Archive for the ‘fun’ Category

scary stuff trigger alert

Well, it’s the scariest time of year.  For some, the scariest stuff reaches its apotheosis on Election Day, Nov. 8, while for others, Halloween is the celebration of choice.  For a sociological take on the Oct. 31st festivities, check out Sociological Images’s compendium of Halloween blog posts.

I’ve been counting down these weeks to recommend reading  Margee Kerr‘s book Scream: Chilling Adventures in the Science of Fear (hat-tip to a neuroscientist friend for the rec), about the mechanisms underlying fear among humans.   In her book, Kerr takes readers on a worldwide journey to investigate fear in different contexts, from a derelict prison where inmates served their time in solitary confinement to Japan’s notorious Suicide Forest.

Kerr is also a practicing sociologist who also designs and refines an experimental haunted house,  ScareHouse, located in Pittsburgh.  In chapter 8 of her book, she describes how people want to bond with others after being scared and how she and colleagues have channeled that intense emotional energy with an anonymous “confessional” room where people can unload secrets.  Overall, Kerr’s experiences shows how sociology and related research can directly inform and shape experiences.

To learn more about fear from Kerr, read the Jezebel interview with Kerr here or watch this video on about how fear evolved and “Why is being scared so fun?”:

Now for some of our social scientists’ fear… Trigger warning !!! after the jump, courtesy of Josh de Leeuw.

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Written by katherinechen

October 25, 2016 at 11:07 pm

sushi, sushi

The blog Eccentric Culinary has a wonderful two part series on the development of Japanese cuisines in America (part 1 and part 2). The first part summarizes things well:

The official history of Japanese food in the United States says that Americans didn’t get a taste of raw fish and vinegared rice until the late 1960s, when groovy Hollywood stars and trendy Buddhist humbugs began turning the squares onto the best thing since sliced bologna: sushi.

But that’s wrong. The truth is that two generation earlier, in the first two decades of the 20th century, Americans knew all about Japanese food and enjoyed it so much that labor unions and American restaurant owners conspired to run the Japanese out of business and out of the country. Worse, these angry agents of change were mostly successful in that effort, launching a thirty-year-long campaign of hysteria, intimidation and misinformation, one that ended in 1924 with the passage of the Japanese Exclusion and Labor Act.

And, xenophobia rears its ugly head:

On May 20, 1907, however, things blew up. A group of union men caught four of their fellow unionists eating at the ten-cent Horseshoe Restaurant at 1213 Folsom Street. Beatings were handed out to the two men who were foolish enough to exit the restaurant through the front door. A crowd of Barbary Coast hoodlums, who had gathered to watch, turned it into a genuine donnybrook, rushing into the restaurant armed with crowbars, bats, fist and feet, bashing everyone and everything inside.

When the police declined an invitation to become involved, the fun spread to a Japanese bathhouse across the street. The demonstrations resumed again the next night, with less vigor, and four more nights after that, until the police, led by the Japanese counsel, Kazuo Matsubara, stood watch at the edge of Japantown.

Thus, began the decline of Japanese food in America. The story of the first sushi in America is worth reading as well.

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Written by fabiorojas

September 18, 2015 at 12:01 am

invierno chamame by richard scofano

Composition by Richard Scofano, Performed by Alfredo Minetti (p) and Richard Scofano (bandoleon).

50+ chapters of grad skool advice goodness: Grad Skool Rulz ($2!!!!)/From Black Power/Party in the Street

Written by fabiorojas

September 6, 2015 at 12:01 am

Posted in fabio, fun

orgtheory’s greatest hits

What are the most commented on posts in the blog’s history? According to WordPress, they are:

  1. The critical realism affair. Technically, Kieran’s critical realism post only got 122 comments, but taken together, the three CR posts got about 160 comments. That was the hardest blogging I ever loved.
  2. Should I stop teaching post-modernism? (144 comments)
  3. Elizabeth Berman’s inequality in the skies. (101 comments)
  4. GRE scores are valid. Sorry, guys. (99 comments).
  5. You know who in Texas. (74 comments)
  6. Brayden and Eszter’s book on online reputation. (74 comments)
  7. How I pick grad students. (63 comments)
  8. Is academia meritocratic? (63 comments)
  9. Steve Vaisey on how to theorize motivation. (58 comments)
  10. World Cup Survey. (57 comments)

Great mix of serious debate on issues ranging from social theory to stratification to social psychology to teaching. Other contenders: Brayden thinks Gladwell is sometimes really, really wrong (54); what has been accomplished with math soc? (51); Kieran discovers that me and one of my PhD students gamed his soc rankings (54); Gabriel Rossman’s infamous “assumptions” post (50); Chris Martin on White privilege (46); a discussion of Jessica Collette’s impostor syndrome research (47); and Chris Winship discusses the ASA amicus brief in the Walmart case (44).

50+ chapters of grad skool advice goodness: Grad Skool Rulz ($2!!!!)/From Black Power/Party in the Street

Written by fabiorojas

September 3, 2015 at 12:01 am

Posted in blogs, fabio, fun

snow snow snow

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.)


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Written by epopp

November 27, 2014 at 9:09 pm

hats and bluegrass. and whiskey. yes, please.

Thile’s Punch Brothers Play “Rye Whiskey.” via guest DJ M&M.

50+ chapters of grad skool advice goodness: Grad Skool Rulz/From Black Power

Written by fabiorojas

September 28, 2014 at 12:01 am


Some of you are attending the Academy of Management meetings this weekend in Philadelphia. As always, AOM is chock-full of parties, receptions, business meetings, and a few interesting panels as well. Here are a few of the panels that I think are worth seeing:

Habitus: Theoretical Foundations and Operationalization for Organization and Management Theory (including talks by John Mohr, Klaus Weber, & Marc Ventresca), Saturday at 11:45

Symbolic Management in the 21st Century (w/ Mike Pfarrer, Mae McDonnell, Jonathan Bundy, and myself), Monday at 9:45

Affinities of Language, Cultural Tool Kits, Institutional Logics: Advancing Strategies of Action (w/ Pat Thornton, Mary Ann Glynn, Steve Vaisey, Omar Lizardo, and Willie Ocasio), Monday at 11:30

The More the Merrier: Integrating Civil Society and the State in Innovation Research (including Huggy Rao, Bogdan Vasi, Sarah Soule, Jeff York, Chuck Eesley, and Shon Hiatt), Monday at 3

Where Do Capabilities Come From? (w/ Teppo Felin, Jay Barney, Michael Jacobides, and Todd Zenger), Monday at 4:45

The Manifestations of Social Class in Organizational Life (including a talk by my colleague Lauren Rivera), Tuesday at 9:45

And if you missed the OMT party last night, don’t worry, there’s another one Monday at 7:30 in room 204 of the Convention Center. There will be free drinks!

Written by brayden king

August 2, 2014 at 12:48 pm

how much to quantify the self?

Over at Scatterplot, Jeremy’s been writing about his life gamification experiment, which involves giving himself points for various activities he’d like to be doing more of. I find this sort of thing totally compelling and have to admit I’m now giving myself all sorts of points in my head. (Finish unpacking one box — 5 points! Send an email I’ve been procrastinating on — 5 points!) Although not in 100 million years could I get my husband to play along with me, even for brunch, of which he is fond.

Anyway, the game brought to mind this post from Stephen Wolfram, in which Wolfram presents a bunch of data from the last 25 years of his life. Here, for example, are all the emails he’s sent since 1989. (Note the sharp time shift in 2002, when he stopped being completely nocturnal.) He’s also got keystroke data, times of calendar events, time on the phone, and physical activity.

Plot with a dot showing the time of each of the third of a million pieces of email

Fascinating to read about, but perhaps not terribly healthy to pursue in practice. Although in Wolfram’s case, it sounds like he was mostly just collecting the data, not using it to guide his day-to-day decisions. Others become more obsessive. I don’t know if David Sedaris has really been spending nine hours a day walking the English countryside, a slave to his Fitbit, or if he’s taking poetic license, but it’s a heck of an image.

Clearly there are a lot of people into this sort of thing. In fact, there is a whole Quantified Self movement, complete with conferences and meet-up groups. One obvious take on this is that we’re all becoming perfect neoliberal subjects, rational, entrepreneurial and self-disciplined.

For me, though, what is fun and appealing as a choice — and I do think it’s a choice — becomes repellent and dehumanizing when someone pushes it on me. So while I’ll happily track my work hours and tally my steps just because I like to — and yes, I realize that’s kind of weird — I hate the idea of judging tenure cases based on points for various kinds of publications, and am uneasy with UPS’s use of data to ding drivers who back up too frequently.

It’s possible that I’m being inconsistent here. But really, I think it’s authority I have the problem with, not quantification.

Written by epopp

July 15, 2014 at 10:27 pm

the dark tree

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Written by fabiorojas

June 29, 2014 at 12:01 am

Posted in fabio, fun

water babies, shorter (1969)

50+ chapters of grad skool advice goodness: From Black Power/Grad Skool Rulz

Written by fabiorojas

June 22, 2014 at 12:01 am

Posted in fabio, fun

go > chess

A Wired article explains how artificial intelligence has now been able to crack the game of Go and why it’s harder than chess. From the write up:

Good opens the article by suggesting that Go is inherently superior to all other strategy games, an opinion shared by pretty much every Go player I’ve met. “There is chess in the western world, but Go is incomparably more subtle and intellectual,” says South Korean Lee Sedol, perhaps the greatest living Go player and one of a handful who make over seven figures a year in prize money. Subtlety, of course, is subjective. But the fact is that of all the world’s deterministic perfect information games — tic-tac-toe, chess, checkers, Othello, xiangqi, shogi — Go is the only one in which computers don’t stand a chance against humans.

This is not for lack of trying on the part of programmers, who have worked on Go alongside chess for the last fifty years, with substantially less success. The first chess programs were written in the early fifties, one by Turing himself. By the 1970s, they were quite good. But as late as 1962, despite the game’s popularity among programmers, only two people had succeeded at publishing Go programs, neither of which was implemented or tested against humans.

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Written by fabiorojas

June 6, 2014 at 12:06 am

Posted in fabio, fun, just theory

movies, movies, movies

I could have used some Grad Skool Rulz back in the day. But seeing as how I am solidly past that phase of my life, the single most useful orgtheory post I can remember was one on movie clips for undergraduate orgs classes, all the way back in 2008.

There were some great ideas in that post and its comments. The first few minutes of The Devil Wears Prada, where a dowdy Anne Hathaway shows up for an interview at high-fashion Runway magazine, is perfect for illustrating organizational culture. Thank you, commenter brubineau.

Brayden suggested back then, and Kieran seconded, Apollo 13 to show how bureaucracies can be efficient. I still use that, starting with “Houston, we have a problem” and ending with “We just lost the moon.” We watch the clip, then I ask the class which of Weber’s characteristics of bureaucracy they think is most dispensable here. When I can get undergrads arguing about Weber, I know I’ve done my job.

Beyond the suggestions in that post — and I’ve tried a bunch of them — I have two other teaching favorites. One is from Pentagon Wars, the single most organizational movie of all time, on the evolution of the Bradley Fighting Vehicle. Individuals rationally pursuing organizationally created inducements produce an incredibly dysfunctional outcome — very Carnegie School:

Col. Smith: In summation, what you have before you is…

Sgt. Fanning: A troop transport that can’t carry troops, a reconnaissance vehicle that’s too conspicuous to do reconnaissance…

Lt. Colonel Burton: And a quasi-tank that has less armor than a snow-blower, but carries enough ammo to take out half of D.C. This is what we’re building?

The other is the cool-as-a-cucumber George Clooney in Up in the Air — great for illustrating rationalization and the iron cage. The intro shows Clooney at his job, flying around the country firing people. Then we skip to the roll-out of the new, more efficient method: firing people by video chat. Gets them every time.

You will notice, though, that I’ve got a problem here. MY NEWEST MOVIE IS STILL FIVE YEARS OLD! And two of my four picks came out before my undergrads hit kindergarten. Okay, they never would have seen Pentagon Wars even if they were fifteen years older. But dude, it would be nice to at least pretend I’m keeping up with the times.

I looked, but didn’t see a newer movie thread. (Though Brayden had another short post even earlier, in 2006.) Anyone have other favorites from, you know, the 21st century?


Written by epopp

June 3, 2014 at 6:53 pm

Posted in fun

the hill where the lord hides

My man Chuck Mangione. Now, more than ever.

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Written by fabiorojas

May 18, 2014 at 12:15 am

Posted in fabio, fun

status bias in baseball umpiring

Jerry Kim and I have an op-ed in Sunday’s New York Times about our new paper on status bias in baseball umpiring. We analyzed over 700,000 non-swinging pitches from the 2008-09 season and found that umpires made numerous types of mistakes in calling strikes-balls. Most notably, we expected that umpires would be influenced by the status and reputation of the pitcher, and this is indeed what we found:

One of the sources of bias we identified was that umpires tended to favor All-Star pitchers. An umpire was about 16 percent more likely to erroneously call a pitch outside the zone a strike for a five-time All-Star than for a pitcher who had never appeared in an All-Star Game. An umpire was about 9 percent less likely to mistakenly call a real strike a ball for a five-time All-Star. The strike zone did actually seem to get bigger for All-Star pitchers and it tended to shrink for non-All-Stars.

An umpire’s bias toward All-Star pitchers was even stronger when the pitcher had a reputation for precise control, as measured by the career percentage of batters walked. We found that pitchers with a track record of not walking batters — like Greg Maddux — were much more likely to benefit from their All-Star status than similarly decorated but “wilder” pitchers like Randy Johnson.

Baseball insiders have long suspected what our research confirms: that umpires tend to make errors in ways that favor players who have established themselves at the top of the game’s status hierarchy. But our findings are also suggestive of the way that people in any sort of evaluative role — not just umpires — are unconsciously biased by simple “status characteristics.” Even constant monitoring and incentives can fail to train such biases out of us.

You can can download the paper, which is forthcoming in Management Science, if you’re interested in learning more about the analyses and their implications for theories about status characteristics and the Matthew Effect.

Written by brayden king

March 29, 2014 at 10:17 pm

i was blown away the day i saw yungchen lhamo play in bloomington seven years ago

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Written by fabiorojas

February 2, 2014 at 12:01 am

that philly groove, latin style

The insanely under appreciated Bobby Matos.

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Written by fabiorojas

December 22, 2013 at 12:01 am

Posted in fabio, fun

recorda-me, please, recorda-me

The bass intro bakes the cake.

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Written by fabiorojas

December 15, 2013 at 4:45 am

Posted in fabio, fun


Recuerdos de Alhambra performed by Jeff Linsky and Byron Yasui.

The Truth, The Truth: From Black Power/Grad Skool Rulz

Written by fabiorojas

December 1, 2013 at 3:00 am

the blogger from ipanema

Enlightenment in 140 Characters (or more): From Black Power/Grad Skool Rulz

Written by fabiorojas

November 10, 2013 at 12:21 am

Posted in fabio, fun

mas que nada

Not a bad remastering. Sounds great.

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Written by fabiorojas

November 3, 2013 at 12:01 am

Posted in fabio, fun

silly social movements #3: beer


Silly social movement #1 and #2.

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Written by fabiorojas

November 1, 2013 at 12:01 am

Posted in fabio, fun, social movements

flora purim/you’re everything

Written by fabiorojas

October 20, 2013 at 5:06 am

Posted in fabio, fun

arturo y dizzy

With a long medley-tastic Night in Tunisia rendition.

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Written by fabiorojas

September 22, 2013 at 12:08 am

Posted in fabio, fun

weekend quantum mechanics acapella video

Written by fabiorojas

September 21, 2013 at 12:41 am

Posted in fabio, fun

attention, chicago homies

I will be in Chicago this weekend. If you are child friendly and/or in the mood for pretentious art, please send me an email. Most action will be at Navy Pier, but appearances at other locations may be possible.

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Written by fabiorojas

September 16, 2013 at 12:47 am

Posted in fabio, fun

when fighting is normal

Russ Roberts interviews political scientist Mike Munger on the topic of rules and institutions, using sports as an example. One of the most interesting things about sports is that there are informal rules governing fighting. A few key ideas:

  • To decrease overall fighting, you allow a little bit. It acts as a deterrent.
  • In sports with little protection, like hockey or baseball, you get ritualized fighting.
  • In sports with ritualized fighting, you get fight specialists. You don’t want skilled players getting injured.
  • In low fighting sports, like football, you need to slow things down with heavy referee intervention.
  • Once you  protect athletes with equipment, fighting goes up because it is less damaging.
  • If sports becomes lucrative, then norms change to reduce fighting. You don’t want your money generating stars missing the game.

A nice discussion of how norms, rules, and technology all affect each other.

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Written by fabiorojas

August 22, 2013 at 12:01 am

“are you the last person in line?” – learning local norms

One of the somewhat terrifying or, for some of us, invigorating aspects of being an academic is learning and practicing cross-cultural and local norms, especially for research or travel. Typically, these lessons involve careful observation of what seems unthinkable (cutting in line?!? OR waiting one’s turn in line?!?), inadvertently breaking norms in front of aghast or amused locals, and the thrill of mastering a new skill.

In a few weeks, those of you who are relocating or returning to Britain might find the following links handy for immersion in the local milieu:

– “Feeling your life lacks excitement, so dunking your biscuit for an irresponsibly long time
– “The anxious bewilderment when clocking the stranger deciding to join the queue at your side rather than behind you
– “The unwelcome surprise of someone telling you how they are after you’ve asked them how they are”
– “Secretly hoping it stays cold so there’s always something to talk about”
– “Feeling guilty taking your M&S Bag For Life into Tesco

Coming to NYC for ASAs? Try season 8 of Curb Your Enthusiasm and brush up your “waiting on line” etiquette. Tip: don’t assume you’re at the back of the right line.

Written by katherinechen

August 2, 2013 at 9:30 pm

Posted in books, culture, fun

yes, duke played latin and quite well (for juan tizol)

With rare video of Tizol on valve trombone.

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Written by fabiorojas

May 19, 2013 at 12:20 am

the first documented pong game

Written by fabiorojas

May 12, 2013 at 12:02 am

attention stratification researchers: we now have seven social classes, i repeat: we now have seven social classes

From the UK, a new survey, conducted by the BBC and six universities, asserts that there are now seven social classes in Britain. The Guardian has a humorous take, using example from UK sitcoms:

Elite: General Melchett from Blackadder Goes Fourth. Braying, bellowing, incompetent and utterly contemptuous of the lower orders, Melchett would naturally expect to find himself at the top of the pecking order.

Established middle class: Margot and Jerry Leadbetter from The Good Life. As the establishment pillars of comfortable and conservative 1970s suburban society, the couple existed in pointed contrast to their more free-thinking neighbours Tom and Barbara Good.

Technical middle class: David Brent from The Office. Despite his supposedly rock’n’roll past, Ricky Gervais’s fist-gnawingly embarrassing general manager was resolutely middle class.

New affluent workers: Miranda from Miranda. Miranda Hart herself may be established middle class, but the heroine of her eponymous sitcom sits comfortably in a slightly lower category.

Traditional working class: Jim Royle from The Royle Family. Could Ricky Tomlinson’s armchair-bound, TV-addicted patriarch be anything other than proudly working class? My arse!

Emergent service workers: Maurice Moss from the IT Crowd. Young, nerdish and living at home with his mum, Moss could fit the emergent service worker class but probably needs a little work to increase his social and cultural capital levels.

Precariat: Rab C Nesbitt. Gregor Fisher’s much-loved and enduring sitcom creation has assumed the status of folk hero despite his resolutely unglamorous life.

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Written by fabiorojas

April 28, 2013 at 12:34 am

Posted in fabio, fun, sociology

the dalluhn manuscript

A very learned commentary on the first edition of Dungeons and Dragons. For example, where “alignments” come from:

First of all, the paper explores crucial editorial mistakes in the production of the earliest version of original Dungeons & Dragons (OD&D). These are cases where some passages in OD&D are inconsistent with the remainder of the text in a way that hints at what early drafts of OD&D must have looked like. Previously, these have been curiosities to scholars of OD&D. Why does the elemental monster text refer to elemental controlling devices as “medallions, gems, stones or bracelets” instead of the names in the magical item list? Why does the languages passage refer to alignment languages as “divisional” languages? How did the percentage range for the “Ring of Delusion” end up broken? With the Dalluhn Manuscript in hand, we can find answers to all of these questions: each inconsistency points to the content of an earlier draft, a pre-publication system which is preserved in the Dalluhn Manuscript. For “divisional languages,” for example, we learn that “dvision” was the name for “alignment” in Dalluhn.

Required for nerds.

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Written by fabiorojas

April 20, 2013 at 12:04 am

how to save the NSF’s budget with branding

Written by fabiorojas

April 16, 2013 at 12:39 am

once again, people, practice your backhand

Written by fabiorojas

April 7, 2013 at 12:01 am

new interpretation of baudrillard

Written by fabiorojas

April 6, 2013 at 12:01 am

three reasons danny trejo is awesome

Written by fabiorojas

March 17, 2013 at 12:41 am