Chris Uggen's Blog: November 2011

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

best winter songs - 2013 update

When I put up a list of winter songs in 2007, I really just wanted to spread a li'l love for flexible flyers and skyways. But so many folks are googling "best winter songs" that I try to patch up the links, update the list, and work in a few suggestions every year. Maybe I'm just paying more attention today, but I'm sensing a wintersong resurgence -- I added 5 songs for 2010, but could easily have added 5 more.

Almost everyone loves a good summer song, but what about winter songs? I'm not talking about played-out Christmas carols here, but other songs of the season.

Winter themes sometimes evoke bleak landscapes and chilled emotions. As a Minnesotan, however, I also associate winter with feelings of love, warmth, and safety. So, there's a duality in this list that is less apparent in summer music. There's also more cabin-fever inspired oddities than one might find on a summer list.

Here are links to a few personal favorites (and a few less-than-favorites), organized chronologically. I'd love to see your additions, since i'm guessing there's an iceberg of undiscovered wintersongs just beneath the surface. Stay warm...

• ol' hank, cold, cold heart (1951) and norah (2002) [via sarah]
• chet baker, grey december (1955)
• dean martin, baby it's cold outside (1959)
• albert iceman collins, frosty (1962)
• ian and sylvia, four strong winds (1963) [via travis]
• bob dylan, girl of the north country (1964)
• mamas and the papas, california dreaming (1965)
• simon and garfinkel, hazy shade of winter (1967) & bangles (1987)
• gordon lightfoot, song for a winter's night (1967) & sara mclachlan (1996)
• grateful dead, cold rain and snow (1967) [via @createsociology]
• doors, wintertime love (1968)
• ann murray, snowbird (1969) [see also elvis (1970) sufjan (2006)]
• nico, frozen warnings (1969)
• plastic ono band, listen the snow is falling (1969) & galaxie 500 (1992)
• bob dylan, winterlude (1970)
• neil young, helpless (1970)
• mountain, nantucket sleighride (1971)
• nick drake, northern sky (1971)
• black sabbath, snowblind (1971)
• rolling stones, winter (1973)
• edgar winter group, frankenstein (1973) with johnny winter (1992)
• gil scott-heron, winter in america (1974)
• reo speedwagon, ridin' the storm out (1974)
• frank zappa, don't eat the yellow snow (1974)
• steely dan, charlie freak (1974)
• rush, by-tor and the snow dog (1975)
• tommy bolin, sweet burgundy (1976)
• neil young, winterlong (1977) and pixies (1989)
• steve miller band, winter time (1977)
• jerry "snowman" reed, west bound and down (1977) & breakdown
• the cure, winter (1979)
• squeeze, up the junction (1979) and if i didn't love you (1980)
• joy division, love will tear us apart (1980)
• klaus nomi, the cold song (1982)
• peter auty, walking in the air (the snowman) (1982)
• aztec camera, walk out to winter (1983)
• stevie ray vaughan, cold shot (1984)
• husker du, flexible flyer (1985)
• replacements, here comes a regular (1985)
• dream academy, life in a northern town (1985)
• replacements, skyway (1987) & messersmith (2009) & carrabba (2011) & finn (2012)
• husker du, ice cold ice (1987)
• the pogues, fairytale of new york (1988)
• jane siberry, hockey (1989) [via kieran]
• vanilla ice, ice ice baby (1990)
• guy, let's chill (1990)
• tori amos, winter (1991)
• albert collins, iceman (1991)
• screaming trees, winter song (1992)
• social distortion, cold feelings (1992)
• xtc, always winter never christmas (1992)
• radiohead, fake plastic trees (1995)
• hoven droven, okynnesvals (1996)
• mazzy star, flowers in december (1997)
• hedningarna, hoglorfen (1997)
• svala björgvinsdóttir, once upon a december (1997)
• eagle eye cherry, save tonight (1998)
• madonna, frozen (1998)
• sigur rós, svefn g englar (1999)
• aim, cold water music (1999)
• glay, winter again (1999)
• nick cave, fifteen feet of pure white snow (2001)
• low, last snowstorm of the year (2002)
• nada surf, blizzard of '77 (2002)
• white stripes, cold, cold, night (2003)
• fountains of wayne, valley winter song (2003)
• animal collective, winter's love (2004)
• the caesars, the winter song (2005)
• afi, love like winter (2006)
• joshua radin, winter (2006)
• red hot chili peppers, snow (2006)
• iron and wine, wolves (songs of the shepherd's dog) (2007)
• elliott smith, angel in the snow (2007)
• gwen stefani, early winter (2007)
• bon iver, skinny love & flume (2008)
• fleet foxes, white winter hymnal (2008)
• glasvegas, S.A.D. light (2008)
• the avett brothers, january wedding (2009)
• sleigh bells, ring ring/rill rill (2010)
• MGMT, siberian breaks (2010)
• the coral, walking in the winter (2010)
• vampire weekend, horchata (2010)
• the kissing party, winter in the pub (2010)
• the decemberists, january hymn (2011)
• donald fagen, weather in my head (2012)
• ed sheeran, the a team (2012)
• van halen, stay frosty (2012)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

me and the board

The last Minnesota-grown issue of Contexts has now officially mailed, ending my 4-year hitch as a magazine editor. The section editors and authors were amazing and I learned a ton working with co-editor Doug Hartmann, Letta Page, Jon Smajda, and the good folks at the American Sociological Association. Truth be told, however, I found the most joy in working with our graduate student board. Stop by my office sometime to take in the wall display at left, showing the student board in all their creative glory.

As we write in our last "From the Editors" column (below), Contexts now rests in the good and capable hands of new editors Jodi O’Brien and Arlene Stein -- I hope they have as much fun with it as we did. We haven't broken up the band, though, so you can still check us out at

In the meantime, here are a few last words:

Naked Dreams

We’ve all had some variant of the “naked dream”—you’re waiting in line at Starbucks or checking the copy machine at work when it dawns on you: you’re completely undressed. Here at Contexts, our authors have that dream all the time.

Writing a 3,000 word feature for a public audience, our contributors must dispense with the everyday apparel of scholarly publication. The layers of conceptual abstraction, the high-end designer methods and statistics, and the foundational undergarments of literature reviews—all gone. With all that stripped away, there’s no way to conceal vulnerabilities and authors can feel pretty exposed. As in naked dreams, though, when we first begin writing for a public audience, we tend to exaggerate the risks while underplaying the liberation and exhilaration that comes from breaking new ground. But that doesn’t mean the risks aren’t real.

We saw a bit of this in the kerfuffle over the American Sociological Association’s award for “Excellence in the Reporting of Social Issues,” which went this year to New York Times columnist David Brooks. When sociologists protested, in part due to Brooks’s conservative politics, the knee-jerk opposition seemed to undermine calls for broad-based public relevance and engaged scholarship—or, at least, to recast those calls as more narrowly partisan projects. While we might disagree with how Mr. Brooks uses our work, we defend his right to read, interpret, and mobilize sociological research and appreciate his high-profile efforts to do so. (Indeed, you may remember that we learned a lot about the challenges of disseminating sociology from Brooks in an interview published in one of our first issues.) We’ve actually heard similar professional resistance to popularizers like Malcolm Gladwell who distill and market social science for audiences a thousand times larger than that of our flagship journals. Even when members of our own tribe cross over and achieve a modicum of popular success, critics seem to burst from the woodwork to call into question their seriousness.

We’ve always tried to come from the other side at Contexts, putting our editorial energies into celebrating and effectively conveying good social science with real public relevance. Our graduate and national boards, web and section editors, and managing editors Letta Page and Amy Johnson have made heroic efforts in support of this mission. Our final issue features some terrific examples, with pieces on innovation, adoption, recreation, and closure. Sociologists have something important to say about such irreducibly social phenomena, and it has been our joy and pleasure to help tell their stories.

We couldn’t do any of this, of course, without your indefatigable energy as readers and supporters. Rest assured that new editors Jodi O’Brien and Arlene Stein will bring a fresh perspective that takes Contexts in exciting new directions. We’re cooking up some new ideas as well, developing and expanding our web-based project at, which will continue to host While such transitions might leave us feeling a bit exposed, we’re even more exhilarated about finding new ways to bring social science to broader publics.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

google scholar and high-impact publication

Academics feel narcissistic or anti-intellectual when we check citations to our work, but it isn't just an ego thing. Citations tell us who is using our research and who we should be reading -- a big help in making intellectual connections. If we really want people to read the work we spend so much time writing, then we need to figure out why some articles rise and others (ahem) drop from cite. Analysis can also reveal correctable mistakes. We may have written the right paper for the wrong audience or used a title or abstract that all but guaranteed our work would never be read or referenced.

I ran the numbers, but never looked much at citation indexes until seeing Google Scholar, which tends to be more inclusive and useful than other indexes. Editing, though, I'm starting to think we need new ways of measuring both scholarly and public impact. For example, I'm convinced that Lisa Wade and Gwen Sharp are having an enormous impact at sociological images, but it isn't (yet) counted in ways that make sense to the Social Science Citation Index or Google Scholar. I'm not just talking about hit counts -- increasingly, students and other scholars are adopting the site's sensibility and and its application to the visual social world.

For now, though, Google Scholar represents a huge advance over the sort of citation trackers we had just a few years ago. Seeing Philip Cohen's google scholar profile this morning, I made my own. A few observations:

1. Scale. Before constructing such a profile, you should know that some people and papers get cited a lot, but it takes most of us a few years to develop an audience. Nobody cited my stuff at all as an assistant professor, but folks began excavating the nuggets once a few pieces got a little attention. In Google, as elsewhere, try not to compare yourself against the standard set by the top senior scholars in your field (a.k.a. "Sampson Envy").

2. Inclusiveness. Google scholar is indeed more inclusive than other sources. For me, at least, it includes three times the citations and twice the number of writings than SSCI (2,578 citations in Google to 84 "things" (articles, chapters, grant reports, committee documents) and 767 citations in SSCI to 35 journal articles)). Some may find it overinclusive, but Google seems far more effective in bringing to light intriguing intellectual connections. For instance, I learned that a Swedish economist found use for one of my papers in a presentation on the "entrepreneurial life course of men and women" -- which jazzed up my own thinking about a project on entrepreneurship and prisoner reentry.

3. Bias? For me, at least, the Social Sciences Citation Index seems to give a pretty misleading picture of scholarly impact. Since SSCI doesn't count books or book chapters, it misses a couple more-cited pieces -- a book with Jeff Manza and a popular chapter in an edited volume. [Junior scholars are often told to avoid writing book chapters, but some of them seem to find a pretty good audience.] Also, when I rank the articles by citation count, Google seems to have better face validity -- it does a better job picking up the contributions that people ask me about than SSCI. As chair in a department that values both books and articles, the omission of books in any index is really problematic. I haven't done a careful analysis, but my sense is that Google Scholar is also better than SSCI at tracking my criminological and interdisciplinary work.

4. Flagships. But still .... articles in the so-called sociology flagships get cited way more often than articles in other journals or book chapters. By either index, my 3 most-cited pieces (and 6 of the top 16) appeared in American Sociological Review or American Journal of Sociology.

5. Future. I expect that people will always want to assess the scholarly and public impact of academic work, and that these tools will evolve rapidly. Google Scholar offers a great set of tools already, but I suspect we'll soon be able to run much more sophisticated searches that allow us to track impact across a broader spectrum of outlets. People are sure to debate "what counts" as a citation, but the really big honkin' question concerns "what counts" as scholarly publication. My sense is that journal impact will remain important, but we'll soon have the tools to identify and assess a more robust and varied set of impacts.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

fresh crim at ASC meetings

I arrived late and left early at this year's criminology meetings, but the two days in Washington, DC were terrific. I'm always inspired by forward-looking talks that put a big issue on the table, especially those that could spark public discussion and, perhaps, intervention.

The paper that really turned my head this year was Bob Agnew's general strain model of the impact of climate change on crime. Professor Agnew made a convincing and nicely documented case that climate change will "increase strain, reduce social control, weaken social support, foster beliefs favorable to crime, contribute to traits conducive to crime, increase opportunities for crime, and create social conflict." After 15 minutes, he had me convinced that climate change could become a driving force of crime rates over the next century.

Sara Wakefield and Simon Cole offered a similarly future-directed and provocative talk on racial disparities in DNA databases. Every state is now collecting DNA -- in many cases for arrestees, as well as those convicted of crimes. While acknowledging potential gains to public safety, the paper raised large and timely issues about how such data collection affects surveillance and inequality. We heard evidence about what the databases look like now, but everyone in the room expected them to grow dramatically in coming years.

I've worked a lot with Sara, of course, so I'm not exactly unbiased about her work -- or that of other Minnesota grads at the meeting (including the program co-chair, Ryan King). This year, I gave talks with current grad students Suzy McElrath (above), Jessica Molina, and Heather McLaughlin (all attending their first ASC meeting), as well as Brianna Remster of Penn State. I mostly sat in the background scribbling (as above), while my collaborators did the heavy lifting.

My only solo presentation came at Madam's Organ Blues Bar's Thursday night Karaoke. Like the two papers above, my rendering of Sinatra could spark public discussion and, perhaps, intervention.