Monday, February 28, 2005

this starbucks cup befuddles me

Corrie writes of her embarrassment at being moved by a "Way I See It" quote on the side of a Starbucks cup. Me, I wish I had such troubles. Instead, all I get from the side of my Starbucks cup is confusion. For one thing, at least 80% of the time I get a drink from Starbucks, it seems like I get Way I See It #2:

For another, I don't get what this cup is trying to argue. I read the first sentence and think, "Sure, if a kid goes to preschool and doesn't learn anything, it's the preschool's fault, or maybe the parents', but not the kids. If there is a blame the preschooler movement out there, it needs to be stopped." Then I read the second sentence and think, "I suppose that could be the fault of bad preschools, but wouldn't you think that at least 30% of kids don't even go to preschool?" And then I read the third sentence and think, "I thought we were talking about preschools." And then I read the fourth and think, "Is the idea that we are supposed to send all kids to preschool?" Really, I don't get it.

If anyone does, explain it to me. Otherwise, I'll just presume that at least this post provides a comment space for various mystery commenters who may or may not all be the same person. I guess I can also throw in a concluding sentence where I help move a fellow Madisonian up the TTLB food chain (see sidebar) by providing seventeen more Tom Bozzo links here. (Thanks to Oscar for providing Bozzo links in compressed and easy to copy-and-repost format.)

Postscript: If you are wondering how Lieberman got the Starbucks cup gig in the first place, look no further than the first name on the list of the Board of Directors of the Jumpstart organization that he founded. Whither the mocha meritocracy?

Sunday, February 27, 2005

jeremy simulblogs the oscars!

Yeah, right. Remember, I don't have TV here in the RV.

Tom the Dancing TTLBug and Tonya and Ann are, however. I suppose I could be simulblogging whatever else I'm doing while the awards are on, since, as ever, I am in front of a computer.

further evidence of how i am becoming increasingly alienated and cranky as i get older

Yesterday in the mall, I was passing by one store and saw that it had two different endcaps devoted to the sale of merchandise associated with the film Napoleon Dynamite. It also seems to be a favorite film of some of the undergraduates who work across the hall from me. So, wanting to keep abreast of cultural trends among Kids These Days, I checked out the movie after the Sociology Gala last night. It's 94 minutes long. I was amused for maybe 10, off and on, like the scene where Napoleon gets hit in the face with some meat while he's riding a bike. As far as I can tell, most of the film taps into the same humor vein as what would find hilarity in circus sideshows, dwarf-tossing, or killing a person's cat and feeding it to them, only in ND the humor is specifically tailored to appeal to the BlueStateYouth set. It's interesting how a film can be unrelentlingly culturally elitist and meanspirited until the last few minutes, but then happy everything up with a series of swift and improbable plot developments--involving, first, the electoral affections of Napoleon's suspiciously large rural school, and, second, involving three different female character's completely inexplicable romantic choices--so that it comes across like it was really a good-natured and sweet movie after all.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

it does make you wonder what would be regarded as actually crossing that border and being cruel

The New Yorker has a humor piece this week that takes as its point of departure this actual passage in Jerry Falwell's autobiography:
There were times that Dad's pranks bordered on cruelty. One of his oil-company workers, a one-legged man he nicknamed "Crip" Smith, complained about everything. Dad and Crip's co-workers got tired of the old man's bellyaching and decided to take revenge. One morning Crip called in sick and Dad volunteered to send by lunch to his grateful but suspicious employee. Dad and his chums caught Crip's old black tomcat, killed it, skinned it, and cooked it in the kitchen of one of Dad's little restaurants. They called it squirrel meat and delviered it to Crip on a linen-covered tray. When Crip returned to work the next morning, Dad and his co-conspirators asked him how he liked his meal. They knew he would complain even about a free home-cooked lunch, and when Crip called it "the toughest squirrel meat" he had ever eaten, they were glad to tell him why.

gabba gabba hey

(RSVP Coupon at the end of the invitation to the Sociology Winter Party)

Sociology is having its annual Winter Party this Saturday. E. Glitter Princess has already posted about the invitation. Given that this is likely the last sociology party I will be attending for some while, I considered kicking in the extra money to be either a first-class Macher or a Mach-Daddy hall-of-fame-class Party Booster. In the end, however, I decided the Hall of Fame could wait, and I just paid the expected $10.

My experience at these kind of events is that at about half of them I have a good time and at the other half I am suicidally bored. The probability of the former outcome seems to be helped if I start drinking immediately upon arrival.

actual conversation today between two sociology faculty members right in front of the main office

"She's bipolar, you know." (eyes widen) "I should introduce her to you!"
"I AM NOT BIPOLAR! Dear God! Why would you get all excited to introduce someone to me just because they have mental health problems?"

Friday, February 25, 2005

why did the chicken cross the road? to buy some smokes. too bad he didn't make it.

"TRENTON, New Jersey (AP) -- Animal rights activists are disgusted by a new candy from Kraft Foods Inc. that's shaped like critters run over by cars -- complete with tire treads.

The fruity-flavored Trolli Road Kill Gummi Candy -- in shapes of partly flattened snakes, chickens and squirrels -- fosters cruelty toward animals, according to the New Jersey Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

'It sends the wrong message to children, that it's OK to harm animals. And that's the wrong message, especially from a so-called wholesome corporation like Kraft,' said society spokesman Matthew Stanton."
Wholesome? Isn't Kraft owned by what used to be Philip Morris? This is a company that has made zillions off of addicting humans to a substantially life-shortening product, and we are supposed to be surprised, saddened, and shocked* that they are selling candy that looks like a run-over chicken.

* Yes, I know it is so unhip to write about being "shocked" by anything these days. I know you are supposed to write "shocked, shocked", as in paragraph 4 here.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005


Palabris calls your eyeballs' attention to the Webster's Rosetta Edition, which indeed does seem a remarkable Internet resource-in-progress for hopelessly lexicophilic souls like myself. Try it out!

One less impressive quirk of the site is that it offers not just a word of the day, but also a word of the hour and word of the minute. As you can see above, there is nothing in the word choosing algorithm to guarantee that the words chosen are cool words, or that they are even, you know, words.


(clear sign the popular collapse of blogging is at hand: these are Post-Its I found and bought from the dollar bins at Target)

Sad news: Enthusiastic Claire has announced the end of her blog. Swing low, sweet Claire-iot. You will be missed. Especially given your being one of those bloggers whose principal raison-de-post was excitement, as opposed to being driven by, e.g., rage, malcontent, boredom, punditly-zeal, logorrhea, or, seemingly in my own case, a weird self-enamored proclivity for public displays of would-be-preciousness.

So, to ponder the loss of Claire in its most crucial terms, i.e., its psychological implications for me, consider: someone with a blog titled The Enthusiast has lost her enthusiasm for blogging, the way one loses their enthusiasm for a piece of gum once the flavor is gone. Meanwhile, here in the Social Science building, the flurry of enthusiasm for graduate student blogging has ebbed dramatically (see, e.g., rates of recent posting here and here and here and here and, as ever, here). Over at Pub Sociology, meanwhile, there has been musing about the degree to which one's blogging is just a phase and whether the lonesome character of academia is what has driven some of the blogging from the ivory tower in the first place.

My expectation is that, when 2005 turns into 2006 and the various annual round of lists of what's IN and OUT are circulated, "blogs" will be a favorite selection near the top of many OUT columns. Nonetheless, my December hiatus nonwithstanding, I have no plans on leaving, even it ends up meaning that I'm Wisconsin sociology's Last Blogger Standing. Still, I started JFW in July 2003, which puts me on the early side of arrivals at this giant online party, and I wonder if eventually I'm going to start feeling like the creepy guy who doesn't get that it's time to leave.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

crossing the line

A female friend and I were talking this weekend about road rage and the atrocities it can bring out in people who already otherwise have anger management issues. I recounted the n-th hand, possibly-largely/entirely-apocraphal story I'd heard about this strapping guy I knew back in college, who was once cut off (or some other minor vehicular transgression) by some high school kid driving in a muscle car with his girlfriend. The guy supposedly chased the kid down, got him to pull over, ran over to his car, got the stupid kid to roll down his window, reached in the window, grabbed the kid by the shirt, and yanked the kid toward him while screaming in his face, "I'm going to rip your [expletive deleted] head off. But, first, I'm going to make you watch while I rip off your [expletive deleted] arms and feed them to your fat [expletive deleted] girlfriend."

"What a jerk!" my friend interjected at this point in the story. "Why'd he have to call her fat?"

Monday, February 21, 2005

supersize me!

This weekend, for the first time, a friend saw fit to give me my first XX-Large present ever. My self-consciousness swelled with gratitude.

"Thanks! And, um, thanks for showing that you've noticed how I've turned into this giant bloated carcass of a man."
"You're welcome, whaleboy! Except: given the state of your posterior, you might think about capitalizing the last three letters of 'carcass'."

jfw award, healthiest instance of the 'every one' for 'everyone' usage error

(From a brochure that was given to me by someone who presumably thought I could use the class.)

Friday, February 18, 2005

(yo, is this true?) does "finder's keepers" really have this kind of legal force?

"Shelbyville, Indiana (AP) -- Karrie Jeremiah pulled a discarded lottery ticket from a restaurant trash can and hit the jackpot.

Two other people had purchased the $5 Hoosier Lottery scratch-off ticket last week at the Chaperral Cafe. When a clerk at the downtown cafe told them it wasn't the $40 winner they were hoping for, they threw it away, lottery officials said.
It wasn't a $40 winner -- it was a $100,000 winner.

Jeremiah said she wondered whether the numbers were completely checked before the ticket was tossed. 'Who would ever throw this ticket in the trash knowing it was a $100,000 hit?' she said.


[Lottery security director Ellen] Corcella said the lottery was looking into the circumstances surrounding the ticket, but believed Jeremiah was the rightful winner.

'If I drop $100,000 in the street and walk away and the next person picks it up, it's their money,' she said."

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

the skinny

Following up on yesterday's cryptic post, today I accepted a two-year fellowship at Harvard as part of the Robert Wood Johnson Scholars in Health Policy Research program. Starts in August. I will officially be on leave from Wisconsin while on the fellowship, and, if things currently in process work out, I will have the option of returning here when it is done. Much more about all this can be said, and maybe some of it will on this blog, but later. I'm currently in one of my states of worklife superhyperoverwhelmedness.

I apologize to any friends who wish I would have told them this news personally rather than their finding out about it bloggerly. Annoying, I know.

the new product that strikes fear into the heart of the psychiatric establishment

So effective. So cheap. So non-prescription. So here.

you thought this was just a casual blog. in fact, it's causal.

After an extended hiatus, Corrie has resumed blogging. What prompted her return? Being removed from the JFW sidebar. She's back there, along with some other unsystematic additions.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005


I have a major life decision that I need to make in the next 26 hours. Stay tuned to JFW for updates.

Strangely, things would be much simpler if it's wasn't for me being happier than I was, say, eight months ago, and considerably happier than I was, say, two years ago. Darn my upwardly trending affect!

in which i do some charity ad copywriting on sociology's behalf

The American Sociological Association leaves no potential stone of revenue unturned. Here's an ad from the ASA's official newsletter:

"Have you thought about subscribing to your favorite magazine but you were reluctant to pay the newsstand price?" I mean, come on! What kind of economic imbeciles would sociologists have to be to actually languish under such a torment!

Despite whatever misgivings I may have about sociology, I do not believe that there are any sociologists who are, in anything approximating a clinical sense, idiots. Understand, moreover, that because no one starts college as a sociology major, everybody is already some years past buying their first magazines by the time they join ASA. Consequently, I don't understand how anyone can reach even the lower-bound age and literacy of an entry-level ASA member and not already know that, if you are going to subscribe to a magazine, you should be able to find a better rate than the newsstand price.

So, it will be obvious to every member who reads this ad that ASA is not actually offering them anything special when it says it can get them magazine subscriptions at below newsstand prices. Why pretend otherwise? Rather than making some weird and inept pitch that makes the ASA sound not just overcommercialized but incompetently overcommercialized, why not just try leveling with members? Why not offer an ad that says something like:
Whenever you subscribe to a magazine, somebody makes money. Why not have it be ASA? Do the discipline a favor. Besides, it won't cost you anything, because if you can find a price lower than what's listed on our service, we can match it.

Monday, February 14, 2005

show the love

I know you are busy today showering affection upon your special someone, but, if you get the chance, take the time to vote for Lonely Donut Man in P-Freak's new sidebar poll. Given how professedly lonely he/she/they/it is/are, prevailing in the poll would mean so much to him/her/them/it.

(valentine's day special!) i [heart] huckafreese

Over at Marginal Utility, Tom and Nina are haggling over a bet regarding the next Presidential Election. I will leave it to you to decide the extent to which, when it comes to negotiating, an economist can hold his own with a wily lawyer.

In their discussion, an incidental reference is made to "the future Mrs. Freese." As devoted JFW readers presumably know or have surmised, I am not married, nor have I ever been. At various times in my life, I have encountered women who were sufficiently confused and poor judges of character as to allow themselves to become Involved with me, but the upshot of all such entanglements has been uniform doom.

Once, when I was in college, I was over at the apartment of a woman I was dating, and I saw a sheet of paper on her desk on which she had written "[her first name] Freese" over and over again. This was a source of discomfort on all kinds of levels. But the one I took up with her then was the idea that the future wife of Jeremy Freese would be The Future Mrs. Freese. It's also been the subject of a hypothetical dispute that I've had with several women--involved with me at the time or otherwise--in the years since.

In a nutshell: should I ever get married, I don't want the woman I marry to take my last name. And I feel like, seeing as it is my name, I should have a right to some say in the matter. However, my proposing such a right has driven otherwise-reasonably-sane woman into low-to-mid-levels of rage. Women who have no intention of actually changing their last name upon marriage still assert adamantly that it should be, wholly unilaterally, their decision whether they adopt my name.

Sure, everyone has heard the story about the traditional man who wants his wife-to-be to change her name to his and the woman of progressive ideals who refuses. It's a pretty easy moral argument to make that somebody should not be compelled to change their name if they don't want to. But what about the situation where a woman wants to change her surname to her husband's but he doesn't want her to? You could argue, I suppose, that the future Mrs. Freese has a right to change her name to any name she wishes, but, then again, the whole reason she is choosing "Freese" as her new shiny surname in the first place is because it is my name.

I mean, if it was the case that she was just so enamored of the last name "Freese" that she would want to change her last name to "Freese", regardless of our being together, that would be one thing. But, if she's taking the name because we are getting married, then it seems like she is appropriating something of mine, and, if she wants to get all patrilineally-cozy-with-me like that, I should be on board with the idea rather than treated as merely an advisory party.

Of course, the easy counter-threat is that a woman could change her name to my name, but that I would respond by changing my name to her name or to any other name (e.g., "Five") of my choosing. At the same time, even though I do not have any especial aesthetic affection for "Freese", I'm now so accustomed to it that I would rather not change it anything else, no matter how dashing Jeremy Five might seem.

(As a postscriptural aside, I hate the argument that people sometimes make for married couples synching their last names so as to prevent disorder regarding the last name of their children. More precisely, I hate it when the argument is pitched that it is in any way harmful to children to have a last name different from that of one of their parents. I would love for social science to do a study of this and determine whether familial surnominal asynchrony is in any way detrimental to child's welfare or ultimate well-being. Until such evidence exists, I'm not buying the idea. But, beyond this, it particularly amazes me whenever you have people who, e.g., allow their children unlimited access to television--allowing them to witness tens of thousands of acts of mortal violence by the time their kids reach puberty--wax piously about how couples who keep their own names are somehow shortshrifting their children.)

Sunday, February 13, 2005

tangled up in gluten

I was just talking to a friend whose gotten really into wheat-free waffles. Try saying "wheat-free waffles" five times fast. Sure, it's no "rear-wheel drive", but it's still sufficient to expose the plight of those of us with painful W-vs.-R neurolinguistic difficulties.

leaving las vegas

A graphic from a great NYT story today on suicide in rural America:

Presumably, Nevada has its own, anomalous, explanation for high suicide rates. As for the elevated risk of suicide in rural areas more generally, the article cites a number of different causes that are seen by experts as being responsible: guns, the lower quality of mental health services in rural areas, and various "cultural" factors. Myself, I would need to be statistically convinced that the difference wasn't entirely the result of differences in the availability and mundaneness of guns. Take a depressed male with a firearm and comfort in using it, and you've basically made death as convenient of an impulse buy as an ill-considered book buy for people who have Amazon One-Click purchasing activated.

I suppose what I feel is that particularly toxic combination is the combination of high rate of ambient firearms in combination with high rates of alcohol consumption. Brayden has a link to a service in which people can prevent themselves from drunk-dialing someone, now if only there could be a service where people can be kept from using their own guns to drunk-dispatch themselves.

(The NYT story coincides, incidentally, with jnsys's post about a suicide in my own rural hometown. There are virtues to the rural small-town life, to be sure, but, honestly: no matter what ends up happening to me on the quirky life path I've chosen for myself, I feel just so lucky/grateful/happy that I managed to get myself out of that place.)

Saturday, February 12, 2005

take my discipline. please.

A few years ago, the American Sociological Association had the idea of starting a magazine to help bring sociological wisdom to the masses. The resulting quarterly, Contexts, has repeatedly expressed its aspirations to be the sort of thing anybody interested in sociologicalish issues can pick up and read, although it has been unclear how many readers Contexts has been able to attract who are not practicing sociologists, former sociologists, or relatives of sociologists.

With the latest issue, Contexts has added a humor column ("The Fool") for its back page. The author is Harry Green, whom I've never heard of before and who is described as "once a promising sociologist." He has apparently moved from that to being now on the Contexts masthead as its in-house "humorist." I don't know how one scores that gig, but presumably it's through some kind of personal connection to The Guys In Charge. But does cronyism have to imply cornyism? The Guys In Charge surely do know some clever jokesters, right?

Apparently not, or at least not any who were willing to step up to the plate for Contexts Comedy. Green's humor column is bad--and not bad in the so-bad-it's-good way, but bad in the so-bad-that-it's-really-horribly-claw-out-your-eyes-and-burn-your-ASA-membership-card bad way. Seriously, I think I've shed most of my illusions about the capacity for Mainstream Sociology to embarrass itself, and yet I found this embarrassing.

The premise of the column is that there are reports of terrorists lurking in American sociology, and Green has been commissioned to investigate. Armed with the chief ordnance of lazy humor writing--bullet points--he reports evidence of various suspicious characters in the discipline. One example of the kind of Harry-hilarity that ensues:
Harvard University. You never see any of its sociologists at ASA meetings. What do they spend their time doing? And where did this place get so much money if not from Saudi oil? And what is Harvard President Larry Summers if not a lackey of the New World Order?
Worse, despite the idea that Contexts is at least supposed to have a pretense of being accessible to the person on the street, most of the attempts at humor are based on in-jokes that not only do you have to be in the sociology fold in order to get, but are obscure enough that they won't even be accessible to the average sociologist. An example:
Douglas Mitchell, University of Chicago Press. "You're only as holy as your beard is long." God-fearing, born-again Christians don't have beards that long--except of course for my Uncle Ebenezer, of Hogfarts, West Virginia.
Or, hey, if convulsions of laughter have not yet compromised your ability to read, try this one:
Central Florida University. That's right. We had never heard of it either. Jeb Bush is up to something down there. Eminent environmental sociologist Riley E. Dunlap disappeared from Washington University at Pullman three years ago, said to be "abroad." Now, suddenly he is teaching at Central Florida. Operatives are not usually in training camps for this long, so he must have been studying something especially diabolical--like eigenvalues.
The editors of Contexts, in their comments at the beginning of the issue, note that they plan to work on having accessible articles even though "you have probably never seen the terms sociology and good writing in the same sentence." Of course, around the academy, you would probably also not often hear sociology in the same sentence as "technically sophisticated" or "intellectually rigorous." And sociologists themselves are selling cartoon mugs that poke fun at the discipline's irrelevance to society. But if we are going to have bad reputations in so many ways, can't sociologists at least allow the world to think that, at the end of the day, we might at least be clever and funny? Or do we have to use our discipline's magazine to dispel whatever delusions anyone might have about that?

Friday, February 11, 2005

just what i needed. a stalker.

The other day, when I opened my office mailbox, there was sitting just this magnet, from some refrigerator poetry set. I have no idea who put it there, or why.

(It is true, as visitors to my office know, that I have one four-drawer file cabinet whose front is completely covered with several sets of magnetic poetry -- with all the prepositions and closed-case words taken out, so people can't actually make sentences or pseudopoetry out of them. It could be that somebody had a stray magnet poetry piece and I seemed like the logical person to give it to. Alternatively, it could be that the "nude" magnet was originally from one of the sets on my file cabinet. Perhaps some student stole it from me--again, for who-knows-what reason--and then in a fit of conscience returned it. My other four-drawer cabinet is filled with my collection of marble magnets, which cost me about a dollar a pop, and I know that I've had several of them stolen by larcenous-miscreant-office-visitors.)

Thursday, February 10, 2005

jfw award, most optimistic sentence about what can be accomplished in a moving motor vehicle

From a circulating announcement about a summer course here at UW:
The course will consist of two days of classroom work in Madison and
fifteen days on the bus traveling to the Southwest and back. The initial
classroom work will include readings and lectures designed to provide all
students with the necessary historical background for the sites we will
visit and the issues we will discuss en route. The charter bus will serve
as a moving classroom where students listen to faculty lectures, read
assigned texts, view documentaries and feature films, and discuss topics
that arise over the course of the journey.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

survey respondents say the darnedest things, continued

My last post generated enough interesting comments to provoke a sequel. In another part of the survey, for which I'm also responsible for ultimate scoring decisions, respondents are asked to say as many of the words they can think of that begin with either the letter "F" or "L" (which letter they get is determined randomly). The vast majority of responses are unproblematic. However, amidst the virtual stack of responses for which final coding decisions have to be made, here are five examples from each letter:



Also: for "L" words there was one respondent who said "Iraq." I suppose there are some who might argue that, in some respects, calling it "Lie-raq" would not be entirely unreasonable.

a menagerie of near-misses

In the large telephone survey of 65-year-olds that I work on, there is a task in which respondents are asked to name as many animals as they can in one minute. Tonight I'm working on the computer code that processes responses that have been coded as erroneous. Here are ten examples of "animals" named by respondents:

gazebo (3 different people said this!)

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

um, what was infamous about Apple's '1984' ad? does anybody know?

"The Super Bowl and its ads are the most widely-watched television event of the year. But paying top dollar to hawk products during the game doesn't guarantee a sales boost. On the one hand, Apple Computer's infamous '1984' ad nearly two decades ago helped generate $4.5 million in sales within six hours of its broadcast, according to Bernice Kanner's 'The Super Bowl of Advertising: How the Commercials Won the Game.' "
(Here is the commercial, BTW.)

jeremy freese, age 16... seemingly depicted with eerie exactness in this cartoon by Sara Edward-Corbett. Much has changed since then about my self-concept since then--e.g., I no longer permit myself the delusion of suspecting myself a genius--even if less has changed about the purposes to which my various contemplations are put. But, wow, she even has the precociously receding hairline down. And my Lone Ranger sleeping mask.

Monday, February 07, 2005

(hey kids!) among the best testimonials ever for steroid use for the young athlete

From the NYT:
"[Baseball manager Tony] La Russa said [Jose] Canseco and [Mark] McGwire were 'not really close,' and he strongly disputed the idea that McGwire used steroids, let alone allowed Canseco to administer them.

'We detailed Mark's workout routine - six days a week, 12 months a year - and you could see his size and weight gain come through really hard work, a disciplined regimen and the proteins he took - all legal,' La Russa said.

'As opposed to the other guy, Jose, who would play around in the gym for 10 minutes, and all of a sudden he's bigger than anybody.'"

Sunday, February 06, 2005

(jfw original recipe) a pocalypsmackin' good stew!

I have been given the task of providing a recipe in honor of Ashley "Number Six" Finley's victory in the 2004 NFL pool. Admittedly, while I may have considerable experience inventing recipes, I don't have much experience devising recipes in honor of particular persons. What sort of dish is appropriate for someone whose nickname is "Number Six"? Six, six, six, I kept thinking, six, six, six. Then it hit me like a Revelation: rather than a recipe that might also have a tie to this year's Super Bowl, why don't I throw the long ball and come up with a recipe appropriate for the Great Super Bowl of Eternity--the confrontation between good and evil, God vs. Satan, for the fate of the souls of all humankind. (Or whatever, my recollection of end-days details from Sunday School are now pretty fuzzy, and I haven't taken the Left Behind refresher course.) Anyway, without further delay, I offer you the opportunity to get your kicks with Ashley Finley's Stew 666:


a bat, caged
a ouija board
a small yellow onion, sliced into quarters
a tomato
little zesty bits of lemon and orange
salt, pepper
some lemon juice
2 small yellow bell peppers, sliced thin
2 zucchini, sliced
3 garlic cloves
6 (or more) teaspoons of butter, sculpted into the shape of a goat's head
6 (or more) teaspoons of olive oil
6 mushrooms, sliced to look like little cloven hoofs
6 ounces yellow wax beans, cut into pieces 3 inches long
6 teaspoons of herbs like marjoram, basil, myrrh, thyme


1. Put a bunch of water in a pot and get it boiling. Add the beans and salt. Cook until cooked. Scoop beans out of the boiling water and arrange them into a pentagram on the ouija board.

2. Put the tomato in the same water for 10 seconds or so. Then peel it and cut it into six pieces. Put one piece on each corner of the pentagram and one in the middle.

3. Chop up the garlic with the herbs and the lemon and orange bits. Sprinkle over the pentagram while chanting, in chronological order, the names of everyone who has ever broken up with or jilted you.

4. Put the olive oil in a big wide pan. Warm it up (not too warm). Put bat cage on counter next to stove. Do NOT taunt the bat.

5. Add the onion and the garlic-herb-lemon-orange stuff. Add the peppers, zucchini, mushrooms. Add about 1/4 cup of water. Say "Soon you will be free, Dark Lord" to the bat. Add a little salt. Cook about five minutes, or until the vegetables start getting soft.

6. Add the green beans and the tomato, in reverse order from the order that you placed them on the ouija board. Cackle and rub hands with sinister glee. Cook for awhile.

7. Turn up heat. Stir in butter. Shake the pan back and forth to make sure everything gets mixed together. You'll know you've done things correctly if you begin to hear thunder and hail outside.

8. Release the bat. Add lemon juice and pepper to taste.

9. Serve, eat, wait for apocalypse.

Sound good? I know arm-a-geddon hungry just thinking about it! Enjoy!

today's coming attraction

Today I'm obliged to make good on my agreement to provide a special sweetening of the deal for my friend Rob's NFL pool. As he put it in a reminder to all pool participants yesterday:
Simply log on to the "Amazing"
Jeremy Freese's weblog ( at Halftime, and
catch his posting of his ORIGINAL COOKING RECIPE to be named after our
to experience all the pageantry, all the hoopla, and all the festivities
ONLY at Jeremy's Blog! You wouldn't want to be the only one at the water
cooler Monday morning who didn't check it out, now would you?...

sometimes it gets lonely, feeling like you are the only person in the world who knows how to spell froot loops correctly

Saturday, February 05, 2005

another icarus plummets to earth

After, as an aside, I posted a link to the video for Liam Lynch's "United States of Whatever," I got a few e-mails wondering if I had seen the video for his song celebrating his nephew "Arlo." Indeed I had, and like everyone else I thought it was catchy, fun, and sweet. The guy was on a roll. So now he has got a brand new video posted on his sister's site, and it's, well, pretty much completely lame. Suck-tastically sucky, if you know what I mean.

I feel bad for the guy, I wonder why he couldn't keep the momentum going. Could it be poor nutrition? Check out this video.

Speaking of taking care of oneself, I went to the gym this evening after a hiatus that has lasted since my recent spate of traveling. Will I be able to keep up that momentum? Stay tuned.

Friday, February 04, 2005

regarding the recurrent idea that i am lonely donut man (after all, have you ever seen us together?)

Commenters are once again speculating that I am actually Lonely Donut Man. I am not. Remember that deal where Bill Gates was going to give you $250 for every person you forwarded that e-mail to? Well, I have a similar deal, only this isn't an urban legend. If it is ever learned, revealed, discovered, found out, proven, etc., that the various comments posted under the name "Lonely Donut Man" or "LDM" have been actually written by me, or that I have had some conspiratorial role in their construction, I will pay every person who has ever read this blog $250, up to whatever point drives me into bankruptcy. Since there are no small numbers of law professors who read this blog at least occasionally, I am sure they can tell me if I need anything further to give this offer the force of a binding contract, so all can be confident that I'm really telling the truth about this or that I will one day be driven into destitution as I write each and every one of you a personal check.

Seriously, everyone, not only I am not Lonely Donut Man, but I have no idea who Lonely Donut Man is. Really, truly. It's been a matter of some curiosity to me whether LDM is someone I know or a complete stranger. I also, for that matter, have no idea who "Helpful in New Hampshire" is, or who that person was who wrote all those weird comments about feral children. Again, maybe these are people I do know personally who are just concealing their identities from me, but I think it is more plausible that I don't know them.

I'm not the Evil Glitter Princess either. I do know who she is. I also know Dorotha and Cabell's real names (hint: not Dorotha, not Cabell). For that matter, I know the true identity of Silent Jay, although I can't figure out why he pays for a typepad subscription month after month if he's really not going to post more than once, ever.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

a cautionary note to my most demonstrative fans

Should the spirit ever move you, like it did this fellow, to shave my initials into your sideburns, keep in my mind the implications of your looking in a mirror while you do it. Otherwise, you could end up like this:

(the "J")

(the "F")

Yes, the sideburns were unveiled at Sociology Karaoke Night. Where the inverted J and F, incidentally, made this newcomer look extra-hip on stage:

So much so, in fact, as to induce swooning and seizures among some in the audience:

[photo removed at the behest of the seizing swooner in question]

Is there anything more to say about Tuesday night's karaoke? Our tradition of taking fieldnotes during karaoke night was continued with particular panache:

But whether any synopsis of these will make it into the blog of our official online chronicler, the redoubtably divine Carey-oke herself, remains to be seen.

is this supposed to be alarming for what it says about cell phones--or about elderly drivers?

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (AP) -- A report from the University of Utah says that when motorists between 18 and 25 talk on cell phones, they drive like elderly people -- moving and reacting more slowly and increasing their risk of accidents.

"If you put a 20-year-old driver behind the wheel with a cell phone, his reaction times are the same as a 70-year-old driver," said David Strayer, a University of Utah psychology professor and principal author of the study. "It's like instant aging."

And it doesn't matter whether the phone is hand-held or handsfree, he said. Any activity requiring a driver to "actively be part of a conversation" likely will impair driving abilities, Strayer said.

In fact, motorists who talk on cell phones are more impaired than drunk drivers with blood-alcohol levels exceeding .08, Strayer and colleague Frank Drews, an assistant professor of psychology, found during research conducted in 2003.
If you put the Strayer and Drews studies together, wouldn't it imply that it's less of a public safety hazard to allow an over-the-limit drunk 20 year old on the road than it is to allow a cell-phone-and-alcohol-free 70 year old.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

nothing makes me feel quite so depressed and conflicted at work... having to look at a really lame pie chart. I don't even get if this chart is supposed to represent the relative frequencies of these four reasons as causes of people seeking the counsel of the Employee Assistance Office, but, anyway, if these are just the Top 4 reasons, and not the only reasons, where is the slice for "other?"

I may have to call them for a confidential appointment to get answers to these questions. If I do, I'll tell you all about it here at JFW.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

the wisconsin effect

Last week, a certain professor visited Madison to give (quite engaging) talks in the Law School (Thursday)--meeting such luminaries as Ann--and the Social Psych and Microsociology seminar here in Sociology (Friday). So what does she do when she gets home? She starts blogging!

bamboozled at borders

This weekend I went book-browsing at Borders. With some books, I can sit there and dither for a half-hour about whether it is really something I want to pay for. With others, the book seems so obviously the sort of book I'm a sucker for that I take it off the shelf and up to the counter without even really looking at it. An example of the latter category would be this new biography of the great swindler Ponzi, which partly seemed a sure-thing because of its snazzy cover:

When I get the book home, however, I realize that I've been hoodwinked. It's not a new book at all. It's a reprint edition of a book that was originally published in 1975!

Granted, nothing about the life of Ponzi has exactly changed since 1975, but, if I had known it was a reprint edition, I still probably wouldn't have bought it. And so I feel swindled. Ponzi would have been proud.