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!”

digging out

Like many, we were hit with a lot of fluffy, soft snow yesterday. Although it was the idyllic childhood scene, it took all day to convince Kid that going outside would be fun. Once he got out there, he complained about being cold and refused to get out of his toboggan. Husband and I each took a turn pulling him around the block like we were sled dogs while the other shoveled. Then, we went inside for hot chocolate (“soy milk and no marshmallows, mom!”).

We’re almost dug out now, with one car out and one still buried. It’s snowing again, so it seems a bit futile, but the only choice is to shovel, shovel, shovel.

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”

nutter about nuther

I can’t stand how the phrase “a whole nother” has slipped into our language (447,000 hits on Google, the variant in the title produces a mere 25,500 hits).  I’m hearing it everywhere these days–even news anchors are saying it now!  The worst part, it’s so ubiquitous it is coming out of MY mouth.  This madness must stop.

It reminds me of a whole nother error, “irregardless,” which, of course, is not a word, and even if it were, it would mean the opposite of what its typical user means to say.  For years, I made fun of people who used this word.  As a result, I was actually saying the “word” quite a bit, in a mocking tone.  And, it started sticking in my brain as a result.  One day in graduate school while chatting with one of my professors, it actually slipped out of my mouth.  Before I could get to the convoluted explanation of how this could possibly have happened, said professor corrected me “I think you mean either irrespective or regardless.”  I was mortified.

Similarly, I once had the word “epiphone” on my mind, which is a brand of guitar (the cheaper line of the Gibson company).  I always thought that was a dumb name for a guitar brand, and had been facetiously pronouncing it “epiphany” since high school.  Then one day I was writing an email to my advisor in grad school, announcing I had been working on some kind of difficult problem and had had an “epiphone!”*

I’m not sure if there is a lesson in this, other than to avoid repeating other peoples’ mistakes, even in gest, because its going to take up residents in you’re mind and come back to bite you in the but.


*I’m extremely curious if this person remembers the exchange.  The answer is probably no, which will verify my expectation that the things that seem so big in our own minds are routinely ignored by others.