i feel like i’ve been walking around for months with something stuck in my teeth

I am reading this blog on Internet Explorer right now. Instead of the visited links being gray like they are when I read Scatterplot in Firefox, they are blue, which leads to an aesthetically unpleasing mismash of gray and blue all over the page. Not only that, but on the far right of the Scatterplot banner, there is a mysterious multihued squizzle that is not supposed to be there.

Word is, there still remain people in this world who use Internet Explorer as their primary browser. Some could even be readers of this blog! If you are one of them, are the visited links blue instead of gray? Have they always been that way? Do you have the squizzle? Have you always had the squizzle? Why haven’t you told me?

correlation, or causality?

From CNN.com:

Obama picked up an endorsement from California superdelegate Crystal Strait…

“Barack Obama has shown a real commitment to young voters in his campaign, and in response, young people have overwhelmingly voted and caucused for Obama,” Strait said in a written statement.

“We know that if a young person votes three times in a row for a party, they become a party voter for life. We know that because of high youth turnout in 2004 and 2006, 2008 is the third and critical election for young voters. And that’s why I know I want to pledge my delegate vote to Barack Obama,” she said.

my summer vacation

BTW: Things are looking final for Sal and me going to Malawi to teach a course on data analysis at the end of June.  This will be my first time to Africa, my first time crossing the equator, and my first time doing anything even remotely like this.  When I signed up, my thought was Adventure!, although I’m not sure how much Adventure! there will be teaching a class 9-5 for six consecutive days. 

Sal and I will also have a 10 hour layover in London, so presumably we will be able to get from Heathrow to see something while we are there.

why aren’t you blogging???

Because I’m writing a paper on blogging for a small conference on Friday.  I spent several days being stymied by said paper because of teaching, competing professional obligations, my secret new supernerdy hobby, and other distractions.  Then I moved to being stymied by said paper by a general lack of ideas.  More accurately: I have many ideas about blogging, but the things I think about with blogging do not fit that well with the theme of the conference, which is on “public intellectuals.”

Tidbit: while the words “public intellectual” appear in a book by C. Wright Mills, the term was effectively coined only in 1987, in a book by a historian about how the public intellectuals were in decline as a result of the expansion and professionalization of academe.  So, basically, “public intellectual” has gained currency for lamenting about an idealized personage that had a golden age which is passed.

I looked at a couple books on public intellectuals and they just reinforced my sense of much of it being a giant wankorama for clever boys to manversate and inflate their mutual sense of self-importance.  I do not have much interest in contributing to reflections on all that, and it certainly does not play to my strengths.  What I said I would do is talk about blogging and markets for intellectual attention, and I should try to focus on that rather than worry about the conference theme.

BTW, when I went to the library to check out some books on public intellectuals, I learned that my Northwestern ID had expired.  See, apparently, when you start out as a tenured professor at Northwestern, you may have a lifetime committment from the University in one sense, but your ID is only good for six months.   So I’ve squirreled away the books in a random graduate students study carrell and am going over there to continue working on this.

q: what do you want to be when you grow up? a: elsewhere

My hometown is Manson, Iowa (no relation to Charles or Marilyn), population 1800 or so. This morning in my inbox:

Dear Jeremy,

Another Manson-born academic ([name], at the University of Iowa) sent me (a Manson-born academic at the National University of [exotic foreign country]) the URL of your website, which I greatly enjoyed. Congratulations on that: delightfully, and affectionately, irreverent — and helped me to remember why, from the age of about 12, my life goal was to be somewhere else.

Best wishes,

I had no idea that there were other people in academia from my hometown. My own life goal of being somewhere else did not crystallize until age 13, with an incident that involved me watching a couple guys who worked on a rendering truck.

(Don’t get me wrong: I love Iowa. And remember, if it wasn’t for Iowa, Barack Obama would not be the Democratic nominee. He better not double-cross us on ethanol.)

I earned star 67 this morning on my plan to exercise 200 days in 2008. Remember, I’ve committed to giving $25 to the George W. Bush Presidential Library for every day I fall short. I am currently slightly behind: if I continue at this pace, I will be donating $300 or so, which is enough to ensure that I will have my name on right-wing mailing lists for life. Plus, it will be all the more evidence at my trial the year ASA has “Who shall we purge?” as its theme.


A couple of frustrations here at work. Some days I think, “I wish I was getting more done.” Some days I think, “Why am I not just punching out and instead spending my time on my secret new super-nerdy hobby?”*

I was sufficiently despairing by the end of the day that I plopped down on the couch and watched American Idol. I know! It turned out to be a useful theological exercise, though, when it became clear that if the guy with the dreadlocks does not get voted off the show this week, there is no God.**

During AI, I saw an ad for a product called seasonique, which was supposed to be a contraceptive that “allows” (I’m not sure what the right verb is) women to have only four periods a year. I thought women on the pill could already control whether or when they menstruated just by continuing to take the normal pill rather than the placebo portion of the standard packet. Then again, I spent much of my time in the sex-ed portions of health class trying to ward off a seizure, so perhaps I misunderstood this. Anyway, I’m confused.

* A couple people asked me if I had gotten into Second Life. It’s interesting how people can read your blog for years and then reveal in a sentence that they don’t know you at all.

** Speaking of which, two recommendations I’ve been given recently for expanding my social circle here have been: (1) start going to church, (2) start going to cons. But I’m not religious! But I don’t like science fiction! I’ve been told they both operate on a kind of “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy if you fake it.

we try harder

Does Google return the same search results to everyone, or does it customize the results based on some information its cookies have adduced about you? By my Google search results, anyway, our blog has now climbed all the way to #2 for What You Get If You Search For Scatterplot, preceded only by the 3000-lb page-rank monster that is the Wikipedia Entry. I wonder sometimes why Google doesn’t just replace its “I’m Feeling Lucky” button with “Search Wikipedia.”

Also, almost forgot: Happy Free Comic Book Day! Don’t everyone rush out to get yours all at once.


I finally ran outside for the first time in 2008 yesterday. Not five minutes into my run, I was bitten by a beagle. Nipped. It didn’t break the skin. Still. Every time you smile at an unleashed dog in the park, the terrorists win.

Quiz feature (answer after the jump): For what book were the authors moved to write the following close to their acknowledgments:

“[first author] would be lost without Flora, Jude, and Suzette, whose love is all about oomph. And he dedicates the book to his parents, [names], real world examples of unconditional love. [second author] dedicates the book to her grandchildren, [names]. May they someday read this and understand a part of love.”

Continue reading “passions”


Northwestern has rescinded its invitation to Jeremiah Wright to receive an honorary degree at commencement. A colleague of mine told me about this and thinks this will be a Big Deal around campus. I say, it will be a Not So Big Deal. Any guesses?

I haven’t thought about it any length, but my immediate reaction is that I (strongly?) support the decision to rescind the invitation. (I often have strong, but parenthetical, immediate reactions.)

prepping as procrastination, continued


I was supposed to play Super Mario Kart on my Wii this evening, but then that didn’t happen. (You know who you are.) I could have, however, worked on either of the two papers with pressing deadlines. Or I could have worked on my new, too-dorky-to-confess-to hobby project. Or I could have taken care of some financial matters that need my attention. Or I could have worked on plans regarding the one week summer course it looks like I will be teaching In Another Country (stay tuned for announcement on that). Or I could have at least worked out.

Instead, I spent an inordinate amount of time compulsively making slides for my grad stats class. A couple of them may even be novel ways of presenting some materials. This is not how I should be spending my time. Ugh, ugh. And still five weeks left after tomorrow.

Please cheer me up by telling me that the dipbother with the dreadlocks was voted off American Idol. I’m still at the office and LeechBlocked from news sites.

Update: Of course, within a minute of posting slides I notice a couple typos. I’m not reposting them.

watch people die, sociologically

Here. Click the now button for the most compelling version, especially if you just let it run while, say, being on the elliptical trainer.

Anyway, if you aren’t in the mood for tragedy, can you at least tell me if you have any opinion either about the Amazon Kindle or these new Flip Video cameras? Both have been recommended to me recently, and pre-ordering a Wii Fit this afternoon was apparently not enough to slake my gadgety thirst.

BTW, if I make it to 3.5 miles on the ET, this will be Day 62 in my pledge either to work out 200 days in 2008 or donate $25 to the George W. Bush Presidential Library for each day I fall short. I’m about four days short of where I need to be to be on pace for 200, but I’m maybe 50 days ahead of where I would be if I hadn’t made the pledge to begin with. I’m thinking about making some similar kind of pledge about writing.


As further evidence that I am in the throes of the lamest midlife crisis ever, I have spent much of the weekend spurning pleasant social opportunities in favor of working alone on a new hobby so geeky/dorky I cannot bear the idea of talking about it publicly.  And given things I have mentioned about myself over the years in blog posts, that’s saying something.  (No, of course, not filking.  I would hope that in this world I have the sort of friends who would perform a serious, if necessary fatal, intervention if I ever became involved with filking.)  I feel like somewhere in my early thirties I took a wrong turn and have since been careening toward becoming a de-Enidized variant of Seymour from Ghost World.

OK, while I still don’t want to talk about it, part of what I’ve been doing involves some computer programming.  I say this only because the thing with me and programming is that when I’ve got something I want to program, I can work for 12 or more hours straight without any especial need for social interaction, websurfing, reflexive e-mail checking, food, or hygiene.  (This does not always mean that I will have a great deal to show for those 12 or 14 hours, depending on if I’ve gotten stuck on something.)  If I could fire up the time machine and go back to age twenty and start an alternative career fork, computer programmer would probably be it.

I was telling a friend about this and she promptly said, “It’s not too late!  You could still go become a computer programmer.”  Oy.  I really like being a professor.  Partly precisely because it’s a job title so broad and with so much autonomy that you can shape your actual work into a number of different things.  Why I don’t actually do more programming in my work is a different question.  As an assistant professor, I was doing a lot of programming-like work for awhile on a certain large survey I’m involved with, but then I cut that way back on that because it seemed like it was taking too much time away from other things with clearer external rewards.  Perhaps I should revisit that decision.

Does anybody else have a counterfactual career they wonder about?

Meta: Due to popular request, I have added an RSS comments feed at the bottom of the sidebar.

contest feature!

When I was in New Orleans for a conference last week, I left my sportsjacket somewhere with my cell phone inside. It was later recovered, but while it was lost I had the bright idea of calling it from the phone in my hotel room. I hung up as soon as my voicemail picked up. I will give an official Scatterplot virtual kewpie doll to the person with the closest guess to what the Sheraton New Orleans charged for this phone call.

Update: Ann’s suspicion that she was going to win the kewpie doll was correct. The amount on my hotel bill is $12.35.

campaign 2008!

I received the link today for the American Sociological Association elections. For those readers interested in canceling out my vote, here is how I voted for the association-wide offices (if anybody reads this who was running and did not get my vote: no offense, nothing personal, I’m a partly-stochastic voter, etc.):

President: Pescosolido
Vice President: Burton
Council at large (vote for four): Bachrach, Mare, Morgan, Minkoff
Committee on committees (at large; vote for two): Milkie, Polletta
Committee on committees (Ph.D. granting): Padavic
Committee on committees (non-academic): Bird
Committee on nominations (vote for six): Carter, Correll, Morning, Correll, Voss, Correll
Committee on publications (vote for two): Fligstein, Ridgeway
Committee on blog parties (vote for two): Fetner, Khan

I am running for an office in the medical sociology section. My experience has been that I feel ambivalence when asked to run for something, but once my hat is in the ring, I want to win. So, if you belong to the section, I want your vote. I am running against this person, who I do not know and who looks friendly enough from his photo, but there are rumors that at a campaign fundraiser he said that sociologists were “bitter” and that he’s not a very good bowler. Also, you can see plainly from the photo that he does not wear an ASA flag lapel pin.

orgtheory turns two

BTW, orgtheory celebrated its second anniversary yesterday, so wish them a belated happy biennium if you haven’t.  Even better, rumor is that they are working on a charity “Boys of Orgtheory” pin-up calendar.

We may be younger, but we are feistier and will still kick their bothers in the Wii tournament at ASA.   Although we may need to add some more athletic guest bloggers if we want to also win the Capture the Flag match to be held on the Boston common.

BTW-BTW, one of the things I did at PAA was go bowling at this place that played live zydeco while you bowled.  I haven’t bowled since grad school, and even then only a few times, but still got a 139, including a strike-strike-spare-strike run before the cocktails kicked in.  A woman in our group who hadn’t bowled before and had a delivery like one of those sidearm baseball pitchers got a 29.  It made me wonder about how on earth Barack Obama, even if he hadn’t bowled since he was eight, could only get a 37.