without reservation

How to support students from disadvantaged backgrounds is something about which I think (and worry and strategize) a great deal.  I’m happy that this has emerged as a topic on this site and look forward to learning from your experiences and suggestions.

In the meanwhile, here’s something incredibly easy that we can all do:

Continue reading “without reservation”


I’ve been working with an undergraduate, a senior.  She is African American, from a poor family.  None of her elders went to college, although a few cousins are doing it.  She graduated at the top of her class in an inner-city high school, where she says she never had to do any work to make As.  Her writing is markedly deficient compared to the predominantly-affluent predominantly-privileged students here, and she struggles academically.  Continue reading “disadvantage”

sociology in the news!

There is an interesting article in the NYTimes on sociologists using facebook for data. None other than one of the nominees for “best of 2007” Nicholas Christakis.

A few things strike me as interesting. First, they’re using Simmel, “triadic closure” thesis – whether your friends are also friends. Go Simmel! He’s been primed for a comeback for years now. Soon, lots of papers on sociability. Later, sociologists challenge economics with The Philosophy of Money (and fail). But back to traidic closure…

Continue reading “sociology in the news!”

annual reports

I’ve already received two “holiday letter” e-mails, both from people I’m fond of but haven’t otherwise been in touch with over the past year. The first is from a woman I knew from grad school who went off on remarkable length about this new hobby of hers which I won’t go into in any detail except to say it involves a lot of filking. (For readers who don’t know what filking is, did not follow the convenient link in the last sentence, and presume instead that Scatterplot has just taken a tawdry turn, “filking” only sounds like the name of some obscure sex act.) Please understand that I don’t sit in any kind of judgment of those who love nothing more than to filk away with friends and neighbors, but: I’m quite confident that this person, at age 25, would have merrily agreed to sign an advanced directive instructing that she be euthanized either if her health deteriorated to the point where she was being kept alive only by machines OR her social tastes had deteriorated to where her primary source of meaning and enthusiasm in life was wanton filking. As I read the e-mail I kept thinking, “Well, this certainly wasn’t what I expected when I clicked to open this message.”

The second one Continue reading “annual reports”