Wednesday, 28 February 2007


I’m 99.8% sure I took off my watch in class today (probably my methods class) and left it in the classroom. Hopefully it will still be there when I get a chance to check tomorrow morning…

Saturday, 24 February 2007

Light reading

I picked up the current issue of Critical Review at Borders while I was on my book quest—I was trolling the shelves and happened to notice that “The Nature of Belief Systems in Mass Publics” by Philip Converse was listed as the first article, which struck me as a little strange (for the uninitiated, it was published first as a book chapter in 1964). The rest of the articles look pretty good too. If I could afford it, I’d buy up a dozen copies and hold onto them until the next time I teach public opinion or voting behavior. (Who am I kidding? I’m going to be working at an Arby’s next fall…)

That, however, I won’t be reading on the plane. Instead, for distraction from the mortal terror and physical pain associated with hurtling through the air at 500 mph with 18-inch buttocks squeezed in a 17-inch-wide seat, I picked up a copy of ESPN The Magazine with an article by Bruce Feldman chronicling Ole Miss’ football signing period, no doubt laced with Orgeron-speak; Blink by Malcolm Gladwell, because I enjoyed The Tipping Point; and A Practical Handbook for the Boyfriend by Felicity Huffman and Patricia Wolff, because hope springs eternal (and it was on sale).


Screen your potential job applications against the list of ICPSR member institutions. Data: don’t take a job without it.

Friday, 23 February 2007

Why I should never buy books to read on a plane trip

My copy of John Scalzi’s Old Man’s War from was on my doorstep when I got home at around 1:30. It was read by 5:00—and that included interruptions to eat lunch and to make arrangements for Yet Another Phone Interview.

This compulsive behavior on my part creates two immediate problems for me: I now need to find another book to read on the plane Monday, and I will probably have to pay retail for it.

You hate me, you really hate me

0-for-5 and counting…

Thursday, 22 February 2007

I've come up with a title for my autobiography

The good news is that the state of Arkansas won’t have Chris Lawrence to kick around any more. Or at all, for that matter. At least I got enough credits out of that interview from Southwest to put me over the top for a free ticket.

The tote board now stands at 0-for-3 for Fall ’07.

Update: If the wiki is to be believed, make that 0-for-4.

Another update: The title of this post is a semi-paraphrase of the third quote down.

When unions are good (or, at least, not bad)

The Free Exchange blog at The Economist considers the conditions under which unions might increase productivity. Given the conditions identified, this is not the article you want to take to your dean to defend your efforts to start a faculty union (or, even worse, a grad student union).

Tuesday, 20 February 2007

Takei on Hardaway

This has been making the rounds… so if you need a laugh, here you go (context, if necessary).

Mardi gras

Yay, Lent. Or something. Bah humbug.

Monday, 19 February 2007


There’s something vaguely Soviet about trying to come up with a written plan of what one hopes to achieve over the next n years as an academic. Particularly when said plan is contingent on a hypothetical (like, say, being hired) that, while not of negligible likelihood, is certainly not a Sure Thing™.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m certain there is value to the exercise, if only because it’s useful to be able to rattle something off in response to a question on an interview.

The HDMI cable price scam

Moral of this story: buy the cheapest HDMI cable you can find, because it doesn’t make a damn bit of difference over the length of a normal cable run.

I’ve gotten some reasonable deals on closeout cables at Radio Shack and Wal-Mart in the past, but normally a trip online or to somewhere like Fry’s Electronics (alas, not in St. Louis) is the best option.


All of the snow around here is disappearing at a shockingly rapid rate. Not that I’m complaining, mind you; it’s just really freaky to see it all disappear in a matter of a few hours in what I’d hardly call balmy weather (although, I suppose by St. Louis standards 56 is balmy for mid-February).

Wednesday, 14 February 2007

Ding dong, the witch is dead

The NCAA has killed rule 3–2-5-e in college football, to the delight of gridiron fans everywhere, while recommending new rules changes that should both speed up the game and satisfy fans without reducing plays. A particular highlight is the NCAA following the NFL‘s lead by moving kickoffs back five yards to the 30, which should lead to more kickoff returns.

Tuesday, 13 February 2007

I fly too much

Last night in a hotel room in an undisclosed location, I was lying in bed and my inner ear was telling me I was still on an airplane.

In related news, I’ve got two more invitations for interviews, just in case my equilibrium wasn’t shot to hell already. Already, I think I’ve taught more sessions of other professors’ classes than some of my own this semester.

Thursday, 8 February 2007

Sleep is overrated

I should be in bed since I have an 8:45 flight tomorrow to Charlotte for the APSA Teaching and Learning Conference. In addition to seeing Michelle and a fellow Ole Miss grad at the conference, I’m being put up (with?) by Frequent Commenter Scott and his family during my stay, so I’m only out my airfare, the absurd $190 conference registration fee, and my rental car.

I’m particularly looking forward to hobnobbing with all the people who got the jobs I wanted this year. That’s going to be great fun.

Wednesday, 7 February 2007

Polsby passes

Rick Hasen and Jonathan Adler note the passing of prominent American politics scholar Nelson W. Polsby, probably best known for his study of American political institutions such as Congress and the presidency.

Tuesday, 6 February 2007

There may be fifty ways to leave your lover, but there are only six exits from this plane

Jetlag and dehydration. Ugh. And it gets worse before it gets better.

The highlight of my day today, by far, was waiting 10+ minutes for someone to wait on me at a Mexican restaurant at BWI. Finally I walked out and got some pizza elsewhere. At least the flight attendants on Southwest were nice.

Saturday, 3 February 2007

Five things meme

BigJim says I have to do this, so I guess I will. So here are five things you may or may not know about me.

  1. I watch professional wrestling on TV and have been to two wrestling shows in my life.
  2. Like Jim, I have a pen fetish. Unlike Jim, I have never shoplifted any pens.
  3. I have smoked one cigar in my life: on the day Frequent Commenter Scott got his PhD.
  4. I didn’t drink alcohol until the day after the 2000 presidential election (by coincidence; at that point, all I knew for certain is Harry Browne didn’t win).
  5. I have never voted for a Republican presidential candidate.

By the way, a bonus: in my copious free time, I will be contributing to a new Rebel sports blog organized by Jim. If you’re a real hardcore Rebel sports fan, you’ll be able to identify the section and row the header graphic was taken from at Vaught-Hemingway. (Incidentally the UMAA is trying to get me to donate $100 to keep my crappy seat in Section L. Pass.)

I won’t tag anyone with this meme, since I think I’m about the last person to get it, but if you want to play along let me know and I’ll link your post.

PDF hacks

From this Ars Journals post on compressing PDFs in OS X (advice that only works in limited circumstances, I might add) comes a description of pdftk, which of course turns out to already be in Debian even though I was completely unaware of it before. I’ve been using pdfjam for similar functionality—I’ll have to find out if pdftk does better.

The downside to being a residential college advisor

I’m moderately in favor of the idea of the residential college model and having faculty advisors have apartments in student housing—but some of the drawbacks are mighty big whoppers.

þ: Steven Taylor who, like me, probably won’t be signing up for such a job anytime soon.

Friday, 2 February 2007

Dad safe, 19 others not so lucky

Global warming (or typical Florida weather, depending on your ideological preferences) went after a bunch of people in Lake County, Florida today, just a few miles to the south of where my dad lives in Ocala; as is the typical pattern of such things, most who died were in mobile homes and trailer parks.

Thursday, 1 February 2007

Super Bowl Tech

Ars Technica gives an overview of much of the neat technology that CBS will be using to bring Super Bowl XLI into our homes on Sunday—in some of our homes, in glorious high definition to boot.

Heat and light

As expected, Texas (at least this little corner of it) is a bit warmer than St. Louis today—and tomorrow looks to be positively nice. Now I’m waiting on the second attempt to get dinner tonight—the pizza place somehow managed to get completely the wrong room number for their initial delivery, and I’ve been starving in my hotel room for nearly three hours now.

In retrospect, I should have taken the search committee member up on his offer to take me somewhere after his previous engagement—even though I would have missed seeing Earl and The Office. Live and learn.