a Day (which I have yet to read), or his stint on the Freakanomics blog (which I occasionally do read), Sudhir Venkatesh was on This American Life. I forgot how much I liked this story, and this week they rebroadcasted it with an additional story on the economy.

It occurs to me that I have no idea what Jeremy’s voice sounds like, yet I have a voice for him in my head whenever we email or Google chat. In my head, he sounds like a mix of John Cusack and a young Bob Newhart. Likeable, folksy, but a bit sarcastic and jaded in a loveable way. Of course, in my head, my girlish voice has gravitas and sultriness, but I never said that I was right in the head.

friday kid blogging: a postmodern moment

Husband and Kid are on the floor of the kitchen hallway, playing a game in which hockey cards are players and a penny is the puck:

Husband: I scored!
Kid: No, you didn’t.
Husband: Let’s check the computer.

(Husband and Kid each open pretend laptops to check the slow-motion replay)

Husband: The computer says it’s a goal!
Kid: My computer says no goal!

racism review

People are going to be annoyed with me for saying this out loud, but, whatever: If Obama wins, what are those folks going to say who donned their hat of sociological expertise and declared that America was nowhere near ready to elect a Black president? Lots of people made statements like this privately in the time preceding Obama winning the nomination, including some people I know who expressed this as a proto-self-fulfilling-prophecy reason for not being eager to support Obama in the primaries.

Consider also, for instance, a couple blog-quotes from a former American Sociological Association president:

1. (April 2008) Since Obama could never win any way, because of the high level of white racist thinking about black men (polls show him at only 37 percent of white voters vs. McCain), I tend to think that the heroic Dr. Wright speaking out is a good thing, esp. since he is one of our outstanding thinkers on the morality of race and racism.

2. (June 2008) It is my educated guess that this 26 percent of whites is likely the minimum percentage of whites who will actually vote against Senator Obama in November just because he is Black.