Monday, October 29, 2007

assorted

I have not been blogging steadily lately and will confess to some uncertainty about the future of the JFW enterprise, but, here, let me get you caught up:
  • My talk at Yale went all right. I was complimented by a couple people on being willing to present null findings, which is a mixed compliment to receive since of course when I collected the data for the project I wasn't expecting null findings.
  • I stayed in the New Haven Lawn Club after my talk at Yale. I was given a key with a giant plastic keychain that said ROOM #8 in huge letters. When I unlocked the door to my room, I saw that someone else's stuff was still there. Then I looked at the door and realized it was room 9 instead of 8. I wonder if the giant keychains were just a ruse to throw people off the trick that the hotel actually had the same key for every room.
  • One of the things I did in Cambridge this weekend was go to CSI: The Experience at the Museum of Science. I had fun, but am not sure I would recommend it to anyone else just because most of my fun was from resolutely not sticking to the way the designers intended the exhibition to be done. As one thing: you are given one of three crimes to "solve," do not fall for that. Just do all the stuff for all the crimes, as even if you do not have the little sheets for the other crimes you will have no problem "solving" them as well, and only one of them has an interesting plot twist.
  • I am contemplating a hunger strike to call attention to the need for Northwestern sociology to change its front webpage to something more elegant and less busy.
  • Obtaining Office 2007 is all that remains for me to have my computer set up so that I don't have any glaring barriers--other than, well, myself--to being productive in my office. (I use Outlook 2007 for work e-mail and OneNote 2007 as my note-taking platform.) It's unclear how protracted a stumbling block this will be--technically my Northwestern machine has an Office 2007 license but Northwestern does not have the Office 2007 media to install it on any machines. Whatever. I'm not happy about it being my ninth week here and still not feeling like I have my basic computer needs set up.
  • Hooray for Genarlow Wilson being free! I'll confess that the Jena 6 have failed to rouse much outrage within me, but Wilson: there is the victim of a clear injustice. Added bonus hooray for Wilson saying that he plans not only to go to college but to major in sociology "because I feel like I've been living my major" (story here)
  • Following the recommendation of a certain clandestine blogger, I've watched all 50 or so episodes of How I Met Your Mother via iTunes the past few weeks. I'm so surprisingly pleased to see that life can go on after Doogie Howser, MD. I feel somewhat guilty/melancholic about the extent to which I feel empathy with certain aspects of the protagonist given that he is supposed to be 8-9 years younger than me, although not as guilty/melancholic as I do about the extent to which I feel empathy with the 18-year-old girl protagonist of Ghost World.
  • Two thumbs up for Ian Ayres' book Super Crunchers. The chapter on all the evidence about the failure of expert qualitative judgment to surpass simple quantitative algorithms will cause one to wonder what purpose is served by having academics spend so much time pouring over junior-search-candidate and graduate-admissions files.
  • One-and-a-half-or-so thumbs up for Cass Sunstein's book Infotopia. The chapter on all the evidence about the failure of deliberating groups to surpass the judgment obtained by just averaging individual opinions will cause one to wonder what purpose is served by academics spending so much time discussing issues in faculty meetings (Or, well, it's relatively easy to see various purposes served, but it's less clear how much making better decisions is one of them.)
  • Oh, and, further evidence of the vanishing cognizance of wringers from american culture, from ESPN.com: "These guys were put through the ringer," he said from Tampa, Fla. "I think we're ready to make an informed decision." (see previous post on subject here)

8 comments:

Corey said...

On Ian Ayres... I have a senior capstone seminar reading Steve Bogira's Courtroom 302 this term (which is highly recommended for anyone wishing to understand how the criminal justice sausage is made). Ayres, as a 30 year old Northwestern Law Prof, was volunteering with the Illinois Coalition Against the Death Penalty. He represented a defendant named Dino Titone, who had been convicted of double murder in a Bench Trial. Ayres defense strategy was accuse the Judge of corruption. Apparently, Titone's family paid a rather large bribe to the defense counsel who was supposed to pass that onto the judge. The only reason, Titone was not acquitted of the charges was because the FBI were doing an investigation of the Judge at the time of the trial. Ayres not only made the accusation in open court (he brought his own attorney along fully expecting to be jailed for contempt) but he also presented volumes of documentary evidence supporting the assertion. Stones he had... that Ayres.

On Office 2007... You may be more productive without it. While Microsoft insists that their UI redesign is based on extensive usability tests with real people, they functionally broke the layout for people who are accustomed to looking for features in particular places. Fortunately, the keyboard shortcuts are the same and you can still map your own shortcuts. But even now, after using 2007 for several months, I still find myself wasting time trying to find stuff that used to be located on the edit or format menu in Word.

tina said...

hmmm...it certainly doesn't look like you're out of stuff to blog. Just tired, then?

Brayden said...

I remember feeling a loss of energy to blog when I made the move from Arizona to BYU. But it only took me a few months of settling in before I rediscovered my blogging-groove.

jeremy said...

Corey: I already use Office 2007 at home and on my table, which is why getting it in my office is so imperative. I agree that I'm still having trouble finding some features even months afterwards. I do think it's a fundamentally better design than its predecessors, though, and not quite such a jarring change as if I tried moving from a QWERTY keyboard to the fundamentally better DVORAK design.

Tina: Something like that, maybe.

Brayden: That's possible. It's interesting how if one has a blog for awhile one goes through such an array of different attitudes towards it. It's like a relationship with a person.

Sarahliz said...

Funny I've actually been through the wringer* but I had never made the connection with the expression. I think I'd always assumed it was ringer, which I'll admit makes no sense whatsoever.


*Well, my hand anyway; as a small child I was apparently "helping" with laundry and reached after some favorite piece of clothing with a bunny patch on it. I guess the story is that I didn't want the bunny to be squished. I'm not actually sure, though, if my hand actually made it into the ringer mechanism given that I don't think I was injured (certainly there was no permanent damage).

kristina b said...

I for one hope you don't give it up. It is a relationship with a person. People, actually. Your readers! But, then again, I totally understand. It's a pain, sometimes, and other times it can be scary (professionaly, that is).

Teune said...

I say put away childish things. It has been a great run. Leave before you become the Scott Baio to Ann Althouse's Erin Moran.

jeremy said...

Kristina: Thanks.

Teune: Perhaps.