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Jay Smooth on the Idea of the “Good Person”

“First, let me say that I’m tired of all of this talk about ‘snubs,'” said an anonymous member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. And continued: And as far as the accusations about the Academy being racist? Yes, most members are white males, but they are not the cast of Deliverance — […]

Local Council By-Elections February 2015

Party Number of Candidates Total Vote % +/- Jan Average/ contest +/- Jan +/- Seats Conservative 5 1,924 25.6% -5.0% 385 -98 0 Labour 5 2,696 35.9% +13.2% 539 +102 +1 LibDem 4 638 8.5% -3.4% 160 -122 0 UKIP 4 1,136 15.1% +4.0% 284 +108...Show More Summary

Is That Evidence in Your Pocket, or Are You Just Writing an Op-Ed?

February 25, 2015 Posted by Jay Livingston Nobody looks to USA Today op-eds for methodologically scrupulous research. Even so, James Alan Fox’s opinion piece this morning (here) was a bit clumsy. Fox was arguing against the idea that allowing guns on campus would reduce sexual assaults.You have to admit, the gunlovers’ proposal is kind of cute. Show More Summary

Middle-Aged Men and Alcohol

By Karen Sternheimer We’ve all probably heard the phrase “teen drinking” and thought about it as a social problem. Many public service announcements (PSAs), like the one below, highlight the problem of teen drinking. But data just released from the...

Children of the Prison Boom

The United States imprisons more people than any other country. This is true whether you measure by percentage of the population or by sheer, raw numbers. If the phrase mass incarceration applies anywhere, it applies in the good ol’ U. S. of A. It wasn’t always this way. Rates of incarceration began rising as a result of President […]

The Postmodern Effacement of Class

From the mid-90s I became very interested in social theory for two reasons. In the first place, the clunky, cruddy Marxism imbibed at A-level were tools enough to help me understand the peculiarities of the social world. Was it a framework...Show More Summary

Will Natalie Bennett's Trainwreck Derail the Greens?

Doing okay in the polls... has some popular, left wing policies... yet there are questions surrounding the leader's competence. We've heard the story many times before, but on this occasion it's the Green Party and Natalie Bennett under the spotlight. Show More Summary

Pesticide Drift and the Politics of Scale

California’s Central Valley is a bread basket of America. It is the source of much of the country’s grapes, tree fruit, nuts, and vegetables. Many of the farms are massive, requiring large amounts of capital, land, and labor. In the nearby small towns are the homes of the state’s farm laborers. They are primarily Latino. About half are undocumented. […]

MPs and Double-Jobbing

Didn't they do well? Malcolm Rifkind and Jack Straw have done a blinder dragging Parliament's reputation through the muck yet again. Fair play to The Telegraph too, who teamed up with C4 Dispatches to complete the sting. Fortuitous timing too, this has helped push the paper's recent difficulties down the memory hole. Show More Summary

The Rise of the Strawberry

Strawberry shortcake, chocolate covered strawberries, strawberry daiquiris, strawberry ice cream, and strawberries in your cereal. Just delicious combinations of strawberries and things? Of course not. According to an investigative report...Show More Summary

Happy Birthday, W.E.B. DuBois!

Source: University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Have a scholar we should commemorate? Send us a cool pic and we will!

Is Ed Miliband the Next Margaret Thatcher?

When you're involved in politics you grow accustomed to hearing some very silly things. This is doubly so in the rarefied world of political comment. I don't get paid for my pearls (some people spot trains in their free time, I do this), yet the pressure to have something unique and interesting to say is inescapable. Show More Summary

Predicting the Oscars

February 22, 2015 Posted by Jay Livingston Of the films nominated for Best Picture, “American Sniper” is the clear winner at the box office. But will it will win Best Picture? or Director? or Actor? Nobody thinks so, even its ardent supporters on the political right. Show More Summary

Just for Fun: The Social Construction of Chest Hair

Back in the heyday of Burt Reynolds, having a hairy chest was oh-so-sexy. What a departure from the hairless chests of today’s masculine icons. At least it makes some sense to associate chest hair with masculinity, since men on average have more of it than women. It just goes to show that everything’s a social construction. […]

meet me in arkansas!!!!

I’ve been overwhelmed by snow, children, work, Mario Kart, exercise, and a whole bunch of other stuff. I’ll post new stuff in about a week or so. But, for now, I wanted to tell you about my upcoming talk at the University of Central Arkansas. The Arkansas Center for Research in Economics is hosting a […]

The Communards - Never Can Say Goodbye

Ruminating on some heavy duty blog posts tonight. And it's Saturday, so let's go from one 80s moment to another. Never Can Say Goodbye is one of I think only two songs to have appeared in my infamous top 100s twice. This ditty's first time was at number 21 in the Top 100 Dance Tunes of the 1970s. Show More Summary

God and Good Citizens

Sociologist Penny Edgell discussed the changing landscape of religion in public life over the past decade with Houston Matters. Since 2003, issues of religion in public life have shifted less than was previously expected. However, around...Show More Summary

Chart of the Week: Big Pharma Spends More on Marketing than Research

Pharmaceutical companies say that they need long patents that keep the price of their drugs high so that they can invest in research. But that’s not actually what they’re spending most of their money on. Instead, they’re spending more — sometimes twice as much — on advertising directly to doctors and consumers. Data from the BBC, […]

Labour vs The Militant Tendency

The past really is a foreign country. Can you imagine if the BBC or ITV ponied up to Labour Party conference and asked to transmit a live debate between Progress and the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy? It's unthinkable. Yet, in 1982 something similar did happen. Show More Summary

Capitalism, Profit, and “Instructions for Use”

Flashback Friday. When companies offer instructions as to how much of their product to use, what do you think drives their decisions as to what advice to give? Theory 1:  They give the best advice. Theory 2:  They give reasonably good advice, erring on the side of you using more product versus less. I’m with […]

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