dog food or paté?

The LA Times has this interesting piece on research about subjects evaluating different kinds of paté vs. dog food. The point they drive home: of 18 subjects only three were able to identify dog food vs. paté. That’s not many. The take home message is that  it’s hard to figure out what’s dog food. I think there’s something even more interesting going on. In the last sentence they note that even though only 17% correctly identified the dog food, a wopping 72% thought that the dog food tasted the worst of all the things they ate. In other words, it’s not that folks just weren’t able to identify the taste of dog food – most could. Rather, many subjects obviously expected “real” paté to taste bad. That, to me, is fascinating.

drive by citations

I’ve been grading the (in general very good) papers by the grad students in my culture seminar, and I’ve noticed a phenomenon I don’t remember from prior seminars. I’m naming it “drive by citations.” These are, essentially, references to a work that make a very quick appearance, extract a very small, specific point from the work, and move on without really considering the existence or depth of connection between the student’s work and the cited work. This is an issue, in part, because the claim or finding  being cited is often much more nuanced and complex than the quick way it is used in the citing work. I’m wondering if this is the result of the increasing availability of online resources like Google Scholar and such, which make it easy to find and cite materials without spending much time considering them.

how do you deal with something like this?

I don’t want this to be an, “Ugh, my students suck” post. I’m actually curious how you all deal with students who write things, that, well, you might find upsetting. I had students read American Project. I also asked them to go see Venkatesh’s film, “Dislocation” and write a blurb about it. One student sent an essay that said something like this: Continue reading “how do you deal with something like this?”

i have some issues with this

A fellow sociologist has published this op-ed in the Washington Post. It makes the case for marrying young. I have nothing against marrying young. But I do have some issues with the argument. It begins,

The average age of American men marrying for the first time is now 28. That’s up five full years since 1970 and the oldest averagesince the Census Bureau started keeping track. If men weren’t pulling women along with them on this upward swing, I wouldn’t be complaining. But women are now taking that first plunge into matrimony at an older age as well. Continue reading “i have some issues with this”

i wonder

So the LA Times has this story about genetically modified corn. Basically: this corn has vitamins that enable folks to get more nutrition from this product. I’m not going to insert a rant about GMOs. But this gives me a lot of pause. In low-yield, high risk agricultural areas, is it really a great idea to promote more mono-culture? And I can’t help but wonder about the creating of community health dependence on a crop that is likely pattened and owned by a company. Call me old fashioned, but to quote akphd, I’d rather, “create social systems in which people can actually access balanced diets with adequate nutrition.”

smart and stupid

Smart: Taking a four-mile test walk with backpack wearing my proposed travel clothes and new travel shoes and socks.

Stupid: Taking a four-mile test walk with backpack wearing my proposed travel clothes and new travel shoes and socks.*

I’ve never had blood-soaked shoes before. At least I have several weeks for my feet to recover before the trip. Which will be made in my old shoes.

*I wasn’t as stupid as it may sound, as I had taken several one- and two-mile walks in the shoes, and I thought those preliminary tests had revealed no problems. The socks might have contributed. Still, I’m both really thankful that I had this experience now, before the trip, and at the same time really mad at myself for doing so much damage to my feet.

misfortunes highlight how lucky i am

Husband broke his foot on Sunday. Not playing hockey, but having brunch. Unfortunate. We went to the urgent care clinic, which is free (fortunately), because we live in Canada (fortunately), because I got a tenure-track job here (fortunately). While at the clinic, Husband got an x-ray and an air cast (cool!), and he also picked up a flu bug. It wasn’t that flu (fortunately), just the regular old flu. He was only down with that for the day, though, because we remembered to get flu shots this year (fortunately), and because they are easy to get (fortunately), and free for everyone in our province (fortunately).

He is feeling better this morning, but a little tired, and a little blue, especially because it is our hockey team’s playoffs, and he really wants to play. But then again, he has a job where he can work while injured (fortunately), and work from home (fortunately), so everything will be okay.

anti-intellectualism in the academy

In this morning’s NYT, there appeared this op-ed, which trots out the old, well-beaten horse that the academy is hopelessly irrelevant and poorly tuned to producing the kind of graduates “we” need, where “we” is defined as something like “people who do really important things, like closing down plants that manufacture widgets, or blowing mind-numbing sums of money in hyperinflated credit markets.”

Continue reading “anti-intellectualism in the academy”

a “relatively good” job market? really?

Opened my email this morning to find this new (and in my opinion, horribly argued) report from the American Sociological Association, about the sociology job market. (EDIT – OLD REPORT).

Spoiler – their conclusion:  “These findings suggest a relatively good market for new sociology PhDs.”

Their justification for this statement?  There were more assistant professor jobs posted in the ASA JobBank in 2006 than there were people who received PhDs that year.

The authors (Jerry Jacobs and Roberta Spalter-Roth) do attempt to qualify this “finding” with a breakdown of substantive areas – open jobs, criminology jobs, theory jobs, etc.  and … come to the same conclusion.  They do not note that there are a glut of people who are looking for culture jobs, social movement jobs, and education jobs, or that most “open” jobs actually have a good idea of who they’re looking for (usually NOT culture or social movements or education).

My response: what drivel.   I realize that ASA wants to put a shiny coating on what is happening in the academic job market world – that scatterplot discussed ad nauseum in the fall – but this “report” is ridiculous.

UPDATED:  I read my email this morning without coffee first. The report above is from early 2008, before the economy tanked.  They’re updating the results, available at this year’s ASA meeting:  Here is the link to the preliminary findings for the New Jobs Survey:

Much more (appropriately) bleak. I still think the 2006 “conclusion” is ridiculous for job markets 2006-2008, however.