Monthly Archives: May 2010

The Shortest Possible Game of Monopoly: 21 Seconds

OK, since no one is posting, you get to endure another Monopoly post!

After our recent attempt to play the shortest actual game of Monopoly on record, we started to wonder about what the shortest THEORETICALLY POSSIBLE game of Monopoly would be. That is, if everything went just the right way, with just the right sequence of rolls, Chance and Community Chest cards, and so on, what is the quickest way one player could go bankrupt? After working on the problem for a while, we boiled it down to Continue reading

ask a scatterbrain: indexing

So a quick question for those of you out there who have indexed a book before. Any advice? Did you do it yourself? Hire someone? Any tools that are particularly helpful?

revisionist history

The scary thing about this post from We Are Respectable Negroes describing history as the Texas and Arizona legislatures want it taught is how closely it approximates history as it is actually taught in a lot [a majority?] of our public schools. It’s funny, but it’s not.

Edit: I realized a short quotation to give you the flavor would be useful. Continue reading

the mother of all incentives

Reading through back issues of Public Opinion Quarterly, I found this gem in Chang and Krosnick’s article:

Ironically enough, the response rate reported is still only 70% or so. Can I just tell you… there are very few surveys I wouldn’t complete for $5 or $10 billion!

face invalidity

Daily Beast is running a feature ranking the most corrupt states. Illinois is ranked #47, less corrupt than anywhere but Wyoming, Indiana, Montana, and New Hampshire.

a discipline of anecdotes?

I was just taking a break and cruising through the Psychology Today website and I ran into this little quote:

“Science never ends with an anecdote; otherwise, it would be sociology.”

This was the lead sentence in Satoshi Kanazawa’s piece “Are Asians More Nocturnal than Others?“.

Curiously, Kanazawa, although appointed in Management at the London School of Economics and primarily publishes as a evolutionary psychologist, has apparently used anecdotal publication outlets himself, including Social Psychology Quarterly, Rationality and Society, The Sociological Quarterly, Sociological Theory, Social Forces, and even the American Sociological Review! CV here.

ask a scatterbrain: blogging for class assignments

Look, two scatterbrain questions in 24 hours!

This fall I’ll be teaching my first-year seminar, “Citizenship and Society in the United States.” It’s great fun, and the basic framework stays the same each time. However last time around (Fall ’08) I added a blogging component where the students were to write weekly entries on a class blog. I’d say the results were OK, but not as exciting as I’d hoped. The students, too, commented that they found it more a chore than an intellectual stretch.

So… have you used blogging of any sort as an assignment in class? Other than the anonymity question which we’ve discussed before, what worked well? I want to insure that they take it seriously and work at it, and that the overall effort is similar to that of a final paper. But I also want it to be flexible enough that it doesn’t end up forced.

ask a scatterbrain: textbook payola

Posted for an unnamed friend:

A college textbook representative, upon learning I was dropping a book I formerly used in a large class, wrote:

Is there ANYTHING that I can do to help make it possible for you to use at least one of our titles?  …

If it could make a difference for you, I’m sure that I could arrange for you to do some paid  reviewing for us, or even just provide you a grant to support something special for your course — like a couple of videos that we can purchase for you, or perhaps a grant of a gift card to a really nice restaurant that you can use in your professional life to interview work assistants, or entertain visiting sociologists.

I was as surprised by the blatant payola attempt as I was by my own naivete at seeing it for the first time. Is this common? Does it work?

color me skeptical

Subj: 2010 ASA – Housing Is Open and the ASA Hotels are booking up FAST!!

(Clarifying note: that ASA failed to book its hotel allotment in Atlanta last time the meetings were there is a big part of why we are going back again so soon.)

marquette university discriminates against sociologist

Marquette University has withdrawn an offer to hire sociologist Jodi O’Brien as Dean of Arts & Sciences. This is clearly an act of discrimination, though it is unclear whether it is discrimination against her as a lesbian, or as a scholar of sexualities, or as a proponent of marriage equality. The United States may have no discrimination laws to prevent discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, but Wisconsin does indeed have such a law. In addition, Marquette’s own non-discrimination policy indicates that the institution will not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation. And basic principles of academic freedom should cover the other two. In fact, the university already employ at least one lesbian who studies sexuality and supports marriage equality. As is often the case, this institution clearly has some internal disagreements about what makes for an appropriate representative, and Jodi’s application captured the attention of interested parties. Continue reading

first cart, then horse

Quick tip for aspiring journal contributors: generally speaking, “Theory” and “Hypotheses” should not be sub-headings in the section titled “Methods.”

Just one of those things.

50th anniversary of the pill

Happy birthday, The Pill!

(Also, May the Fourth be with you–I’m sorry; I couldn’t help myself.)


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