Thursday, June 30, 2005

another thing to which i had previously thought myself immune

(Sunday AM, left to right: niece, great niece, clown finger puppet, me)

(Sunday PM, left to right: Johnny, me, University of Iowa 'Tiger Hawk' emblem)

The lifecourse reckoning of my sentiments toward the pitter-patter of little humanoid feet:

Somewhere along the way, infants stopped seeming like this oddly-shaped fleshy burden and started being fun. I still don't really understand it.

i want to play too!

The latest blog craze: everybody is posting photos of their morning coffee (here and here and mockingly here). But I don't drink coffee!* Indeed, coffee is one of those things where I wonder whether it really tastes the same to other people as it does to me or whether I have some freak gene that produces a tongue enzyme that causes coffee to putrify in my mouth. Even a microgram of coffee in a cake or whatever is enough to turn my stomach. So, instead, I take my caffeine ridiculously inefficiently, in the form of bone-destroying and possibly-to-be-discovered-as carcinogenic** diet soda.

Being a non-coffee-drinker in as coffee-centric world as academia is enough to give a person an inferiority complex. Thank God for the book a friend gave me:

On the inside cover, in a epistolary preface addressed "Dear Self-Esteemer", the author does acknowledge the strangeness of pitching a book that would seem ostensibly about trying to increase the self-esteem of people who think they are complete idiots (actually, when put that way, it doesn't seem so strange at all, but rather on a par with The Best Person Ever's Guide To Humility and Realistic Self-Assessment). Anyway, while the editor moves to reassure the reader that of course we all know they aren't really a complete idiot, he then also says "We all have bits of the idiot in us." Upon reading this sentence, I thought: "Ah, the idiot. I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice chianti."

Also, note how clean my office desk is! Inspired by my trip home, I am fighting a War On Clutter on both home and office fronts, which makes especial sense given my impending move.

* Except this one time I was supposed to meet an acquaintance at a coffeeshop, at which I typically get hot chocolate, but instead the coffeeshop closed earlier than we thought and just before I arrived. She had been thoughtful enough to buy me a coffee, and we sat and chatted outside. I was sufficiently touched by the gesture and awkward about telling this person I didn't know well that I didn't drink coffee that I drank the whole thing, revulsed sip after revulsed protovomity sip.

** Or at least so insist a couple of my more health- histrionic friends.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

given that it was a chemistry class and an exercise in combustion, you would think it could have been plausibly cast as extra credit

"HOUSTON, Texas (AP) -- A chemistry teacher who was at least three months behind on her car payments gave passing grades to two failing students who stole and burned her car so she could collect insurance money, a fire investigator said. "

the key to staying married 52 years: communication!

(Photo taken during this past weekend's trip to the Freese Family Farm.)

Left: My mother's faux-laminated instructions for my father as to what he needs to do to successfully get that strange machine on the counter to make his morning coffee.

Right: The note my father re-uses to indicate to my mother that she does not need to worry about preparing his evening meal.

Behind camera: Son who loves both his parents well enough but who regularly feels when he visits home like he would gnaw his arm off if that was what was necessary to get out of a marriage like theirs.

i think we're a clone now

I've been listening a lot to Tegan and Sara lately. No, I am not aspiring to quit my job and follow them around; I worry that I have given blog readers the impression that I am promiscuous and fickle in this regard. Nor do I have any plans to name any future children after them. But, I do enjoy their music and regard them as a credit to Canadians and monozygotic twins everywhere. Especially recommended is "You Wouldn't Like Me" and "Where Does the Good Go?" on So Jealous.

Part of the refrain of "You Wouldn't Like Me" is "I feel like / I wouldn't like me / if I met me". For years, I have wondered what my reaction would be if I met another person who was exactly like me. Would I get along with them, or would I feel weirdly competitive with them and dislike them? It has always struck me that it would be a considerable character flaw if I wouldn't get along with myself, although it is less clear whether would bespeak a flaw in the way I behave or in the standards I use to judge other people.

A heterosexual counterpart to the theory, of course, is wondering about something who is exactly-like-you-just-the-opposite-sex and wondering whether or not you'd be interested in dating them. My suspicion is that the number of people who would is a good deal smaller than the number of heterosexuals who would be friends with a same-sex other who was exactly like them.*

"Tegan" (Rhymes with Vegan) and "Sara" (Rhymes with Sarah) are of course odd names for twins; you'd think that parents would either go with two "normal" names for twins or two "unusual" names. About which I've been wondering:

Someone told me this week that T&S played Madison last Sunday, which had me angry that none of my more hip-and-informed friends had told me about it. Meanwhile, the web says they are coming to Madison next month. If anyone knows the scoop for sure, let me know.

* Especially since Tegan and Sara are identical twins, I cannot resist adding here that there is a recorded instance of two gay male identical twins who were separated at birth and who, after being reunited as adults, proceeded to date one another. What became of the relationship, I don't know. I would imagine breaking up with your contemporaneous clone is probably relatively easy, as breakups go, since you probably were both thinking the relationship had run its course.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

why can't i be you?

So singeth The Cure here in my office this morning. Truth be told, however, I hardly ever ask myself this question, mainly because I'm not interested in being you. No offense: I'm sure it's awesome being all you all the time and everything. But, the time I spend wishing I was another person is pretty much expended entirely on wanting to trade places with the Brawny Man. O, to be so suave.

(Link via RWS. Both the Pre-Made and Custom options are to be admired. Incidentally, for those who have access to the magic bridge separating BlogWorld and WiscWorld, doesn't the Brawny Man bear at least a passing resemblence to the pseudonymous Mr. Madison over at Columnist Manifesto*?)

* Who, incidentally incidentally, has a great photo with his post this morning.

Monday, June 27, 2005

don't spend it all in one place. but, here's how you could...

I have been rewarded for my weight loss by being instructed to eat less. When I started, I was permitted 26 POINTS/day by the OWW system, but now my allowance has been cut to 24 points. How much is 24 points? Ten ways I could spend my daily allowance:
  • 2/3 Monster Thickburger at Hardee's

  • 1 Medium Chocolate Cookie Dough Blizzard at Dairy Queen

  • 1 McDonald's Double Cheeseburger w/ Large Fries

  • 4 pieces of Long John Silver's batter-dipped fish

  • 6 1/4 pounds of carrots

  • 16 1/2 pounds of celery

  • 18 pieces of shrimp tempura roll sushi

  • 24 Chicken McNuggets

  • 80 gallons of Diet Coke

  • 240 plain M&Ms

Saturday, June 25, 2005

the distal science + green grow the crushes

Martine writes:
i've had independent conversations with friends who have said they feel like the outsider of a group. when i ask them to describe who the core of a group is, each ends up listing the other that had described herself as the outsider. essentially a group ends up consisting of a bunch of people who think they're the one on the outside while thinking the rest of the people are a cohesive whole.
One can observe an exactly analogous phenomenon if you go up to sociologists and ask them who a "mainstream sociologist" is.

With regard to Ang & Martine's back-and-forth crush discussion: although JFW rarely weighs in on any matters of the heart, two points do have to be made:

1. As a matter of mathematical necessity, the average crush of the average person is of a sort where the crushee is the object of more crushes-by-other-people than the crusher. The proof is left as an exercise for those bloggers who occasionally burst into calculus.

2. Crushes are always known to the crusher and only occasionally known to the crushee. To be the sort of person who would sit down and count as many outgoing crushes and incoming crushes, you would--not quite by mathematical necessity--have to have either a massive crushee:crusher ratio or be the sort of person who often falsely judges her/himself to be a crushed object.

the tribulations of shelly schiess

I'm on an e-mail list for which I keep getting messages from an administrator named "Shelly Schiess". I wonder how many times in her life she has encountered people whose German is limited to Hogan's Heroes and Catch-22 and had to endure the following conversation:

"Um, doesn't your last name mean 'shit' in German?"
"No, that's s-c-h-E-I-s-s. My last name means 'shoot.'"
"You mean it's the more polite form, the way some people says 'oh, shoot' instead of 'oh, shit'?"
"No, like to shoot an irritating person with a gun."

Friday, June 24, 2005

regarding daddy

Odds are, I have no idea how you personally refer to your father. So, no offense. But various experiences over the years have convinced me that were a multimillion dollar large-scale national study conducted on the issue, that study would find a probabilistic* association between:

(A) Referring to one's father as "Daddy" into one's twenties, thirties, forties, or beyond.


(B) The tendency of some seemingly normal people to revert to surprisingly levels of immaturity when tensions or difficulties arise in their family.**

What I don't understand is exactly what the causal relationship is here. Is calling your father "daddy" itself causal? Does it have to do with the parenting style of those parents who encourage permanent Daddydom? Does it have to do with the kind of adult who perseverates indefinitely in calling her/his father Daddy? Something else? Ideas?

If only I were a freakonomist I could maybe figure out some clever way of disentangling the causal ambiguity for this issue, possibly involving sumo wrestlers.

* By "probabilistic", I mean that the relationship is nothing like "All A are B" or even necessarily "Most A are B" but just that "If A, then B is more likely than if not-A."

** I'm less convinced of the finding w/r/t those from the South, where the dynamics of the (non)desistence of "Daddy" seem different.

associate palindrome associate

So, a sometimes reader--you know who you are--convinced me that it was okay for me to change my signature file* from "assistant professor" to "associate professor". Recently, I learned that the University of Wisconsin's dictionary of occupational titles includes a set of positions called "Faculty Associate" that exist parallel to positions with the "Professor" title. This means that if you are an "Assistant Faculty Associate" and get promoted, you are indeed officially an "Associate Faculty Associate."

Thursday, June 23, 2005

message in a bloggle

Yesterday, an old friend from graduate school called me and we talked for over an hour. Much of the conversation consisted of mutual updating about what was going on with all kinds of different people that we knew from graduate school. This is, of course, a familiar genre of old-friend conversation. The difference in the current day and age, however, being that the during the conversation, we were also Googling different people as we talked about them. One of the great things about academia is that practically everyone you've met since you started graduate school has a web presence, and so the main issue for tracking them down is more whether their names are Google-proof (e.g., "Elizabeth Nelson", "Brad Smith") or not.

As a different kind of update from the past: In the early days of this blog, another friend from graduate school offered the challenge of whether I could, through a shout-out JFW post to the blogosphere, provoke contact from someone who went to graduate school with us for a year. It did seem a little like putting a message in a bottle and heaving it into the Internet sea, especially since the person's name was at least Google-difficult if not Google-proof. Indeed, after months went by with no answer, my hopes began to dim. But, lo, the following message arrived in my inbox two days ago:
I've googled myself infrequently, but still somewhat recently, and I've only ever come across the Brian Dietz who heads the cable lobby. (My uncle in Florida heard that guy on the radio and had to ask my mother if I had had a career change.) Tonight, though, thanks Courtney's never-ending inquisitiveness and willingness to perform search engine searches for familiar names, we came across "Vegan Porn" in association with "Brian Dietz," and we knew that this wasn't the cable guy (or not likely to be). In fact, we figured we might have finally gotten a positive hit for me. Why it took seventeen months to come across your blog is a bit of a mystery, but if you're still interested in hearing from me, well I'm more than delighted to report in.


I'm truly touched to know that there are people out there, you especially, who want to get in touch. To be honest, I've often not emailed because I figured I was a faded memory. I'm happy that I'm not...
As I've said before, one of the best consequences of this blog has been that it has led to me hearing from people who I had mostly or entirely lost contact with. Usually, of course this has been as a result of their stumbling across my blog in one random way or another, as opposed to their being the object of an All Points Bloggertin.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

sevenure, eighture, nineure...

Meanwhile, earlier this week I did get the final-final letter (from the Chancellor), which means I no longer have to make cloaked or qualified references and can announce officially that I have received tenure by my department. I believe that it is not actually effective until the start of the fall semester, although I haven't been told that officially. I also haven't been taught the secret handshake or any of the passwords.

Receiving tenure is a lot like finishing a dissertation, where the end is so protracted with so many different administrative hurdle-points that the final-end-end of the process, when it does come, is itself completely anticlimactic. Which doesn't mean that I'm not glad it's over.

I do want to say that I appreciate the various congratulations I have received from friends I know who read this blog (including the friends I have made because of this blog), and I also appreciate all the indulgence friends have shown toward the various neuroses of mine being an assistant professor has put on such pronounced display.

what kind of person sends every e-mail, no matter how casual or professional, as "high priority"?

I suppose it's conceivable they have an unfortunate setting in their e-mail program or something and they aren't aware of it.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

the inner selves of singing-sconnie-sociologists

So, last time we had karaoke, I was just starting my diet, and caught up in the zeal of caloric aversion I resolved that I wasn't going to drink at all. From this, I confirmed, as scientists have long hypothesized, that intoxicant-free karaoke is not as much fun. This time, then, I carefully saved up points during the day so I could drink without guilt. Indeed, I was so disciplined that I calculated that, in principle, I could have x drinks without going over my points, where the quantity x was clearly too many. Then, being someone who strives always to live up to principles, I went ahead and had x drinks. (A mistake, yes, I know, believe me.)

Erica The Bartender did seem confused when I changed my usual Vodka-Cranberry Juice order to Vodka-Diet-Pepsi.

Anyway, the original careyoke-declared theme for karaoke was Krazy Outfit Night, although this then changed to the theme of "Inside Out", where people were supposed to wear their sense of who they are on the inside as their outfit. I'm not entirely sure if some people were following the Krazy Outfit Theme night or the Inside Out theme. In my own case, it turns out that my inner self is a lot like the clothes I happen to have worn to work that day, only with a black feather boa that I expropriated early in the evening.

The insides-out of others:

gender and the two main democracies in my life

Results are in for this year's American Sociological Association election: Girls 15, Boys 3 (6-0 for the top positions; for the last three elections, the score is 34-16 for all positions and 15-4 for top positions).

Meanwhile, the results for the last congressional election: Boys 369, Girls 66.

Update: See comments.

Monday, June 20, 2005

down with o.w.w.

Today was weigh-in day for my diet. Through four weeks with Online Weight Watchers, I'm down 12 pounds. I would feel better about this if I hadn't felt a real drop in resolve this weekend. While the result was nothing catastrophic--such as me lying on a sofa cramming the contents of box after box of Hostess cakes into my face--I seriously doubt the last two days contributed anything to my desired Trajectory Of Loss.

In any event, by this point, it has become clear what will determine whether/how well this is going to work for me. If I use their tracker system to keep track of everything I eat during the day, I will do a reasonable job of keeping within the allotted number of POINTS(tm), and I will lose weight. If I slack off on this, my de facto diet will be over the allotment and I won't lose weight. In other words, the uncertainty is about my keeping with the tracking system, not whether I will successfully stay under my allowance if I keep with the tracking system or whether I will lose weight if I stick with it.

The problem this weekend was that I had much trouble mustering The Will to Track. A nontrivial part of this, in turn, I attribute to not coming into my office and so having to track by plugging my laptop into my phone jack. So one can chalk this up to being another negative unanticipated consequence of my hasty decision to yank the Internet at home. What's more, it's not like I can reactivate DSL service, since I am moving so soon and reactivation requires a whole new contract.

Overall, I have been more successful with the diet (eat-less-calories) part of the program than the exercise (burn-more-calories). I suppose this makes sense: if a goal requires me to both do some things and not do others, I'm generally better at not doing things than I am at doing things.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

still another example of bad causal inference for a good social end

From the NYT:
Gov. Tom Vilsack of Iowa announced yesterday that he would restore voting rights for all felons who have completed their sentences, ending what advocates for voting rights had called one of the most restrictive disenfranchisement laws in the country.

Mr. Vilsack, a Democrat who has been called a dark-horse presidential candidate for the 2008 election, pointed to research showing that ex-prisoners who vote are less likely to end up back in prison.
Something I wonder about from time to time is whether, should quantitative social science radically improve its understanding of and capacity for causal inference, there would even be a market for it. Or, at least, there is such a strong market now from all political sides for the ability to make causal-sounding insinuations of relationships that are almost certainly not causal. Not to mention commercial interests: Remember that Nike commercial where they had the little girls saying "If you let me play sports ..." followed by all kinds of dramatic assertions (based presumably on real studies with real correlations), including even something along the lines of "If you let me play sports, I will be three times more likely to leave a man who abuses me."

At least to me, it's interesting to imagine there being Fellow Liberals out there who think that it is ludicrous to suppose that the death penalty might deter some crime but that it is plausible that giving felons the right to vote will deter some recidivistic crime.

(For the record, JFW is anti-death-penalty and pro-voting-felons. The proprietor of this weblog would be pro-voting-felons even if it were not the case that he suspects felons will tend to vote Democratic. Indeed, he has an entire deeply skeptical spiel about the analyses that some sociologists have done to project how past elections would have gone differently if ex-felons were fully franchised, and he has even subjected a couple of his methods classes to parts of this spiel. As for the question of whether the death penalty deters crime, he has been interested in the vastly inconsistent results that have been cited for some time, and he even paid a graduate student a year ago to go look up this relevant research for him, but the graduate student has to date not reported back.)

Friday, June 17, 2005

among the pet peeves of jeremy freese*

I hate when people, instead of, say, talking to you about something directly, try to communicate their disapproval / discontent / disappointment / distress / disenchantment / disgust with you through oblique little references on their blog. (No, I'm not talking about you.) (No, of course not.)

* Incidental note for phonetically conscious readers: the fourth and seventh words of the title of this post do not rhyme.

six of one, a half dozen of the other

If you publish a paper in the American Journal of Sociology, they send you five complimentary copies of the journal, in addition to the copy you already get if you are a subscriber. Not to get all laryngoscopic on a gift horse, but what am I supposed to do with these extra copies? I mean, it's kind of them to offer, but, as far as I know, there is no way to decline the complementary copies, and I've never known what to do with complementary copies other than have them take up increasingly precious bookshelf space. Am I supposed to give them to people who offered comments on the paper? But everybody in academia is simultaneously fighting a War On Paper coming into their office. Besides, even people like me who subscribe to AJS still just use the online archive for individual articles (btw, here's the link to the article in question, although I'm not sure if it will work).

Thursday, June 16, 2005

for the record, if i was the messiah, i would ride a motorcycle. without a helmet. bring it on, god, i would cackle as i kicked it into high gear.

Actual questions asked on the 2002 PEW Religion and Public Life survey:

i'm animate but not narrow

Boys who like girls, girls who like boys, boys who like boys, girls who like girls, boys who like girls and boys, girls who like boys and girls, boys who like girls and then boys, girls who like boys and then girls and then boys and then girls and then boys. All fine, any-problem-with-any-of-it-is-your-problem, et cetera. I'll confess that I don't really get the whole polyamory or polyfi movements, but different strokes for different folks, let sleeping-shifting-configurations-of-dogs-of-both-sexes lie, whatever. I've had a couple different friends tell me anecdotes that would seem to suggest their having crossed traditional boundaries of physical propriety with their pets, and, lo, did these make me squirm, but I figure that given the continual converge of the way we talk about pets and people they'll eventually seem like pioneers and I'll seem old-fashioned.

Still, anyway, not to sound prudish, um, but: what's the deal with various women I know suddenly hooking up with their bicycles? (here and here) At first I thought they were just being metaphorical or something. Do people just see a particularly sultry sprocket one day, or an oh-so-alluring derailleur, and suddenly their passions switch gears from one sense of bipedal to another? Will Martine be next? Will she break off her budding courtship with that ATM first? And, what does it say about me that I seem to have left my own bicycle alone in pieces for months in a dank basement?

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

casual afternoon transactions of the damned

"Don't get too excited, but... how many limbs would you give to hear Puppy Sprinkles singing the Mr. Belvedere theme song?"
"Well, I only have four, so... four?"
"Great! For four limbs, you can even post it on your blog."
"Do they have to be my limbs? I could probably give even more limbs if they didn't all have to be mine."
"I'll check with Puppy Sprinkles."
"What does she want me to do, FedEx them to her? Should I wrap each one separately?"

this is an audio post - click to play

sass for the dysthymic

"Well, at least I'm happy."
"What do you mean? I'm happy."
"Don't worry, it'll pass."

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

the rest of the time, i'll be looking for stuff to do

The preliminary program for the American Sociological Association meetings is out:

The Department Alumni Night is Saturday night (I'll be the one drinking underneath the Indiana University banner). Wisconsin's party is Sunday. To my knowledge, the time and place of this year's Pub Sociology Blogtogether has not been announced.

(Note: I went to ASA my first year of graduate school, and then didn't go again for the next four years because so many the presentations I saw seemed so boring and uninstructive that I didn't understand the point of anyone's attending, ever. Then I started having friends finish their degrees and (especially after I started here) getting to know people who were housed at other universities. Now, even though I've mostly stopped referring to myself as a sociologist, I still wouldn't miss it!

I still must admit that I don't attend many sessions, and I have vowed that I will henceforth ever only go to sessions in which I'm already either personally or professionally familiar with an author of the presentation I'm attending. never let myself be lured into attending a talk on the basis of a title, as I've been disappointed by those decisions too many times in the past. At least in sociology but I suspect far more widely, it is a zillion times easier to come up with an interesting title than an interesting 20 minutes to follow it--and, yes, this is a sin I've been plenty guilty of myself, especially since I'm prone to try to save especially inauspicious presentations by giving them good titles and feel less compelled to do so when I either (a) think I might actually have something interesting to say or (b) want to drive down attendance.)

Monday, June 13, 2005

how can i be expected to work when the michael jackson verdict will be read any minute now?

bonfire of the vanities

Buried way down in the NYT coverage of the city's "saving" its Olympic 2012 bid by arranging to build a new stadium in Queens:
"Paris has long been considered the favorite to win these Games and received the best review last week by the evaluation commission, but the I.O.C. is notoriously unpredictable in voting for its host cities."
I've been following the story of New York City's Olympic bid through various American sources for months now, and I'm amazed at how systematically and radically misinformed the public is being about the chance the NYC bid has of succeeding. (This isn't just a sports story, because the Olympic bid is being used to generate public support for a subsidy worth a few hundred million dollars of taxpayer money.) When media coverage has acknowledged Paris as the favorite at all, it makes it sound like a modest favorite in a wildly unpredictable selection process. By contrast, Tradesports is currently pricing the chances of Paris getting the Olympics at over 80%, and the chances of NYC at under 5% (well behind London, which is given between a 10-13% chance). I'm not sure if it is just that New York-based media have such a sense of their city being at the center of the universe that they are in radical denial that their city could make a concerted effort to win the Olympics and still stand little chance of succeeding, or if correctly using words like "unlikely" and "longshot" to describe New York City's bid has been a "unlikely" and a "longshot" would seem some kind of betrayal of the newspaper's duty to be municipal boosters.

Next month, when the 2012 Olympic site is announced and it is not NYC, it will be interesting to see whether the entire postmortem analysis focuses on the failure to secure funding for the stadium in Manhattan, since, as far as can tell, the consensus-outside-the-US has been that the NYC bid was unlikely even if the Manhattan stadium came through. If/when Paris is the winner, it will be interesting to see if the American media gives much consideration to the possibility that NYC's losing the Olympics didn't even have that much to do with anything that NYC did and didn't do, but instead was mainly due to the strength and enthusiasm of Paris's efforts.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

the smiths

I saw Mr. and Mrs. Smith last night. I enjoyed it quite a bit, in contradistinction to the consensus of the cinemacritiscenti. If you go see it, let me know: is it just me, or do Angelina Jolie's lips appear to inflate and deflate across the different scenes of the movie? In some scenes, it seemed like her lips had inflated to the point where they occupied roughly one-third of the frontal surface area of her face. At which points I had two thoughts: "This is supposed to be sexy?" and "Even so, I could see a man reasoning, 'Anything to get me away from Jennifer Aniston.'"

As you presumably know even if you haven't seen the movie, M&MS a romantic-action-comedy about the professional murder industry. In general, Hollywood dramatically overestimates the number and incomes of hitpersons, but I've never seen a film that projects as grandiose a view of how much money there is in contract homicide than M&MS. In terms of the resources at the disposal of the two companies at the center of the movie, my estimation would be that it takes it to be roughly a $3-5 billion dollar per year industry.

Seriously, while I am not presently looking to change occupations myself, I have wondered how many people there are out there whose principal source of income derives from professional killing. For that matter, I wonder how many homicides-by-hire there are per year, how much money is spent per year on it, and how much money is spent hiring people would are "professionals" versus hiring, e.g., some local career criminal who seems like he would be affable enough to the idea of killing somebody for pay. I guess I wouldn't be surprised if "professional hitmen" were sort of like "satanic ritual abuse cults" in terms of their reputed vs. actual existence.

A former girlfriend of mine, incidentally, had a great-uncle who was arrested for hiring a local ne'er-do-well to kill his wife (whereupon the ne'er-do-well, being the unreliable and untrustworthy sort he was, went straight to police). The great-uncle was in his seventies when this happened, and it wasn't clear whether the affair wasn't a particularly ugly manifestation of the onset of some kind of senility.

Friday, June 10, 2005

martinie in a bottle

The prosecution would like to introduce Exhibit Martine: she gets a haircut, then she quits blogging. Further evidence for Freese's Haircut Theorem.


1. Not to crow, but I was right about "kep". Both about kep not being me (about which I was fairly certain), and in my suspicion about who kep really was (about which I was, well, also fairly certain).

2. Despite pleas from JFW readers that she and I were meant to be together (as if anybody could steal me away from Tonya), my friend went out with the guy whose favorite movie is Conan The Barbarian. She reports that while he's probably not her Prince Charming, he seems a suitable candidate for Duke For The Time Being.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

once more, the eye of suspicion has falsely fallen upon me

Regular JFW readers: Remember when there were people who thought that I was Lonely Donut Man, leaving dozens of poems as comments on my own blog over a period of months? Remember me assuring everyone that I wasn't, and yet there still being people who didn't believe me? Remember when Lonely Donut Man turned out to be Goesh/an otherwise-unknown-to-me civil servant in Kentucky?

A similar situation has arisen over the identity of the mysterious "kep", who has been guest-posting on NinaNet while she has gone on quasi-hiatus. Some people think I am kep, and one even assembled an extensive list of clues that could be read as suggesting that I am kep. Confession: I'm not. Really. Nor do I know who kep is. I have my suspicions; indeed, if kep is somebody I know, there is only one person I can imagine it being. But, no, not me!

It's like if I was playing Clue (or, to my UK readers, Cluedo) and somebody guesses that it was Professor Plum in the Billiard Room with the wrench, and I show them that I have the Professor Plum card in my hand, and they murmur, "You're not fooling anyone. I know it's Plum."

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

in addition to helping oprah 'make the connection,' her trainer also specializes in coming up with gross and/or weaponsish names for exercises

the crying game

Sometimes spouses don't like coming to the annual meetings of the American Sociological Association. (Shocking, I know.) Sometimes they are still reluctant even when beseeched by their beloveds. If this happens, feel free to bring out the big guns: tell them that Jeremy's fragile emotionality depends on their attendance. Judging from friends of mine from Tashkent, OH, it works! She e-mails:
i just told [name] (over the phone) that your heart was broken and you were sobbing when you learned that he might not go to the ASAs, and [name] promptly said "okay, i'll go." then i cheered, delighted that i will have my life partner with me at the ASAs, and he said "i'm just doing it for jeremy."
Speaking of which, are the sociology bloggers getting together in Philly? Didn't we talk about this awhile back? Isn't Brayden supposed to wrestle one of the graduate students in my department (Shakha? Autumn? Shakha and Autumn?) or something like that? Let me know if that's still on and I'll bring my referee's suit and my portable ring with special safety-padded turnbuckles.

this has to be spam, right? but spam always changes names? why am i getting multiple spam messages with the same name?

Who would have thought that "Pornnapa" was really somebody's first name? And that she would have a STATA question for which she very much wanted an answer?

Update, next day: A friend was complaining to me last night that this message confused her. Yes, I received several e-mails from someone with the first name "Pornnapa". Yes, I assumed at first that they were spam. Yes, it turns out that Pornnapa is a real person (a woman from Thailand). Yes, she was e-mailing me with a Stata question. (No, this doesn't necessarily mean that you, if you are just a random person out there in the world who I don't know, should e-mail me with your Stata questions.)

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

you're not still using technorati, are you? or the ttlb ecosystem? or blogdex? let's face it, those are so first quarter 2005...

Since Brayden was recommending tools to enhance the blogreading experience the other day on his site, let me pass along my own recommendation for YouReadMe, which I think stands as good a chance as anything as being the platform that breaks through and becomes the AutoBlogDigest source of choice. It's basically a site that uses the links that posts get from other blogs to figure out what are posts that someone who wants to be bloghip should be reading. It also has some other cool features, and presumably more are on their way--it seems like a platform with High Potential.

(Ann: if you read this, given your high number of links from other blogs, you might be especially interested in checking this out. For that matter, Ann, as long as I got your attention, let me also compliment you on the sultry new photo you're using as your profile photo.)

celexa in the city

A pal of mine recently came to the conclusion that her malaise was the result of her not having a man in the life and that she had exhausted all the traditional routes of man-meeting available in her city. And, so, she concluded: she either had to go on antidepressants or try online personals. These being each alternatives that she had previously declared Might Work For Some People But Were Not For Her.

Me, being forever a fan of twofers, advised: why not both? She decided, however, that antidepressants were the lesser evil, and signed up for an appointment with a psychiatrist. The psychiatrist agreed to escort her onto the Prozac Promenade, but he also said: you know, it really sounds like you should try online dating. And, so, cringing at first and being unable to look at the screen with both eyes open at once, she did.

She put up an ad just before going out for the day. Being a female who is both attractive and appealing when so inclined, she had something like 19,000 responses waiting for her when she returned. Unfortunately, some 18,995 or so of these completely creeped her out. "When people talk about how you have to kiss a thousand frogs to find your prince, I didn't realize that so many were going to be sicko perv frogs who make you feel like you need a delousing after reading their messages." From this, she resolved that she was only going to be able to pursue one online prospect at once--she would have to see that prospect all the way to its conclusion before she could entertain another. At the same time, her initial culling left two at-least-tepid possibilities who could be the first prospect for her to follow.

This, in turn, has required her to confront the matter of figuring out what her own romantic dealbreakers are (for recent posts on the same topic, see here and here).

In her case, conversations with the two men in question each led to a possible dealbreaker. The issue here is less her ability to get past these particular things as it is speculating about the probability of unpleasant sequelae that these things might portend. In evaluating these, the best short description I could make of my friend is that we generally have similar tastes and outlook on things, except she is more frugal, more disdainful of anything ostentatious, and more swiftly bored by others. Her options:

Bachelor #1: Favorite movie is "Conan the Barbarian."

Bachelor #2: While he is a liberal who greatly dislikes George W. Bush, he would not, himself, name a fondness for George W. Bush as being something that would be a dealbreaker for him in a prospective partner.

Bachelor #3: Absolutely unknown, as he would be the next person she decides is worth elevating to prospect status if she files Bachelors #1 and #2 in the rejected romance bin.

Advice? Do these seem like reasonable dealbreakers for someone like my friend, or does it seem like she's throwing a potential prince into the froggie-shredder too early?

Monday, June 06, 2005

the complanate culinary learning curve of jeremy freese

While a woman I went to graduate school with recently won $100,000 in a cooking contest, I cannot microwave popcorn without starting a fire. An especially annoying thing about last night's debacle is that I hadn't made microwave popcorn for more than a year, although only belatedly did I remember why: because the last time I did, the bag also burst into flames. My smoke alarm didn't go off, which puzzled me at first, but I think what happened is that I jarred the battery loose when I beat it to get it to stop during the First Popcorn Fire.

thanks eleanor, but it's not so much about wanting the future to belong to me as it is just wanting to be thinner

According to the scale in the RV, I'm 8 pounds lighter than I was when I started Online Weight Watchers two weeks ago. Alas, of course, I don't actually think I have lost 8 pounds. I think I was on the heavier end of my diurnal weight fluctuation when I entered my starting weight into the system. I'm also not entirely confident in my scale and might seek the second opinion of another, although there is no weigh for me to retro-weigh myself to see what I would have weighed on an alternative scale two weeks ago. In any case, while I have not actually lost 8 pounds, I do think the result means that I have lost some weight, and I'm hopeful that I will persevere with the plan and continue the downward spiral. Regardless, I have been eating healthier, which has to be a good thing.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

from aspen: omg! it snowed!

While I enjoyed the conference very much, I didn't so much enjoy getting snowed on as I walked to the last sessions this morning. Here are the same three views out my window that I posted earlier in the week. Notice also that the weatherfaeries also caused the mountain view to disappear, making the surroundings indistinguishable from Madison in March.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

from aspen: be strong, jeremy!

(Photo of a poster that I took while in Warsaw last month)

Day 11 of Online Weight Watchers. The posh food here has been eroding my will. After being good at dinner last night and this morning, I broke down and had not only a larger lunch than what I had planned, but then a brownie (gasp!) on top of that. You would think I would be motivated by being at a health conference and feeling like, every time somebody brings up the obesity epidemic in the US, they are talking about me personally. Then again, you might think a health conference wouldn't be continually serinading its participants with food.

That said, as far as I can tell, it seems possible from my travels that people who study health may be less likely to be obese even than other academics (who, I think, are plainly less likely to be obese than Americans as a whole, although probably not less than the population of persons with postsecondary degrees as a whole.)

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

not to get all mars & venus, but true or false: when women feel the need to take control of their lives, they start by taking control of their hair

(see suggestive examples, especially in the context of recent posts, here and here)

Perhaps men take control of their hair as a synecdoche-for-seizing-the-reins-of-life more often than I realize. One of the male Madison bloggers underwent a dramatic 'do revision a few months ago, although I don't know what was at the root (ha!) of that. In any event, it's probably better that I don't use getting-a-new-hairstyle as a personal empowerment statement, since who knows how much longer I'll have anything on the top of my head to be styled. If asked what my analogous behavior is, I think I would say: when the going gets tough, Jeremy goes and buys a new gadget. Like the PalmPilotCelPhone that he currently just uses as a ReallyAnnoyinglyLargeCelPhone.

from aspen: omg! this place is so gorgeous!

Last week, during my failed housing search, I will admit to sometimes thinking "Dear God, what have I done?" about the whole fellowship idea. Today, in Aspen for the start of the conference associated with the fellowship, I am back to wondering why all sociology Ph.D.'s don't apply for it. Standing on the back patio of my hotel room, here are the views facing 10 o'clock, 12 o'clock, and 2 o'clock: