Archive for the ‘what does this have to do w/ org theory?’ Category
Question: In the movie Interstellar, what is the one thing that an advanced human race can not accomplish?
- Building a five dimensional tesseract allowing people to cross time itself.
- Making a wormhole connecting distant parts of the universe.
- Colonization and exploration of new planets.
- Letting the Black Guy live to the end of the movie.
If you said 1, 2 or 3, then you know jack about science fiction. TV Tropes has a great list: The one guy killed in The Shining is Dick Halloran; in Deep Blue Sea, Samuel Jackson is eaten by a shark; X-Men First class kills the only black character very quickly; in the Alien films, Black characters die early and fast; and so forth. Recent film isn’t much better. The last Riddick film had only 8 characters – and all 4 people of color die. At least they let Jeffrey Wright live in The Hunger Games – but only after crippling him and putting him in a wheel chair.
I had my hopes up for Interstellar. Dr. Romilly is the dude with the most brain power. You’re going to need a Ph.D. in astrophysics if the human race will be saved. So I’m like, ya, this guy will live to the end. But no!!! Blown up by Matt flippin’ Damon, fer cryin’ out loud. At least they could’ve softened the blow by tossing in Affleck.
Here in the non-Buffalo part of upstate New York, we just got our first big snow dump of the year. Okay, it was seven inches, not sixty, but enough to create that Winter Wonderland effect. Fortunately for us, my family’s not traveling till Saturday, so we’re not stuck in an airport or behind an accident on the interstate, but watching from our cozy living room.
Last year, we were living in central New Jersey. It’s only 3 1/2 hours to the south, but what a world of difference in terms of weather. 2013-14 was one of the ten snowiest winters in NJ, but it was still a bit less snowy than an average winter in Albany. (And Albany only gets two-thirds the snow of Buffalo, and just over half that of Syracuse.)
The big difference, of course, is that Albany is prepared for 60 inches of snow a year. Central New Jersey is not.
So, you know, we did all the things that northerners do when faced with the obvious weakness of those in more southerly climes — mostly mock them for closing things down at the first indication of snow. Of course, we realize that that’s just compensating for the fact that we live somewhere with six months of winter, but we’ll take what we can get.
Anyway, there was a map going around last winter that showed the inches of snow at which school is typically canceled in various places in the U.S. (It originally came from an awesome sounding Reddit called MapPorn.)
Okay, so probably most of you probably aren’t at the Social Science History Association meetings in Toronto over the next few days. But some of you will be. And those lucky folks are in for four days of interdisciplinary historical social science (program here).
SSHA is my favorite conference. I’ve only been going for four or five years, but it’s quickly become the one I can’t stand to miss.
My understanding — I feel like this story used to be on the SSHA website, but I can’t find it there now — is that the organization was started in the 1970s, when quantitative history was becoming a thing. It brought together interested historians, historical demographers and economic historians, and comparative-historical sociologists into one place — basically, anyone who was interested in historical social science, or the social scientific study of history.
Over the years it’s grown and evolved, as trends have come and gone in its component disciplines. I’ve often heard SSHA described as three separate conferences that happen to meet in the same place at the same time — one of comparative-historical folks, one of historical demographers, and…I’m not sure what the third is. Economic historians? This may be true, but they all seem to get along pretty well, so far as I can tell. Maybe we’re just grateful to be somewhere where historical research doesn’t have to be justified.
However, my impression is that in the few years I’ve been going, SSHA has been attracting more and more sociologists, including a surprising number who don’t do historical work. (For example: Alice Goffman is doing an author-meets-critics panel this year. But that’s just one instance of many.)
On the one hand, it’s basically the people I like hanging out with, so awesome. On the other, I’m not sure what it means for the future of SSHA, if it becomes “Berkeley-Michigan sociology” rather than “interdisciplinary history.”
I organized a couple of panels on experts and policy (see after the jump), which I think have shaped up really well, and am presenting a paper on how the (brief) government craze for systems analysis helped spread economists throughout the federal bureaucracy in the 1960s.
I’d say drop me a line if you want to grab coffee, but you know, I’ll probably run into you.