Maybe as long as two years ago, a state legislator  called me to say that they were trying to get a commission created to deal with racial disparities, and would I agree to be on it if asked.  Last January, the Governor announced that such a commission would be created, and it made front page news; I got a lot of reporter calls about it, many asking me if I’d be on the commission.  I said I did not know if I’d be asked, but I’d serve if asked.  The commission got created in late March and had its first meeting in April.  The fact that the commission had actually been appointed was not news and was buried in a short paragraph in back pages.  We were supposed to report in October, but this was impossible.  Given the expertise on the commission, we could have begun writing our report at the first meeting and done a good job, but it was deemed important to get testimony from stakeholders and the public, and there were some things we learned we did not already know.  Because of that, and other often-frustrating organizational issues I will not go into, we had to defer the deadline and were not able to really write the report until January.  It is released today in the middle of one of the most exciting political weeks of the decade.  I am assuming it will get essentially zero play, as “news hole effects” (which I’ve researched) mean that any bit of news is inevitably in conflict with other news.   All I can hope is that our recommendations might get implemented despite the total lack of public discussion that can be expected from the timing of all this.

eureka – vacuuming up all that experience.

Erin Leahey at the University of Arizona studies the benefits of specialization for scholars, including its effects on productivity and salary (much to the chagrin of those who aspire to be jills – or jacks – of all trades).

One of the most emailed articles in the NY Times from the weekend is tangentially related to the topic, as it demystifies epiphanies by pointing out that “aha moments grow out of hours of thought and study” rather than “flashes of pure brilliance, with great thunderclaps and echoing ahas.”

Put the two together, and here’s my question: Continue reading “eureka – vacuuming up all that experience.”


I have an old email account I check on occasion. Others sometimes mistype their own account and register for services using this email address. Most services ask for confirmation so there’s not much of a problem. In such cases I don’t confirm and that way the registration doesn’t really go through. Presumably the person eventually realizes this and registers with the correct address.

However, not all systems go through such verification. I just checked this account and noticed that someone has signed up on one of those social sites (you know, the ones like MySpace where you connect up with friends) and has since been accumulating numerous connections. I get a notification about both friend requests and friend acceptances requested by “me”. Continue reading “conflicted”


In a thread on orgtheory, the moribund blog “left2right” was brought up, which was apparently an effort by Rock Stars of the Academic Left to have a blog about reaching out to the right. In general, blogs fail when they are premised on the idea of writing for people who’ve adamantly no interest in reading what you have to say, especially when posed in unidirectional “myWisdom2yourIgnorance” terms.

Anyway, Omar then likens it to the idea of a blog called “soc2econ,” which may be the Single Most Hilarous Joke Academic Blog Concept Ever. soc2econ: The blog by sociologists who want to reach out and impart their wisdom to economists eager for enlightenment. I literally had to hold the sides of my head to keep it from exploding as all these possible jokes rushed into my brain. If I had time and graphic design wherewithal, I would be putting this together for April Fool’s Day. If I do sometime, y’all have to play along. Everybody has to pretend to be extremely earnest.

I still believe that nothing points to a difference between the disciplines of sociology and economics quite as incisively as Continue reading “soc2econ!”

mitch duneier responds

I had an off-blog conversation with Mitch Duneier about some of the IRB issues brought up in reference to Sudhir Venkatesh’s work, Gang Leader for a Day (see the comments to Jeremy’s post). I asked him if I could post his reply on our blog, and he graciously accepted! Part of what motivated me was that at Wisconsin I often heard that Mitch did not believe in IRBs for ethnographers because the method was not generalizable science. Mitch lays this urban legend to rest. Below is Mitch’s response: Continue reading “mitch duneier responds”