Sunday, December 30, 2007
Friday, December 28, 2007
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
Sunday, December 23, 2007
Monday, December 17, 2007
Tomorrow I'm going to run errands, but today is all about recovery from school.
Friday, December 14, 2007
Yesterday I was talking with a first-year masters student, a bright guy, and he was talking about a class he took this semester. He said that when given the name of an author they had read - even someone they read an entire book from - he couldn't put the name together with what he (in this case) wrote. A stray doctoral student in the class, however, had no problem with this.
That flashed me back to my masters program. As an undergrad, I generally didn't remember the names of the scholars we read. (Since I was an English major, yes, I remembered Shakespeare and could tell him from Angela Carter or Charles Dickens. But when I read for my other courses, unless it was a big name - Descartes or Darwin - it was, as far as I was concerned, Some Dude.) When I started my masters program, it took me a good year to realize how important it was to remember that X said Y, rather than that Y is a fact. I had to consciously pay attention to names.
Now, I'm glancing at journals, scanning to see if the articles are by anyone really famous, anyone whose work I tend to enjoy, or any acquaintances. Then it's a second glance to see what the topics are.
Yes, they can rebuild us. They have the technology. Nerdier than we were before.
Thursday, December 13, 2007
This morning I turned in the paper and presented with my research partner. Now, all I have left is a paper for Monday, with three whole days to work on it. (We have class Monday morning, but that just requires showing up.)
The end is near.
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
On the way home, I passed a cyclist I had also seen on the way into campus. I thought to myself, here I am destroying the earth in two ways, as I emit carbon while holding an unnecessarily dead tree, while this guy is being virtuous - and burning calories rather than consuming empty ones. The guilt!
Back to work, now, on an assignment due tomorrow morning, so I can go caving later this evening.
Sunday, December 9, 2007
This morning I went to a yoga workshop by Chris Chavez. A friend had told me about it, but she ended up not making it. It was good, although tough, and it certainly didn't help that I'm out of shape. My brain thinks my body can do things but my muscles beg to differ, and you can only go on sheer willpower so long. But he got me doing handstands, which I've never gotten up the nerve to do. I actually think that it helped that he didn't have us do them right up against the wall. That's supposed to increase your comfort, but I have these visions of smacking my face on the wall and floor, especially if it has molding. However, I didn't faceplant into the trim or do anything else humiliating. Now tomorrow's forecast calls for soreness!
Friday, December 7, 2007
- For discourse analysis, create a presentation and present a version of our final project; do one final analysis.
- For sociology, finish studying for the test, take the test, and write a paper.
- For economics of higher ed, finish the paper, create a presentation, and present it.
I'll be done with econ first, as everything is due Tuesday. Sociology and discourse won't be done until a week from Monday.
Of course, a lot of these new hires will be upgrades, so next year Southwest State University will have an opening after someone moved from there to University of Flagship. But these jobs aren't particularly desirable, at least from our faculty's point of view. (Mind you, our track record for placing students doesn't reflect faculty ambitions, but this has to do with student ambitions as well as the faculty. They can't make someone who wants to do institutional research apply for a job as an assistant professor.) Nevertheless, they aren't necessarily jobs I am enticed by, either.
I have this fear that next year every job opening will be either be somewhere I don't want to go or for a kind of scholar that I'm not. Or there will be one fabulous job and every single fresh PhD and assistant professor will be vying for it.
Thursday, December 6, 2007
2. The other day I was getting dressed and realized that "my posterior's getting big and my posterior's getting bigger." (Sorry, Beastie Boys.) It's that time of year again when my Nordic genes prepare for the long, dark winter ahead. Also, I've been exercising less without the goal of being fit enough for Mount Saint Helens driving me. I need to get back into balance, which is easier said than done during the Christmas season.
3. There isn't a number three, unless you count getting through the end of the semester stuff I'm not excited about, which is due before the stuff I am.
Saturday, December 1, 2007
Malcolm Getz, an economist who studies education, gave a talk in our department on Thursday. In passing he mentioned a student who transferred to Vanderbilt from Middle Tennessee State University and found he had some of the same adjuncts teaching his classes. (This doesn't mean the material or difficulty of the course was the same at both institutions, of course.)
One area my advisor and I work on is studying professions. Classically, the three professions are law, medicine, and theology. Other jobs have aspired to be considered professions, and so a body of work has built up to describe what exactly a profession is. The resulting list generally goes something like:
- A profession has a body of knowledge that requires training of practitioners.
- A profession produces outcomes that cannot be readily evaluated by the layperson.
- Members of professions control entry into their field.
- Members of professions have a relatively high degree of autonomy.
College professors are one of the most widely agreed-upon professions outside of the traditional three. Body of knowledge? The doctorate, which has only grown as a requirement in recent years. Outcomes that are hard to evaluate? Yup. Control of entry? Faculty train PhDs, so they must. Autonomy? That's tenure. Adjuncting, on the other hand, is not a profession, most specifically because adjuncts possess no autonomy at all.
Adjuncts, however, are an alternative to faculty for some of the work faculty do - the teaching component of research, teaching, and service. Some adjuncts are full-time professionals who simply teach one course for whatever reason, but when articles like the NYT's talk about adjuncts, they generally refer to folks who piece together a full work load from teaching courses at several schools. Many of these folks do have PhDs or are working on them.
So go back to the "controlling entry into a field" requirement for a moment. College faculty aren't doing that. They're producing more PhDs than there are faculty jobs. This reserve force of would-be faculty, then, is desperate for work and willing to take adjunct work. The sheer number of them allows institutions to further reduce the number of tenured positions, because the adjuncts aren't scarce enough to hold out for better. (Or organized enough.) You might blame administrators eager to increase their school's prestige by granting PhDs, but this can only be done with faculty complicity.
In fields like education, this isn't a big deal, as there is a demand for PhDs in administration, and this is true of a lot of practice-oriented fields and the sciences. But in the humanities and many social sciences, PhDs are being overproduced. You sometimes see blame placed on students going into them, who "ought to know" better. Ideally, sure, we would all conduct extensive research on our career choices. It's more fair to point to their undergrad profs who encourage them and the graduate schools that accept them. This is something the profession has some control over, and if it wants to remain a profession, it has to use that control.
Thursday, November 29, 2007
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
"Elite institutions have interests identical with those of elite individuals." A hundred years ago, Harvard wasn't selective. They didn't turn down a lot of students. Instead, it was in a mutually supportive relationship with America's elite, especially the Boston elite. The right folks applied and were admitted, and most everyone else didn't give a rip. This solidarity thesis may have been true back in that day, but it hasn't been for a long time. When Columbia and Penn started admitting more Jews, their relationships with the upper class eroded, according to work by Farnum. That they allowed this to happen suggests the institutions had some interests at least that did not coincide with the elite as a whole.
Well, how about a thesis about change over time? Because I'm not doing a history. Whatever changes have taken place are a backdrop; I'm just analyzing the current situation.
"To those that have, are given." This is accumulative advantage, or the Matthew Effect, made famous by Merton. Certainly I am looking at institutions that have and keep getting. But I'm not explaining why everyone else can't keep up; I'm looking at the active process of keeping at the head of the procession. Accumulative advantage may state that organizations do whatever it takes to stay ahead; it doesn't say why one course of action rather than another is what it takes.
Stratification is too broad, but I think I can discard it without delving too deep. Colleges are stratified, sure, but stratification theory is about how individuals behave. It's why the stakeholders in my dissertation are making the demands on colleges they do. But I don't think it describes how colleges decide to respond.
If you're talking about responding to stakeholders, you're talking resource dependency. That is, organizations respond to the demands of those who have resources, be those fiscal or regulatory or something else. The problem with this theory is that no matter what an org does, it can be explained by resource dependency. Therefore, it's not predictive. You can't model how a college decides to respond to one set of stakeholders or balance conflicting demands. I am arguing that colleges are in fact actively balancing contradictory constituent demands, but this can't tell me in what proportion, or why it just doesn't give up one set of stakeholders. For a theory, RD is strangely atheoretical.
I'm only starting to read about status systems, so maybe I don't know enough about them yet to really say much. I have a feeling there could be something there.
I'm thinking about consumption and how you know a good is high status. Some things are consumed only by elites. Say, yachts. Whatever interest most people have in yachts, we aren't buying them. Do you know yacht brands? I don't. Other goods everybody buys, say, cars. Here we can identify elite brands even if we don't purchase them ourselves. We all tacitly know that a Ferrari is better than a Kia. Part of that is price, but is it all? Doesn't part of Ferrari's status depend on being known as a status good? Kia could jack up their prices - even hire a Ferrari designer - and the end product might cost more than my Cinco, but I bet it wouldn't compete with a Ferrari.
So a high-end product in a mass market, I think, needs both scarcity (whether artificial or natural) as well as name recognition. (I'm wandering into Veblen territory here.) Colleges, back in the day, did not produce goods for the masses, and so were like yachts. Today, with the massification of higher education, they do, and are like cars.
Being scarce isn't hard for the top colleges to do - just limit admissions. Being broadly identified as an elite product is. Price is a signal to some extent, but just like in the souped-up Kia example it isn't enough. How does Ferrari stay on top? It makes cars that perform well. What is the equivalent for a college? It has to be known to perform well, which I think for a college doesn't mean it teaches students a lot. It means it offers entree into elite society. Frankly, that's really the only good an elite institution offers that other colleges don't. That's the hard thing to maintain that drives a lot of institutional behavior. The concessions made to elites, such as an advantages in admissions, are not because they have identical interests or because colleges need their fiscal resources, but because good relationships with elites are what they are selling to all comers.
But I know nothing about consumption and luxury goods, except what I know from The Theory of the Leisure Class, which is a century old. Somehow I don't think scholars have been sitting around twiddling their thumbs on the topic.
Wait, is this what my dissertation is about? If so, I had no idea until right about now. How can my central, driving question be entirely subconscious? I don't even know where to look in the literature. And if that's my argument, why aren't I just looking at legacy admissions? Why am I adding development admits too?
I need a luxury good right about now. Preferably a strong one with a little umbrella in it.
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
In the good old days before I entered the Ivory Tower, I would have said all research questions were created equal. Oh, curing cancer might beat curing bruises from a useful standpoint, but "finding info about the world and how it works" was all intellectually equal. Right, not so much. Facts about the world, no matter how useful, that are isolated facts and not part of a system, just don't rank as high. That's why "practical" disciplines such as education have less prestige than "pure" disciplines.
So if you're doing research in education, you can conceptualize your question several ways.
One, it is a practical question of "does X work?". Education gets browbeaten for asking these atheoretical questions, but they have their place. Let's say one of your state senators decides that in order to improve education, all class sizes need to be 10 students or less. If his bill passes, the state is going to spend a lot of benjamins to reduce class sizes. So asking simply, "Do smaller classes lead to higher test scores/higher graduation rates/etc.?" without any kind of theoretical grounding is a reasonable question. One reason to criticize this work is that it doesn't lead to any guidance on how to answer follow-up questions. If you find that reducing classes sizes from 20 to 10 does make a difference, would it also be equally good to add a teacher aide to each class of 20? Would reducing class sizes to 15 have the same effect? What about lengthening the school year? Does it matter for all grades?
Thus, you can introduce theory. In alumni giving research, some folks draw on psychological theories of attachment. Alumni wish to identify with a school they perceive as successful, thereby boosting their own projection of success. Your hypothesize that alumni increase their giving if their alma mater rises in the U.S. News rankings. And if you find out it does, you can go on to test whether making more PR noise about your rise in rankings further improves giving. Great, now you're grounded in theory. But your work doesn't feed back into the work on loyalty and attachment. It's pitched at others in education, not to psychologists. Your central question is about education fundraising, not about psychology.
Your final alternative is to take a theoretical proposition and use education as a test case. Suppose you are interested in stratification. In a nutshell, stratification theory posits that we all want our kids to have at least as much status as ourselves. The trouble is, the elite have more resources to use as inputs on their childrens' behalves. Thus, no matter what the rules of the game are, those who already have win. So you might posit that if education is a pathway to the elite, those who are already in the elite will set the educational bar higher for the next generation. If a college education used to be enough to enter the elite, ambitious non-elites would start to get college degrees. But now the elite is getting bigger; maybe a masters degree will come to be seen as a minimum. Education is your test case here; your next project may well be on how the elite controls the Social Register.
Even at a really excellent education department, like, oh, Vanderbilt, most of the work being done falls into the second category. At the end of the day, it's about improving education. I offer no criticism of this, and in fact I think it's what "the public" expects from an ed school. We in LPO tend to frown on the first category - my advisor made it clear long ago that my dissertation WOULD have a theoretical grounding. There is no or else.
So why was my chair pushing me towards category three? In part, of course, that's because his own dissertation was like that. It was fundamentally asking a question about a theory of political science. I don't think that's the only reason, mind you, but he didn't give a list of reasons. He did go further and suggested actively insinuating myself into the networks of where those kinds of questions are being answered. As my advisor pointed out, this would give me a whole other set of peers. (On the other hand, it doesn't really open up any more jobs. It's still a PhD in ed, and you don't get into a sociology department with that.) I am finding myself that most of the work I think is interesting is Category III work, and it's being done by people I don't know at conferences I don't go to. That alone is an incentive for me to follow his advice.
Monday, November 26, 2007
Sunday, November 25, 2007
Their tags had registration numbers but no owner information; Animal Control wasn't going to be open (and able to look them up) until Tuesday. She decided to take them to the Humane Society.
So, if anyone in East Nashville is missing a German Shepherd and a Boston Terrier, call the Humane Society. And get tags with your phone number on them, because if the dogs had those they could be home with you now.
Saturday, November 24, 2007
Yes, it was in the high 70s and sunny the whole time, although at night the temperature dropped considerably. And yes, I ate a great deal.
Monday, November 19, 2007
Originally uploaded by TheTurducken
The photo at right is one of a series of fall photos I took on the Peabody campus. The squirrels, as you see, are not at all people-shy.
Friday, November 16, 2007
I also think that having the grant application and my conference presentations behind me has helped me be more productive on some end of the semester stuff. This is in part because they're just out of the way, but also because I was spending nervous mental energy on them. End of the semester projects, on the other hand, do entail a lot of work but are not novel. They don't induce the same sort of anxiety.
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
Monday, November 12, 2007
Sunday, November 11, 2007
I came back from ASHE filled with ideas and plans, as usual. Dr. Carter, who was the discussant on my event history analysis paper, had several good suggestions, of which I plan to use all but one. On the drive home, Ms. Prepared had a really excellent suggestion for a slightly different direction in which to take the paper. So now I'm more excited about a project I had gotten tired of. (I am not taking one of Dr. Carter's suggestions because the new direction obviates the need for it, not because it wasn't a good one.)
I also have roughly mapped out where the various projects I am working on need to go over the next year or so, with next steps, where to submit them, etc.
But - before I can do any of that - I have some homework to catch up on for this week.
Reading the comments isn't necessarily fun - they tell you what's wrong with your paper, and I'm no masochist. However, generally the comments are useful. Some make me think, "Right, OK, I should do that." Others make me think, "They're wrong about X, but I'm pretty sure that I was unclear. Time to rewrite." Some I disagree with and am willing to take the risk that others will agree with me when I submit elsewhere. Others are more complex or thought-provoking.
But then there is the occasional comments that makes you wonder if they were actually reading your paper at all.
I had one reviewer write, "This proposal is quite problematic for me. First, it appear to be too long and, thus, I do not believe that it is compliant with the baseline requirements for proposal submissions to Division J." The call for proposals says, "Provide a summary of 2,000 words or fewer (excluding references) for use in judging the merits of the proposed paper." Division J does not provide a different word count. My proposal clocks in at 1986.
Honestly, this makes me angry. It's rare you can say that a reviewer is clearly and unequivocally wrong. While it doesn't matter (this paper would have been rejected in any case), it is frustrating to see the one thing you know you did right criticized.
Friday, November 9, 2007
I guess I have to start saying things like that, though. Apparently between being a second and a third year student a transformation occurred. As a second year, I was one of a large mass of mostly indistinguishable graduate students that were treated politely but with no special interest. Apparently now I am close enough to being on the job market - even though I'm not looking this year, I have started on that magical process that ends in "dissertation" - that I'm now quasi-scrutinized by many of the people I meet, but most particularly by other students on the market or soon to be. It's all friendly enough, but it's a weird feeling.
Wednesday, November 7, 2007
Tuesday, November 6, 2007
MIT is suing Frank Gehry for its ineptly designed and constructed building. UC Irvine tore its Gehry down; my own alma mater has had ongoing issues with its Gehry. (In addition to the ice mentioned in the link, they've had the same flooding problems that MIT has.) I do have one soft spot for CWRU's Gehry, though - its labrynthian architecture played a sizable role (along with the shooter's ineptness) in stopping our own school shooting from being an even bigger tragedy than it was.
I saw a college billboard the other day that seemed a little different. Most college billboards are either touting their degree programs or their sports. Among the latter, you see "Catch the [team] spirit!" and "Get your season tickets!" Those that tout degree programs take one of two strategies. One is focused on you - "Get your degree, get your promotion" or "It's time to fulfill your dream." When you think about it, these don't actually tell you that the college being advertised is the best place to do it. Others advertise the advantages of their particular program - get your degree online, part-time, or more quickly. The billboard for Bethel College was clearly among the last type. It said, "Learn more, finish faster." But I've never seen a college billboard before that actually said anything about learning. A degree is always treated as a certification or credential, one can you can take pride in, but then you can take pride in lots of kinds of hard work that do not necessarily increase your knowledge.
Last, but not least, Vanderbilt has announced what it wants in a chancellor.
Sunday, November 4, 2007
Then I decided to draw a model of what I thought was actually happening, and suddenly the framework made a lot more sense. I had to rearrange and write some more, but it was no longer random piles of theory. I thought - for just a moment - great, I would figure this out at the last minute. Then I realized, better the last minute than the next day, after I've turned the proposal in. Hooray for just-in-time production!
Whenever I have a breakthrough that seems sudden like that, I never know if it is really a new flash of insight, or if it's just stuff that's been simmering finally coming together.
Friday, November 2, 2007
Thursday, November 1, 2007
At the very least, it is forcing me to put into words and think through issues. You know how something seems perfectly clear in your head, but you try to explain it to someone else or to formulate it explicitly, and you realize you were glossing over some bits of it? Yeah, I'm going through that. I'm also chasing down citations and beefing up my theory section. I tend to absorb theories and then report them back telegraphically:
org theory stop resource dependency stop stakeholders with different levels of salience stop
I need to slow down and explain these things, not only because that's better academic writing, but because in this case the readers could be in a totally different area of education - say, they study interventions for autistic pre-schoolers.
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
What is this, pre-school? "My mommy said I'm special so NO ONE can do ANYTHING better than me! So just shut up!"
You know, this is embarrassing, but I've never gotten the hang of using the Stairmaster. I just can't get the rhythm right. Everyone who looks at me funny when I say this, or says I just need to try agin, because Stairmasters are great - just stop showing off, alright?
I also have no ability to carry a tune. I wouldn't know an in-tune note if it wore a nametag. So next time someone talks about the joy of singing, or how everybody should just be able to have a nice sing-along, I'm going to tell them to can it. Don't make me have low singing self-esteem. As if singing could really be fun for anyone!
Then - and these are the ones that REALLY frost my cupcakes - there are the people who talk about how much they love running. Inevitably, they try to evangelize (maybe not to people in wheelchairs, but to reasonably mobile-looking types) that they ought to take it up. Endorphins, blah blah, great way to keep in shape ... whatever, I say running is hard. That's why I just sit and smirk when they start talking about injuries.
Alright, civilization, new rule: From no on, no one is allowed to talk about enjoying anything else that might possibly make anyone feel inferior. We don't want to know if you can bake a mean cupcake, get a weird thrill from vacuuming, are adept at curling, or can do really nice calligraphy. Because some of us can't, okay? Expressing a positive opinion is the same as rubbing the rest of our noses in it.
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Now, if only I could find some nice boots. I don't want a plain pair where the top part has some stretch, although those are easy enough to find. I want something with a buckle or two. But some don't fit, just like with any shoes, and the rest are all too baggy in the calf. I don't have particularly slender calves relative to the rest of me, so this seems odd. I could just give up and get pirate boots or something made to be baggy.
Shiver me timbers, it's the dissertatin' pirate girl!
No, that won't work. I don't even have a pirate shirt.
Monday, October 29, 2007
... manuscripts, documents, papers, research, precis, proposals, findings, results, write-ups, synopses, articles, statements ...
... grants, proposals, conferences, committees, sessions, foundations, discussants, researchers, audiences, experts.
Friday, October 26, 2007
No, the glass is half-empty, and the water is dirty, but they don't want water anyway, and half a glass isn't enough, and the glass looks like it might have a crack in it, and why is there no lemon, and it's lukewarm, and they would rather have it poured by someone else.
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
I have a credit card.
The Apple store down the road has desktops.
I could just go buy a desktop.
No, no, bad Turducken. Wait until you are a faculty member and get startup money.
Monday, October 22, 2007
- My hair isn't growing fast enough.
- I haven't yet found the right shoes for my Halloween costume.
- The Indians lost the series to the Red Sox.
- It's raining, way too late to help agriculture.
Sunday, October 21, 2007
Since this is fall break, I had hoped to get as much done early in the weekend as I could, so that I could maybe camp out somewhere Monday night. But the weather report was almost guaranteeing rain for Monday and Tuesday, so I recalibrated. I decided to hike the eight-mile Jack C. Clayborn Millennium Trail at Edgar Evins State Park, about one hour east of here.
I slept in, though, and got a late start. I didn't start hiking until noon. Actually, I stopped at the visitor's center first. In the middle of the center is a tower, and the top of the tower provides a great view of the dam. That's better than any of the views along the hike.
I ended up not doing the entire hike, since I had started late and have been slacking since Mt. St. Helens. I skipped the 2.6 mile loop at the end. I don't think it's very different from most of what I saw. You get occasional glimpses of the lake (perhaps better in winter), but mostly you're in forest. The biggest reason to search out this hike would be if you were really into old stone walls, since they are abundant. The trail itself has suffered from a lack of trail maintenance, probably compounded by a lack of visitation. Today there were only three parties out, and the other two covered less of the trail than I did. In many places downed trees and undergrowth make the trail hard to sort out or rough underfoot. However, the park's Friends group does seem to be starting some active reclaimation, so hopefully this will improve.
Saturday, October 20, 2007
Friday, October 19, 2007
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
I saw an article that referred to their opponents as the "BoSox." That sounds like something society wives inject into their foreheads. I should ask the Bostonians I know if anyone actually calls the team that. Or is this just a part of the "Bennifer"-ication of proper names?
And I'm tired of seeing news stories about how if the World Series is Cleveland-Denver, no one will care. Guess what, sports writers in New York and Boston? The rest of world doesn't actually think the world revolves around the East Coast. Do they realize that no one outside of New York City cares about a subway series? People care when it's their team, or if they're just so into baseball they care no matter who is playing.
However, I do totally approve of the Fox Sports News constant online updates. If you can't watch the game, the next best thing is to have a status update every thirty seconds with who's batting, who's pitching, who's on base, and all the usual stats. It's still not as good as watching the game in HDTV, though. That's pretty awesome. Ever more awesome is, of course, being there, but we can't have it all.
Sunday, October 14, 2007
Code Name: "The Chair"
Expertise: Mixed-method case studies, state policy, garbage-can theory, diffusion
Secret Weapon: Tenure
Code Name: "Mentor"
Expertise: Fundraising, development, institutional advancement, public relations, winning
Secret Weapon: Bow tie
Code Name: "Beta"
Expertise: Quantitative analysis, education policy, event history analysis
Secret Weapon: R
Code Name: "Georgia"
Expertise: Sociology of education, organization, finance, relocation
Secret Weapon: He has no secrets ... or does he?
... Which is just to say, I now have a dissertation committee.
Saturday, October 13, 2007
While I don't consider myself a connisseur of the comic strip "Cathy," I am this close to shrieking "ACK!" about now.
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
You see, I am a Cleveland Indians fan, and he is a Boston fan.
Tuesday, October 9, 2007
So I'm excited to say that at least one of my papers has been accepted. The paper Mr. Kindhearted and I submitted will be featured in a session on "External influences on institutional expenditures, revenue, and organization in higher education." We're going to New York City!
In honor of my research partner, then, I will fulfill a request he made a few weeks back. "I only check on your blog occasionally," he said. "You never put anything controversial in it. You should."
Alright, here goes. A professor recently told our class, "The only necessary requirement for OLS regression is that the independent variables and error terms be uncorrelated. The rest of the 'requirements' are nonsense." Discuss.
If you need to brush up on the theory behind OLS, click here. If you aren't sure what OLS stands for, weigh in anyway. That's what makes the internet great!
Monday, October 8, 2007
So I taught and spent the rest of the weekend doing homework. For some reason, though, I was dead tired Saturday night. I was a little short on sleep the previous night, but not enough to justify sleeping for 13 hours, and that's what I did. My body must be hoarding sleep for some reason. Maybe it's the colds that are going around now - which seem out of place, since the weather is still hitting 90, but it technically is fall.
Thursday, October 4, 2007
In sports news: Indians > Yankees.
In art news: Soviet poster blog.
In health news: "Not a morning person? These Ayurvedic rituals will turn you into an early riser and change how you face the day," said the email. Well, I guess I can't argue - if I do all these, I'm going to have to start getting up earlier.
In world news: The prof coming to CWRU whose visa was stuck has had her visa issues resolved.
In business news: Stupid office morale games.
In intellectual news: An interesting approach to morality.
Wednesday, October 3, 2007
You can download Check Off here (if you have a Mac).
Sunday, September 30, 2007
Friday, September 28, 2007
Alas, by the time I went to pick up a ticket, they were out. (It is parents' weekend - normally there are no tickets or sellouts.) Fortunately someone had a ticket they weren't using, so I was able to attend after all.
Of course it was a good talk, and well received.
Thursday, September 27, 2007
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
What puzzles me about this plan is, In what way is this like West Point, other than that it is national? Is it going to include a rigorous physical program, uniforms, and a military atmosphere? I doubt it. Perhaps admission will require nomination by a senator or other such personage; will this aura of selectivity really draw the best and brightest into teaching? Perhaps the academic program will be challenging and rigorous - but if that's the only shared quality with West Point, we might as well compare this proposed academy to MIT instead. But, I know, you need to package this as a Big Vision.
I wonder, though, what the chances of this revolutionizing teaching are. What is the likelihood these graduates act like members of Teach For America - they teach a year or two before doing something else, because they are bright, the job is depressing, and almost anything else pays better?
In other news, here is one of those clever ideas economists come up with: a better way to measure graduation rates.
Saturday, September 22, 2007
Don't believe me?
|Recent reviews (Azejn 2001, Albarracin et al. 2005, Haddock & Zanna 1999, Olson & Maio 2003, Perloff 2003, Wood 2000) provide useful snapshots of the field, and distinctive subareas have attracted considerable attention. These subareas include the study of attitude functions (Maio & Olson 2000), attribute importance (van der Pligt et al. 2000), group norms (Terry & Hogg 2000), consensus and social influence (Prislin & Wood 2005), attitude representations (Lord & Pepper 1999), dual-pricess theories (Chaiken & Trope 1999), applied social influence (Butera & Mugny 2001b), media and persuasion (Bryant & Zillman 2002, Crano & Burgoon 2002), measurement and interpretation of implicit attitudes (Bassili & Brown 2005, Fazio & Olson 2003, Greenwald et al. 2002, Grenwald & Nozek 2001), and a long-overdue reconsideration of resistance (Knowles & Linn 2004). Crano & Prislin 2005||Now these are the generations of the sons of Noah, Shem, Ham, and Japheth: and unto them were sons born after the flood. The sons of Japheth; Gomer, and Magog, and Madai, and Javan, and Tubal, and Meshech, and Tiras. And the sons of Gomer; Ashkenaz, and Riphath, and Togarmah. And the sons of Javan; Elishah, and Tarshish, Kittim, and Dodanim. By these were the isles of the Gentiles divided in their lands; every one after his tongue, after their families, in their nations. And the sons of Ham; Cush, and Mizraim, and Phut, and Canaan. And the sons of Cush; Seba, and Havilah, and Sabtah, and Raamah, and Sabtechah: and the sons of Raamah; Sheba, and Dedan. And Cush begat Nimrod: he began to be a mighty one in the earth. Genesis 10:1-8|
Thursday, September 20, 2007
(For non-technical readers, an instrumental variable is when you replace some of the data with a bassoon. No, not really. But you don't really want to know.)
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
But I think I've finally shoveled my way out of the snowbank. This weekend may be perfectly ordinary.
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
But as I left class, the balloon was still going, so I got my turn. It was a very short excursion, straight up and then down, and the balloon remained tethered, but still, it was a balloon ride. I'd never had one before, and at the age of 10 I would have killed for the experience. At my advanced age, of course, my reflexes are much too slow for killing.
I do think ballooning should be a more common mode of transportation. Think how much more tolerable your morning commute would be if you gently drifted in to work. What pleasant cross-country excursions you might have! You might even encounter difficulties while circumnavigating the globe and land on Krakatoa, where you would encounter a hidden civilization with all sorts of ingenious mechanical contrivances.
Of course, I'm also still awaiting the renaissance of the zeppelin, so my opinion is not exactly making taste. Either that or I'm so far ahead of the curve I've almost lapped the crowd.
I've ridden buses all over Seattle and Cleveland, so I'm not anti-public transport - not like the woman who wrote in to one of the Seattle papers saying that quality people didn't ride the bus. But Nashville's route system, frankly, sucks. Pretty much every route has an endpoint in downtown. That means that to get to the airport from the east side, I have to ride west to downtown, and then east to the airport. To get to school from my place would take more than twice as long as driving (and cost more). So, being a good citizen and using public transport was pretty low on my to-do list.
But not today! I had taken my car in to the dealership, where I go if I think the problem is under warranty. Turned out it wasn't - it just needed a new battery. Come time to pick it up, people had better things to do than drive me to Antioch, so I took the bus.
It wasn't a bad experience at all, although I had a longish wait at the downtown transit station. Going through downtown wasn't out of the way. The buses themselves were not crowded and the drivers were pleasant. So, one thumb up, anyway.
Friday, September 14, 2007
Thursday, September 13, 2007
After I get over this, I have to read four chapters of Giddens, all of Suicide, eight articles for org theory, and six articles for econ; write a memo for econ, a manuscript review for org theory, and a set of questions for org theory; and prepare for an econ study session. That's all for next week, never mind the long-term stuff. Or the medium-range stuff.
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
I'm telling myself, hey, you passed everything else, and you didn't get any low passes, and you aren't the only one who didn't pass. All of that is true, but it doesn't change the fact that I have to retake the economics portion.
The faculty decided that rather than treating the core section as a unitary whole, we could pass or fail individual parts, which means I only have to retake the econ question. (Conceptually, too, it means the premise of the exam having three parts, one being core, is really inaccurate - the test has five parts.) It looks like retakes will be at the end of the semester.
I tell you this so when you see me walking the halls of Peabody mumbling "supply and demand!" and "the gini coefficient is the area between the straight line and the Lorenz curve divided by the area under the straight line," you won't think I'm utterly insane.
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
Friday, September 7, 2007
Otherwise my weekend is mostly work. I don't have much more classwork than I typically would at this point in the semester, but it feels as if I have more research stuff going on. I have to revise my event history paper for ASHE, send out the rejected journal article again, and last but hardly least, work on the precis my dissertation chair is asking for. I've been postponing on that last item while comps still hang over us, but since results don't appear to be forthcoming anytime soon, I need to get over that mental block. Project Snowball and Project Trial Balloon are still ongoing as well; the former is not yet something I can do on weekends, and the latter has to simmer on the back burner since other things are more pressing. Oh, and our practicum project from last year is still rattling around. And there's a book lurking somewhere in the future as well. I swear I need scheduling software to show critical paths and flows just to keep track of things - a paper planner just doesn't cut it any longer.
That list makes it sound as if I'm hot stuff, but Snowball, the book, and practicum are co-authored; event history, Trial Balloon, rejected article, and practicum all came out of classes; and doing a dissertation isn't really optional. Projects just seem to accumulate the longer we're in grad school.
Thursday, September 6, 2007
Friday, August 31, 2007
Life is hard.
Thursday, August 30, 2007
Tomorrow is payday, and I'm going shopping. Mostly, I'm buying clothes, but I also have to stop by campus and get a few books from the bookstore. I tried ordering them from Amazon last night. While they had advertisements all over the place for two-day shipping if you bought enough texts - and I would have paid for it anyway, since it's still cheaper than the bookstore - they apparently didn't really mean it. The earliest possible shipping date shown at checkout was Sept. 10 - for books that were in-stock. Of course, I can't wait two weeks when reading is assigned for next week. I don't know what Amazon's problem is, but clearly they are having fulfillment problems at the moment. It seems like every few years Amazon will go through a glitchy phase before returning to their usual prompt customer service. Grr.
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
I had expected to be rejected (what are the chances of me gettiing it right out of the gate?) and to feel bad about it. After all, I felt down after receiving my first conference rejection, and I haven't developed a completely tough hide of academic armor yet.
The manuscript was rejected, though, for being outside of the journal's scope. I found that I didn't feel bad after all, probably since it wasn't being evaluated on its own merits.
Perhaps I ought to feel goofy for sending it to the "wrong" place, but in my defense this is a little outside of my usual area. I submitted it to this journal on the advice of a faculty member, and I did read up on back issues. So, OK, now I know. And now that I have a rejection, I have nowhere to go but up.
Well, unless I submit the article to The Journal of Rocket Science or Polymer Chain Monthly.
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
My schedule includes a higher ed seminar, classical sociological theory, organization theory (just one credit), and discourse analysis. The only one that's actually in my department is the higher ed seminar.
Saturday, August 25, 2007
I went through and and pulled out the clothes that had to go to Goodwill; the t-shirts that were being demoted to gymwear; and the stuff that had hit bottom and was going out with the trash. Then I set aside the clothes that weren't appropriate for school (fancy dresses, suits, cute halter tops, etc.) and the stuff that will expire come Labor Day. Also, sadly, I set aside the stuff that is too small. What did that leave me?
Well, for one thing, two pair of pants. One of which is bright red, so it's not like I can wear them that often, and the other of which I've owned since dinosaurs roamed the earth.
Clearly, a strategic plan is needed here. Expect to see me in quite a bit of white this week, as I bid adieu to these items for the season. Next Friday, though, is a very special day for me - I get paid. Forget rent, I'm going shopping. (Just joking, landlord! I've already written the check.)
It's time for back-to-school shopping.
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
Summer jobs are going the way of the dodo bird - at least for the upper half of the income distribution.
The plastic bags will kill us all.
Apparently, if I dig a hole in my backyard, I won't end up in China. Instead, I'll end up in the Indian Ocean, far offshore from Western Australia. That's a scenario never considered in children's literature.
Another new way to rank grad programs.
Sunday, August 19, 2007
- Nothing. This is what most grads do, especially if they aren't aiming for jobs in research or academia.
- Turn it in to an article, or perhaps more than one article. Most students going into academia do this.
- Turn it into a book. This depends on your specialty; historians and sociologists of education are more likely to produce books than economists and political scientists.
I'm thinking of going down the book road, so I'm reading From Dissertation to Book. You could argue it's a little early to be worrying about that, but I think knowing the final destination makes the journey easier. If I'm hiking the Appalachian Trail, I want to know that Katahdin, Maine is the endpoint and that I have 2200 miles to go before I get there. It's much better than knowing I'll reach New Jersey at some point and then have decide what to do next. (Then again, I am almost freakish about planning.) Seeing the road ahead helps me break it down into little journeys.
Saturday, August 18, 2007
Now this problem will hopefully solve itself in two years, when I get a nice faculty office somewhere, and I can put all of those books in there to give me a head start on looking smart. In the meantime, though, I figured I'd have to buy another bookcase. Unfortunately, it looks like Ikea doesn't sell my bookcases any more - at least they're not on the website. (Hey, does anyone in Nashville randomly wish to get rid of a blue with birch trim Robin bookcase?) It also doesn't sell the wall shelf that matches it. Sigh. I can't put up one random case that doesn't match the rest. I guess I could get a wall-mount shelf to put over my desk - as long as it is birch (laminate), it would look alright. But I don't know much about how to install one so that it can hold any amount of weight.
The record heat and drought in Tennessee continue. We're now 13 inches behind our annual rainfall. This week, some trees started losing their leaves. It's very strange to have autumn crunching underfoot when it's 106 degrees out. Apparently we're waiting for a hurricane to send us rain, never mind the poor folks who have to have the hurricane. I wonder how much can be salvaged agriculturally at this point, between the spring freeze and the drought.
I think I have wasps nesting around my front door.
When I woke up this morning, I was thinking of all the things I should have put in the comprehensive exam essay for politics of education. I quickly shut that thought train down. It's a big relief to have the exams behind me, but I can't really relax until I hear that I passed.
So it's been a long day, and now I'm going to bed.
Thursday, August 16, 2007
(when they do)
Is it entrepreneurs - making things diffuse
(what they do)
That make some leaders - and one the caboose!
(why they do)
Traditionalist - or moralist
(when they do)
Elitist - or pluralist
(what they do)
Check with a - policy analyst
(why they do)
Just not a - systems theorist!
Oh they do they do they do
Punc - tu - a - ted
(oh they do they do they do)
Streams and windows and
(oh they do they do they do)
Is your legislature - professionalized?
Is your governor - empowerized?
No matter, your state will do
The thing all states do -
when they do they things they dooooo
(when they do them!)
(Why, yes, I have been reading Pynchon lately. Why do you ask?)
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
Sunday, August 12, 2007
Saturday, August 11, 2007
Meanwhile, my head feels like it is filled with a floating collection of trivia. Qualities of good estimators? They're unbiased, consistent, efficient, and asymptotically normal. Who called political systems traditionalist, moralist, or individualist? Elazar. What are Boyer's four domains of scholarship? Discovery, integration, engagement/application, and teaching. Somehow, these fragments have to be reassembled into coherent wholes for the exam - or at least most of it; the methods section is a series of questions rather than one big essay.
So if you've sent me an email and I haven't gotten back to you, I promise, I will, but you might have to wait until after the knowledge regurgitation is over.
Thursday, August 9, 2007
The vacation started with friends in the Seattle area. We spent a day bumming around, and the next day we drove down to Mount Saint Helens. We drove in via the road that heads east to the north side of the mountain. When the volcano erupted in 1980, everything flowed down the north side, so from the observatory we stopped at there was a good view inside the volcano. Then we headed around to the south side of the mountain to camp out at Climber's Bivouac. This primitive campsite is right at the base of the typical route up Mount Saint Helens.
On Thursday we set out to climb the mountain. The first two miles are easy, through gentle forest, but after that you hit a boulder field. Eventually, the boulder field ends - about the time the oxygen gets thinner. But you start to wish the field was back because what's next is a loose slope of ash. Once you reach the top, though, and look down into the caldera, it's pretty cool.
After Mount Saint Helens, my parents picked me up and we spent a brief time in the vicinity of Hood River. Then we headed up to Sequim to visit my aunt and uncle. I'll post more about this in the next couple of days, in between trying to staying focused on comps.
Tuesday, July 31, 2007
Saturday, July 28, 2007
The hike is close to 10 miles. It starts by following the Grundy Day Loop for .7 miles. As the day loop reaches a tangent with Fiery Gizzard Creek, we turned off onto the Fiery Gizzard Trail. The trail then follows the creek, which is at the bottom of a gorge. Now it was an incredibly humid day, and we were soaked quickly; the weather and the scenery were reminiscent of the Olympic Peninsula, except hotter. But the hemlock trees and the creek, which is just lousy with waterfalls, made up for the weather.
Eventually we began to ascend out of the creek, and at that point it rained briefly. Luckily it stopped again while we were making the arduous hike out - the first 4.4 miles of trail lose and gain 1800 feet. We finally reached Raven Point and rested for a while. Just as we left, it started raining again. It never really stopped the rest of the hike. It was hot enough that any kind of rain gear left you as wet as the rain would have made you, except with sweat. Luckily this meant no one was in danger of being chilled. From Raven Point, we turned around to return on the Dog Hole trail. (Fiery Gizzard keeps going for a total of 13 miles.) Dog Hole follows the rim of the gorge and is probably at its best in winter when the view is not obscured by leaves. As it was, it was mostly just wet. Eventually Dog Hole rejoins Fiery Gizzard for .8 miles, and we retraced our steps on the loop. Even I, with my completeness fetish, didn't argue for finishing the loop, which would be 1.3 miles instead of .7. We did stop at the last waterfall for one of us to take a dip, but I didn't really want to be any wetter. The hike ended with a whimper as we changed into dry clothes, only to feel just as wet as ever from all the humidity.
Fiery Gizzard is definitely a hike that would be worth doing again, perhaps in different seasons, or doing end-to-end with a shuttle.
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
Meanwhile, the clock is ticking down to our comprehensive exams - they begin August 15 at 9 a.m. and last for three days. At this point I just want to have the exams behind me instead of circling overhead like an albatross. I'm also working on an AERA proposal, getting a journal submission out, and post-PPI tasks. This isn't the most exciting stuff to read about, I'm sure.
Saturday, July 21, 2007
LPO & Ying's parents
Originally uploaded by TheTurducken
Our friend Y, who defended a few months ago, is leaving town this week for a great job in institutional research. We had a send-off for her today at the Shutes Branch recreation area on Old Hickory Lake. The weather was perfect - not too humid and with a nice breeze. The only hitch was that 440 got backed up, and quite a few guests arrived much later than they intended.
Afterwards, I scrapped my plan of going to the gym since it was so nice out. Instead, I looked at the map and decided that since the Percy Priest dam was nearby, I'd go take a look at it.
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
And I'm not showing up at people's houses to discuss regression.
Thursday, July 12, 2007
I find the comments here especially interesting. While you could hardly describe me as an insider to Gee administration, simply being here means I know that some of the comments are far off base. In any case, whoever is next will have some large shoes to fill, and the students around here are going to miss Chancellor Gee a lot.
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
I had four proposals in: one solo, two co-authored with my advisor, and one as third author with another faculty member and a colleague from another insitution. I figured my best shot for an acceptance was in the last proposal, so it was disheartening to receive an email this morning saying it was not accepted. Then a little bit later another email arrived saying one of the proposals with my advisor had been rejected as well.
Things were starting to look grim, but they improved when I got an email at lunch that said my solo proposal had been accepted. We were anxiously awaiting word on our final proposal, which finally came late in the afternoon - it had been accepted as well. There was much rejoicing.
I was especially relieved because this is my third year, and I'm not funded to attend unless I'm presenting. And I need to go, to make myself visible - it's my last ASHE before I go on the job market. Also, this year my big push has to be getting publications out, which generally starts with conference presentations.
As for the poor rejected proposals, I think both will be submitted elsewhere; for one there is a perfect opportunity that was just announced yesterday.
Monday, July 9, 2007
And now almost the exact same work has been released by someone else.
A very tentative conversation with my chair had him saying thinking this helped prove the case that my work is important and I should go ahead. But I'm afraid that whatever I do now in this line will be seen as derivative, as a response to what this person did. (In some ways that is true, because it would be bad research not to take that work into account - but I don't get credit for coming up with x independently. It's like being close in horseshoes.) Morever, this person is an economist, which is probably one reason why the folks I talked to weren't aware it was being done. However, I'm kind of afraid of economists. It seems like education research by economists goes like this: Economist A releases a groundbreaking report on, say, the effectiveness of charter schools. Economist B then releases a report saying, ah, but if you include this variable, the effects disappear; A did not specify the model correctly. Economist A then releases a report saying that what B put in doesn't belong, is an effect and not a cause, and before you know it the whole thing become a pissing match about whether Ariano-Bond indicators ought to be used with Heckman selection. (Or something. The argument goes from something you can explain to Mom to something technical that Dale Ballou ends up using in one of his quant seminars where even the other faculty have their heads on the table in despair.)
Even with our heavily quantitative training, I'm afraid I'm not in that league, nor is it what I really want to do. Now I'm torn between really digging in and looking to see if I can salvage this or just putting it off until after comps. Because I really should be focusing on comps and some research that needs to be farther along before I can submit it to a conference, and the deadline for that is the end of the month. I'd rather be thinking about the diss than studying (which is a whole other post), but preferences and good strategy may not be interesecting here, let alone forming a union.
Also, this situation is just about the most stereotypical PhD story ever.
Sunday, July 8, 2007
Saturday, July 7, 2007
Our methods course occurs in our very first semester. The proposals we created in that class were certainly poorly defined, general, and large. As we refined them over the semester, they improved, but many revealed themselves to have fatal flaws or to be embarrassingly naive. I don't know that anyone came out of there with a workable proposal; by the time we had learned to design an excellent piece of research, it was too late for that particular project. But several semesters later, we are now readying ourselves to choose dissertation topics and defend proposals. Our faculty expect that we are able to propose good research. If a member of my cohort went to them with a topic that was "poorly defined, too general, and too large in scope," I think they would be disappointed.
That doesn't mean the faculty don't have suggestions for improvement; we still only have two years of experience, and they have many more. But we all have what the book supposes only a lucky few will have a minimum of - experience in coming up with research proposals and in working on large research projects.
This book isn't very useful for me, I've decided. It's written for someone with a different personality - someone who takes a lot of convincing that planning is worthwhile. It's also apparently written for someone clueless - someone who needs to be told that when doing a literature review, one should use online databases and dissertation indices.