Tuesday, August 31, 2004

RNC Protests: Local Coverage

Here is some coverage on the RNC protest activities going on this week from some local activists. Has anyone heard of any use of tasers against the protesters, such as I mentioned in a previous post involving an instance of a branch of the government's use of sociological analysis?

Saturday, August 28, 2004

The Annual Meeting of APSA is in Chicago

Some of you may know this already, but the American Political Science Association holds the 100th Annual Meeting in Hilton Chicago between 9/2(Thu) and 9/5(Sun). I posted a link to the on-line program. The thesis is "Global Inequalities".

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Drek's Debate on the Politicization of Professional Sociology

Drek has really good critical (even with his distaste for us critical sociologists) discussion on the politicization of professional sociology.

Rock (or mock) the Vote

Does voting really matter? Should people who have the right to vote exercise that right? If they don't exercise their voting rights, should they exercise their right to complain about and criticize the government and its leadership? I'm inclined to say yes to all these questions. Perhaps the magnitude of the impact of voting can be debated but tell that to the (many civilian) soldiers in Iraq and Iraqis.

So here is one (I think compelling) reason I'll be exercising my right to vote from an editorial by Dahlia Lithwick in today's NYtimes:

This week's report by the James Schlesinger panel offers the closest thing we'll get to a smoking gun. Connect the dots and it's all there: the sadism at Abu Ghraib stemmed from "confusion." Confusion sounds accidental - like maybe it just blew in off the Atlantic - but the report is clear that this confusion resulted from systemic failures at the highest levels. The report faults ambiguous interrogation mandates, an inadequate postwar plan, poor training and a lack of oversight. It notes that much of this confusion stemmed from the Bush administration's posture that the Geneva Conventions applied only where the president saw fit, and that the definition of "interrogation" was up for grabs at Guantánamo Bay, thus possibly at Abu Ghraib.

Or you can put your ear right up to the horse's mouth, where - even before the Schlesinger report - Mr. Rumsfeld owned the blame. "These events occurred on my watch. As secretary of defense, I am accountable for them and I take full responsibility," he told the Senate Armed Services Committee last May. But we live in an era when such words are intended to signify simultaneous culpability and absolution. [my italics]

Or if you are inclined to think voting a ho hum activity, here is Chuck D's take in the latest issue of Mother Jone's:

CD: Of course voting is useful. But then again, I don’t put a big glow to it. Voting is about as essential as washing yourself. It’s something you’re supposed to do. Now, you can’t go around bragging, expecting to get props because you voted. That’s stupid. You don’t see people running around trying to get props because they washed up. “I washed today! I took a shower today!”

But if you don’t vote, you can’t go around if something goes wrong saying, “Aw man, stuff just stinks!” Well yeah, something stinks because you ain’t smelled yourself. You supposed to take a shower, dude, or you gon’ stink! The hip-hop nation is supposed to vote, because if they don’t, something’s gonna stink: The draft gets voted in, cats get pulled off to war, the average person is gonna get shot up.


In case you haven't registered to vote, you still have time.

Monday, August 23, 2004

A Somber Commemoration

An article in the BBC online covers the UN designated day for the remembrance of slavery as a global system.
The UN's cultural organisation, Unesco, proclaimed 23 August as International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition.

Not too far from Illinois in Ohio, a museum is going up to remember the Underground railroad as well as other relics of the U.S. slave system.

Learning of this day of commemoration reminds me of an experience I had as a kid. My family went on a weekend trip to Cave-In-Rock when I was 10. On our way there we stopped at the Old Slave House, also known as Hickory Hill. Yes, Illinois was supposed to be a free state. However, in southern Illinois a man named Crenshaw had a reverse Underground Railroad operation in which he captured free "black"* persons to enslave and captured persons escaping slavery to sell back into the system. This is the story most often told along with the haunted house stories of the estate.

What I remember as the most horrific part of the story (because it was something I had never heard of or conceived of before), aside from seeing the quarters in which enslaved persons were kept, was that Crenshaw kept some of them to "breed" more persons to sell. I was forced to imagined little babies being born specifically for slavery. Apparently, this place has been closed down since 1996, but it left quite an impression on me and my understanding of the horrible details of the system that kept people in slavery. These kinds of details are to be remembered about the system of slavery.

At the same time, there are those that should also be remembered and understood in today's labor system, even as we remember the past.
*I use quotes to reiterate the social construction of "race".

Friday, August 20, 2004

ASA Impressions

This was my first ASA. My first impression was an incredulous, "wow, I'm around so many sociologists," followed by a creeped out, "wow. I'm around so many sociologists." I had been told to expect the overwhelming size, which was both nice to blend into the anonymity and limiting as far as some panel discussions went. But overall, I was very pleased. The substance of all of the sessions I attended were very good and some were even excellent.

However, I did expect to learn more about the professionalization of sociologists from this experience. What I did learn was that some sociologists couldn't hold an argument through to its logical conclusion. Yes, for some reason it did surprise me. In the most glaring instance I witnessed, it wasn't because he wasn't prepared or a good speaker because he was both, sort of. He was just so convinced of his conclusion regardless of his ability to support it with a cohesive connected argument. This was a good lesson for me; don't EVER do this. Some still supported him, simply because they supported his conclusion, public sociology is bad for sociologists as sociologists and sociology as a discipline. Anyway, it was nice to discover Deflem wasn't a monster, just a scientistic ideologue with an unmethodical analysis to protect the scientist's agenda.

The more inspiring/interesting speakers I saw included Frances Fox Piven, Barrie Thorne, Judith Blau, Barbara Ehrenreich, Robert Connell, Jeff Goodwin, Julia Adams, Michael Omi (on an especially interesting panel on the categorization of "race" and "ethnicity"), Patricia Hill Collins, Aldon Morris, Manning Marable, and Burawoy. I had hoped to see Evelyn Nakano Glenn and Lisa Lowe. Maybe they will present next year...

San Francisco was as wonderful as I remembered it. And to top it off, I was able to meet my cobloggers, which was a lot of fun. Not bad for a first ASA.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Transsexuals and Immigration

Okay, I get this immigration law newsletter every week in my inbox and every month or two there is an article posted that is interesting from a sociological standpoint. This week the featured article is on the status of transsexuals under U.S. immigration law. Before evening reading the article I had to wonder, why does U.S. immigration law need to be concerned about transsexuals? According to this article "CIS shall not recognize the marriage, or intended marriage, between two individuals where one or both of the parties claim to have changed their sex". Ostensibly the focus is to deny official, legal acknowledgement of both same-sex marriages and now marriages between individuals who were the same 'sex' at birth, whether they are at time of marriage and/or immigration. This raises a question: if a man changes his sex to become a women and a woman changes her sex to become a man, are they still "allowed" to marry and will that marriage be recognized in light that they were originally of the opposite sex and remain members of the opposite sex at present?

Monday, August 16, 2004

"The Mint" a San Francisco karaoke bar was accosted by a few un-named graduate students after consumption of Tapas and Sangria. Being they were in the area for the ASA, the Madison theory of karaoke (Freese and Harried 2004) had to be tested. Overall, the theory seems to be a good predictor of karaoke performance. The louder the cheers for those without a group of friends or the first-timers, the better the karaoke performance. Also, lots of friends are made and sociologists are seen as supportive, friendly academics, if amateurs, (don't ask about Tracy Chapman's "Fast Car"- unless you are a bass don't try it - which threatened to ruin prior credibility established by Bon Jovi's "Living on a Prayer").

Thursday, August 05, 2004

Sociology Job Search Diaries

Many of you sociology bloggers at the stage of looking for a "real" job would be excellent candidates for this job advertisement. I'd like to read your job search diaries. You could get some cash for your blogging habits, too. See, maybe it does pay to blog.

JOB SEARCH DIARIES - CHRONICLE OF HIGHER EDUCATION

The Career Network of the Chronicle of Higher Education is looking for
doctoral students in all fields who would be interested in writing a
year-long diary of their job search in 2004-05. I am editor of Chronicle
Careers, a Web site devoted to academic careers, the job market, and
nonacademic careers for Ph.D.'s.

I am looking for graduate students, A.B.D.'s, and Ph.D.'s who are going on
the job market starting this coming fall and who have a flair for writing.
It doesn't matter if it's your first time on the market or your fourth, so
long as you have an interesting story to tell. Over the last six years we
have featured the stories of more than 40 such job hunters, from different
fields, who wrote regular accounts of their attempts to find academic and
nonacademic work. You can take a look at their columns at
http://www.chronicle.com/jobs/archive/firstpersonarch.htm

The good news: If you are selected, we'll pay you for each column you write,
$500 an article. Each piece should be between 1,000 and 1,500 words, and
should be written in a conversational, journalistic style. Humor is a plus.
The writers should be able to reflect on their own situation in the broader
context of the job market and academic culture. Many of our diarists use a
pseudonym; some write under their own name -- your call, but either way, I
will need to know your name, institution, and field.

To apply, interested students can submit a sample column (deadline: August
13) that would serve as the first published entry in your diary. Your first
column will appear in September or early October so try to keep that time
element in mind as you write. Please send the column in an email message to
me (denise.magner@chronicle.com) You can paste it directly in the email or
send as an attachment in Word. Based on those submissions, I will pick 8 to
12 columnists for the year. Each columnist would then write at least three
to four pieces over the course of the year.

Please feel free to check out our site, which is free to
everyone(chronicle.com/jobs/jobs3.htm). And contact me if you have any
questions (denise.magner@chronicle.com). I look forward to hearing from you
by the August 13th deadline.

Denise Magner
Senior editor,
Chronicle Careers

Sunday, August 01, 2004

Public Sociology Blogging Archives

Before this blog was even an idea, sociologists were blogging about public sociology. The discussion is still going on.