in which i disagree in principle, but am not at all upset in this particular case

Rupert Murdoch is in talks with Microsoft to remove his news content from Google. See here. I really dislike this move (where Microsoft pays Murdoch, or others, to only use their search engine). Then again, as a Google user I can’t say I mind Murdoch’s “news” no longer being part of my search results. I can live with the quality (tabloids) like The New York Post or The Sun in Britain. The Wall Street Journal is another story.

Irv Piliavin

Irv Piliavin passed away November 19 at age 81 of cancer. Irv was an emeritus professor of social work and sociology at the University of Wisconsin. Because I knew him best as the husband of my beloved colleague Jane Piliavin, I am linking to celebrations of his career by two of his former students, Brad Wright and Chris Uggen as well as the official statement by the School of Social Work, which also gives memorial contribution information. Irv was a great guy and a creative and rigorous social scientist. He will be missed by everyone who knew him.

of fads, fashions, and hamsters

The “got to have” toy this holiday season is the Zhu Zhu Hamster.   I started hearing about them from a friend’s kids last week.  They move around randomly all over the floor, make little clicking chatty noises, and -best of all – don’t require cleanup.   They’re also cheap at $8, IF you can find them at a toy store.  On the internet, typical price skyrocketing is pushing them up to $50 or $60 each.

I remember the Cabbage Patch Kid craze well (as well as the dolls that then sat against the wall, un-played with, for several years).   I remember Tickle Me Elmo a few years ago. I remember the Beanie Babies.  I remember tulips from my Econ101 class.

Now, I’m looking forward to watching Hamster-mania play out on Black Friday.  It’s kind of fun to just sit back and watch the madness of this scenario playing out over and over and over again.

so far, so good…

Unexpectedly, my wife and I lucked into receiving H1N1 vaccines yesterday. I say “lucked into” because it was pretty much exactly that- we were receiving treatment for an unrelated issue, got to talking with the professionals and discovered that they had both doses and the inclination to use them. The purpose of this post is not to brag- particularly given that there’s no point bragging about dumb luck- but rather to make an observation:

So far, as a result of the H1N1 vaccine, we have NOT had strokes, heart attacks, neurological distress, developed autism, died, or been forced to only walk backwards. So far, side effects for us DO include: soreness at the injection site and, in my case, a mild headache and some muscle aches. And frankly even that may not be due to the vaccine since I was doing some major yard work yesterday evening and may just be stiff from that.

So, just to counter-balance the Jenny McCarthy’s of the world, allow me to state as plainly as possible: we have been vaccinated against H1N1 and we are perfectly fine.

That is all.

my jaw dropped

I study racial disparities in criminal justice, but this still completely blew me away. I started clicking around and have ended up collecting links to a large number of quite amazing videos of racial interactions that would be great discussion-starters in class. The two segments that just make my jaw drop were broadcast last February on ABC 20-20’s “What Would You Do?” series last February. They are a little over six minutes each after a 15 second commercial*. The setup is a parking lot in a public park in a White suburb. In part 1, for several hours three White boys overtly vandalize a car. Dozens of White people walk by, looking but doing nothing. Only one ever calls the police; a few say something to the boys. It’s quite amazing to see. In part 2, three Black boys do the same thing: lots of people call the police, many more people intervene.   Continue reading “my jaw dropped”


I’m scheduled to teach intro to sociology next term for the first time in 30 years. It will be a small (15-20 students)  honors section (targeting freshmen), so I’m thinking of centering the course around sociology’s most important ideas (rather than the “little bit of everything” approach) and the  reading on 4-6 good books interspersed with a relatively small number of key articles. Do Scatterplotters have nominations for (1) big ideas, (2) good books for motivated but young undergraduates, (3) good articles ditto? Drop them in the comments, please.

should yankee-haters vote republican?

Shakha posted the other day about how he hates the Yankees. I hate them too. And today I see Ari Fleischer’s op-ed in the NYT lamenting (since he’s a Republican) that the Yankees haven’t won under a Republican since Eisenhower. In fact, going back to the depression, they’ve got 3 “World” (aka the US) Series wins under Republicans, and 21 under Democrats. Fleischer concludes from this that Yankee-haters should vote Republican. So I was musing about this. What to do, what to do? I do hate the Yankees. And suddenly it dawned on me. I know why the Yankees win more when a Dem is in office.

Continue reading “should yankee-haters vote republican?”

self improvement

A while ago I noted that I had not read many of the “famous” articles in sociology. I knew what was in them; many I had skimmed. But I hadn’t actually taken the time to seriously read them myself (you know, taking notes on them, thinking about them, etc.). So I decided to correct this. And I read the 25 most referenced articles in ASR and AJS. I found these articles here, with the help of Jim Moody. Today I completed this task. I went from bottom to top (least to most referenced). So what did I learn? Continue reading “self improvement”

judith stacey is in town

NYU sociologist Judith Stacey is McMaster’s 2009 H. L. Hooker Distinguished Visiting Professor, a position locally referred to as “The Hooker.” Every year, The Hooker delivers two lectures and meets with graduate students in relevant departments. We are very honoured to have Dr. Stacey here this week, and yesterday’s lecture on the alternative family structure of the Mosuo people of China was a great joy. Tonight, Stacey’s talk is on polygamy and same-sex unions in South Africa. For details see this flyer (pdf).