i wish obama had said this

Mulling over the debate, here’s what I wish Obama had said about the time McCain was whining about Lewis daring to compare Palin’s rallies to KKK rallies.

Even though your running mate’s rallies are getting out of hand and some white voters are willing to tell television or newspaper reporters straight up that they are going to vote for McCain because they will never vote for a black man, I know you are not a racist.   But that kind of talk is very frightening to many Americans, who want to see a society that pulls together rather than be pulled apart by racial and ethnic conflict.  Senator McCain, you are an honorable man.  I invite you to  take a strong stand against such talk, repudiate these people and tell the American people that you want no part of support based solely on race or people’s names, that you believe in a multi-ethnic America where we get along despite difference, and that you want all Americans to evaluate us on the basis of our stands on issues, not the color of our skin.

What do you think?

tearoom trade?

A few quick questions on this famous sociological study:

1.) I heard that Alvin Gouldner beat up Laud Humphreys. But I’ve heard two stories: (a) Gouldner was mad about Humphrey’s dissertation, or (b) Gouldner was mad about a poster that Humphreys had put up around the department about him that made fun of him as a bird. Anyone know the truth? [update: here is the NYTimes piece on this, from 1968: 77178200]

2.) I have heard that Humphreys’ assertion that he used  license plates to track down participants was in fact a lie. He knew many of these guys more closely than he let on, and he used the license plate story as a cover for this. Anyone know the truth?

3.) I heard that Humphreys was not granted a PhD from Washington University and that his dissertation caused half the department to leave and was the root of why that university no longer has a department. Truth?

I’m filling in for a colleague this afternoon on ethics and research. The syllabus has Humphreys on it (and a great piece by Geertz, “Life Among the Anthros“. Re-reading Humphreys brought back these rumors. So I’m just curious.

what’s going to happen?

Any calls for the debate? What’s going to happen? I might “live-blog” the thing, provided I get back in time. My prediction: not much. It will be boring. There will be a few attacks. Obama would do well to say, again and again, “I’m not interested in attacks. I’m interested in solutions. The American people are hurting. I’m here to offer up solutions. Mine are…”

all hail the wicked nerd

Wicked Anomie is letting her nerd flag fly at The Grange Hall:

Although the term may have originated with Dr. Seuss in 1950, it wasn’t until the 60s that the word really took off.  During this period, being a nerd was an ascribed status – being a nerd was involuntary, thrust upon the unsuspecting individual.  Usually by means of a wedgie or swirlie. Now that status is achieved. Nerds are coming out of the closet, claiming the identity as theirs, and turning what was once a derogatory term into the highest form of praise! (Ahem. Too much?)

In this essay, not only does she come out of the nerd closet (was she ever in the closet?), but she reveals that her writing is far too good for her to make it in in sociology. Rein it in, Anomie. You’re making the rest of us look bad.

voting early (but not often)

I voted today! Civic duty complete. I feel empowered. And nervous. One thing I like about Columbia is that they give us election day off. I think it should be a national holiday. I’m using that day to travel. Initially I was going to go to Pennsylvania (to help with GOTV). But that may be all locked up. I’m not sure I want to drag my butt all the way to Virginia. But perhaps that’s where I’m headed. We’ll see.

election results: status quo

Canadians joke that Americans don’t even notice us up here. Did you know that we had an election yesterday? We did, and the results are in: a continued minority government led by the Conservative Party. Prime Minister Stephen Harper will continue to be Prime Minister, but he will not get the additional power of a majority government that he was hoping for.

All these facts will be helpful in the event that, in about three week’s time, you find yourself looking to move to Canada.

(h/t for the video: Jay Livingston)

getting in touch with my inner serial killer

I was finally driven out of my office by the ladybugs.  The next day I stopped at CVS to buy a flyswatter.  Oddly, I could not buy one; they only sold them in pairs.  Ever since, I have been killing every ladybug I can reach with a zeal that would probably get me sent into therapy if I was an eleven-year-old with granola parents.  Indeed, the first flyswatter is already tattered from me hitting it so hard so many times against my walls and sills.  It’s good that I have a spare.

Otherwise, not much exciting going on here.  I am taking suggestions for a new diversion.

not an arab/muslim

Okay. So I have an issue that I need to complain about. I follow political blogs. Many are commenting on the heightened and scary rhetoric at McCain rallys. Particularly emphasized are the comments that Barak Obama is (1) a terrorist, or (2) an Arab (or Muslim). I’m going to ignore the former. Here’s my issue with the latter: I get the political ramifications of this and that we all want to correct the facts. But I also think something very dangerous is going on here when we just correct the facts. Watch the McCain exchange with a supporter (after the break). It goes like this:

Woman: [Obama] is an Arab
McCain: No mam. He’s a decent family man citizen that i just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues… Continue reading “not an arab/muslim”

way to go, paul!

Those of you who care about little things like science and achievement may be aware that economist extraordinaire Paul Krugman recently won the Nobel economic prize. Specifically he won the prize for his work analyzing the impact of economies of scale on global trade patterns. Some of you, however, may be more familiar with Krugman for his outspoken commentary on the current U.S. administration:

Continue reading “way to go, paul!”

dear dad, i’m voting obama

I think my dad would be really angry if I didn’t vote Obama. But not so for Christopher Buckley, son of the right’s patron saint, William F. Buckley. I have enjoyed Christopher Buckley’s writings for years (though not his column on the back page of the National Review). But he has recently “come out” in favor of Obama. I am a highly partisan person. And actually have trouble voting for people who aren’t in my party. I might have made a good Trotskyite. I’d like to think otherwise – that I’m highly rational, driven by data and principles. But I tend to go down the party line. Except for this one time in Madison where I was forced to vote for a Republican because the green party candidate for Sheriff didn’t actually know what the office was for (his campaign literature addressed things like third world debt). It caused me great pain. I can only imagine how Buckley must feel. But oddly, even given my paristanship, I’m not empathetic. I’m gleeful. I’m not sure what that says about me. It’s certainly nothing good.


A former student sent me a link to an anti-Obama smear video. I will not post the link because it does not need to be spread further. Here is the response I sent her.

Sarah, I do not know why you decided to send this to me, nor who the rest of
the people on your rather voluminous list of recipients are. However, it is
very important to note that this is NOT an ABC news video. This is a piece
of propaganda put together by someone called “Illuminati Pictures.” Watching
it quickly, I was able to discern five specific, outright lies that have
been discredited numerous times by reputable news sources:

1.) That Obama refuses to wear a flag lapel pin; he does not refuse to do so
and wears one often. Whether this is an important measure of the leader of
the free world I will leave to you to determine.

2.) That Obama refuses to respect the national anthem. The truth is that he
has often sung and respected the anthem; one photo, taken out of context, is
propaganda, not truth. Whether this is an important measure of the leader of
the free world I will leave to you to determine.

3.) That Obama refuses to condemn his former mentor, Rev. Wright. He does so

4.) That liberation theology is Marxism in disguise. The library of serious
writing about liberation theology is too huge to list here or anywhere, but
a good place to start would be the book by former UNC Sociology professor
Christian Smith, _The Emergence of Liberation Theology_.

5.) That Obama’s plan to “sit down with” leaders of enemy nations is
“radical.” This is basic diplomacy: to use the power of words and ideas to
negotiate with our enemies, not just talk with our friends.

In addition to these lies, there are countless insinuations, quotes taken
out of context, and a blatantly racist concentration on the fact that
“Obama” sounds like “Osama,” which is clearly not the slightest bit relevant
to choosing the next leader of the free world.

Whomever you vote for, I sincerely hope that you do so based on real
information and reasoned judgment, not lies, innuendo, and smears like the
one you just sent out.

Andrew J Perrin – andrew_perrin@unc.eduhttp://perrin.socsci.unc.edu
Associate Professor of Sociology; Book Review Editor, _Social Forces_
University of North Carolina – CB#3210, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3210 USA