Wednesday, 27 August 2003

APSA Day 1 in Philly: "Please mug me!"

The flight to Philly wasn’t entirely horrible, although at times I felt like I was on the screaming baby express. That and I had a nice aisle seat at the rear of the plane where I got to hear the engine up close and personal. I did meet someone else coming to APSA across the aisle from me (who flew from L.A.; I’m not sure how Memphis ended up on her itinerary), but I didn’t catch her name because of the aforementioned engine. Then when we arrived there was a nice scene where an irate man with an English accent decided to wig out because the shuttle van couldn’t carry all 324 pieces of luggage he and his wife/mistress/daughter had with him. Good times. Have I mentioned how much I despise flying?

After I checked in, being the good political scientist that I am, I wandered over to the convention center to pick up all my APSA goodies—and so I’d know where the hell I was going tomorrow. However, even though registration was open today, the free shuttle doesn’t start until tomorrow—and (for a change, not by choice) I’m at the hotel that’s furthest from the convention center.

So I had a nice pleasant 7pm stroll through downtown Philadelphia. Anyone who alleges that downtowns are the hub of life in America should try wandering the streets of a city after working hours. From what I can tell, Oxford’s a more happenin’ town than downtown Philly after 6 p.m. (This pattern is repeated in virtually every major downtown I’ve ever visited. New York may be an extreme outlier in this regard.)

To make an incredibly boring story short, I got my APSA stuff, including my name tag and lovely canvas bag and my irreplacable but inaccurate program (apparently APSA thinks that controling the distribution of programs will reduce free-riding; I think lowering the registration fee and junking the progressive taxation tiered membership dues structure would be more effective). So now I have to wander back to my hotel with a giant canvas bag that virtually announces to the world, “Hi, I’m a tourist! Please mug me!”*

In other news, my friend Sara (who got a hotel within non-mugging distance of the convention center) and I have been running up our cell phone bills with conversations that half the time include her ancient Sprint PCS phone going dead for no apparent reason. And I found out that if I’d signed up for the hotel’s frequent guest program before I left Oxford I could have saved myself the $10 I’m paying for this Internet connection tonight.

* This brings up my pet peeve with rental car companies. Surely they could put a few bumper stickers on the cars so they don’t scream “Hi, I’m a rental car! Please carjack me!” I know they got rid of all the big rental stickers like they used to have, but the about only cars that don’t have some sort of “personal” bumper stickers on them are rentals or unmarked cop cars. The first rental company to offer this camoflage will be a winner in the marketplace.

Conference advice

Apropos of this weekend, Daniel Drezner and Kieran Healy have some advice for first-time attendees of academic conferences, while Kevin Drum just wonders what all the fuss is about.