Last week, I took my son to the doctor for his 15-month check-up. I tried to keep my son entertained while the nurse went through the standard battery of questions, entering my answers on her laptop:
Is he in a rear-facing car seat? Yes.
Are there smoke detectors in the home? Yes.
Does anyone in the house smoke cigarettes? No.
Is he exposed to wood smoke? No.
Is he still breastfeeding? Yes.
Does he drink cow’s milk, too? Yes.
But then she followed up with one that required more brainpower.
Does he drink whole milk or two percent?
If I had been on my A-game, I probably would’ve gone with the “right” answer (whole milk). But I was trying to keep my son from catapulting himself off the exam table, so I went with distracted honesty: “Uh, a mix of both.”
As sociologists, many of us are deeply involved in work on politically-relevant issues in our professional lives, but we hesitate to bring them into our personal worlds. It can be daunting to confront your most stubborn relatives or involve the family members who still think you’re a psychologist. Still, there is a lot to be gained from engaging the people you care for the most on topics related to your version of sociology. Changing hearts and minds isn’t impossible and bringing more of your political academic ideologies to Facebook is one way to do that. To help you, I offer my guiding principles for political Facebook engagement.
Rebecca Solnit has a new essay in The Guardian about the recent IPCC climate change report. The report itself paints a grim picture, and warns us that the time is running very short to prevent catastrophic levels of global warming. Solnit argues that we must resist the urge to despair, to give up – an urge nicely exemplified by a recent NHTSA report arguing against increasing fuel efficiency standards on the assumption that four degrees Celsius worth of warming was inevitable and that US fuel emissions would only be a small contribution to that catastrophe, so why bother? Solnit, in contrast, counsels hope:
The future hasn’t already been decided. That is, climate change is an inescapable present and future reality, but the point of the IPCC report is that there is still a chance to seize the best-case scenario rather than surrender to the worst. Natan Sharansky, who spent nine years in a gulag for his work with Soviet dissident Andrei Sarkovsky, recalls his mentor saying, “They want us to believe there’s no chance of success. But whether or not there’s hope for change is not the question. If you want to be a free person, you don’t stand up for human rights because it will work, but because it is right. We must continue living as decent people.” Right now living as decent people means every one of us with resources taking serious climate action, or stepping up what we’re already doing.
I never envisioned myself as a book person. I’d grown pretty comfortable writing in article-length ideas. I work in interdisciplinary fields though, so the length of articles varies considerably (I’ve submitted pieces anywhere from 2500 to 14k+ words), but books felt like a completely different animal.
I recently finally took the book plunge, first for a SAGE “little green book” on Gathering Social Network Data mainly because it’s a book I’ve wished existed quite a few times when teaching social networks at various points and to a range of audiences over the past decade or so. Also, the QASS books being more in the 40k word range than a “full” monograph closer to 90k, it felt like a good way to “ease in.”
A couple of days after submitting my manuscript for peer review, I bumped into Matt Salganik at the ASA annual meetings, and he suggested I consider posting it for Open Review while it was undergoing the traditional review process. The basic idea of Open Review is to make available a version of the manuscript that’s readable — and hopefully commented upon— by anyone who’s interested and willing before the text is finalized. Matt framed the utility of Open Review as potentially bolstering sales once actually published, and likely making for a more readable manuscript. It was the latter that intrigued me, but it’s likely his claim about the former that led the publisher to give it a whirl.