Saturday, June 30, 2007

the boy detective at work

I love the folks at Stata, but right there in the Stata manual:
As always, Stata is 100% compatible with the previous releases...
If only this was true. Instead, when Stata goes to a new version, my collaborator and I have to go through and figure out what parts of our programs have been broken by changes. I've spent the last two hours trying to figure out a bug that has been caused by a change to their -asmprobit- command (alternative-specific multinomial probit, which to my knowledge has never actually been used by a sociologist, and I actually think that's just as well). Whatever the problem is here, it is so ridiculously subtle it is putting my boy detective skills to the test.

I've got a lead, but I don't think I'm going to get this solved before I have to leave to meet people for this Boston Harbor Islands adventure today. Ugh. I'm already pushing it time-wise (if you are wondering why I'm writing a blog post then, it's that I'm waiting on Stata to execute something).

Apropos of nothing, last night I heard Kiss's song "Beth." I've always wondered: do you think the guy is really not going home to his beloved because his band needs to practice? Or, do you think that's just an excuse he's using because he's really out tomcatting around? He is a guy in a metal band, after all.

Friday, June 29, 2007

just what i needed. a virtual baby wallaby.


So, at the urging of a friend who shall not be named, I've adopted a baby wallaby on Facebook. Can somebody pet it for me? (Part of the social networking of Facebook is that you are not allowed to pet your own wallaby.) I'd just as soon have it stay alive at least through the end of the week.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

resourceful! (provided that you consider the capacity for cruelty a resource)

The incident: dog excrement found on the roof and windows of the Romney station wagon. How it got there: Romney strapped a dog carrier — with the family dog Seamus, an Irish Setter, in it — to the roof of the family station wagon for a twelve hour drive from Boston to Ontario, which the family apparently completed, despite Seamus's rather visceral protest.
Of course, not mentioned in the story is that the whole reason the family was driving to Ontario was to have Mitt Romney's dog fight one of Michael Vick's dogs.

Where are the voices of public sociology here? Where are the animals & society folks? I want to see the "Deconstructing Playing with Katie" guy deconstructing traveling with Seamus.

People have asked me if I'm going to get a pet when I go to Northwestern. No. Well, maybe a turtle. If I do, I'm not strapping it to the top of my car, even if I would like to be President, or having it fight one of Michael Vick's dogs. Maybe just a plant.

the eagle turns out to be more like a phoenix than i would have imagined

My hometown is Manson, Iowa, population 1893. I graduated from Manson Community High School, nicknamed the Eagles with the colors purple and white. Shortly thereafter, my high school was consolidated with another high school, changed its name, nickname (to the Cougars), and colors (to navy blue and gray). Many in my hometown resented this, resulting in such mischief as an incident in which my hometown watertower was supposed to be painted navy blue to celebrate school spirit but instead was painted this magical color that looks navy blue from far away but when you walk close you can tell is plainly purple. Even so, after consolidation, my thought was the Manson Eagles were no more.

I was wrong! My hometown now has a minor league football team, called the Manson Eagles, with the colors purple and white and a fancy purple-and-corrugated-metal-themed official website. The teams in the league show an interesting geographic nesting: the Manson Eagles, even though Manson contain only about 1/1500th of the total population of Iowa, has to play the Iowa Threshers (based out of Des Moines), not to mention the Minnesota Maulers (a much larger state), and the Midwest Pioneers (who, coincidentally, play in the stadium of Chris's local high school). I don't know how well Manson will fare when put up against entire states or the whole of Middle America, but I know they will face their gridiron fate with characteristic rural Midwestern bravery, stoicism, and awkward squirming should strangers stand too close to us or want to hug.

BTW, my hometown had its Greater Crater Days celebration last weekend, in honor of it being built on top of the largest meteor crater site in the US.* I really think they should invite me back to be the Grand Marshall for the GCD parade. Come on! I have a blog! And a wikipedia entry!

* I explain all this on the webpage I used to have dedicated to my hometown.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

don't mess with the matador!

(me, victorious at facebook rps)

(The Matador is where you wave paper at your opponent, then paper again, and then: scissors!)

I think I'm going to go down and fetch my air conditioner out of my basement. Now that Stata 10 has arrived, I can use my Stata 8 manuals with abandon to hold it in place.

Update: What's that sound? Is it the hum of my just-installed air conditioner, or the fizz of my having just opened up a tall, cold can of carbonated rps whoop-ass on Sal?

this makes up for him beating me at wii boxing
(me, once again victorious at facebook rps)

Updated again: Emily, as ever, is too wily for me. My dreams of an undefeated life end:



"You're dwelling."
"You are, you're dwelling."
"I'm not. You just want me to be dwelling."
"Why would I want you to be dwelling?"
"Becuase then you would be right, and I would be pathetic."

don't think all that taupe is going to hold me back

The room that will be my office at Northwestern is being renovated (in anticipation of my arrival? I'm not sure.) The only part over which I was given input was the choice of paint colors, and then only from the neutral palette. One of my options, though, was called "Marilyn's Dress." I started at Wisconsin in January 2001, which means I'm now in my seventh year post-Ph.D., and so the idea of picking a color that was a reference to Seven Year Itch was so amusing to me that I chose that on those grounds alone.

I haven't decided whether or to what extent I'm going to do up my office with the magnets, science toys, mobiles, and Magic 8-balls like I did at Madison. (A couple people at Madison were fond of bringing visitors by my office when giving tours, with the assessments including "It's sort of like a pediatrician's office" and "It's sort of like a county fair.") On the one hand, I'm more grown-up now. On the other hand, I've thought there might be some virtue on straightaway getting a high calibration on the eccentric-o-meter. An extra digit on the other hand is also that, back when I was in Madison, I had this nagging worry that my office might be perceived as being juvenile and this could adversely affect my tenure; now, I have this nagging worry that it might be perceived as juvenile and, and, eh, so what?

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

the three classic blunders, the first two i learned from the princess bride and the last i learned from angela

1. Never get involved in a land war in Asia!
2. Never go in against a Sicilian when death is on the line!
3. If your voice has always been overrated and it isn't aging well, never say 'Help me somebody' and toss the mic to Patti LaBelle!

(fast forward to 1:38 into it [2:36 remaining], and then watch the next sixty seconds. don't watch more than that or else suddenly there's el debarge.)

A little like asking someone for help with an itch on your back you can't reach and having them rip out your spine with a scythe. Still itch? Higher? To the left?

Of course, the real showdown of the divas would be me and Miss Patti doing "Love Shack." I am not a stage presence to be trifled with, at least when I've got me a Chrysler that's as big as a whale.

Speaking of which, apparently Jerry Marwell did "Girls Just Want to Have Fun" (one of my standbys) at karaoke in Madison a few nights ago, and dedicated it to "Jeremy, who's no longer with us." This resulted in some confusion among the karaoke faithful about whether I was dead. (I'm not, although I have recently somehow screwed up my back.)

because i think writing the whole essay drawing on examples from the drinking game 'do, dump, date' would be distasteful

So, I'm finally able to turn to the task of getting serious about writing this essay about "Values and Preferences," the first draft of which was due last month. Eek. I'm sitting here working on it and wondering whether I can go buy the game Would You Rather? on my research budget, and write the whole essay drawing on examples from that game.

Monday, June 25, 2007

when i get tenure, i will...

Sure, every assistant professor has their fantasies about what they are going to do when they get tenure. Fabio says it's the time to start striving for teaching awards.

Jessica Burstein, on the faculty of English at the University of Washington, thinks getting tenure is finally the time to write that article for the Chronicle on "Sex at the Conference." The article includes observations on disciplinary differences in how scholars hook up at professional events, including that "Sociologists loiter in the parking lot" (So that's where she went!) and "Ethnographers are fine with exiting while necking" (In my observational experience from conference hotel bars, that one is plausible.). The article ends with the bio statement announcing her promotion as: "Oddly, she has just been granted tenure."

I'm going to confess feeling like if one is going to write an article about one's promiscuity with colleagues from elsewhere at conferences, and if one feels compelled to announce one's having been tenured at the end of it, one might want to have more listed on one's faculty webpage under "selected publications" than a single article from 1997. Or at least, don't then end one's bio with: Oddly, she has just been granted tenure.

the guillotine choke hold wouldn't be nearly so scary if it was over the internet

Ray Mercer tried his hand at mixed martial arts this weekend. The result? He's sticking with boxing.

The former WBO world heavyweight champion and Olympic gold medalist lost to noted Internet street fighter Kimbo Slice in Atlantic City, N.J., this weekend in a fight that lasted just 1:12. Mercer submitted to Slice's guillotine choke hold.
First, you'd think someone would be extra wary of the "guillotine choke hold" when up against someone surnamed "Slice." But, more importantly, what makes someone an Internet street fighter?

Speaking of Internet fighting, I just installed this application that allows one to play Rock, Paper, Scissors over Facebook, including keeping detailed records of your past plays for opponents to study.

god is not only my co-pilot, but he also teaches my driver's ed class

I missed this news story before: Vatican issues 10 Commandments for drivers.
Cardinal Renato Martino, who heads the office, told a news conference that the Vatican felt it necessary to address the pastoral needs of motorists because driving had become such a big part of contemporary life.
Following the same reasoning, I wonder if the Vatican will issue 10 Commandments for Internet users sometime around 2043. The commandments, incidentally, are:
1. You shall not kill.
2. The road shall be for you a means of communion between people and not of mortal harm.
3. Courtesy, uprightness and prudence will help you deal with unforeseen events.
4. Be charitable and help your neighbor in need, especially victims of accidents.
5. Cars shall not be for you an expression of power and domination, and an occasion of sin.
6. Charitably convince the young and not so young not to drive when they are not in a fitting condition to do so.
7. Support the families of accident victims.
8. Bring guilty motorists and their victims together, at the appropriate time, so that they can undergo the liberating experience of forgiveness.
9. On the road, protect the more vulnerable party.
10. Feel responsible toward others.
What kind of commandment is #3? It reads more like one of those declarative advice statements you sometimes get inside a fortune cookie. It even passes the "in bed"-suffixable criterion for fortune cookies, as do several of the others.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

readers, help: is it who or whom?

Elsewhere, the editor of Skeptic magazine—[who(m)?] you might expect to be a tough sell—called Born to Rebel ”the most rigorously scientific work of history ever written” (Shermer 1996, p. 63)
(Yes, this means I am up in my office writing late on a Saturday night. I've never had much pretense to a life. I guess I will admit to feeling a little pathetic--not, though, because of being up at the office working, but because I'm listening to INXS while I'm here.)

a portrait of the blogger as a successful half-marathoner and dissatistfied customer

I am so pissed. I got this e-mail today:
90 days ago you made a smart choice by clicking "YES" to accept your ActiveAdvantage trial membership offer when you registered for an event using

This is just a quick reminder to let you know that your 90-day trial membership has expired, and you have been extended for a full year [for $50] as stated in the original offer. You are now a part of the fastest growing program for athletes and people with active lifestyles!

We hope that you have had time to review the amazing benefits and values that you receive by being an ActiveAdvantage member, ranging from travel discounts on air, car and hotel to huge savings with big name partners including: Enterprise Rent-a-Car, Wyndham Hotel Group properties, Choice Hotels, Circuit City, Barnes and Noble, Peets Coffee, AMC, Regal/Edwards Theaters, Rewards Network and more! [...]
What I registered for was the Madison Half-Marathon, which Sal and I ran over Memorial Day weekend. There is no freaking way that I would have intentionally signed up for a "trial membership" in an organization that doesn't offer any services that I have any interest in using, so whatever it is I supposedly clicked on must have kept the cost of doing so obscured. According to the site, I received a $5-10 "free gift" for signing up. I have no idea what this is supposed to have been. Anyway, I have sent them an e-mail asking for my money back, as well as a message to the organizers of the Madison marathon expressing my displeasure about their partnering with So, what's next? Why, write a blog post telling whoever would listen to be careful with any dealings with

BTW, I guess I never posted that Sal and I successfully completed the half-marathon (Chris did the whole thing, see his post here). Here we are before the race:

Sal & Jeremy - Mad City Half Marathon 2007

We ran at a leisurely pace, and Sal had to endure me being one of the chattiest people on the course. A high point may have been the half mile or so I spent describing the 1960's Australian television show "Skippy, The Bush Kangaroo."
"So, it's like Lassie, only a wild kangaroo. The characters will go 'Skippy, what is it?' and Skippy will make this toothclicky noise and they'll say 'Colin has fallen down a well?!!' But, Skippy will also do things that Lassie can't. Like there's this one scene where it looks like Skippy is cracking open a safe using only his paws. I think that's the mile marker up ahead. So, when they do the far off shots of Skippy, they use a real wild kangaroo, but then when they use the close-in shots of the paw action, it's just this puppet. Then for some mid-range shots, I think they don't even use a kangaroo at all but instead it looks more like a wallaby. Can you imagine if they sometimes switched off Lassie with some closely related dog species? Like one moment she's a collie, the next a coyote. You're not having any problems with chafing, are you?"

Saturday, June 23, 2007

six figures, no interview necessary

Originally I included this in a comment to my last post, but now I'm thinking about it more. Most top sociology programs now offer 4 or 5 year guaranteed funding packages to incoming students, often including some summer money. Not even counting the tuition remissions, this can bring the value of these guaranteed packages upwards of a $100,000 committment. Yet, to my knowledge, no sociology department conducts any kind of interview with applicants prior to admitting them. Am I right about this? If I am, why not? A one-year postdoc is less money, and still people conduct interviews for those. In-person interviews would be too expensive, but why not phone interviews?

One hears stories about admitted students coming on their campus visit and everyone realizing the person isn't what they looked like on paper and then the place tries to subtly get the admitted student to decline their offer. One even hears of stories where this effort fails and the person comes to a department that doesn't want them. Moreover, one never hears a story where this happens and there is a happy ending, which would suggest that interviews may be more than just in the department's interest.

It's made all the more remarkable because people on graduate admissions committees repeatedly complain about how little information they have to go on, as grades are hard to compare across institutions and letters of recommendation tend to vary little and when they do it's unclear if it says more about the applicant or the writer.


Carleton has posted a sociology job ad with a deadline of July 13, with the idea of conducting preliminary interviews at ASA. Is this unusually early, or is my understanding and recollection of sociology job deadlines wrong? I guess the ad doesn't ask for letters of recommendation, just references. I've never been asked to write a letter of recommendation for a position with a July deadline, but I don't know if that says more about my experience as a letter writer or about the rarity of July deadlines for positions open to new Ph.D.'s. Anyone?

(Part of me asking is that everyone in sociology seems to be complaining about how the job deadlines are getting earlier and earlier. If ASA kept records of their application ads over the years, this could actually be an interesting thing to study, especially in terms of how the sequence has gone of places moving up their deadlines. I don't think there would be any rule against ASA trying to impose some kind of guidelines to set the timing of the market, but that would require the ASA leadership to show leadership, and I'm not naïve enough to stand on the platform waiting for that train.)

Friday, June 22, 2007

time has come today (time!)

I know a guy who spent some years working intermittently on a novel about time travel. He might still be. Once, he was talking about it, and he said a big problem working on it has been that new novels about time travel keep coming out. He kept having to go back and revise what he had already written to take into account ways that other original ideas that were coming out in these new novels made what he was doing not original anymore. When I was doing short short fiction, I thought about writing a story about a guy trying to write a novel about time travel who keeps getting thwarted by an evil time traveler from the future who gives other, struggling-but-speedier novelists the guy's good ideas.

I kept thinking of this guy yesterday, because I read The Time Traveler's Wife on the plane back from Chicago. I thought it was quite original: it's a love story, the man has a disease akin to epilepsy only he time travels instead of having seizures--digressive link to everybody's favorite epileptic here--and the book basically permutes through all sorts of different clever ways this allows the lives of him and his true love to be tangled up with one another.

I really enjoyed reading it, although the prose itself is middling sometimes to the point of distraction. Even then, there was this sad part that had my eyes well up and me willing myself urgently not to have tears start down my face while in the middle seat on an airplane. I succeeded. I do worry I am going to become one of those people who is strange to sit next to on planes. My last plane trip, I read The McSweeney's Book of Lists, and thought the person next to me must think I was insane because of how I kept giggling uncontrollably.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

(evanston) overheard

"Would the two of you like another round?"
"Well, we actually have a slight problem."
"What's that?"
"Him, he just wants another round of what he's having. Me, I would like something different."
"Of course."
"See, what I want is weird, and I'm worried you'll judge me."
"I won't judge you."
"It's weird, though, and I wilt easily when judged by others. I recently had this troll on my blog--"
"You have got to let that troll thing go."
"We have people order weird things here all the time, believe me."
"So, what I want is a rum and coke."
"And, I'd also like a chocolate malt with extra malt."
"You think I'm weird. I can tell."
"Do you want that all in the same glass?"
"No, separate glasses."
"You want the rum and coke in the same glass."
"Right. And the chocolate malt and the extra malt in the same glass, but not the glass with the rum and coke."
"Gotcha. Rum and coke, and chocolate malt."
"With extra malt. Life is too short to get a chocolate malt and not get extra malt."
"True dat."
"Extra true."

Monday, June 18, 2007

driving to evanston with sal

Sal hooked in his iPod FM transmitter. The tacit arrangement became that he would control what song was played, and I would control what volume it was played at. This worked well after the tension induced by his choosing to follow Metallica's "Unforgiven," for which the volume was sharply lowered, with Metallica's "Enter Sandman."

"This has got to be one of the Top 5 all-time songs."
"Yeah. Top 5. Ever."
"Are you mocking me?"
"I do think it is a great karaoke song."
"Top 5 all-time!"
"I also agree there is something special about the lyric 'Your hair reminds me of a warm safe place where as a child I'd hide.'"
"Can you imagine a world without this song?"
"It's like the microwave oven. Once it was invented, no one could understand how they'd ever lived without it."
"Nothing brings people of different races together like this song. Everybody, everybody comes together and sings along to this song."
Songs Sal chose that resulted in the sharpest volume increases: "Rehab" by Amy Winehouse, "Billie Jean" by Michael Jackson, and "Luka" by Suzanne Vega (for which I also rolled down the windows and opened the sunroof). Non-Metallica song that resulted in the sharpest reduction in volume, "I Want To Sex You Up" by Color Me Badd. There needs to be a way that you can turn down the volume far enough that sound starts to get sucked back into the speaker.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

dispatch from madison

I've been in Madison the last couple of days, which included Sal's going away party last night. Now I'm waiting for Sal so we can, in fact, go away--drive down to Northwestern for the Cells to Society workshop. I see that Cells to Society is now listing my joining their faculty on their webpage, having taken my photo off the Robert Wood Johnson website. I need to get a professional publicity photo taken or something. Although, as important, I need to make sure that I'm reasonably shaven and that my remaining hair is in order when I have a professional take my photo.

I spent some time today continuing the multitrip project of cleaning out my office. Last time I was here, I spent an afternoon filling half of one of these giant plastic dumpsters of recycled paper and put all kinds of stuff on a free table for any takers. This time I put all my books and various other things in boxes. The experiences moving has been sometimes as if I had chosen an emotion at out of a hat, and then twenty seconds later choosing another emotion out of a hat, only instead of being random it was entirely induced by whatever I happened to have pulled out of the cupboard or file cabinet next.

A general virtue of moving is that it provides the opportunity to reduce clutter, especially if one applies the principle that something one hasn't used or missed since one's last move is something can get rid of. What was different about moving my office, though, is there were all sort of things associated with proto-projects that I don't exactly have any specific plans of going back to, but I hadn't exactly concluded I was never going back to. Some of these I'll move with me, but others I threw out.

Understand in several cases we were talking about materials and ideas from graduate school. For that matter, some of it was stuff from the first half of graduate school, when I did an entirely different kind of research substantively and methodologically from what I've done since. Still, hard to let go. And yet, for the most part, I did.

Friday, June 15, 2007

the corrections

I bowled in a league one year in like sixth grade. Sometimes kids would have this thing where they wouldn't follow through straight and their ball would veer to the left every time. So their solution would be to stand farther to the right. This would just lead their ball to veer more dramatically to the left, until they'd be standing all the way on the right side, and still sometimes bowling into the left gutter. Instead, what the kid needed to be doing was move farther to the left, as then this would cause them to alter their follow-through in the right direction.

I've been surprised at how many times I've since returned to this experience as a internal personal metaphor in one situation or another. "This is just like bowling. If your ball goes left, you need to move to the left--not to the right," I think. Including a recent circumstance, but not one I can blog about.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

he shoots, he scores

So, part of being the Italy of academia is that I am not very good with my financies, either in terms of being especially thrifty or in terms of being organized. I will spare you any specific horror stories as part of my new skittishness about giving once-or-future trolls too many deprecating details about my life, but suffice it to say the horror stories are horrific enough to make a Suze Orman fan sleep with the lights on. Granted, I do have the compensating advantages of a professional income and no kids, no pets, no layabout significant others, and no drug/gambling/designer-shoe addictions. Still.

Anyway, I'm in Evanston now, and one of the things I did today was talk to a banker about what kind of mortgage I could be pre-approved for. This involved her looking up my FICO score. A friend of mine has been fond of saying that one's FICO score is the most important number of one's life, excepting only perhaps one's Real Age.* Me being as I am, these statements have only contributed to my general knowledge to avoid knowing my FICO score or my Real Age for as long as possible.

Turns out, I have a fabulous FICO score. Certain things over the past few years for which I've wondered, "Hmm, does this kind of 'mix-up' end up showing up on one's credit report?" apparently do not, in fact, show up on one's credit report. For decorum's sake, I tried to express looking surprised and bemused about this.

When one actually goes ahead and applies for a mortgage, incidentally, they ask for the last two years of one's tax returns. So, if it does come to that, all the more reason for me to go ahead and finally file my taxes for this year.

My thinking presently is that, renting or buying, I'm hoping to live in Evanston if I can, as one part of my Cambridge life that I really like is being able to easily walk to work (and to whatever else). In hindsight, I regret that I never lived downtown during my time in Madison.

* I know someone who has spent some time considering the innards of Real Age, and it turns out that while in their advertising Real Age gets you to do their test with the idea "You may be younger than you think", most people who do the test are told their Real Age is older than their chronological age, which of course is more helpful for motivating people for Real Age services. From a scientific standpoint, of course, there is no external referent for age and so it would be hard to justify scaling age in any way other than to have a real age of 41 being other than the average real age of all 41 year olds. This actually comes up repeatedly in the history of cognitive ability testing, which has featured recurrent statements like, "75% of ten year olds have a mental age of eight or less."

Monday, June 11, 2007

brief post to make my apple-using friends day a little brighter

A new problem has developed with the Windows PC in my office where, if I click to watch one of the videos, my machine immediately reboots.

(ongoing series) major injustices of this world we live in

7. The unavailability of any Milli Vanilli songs on iTunes. That the two men presented as being "Milli Vanilli" were not actually the three singers responsible for the album seems to have allowed a revisionist cultural sensibility in which "Girl, You Know It's True" is less than awesomely awesome. Luckily, their being forgotten means no one has bothered to make YouTube take down the video. (BTW, I don't know how they managed to fool people--you can tell they are lip-synching from the video.)

However, if anyone happens to know where I can get an MP3 of it, e-mail me.

Speaking of iTunes, I recently accidentally bought two different versions of "Time Has Come Today" by the Chamber Brothers. I couldn't remember exactly the title or the artist when I first had the dim idea of buying it, but was able to quickly find it by Googling the word "psychedelicized."

Update: Yes, I know that musicians who actually sing their own songs also lip-synch in videos. It was a joke!

Sunday, June 10, 2007

la cosa nostradamus

Apparently everybody is making Sopranos predictions. I've never seen the show, so I may be at a disadvantage. Still, I'm game. My prediction: Tony is revealed to be a horcrux. Stay tuned for the real finale 7/21/07.

Also: Regarding predictions, in the prediction markets for the Republican presidential nomination, Fred Thompson (~28%) has now opened up a gap on Giuliani (~25%) and Romney (~22%), with the deathly hallows starting to ring for McCain (~13%, once over 40%).

Also-also: Regarding HP, as longtime readers know, I haven't actually read any of the books, but instead have listened to all of them as audiobooks. I see that HP&tDH is 17 compact discs. Even if I order it for release-day delivery, I wonder what the chances are that I will actually get to listen to the whole thing by the time somebody somewhere thrusts spoilers into my sensory stream. I'm trying to decide if this time I should just buy the book and hole myself up and read it.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

post-ptolemaic social science begins at home

From the 2006 GSS, probability of someone with my mother's basic demographic characteristics indicating that she doesn't know the Earth goes around the Sun: 50% (N=26). (previous post here)

"Hey, Mom, does the Earth go around the Sun, or does the Sun go around the Earth?"
"Jeremy, the Earth goes around the Sun."

Not one freaking second of hestiation or inkling of uncertainty, either, I'll have you know.

Probability of someone with my father's basic demographic characteristics indicating that he doesn't know the Earth goes around the sun: 31% (N=19)

"Ask Dad when he gets home."
"You need to take care of that cold!"
"Pretend like you don't know. 'Eldon, I was sitting here and wondering to myself, does the Earth go around the Sun, or does the Sun go around the Earth? Do you know?'"
"Jeremy, he's going to think I'm stupid."
"You can tell him afterward that I put you up to it."

E-mail later from my mother:
hey j, dad knew the correct
I am tempted to offer a reward to the first person who provides a full and honest account of asking a noninstitutionalized, nondemented adult this question and getting 'Sun goes around the Earth' as a sincere reply. Apparently such people are all around us--including, according to Omar, more than 1 in 8 women with graduate degrees--so an exemplar in one's midst shouldn't be hard to find.

Friday, June 08, 2007

sick and tired

My cold has worsened, and today has mostly been spent in bed. I hate being sick.

The anomie of Harvard is also wearing thin. Maybe more accurate is that it has long worn thin, to where now it is worn to astonishing anorextatic skinniness. I am looking forward to being well and being somewhere else. That said, I'm only starting to rouse from my denial about how much I need to do before my move. Yikes.

Update, awhile later: None of the above problems, it turns out, are helped by eating an entire pint of Ben and Jerry's Cherry Garcia lowfat frozen yogurt. And it seemed so promising, too.

dispatch from crowded bar in cambridge, ma

At Architecture in Helsinki show near Central Square. I am the oldest
person here. They were supposed to be twee. The bass is turned up so
loud I might pass a stone or something. To quote a band after my time
and yet now well past theirs, "What the hell am I doing here? I don't
belong here."

I was expecting them to do more Australian stuff. Like I thought the
lead singer would be hurling wombat blood at the audience. Instead,
not even a reference to how 'tater tots' in Australia are called
'potato gems.'

who doesn't know the earth goes around the sun?

Follow up to Omar's post yesterday, using data from the just-released 2006 General Social Survey.

% of Americans who say either that the sun goes around the earth or that they don't know, when asked, "Does the Earth go around the Sun, or does the Sun go around the Earth?"

People who have at least some college:
White men: 11.0% (N=392)
White women: 22.7% (480)
Black men: 25.5% (51)
Black women: 34.4% (90)
Hispanic men: 6.9% (29)
Hispanic women: 32.3% (37)
People with a high school diploma or less:
White men: 26.7% (221)
White women: 39.7% (292)
Black men: 40.0% (50)
Black women: 51.8% (83)
Hispanic men: 33.3% (30)
Hispanic women: 50.0% (34)
White Democrat men: 16.5%
White Independent men: 21.4%
White Republican men: 15.8%

White Democrat women: 26.2%
White Independent women: 37.1%
White Republican women: 27.5%
("White" and "Black" exclude Hispanic respondents)

BTW, a quote of Dr. Watson talking about Holmes in the first Sherlock Holmes novel, A Study in Scarlet:
His ignorance was as remarkable as his knowledge... My surprise reached a climax, however, when I found incidentally that he was ignorant of the Copernican Theory and of the composition of the Solar System. That any civilized human being in this nineteenth century should not be aware that the earth travelled round the sun appeared to be to me such an extraordinary fact that I could hardly realize it.
To my knowledge, Sherlock Holmes is not a respondent in the 2006 GSS.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

i often feel lonesome in my opinions, but rarely so much as regarding this

I look at the iPhone, and I see a $500 phone that looks like it would be incredibly tedious to do txt messaging on. Aren't people who buy $500 phones the kind of people who do a lot of txting? I suppose Apple is going to sell these to all sorts of people who would never otherwise buy a $500 phone and so won't mind if it's inferior to a $20 Virgin phone for txting on.

I think part of my confusion about all the iPhone enthusiasm is that I don't really understand what would be so great if the Treo I have now was a full featured music player, or if the iPod I have now was also my phone. I think if my iPod was my phone I'd still want to keep it in something like the blue rubberized sheath I keep my iPod in now, but I wouldn't be able to because of the touchscreen, so then after a few months it would end up looking as scratched up as my unsheathed Nano did. How hip can something be if it's all scratched up?

better late than never? maybe next week i'll start getting friendster invites...

Facebook, which is so old that it was becoming big while I was still physically housed in Wisconsin, appears to be making the rounds of certain social circles of mine, so now I'm adding friends after having signed up and not doing anything with it. So, feel free to befriend me. Unless you are a troll.

BTW, I got a conditional acceptance on a manuscript from AJS today. I told someone about it today and they said, "You should post that on your blog, so that people don't think you are incompetent like that [reference to my recent troll] thinks." I'm not sure which of the troll's recent accusations prompted this, but perhaps the claim that I owed whatever occupational success I have had to "diversity" initiatives (whatever else might be said for being a white male, I thought I was supposed to be exempt from having to deal with accusations of that). Anyway, beyond reveling in hilarious blurbs, I am much more comfortable on here recounting the more screw-up and screwball parts of myself than whatever parts may, from time to time and for who-knows-what reasons, end up working out okay. Can we just have an understanding that episodes I present on my blog should not necessarily be taken as a exhaustive or especially representative sample of the entirety of my life? Yes, I realize this will do little to assuage those friends who think this blog is a longrunning ruinous exercise in self-destructive professional self-presentation.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

coincidence, or causality: lost luggage edition!

Regarding my lost luggage, I decided I couldn't count on Northwest anymore and decided to take matters into my own hands. So, I went to the mall and plunked down money for a razor to replace the one in my bag. Sure enough, shortly afterward I got the call that my bag had been located in Detroit. I received it this evening. The handle had come loose, taking the tags off with it. I'm not exactly sure how one goes about getting the handle to a piece of luggage repaired, although I suppose calling a shoe repair shop may be the obvious place to start (actually, a luggage repair shop would be the most obviously obvious place to start, but this does not seem to exist as a category of American small business).

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

other than linking to it, no comment story: University of Wisconsin-Madison faces faculty exodus (longer AP story on same topic here)

Well, okay, I guess I will comment, but about the broader story and not with any pertinence for my own situation. As far as I have been able to discern from my admittedly distal and inexperienced perch, Wisconsin-Madison managed to become a great university despite being funded like a very good university because of superior administration. Then, it started being asked to try being great university funded like a good university, and that's been beyond what its superior administration can compensate for. It's kind of like having a clever trick for playing jacks that gets you all the way up to ninesies, but then somebody has you try for ten and everything just goes to hell.

you can be 'it', but i get to be 'italy'

Here I was thinking potential blurbs about myself would never get any better than:
"Jeremy's the best sociologist in the world." --Ann Althouse
but, now:
"Jeremy is the Italy of academia: unstable and seemingly chaotic governance structure; mysteriously still the seventh largest economy in the world." -- Kieran Healy

Monday, June 04, 2007

anonymous commenting has been turned off

Thank your local troll.

stata 10 ships june 25

Just announced! I always dreamed of having a midnight release party for a new edition of Stata, but I don't think this time will work either. Anyway, the headline feature of the upgrade is a full-blown graphics editor, which if they implemented it right could just about make up for all the cool things one can do in R (exemplified blogwise nowhere better than here).

they tried to make me go to prehab, but i'm not going anywhere until i have my luggage

  • The e-mail Word Of The Day for today is "premorse," which turns out to mean "Having the end abruptly truncated, as if bitten or broken off." I was hoping it meant to have regrets about an action even before one has done it.
  • Sal has sent me a couple updates from Day 1 of the Lifecycle ride, and all appears to be going well.
  • I have not, on the other hand, received an update from Northwest about my luggage. I tried to call them today to ask about it before going out to meet someone. Before being connected with the agent, I was told at the beginning of the call I would be asked to do a brief customer service questionnaire at the end. I went through whatever to get the agent to find my record -- to give an example of the incompetence I was dealing with at the airport last night: despite my having filled out the form accurately in very clear capital letters, my last name was entered in the system as "Jeremy" and my address as being on "Suum" rather than "Museum" street -- and then the agent said, "The computer is being slow today." And then a minute later I got a recording saying "You are now being transferred to our customer service survey" and I was dumped out of the call and into the survey. The survey turned out to be just one general satisfaction item, but I pressed the button on my phone corresponding to "Very Dissatisfied" extra hard.
  • Ron from my last post never called to clarify, despite the tease in my comments.
  • Chris has posted his summer songs with its 2007 additions, with Amy Winehouse's "Rehab" leading the list. O, how I love the first line of that song ("They tried to make me go to rehab, and I said no, no, no"). I feel almost like it's reached personal anthem status, which if true would mark the most recent anthemly song I feel identified with despite having no justifiable reason to do so, displacing Kelly Clarkson's "Miss Independent."
  • If I am repeatedly deleting your comments, I've concluded you are a troll. If I've concluded that you are a troll, I'd prefer you not read my blog, much less comment. I understand that I can't stop you, and I don't feel like turning off my anon comments once again just yet, but you can reflect on whether you really want to be the sort of person who hangs around a space where they aren't wanted just because you can. Presumably, I guess, given that you are a troll, you are exactly this sort of person, but still I feel like pointing that out.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

regarding a voicemail left for me yesterday

The voicemail, as best as I can transcribe it:
Hey, Jeremy, this is Ron. I was calling because I saw the news on your blog today that you are now a proud father and Katie is now a proud mother. So, congratulations guys! It's really fantastic. I can imagine that it must be very heady times. Give me a call when you get a chance. I can imagine that you must be pretty busy getting used to a pretty big change in life and lifestyle. I hope all is well. I'll talk to you soon. Bye.
As a rule, I do not discuss matters from my intimate life on this blog. However, for reasons unclear to me, some matters of clarification appear to be in order:
1. I am not married.
2. I have never fathered a child.
3. I have never, as best I can recall, been romantically involved with anyone answering to the name of "Katie."
4. I do not have anyone named "Ron" listed in my phone address book; I am drawing a complete blank on who might be a "Ron" and who would expect me to recognize him from "This is Ron" and have my cell phone number; I do not recognize the voice on my voicemail; my cell phone was off for large parts of yesterday and so I don't have any caller ID for the call.
None of which is to suggest that I don't appreciate the warm sentiments, Ron. I do fear that you might have somehow drawn some incorrect inferences, and that your well wishes might be a bit misdirected. I'm sorry I don't recognize you from your name or voice.

dispatch from my bed, at long last

Even when you are jumping two time zones ahead, leaving at 8:30 in the morning and not arriving at your destination until after 1:30 the next morning is a long travel day. Northwest lost my luggage, and compounded this with a series of organizational problems that made the process of filling out my claim ridiculously protracted and miserable. Whatever else might be said about my impending change of affiliation from Madison to Northwestern, I'm feeling right now rueful enthusiasm about the prospect of switching airline allegiances from Northwest to United.

To get to the airport earlier today, we took the especially scenic route from Aspen to Denver, going over Independence Pass (12K feet) and driving along all kinds of twisty mountain roads. Just like when I made the same trip last year, I spent much of the trip feeling car sick. Remember how in "The Clockwork Orange" they condition the protagonist by drugging him to feel nauseous while overloading him with visual stimuli of violence? I feel like mountain roads do the same thing to me, but instead of creating an aversion to violence creating an aversion to nature. No wonder I'm such a passionate fan of The Great Indoors.