I’ve been treating linkedin requests as spam in my email inbox. I really don’t need any more email. But I’ve gradually become aware that some people I respect seem to be using this. The one thing I’ve heard is that it is used more by business people than academics. What do you know about this? Is it worth doing? What does it mean if someone I don’t know asks to “connect” with me on linkedin? What does it mean if someone I do know wants to connect? Is this something useful or just another annoyance?

tea party of the north

They call Alberta the Texas of Canada. The province extracts oil, raises cattle for beef, and it has a long history of evangelical Christians as political leaders. Its policies are the most conservative in Canada. Albertans pay no sales tax, and the provincial income tax is a flat 10%. And yet, the conservatives who have been a majority government for 40 years, the Progressive Conservatives, faced a challenge this week in provincial elections from a still-farther right party, the Wildrose Party.

Continue reading “tea party of the north”

marriage equality: where do marriage promotion policies fit?

The debate over marriage equality for lesbians and gay men is once again taking shape to be a hot item in this election year. A number of events have put the issue in the spotlight. The Washington state legislature passed a bill allowing same-sex marriage, the legislature in Maryland followed suit, and Chris Christie vetoed a same-sex marriage bill in New Jersey. While voters in Maine will consider whether to legalize same-sex marriage, those in North Carolina and Minnesota will consider referendums this year on constitutional amendments to ban it. Soon, there will be a decision in the federal appeals court hearing on whether to uphold a lower court’s decision that a section of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) law banning federal recognition of same-sex marriage is unconstitutional. Continue reading “marriage equality: where do marriage promotion policies fit?”

how bad policing & the infamous pepper spray incident happened at Davis

In an incisive  analysis of UC Davis’ investigation into the infamous pepper-spraying incident , titled “Sometimes, When “All the Facts are In,” It’s Worse: The UC-Davis Pepper-Spray Report” by J Brad Hicks (whom I don’t know) provides a textbook example of organizational dysfunction leading to bad policing. The story involves people speaking vaguely and being misinterpreted, higher-ups refusing to listen when they are told that what they want is illegal or impossible, police using a form of pepper spray that is illegal for them to use, and the officer responsible for the pepper spray overtly complaining that the order to clear the crowd was illegal and impossible to enforce before going ahead and trying to enforce it the way he did. The interpretation I drew from Hicks’s description is that the flagrant way Pike acted was perhaps driven as much or more as a protest against the impossible order he was given as hostility to the protesters. In any event, Hicks’s analysis makes for fascinating reading a probably a good classroom example. I have not read the Davis report itself yet, I’ll put that on my agenda for later.

Edit: David Meyer has already blogged about this and reaches similar conclusions.

Here are copies of the URLs for my links  and

bleg: favorite network visualization software?

I am beginning an analysis that involves network visualizations. I’m in good shape with respect to the statistical analysis of the networks, but am in less good shape with respect to visualization. If it matters, this is a network of texts as nodes and the ties are co-occurrences of topics and themes. I’d like to draw graphs that highlight cliques in the data.

The ideal software will be open-source, run under linux, and produce pretty pictures, but I’m willing to entertain options that don’t meet all these criteria.


alphabet evolution

I was just using what seems to be an old set of alphabet dividers. It has an Mc tab in addition to the M tab. Brings back the day when that mattered. Computerized alphabet sorts and the changing demographics of the US have made Mc irrelevant at best and problematic at worst. And the xyz tab is increasingly problematic as my classes have lots of Xiongs and Yangs and Xings and Zhaos in them. And the old rare K is now full of Kims, who pretty much need their own tab these days.