Saturday, May 22, 2010

Prom night for Gus

Well, I just got back from dropping off Gus at his junior prom... a proud moment with such a handsome young man.

For reasons that I don't understand, however, he declined to follow my advice to wear a baby-blue tuxedo, and he didn't even seem to pay attention when I showed him some disco moves.  Kids these days.

Pond (pic)

Friday, May 21, 2010

Today's sign that I'm getting old and cranky

Twice in the last two weeks, I've walked into a store and had a clerk (both young guys) shout out, as a greeting, "Hey buddy."  Now, I didn't know these clerks nor am I a regular customer there.  Instead, it's the new "may I help you".  I just ignored their greeting on the grounds that we're not yet buddies.  The greeting bothered me a bit, but I was probably more bothered that it bothered me.  Getting old...

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The first review of my book

This review, from Publisher's Weekly, is a nice summary of the book (and the publicist at Baker was really happy it's not negative).

"A sociologist at the University of Connecticut, Wright examines recent survey data on Christian evangelicals to see if they substantiate the often misguided and hyperbolic public perceptions of this faith group. Separating the wheat from the chaff, he explains how some poorly worded, ill-sampled statistics give the wrong impression of evangelicals and why people should avoid giving them credence. Though he often blames the media for gleefully reporting bad news about devout Christians, he doesn’t spare evangelical polemicists such as Josh McDowell and Lee Strobel for their false exaggerations of evangelical shortcomings. His biggest target may be the pollster George Barna, whose surveys on Christianity have generated intense controversy. Wright’s colloquial writing style gives this volume the feel of a folksy college lecture series. The abundant use of graphics adds to the impression the book’s genesis was cribbed from introductory sociology of religion classes. The conclusions drawn here--no surprise--are that the most committed Christians practice what they preach, performing better than the rest of the population on a host of social measures including divorce, domestic violence, sexual misconduct, crime, substance abuse, and everyday honesty. The book would have been more interesting if it were about pirates, though (July)"

(Okay, I added the last sentence)

Monday, May 17, 2010

Family Dinner Hour

I just came across an interesting idea.... Karlyn Bowman has written that the typical number of meals taken together by parents and children in the United States is about the same now as it was at the end of the 19th century. Now, families might miss meals because they are too busy, but back then, it wasn't always considered appropriate to dine with one's children, so the factors wash each other out. (Summarized from Easterbrook's 2003 The Progress Paradox, p. 194).

This may not apply to the golden era of the 1950s, but it does highlight that the past doesn't always fit our idyllic perceptions.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Sunsets (pics)

Same lake, same sunset, just different perspective (to get the log in the foreground). 

Friday, May 14, 2010

Faces of Meth

If you've not seen it before, you should check out the Faces of Meth website. It shows pictures of people before and after meth addiction. The addictive nature of meth, and its impact on the body, is phenomenal.

Here is an example from the site.  The pictures were taken 3.5 years apart, and it looks like she's aged a couple of decades:

Thursday, May 13, 2010

My new photography site

Well, I have switched from Flickr to SmugMug as my photography site. SmugMug costs an annual fee, but it looks so much nicer and has a more intuitive feel.

Check it out here, and let me know what you think.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Pharmaceutical companies and methamphetamine

I've recently read Methland, a story about the effects of methamphetamine use on a small town in Iowa. (I also assigned it to my crime class).

Now, I don't naturally gravitate toward a critical/ conflict theory of sociologist (i.e., one that focuses on the oppression by the elite), but this book describes the very real ways that big pharmaceutical companies, and their lobbyists, have made the meth epidemic what it is today.

Meth is made with pseudoephedrine--the stuff in cold medicine. Regulating it seems like an easy way to hinder the production of meth, but on numerous occasions the big drug companies fought against it. They didn't want to keep track of imports or sales. In fact, it's possible to make psuedoephedrine so that it can't be used for meth, but they fought that too. I understand that these companies are charged by their shareholders to maximize profits, but at what cost?

Monday, May 10, 2010

My new research philosophy

Previously on this blog, I presented my new teaching philosophy--derived from the wisdom of Dwight Schrute on the show The Office.

Now it's time for research. I watched a rerun last night that had the perfect quotation for how I want to chose and conduct research projects.

"Whenever I am about to do something I think - would an idiot do that - and if they would, I would not do that thing"

That's it; in fact, many of my mistakes in research are things that an idiot would do, and so if I avoid those, my research will be much stronger.

Monday, May 03, 2010

My book on tape

My forthcoming book (which, by the way, feels really, really good to say), has been picked up by a books-on-tape company.  They are hiring me to read the book and paying me way-too-much money to do so.  

I do this next week, but it occurs to me that all our communication has been by e-mail.  They don't actually know what I sound like.  So.... when I first meet them, I have a strong urge to talk like Mickey Mouse or, even better, Donald Duck.  The contract has been signed after all.  It would be hilarious to see what they do.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Daffodils (pics)

Three pictures of the same daffodils... I'm not sure which one I like best.

Any thoughts?