maybe if one of them was at our campus in qatar and i didn’t mind a twice-weekly interhemispheral commute…

Registration for Spring quarter classes has begun here at Northwestern. I am scheduled to teach an undergraduate and graduate course, meeting at Tuesday/Thursday 3:30pm and Tuesday/Thursday 3:30pm, respectively. This is a problem.

further symptoms of the financial apocalypse

From Northwestern’s homepage:

Undergraduate tuition will increase 3.6 percent to $38,088 for the 2009-2010 academic year from the current year’s $36,756. The 3.6 percent increase is the lowest percentage increase in more than 40 years, since 1967, when Northwestern did not raise tuition.

I’m surprised that a 3.6% increase would be the 40-year minimum.

Another statement Northwestern put out attributes the relatively low increase to sensitivity to the struggling financial situation of many families, etc., but I had a hard time reading it and thinking “Eek. Maybe deflation really is at hand.”

according to the LATimes, this is front page news

“The most rigorous test of several popular diet strategies has found that any diet low in calories and saturated fats and that an individual can stick with for a lifetime is best.”

Is anyone surprised? I mean… I don’t know. This is a profound finding? All bacon all the time isn’t going to work? Let me tell you something: we fat people know there’s no magical plan, no hidden process we’re missing. Okay. Back to work. I have to finish a paper today…

ask a scatterbrain: have you known someone who…

A reader asks for help finding a particular sort of survey data:

Specifically, I need datasets that ask respondents whether they have experienced X thing and also ask whether they know someone who has experienced X thing. So, for example: Q1: Have you ever been abducted by aliens? Q2: Do you know anyone who has been abducted by aliens?…any substantive issue will do.

Is anyone familiar with such a dataset, preferably from the U.S. within the last 25 years? Or, alternatively, do you have any suggestions on how to search for a type of question, as opposed to a variable name?

an open letter from drek the uninteresting

Hi. Most of you know me already, but for the rest of you, I’m Drek the Uninteresting. I’ve been a contributor here at Scatterplot for a few months now but am a long-time blogger over at my usual hangout, Total Drek. During my lengthy term on the old interwebs I found a niche in showcasing endless arguments and pointless conflict, as well as blistering levels of insanity- like my penetrating series on Conservapedia, which has a fanbase reaching into the half-dozen. I also like boobs. A lot.

I have also, in my years of blogging, managed to irritate a number of people completely needlessly. This ranges from the masculists to anti-vaccine nuts to Andrew Schlafly to the founder of astrosociology.* Thus, it is safe to say that I am an absurd little clown who has more or less made a name for myself by creating and/or exacerbating arguments that didn’t need to happen.

Recently, I have noticed some rather lengthy threads here on Scatterplot that are filled to the brim with misunderstandings, false attributions, hurt feelings and general foolishness, mixed in with nuggets of true wisdom. To the diverse set of folks who have contributed to these threads, I say the following:

Stop it! You’re stealing my schtick!

I mean, seriously folks, I barely got any response to my recent expose of Conservapedia’s world history course! When I joined up here we had a division of labor: light-hearted humor and insightful discussion over here with paranoid ranting and needless hostility over on my blog. Can we just all get back to the deal, already?


Drek the Uninteresting

P.S: All my best to your partner and/or spouse.

P.P.S: If you’re reading this out loud, you just said “pee-pee.” Ha!

P.P.P.S: I have disallowed comments on this post because I absolutely do not want to be the start of another ridiculously long comment thread. If you feel like yelling at me, go do it over on my other blog.

* Who, as it happens, very graciously supplied me with a rebuttal.

an example of where dissent gets a person in sociology

From the Skinny Malinky:

I haven’t quite been able to wrap my head around the conversation about racism over at scatterplot. One thought I’ve had is that the pain inflicted by the cartoon under question, the pain of viewing the cartoon for people who know that monkey means them, has gone largely unacknowledged by those who question the racist content of the image. […] I mean to pause and remember the force of the accumlated and collective traumas of racism, and to think about what sort of failure it is for sociology to refuse a consideration of that force, and to what new traumas that failure contributes.

corn with a side of repression.

As long as we’re talking about oppression based on nominal parameters, this just seemed appropriate to bring up:

Pretty much work-safe, but watch on a break. It’s pretty funny. Note, in particular, that “Brother” does his homework while “Daughter” helps mom with dinner and dreams of a world where her sex doesn’t determine her destiny.

truth in naming

At the moment, when we have time, my wife and I are using netflix to work our way through the first season of The Tudors, a television series about- you guessed it- the Tudor monarchs, starting with Henry VIII. While we haven’t finished the season we’ve come to the conclusion that it is somewhat misnamed, and would like to humbly suggest two new options.

Our suggestions are:

(1) Crotches Afire


(2) Henry the VIII-0-2-1-0

Michael Hirst? Have your people call our people.

Seriously, if you can't see what we mean just from the intro, you're not paying attention.

canada in the afterglow of obama visit

President Obama stopped by Ottawa yesterday, making Canada his first foreign visit since taking office. It made us feel all squiggly on the inside. This morning, there are reports that he bought maple leaf cookies and a snow globe. He and Prime Minister Harper discussed trade relations, the economy, and the environment. Apparently, more sensitive discussions were avoided, such as that potentially nasty debate over the merits of basketball versus hockey as Best Sport Ever.