why i’m pro “animals and society” and think “the sociology of food” should be more central to the discipline

There, I said it. Beyond my friendship with Colin Jerolmack (“the pigeon dude”) who has guided me to respect the animals and society section, I just read Mark Bittman’s article in the NYTimes, “Rethinking the Meat-Guzzler” and thought to myself, “sociologists should work more on this relationship”. The Times has been doing a series of articles on meat (Jamie Oliver’s “new goal” of  understanding why meat is cheap is less interesting than Bittman’s, but still worth a gander). I have become more and more concerned with our agricultural practices over the last five years. Some of this has nothing to do with sociology, emerging instead through my work as a chef in Madison for a food collective
organized around sustainable food. And some because of casual reading on the issue – in particular Pollan’s book which I found insightful (though the narrative voice annoyed me). Bittman’s piece makes me realize at a full sociological study can (and should!) be done on this relationship. Continue reading “why i’m pro “animals and society” and think “the sociology of food” should be more central to the discipline”

how often does this happen to you?

You pick up a journal. You look through it. You know that what’s in there is “sociology”. But then you think to yourself, “I don’t recognize this stuff as what I do. It seems like an entirely different discipline; one I’m not remotely interested in!” It happens to me more often than I should probably admit. More of an indictment of me than of our discipline. And the experience becomes more jarring when I think of Science and Nature – the breadth of disciplinary bounds that those journals cover, yet still make attempts at being somewhat coherent.


Like our illustrious fellow blogger, I suffer from insomnia. And now I know why. Okay, so maybe I don’t really know why. But it could be a reason. Save your money, Jeremy! Don’t go to a sleep center. First try not talking on the phone before bed. I also cut out caffeine after 5. Which makes me seem much older than my 29 years. I may go to one of those sleep centers still. These days in NYC it seems like the hip thing to do.

course evaluations

I’m curious if folks actually look at their course evaluations. Some people whose teaching I really respect tell me that they haven’t looked at them in years. I can’t help but look. And every time, I get frustrated and upset. What’s weird about this, is that I get pretty good evaluations. I just can’t forget the bad ones. They stay in my mind LONG AFTER any positive comment. Continue reading “course evaluations”

polling problems in nh, and the caucus vs. a private vote

Why did the pollsters in NH get it wrong? Obama was up by 8%, only to lose by 3%. This is an enormously dramatic swing that is difficult to explain. Andrew Kohut, president of Pew Charitable Trusts has an interesting editorial about this in the NYTimes. His explanation: “the longstanding pattern of pre-election polls overstating support for black candidates among white voters, particularly white voters who are poor.” My explanation is slightly different: that in a caucus there is social accountability, and in a private vote, there isn’t. Continue reading “polling problems in nh, and the caucus vs. a private vote”

i’m confused

I just read David Brooks’ editorial about the outcome in Iowa. First, I’m worried that he praises Obama. Why would he do this? I suspect something sinister, like he hopes to deflate his candidacy. But that’s paranoia. I’m more confused by his statement, outlining what Huckabee knows that all others in the field don’t: “A person’s lifetime prospects will be threatened more by single parenting than by outsourcing.” Really? What does this mean? I’m curious where he gets this from. I’ve emailed him for the data he’s used to make the claim. I don’t expect a response. Continue reading “i’m confused”

what about pakistan?

I have been reading a lot about Pakistan. It’s been a while since I’ve been there, but in looking through the various posts on the death of Bhutto, I find it interesting to look at the American view of the event, and the reading of those elsewhere (for example, a different reading of Bhutto here). (Warning: this post represents my thoughts not as an academic, as this is most certainly NOT my scholarly area. Just from someone who’s been reading stuff. It’s also sloppy as it’s late, I’m tired, but for some reason not sleeping) . Continue reading “what about pakistan?”

why do we interview?

Having sat through a series of interviews with job candidates (and been on some myself) I have begun to wonder why we take the interview so seriously as part of the job process. I understand that if you’re hiring someone you want to see what they’re like – but I’m curious about how and why the interview is weighted. My concerns about this are multiple. Continue reading “why do we interview?”

ode to fruitcake

I’m not creative enough to write an ode. But I will say this, I love fruitcake. What’s not ot like? Fruit, booze, and cake? I’m making one this afternoon. The fruit has been soaking for six days (I even brought it, soaking in a bowl, on the Amtrak from NYC to Maine). It’s going to be great. I think I’ll start making Holiday fruit cakes and sending them to folks next year. It will be my version of conversion work.

This is the first time in a while that Eid and Christmas have been so close – so a week of celebrations in the O’Malley (mom)/Khan (dad) household! Happy holiday all.

online course materials

Related to a past post in which I mentioned Erik Wright’s podcasts of his lectures is this story in which an MIT physics professor, Walter Lewin, has become an online star because of his lectures. I found myself watching them and loving them. I also discovered that MIT puts a lot of course materials online. This, I think, is a wonderful idea. A way to make education more widely available. But I was sad to see that there was no sociology! We need to get with the times.