this beats jeremy’s gold star approach in terms of potential for pain

When Jeremy told us about his gold star approach to working out, that for every day/star less than 200 in 2008 he would donate $25 to the Bush Presidential Library, I thought “wow, that’s not for the faint of heart.”

I certainly could not do it, because in addition to my lack of will or discipline, I have an even greater aversion to pain of the financial kind–I can’t abide not paying rent or starving  just because I didn’t work out.  The discretionary lack of income I do have I would want to go to a charity I actually support. I was thinking of getting a buddy system to make myself learn how to swim, because I need accountability of the social kind–fining myself would impoverish me and make me bothering mad at myself. But the buddy system has its own perils, especially when combined with pecuniary punishment.

I love you Jeremy (wherever you are!), but dude, your approach is weaksauce compared to these guys:

Ted Frank and Ray Lehmann are taking the Stickk approach to weight loss to an extreme.  For every pound less than 60 (!) that Ray fails to lose in the next 9 months he has agreed to pay Ted, $1000.  Thus as much as $60,000 is on the line.  Ted has made the same bet with Ray.  The world has been put on notice.

Now this does raise an interesting prisoner’s dilemma problem, with Ted and Ray as the prisoners.  If the prisoners can agree to “cooperate” they could both eat and lose neither weight nor money.  But with $1000 per pound at stake can Ray count on Ted not to cheat on his diet by dieting (and vice-versa)?  But in this context is cooperation really cooperation or is it just joint self-sabotage?  A true dilemma.

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what we talk about when we talk about love

(warning: insanely long post)

There’s been a good bit of soc of culture blogging lately.  I have no idea what y’all are talking about when you say that it’s either marginalized/making a triumphant comeback, because doggone it, I’m a maverick outsider when it comes to sociology. Cough. So let me add my inexpert, interdisciplinary two cents.

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one day you’ll hear the dulcet tones of jeremy’s voice, too

Long before Gang Leader For a Day (which I have yet to read), or his stint on the Freakanomics blog (which I occasionally do read), Sudhir Venkatesh was on This American Life. I forgot how much I liked this story, and this week they rebroadcasted it with an additional story on the economy.

It occurs to me that I have no idea what Jeremy’s voice sounds like, yet I have a voice for him in my head whenever we email or Google chat. In my head, he sounds like a mix of John Cusack and a young Bob Newhart. Likeable, folksy, but a bit sarcastic and jaded in a loveable way. Of course, in my head, my girlish voice has gravitas and sultriness, but I never said that I was right in the head.


I’m trying to walk to and from school, which if I did both legs, would be six miles of an efficient combination of cardio + commute at least three times a week. It is all I can do to resist buying a donut on the way to school or a double ice cream cone on the way home.  There must be a better way.  I am too poor grad student to afford Jeremy’s economic incentive approach to gold star-ing his workout goals, but there has to be a way to stay accountable other than relying on my own discipline.

biting my tongue

I am the worst kept secret in the blogosphere.* I once did a tally of all of the professors I’ve “come out” to, and in my field alone, it’s probably at least 25-30.  And mind you, 95% of these people contacted me first, either by comment or more commonly, direct email, to offer words of advice or encouragement.  My blog is a great networking tool! I don’t think I’d know so many people pre-market without it, and it’s made conference experiences better, and I’ve certainly gotten good advice and feedback from my contacts. And great extra mentoring.

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stereotypes, heuristics, historical sociology, and cowboy iconography

There’s a really great episode of This American Life this week. This one is called “Got You Pegged”, and it’s about stereotypes and initial (wrong) judgments. If you’ve ever read Gerd Gigerenzer or other cognitive psych/bounded rationality micro-foundations of behavior stuff, you’ll find it really interesting. If you want to see how people extrapolate from stereotypes to really bad sociology, listen to Act II, in which Chuck Klosterman reads aloud this essay from Esquire, on how Germans study cowboy culture to understand American sociology:

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norms and normativity: what constitutes bullying on the internet?

Paging Eszter Hargittai! And Bob Sutton! And any other sociologists who care!

There is currently a big debate/kerfuffle/brouhaha brewing in the legal blogosphere, or as we not-so-charmingly-and-quite-possibly-narcissistically call it, the “blawgosphere.” The long story not-so-short, in comments to this post, Prof. Ann Bartow of Feminist Law Professors* suggested that to re-post someone’s personally identifiable comment made on another blog to your own blog post without first notifying the author and giving them notice and opportunity to respond, constitutes bullying in the blogosphere. I interpret Prof. Bartow’s comment to be that if your intent is use someone else’s name and statement to solicit comments/discussion in a potentially critical or uncivil forum or to criticize them yourself, then the civil, collegial thing to do would be to notify that person and alert them to a new forum where they may respond to a discussion concerning themselves/their argument, and to do otherwise would constitute bullying. Indeed, we can all acknowledge without agreeing or disagreeing with Prof. Bartow’s comment that comment threads can indeed take nasty turns and turn into a pile-on of personality-based attacks rather than civil, substantive arguments.

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david brooks, social psychologist…

…is the title of this awesome post by Mark Liberman on LanguageLog, debunking this assertion by Brooks:

These sorts of experiments have been done over and over again, and the results reveal the same underlying pattern. Americans usually see individuals; Chinese and other Asians see contexts.

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academic job search pointers from anomie

While law schools do their job searches slightly differently (we do everything differently), I found it quite useful to read through Wicked Anomie’s pointers, which tell one to engage in self-reflection (always good), while also doing all of the obvious things of paying very careful attention to one’s CV and teaching portfolio, and how to do a phone interview.  Anyway, do read her post, and leave your own tips and comments at her blog or here.

the coase theorem in action is a terrible idea

Oh come on now, surely you see the problems with this idea:

The Coase Theorem says that — absent large transaction costs — resources will end up being efficiently allocated, regardless of who holds the initial property rights.

NYU Law School is providing its students valuable real world experience with the Coase Theorem, according to this ABA Journal article.

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conference boycotts

Does this happen to you sociologists? In brief, the organization for legal academics is called the American Association of Law Schools (AALS). Like you all, we have annual meetings that everyone hates attending and where the scholarship presented/panels organized are of even more dubious value than what you lot complain about (mainly because publishing is very ad hoc in our system of student-edited, mostly non-peer reviewed law journals). But it’s a big schmooze-fest, and I always think the panels on legal pedagogy look interesting if you care about pedagogy (which everyone should, but that’s neither here nor there).

At any rate, some law professor groups are threatening to boycott AALS events held at the Manchester Grand Hyatt in San Diego, because the hotel’s owner contributed $125,000 to an initiative to ban same-sex marriage in California. In particular, the legal writing institute has issued a letter of intent to boycott the conference by refusing to hold their awards ceremony at the hotel.

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realizing that the NYT isn’t that great is like realizing santa claus isn’t real

Readers of my blog (few, true) know that my childhood was not very fancy, and that my family worked a second job night shift at the LA Times. Well, I suppose my dad and brother had the actual positions, and we all just helped out to make it faster, in the process violating so many labor laws and child labor laws. Ah, good times.

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socialization in the modern age

I am on fire today! Can I get a whoop whoop! Fourth post in 24 hours! And they’re actually sociologish!

Ahem. Sorry. Anyway, via Unfogged, a story about modern methods of socialization:

Ennea, a project from students at the Eindhoven University of Technology is one of the cooler things I’ve seen in a long time, developed during a six week design class. The students focused on an interesting problem – the problems incoming Dutch high-school students have in building socialization skills. The Dutch education system doesn’t have middle schools, so students go directly from an elementary school to high school, a transition that can be difficult and stressful. Schools assign “tutors” to groups of pupils, and they meet for an hour a week to work on socialization skills. The designers talked with tutors and realized they had very little information about how their students were doing, and designed a fascinating social tool that works as a very clever form of surveillance and behavior tracking.

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