sociology news

Three things from the ASA Council Highlights published in Footnotes:

1. “Approved two new sections-in-formation: Sociology of Altruism and Social Solidarity, and Sociology of Body and Embodiment”

2. “2009 Dues: Approved a 4.9% cost of living increase.” [Organizational dues have a “cost of living” increase. Besides which, the inflation rate for 2007 was only like 3%]

3. “2009: Annual Meeting Registration. Approved a $15 increase in all Annual Meeting registration fees.”

ever been to switzerland?

Just as the new year begins I’m off to Zurich for eye surgery. The hope is that I won’t need corneal transplants after this procedure. I’ll be there for a while, and will have some free time on my hands. My parents, brother, and friends are going to stay with me/help as I recover (I’ve rented an apartment). So, to all our Swiss readers out there (if there are any) or to anyone who has spent chucks of time there: any advice on things to do? I’ll have one weekend where I should be well enough to wander about. I’m thinking about heading to Lucerne or Lugano or anywhere. I probably won’t see particularly well. I’ll be taking trains. Any advice?

isn’t it about time for another mario kart party?

No, not yet. You are still on winter break, after all, and then you have to get something in for the ASA. I know! Why not reward ourselves for our good work just after the ASA deadline, say Friday, January 16? Or is that American 3-day weekend going to get in our way? Probably.

Okay, then: Friday, January 23rd, 8pm EST. Who’s with me?

right-side-up again

Back from Australia. It’s true that you get to ride in the front seat of taxis and they say “no worries” a lot. I looked at the Soc Shrine this evening for the first time in a few decades, and they keep making these references to something they call “The Australian” (1, 2, 3, etc.). Like so much else with those scamps over there, I could not figure out what they are referring to.

Regarding movies titled Australia, the idea that Nicole Kidman would go out on a cattle drive with porcelain skin and not be horribly, debilitatingly burned requires a suspension of disbelief on par with believing that actual mutations to human DNA could yield the powers of the X-Men.

Regarding all-text computer games that include many references to Australia, one would have thought getting an A from The Onion was as good as it gets, but then one makes the Top Ten Video Games of 2008 list on Wall Street Journal India’s blog.

new year’s eve

Husband says that each holiday is my favorite, and there is some truth to that (except you, Valentine’s Day–drop dead!). But I especially like the New Year’s holiday, with all its promise to mark the passing of time, remember the good stuff and/or hope for a fresh start.

I would love to celebrate, but do you have any idea how hard it is to find a babysitter for New Year’s Eve? Yikes. All the young babysitters are out, as they can’t stay up that late. The older babysitters are partying themselves, especially up here where youngsters can join us oldsters in bars at only 19. Those in-between are hot commodities, and our go-to guy was booked by the time we asked. Normally, I would have given up there, because really, who needs to stay up past midnight? But this year, a beloved band, Woodhands, is in town, right here in the Hammer. (You may remember them from this summer at the Apple store in Montreal.) They rock, and they are nice, and we really want to go to their show.

And then, behold a New Year’s miracle! a nice gesture from a friend, who offered to host Kid on a sleepover with her kids, whom Kid loves very much. It’s his first sleepover ever, but I am confident it will go well, as Kid’s motto is Have Sheepie, Will Travel.  And we’ll even get to go to dinner before the show. Hello, 2009! It’s going to be a good year.

maybe i’m just jealous that my subjects don’t pay me hundreds of thousands to research them

I’ve been reading up on the pharmaceutical industry. First a series of books and now some review articles and literature. As I’ve had more contact with the medical profession, I’ve become more interested it’s inner workings. And for the most part, they are pretty shameful. I’m not speaking here about the everyday practice of medicine, but instead many of our own colleagues in medical schools. The basic story is one of a tight coupling of medical school research and pharmaceutical companies (both schools and researchers have direct financial interests in the products they evaluate). This isn’t a new story; what I find surprising about it is its depth. Marcia Angell has done a good job chronicling it in the NY Review of Books – here, on the pricing, practice and effectiveness of pharmaceuticals, and here, on the ties ties between doctors and companies, a story Angell calls “corruption.” There are two things I find interesting in the latter article (and the pharmaceutical industry in general): first, that modern drugs are much like “cure-all” tonics of days gone by. They get approved by the FDA for one thing, and then they employ a kind of shot-gun method to see if they can get a single study to show it could be used for others – suppressing countervailing evidence in the process.

[It reminds me of this Simpsons episode, which I keep trying to embed, but for some reason it fails every time on wordpress. You can find the video here. I want to embed it because I’m sick of seeing the picture of my last post. For those of you who are also sick of it, I apologize.]

Continue reading “maybe i’m just jealous that my subjects don’t pay me hundreds of thousands to research them”

merry christmas!

Or as my mom would say, “Happy Christmas.” All are home in the Khan/O’Malley abode. This year we skipped the normal tradition of decorating the tree on Christmas eve (it was done before we arrived). We also skipped the drinking of port while decorating. And I think there are fewer sore heads this morning because of that. Though drinking a bottle of port isn’t such a big deal when we were at my mom’s parents’ place – there would be many of us – with just four it’s a recipe for disaster. I’m back to the kitchen. Gotta finish up the plum pudding (time to steam it!). I’m enjoying days cooking and nights by the fire. There’s still snow in Maine. It’s lovely. Hope you are all well!

i just got tenure

Can you believe it? I didn’t believe it. Not when my chair told me the department’s recommendation was strong. Not when they said my external letters were great (thank you, letter writers, whoever you are!). Not even when I got notice that the university’s senate appointments committee was recommending me for tenure. No, I wanted the letter from the President of the university. And that letter is now in my hands. And it is awesome.

a gift for you all

I’ve been given posting privileges, and so figured that my first post should be a holiday-themed, food-related,  gift to you all:

Don’t know what to get for that last elusive name on your holiday shopping list?  Why not get them Burger King’s new Flame – burger scented body spray?
It’s not a hoax – they’re selling it at Ricky’s in NYC, and other similarly minded places.

You have to “click to spray” the different scenes – obviously some savvy folks in the marketing department (or at least some folks with a good, tongue-in-cheek sense of humor)…

enjoy, and happy holidays!

how long are you on vacation?

That was the question my mom kept asking me last week. She imagined that I’m off work for weeks on end. I didn’t do much to set her straight with my awkward answer of, well, I’m really just sneaking away, keeping in touch with email, reading students’ papers and typing up feedback, I’ll have to get back to my research soon and I need to finish my syllabus for next semester. Oh, and my grades need to be finished and turned in.

All of this I can do from home, in between Christmasey things and Kid things, except the grades. So, I’m dragging poor Kid into school today to sit in a corner while I put together the spreadsheet for my Intro class. I remember tagging along with my mom to work when I was about Kid’s age, when she sometimes had to work on a Saturday. I remember the old-school switchboard with all the cords, and the neat-o rolling chairs and phones with buttons. I think I used to actually file stuff for my mom, or at least she let me think so. It was good times. Somehow, I can’t imagine that Kid will think the same.

vacation wrap-up: heading home

I’m sitting in the dark in our hotel room, as I have done every night this week. Kid’s bedtime is 8pm, and what is there to do besides sit quietly and read? I hadn’t even figured out that he can fall asleep with the computer glow on until last night. Before that, I was reading in the bathroom. My life is glamorous.

I come away from this trip with no complaints whatsoever, which is rather unusual for a visit home, even before my folks became ill. Now that I think about it, I haven’t kept the blog up to date on my folks; bad news is not my favorite to blog. Continue reading “vacation wrap-up: heading home”

my final disappointment

So Obama his picked Rick Warren to give the invocation at the inauguration. For those of you who don’t know him, Mr. Warren is the pastor of one of the largest mega-churches in the land. Depending on who you talk to, he’s either been called the next Billy Graham, or a new James Dobson. Mr. Warren helped lead the charge on Proposition 8. He has compared gay marriage to pedophilia, incest, and plural marriage. And he has compared abortion to the holocaust. I knew this day would come. Just not so soon. Certainly not before the man was actually sworn in. There is no longer any change I can believe in.

pregnancy update: no news

The fertility clinic is a lovely place. Everyone is so cheery and confident about Getting You Pregnant. The resident takes all of your information cheerfully, and then the doctor comes in.

Last time, we needed Clomid and IUI to get pregnant. We’d like to do that again.

Well, at your age, I suggest we go more aggressive: injectable hormones and IVF.

*Gasp* Can you tell me about the chances of twins?

Each cycle of IVF: 35% chance of pregnancy, 50/50 twins.

Well, there’s nothing like the spectre of twins to clarify your decision about having a second. We decided to forego the IVF, and go with the less aggressive IUI that we came in for. The success rate at your age is only 10% a cycle, so it might just get us zero, which we will try very hard to remember is just fine.