Chris Uggen's Blog: June 2006

Thursday, June 29, 2006


i spent yesterday at a conference on racial disparity in justice. as advertised, the panels offered a combustible mix of state supreme court justices, police officers, mayors, business reps, reporters. it was a good exercise in public criminology, with a handful of academics sharing research, weighing in on some concrete policy recommendations, and learning from the assembled policymakers, citizens, and community leaders.

there was more than a little grandstanding, of course, but also some productive discussion. justice alan page (who seems to show up a lot in this blog) referenced the distinction between people we're "mad at" versus those we're "afraid of." the council's research and recommendations focused on the disparate impact of overenforcing minor crimes among the former group -- lurking, loitering, disorderly conduct. we drag a lot of people of color into the system for low-level offenses (sometimes called garbage cases in the system) that never go anywhere. more precisely, racial disparities in arrest for minor crimes are generally more skewed than conviction disparities.

failing to criminalize such stuff runs counter to the broken windows orthodoxy, of course, but even minneapolis' assistant police chief sharon lubinski agreed that "we can't arrest our way out of this problem." business representatives want to "clean up" downtown, but most would be happy with effective community- and school-based alternatives to criminalization; such approaches might also be more consistent with traditional minnesota values than, say, panhandling ordinances.

i spoke on the collateral consequences of conviction, but one big problem with criminalization is the increasingly public nature of arrest records. there was a fascinating exchange between a target corporation human resources professional (we fire people for failing to disclose their records, not for having records) and a former felon (i know that target won't hire you if you check that box on the application). i saw a similar exchange between a downtown business representative (something's wrong in the system when a guy is still on the street after twenty arrests) and judge kevin burke, who brought drug courts to minnesota (he may have been arrested twenty times, but what if he was never convicted?).

to take another example, the council reported that youth of color now make up nearly 80 percent of the juveniles appearing in hennepin county (minneapolis) court, with 25 percent of those cases referred from schools (not including truancy violations). assistant school superintendent birch jones squarely addressed his institution's role in exacerbating justice system inequalities while at the same time reminding us of the resource constraints that make it difficult (impossible?) for some schools to address serious discipline problems in-house. such discussions may pave the way for alternative interventions for school disorderly conduct cases that, under current practices, would be referred for formal prosecution.

similarly, the council reported that low-level offenses brought directly to court via police officers (tab charges) rarely result in convictions, but continue to haunt people seeking employment or housing. police and prosecutors were then invited to discuss a proposal to require all misdemeanor tab charges to be reviewed by a prosecutor prior to initiating court processes. i could go on, but you probably get the idea.

i had no hand in the council's recommendations and would need to study the evidence much more closely to make a strong case for them. nevertheless, i can get behind the council's primary goal without hesitation: reducing disparities and enhancing public safety. this fits nicely with my approach to felon reenfranchisement and prisoner reentry more generally. while some of the elected officials seemed to skirt the big issues, this is likely because they fear being tarred with the soft on crime brush. if reintegrative justice policies can be shown to increase public safety and do so cheaply, i'm optimistic that they'll come around as well.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

most likely to be beaned, 2006

white sox manager ozzie guillen has said some dumb and hurtful things lately, but his comments on catcher a.j. pierzynski certainly ring true to twins fans:

"If you play against A.J., you hate him. If you play with him, you hate him less."

evidently many players agree with the skip. a new sports illustrated survey found that mr. pierzynski tallied the most votes among the 470 players who were asked which major leaguer would you most like to see get beaned? congratulations, mr. pierzynski! you easily outdistance barry bonds, who finished a strong second.

it hardly seems fair, though. anthony john pierzynski is a tough, durable catcher who hits well and plays solid defense, yet he has somehow managed to annoy, alienate, irk, peeve, and vex coaches and teammates at every stop in his career.

i've gotta admit that i, for one, sort of miss the big lug. we locals loved The Trade that brought us nathan, liriano, and bonser. still, mr. pierzynski's successor, joe "baby jesus" mauer (ho hum. another five for five tonight), is just not as ... fiesty ... as aj. i'm sure that other athletes (and sociologists and dictators, no doubt, but let's stick to sports) fit skipper guillen's description. danny ainge springs immediately to mind. who else do we hate just a little less when they're playing on our side?

Sunday, June 25, 2006

how warren buffett-like of him

whatever one thinks of capitalism and the accumulation of great fortunes, it is impressive to see how billionaires such as george soros and bill gates develop thoughtful plans to get rid of their vast personal holdings.

today i heard that warren buffett is giving away about 37 billion dollars to the bill and melinda gates foundation. this does not appear to be some old rich dude writing a check for a small percentage of his assets. this appears to be the oracle of omaha dropping the bulk of his vast and bulky set of holdings on bill gates.

giving away the money is one thing, but giving away the money to another wealthy person's foundation is a very buffett-like move. most fatcats prefer to erect large buildings and institutions in their own names, grab the tax breaks and pats-on-the-back, and leave great piles of money for their heirs. but mr. buffett is a boring old midwestern value investor, who famously stayed in his cheap li'l house in omaha as his wealth skyrocketed. he's shockingly devoid of the sort of ego that trips many of us up. after studying the gates' foundation closely, he likely decided he couldn't improve on the model and believed they'd do the right thing with his money.

i can't speak for his motivations or the purity of mr. buffett's soul, but this is exactly the sort of move that made berkshire hathaway such a spectacular success. when the world went tech and called him a dinosaur, buffett held stuff like dairy queen, fruit of the loom, and coca-cola. over the life of the fund, which is about my age now, he's delivered his investors a compound annual return of over 20 percent. that's about 20 percent better than the typical loudmouth investment guru has delivered over the period.

mr. buffett has long spoken against inherited fortunes. he's been quoted as saying one should give one's kids "enough money to do anything, but not enough to do nothing." his rare ability to accumulate money and transcend ego will likely help the gates foundation make tangible progress in their international public health and education initiatives.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

(happy) summer night

a british psychologist has declared june 24 to be the happiest day of the year. i don't quite buy dr. cliff arnall's formula:

O + (N x S) + Cpm/T + He

where O = outdoor activity; N = nature; S = social interaction, Cpm = childhood summers and positive memories; T = temperature; and, He = holidays.

huh? i shouldn't pick nits, but i don't see much rationale for multiplying nature and social interaction then adding the product to the ratio of childhood memories to temperature. that said, he's probably not far off -- june 24 has some face validity in my book.

here's a nineteenth century vision of summer, both ethereal and sensual. perhaps lord tennyson wrote it on june 24:

Alfred Tennyson, Summer Night

NOW sleeps the crimson petal, now the white;
Nor waves the cypress in the palace walk;
Nor winks the gold fin in the porphyry font:
The firefly wakens: waken thou with me.

Now droops the milk-white peacock like a ghost,
And like a ghost she glimmers on to me.

Now lies the Earth all Danaë to the stars,
And all thy heart lies open unto me.

Now slides the silent meteor on, and leaves
A shining furrow, as thy thoughts in me.

Now folds the lily all her sweetness up,
And slips into the bosom of the lake:
So fold thyself, my dearest, thou, and slip
Into my bosom and be lost in me.

Friday, June 23, 2006

calls for applications

a couple announcements that might be of interest:

soros justice fellowships -- deadline 9/13

I seek your assistance in reaching outstanding individuals for the upcoming round of Soros Justice Fellowships. The Fellowship Program supports new and seasoned lawyers, advocates, grassroots organizers, activist academics, print and radio journalists and filmmakers to implement innovative projects that address one or more of the criminal justice priorities of OSI’s U.S. Justice Fund. Since its inception in 1997, the Program has supported over 200 dynamic individuals working across the country for local, state, and national criminal justice reform. The U.S. Justice Fund supports individuals through two programs: the Soros Justice Advocacy Fellowships and the Soros Justice Media Fellowships. Projects should seek to accomplish one or more of the following:

o advance death penalty reform and abolition efforts;
o improve public defense services;
o combat racial profiling;
o promote leadership in progressive justice reform efforts among people who are or have been imprisoned;
o encourage systemic reforms that create incentives for community-based solutions over parole and probation revocation;
o challenge unreasonable civil and legal barriers to the reintegration of people returning from prison;
o redirect criminal justice monies to strengthen community resources and responsibility for public safety and justice;
o advance sentencing and drug policy reform efforts;
o curtail prison expansion;
o empower communities most affected by mass incarceration to develop and advocate for alternative policies that address underlying social, racial, and economic inequality.

Projects also may emphasize the intersection of the above priorities with the particular needs of: communities of color; immigrants; gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender communities; and women and children.

The Advocacy Fellowships have two tracks. Track I supports new and emerging advocates with two to six years of advocacy experience. Track II supports seasoned leaders with demonstrated expertise and a minimum of ten years experience in their fields and five years of advocacy experience. Both tracks are 18 months in duration and may be implemented in conjunction with large or small not-for-profit organizations. The Media Fellowships support mid-career and veteran print and radio journalists, filmmakers and writers. They are 12 months in duration.

Guidelines and application information are now available on our website at:

The Fellowship deadline is Wednesday, September 13, 2006 at 5PM.
Please forward this information to associations, organizations, potential gatekeepers, listservs and throughout your professional networks to help get the word out! Feel free to contact me with any questions or ideas for how to publicize the Fellowships far and wide and reach strong potential applicants around the country.

sociologists of minnesota student paper prize - deadline 8/1

The Sociologists of Minnesota announces its Caroline Rose Student Paper Competition. There are two divisions: Undergraduate and Graduate. The competition is open to any student who has written a paper while enrolled in a college or university in Minnesota during the 2005-06 academic year. Single authored papers only. The paper should not exceed 20 doubled-spaced pages, excluding appendices and references, and should include a brief abstract. The name or institutional affiliation of the author must not appear in the text or in the abstract. The title of the paper should be included at the top of the first page of the text. The name, telephone number, e-mail address, and mailing address of both the student and the faculty sponsor should be included in a separate cover page. This page should also include the title of the paper and indicate graduate, upper division undergraduate, or lower division undergraduate status. Students who submit papers to this competition may submit the same paper to sessions at the annual meetings of the Midwest Sociological Society or the American Sociological Association. The winning authors are expected to be available to present their papers at the annual meeting, which will be held in River Falls, WI on Oct. 5-6. Papers involving human subjects musthave Institutional Review Board (or its equivalent) approval, and must note the receipt of approval in the methodology. The first prize in each division is $100; second prize is $75. All entrants will receive free conference registration, meals, and membership in SOM. Prize winners will also receve motel accomodations. Send three copies of the paper to: Monte Bute, Social Science Dept., Metropolitan State Univ., 700 E. 7th St., St. Paul, MN 55106. Papers must be postmarked by Aug. 1, but early submissions are encouraged

meaningless sports post

between blogging and kidsports, i'm spectating much less these days. i honestly enjoy little league games as much as major league games and i actually get frenzied (well, frenzied for a phlegmatic norwegian-american such as myself) at my kids' wrestling matches and basketball games. still, i couldn't help but notice some good pro sports stories with local angles. first, the bad news:

1. love the player, hate his game. i've boycotted nba basketball ever since paying cash money to watch the no-longer-minneapolis lakers sleepwalk through a midseason tilt several years ago. but mr. dwayne wade, a fine midwestern lad with formidable skills and work ethic, actually induced me to root for shaq's team. i know that mr. o' neal is a great humanitarian and quite generous off the court, but i cannot watch him steamroll opponents in the lane (let's not even talk about the free throws). i just scream at the tv: "li'l dude was SET! he had POSITION! you can't just RUN HIM OVER! awww, this game SUCKS. what would BILL RUSSELL think?" nevertheless, now that he's old and infirm, shaq has grown on me a little -- sort of like bill walton during his eighties go-round with the celtics. of course, i'd have loved shaq, had the wolves been able to draft him in 1992. they had the worst record in the league by far, yet the lottery gods (or, more cynically, david stern) smiled on orlando (we got shaq!) and charlotte (hey, this alonzo mourning guy looks pretty good!). my woofies fell to third and got christian laettner. yeesh.

2. the second worst trade in nfl history? on october 12, 1989, my vikings traded five players, six conditional draft choices, and a 1992 first-round draft pick to the dallas cowboys for herschel walker. mr. walker lasted two decidedly unspectacular years in minnesota, whereas dallas used the picks to draft the nfl's all-time leading rusher and a cavalcade of stars on their way to three super bowls. last year, my vikes traded their 29-year-old franchise quarterback -- who passed for 4,700 yards and 39 touchdowns just 2 years ago -- for a no-name center from new mexico, projected to go in the fourth round. unfortunately, center is the only position where they already have an all-pro. yeesh.

enough negativity. now, the good:

3. future's so bright. my pre-season prediction of 87 wins for the twins looked flat ridiculous a couple weeks ago, but now it just looks, well, slightly absurd. still, i'm way optimistic about the future. i've hyped justin morneau for years and he's starting to put up numbers to match the rifle-shot sound of the ball leaving his bat. santana and liriano, now 7-1, are a formidable set of young starters and nathan and rincon remain strong in the bullpen. as predicted, jason kubel is raking already. hunter and stewart may not be around much longer, but they might bring some good young talent. as of this morning, catcher joe mauer is hitting .375, a neat 100 points above morneau. even if morneau's average is half as high as mauer's, however, he'll drive in close to 100 runs. given their many remaining holes (li'l nicky punto at third base? c'mon.), they probably won't catch the chicagos or detroits (not to mention the clevelands, who are due for a run), but they'll be fun to watch for years. and they might reach 87 ...

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

use of siphons, like hyphens, on the decline

as gas prices have risen, i'm surprised we haven't heard more about old-fashioned theft-by-siphon. gas has been stolen by siphoning for about as long as we've had automobiles. in fact, the first locking gas cap appeared in 1932, motivated by a rash of pre-SUV depression-era drivers.

i'd guess that siphoning from individuals is much less likely to result in arrest than driving off from a gas station, but thieves have opted for the latter approach in recent years. aside from numerous stories about a nevada murder of would-be siphoners, a search of google news yielded only scattered references to gas theft (e.g, in florida, minnesota, oregon). while capable (and armed) guardianship may be a factor, i'll hypothesize that the absence of mass gas thefts can be explained by a combination of target hardening and teenagers' lack of technical skills.

with regard to technical skills, gas has been so cheap and plentiful for the last twenty-five years that illegal siphoning has become something of a lost art among the american teens and twenty-somethings most likely to commit theft. this generation also likely knows less about car repair and maintenance, as today's vehicles require far less repair and maintenance than, say, the mid-seventies energy crisis. i'd suspect that the kids have done less legitimated siphoning (e.g., between lawn mowers and cars) as well, but this might be overgeneralizing based upon a small sample of yardwork-resistant kids i know.

target hardening is probably the bigger factor. newer vehicles employ devices that thwart siphoning, such that one can no longer simply stick a hose into tank A, prime it, and transfer the gas into tank B. fuel check valves, designed to stop leaks and explosions when vehicles roll over, complicate life for siphoners. moreover, now that many tanks are made of plastic rather than rust, crooks are less likely to immolate themselves piercing and draining the tanks or cutting the fuel lines.

still, it isn't difficult to find many old cars or trucks with enormous and unguarded gas tanks. once more of these stories make the news, the kids will likely catch on and employ jackrabbit pumps and other labor-saving devices. in response or anticipation of this, drivers of older vehicles will purchase locking gas caps, as my father did for the family maverick back in the 1970s. national statistics are tough to come by, but i'd bet that we'll be hearing much more about gas theft by this time next year, if not by the end of the summer.

Monday, June 19, 2006

to vice, innocence must always seem only a superior kind of chicanery

this thursday night i'm at arise! bookstore in minneapolis, talking about locked out on a double-bill with a fascinating speaker from the innocence project of minnesota.

susan thurston myster is a forensic anthropologist at hamline university. she should offer a great perspective on the project's efforts to give investigative and legal assistance to inmates with provable claims that they have been wrongly imprisoned. a free showing of the documentary burden of innocence will follow, tracking former prisoners' lives after their wrongful convictions.

all are welcome!

arise bookstore
thursday, june 22 8pm
2441 lyndale ave.
minneapolis, mn 55404

employment and stigma

i just received my copy of the bureau of justice statistics' survey of state criminal history information systems, 2003. reporting is inconsistent across the states, but there were 71,028,500 individual subjects listed in state criminal history repositories on december 31, 2003. this is a twenty percent increase from the 59 million files in 1999, but the bigger change is in their availability: online public and private access to these criminal history records has increased dramatically over this period.

this public stigmatization is reflected in the employment-related emails i get from former felons trying to make it on the outside. i don't usually share these publicly, but they very much inform my thinking and writing on the subject. here's a new comment on an old post concerning job fairs and expungement. though pete c. has an unusually strong educational background and work history, his experience will be familiar to many former felons:

Dear Dr. Uggen: I am a 48 yr old with a felony conviction (escape) in GA. I have a substantial criminal record (drug and property crimes) dating back to the 1970's due to a drug addiction that began as a teenager. Despite my addiction I was able to complete undergraduate school and attended law school before my disease overtook my life entirely. I entered treatment at age 30 and, with the help of support groups, was able to earn an MBA by age 32. I was able to find a good job at IBM but was laid off due to corporate down-sizing in 1998. I was convicted of felony escape in GA as a result of leaving a half-way house type of institution. I was sentenced to this institution for a misdemeanor theft conviction resulting from my having relapsed into my addiction. I served 20 months in a GA prison and have not been able to find sustainable (above-poverty level) employment since my release. In many ways my sentence (5 yrs.) has become a de facto "life sentence" due to the stigma of my conviction. It will probably shorten my life due to the fact that I cannot obtain affordable health insurance from an employer. One could even say that, in that respect, I have been given a "death sentence" of sorts. I have tried in vain to secure employment here in Augusta, GA but even the most menial positions in the labor market have rejected me. It is a very difficult existence... Pete C.

pete's comment quickly drew additional testimony from others in his shoes:

Dear Pete C: I understand your position you are not alone. I face the same fate. I'm on the grind seeking employment. It doesn't seem to matter to anyone that I served my country in the Gulf War. I have tried to lie about my past and I have also tried to be truthful but to no avail. It has been 8 years since this "F" has been on my record. I can't offer you any help only support. Keep your head up and I hope you have some good people in your corner.

on friday, jazz hayden asked two questions of the assembled luminaries at john jay. first, "how many of you have ever committed a crime for which you could have been incarcerated?" most hands quickly rose, then descended when he asked, "how many think you should lose your right to vote now because of that act?" we might ask the same thing about employment: how many think you shouldn't be able to make a living, eight years after your release?

one can find employers in most communities who might give a break to former felons -- either because they have a history themselves or because such efforts have been rewarded by highly productive and loyal workers truly appreciative of the opportunity. if anyone in georgia or elsewhere can offer some advice or contacts for pete c., please pass them along. i haven't walked in his shoes and my research offers nothing more than tired advice about "starting at the bottom, keeping the faith, and banging your head against the door." as long as you can take the pain, you've got a fighting chance of breaking through.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

no sleep (in) brooklyn

esperanza and i returned from a wonderful brooklyn visit with sis, jd, and tiny leif. i usually have little success merging work with family outings, but this trip was a beautiful exception.

why did it work? probably because sis and jd doted on us. also, i suppose, because daughter is old enough to get new york, even if it means sitting through one of dad's talks. here are some highlights.

we stayed in brooklyn thursday and bought recycled alternagear so we could hang with actual williamsburgians. we still looked like downwardly mobile mallrats but one local asked whether i was from california, so i guess that's progress. after greasy-good dinner at pies n' thighs, we visited headgear studios where kind alex took time to give us a tour. watching the good stuff being made n' mixed is about the coolest thing imaginable for a 12-year-old singer/actress.

friday, i gave my talk and did my meetings in the morning, leaving the afternoon and evening free. we ate cuban in the city, then "shopped" (but didn't "buy") on fifth avenue. after playing with leif in central park, we made our way to broadway for dinner amidst singing waitstaff and hairspray. this turned out to be the perfect musical for a 12-year-old actress/singer -- much fun but sneaky smart too. and the voices ...

saturday we hit the renegade craft fair to see all manner of DIY art, jewelry, clothing, and the good and funky people who create it. we had lunch on the patio at the brick oven gallery where the pizza puttanesca (anchovies, olives and hot pepper flakes) is highly recommended. we then hung out at oslo coffee and daughter got to work behind the counter and take notes on the parade of fashionable scenesters enjoying iced caffeine and a summer stroll.

today was travel day. i said goodbye to family, downed my last cup of oslo coffee, and flew home for father's day with daughter's head on my shoulder. nice weekend.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

ny update

jeff and i spoke at john jay yesterday, followed by commentary from brent staples and jazz hayden. it is humbling and rare for academics' work to get such focused attention. they engaged our research in a serious and thoughtful way and engaged one another equally seriously.

mr. staples, by virtue of his writing and his position on the times' editorial staff, must rank among the world's most powerful journalists. as a wide-ranging intellectual who has written extensively on race in america, he explained how and why he and other black elites have distanced themselves from crime and the associated stigma. mr. hayden, who filed a felon disenfranchisement lawsuit from prison while i was still attending grad school, has been a steadfast advocate for prisoners' rights since his time in attica in 1971. he chided activists and elites for making "strategic" decisions to focus their efforts on reenfranchising non-incarcerated felons. he also explained how he would never have publicized the finding that felon disenfranchisement has benefitted the republican party, though he understood that social scientists have a different set of priorities and obligations.

coming from very different places, mr. staples and mr. hayden identified some common ground: both made moral appeals to abolish felon voting restrictions. jeff and i emphasize the historical and social-scientific evidence. in contrast, mr. staples brought the discussion home to basic civil rights and mr. hayden reminded us that prisoners' rights are basic civil rights. it is also worth noting that both new yorkers see strong parallels between post-9/11 america and a minimum security prison.

it was an engaging morning and i owe debbie mukamal and jeremy travis a special debt for putting it together. i signed a few books and made some new friends -- even sis and young esperanza enjoyed the event.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

minnesotans take manhattan

jeff manza sends word that i ain't the only minnesotan giving a free performance in midtown this friday.

with his purpleness taking the stage at 7 am in bryant park and manza and uggen on at 8:30 at john jay, it is sort of like prince is opening for us, right?

nah, guess not. after my public massacre of purple rain this spring, the prince and i are no longer on speaking terms.

fyi, i like the new prince, but here's a cool portrait of The Artist as a young man, taken in 1979 by greg helgeson.

racial disparity conference june 28

the council on crime and justice is holding a public criminology conference on their racial disparity initiative on june 28 in minneapolis. over the past five years, the council has written 17 reports on race and justice. they are now pulling them together to summarize the knowledge and hammer out some action steps.

the panels have representatives from an incredibly diverse set of institutions and publics, though not everyone will show up. there are ex-offenders, clergypersons, social workers, attorneys, community residents, businesspersons, and academics. mayors rybak of minneapolis and coleman of st. paul are on the program, as are st. paul's police chief john harrington and minneapolis' assistant chief sharon lubinski, minneapolis school superintendent bill green, state supreme court justice alan page, and judge kevin burke of hennepin county district court.

as for criminologists, michael tonry will serve on a panel discussing causes of the disparity, todd clear will be in the collateral consequences group, and i'm on the action steps and ethics panel. i probably won't say much, since my panel is scheduled to include a republican state senator, business folk, police officers, case workers, and don shelby, local anchor god. it should be fun. or a free-for-all. or both.

anyone interested in racial disparities in justice might find something interesting on the program. you can register online, for a suggested donation of $20. attorneys can get CLE elimination of bias and ethics credits but need to kick in more money (sorry, angie). tom johnson of the council is expecting a pretty good crowd. the conference is june 28 at minneapolis community and technical college, 1501 hennepin avenue.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

job opening at the center of the universe

michael bischoff at the council on crime and justice sends word of their search for a new director of projects to provide leadership on early intervention and prevention projects. they seek someone with "passion and talent for finding innovative ways to prevent crime, reduce racial disparities, and build partnerships." The salary range for the position will be $45,000 - $60,000. you can learn more about the council at

Director of Projects

Organization: The Council on Crime and Justice is a non-profit agency committed to building community capacity to address the causes and consequences of crime and violence through research, demonstration and advocacy.

Position Responsibilities: The Director of Projects will provide leadership over 2 or more demonstration projects. Projects may include re-entry, alternative sentencing, victim services and youth early intervention. Key responsibilities include: managing project staff and activities, furthering implementation of the demonstration model, developing and implementing work plans, interpreting the projects and services to the community, working with the Research Dept. to evaluate projects, completing required reporting, pursuing grant and marketing opportunities, developing new projects and/or enhancing existing projects, developing and monitoring budgets, providing back-up support to other Director of Projects, and participating as a member of management.

Qualifications: Bachelor’s degree, graduate or professional degree preferred and 3-5 years experience in project management and development, or equivalent education and experience sufficient to perform the responsibilities. Skilled in supervision and coaching. Strong written and verbal communication skills. Ability to establish effective relationships with all stakeholders. Ability to provide leadership over teams, as well as, be an active participant. Strong problem solving and conflict negotiation skills. Ability to have both a broad conceptualization and an understanding of details. Skilled at strategic thinking. Invested and motivated to move forward with organizational agenda. Committed to remaining informed and learning about leadership theories, project development and project specific information. Ability to work effectively across cultures and demonstrate sensitivity to ethnicity, gender, age, sexual orientation, disability and faith.

Classification: Full-time, Exempt position with competitive compensation package

To Apply: Submit resume and cover letter by Friday, June 30, 2006 to or Council on Crime and Justice, 822 South 3rd Street, Minneapolis, MN 55415

Monday, June 12, 2006


like many academics, part of the reason i got into the business was for the opportunity to make up new words such as superorganic, mechanical solidarity, and structuration. unfortunately, google has now revealed how difficult it is to coin a completely new term these days. for example, i got 23,200 hits on the term wordsmithery just now, even though i'd never heard it or thought to use it until writing this entry.

i chose the username maledictorian a few years ago, in part, because a websearch showed that it had yet to make an appearance online. today, it drew 81,200 hits. such rapid diffusion makes it difficult for budding wordsmiths to craft new terms without triple compounding (e.g., nevertheless or electroguitarslinger) or resorting to the dread hyphen (chairperson-elect or socio-crimino-guitarslinger).

fortunately, the kids are undaunted. my daughter used the word mecklace to describe the men's necklace she bought for my birthday last year. i'd never heard the term before, but she didn't know whether it was original. today i walked out of the house in boots, jeans, a western snap-front shirt, and (of course) a mecklace. when i asked if it looked ok, she said "oh yeah -- you're ruralicious." with wordsmithing like that, she may have a future in sociology.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

bad luck streak in dancing school

i attended a fine dance recital this weekend, marveling at my daughter's ability to move in time with music. like tor's athletic skills, i have no idea where that came from. in truth, young esperanza has worked hard on her dance (and her singing) to further her opportunities as an actor. smart kid.

i sometimes get a little creeped out by dance recitals, where young girls are dolled up in makeup and adult-like costumes. don't get me wrong -- it warms my soul to see the 3-6 year-olds stomping around, beaming in the spotlight and cheers. the more traditional lyrical dances are often quite beautiful too, and some of the more avant garde high school routines are wildly creative. i often marvel at the fitness, strength, dedication, and coordination required to pull off many of the routines.

that said, other routines made me feel as though i walked into an r. kelly video shoot. the moves, costumes, and music are often either suggestive (hot line) or straight-on sexist (should girls be dancing to hey big spender and my boyfriend's back in 2006?). think about casting chicago or all that jazz with twelve-year olds and you'll see what i mean. i'm not sure whether others are creeped out about this or whether i'm just becoming prudish or overly protective. having kids sort of changes you that way. but having kids also means supporting them as their interests develop. so i'm a full-on dance booster at this point.

one clue about the kids' costumes came during the "dancing moms" portion of the program. i noticed that the moms' flapper-esque costumes were far less revealing than those of their teen and tween and pwe-tween daughters. i didn't stick around for the "dancing dads" portion of the program, but i understand tutus were involved. that's more like it. we shouldn't parade our kids around in anything we wouldn't wear ourselves.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

violent crime in minneapolis

according to david chanen and myron medcalf of the minneapolis strib, the fbi's final 2005 numbers will show a sharp local increase in violent crime. while murder, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault rose about 2 percent nationwide over 2004, these violent index offenses increased by 35 percent in minneapolis.

it is not uncommon for local homicide numbers to fluctuate dramatically from year to year due to the small numbers involved. a move of this magnitude in a broader index that includes robbery and aggravated assault, however, is much more unusual.

my first instinct is to check for changes in law and reporting procedures. for example, a recent state "strangulation" statute means that a large number of domestic assault cases (hundreds?) once considered misdemeanors are now counted among the aggravated assaults in the violent crime index. i was surpised that neither the writers nor the interim police chief, tim dolan, mentioned this in the article. not surprisingly, chief dolan mentioned the declining number of mpd officers. when i got back to town in the mid-1990s, i believe there were almost 1,000 sworn officers (i know because bridget cleary, an undergrad student, surveyed them), about 200 more than today.

i've personally received many more calls about robberies this year, particularly in more affluent uptown and downtown neighborhoods. yes, the broader twin cities metro area remains quite safe by national standards and minnesota is ranked among the safest states. moreover, like most cities, minneapolis is today far safer than it was a decade ago. nevertheless, if these numbers hold up, it is a shame to see the city lose so much ground in such a short period.

bartering artists

i'm in new york next friday to join jeff manza for a john jay talk on locked out, with discussants brent staples and jazz hayden. since i'm traveling with the young actress, we had to secure some theater tickets. after many years in the new york arts community, i knew my sister kathy could probably hook us up. sure enough, she found some inexpensive seats on short notice.

many artists live very well on less money than one would think is required to live well in new york. from an outsider's perspective, it seems to be a network thing. artists, actors, and musicians -- who sometimes double as caterers, bartenders, and servers -- seem to look out for one another. so they gain entre into the greatest shows on earth and nobody starves. or pays money to ticketmaster. in fact, i'd hypothesize that new york artists use barter far more effectively than other groups. or maybe that's just my sister...

after graduating from the wizversity with an art degree in 1990, kathy rode the bus to new york to make her way as an artist (warning: don't try this at home). among many other things, she's done metalwork, started one world jewelry, taught at the sculpture center, worked at the national museum of the american indian, exhibited pieces in cool places, picked up an m.a. at columbia teacher's college, taught art to bronx kids, and, with her husband jd, opened brooklyn's oslo coffee.

in my experience, the art world is about 750 times more cutthroat and competitive than academia (hint: there's no blind peer review process), yet people find a way to make a living doing what they love. so if you ever find yourself on roebling street in williamsburg, stop by oslo coffee. jd makes killer stuff and you'll also be supporting the arts.

Friday, June 09, 2006

wfuv summer songs

note: this post has been updated and expanded.

my new york friends often complain about the local commercial radio offerings. when in town, i always try to catch a small noncommercial fordham station that sis recommended years ago.

though i'm a fan, i was surprised that wfuv-fm found me and sent me this press release:

For Immediate Release: Media Contact: Eva Dilmanian June 7, 2006 646-654-9324

WFUV (90.7 FM, Features Essential Summer Summer 2005

New York, NY—New York City’s WFUV is opening a whole new can of worms. As part of its new “Essentials” series, the influential noncommercial radio station is now asking listeners to visit and request their Essential Summer Songs. Will Bob Marley be Jammin’? Will The Girl From Ipanema swing so cool and sway so gentle? Will Brian Wilson walk away with the title of summer song king? Requests will be played throughout WFUV Members Day, Wednesday, June 21 on 90.7 FM in New York City and at around the world. To view the WFUV staff’s own Essential Summer Songs picks visit:

they probably identified me through a lengthy blog post on summer songs last august. i doubt they think i'm a tastemaker, but i'm happy to direct anybody to their fine station. also, i'll reprint my post with 2005 and earlier picks here (unfortunately, the links may be long gone):

For a seasonal diversion, check out VH-1's poll of top summer songs. At the top (?) were the Stones' Satisfaction, Sonny and Cher's "I Got you Babe," the uber-creepy “Every Breath You Take” by The Police, and the Commodores' cloying “Three Times a Lady.” Are these summer songs? [No.] Shouldn't summer music be exuberant, jumping off the radio with punched-up midrange? [Yes!] I'm partial to power pop and r & b this time of year, but good summer songs burst out of every genre. Thematically, they are often geared to young love, or adolescents escaping school, or both. As I did my first long August run today, awaiting the ice, the snow, and the TC marathon, I considered my summer 2005 favorites. This, of course, brought to mind the long list of summer songs below (asterisks mean a local tie marks the artists as "one of us"). A tough prerequisite for summer songs is that they actually be in heavy rotation on commercial radio. This narrows the field quite a bit, but Klosterman has convinced me that there are no "guilty" pleasures -- it doesn't take a great band to produce a great summer song.
2005: The Envelope Please.

Catch my Disease, by Ben Lee [I was backstage in Pomona...]
Toy piano, campfire-strummed guitar, and joyous choruses. My 2005 winner, hands-down.

Mr. Brightside, by The Killers [She's touching his ... chest]
Gobs of punchy midrange and a clever bait-and-switch in the lyrics. Well-crafted.

3. Beverly Hills, by Weezer [wah-wah-wah-wah, wawawawa]
The song didn't grab me (No, I'm not going to link to a video with Hugh Hefner. It doesn't even work as irony), but the wah-wah guitar solo is indelible. Here's the tab:

D----10-8-8986------10-----------10-8-8986-8-8-6-- x2

4. B.Y.O.B., by System of a Down [Why do they always send the poor?]
OK, protest songs don't usually make good summer songs, but some can do both: "Everybody is going to the party, Have a real good time, Dancing in the desert, Blowing up the sunshine." Green Day and Anti-Flag have stepped up their games in addressing the war, but System seems to have pushed themselves well beyond their past work.

Sugar, We're Goin' Down, by Fall Out Boy [I'm just a notch in your bedpost But you're just a line in a song]. One for the kids. Johnny Loftus' allmusic review put it best: they "simultaneously acknowledge and deconstruct the mushy emo soliloquy." Simultaneously acknowledging and deconstructing is harder than it looks...

Here are a few blasts from summers past:

Jerk it Out, by Caesars [Swedepop: it's easy once you know how it's done]
2004: Hey-Ya, by Outkast [lend me some sugar, I am your neighbor]
I Believe in a Thing Called Love, by The Darkness [ooh! guitar!]
Swing Swing, by All-American Rejects [swing, swing from the tangles of]
2003: Where is the Love? by Black-Eyed Peas [addicted to the drama]
2003: Heavy Metal Drummer, by Wilco [
playing KISS covers, beautiful and]
2003: Ocean Avenue, by Yellowcard [sleeping all day, staying up all ni-ight]
2002: Days go By, by Dirty Vegas [you are still a whisper on my lips]
2001: Put a Little Love in It, by Ike Reilly [
before it brings you down]
2001: Lady Marmalade, by Aguilera, Pink, Lil Kim, and Mya [voulez vous coucher]
2000: California Stars, by Wilco [beneath a bed of California stars]
1999: Singing in my Sleep, by Semisonic [singing up to a Capulet]
1999: Nineteen, by Old '97s [finish up with high school, headed for a state school]
1998: Flagpole Sitta, by Harvey Danger [i'm not sick but i'm not well]
1998: La Femme D'Argent, by Air [
beautiful bassline]
1998: Sex and Candy, by *Marcy Playground [like disco lemonade]
1997: Impression that I Get, by Mighty Mighty Bosstones [never been tested]
1997: MMMbop, by Hanson [mmmbop, ba duba dop ba do bop]
1996: What I Got, by Sublime [i
don't get angry at the bills I have to pay]
1994: Fantastic Voyage, by Coolio [slide, slide, slippity-slide]
1994: Loser, by Beck [gettin' crazy with the cheese-whiz]
1993: Insane in the Brain, by Cypress Hill [insane in the membrane]
1992: Give it Away, by Red Hot Chili Peppers [lucky me swimmin' in my ability]
1992: Teen Angst, by Cracker [what the world needs now]
1991: Shiny, Happy, People, by REM [shiny happy people holding hands]
1991: Unbelievable, by EMF [
say to me i don't talk enough but when I do I'm a fool]
1991: Around the Way Girl, by LL Cool J. [i need that around the way girl]
1990: Groove is in the Heart, by Deee-Lite [dance and have some fun, dig]
1989: Mayor of Simpleton, by XTC [never been near a university]
1988: Sweet Child O' Mine, by Guns N' Roses [she's got eyes of the bluest skies]
1987: Just Like Heaven, by The Cure [kissed her face and kissed her head]
1985: Raspberry Beret, by *Prince [something about the clouds and her mixed]
1984: Love is the Law by *The Suburbs [written on the wall, for everyone to see]
1983: Blister in the Sun, by The Violent Femmes [let me go wild]
1983: Atomic Dog, by George Clinton [
1982: Mexican Radio by Wall of Voodoo [eating barbecued iguana]
1982: We got the Beat by The Go-Gos [jump BA-yack!]
1981: Don't You Want Me? by The Human League [a waitress in a cocktail bar]
Upper Mississippi Shakedown, by *Lamont Cranston [got my car runnin']
1980: Crazy Little Thing Called Love, by Queen [ready Freddie]
1979: Cruel to be Kind, by Nick Lowe [love is bona fide, but that don't coincide]
1978: I Wanna be Sedated, by The Ramones [can't control my toes]
1978: Le Freak, by Chic [Nile Rodgers' chicka-chicka rhythm guitar]
1977: Car Wash, by Rose Royce [keep those rags and machines humming]
1976: Summer, by War [eight track playin' all your favorite sounds]
1976: Do Ya, by ELO [just to get a look to feel to touch her long black hair]
1975: Love Rollercoaster, by Ohio Players [say what?]
1974: Fox on the Run, by Sweet [O.K.! (O.K. O.K.) - you think you got a pretty face]
1972: Go all the Way, by The Raspberries [hold me close, don't ever let me go]
1972: Summer Breeze, by Seals & Crofts [blowin through jasmine in my mi-i-ind]
School's Out, by Alice Cooper [we got no class, and we got no princi-pals]
1971: Bang a Gong, by T-Rex [you've got the teeth of a hydra upon you]
1970: Venus, by The Shocking Blue [on mountain top, burning like a silver flame]
1970: Hawaii 5-0, by The Ventures [the drums, the guitars, and Jack Lord's hair]
1969: Cinnamon Girl, by Neil Young [i could be happy the rest of my life]
1968: Chain of Fools, by Aretha Franklin [chain-chain-chain...]
1967: Sweet Soul Music by Arthur Conley [
do ya like good music?]
1967: Little Bit o' Soul by Music Explosion [lot more kick with a little bit o soul]
1966: Pushin' too Hard, Seeds/Psychotic Reaction, Count 5/Dirty Water, Standells
Sunny Afternoon, by the Kinks [can’t sail my yacht- taken everything I got]
Dancing in the Streets, by Martha & Vandellas [swaying, record playing]
1965: Mr. Tambourine Man, by The Byrds [my boot heels to be wanderin']
1964: Surfin' Bird, *The Trashmen [pa pa ooh mow mow]
Wipeout, by the Surfaris [deedeedeedeedeedeedeedee]
1962: Liar, Liar, by *The Castaways [make a little effort, try to be true]
1961: Runaway, by Del Shannon [I wah-wah-wah-wah-wonder]
1960: Summer Wind, by Frank Sinatra [it lingered there... to touch your hair]
1960: Walk Don't Run, by The Ventures [the original]
1959: La Bamba, by Ritchie Valens [una poca de gracia, arriba y arriba]
1959: C'mon Everybody, by *Eddie Cochran [house is empty and folks are gone]

Hmm. Feels like I'm just barely scratching the (very white, very male) surface on this one. Any ideas? It could be an age, period, or cohort effect, but I could really feel the love for songs on one part of the list (you too? or did I mess up the songs from your favorite summers?). So, I guess I'll go with it and wallow semi-publicly in the nostalgia. I could have listed 50 songs from my pre-teen mid-1970s AM radio days, delivered in style by Tac Hammer and True Don Blue of KDWB. This was the soundtrack for the night games of the boys and girls of Ruby Drive. We played on the street from about suppertime to dusk, in the few precious summers squeezed between dependent childhood and the invidious distinctions and style choices of adolescence. Then somehow the stakes got too high and our tastes narrowed considerably. That's it! Tomorrow I'm definitely pushing some mid-seventies Sweet and War through the car speakers -- maybe Love is Like Oxygen or All Day Music -- to see how it holds up against some '05 Ben Lee and The Killers.

do you have any early nominees for summer 2006? i haven't heard anything like catch my disease yet, but the summer is young.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

slippin' down the registry slope

every state now maintains some sort of sex offender registry. in tennessee, illinois, and elsewhere the concept is apparently being extended to methmakers.

the meth registries aren't nearly as detailed as most states' sex offender registries, but they seem to be driven by the same sort of moral panic and desire for public stigmatization. this is part of a larger push for instantaneous public availability for all criminal records. even in the absence of state-sponsored registries, however, private firms are now providing such data cheaply -- often without giving much attention to false positive problems or distinctions such as arrests versus convictions.

while nobody wants a merry methmaker moving in next door, such registries surely complicate efforts at reentry and reintegration. no one much cares about the privacy rights of sex offenders; i suspect that meth manufacturers -- and virtually any other offender group one can name -- will find themselves in a similar position. in tennessee, registrants may not even petition to remove their names from the registry for seven years -- that's seven years after they have "paid their debt to society."

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

float on

about three years ago i was reviewing a tenure file and i noticed a funny speck on my right eye. as i moved my head, it would float across my field of vision like a cheap sci-fi spaceship. i tried washing, rubbing, blinking, squinting, and drowning my eye in visine, but the little spaceship would just float on.

after calling a nurse helpline and googling around a bit, i learned i had "floaters" or asteroid hyalosis (that's where i've seen 'em -- in the old arcade game asteroids). here are a few lines from my favorite serious medical definition:

asteroid hyalosis is a common degenerative process in which fatty calcium globules collect within the vitreous humor. These opacities move along with the vitreous humor when the eye moves.

is that the coolest collection of words and phrases? i'm definitely going to work "fatty calcium globules," opacities, and vitreous humor into an article at some point. it was especially helpful to learn this fun fact from the wikipedia entry:

it is not, however, only elderly people who suffer from floaters; they can certainly become a problem to younger people, especially if they are myopic.

myopic? who me? or am i elderly? and what's all this about suffering? it can be a little annoying to see the battlestar globulica gliding across everything one reads, but it sure ain't suffering.

floaters are really no big deal. they either go away after awhile or floatees (i prefer the term to "sufferers") simply stop noticing them. my friend ron aminzade said his disappeared after he "started doing yoga and stopped being chair." uh-oh. i'm just starting the chair thing and i'm way too flexibility-impaired to attempt yoga. other academic friends link floaters to stress, but i can only find anecdotal evidence on this point.

for now, the floaters are simply a constant uninvited companion. they don't really bug me, but i wish they'd make themselves useful and take notes on my reading or something.

note: the image above is a 2004 photo by elliott linwood. you can order it here.

Monday, June 05, 2006

another day at the mill

prepping for an interview with jeff schechtmann of kvon-am, i came across this stirring quotation from j.s. mill:

To discover to the world something which deeply concerns it, and of which it was previously ignorant; to prove to it that it had been mistaken on some vital point of temporal or spiritual interest, is as important a service as a human being can render to his fellow creatures...

what better inspiration for social scientists as we dig into our summer research projects? i immediately added it to the "meaning" section of my quote page but thought i'd share it here as well.

do we have great jobs or what? life is beautiful. anything is possible.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

when would you have your kid arrested?

under what conditions would you have your teenage kids arrested?

my local sheriff bob fletcher ordered his 17-year old son arrested on tuesday, after his ex-wife found the teenager passed out among syringes and other paraphernalia. sheriff fletcher is the most powerful elected law enforcement official in ramsey county, which includes the capitol city of st. paul in its jurisdiction.

many are criticizing the sheriff, saying that such matters are best handled in the home or with voluntary drug treatment. some cynical observers are even suggesting that sheriff fletcher ordered the arrest because he was up for re-election this fall and wished to appear "tough on crime." i can't imagine anyone raising teenagers would make such accusations, but people are willing to believe anything about elected officials. here's the sheriff:

"I love my son dearly, but right now, the best place for him is in the criminal justice system," he said. "The message I want to talk about is how important it is for parents not to defend their kid but to hold them accountable and to make the call, whether that call is to a crisis connection or a treatment center or a law enforcement agency."

i guess i would only make such a call if my children posed an imminent threat to themselves or others and my own efforts had failed to address the threat. i can't say whether this position would change if i were a sworn law enforcement officer, but i'd be capable of desperate action if i thought either of my kids were closing in on a fatal overdose. still, i think that scrutinizing the parents in such cases smacks of misplaced "piling on." these are families in pain, who have worked their way up a ladder of graduated treatment and punishment and now find themselves on the top rung with nothing to grab hold of.

i'm sad to admit that at 16 i once put my parents in a similar position. i can't say that i'm glad they called the police and had me arrested, but i know they didn't make the decision lightly and that they were desperately trying to act in my best interests. like the sheriff's kid, i had all the advantages of middle-class resources and parental support; everything turned out more-or-less okay for me. unlike the sheriff's kid, i was never charged with two felony counts for heroin and cocaine possession and gross misdemeanor escape. nor was my family drama played out in public.

every year, hundreds of adolescents and their families make their way through such trouble in ramsey county alone. here's hoping that in twenty-five years most of them will also be able to say "everything turned out more-or-less okay."

fine day for rugby

the minnesota high school rugby tournament was held this weekend. tor's mounds view club reigned as state champs for the past seven years, but lost the championship to a fine (and fasssst) south side club.

rugby is now tor's favorite sport, though he remains a 15 year-old novice. the lad played on the u16 team, though he's gunning for the a-side (u19) next year. at least he survived the season without major injury (his jaw doesn't close quite right; his shoulder pops in and out; his back could use a break from tossing people into the air).

i'm not sure whether he's attracted to the game itself, the supporting culture, or simply the low-pressure novelty of playing a club sport that isn't yet too popular (and, hence, disciplined) in the states. since i know nothing about rugby here or elsewhere, i can only make the most naive observations.

from tor's perspective, the game offers a few advantages over football: (a) opportunities for a big man to carry the ball and score; (b) greater tolerance for nonconformity; (c) a less regimented and militaristic organization (despite the US Marine Corps' sponsorship of today's event); (d) physical contact with guys he genuinely likes; and, (e) singing. i'm assuming that in a few years another element ((f) beer) will be added, making the sport all the more attractive.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

radio super soul

i'm loving my locked out radio tour thus far. it takes a little more mental energy than i'd budgeted, but it is the kind of energy that is fun to expend. each more-or-less daily interview lasts from ten minutes to an hour, with time at the front-end to get ready and at the back-end to settle down.

some of the hosts really do their homework. most would rather joust with a strong partisan activist than an academic, but i've gotten some good feedback and invitations back from at least a couple of the hosts or producers. we usually stick to the book, but i've also had occasion to draw upon my encyclopedic knowledge of the andy griffith show, twins baseball, local music, and other fun stuff during the interviews.

in truth, i've long harbored a dj fantasy. as an impressionable youth, i was much influenced by cleavon little's super soul rap to "the last free man on earth" in vanishing point. as in my fantasies, speaking directly with callers turns out to be a rush. it lets you teach about an area of research that you know well. but you have to do it outside the comfy environs of the classroom (and sometimes in hostile environs).

the only downside is the consistent mispronunciation of my name. everybody introduces me using the dreaded "UGH-UN." today in san antonio, yesterday on houston's KOLE, the day before on medford's KMED, the day before that on detroit's WJR, and so on with colorado springs' KCMN, jacksonville's WIOJ, milwaukee's WGTD... they all "welcome professor christopher ugh-un." my mother always taught me that it was impolite to correct folks in public, and what's more public than correcting radio hosts on their own shows? so i just lump it.

i'm starting to suspect that instant karma is at work here, as i've been known to spread wholly inaccurate rumors about friends and colleagues. doug hartmann? i've told many that he's actually the son of local sportswriting legend sid hartman (though the two had a falling out and neither will speak of it). the joey harrington-like minnesota grad and rising sociological star? hair plugs. all lies, of course, so i should have known that i'd suffer eventually. i'm now completely convinced that some joker is amending everything with my name on it to read "pronounced UGH-UN." i guess i deserve it.

aside from the mispronunciation, the hours are the only other drawback. i'm doing "conversations with peter solomon" in philadelphia at 5:30 (6:30 eastern) on sunday morning. exactly what kinds of conversations do people have at 5:30 am? coffee. please. sleep...

still, i'm not complaining. if they let us take callers, i'm sure me and pete will have ourselves a real good time.

Friday, June 02, 2006

the politics of oooh feelin' good

ann althouse directed me to a national review list of the "50 greatest conservative rock songs." this i had to read. some were predictable (e.g., the beatles' taxman and revolution; rush's the trees, which out-functionalists davis and moore). that said, i was impressed with many of the more obscure nuggets that john miller uncovered (does anybody else remember the rainmakers?).

at first blush, i thought that the songs would either be actual rock music but not recognizably conservative (e.g., blue oyster cult's godzilla) or actually conservative in tone, but not recognizably music (e.g., get over it, by the eagles). nevertheless, i like a lot of the music on the list and indeed the lyrics are either arguably or explicitly championing conservative causes. here are a few big government-hatin', israeli-sympathizin', mr. gorbachev tear down this wall-in', anti-choicin', welfare-trashin', confederate-lovin' rawk classics. i've excerpted a few lyrics and annotated to provide some evidentiary support for their appearance on the list.

10. 20th Century Man, The Kinks. [a real rave-up live]

I was born in a welfare state
Ruled by bureaucracy
Controlled by civil servants
And people dressed in grey
Got no privacy got no liberty
'Cos the twentieth century people
Took it all away from me.

12. Neighborhood Bully, Bob Dylan. [this one rocks too]

Well, he knocked out a lynch mob, he was criticized,
Old women condemned him, said he should apologize.
Then he destroyed a bomb factory, nobody was glad.
The bombs were meant for him.
He was supposed to feel bad.
He's the neighborhood bully.

21. Heroes by David Bowie. [love the production. this one might slip into my all-time top 10. still not convinced there's much politics here, though.]

I can remember
By the wall
And the guns
Shot above our heads
And we kissed
As though nothing could fall
And the shame
Was on the other side
Oh we can beat them
For ever and ever
Then we can be Heroes
Just for one day

30. You Can’t Be Too Strong, Graham Parker. [tough, tough, ballad on squeezing out sparks, a killer pub rock collection]

Did they tear it out with talons of steel,
And give you a shot so that you wouldn't feel?
And washed it away as if it wasn't real?
It's just a mistake I won't have to face,
Don't give it a name, don't give it a place
Don't give it a chance, it's lucky in a way...
The doctor gets nervous completing the service,
He's all rubber gloves and no head,
Yes, he fumbles the light switch, it's just another minor hitch,
Wishes to God he was dead.

36. Government Cheese, The Rainmakers. [name-checked chuck berry, harry truman, and mark twain on their only hit (Downstream), but these plain-spoken missourians produced several fine songs]

Give a man a free lunch and he'll figure out a way
To steal more than he can eat 'cause he doesn't have to pay ...
I don't believe in anything, nothing is free
They're feeding our people the Government Cheese

37. The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down, The Band. [only a canadian could have written this one. i'm not sure it qualifies as conservative, but it represents an unconventional sentimentality and the impressive songcraft characteristic of the band at their peak.]

Virgil Caine is the name and I served on the Danville train
'Til Stoneman's cavalry came and tore up the tracks again
In the winter of '65, we were hungry, just barely alive
By May the tenth, Richmond had fell, it's a time I remember oh so well

surely the nation could put together a wider and deeper list of lefty music, but the national review proves the point that conservative rock runs a little deeper than george senior air guitaring with lee atwater.

everybody is trying to earn cool points with their iPod playlists these days, but color me impressed with that of cnn's anderson cooper:

The Clash "This Is Radio Clash"
Scissor Sisters "Comfortably Numb"
Johnny Cash "Folsom Prison Blues"
Radiohead "Karma Police"
Sugar "Neele Hits E"
Ike & Tina Turner "Proud Mary"
Nouvelle Vague "Love Will Tear Us Apart"
Interpol "Slow Hands"
Arcade Fire "Wake Up"
Arctic Monkeys "I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor"
Mary J. Blige "No More Drama"
Devo "Freedom Of Choice"
Elvis Costello "Pump It Up"
The Hives "Hate To Say I Told You So"
Abbey Lincoln "Nature Boy"

dang. sugar, a joy division cover, and hate to say i told you so. it almost makes me want to order cable tv. oh yeah, and an iPod. do you think the hives are conservatives?

Thursday, June 01, 2006

huge is good, right?

i just submitted a paper that was due at "the end of may" at 11:58 pm on may 31. yeesh. it seems that the past few months i've been frantically rushing to meet even the simplest and most reasonable deadlines. and apologizing, of course, for missing other deadlines by phone and email.

i love getting email for both intellectual and personal reasons. sometimes, however, my inbox backs up on me like a basement sewer, until i'm knee-deep in the effluent of academic life. knowwhatimean? it makes it all the better when students email a little inspiration.

i bet you got some very nice cards and funny emails from students this year. you should take a few minutes to celebrate them. i'll share a couple. the top bloke card above came today in appreciation for "extraordinary effort to reach me when you were going to be a mere 20 min late (email, phone, and note on door - wow) and for the opportunity to work with you."

i also got this one today:

don't worry, I'm keeping my eye out for hard core sociology too - I'm sooooooooooooooo glad I got to work with you last summer, Chris, the sociological methodologies that you imparted have given me insights that continue to make an impact on the way I approach tasks now, and that experience has made me hopeful that I will put all of this knowledge to justice as I keep learning more. The collaborative efforts and accepting atmosphere that I witnessed and that I felt part of are such a gift...

nice. such sentiments are hardly representative, but nice to hear anyway. in the new grad division, i also got this poignant message a couple weeks ago:

hi Prof. Uggen,
this is ______. I just saw you the other day up at Shoreview community center. You're HUGE! but anyway i was wondering if you could give me some advice on finding a job. As you probably know i graduated last december with the BS degree, but i have been having a really hard time finding a job that puts my degree to use. I have put in a few applications with different counties and cities but i have had no luck. And it seems that all the positions don't really apply to my degree. If you have any advice or if you can point me in a direction I would greatly appreciate it. I'll see you around some time. Keep up the hard work at the gym.

no way dude, you're huge (huge is good, right?). i'm not sure whether the author understood my insecurities in raising a way-huge son or my anxiety about gaining weight before a marathon, but it was a nice message anyway. i'm not much help with job searching, but i was glad that this student reached out. i consulted with some other friends and colleagues and offered a lead that might possibly maybe could someday potentially turn into a job. i hope it works out. anybody who livens up the old inbox deserves a break...

have any students brightened your inbox lately?