Monday, July 31, 2006

note that manipulation begins with 'man'

nielsen payment
(it's not illegal or anything to scan cash, right?)

So last week I agreed to do a Nielsen survey for $15 but then, upon considering lessons to be taken from my recent quasi-epiphanic reading of Women Don't Ask, I sent them an e-mail saying I'd only do it if they gave me more money. The original payment was already on its way, of course, and I received the check the other day. If you believe the previous sentence, you are ignorant of the ways of contemporary science-based surveys. Of course they wouldn't send me a check. The science is to say cash, because I'll feel more morally obligated that way, whereas with a check I can always just not deposit it. (Note, incidentally, that it costs Nielsen nontrivially more to send cash than a check, for a variety of reasons, but they do cash anyway because cash works so much better.) Not only did I know they would send the $15 as cash, but I knew the bills would be crispy new (survey respondents are known to respond more favorably to crisp bills) and that they wouldn't send me a $10 and a $5 (for a $10 incentive, it's known that two $5 bills work better than one $10 bill, presumably because it somehow seems like more money).

I learned I'm not fully up on the science, though, because I was expecting three $5 bills. Instead, I get two $5s and five $1s. Which has to be more effective than three $5s, because it costs more to send $5s and $1s than just $5s, and everything Nielsen does is either going to be respondent-manipulation-science optimal or an experiment to figure out something even more optimally optimal.

You might wonder whether I would be reticient to spend the $15 even though I'm not doing the survey without more money. I mean: isn't that dishonest? Perhaps Old Me would have thought that. I didn't ask them to send me cash, however. They sent me cash precisely because it's supposed to make me feel more guilty and do their survey. New Me is not so easily maniupulated. New Me got some ice cream yesterday, and paid for it with crispy-new $1 bills.

Sunday, July 30, 2006


Chris has a post about failing Ph.D. qualifying exams that is certainly worth reading if one is a graduate student who hasn't yet passed through that hoop, but is also of historical interest for anyone specifically affiliated with the Wisconsin sociology Ph.D. program.

I admire Chris his honesty, his perseverence, and his meticulous record keeping (that he was able to produce the documents scanned for his post). I used to have a folder called "Bitter Mementoes" that contained records of rejections and failures of various kinds, but I realize now I've lost track of it. Then again, I suppose most additions from recent years would be electronic and so are on my hard drive as well as scalded into my brain.

suppose there is a serial killer in your inbox

Suppose you are college professor already feeling overwhelmed by all you are not getting done at the moment (not to mention the burdens of maintaining a blog). You receive the e-mail below with no further information, from a complete stranger who has never e-mailed you before. Could you comment on this scenario? Please explain your answer.
-----Original Message-----
From: []
Sent: Friday, July 28, 2006 3:22 PM
Subject: A question

Jeremy: I got your e-mail address from the school website. Could you comment on this scenario? Greg

Suppose there is a serial killer in your city. He has killed 12 people over a period of six months. You are the district attorney and receive a letter from him stating he will surrender to the police if you give him a guarantee he will not be prosecuted for these murders but instead be sent to a mental hospital where he will receive the treatment he needs; and that if you do not agree to his conditions he will continue killing two people a month for the rest of his life or until he is captured or killed or until you agree to his conditions. What is more important for you: punishing this man for the murders he has committed or preventing additional murders? Please explain your answer.

Gregory Konakis
[mailing address in Daly City, CA deleted]
[phone number deleted]
Or, if you have an opinion on the scenario within the scenaio, let me know your opinion on that. Or send an e-mail with your opinion to the mysterious Mr. Konakis at the AOL address above. At least for the time being, my response is just "Deconstructing Playing with Katie", which I am finding works well as a general response to an even broader variety of questions than I initially anticipated (almost as handy in this respect as "Snakes on a Plane").

the grass is always greener on the younger side of the fence

When I was in my early twenties, sometimes I would be with another person my age in a group of people who were all Older, and I would lean to the other person and murmur, "They envy us our youth."

A few days ago, I was with another person my age in a group of people who were all Younger, and I leaned to the other person and murmured, "They envy us our agedness."

Despite the symmetry, it just didn't seem to have quite the same ring to it.

As a complete non sequitur that seems not enough for its own post, ABBA's "Take A Chance On Me" is playing on iTunes here right now and once again I'm wondering why I am the only one who regards it as an enormously sad song, especially because of how seemingly gleefully it's being sung. "When you're all alone, because of some deep personal failing I am confident will eventually cause you to be dumped by each of the many women you would actually prefer to be with, you can rest assured that I will still be single and sitting by the phone, and I would urge you to decide then that you have finally sunk low enough as to prompt whatever lowering of standards is required to warrant your merely being willing to try my sorry body out." Other opinions on songs from this evening:

1. Blue Oyster Cult's "Don't Fear the Reaper" is such a weird, creepy song that I don't understand how a sane person can make it willies-through all the way to the end unless they aren't actually listening to it

2. Styx's "Mr. Roboto" does not receive adequate attention in discussions of the worst pop song of the last half century. I have no idea how it came to be on my computer, and the only reason I do not delete it is that it is sort of interesting to listen to for how bad it is, akin to William Shatner's cover of "Rocket Man."

3. Dar Williams's "Iowa" can make me borderline tears-in-my-Coke-Zero (esp. "you were out wandering on the hills of Iowa, and you were not thinking of me"), and I would be willing to pledge half my future income for a campaign to make it the state's official song.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

you're so vain, you probably think you have a psychic connection with a bar a thousand miles away (as well as that this post is about you)

It's karaoke night for the sociologists back in Madison. I knew this anyway, but would know it otherwise because they just called with someone holding up the phone while some combination of people were singing "You're So Vain." Strangest part of all--indeed, I type knowing you probably won't believe me--but when the phone rang I was sitting here at my tablet PC with my headphones in, and the song that was playing was "You're So Vain."

(All of which is well and good and fun, but as a brief matter of clarification: Cambridge is an hour ahead of Madison. And while it is [perhaps too] widely known that I welcome cel phone calls at any time, since I don't hear my cel phone if I'm asleep--and don't pick it up if I'm disinclined anyway--do not call my landline number with its intentionally loud in-case-someone-I-love-dies ringer at ~12:51 AM, even if prob(JF awake|1AM) basically = 1 these days. Yes, caller(s) in question, this parenthetical note is about you.)

free floyd?

I wrote a post Thursday night about Floyd Landis, the rider who won the Tour de France and has been subsequently revealed to have failed a testosterone test. The post was written with a presumption that Landis was guilty, and was mainly a forum for me to work out my longstanding I-know-many-folks-have-found-inspiration-in-Lance-Armstrong-but-can't-we-just-stop-and-think-for-a-moment-about-how-unlikely-it-is-he-wasn't-cheating-as-dirty-as-cycling-otherwise-is-and-as-dominant-a-performer-he-was issues. Then I took the post down, mostly because I was still getting comments on my Animals and Society post.

I've decided to leave it down. I've been reading more about this today (note to Eszter: while doing analyses on my other monitor), and it seems extremely plausible that he's not guilty, or at least that the evidence presently against him is not good evidence (even if the other sample comes back with the same result).

So, um, provisional apologies, Floyd.

I would suggest that maybe Floyd had high testosterone because he had recently challenged the Nielsen people to give him more money, but one puzzle in the Landis test is that apparently he's tested positive for high testosterone not by actually having high testosterone but having a weirdly low value of the non-performance-enhancing substance used to benchmark testosterone measures.

Incidentally, I follow the Tour de France with mild-to-moderate fervor every year. It's the perfect sport for the Jeremy lifestyle: (1) boring to watch on television, but fun to follow in the form of online summaries and (2) since it's taking place many time zones ahead, following it makes for a delightful morning diversion (note to all: while working on my other monitor).

P.S. I just saw the video of Landis on Larry King Live. I certainly want him to be innocent. I even changed this post to strike through the "provisional" as an act of faith.

Friday, July 28, 2006

among the things i know for a fact so don't even try to argue

However "random" it may appear, rock-paper-scissors is really all about confidence.

Thursday, July 27, 2006


When the "Animals and Society" section of the American Sociological Association was first formed, I will admit to having been intellectually skeptical. It is plain I was wrong. Here are some of the (yes, actual) titles of A&S presentations given slots at the prestigious annual meetings next month:
"Deconstructing Playing With Katie"

"Rethinking the Interaction Order: Sociability Among Pigeons and People"

"The Political Economy of Beef: Oppression of Cows and Other Devalued Groups in Latin America"

"The Demographics of Change in Human-Horse Relationships"
As for the first title, from time to time there has been a commenter on this blog who has signed her remarks "Katie." I don't know if she is related to the play-object who the first paper will deconstruct as an enthralled audience looks on (I get the liver!). As the famous cartoon caption says, "On the Internet, no one knows you're a dog."

I think I might start using "Deconstructing Playing with Katie" as my general answer to questions about the state or future of sociology. Like, yesterday, someone sent me a casual e-mail asking where I thought sociology was heading. I had to tell them that, regrettably, I was a little busy to type back an essay outlining my thoughts on the direction of the discipline. But now I think I'll just say: "Deconstructing Playing with Katie." And so on, especially for any questions about the credibility of sociology or its public perception: "Deconstructing Playing with Katie."

Update, 4PM: In response to requests from those who may not be as familiar with navigating the ASA website, the (yes, actual) abstracts of two of the abovementioned papers are below. Which abstract corresponds to which paper is left as an exercise to readers.
The focus of this paper is the effects of raising cows for “beef,” and the accompanying increase in the production of feed crops, in Latin America. It is suggested that the practice of “beef”-eating, a practice primarily of the elite and of the masses in affluent nations, has been promoted in the last century by large transnational corporations and protected by Latin American governments, with the support of the United States government and its military apparatus. Countless other animals and humans have been killed, and many others displaced, impoverished and exploited, as the profitable but devastating “hamburger culture” expands in the 21st century.

This paper presents written and visual data about play with the author’s companion dog. The research is an in-depth single case study employing the methods of ethnography, autoethnography and videography. The attempt is to display the intricacies and nuances of a common, mundane practice—playing with one’s dog. Data are reported about the routine of play, the structures (or motifs) of play, the inner states of players, the playing field(s), the contingencies of play and the use of language and vocalization during play. An ethnomethodological approach is used to explicate play as practices. The data are part of a larger study to be published later this year in book form.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006


A week ago I posted about how social science and personal experience have combined to demonstrate that, while I am biologically male, I do not act like it in negotiating situations. Instead, I might as well be wearing Strawberry Shortcake underoos when I sit down at the bargaining table.

Shortly thereafter, I was asked to participate in the Nielsen surveys for online activity. Partly because my research interests lead me to be interested in what this survey looks like, I agreed, even though they said the survey would take 45 minutes. Plus, they said they'd send a check for $15. Later, I realized that their attention to response rates was probably such that there was another incentive level for reluctant respondents than just $15.

Anyway, they sent the URL and told me the check was on its way, but I've been pretty busy here and so doing a 45 minute survey hasn't made it to the top of the daily queue. I opened the link and looked at the first page, but that's all. Today I received the reminder e-mail noting I had "begun" the survey but not finished, and wondered if there were any problems.

My response: "The length of the survey appears such that I would need a larger incentive than what I was offered for it to make sense for me to complete it."

I could not feel any more manly right now, even if I walked outside and strangled some majestic deer to death with my bare hands and downed a case of Schlitz to celebrate, crushing the can against my forehead and belching loudly after each one. Seriously, I feel like I've just been hosed down with testosterone gel.

I will let you know what response I get from the folks at Nielsen.

Monday, July 24, 2006

the view from the harvard library

I suppose I should have realized that once you get onto general University WiFi networks, you get a whole different order of magnitude of people sharing their iTunes libraries. I'm used to only seeing three or four libraries on a network (some iTunes user in Madison social science can inform me of what the number currently available over ssc there is). At the institute I'm part of, my officemates extensive classical music collection and my own extensive 80's and 90's pop/alternative collections are mainstays. There is zero overlap between them. I wish there was something where one could see which was more popular with the others in the building.

I see that one of the iTunes Libraries being offered is titled "go south on a southie." Wonderful. Have I mentioned that my beloved mother has started reading my blog? Mom, a "southie" is a slang term for someone from South Boston. Mom, that's all I'm going to explain.

I'm here in the reading room of the Harvard Library because I wanted to get away from my office and focus on getting some writing done. So what am I doing online, you ask? Good question. Bye.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

pick up your feet, freese

Or else you are just going to keep tripping and falling every month or two when you run. It's bad enough for your knees that you insist on running on uneven sidewalks and cobblestones and things, you don't need to skin them up as well, as amusing as it may be for the drunk college kids who watch you tumble. Plus, it's a certainty that one of these falls you are going to end up breaking your wrist (or, worse, your kneecap), breaking your lifelong no-broken-bones streak.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

absolutely right! i know! i know!

"I am not really in a position to be asking [person] for any favors right now."
"I know. She's starting to get frantic waiting for [thing]."
"I know, I need to talk to her."
"You don't need to talk to her. What you need to do is send her an e-mail that has [thing] attached and all ready to go."

Don't be expecting much from this blog. Maybe readers could help out by, I don't know, telling knock knock jokes in the comments or something. Or their preferred answer to "Why is six afraid of seven?"

Friday, July 21, 2006


(I can't sleep again, so at least I can dispatch with Friday's post.)

Last weekend, I went to the Harvard Coop and bought six books. Such sprees are a indulgence of having disposable income (a.k.a. no costly children to bring mirth to me now and comfort in my old age), and an especially decadent indulgence is buying books I've already read in the past--borrowed from a friend or the library--but now want to own. Two were like this: Don DeLillo's White Noise and Stephen McCauley's The Man of the House. The Man of the House I bought because there are three or so scenes in it that resonated with me and ever since have rattled about my head from time to time. Good fiction is like a good rack of ribs: it sticks with you, you know?

Anyway, in a combination tribute to McCauley and maudlin lament about aging, here's the last part of one of the scenes:
"Where's Marcus?" I asked.

"Don't know," she said. She turned quickly, flinging all her curls at once. "Don't know, don't care. Doesn't matter. He's stalled. And you know what happens to a helicopter when the engine stalls? Drops like a stone. Well, there you have it. Stalled. All this going on with Ben, just when he needs a father the most, and he still can't bring himself to sit down and talk with him. So what chance has he got with anything else in his whole stalled life? What chance is there that he's ever likely to make a committment to me? I'm not interested in losers, Clyde, and I never have been. Anyway," she said, "he's too old for me."

This was a complaint I had never heard from one of Marcus's girlfriends before, and as I watched her dash around the house, putting her things in her bag, I realized it was true. He was too old for her, too old for his dissertation, too old to become a father. He'd waited too long for his life to begin, and he'd passed the point at which he could jump-start it. That he'd wasted his brains, all the promise of his supposed intelligence, wasn't news; the real shock realizing he'd squandered his beauty as well.

Thursday, July 20, 2006


One of the things I've missed here in Cambridge is the bulletin board in my office in Madison. While others might use their bulletin boards for "project tracking" or reminders, I use mine for mementos.* The last thing I added to it was the "jeremy." sign from my impromptu-pseudo-sub-half-marathon. Last time I was back, I actually typed in a list of the things on my bulletin board, which is now tacked on the bulletin board here at Cambridge but, as you'd expect, is somehow not the same. Anyway, not to imply you care, but here are twenty items from the list, each of which is special to me for its own reasons:

  1. Five birthday cards and the uncashed checks that had been enclosed.

  2. A nametag saying "Jeremy Freese" but everything else in Chinese

  3. A New Yorker cartoon of a man talking to a woman saying saying "I knew it wouldn't last--but I never dreamed it wouldn't last this long."

  4. A ticket for a trip to House on the Rock

  5. A handwritten menu from a truly amazing birthday dinner.

  6. A comic strip called "Marital Mirth" (A: "My wife spends too much on clothes." B: "Could be worse. My wife crushes my soul.")

  7. A ticket for a trip to the observation deck of the Space Needle in Seattle

  8. A small button with a cartoon dinosaur that says "God is Awesome"

  9. My pre-Lasix pair of glasses, tacked to the board with a paper clip

  10. A bumper sticker that says "Mentally Confused and Prone to Wandering"

  11. A thank-you letter from a television producer that refers to me as "Mozartian-like" in my delivery of a talk

  12. A ticket for a trip to Talesin (Frank Lloyd Wright's Wisconsin home/workshop)

  13. A bright orange name tag saying "Jeremy Freese" and "SPAM: Social Psych and Microsoc"

  14. A flyer advertising Marble Magnets

  15. A thank-you note for a homily I delivered at a wedding

  16. A letter announcing that I have won an award from the American Sociological Association

  17. A Magic 8-Ball keychain

  18. A thank-you note from a colleague noting that I "bring out the mother in" her

  19. An uncashed check for "statistical consulting"

  20. A cartoon in which a girl and her boyfriend are standing outside on a starry night and she says, "When I look at all these stars, it's hard for me to believe that I'm really the center of the universe"

* At least those that are tackable. Other mementoes, such as the tube of "Tormentos" someone made for me when I was working on my dissertation and said I thought they should make a candy for people who "just want to curl up in a ball and be depressed with some mints," I keep on my bookshelves along with my Science Toys. My idea for a "Tormentos" commercial was that it would be just like the Mentos commercial where a car stops in the middle of the crosswalk and the sassy teenage pedestrian blocked by it crawls through the car's backseat to get across. Only instead of showing the kid smiling with the Mentos at the end, it would cut back to the driver, who would sit sadly reflecting on how he had become unadventurous and boring in his middle age, and then just burst out crying there in the intersection, pulling out his Tormentos to comfort him as he slumped in the frontseat sobbing while other cars honked behind him.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

some people think the x-men films are unrealistic...

...what with the idea of their being genetic mutations that cause people to be able to control the weather, suck the memories and lifeforce out of others, or shoot some raspberry laser blast out of their eyes. And yet, I just did some math here at the office, and these are still not as statistically improbable as the premise of the new Rocky film coming out this year. Rocky, played by an actor who is 60 and who will presumably be presented as something like 60, will be boxing the young champion Mason "The Line" Dixon (yes! that's really the name they're using!) for the world heavyweight title. They have shot alternative endings and so it is unknown what will ultimately be shown, but supposedly all of the alternative endings have the fight going all 10 rounds.

Main excitement in my life today is that I have finally configure a dual monitor set up here at the office. As with UltraEdit last week, it took less than ten minutes of using it to understand why people love it so much. If you are still stuck in monomonitor monotony and have the resources for a second, I strongly recommend it. Makes work even easier than beating up a cloddish sexagenarian, and every bit as fun.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

jeremy puts the ac in accomplishment

air conditioner

Thanks to the kind offers from certain commenters to help me secure an air conditioner in my time of need. However, I was also successful with my parallel e-mail plea to Kathleen, an economist in my program who was also without AC. So early this afternoon we used her Zipcar membership to drive to Home Depot. There, we found these nice 6500 BTU air conditioners on sale for $100 and said to one another, "Hey, we've got disposable income. Let's each buy two!" And so we did, with Kathleen also buying a small tree for her office for good measure.

I didn't get home until nearly 10pm to actually try to mount it, however. On my way home, I checked my messages and learned that Kathleen was having trouble getting hers set up. I called her back and said I would see if I could figure mine out and, if successful, I would come help. As I was sweating away in my apartment just taking the thing out of the box, I knew there was no way I was going to bed tonight without getting it running. That said, as I was sweating away moments later reading the instructions, I knew there was no way I was going to be able to figure those out. The instructions involved the use of: (1) short screws, (2) wood screws, (3) L brackets, (4) seal strips, (5) sash seal, (6) guide panels, (7) support brackets, (8) slotted screwdriver, (9) knife, (10) pencil, (11) ruler, (12) hammer, and (13) level. Instead, I just screwed the guide panels into the side, and then propped the unit in my window using various books--old Stata manuals coming in especially handy*--to keep it slightly titled forward and to make sure the back vents were moving air outside.

Then, I rode my bicycle over to Kathleen's and set hers up mostly the same way, using various econometrics books.

No, in neither case is this intended as a permanent solution. Indeed, Kathleen's first sentence after stepping back and looking at our handiwork was, "I am so totally calling my super first thing in the morning and paying him to do this right."

* Other books selected not because of merits/demerits but mainly on the basis of size. This is not entirely true. Originally I had Three Plums in One a collection of the first three Janet Evanovich trashy mystery novels in there, but decided when I was taking a photo that I should have something more literary and so stuck DeLillo's Underworld in its place.

Update: A certain reader was scandalized that I was using Paul Starr's Social Transformation of American Medicine to help hold my air conditioner in place. I have two copies.

Monday, July 17, 2006

one way or another, this problem is going to get solved, and fast. (that said, it would get solved even faster if you helped.)

My fan has apparently broken. It was way too sweltry here in my bedroom. This is a big part of the reason I am not now asleep and why, consequently, I will probably be more surly and less productive tomorrow. If you are in the Cambridge area and have a car, you should consider taking me somewhere where I can buy an air conditioner. Name your price, if altruism is insufficient. Getting this done is a priority, so I have massive time flexibility.

Seriously, I am paying way too much on this place to be contemplating where there is any way I can set things up so I could sleep in my office. Plus, that would have to be a serious rules violation and could get me booted from here. Do you really want my explusion from Cambridge on your head? Or my potential death from heatstroke? If you haven't read Eric Klinenberg's Heat Wave, it's the guys who live alone that are the most likely to go.

Also, just to be explicit: please.

about a boy

I was talking to a female economist in my program recently. I told her that the rent on my apartment was going up by $50. "Did you try to negotiate that?" she asked. I did not. "Why?" she asked. I had no response. "You can always ask," she said. I had no response. I had no response because she was right.

I read Women Don't Ask yesterday. The general thesis of the book is that an important source of gender inequality in income and wealth is that women are much more averse to negotiation than men generally and don't ask for things when they should. I picked up the book after a friend talked to me about her having read it. This friend, like the female economist, is saddled with the supposedly sucker-spawning-second-x-chromosome, and yet is not still someone I really imagine being the type to leave all kinds of opportunities on the table because of an unwillingness to inquire on behalf of her interests.

I'm not disputing whether, in the aggregate, women are less likely to ask for things in "negotiation" opportunities than men are. Like virtually the whole of the literature on behavioral/psychological gender differences, I'm sure the female and male averages can even differ substantially while there remains overlap--meaning that there are women who aer very good about asking for things they want and men who are very bad at it.

I know for a fact this second category exists, because I am an exemplar of it. In the nomenclature of Women Don't Ask, I negotiate like a girl. An extremely girly girl, in fact.

The book has all kinds of compelling anecdotes of women not asking in situations where they could ask. Many of these resonated with me all the way down to my allegedly androgen-soaked bones. "Me, exactly!" I wrote maybe some two dozen times in the margin, even though the protagonist of the anecdote was a woman.

Much of the book was also about why women don't ask, most of which relies on socialization arguments that focus heavily on upbringing and other earlier life experiences. As you can imagine, these parts didn't resonate with me quite so much, and I mostly skimmed them. All fine, perhaps, just not relevant for me, since I can't point around to "society's messages" about proper behavior and blame for them having trained me to be passive in ways often contrary to my well-being. Instead, I get to wonder how I manage to be as bad as I am about asking for things despite the best efforts of countless agents of gender-order-reproduction to make me meeklessly manly.

I would love to be able to blame this on how the only board game Sister D would play with me during one developmentally-vital period of my youth was Barbie, Queen of the Prom, but I just don't think that is quite it. For parts having to do with asking-in-academia, I think there are ways that it's related to Imposter Complex Issues that are, in turn, related to my coming from a substantially lower economic and educational background than most of those now classified as peers/colleagues, but I think that line of explanation only goes so far, if it goes anywhere at all.

In any case, it's become increasingly clear to me for some time that not asking in cases where I could ask has cost me enormously professionally, personally-financially (as in the rent example above), and personally-personally. I'm not going to get into details here, obviously. It's more than a little painful to start doing the math just on the financial front alone. Less for the lost money per se than the sense of stupidity and suckerdom that goes along with it. And especially when you know that it's one thing to recognize that you have this needless costly aversion to being proactive about your situation and asking for things, but another to actually make improvements in dealing with it. Ugh.

One strategy of the book for prodding women to be more assertive is to argue that they are letting down the whole sisterhood when they don't. Meanwhile, I guess, at least I am doing my part to promote equality every time I'm a doormat. World, your muddy heels are welcome upon my spine.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

sal's google talk away message says "i b pum'in"

Not to be unhip, but: what the hell is "pum'in"? I tried to ask the man himself, but he's apparently away from his machine. My guess is that it's "pumpkin," and "I be pumpkin" is some kind of celebration of a term of endearment between him and his beloved. I hope it's not "pummelin'" and that he hasn't gotten himself mixed up in Madison area cage-fighting yet again.

If I ever get back to doing real professoring again, I could have my message be "i b prof'in", although people might think instead I was making reference to Advil.

My own Google Talk away message is currently: "happy." Because I'm nowadays upbeat.


I was at the supermarket. The pretty-but-not-intimidiatingly-so woman in front of me in line was using the cardreader to pay her bill. The male cashier--short, unattractive-but-in-an-amiable-way, with a voice that sounds a little bit like Costello from Abbott & Costello--decides to embark on some joshing checkout flirtation:
"If you use it as an ATM, we have a limit of $100,000 on withdrawls."
"Well, you won't have to worry about me doing that."
Pause, and then: "You know what I would do if I had that kind of money?"
"I would get one of those credit cards that give you the airplane miles."
"Mm hmm."
"If you had that kind of money and used one of those all the time, I bet you could probably get three or four trips a year."
I wondered if she would make the obvious point, and I could have fallen in love with her on the spot if the cashier hadn't already claimed man-dibs, because she did: "But couldn't you just pay for the trips yourself then?"
Which flummoxed him for only a couple seconds. "Yeah, but this way you'd get them for free."

an example of how i plan ahead for academic conferences

Last year at the ASA meetings I encountered a fellow sociologist at a function who knew who I was but believed we had never met. I informed him that we had, in fact, met, sometime in the last couple years although I could not remember exactly where. I assured him I was absolutely, 100% sure of this, and that I had a clear memory, for example, of our talking briefly about blah-blah-blah. He seemed genuinely unsettled, as though he was convinced he would have remembered but instead somehow did not at all. I realized later that I'm mostly, 70% sure I had him confused with someone else with a little-bit-similar name who does a-little-bit-similar work. (What can I say? I'm not good with faces.)

I was reminded of this when I came across his name today in an unrelated context. But now I've decided that at the ASA meetings next month, I will go over and talk to him again. This time, though, I'm going to introduce myself and pretend like I have no recollection of our having ever met before, and I will be skeptical and perhaps even aggressively suspicious if he tries to suggest that we have. Maybe I'll start off with something like, "Finally! You're someone that I've wanted to meet for a long time." I should remember to practice it a few times on the drive to Montreal, so I'll be able to do it straight when the time comes.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

brief stata geek update

syntax highlighting
(what automatic syntax highlighting looks like in practice--also, for that matter, what my data analytic work looks like, in practice. seriously, if you do anything remotely intense in Stata, it makes work easier and, at least in my opinion, more enjoyable.)

Last week I recommended UltraEdit as a text editor. For Stata users: I have much improved the available syntax highlighting files for use with Stata. The code is currently available towards the bottom of my webpage, although with my currently preferred color configuration. I'll almost certainly continue to twiddle with the file.

Friday, July 14, 2006

to serve and protect

"[Lorna] Dudash then called 911, asking that the 'cutie pie' deputy return.

'He's the cutest cop I've seen in a long time. I just want to know his name,' Dudash told the dispatcher. 'Heck, it doesn't come very often a good man comes to your doorstep.'

After listening to some more, followed by a bit of silence, the dispatcher asked again why Dudash needed the deputy to return.

'Honey, I'm just going to be honest with you, OK? I just thought he was cute. I'm 45 years old, and I'd just like to meet him again, but I don't know how to go about doing that without calling 911,' she said.

'I know this is absolutely not in any way, shape or form an emergency, but if you would give the officer my phone number and ask him to come back, would you mind?'

The deputy returned, verified that there was no emergency and arrested her for misusing the 911 system, an offense punishable by a fine of up to several thousand dollars and a year in jail.
Desperate people do desperate things. Sending the same deputy back to arrest her seems needlessly cruel.

This is something, incidentally, I can readily imagine my Wayward Sister C doing. Or, some relative of Gwen's.

Also, what is it about women and police officers? You hear about women who "date cops," like the profession comprises some kind of romantic rodeo circuit. You never hear the same thing about insurance salesman or about plumbers, unless maybe women in those jobs serially dating within their workplace. Is it the uniform? The authority? The firearms?

To my knowledge, my hometown in Iowa still has one police officer on duty all the time. As you can imagine, there isn't much for the officer driving around the night shift to do. One officer was rumored to have his wife visit while he was on patrol and they would park the police car in a discreet location and, well. Also rumored was that there was a time when they were parked behind the high school once and managed to get themselves trapped in the backseat with the prisoner-proof-locked doors. I've no idea whether this actually happened, or if it's just one of those rural legends.


Your basic assessment of me would change appreciably--even after accounting for the effect of this confession--if you knew just how many times I've watched clips of Taylor Hicks on the American Idol website. And it would change even more appreciably if you knew that I've made this special gray-topped sock puppet with which I act out some of his numbers (especially the part where he does the awesomely awesome little hoppy-running thing in the middle of "Try a Little Tenderness" [at 1:20]). Okay, I made this second sentence up. I only wish I was making up the first sentence.

Understand that I've never actually watched American Idol. I am, however, thinking maybe I should get cable and hook up my television to watch the next season. And, well, maybe get a fake birth certificate and drive to one of the East Coast tryouts. If prematurely gray can win last year, why not a much receded hairline this year?

public sociology triumph!

After standing around and complaining how the mass media never pays it any attention, sociology is featured in an extensive story in today's New York Times! The lede:
A graphic popped up on James Gundlach’s television during an Auburn football game in the fall of 2004, and he could not believe his eyes.

One of the university’s prominent football players was being honored as a scholar athlete for his work as a sociology major. Professor Gundlach, the director of the Auburn sociology department, had never had the player in class. He asked the two other full-time sociology professors about the player, and they could not recall having had him either.

So Professor Gundlach looked at the player’s academic files, which led him to the discovery that many Auburn athletes were receiving high grades from the same professor for sociology and criminology courses that required no attendance and little work.
The professor in question, Thomas Petee, is reported as having directed 272 independent study courses for students in 2004-5 alone. The story also features the following example:
The academic journey of the former Auburn defensive end Doug Langenfeld illustrates how Professor Petee and the athletic department helped athletes remain eligible.

When Mr. Langenfeld arrived at Auburn in 2003 from a junior college in California, he wanted to major in nursing. To do so would have required him to take a heavy load of 21 credits his first semester. Instead, he said, Mr. Starks suggested he major in sociology. Mr. Langenfeld asked for advice from Mr. Williams, who claimed that the major was “easy if you studied.”

In the fall of 2004, Mr. Langenfeld found himself in an academic bind. More than two months into the fall semester, he realized that he had been attending the wrong class because of a scheduling error...

Mr. Langenfeld then went to his academic counselor in the athletic department, Brett Wohlers, with a plea: “I got dropped from a class and need a class to stay eligible for the bowl game,” Mr. Langenfeld recalled in a recent telephone interview...

He said Mr. Wohlers told him about a “one-assignment class” that other players had taken and enjoyed. So in the “9th or 10th week,” Mr. Langenfeld said, he picked up a directed-reading course with Professor Petee. Semesters typically run 15 weeks.

Mr. Langenfeld said he had to read one book, but he could not recall the title. He said he was required to hand in a 10-page paper on the book...

“I got a B in the class,” said Mr. Langenfeld, who started in the Sugar Bowl against Virginia Tech. “That was a good choice for me.”
To be honest, I cannot even bear to offer any commentary--snarky, defensive, or otherwise--on this. Besides, I want to just focus on and be positive about my own work and the work that I find interesting, and, well, not contemplate the status or direction of sociology as a whole. Besides, the open secret that I didn't appreciate when I got into this business is that, at many (most? virtually all?) places, sociology counts on lazy, lost, last-resort-looking and otherwise low-achieving students as an important source of revenue--which isn't to say we don't strive hard to lure bright students as well, as long as they aren't too politically conservative--and that's a kind of systematic bargain that in the aggregate makes abuse and publicized incidents like this every once in awhile inevitable.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

so, jeremy can't sleep tonight once again. what's he going to do?

Tonight's diversion: listening to "You're So Vain" eight or nine times in a row. While simultaneously reading the dictionary definition of meek and trying to decide which of the three definitions is more the problem that leads me to be ridiculously nonassertive in some situations, including occasions where it's not even in the interest of the person to whom I'm being milquetoasty. Regardless, I've always felt a twinge of righteous-bitter identification with the lyric "I had some dreams, they were clouds in my coffee, clouds in my coffee" even though I have no idea what it is supposed to mean and I don't even drink coffee.

There's also the line about going up to Nova Scotia and seeing the total eclipse of the sun. I should really be availing myself of some opportunity to go northward during my time out here other than just the drive to Montreal. Clouds in my coffee, clouds in my Coke Zero.

And, even if we all know it's a lie about the meek inheriting the earth, at least they can pretend while everyone else is asleep.

Update: AK notes in the comments the theory that YSV is about Mick Jagger. There's also a Warren Beatty school of thought. Simon has revealed at different times that the person has an A, E, and R in his name, which leaves both Beatty and Jagger as suspects. It does eliminate me, which is just as well, as it would have required pervy time travel for Carly Simon to write how she had been lovers "several years ago, when I was still naive" and be talking about a man who was less than a year old himself.

for those who feel that 'great man' explanations of history are not quite enough...

...there is always its close cousin, the "Great Man plus God" explanation of history. Here's an example from the end of John Lukacs, Five Days in London: May 1940
"Hitler not only succeeded in merging nationalism and socialism into one tremendous force; he was a new kind of rule, representing a new kind of populist nationalism... It was thus that in 1940 he represented a wave of the future. His greatest reactionary opponent, Churchill, was like King Canute, attempting to withstand and sweep back that wave. And -- yes, mirabile dictu -- this King Canute succeeded: because of his resolution and -- allow me to say this -- because of God's will, of which, like every human being, he was but an instrument." (p. 218)
Voltaire is famous for having written "If God did not exist, it would have been necessary to invent him." Less well known are his next three words: "To stop Hitler."

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

binded by the light

When I finished my dissertation, I gave a bound copy to every member of my committee in addition to the official copies I gave to the department and to the university. Because I finished right before moving to Madison, I needed to pay for expedited three-day bounding at this place that was 30 miles away and involved a treacherous winter drive (for coastal people who have a resolutely undifferentiated view of Middle America, southern Indiana is both very woodsy and hilly). I spent something like $500 between the binding and the special weight paper, if memory serves.

I come to Wisconsin and it seems like people do not make bound copies for anyone but their chair. I had a student today ask me if I wanted a professionally bound copy, and I realized that was the first time anyone had even asked me about it. So now I'm trying to figure out if it was weird of me to go to the trouble of making bound copies for everyone at Indiana, or if there is a normative difference between Wisconsin and Indiana, and if the latter, which is the more normal norm.

I have heard that at least two of the five copies I gave to committee members were "donated" to where the department shelves other dissertations, meaning there are like three copies of mine. I told someone there that they should write "Vol 1", "Vol 2", and "Vol 3" on the side, so it looks like I wrote a 1600 page dissertation, but they wouldn't do it. Anyway, that would lend further evidence to the hypothesis that I was once again confused-about-norms in making copies for everyone.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006


So, I've been using TextPad as my text editor for the whole of my quantitative-researcher-in-Windows life. However, Eszter needed only a few minutes to convince me to switch to UltraEdit. Seriously, this was one of those moments when one has an entrenched way of doing something, is shown an alternative, and thinks "Well, I'm never doing it the old way again." A friend of mine prone to overdisclosure on his blog would take this occasion to give as an example when he was sixteen and tried on boxers for the first time. Anyway, I've already installed UE and deleted the TextPad shortcuts on all my machines here in Cambridge.

One might not think there would be much difference among text editors anymore. However, TextPad has not been updated by its developers in a long time, and meanwhile UltraEdit has all these cool features that I didn't realize I would like until I had them. My original plan for this post was to actually list some of these, but then I decided that it's not really my job, even as Your Ever-Loyal Blogger, to go out of my way to sell you on a software alternative. I've told you my preference; download and peruse if you care.* UE does rock, though.

In any event, I'm tired and giving a presentation tomorrow in Washington DC that I still haven't figured out (and not because I've been playing with UE advanced configuration features). This trip to DC, incidentally, will be my round-trip flight where I leave in the morning and return the same day. It's more expensive, but still not as expensive as staying overnight in DC. More importantly, I've got a bunch to do and so can't dally at the Smithsonian or Spy Museum just now.

* If you use Stata for Windows, I would strongly recommend getting and setting up Scott Long's syntax highlighting file to work with UltraEdit.

Monday, July 10, 2006

further evidence of the relativity of time and distance

Jeremy in hat with balloon
(me, shortly before leaving Evanszton, expecting the subsequent trip to be nothing but smiles)

It took me longer to get from the Boston airport to my apartment today than the flying time from Chicago to Boston. The luggage took forever, the Silver Line bus took forever, the Red Line T took forever, the T turned out to be out of service at one station which required a special bus trip that took forever, and the walk home after all those forevers (which, you know, add up) led to me feeling sufficiently weary that I had to stop at Herrell's and get a chocolate-malt-with-extra-malt. Herrell's, btw, appears to be as good as ice cream gets in the Harvard area, even though it is plainly inferior to Babcock's in Madison, not to mention inferior to the creamy-cold-and-cracklike-in-its-addictiveness Michael's Frozen Custard.

Then I spent about as long again as the flying time from Boston to Chicago taking a splendid and much needed nap. Now I'm about to go grocery shopping, but am allowing my cel phone to charge while I review business that has piled up during my trip, such as this link someone sent to the YouTubed video for The Best Karaoke Song Ever.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

larry b's, r.i.p.

Last year I wrote a post about what was then a new restaurant in Madison, Larry B's. I called it "the most doomed restaurant I have ever been to in my life," partly because they were serving diner food in a state with a high obesity rate and yet had these chairs that were awkward and uncomfortable to sit in if one was overweight. This was especially unfortunate because there was a story in the Cap Times about how the owners had sold all their possessions in order to buy the restaurant ("Our children think we're crazy").

Several months afterwards--but only a few minutes apart from one another--I got a couple comments to my Larry B's post:
This guy is obviously a professor with too much time on his hands to complain about a starting business. If you don't like their chairs, how bout you SAY something rather than taking the wuss way out and complain online to who knows what. Also, it takes awhile for a business to start out, and guess what, many weekends this semester boasted record sales and large success. If you want doomed, try being a sociology professor.

Hey man you have no right to post shit like this. Does it really affect you how the business of Larry B's does? Why do you feel you need to bash them when they are enjoying life and having fun running a restaurant with a staff that is like a second family?? Seriously man, get ur f-in priorities straight, and grow up.
Which did not exactly make me feel great, on several levels. When I was back in Madison this fall, I was staying downtown and thought I might be able to give the restaurant another fair shot by having breakfast. Their sign said they opened at 8, I got there at 8:15 and it wasn't open. The next morning, I had breakfast with someone at the Sun Room across the street, and we saw they still weren't open by 8:30 and there was somebody standing outside looking impatient because he was trying to make a delivery.

I've received two e-mails today that Larry B's has apparently closed their doors for good, so I won't get a chance to try them again. I cannot imagine how awful it would be to sell all your possessions in pursuit of a dream where your loved ones are telling you "you're crazy" and they turn out to be right. Having all your hard work end in failure is bad enough for the unfortunate side-effect in entrepeneurship of it also often ending in bankruptcy. In their defense, they did last longer than Moe's Southwest Grill and a few other places that have tried the campus side of State Street.

Meanwhile, here in Evanston, I was in a Starbucks (yes! go ahead and hate me!) that had one of their new highly-market-tested-and-refined breakfast sandwiches and, lo, it was delightful. All the harder for people whose dreams involve being an independent restauranteur open for breakfast.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

i, i, i...

Jeremy's reflection in the trench
(photo by Eszter of the superdeep trench that she and I combined our Ph.D's to dig at the Evanszton beach on Friday afternoon)

Last night was a wedding reception for a couple of friends from graduate school.

"I remember you had that thing with ice cream flavors on your webpage."
"Yes. That was a long time ago."
"Do you still do things like that on the web?"
"No. My webpage is pretty straightforward."
"You're just boring and normal now."
"Something like that."

Meanwhile, today is the third anniversary of my blog. Let's just say I have a certain amount of ambivalence about this fact.

Thursday, July 06, 2006


Geek breakfast
(Breakfeszt at Eszter's)

Certain temporary adjustments have been made to this blog while I stay with Eszter here in Evanszton.

dispatch from evanszton

So I arrived at the airport in Boston plenty early, but United hadn't assigned me a seat. It was plain I was going to get assigned to some middle seat anyway, so I just waited until I was about to board to get my seat assignment. And, because I dallied over the chowder I bought for dinner here, they were already nearly done boarding by the time I showed up.

I started talking to one of gate assistants about my seat assignment while a couple next to me was having an animated discussion with the other assistant. The man was then holding up his hands and pacing and exclaiming, "I'm going to miss my father's funeral! I'm going to miss my father's funeral!"

So then his wife, who was justjustjust about to start crying, asked if I would give up my seat for her husband because, as he was busy exclaiming, he was going to miss his father's funeral if he didn't get on the flight. There was another flight leaving in a little more than an hour, which was too late for their connection. The wife had resigned that she would have to miss the funeral, but at least if I gave up my seat her husband could make it.

The Old Me would have said yes immediately. The Old Me once handed his umbrella in a torrential downpour to a stranger who looked like he could use it more than me (a man, even, so there wasn't even a Chivalrous Protector Of Women angle). The New Me stood there a moment and calaculated whether this was one of those cases where the Old Me acted in ways consistent with my rural Iowa upbringing but which made me a sucker in the world of self-important-professional-on-the-go academics to which I inspire. Certain recent unbloggable circumstances have made me extrasensitive to the rube-sucker self-concept. And besides, I would already be getting there late as it was. The deliberation resulted in me deciding that I still wanted New Me to be the sort of person who would give up his seat in this situation, and so I did.

As it turned out, while this was happening, another seat magically became available for the husband, and so really the issue was whether the wife would get to be with her husband or not. They were just about to start processing the switch. The clerk looked at me like, "Still want to do this?" and the woman looked very awkward, and of course I said "Of course." And so now I'm spending part of the extra hour waiting writing this post.

I hope to God all this doesn't result in my luggage being lost. UPDATE from Evanston: My luggage was not lost. Apparently it arrived with the earlier flight, and was sitting by itself by that baggage claim instead of the one for the flight I was actually on.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

time passes. many things change. some do not.

(as per commenter request: plain old Garamond [top] and Adobe Garamond Pro [bottom])

Adobe Garamond Pro. First discovered by Jeremy Freese on a daring writing expedition in 1997, it remains his favorite font.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006


"As for your blog, I think the first question you need to ask yourself is: what does your blog do for you?"
"I think the first question really is: what does my blog do to me?"

choose my own adventure

The American Sociological Association meetings are next month in Montreal. I was going to book my flight and have noticed that flights are both pricey (even though I'm not paying for it) and that I cannot fly Northwest/Continental/Delta (my preferred carriers). Now I'm thinking about driving instead. A scenic 5 hour drive through Vermont, New Hampshire, and Quebec. Any opinions?

I need to submit a budget for the trip to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and get approval because it is international travel, although I think they would approve the car since even with parking it is likely cheaper (the car itself would be ~$250 + taxes, whereas the plane is ~$400) and of course they would approve the plane since I can't be expected to drive.

Monday, July 03, 2006

as if i needed any further indications that my life is going wrong

I seem to have developed a new vice: Chocolate Lucky Charms. I'm not a praying man, but it would be irrational for me to fact that development and not say "God, help me." You might as well just start stapling slabs of lard to my posterior now, because you know they're a-coming.

This in addition to the strange habit I've developed of compounding my insomnia by reading various history entries on Wikipedia, mostly radiating outward from my recurrent fascination with the Battle of France (i.e., the one where France lost a whole war in 1940 and then managed later to get it reclassified as merely a 'battle'). I listened to the Churchill "We will fight them on the beaches..." speech a little while ago, which I'd previously always avoided because I heard it was disappointing to actually hear it, and it was. (Link here, which I'd avoid not just because it is disappointing but because it's a RealPlayer file and I hate RealPlayer.) I have shouted parts of that speech to myself while jogging--not that there is much real affinity between the plight of my shin splints and the plight of Britain just after Dunkirk--and I must admit I think I do a more rousing job.

some more inconvenient truths

I finally saw An Inconvenient Truth on Saturday night. The parts regarding global warming are extremely compelling and worth watching for that alone. Only about half the movie is about global warming, though. The other half is, roughly, about what a great guy Al Gore is. I mean, I keep ruminating about what the main purpose of the movie was. There are three contenders:
1. Alert the nation to the urgent need to address global warming.
2. Alert the nation to the urgent need to elect Democrats.
3. Alert the nation to the urgent need to elect Al Gore as president, or at least to recognize that his not being elected in 2000 is something about which we should all be sad.
I think what I would have liked is a movie whose purpose is #1 that I could enthusiastically recommend to people I know who lean Republican (granted, being an academic who cavorts mostly with academics, I can't pretend this number is large). My belief, perhaps touchingly naive, is that the facts on the matter are so plain that many people who lean Republican could be convinced that this is an issue that deserves bipartisan cooperation.

But, of course, the facts are so plain that maybe this could become like stem cells and be a wedge issue that you might win swing voters with. For that purpose (#2/#3), it pays to keep the issue polarized and do everything to entrench Republicans in their past positions so that they look more like they are reality-deniers to swing voters. Combining an issue for which Democrats have reality on their side with a campaign informercial probably works well for this purpose, or at least would work well if the informercial aspects of the film were not as transparently manipulative as the ones in this film. I mean, it's in the narrow interest of Democrats-qua-Democrats to keep Republicans opposed to action on global warming, and it's in the interest of the narrow interest of those-freaked-out-by-global-warming-qua-those-freaked-out-by-global-warming to influence the Republican party's stance.

There is a scene about two-thirds through with Al Gore having a cel phone conversation on his cel phone that literally had me laughing because it was so painfully staged to present Al Gore, Man Of Action. In this respect, it reminded me a lot of his campaign, where you got the sense that Gore's efforts to connect with "regular folks" ends up still missing those folks and seeming false to everyone else.

All that said, a couple times during the film I found myself wondering if I was going to cry for all that was lost with the 2000 election. No actual tears formed, much less fell, but it was kinda close.

And again, the film is well worth seeing for the parts that are actually about global warming.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

the conspicuously blind

Journal authors are often asked to blind their articles so that reviewers are not able to discern who the author of the article is. I suspect that some authors recognize that, if anything, it would be to their advantage to have their identity known, and they blind their articles in such a way as to make their identity as the author more, rather than less, obvious. I'm reviewing an article today that's exemplary of one way of doing this. The bibliography has a stretch literally analogous to this:
Festive, A.V. 1999 "Title." Journal.
Flamingo, B.W. 2004 "Title." Journal.
Flyslayer, C.X. 2003 "Title." Journal.
REMOVED. 2003a
REMOVED. 2003b
Frenchkiss, D.Y. 1979. "Title." Journal.
Frostbite, E.Z. 2003. "Title." Journal.
Hmm, I wonder if that does anything to narrow down who the author might be.

(At Wisconsin, the qualifying exam system is anonymous in that exams are identified and graded by number rather than name. My experience has been that, if one is familar with students taking the exam, one can usually tell which exam was written by which person. Some students blatantly tip off who they are, although it is unclear whether they do this because they believe it is to their advantage--rightly, as it is typically harder to fail someone you know than a number--or just because they have no inclination to do anything to conceal their identity, especially given the time pressure that Wisconsin uses for its exams.*)

* As an irresistible non-sequitur, I should note that I disagree with Wisconsin sociology's qualifying exam system on both fairness and appropriateness grounds and wish it were different. I could go on, but it would only get me worked up and besides, it would be indiscreet.

dorotha asks: jeremy, if you were the eighth dwarf, what would your name be?

Needy, I suppose. Or Mercurial. Maybe Surly, especially if they tried to get me to sing Hi-Ho. And I wouldn't freaking wear one of those hats, that's for sure. Nor would I work in the mines, unless they gave me my own canary.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

I confess I don't know much about soccer, but I suspected this was against the rules

jeremy, if you were a fish, what kind of fish would you be?


a brief note to my friends who use spss

If you are only generating cross-tabs and frequency distributions, fine. Or simple graphs and you don't especially want to invest any time in having them look nice. Otherwise, stop. You know the phrase "friends don't let friends drive drunk"? Well, it's not like we're at some party where I can take away your SPSS keys and call you a Stata cab. But if we were, I would. In any case, the important point is not that you should be using Stata. If you can figure out R, that's at least as good. And SAS is fine enough. I like Stata because it makes doing data analysis like playing one of those all-text adventure games from the 80s. But that's not the point. The point is that SPSS is toxic. It's like it is designed to encourage people to make mistakes and forever do their work in wildly inefficient ways. It's the intellectual equivalent of a car that was built with some kind of funhouse-optical-illusion-trick-glass for the windshield. Stop, now.

As a separate and more advanced matter, regardless of the statistical package you are using, if the process of writing a quantitative paper for you involves looking at printed output and retyping numbers from that output into a table (or paying someone to retype the numbers for you), you should really get away from that. It's much better to take the extra time to figure out a way to get your stats package to present the numbers in a way that makes them easy to paste into a table. You may have to put the little stars for statistical significance in by hand, but that should be it.

You know I only say this because I love you.

Update: This video contains an interview with one of the originators of SPSS, which he starts to talk about around 3 minutes into it.