John Lemon's Barrel of Fish

Posterboy for the whining conservative academic set. Candidate for troll of the week.





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Saturday, May 10, 2003

 
I'D LIKE TO THANK THE ACADEMY

The Lemonhead has picked up his second "Beltie," for his shrewd and pithy caption for OTB's regular caption contest.

posted by John at 3:53 PM

Friday, May 09, 2003

 
PHOTO FINISH

As mentioned some time ago, I am a big fan of photography and love to peruse the MSNBC.com "Week in Pictures" website and vote for my favorite. One glaring omission from this week's pictures (and last week's depending when they actually post) is any picture of President Bush on the Licoln. Without doubt, there are some truly amazing pictures, as witnessed by the new headline photo at Blogs of War.

Another thing I've noticed over time has been the difference between the "critics' picks" (which come out at the end of the year, and the public's choices. The critics tend to prefer tragedy. Granted, it makes for gripping photojournalism and there has been plenty of opportunity for that over the past two years. The critics' picks were usually dominated by Afghanistan or Iraq. In contrast, the public usually votes for pictures of hope and achievement. Witness this week's leading candidate to date -- a soldier being greeted by his two boys after returning home. (Note: This ranking may change, but I am betting it doesn't.) Likewise, the public usually picks pictures that would warm someone's heart rather than cause sorrow. Reflecting on this, I think this is indicative of the difference between liberals (art critics are overwhelmingly liberal/left, and if you don't think so you are really hallucinating) and conservatives (a.k.a., flyover country, the "red" states). Having been a campus radical back in my youth, I can truly say that I like casting my lot with the latter rather than the former.

P.S. As of 1:30 a.m. EDT, the photo with the least number of votes was the one taken at the recent Democratic debate of Al Sharpton and Joe Lieberman. If you are a Democrat, you should be saying "uh-oh."

posted by John at 10:27 PM

 
PERESTROIKA REVISITED

Well, I've always been told not to send email when your pissed off. I guess this goes for blogging too. However, being pissed off makes for good blogging, methinks.

Anyways, my post on the perestroika movement below needs a bit of modification, especially since I've been to the gym and am in a better mood. Here goes.

James at OTB commented: "I think you've got it largely backwards on who the sides were. Postmodernism was rather prevalent in APSA, and certainly APSR. Virtually everything in that journal for years has been impenetrable pseudo-scientific nonsens using vague statistics to answer questions to which maybe a dozen people wanted to answer. Post-Perestroika, the articles seem to now cover a much more interesting range of questions. It's not longer just American politics through the ideas of the behaviorists."

I agree to a point. The articles in the APSR were heavily-laden towards American politics and there was a big tendency towards behavioralism. (Ironically, the current editor is of that mold.) However, a bit part of the perestroika movement, as I understood it, was anti-rational choice, which also tended to be predominant in the APSR. For those of you not in the know, "rational choice theory" is essentially microeconomic cost-benefit theory, which is given a broader name as it has influenced other fields (by way of Gary Becker and some other public choice economists). Let it be known that I am a practioneer of that approach, though not dogmatically so. (I also do it on a subject matter that even economists are skeptical of and so I seem to have lots of enemies -- there is actually a website devoted to criticizing my work, which in turn was mentioned in another book). The political theory that was published in the APSR was more along the lines of traditional liberal theory. Many of the po-mos that I know absolutely abhorred the APSR and were big advocates of perestroika (in poli sci, not the USSR). That is probably where I have my strong association between po-mo and perestroika.

James is right that the perestroika movement involved many non-po-mo types such as Theda Skocpol. A funny thing is that one of the positions of the perestroika crowd was to have contested elections for the APSA president, which I'm fine with. Skocpol was known to support this position. However, when she was appointed president-elect, she flip-flopped and opposed any contestation of her appointment. As James would say, "heh." And James is of the same mind as me when it comes to the APSR of old; I haven't read an article in it in the last 5 years. The modal number of citations an APSR article garners is zero. The bigger problems in political science and the social sciences are: (1) there is too much being published for the sake of publishing; and (2) too much emphasis on counter-intuitive thinking (more on that later).

As for the new APSA journal, "Perspectives..." I agree with James. It does discuss broader issues and it looks promising to start with (albeit the front cover was a bit biased, wouldn't you agree? What ever happened to the "neutral" cover option. Although I do also think Rumsfeld looks like the more intelligent one on the first cover.)

I guess I am just grumped by the silliness of this all. Having attended the perestroika panel a few APSA conferences ago, it felt like this was just a bunch of hippies and hippie-wanna-bes who didn't have anything better to do with their time. I stood next to some greying pony-tail who wanted to lead the crowd in a march somewhere (he really didn't know where to go) to show that the perestroika voice is large. It just doesn't seem like these people have any perspective on life or their place in it. (Again, I am aware of the irony of posting this and being a blogger.) For me, instead of worrying about this any more, I am going home tonight to play some baseball with my son and then go see a movie.


posted by John at 11:23 AM

 
THIS SUCKS

Speaking as somebody who flies frequently, but not well, always wear your seatbelt on an airplane.

posted by John at 10:58 AM

Thursday, May 08, 2003

 
TOP GUN

Okay. That does it. I'm trading in my Nordstrom three-piece for a flight suit during class.

posted by John at 9:20 PM

 
OUR DISTINGUISHED LITERARY CLASS

In case you don't subscribe the Wall Street Journal -- in print or online -- here is Norman Mailer's response to Dennis Miller's amusing op-ed piece of the other day.

Dear Dennis,
Just because the two big guys who flanked you on Monday Night Football took away your balls and left you with a giggle in replacement doesn't mean you have to suck up to the Wall Street Journal.
But thanks for appreciating my fine use of "keen."
Keep up, then, to my piece and read it again without panic. Your're too good to become a squalid and kiss-ass for so little.
Cheers, blessings,
Norman Mailer
Provincetown, Mass


Hey, Norman...wow, you're about as brilliant of a writer as a blogger who doesn't get paid. You're a pathetic has-been who, considering your fetish for murderers, really should never have been. Move to France; they'll love you there.

(From this post and the one below, can you tell that the ole Lemonhead is a bit tired and irate tonight?)

posted by John at 9:04 PM

Wednesday, May 07, 2003

 
HOMELESS ON THE RANGE

FYI folks. Today I did something I rarely do while teaching. I jumped on a soapbox and went off on a number of stupid myths about a variety of topics including "hunger" in America (which is being redefined as "food insecurity" -- hint, your slightly chunky Lemonhead, who has run marathons, is "food insecure") and "homelessness." I told a group of stunned undergrads that the reason the vast majority of homeless people are the way they are is not because of housing shortages and high prices, but because of dysfunctional behavior (e.g., drinking, drugs, mental dysfunction). This sounded very, very cruel to them, but I reminded them that providing low income housing for people who won't live in it is a waste of money that could be used for other things such as treating these people for their dysfunctional behaviors. I'm guessing that I will get a few complaints on my student evaluations, but the funny thing is I won't be giving student evals for this course since I have tenure. Hah! However, I'm waiting for the thought police to be knocking on my door soon. Stay tuned.

posted by John at 11:13 PM

 
I'M SO VAIN, I BET I THINK THIS POST IS ABOUT ME...

John Lemon has made the "Carnival of the Vanities" over at Common Sense and Wonder -- one of my favorite sites, though I don't comment there much, preferring instead to bother like-minded PhDs at OTB and Polibog. The Carnival seems to be a roving collection of interesting blog posts over the past week. You can find me by clicking the "L" (for Lemon, I presume). I am quite honored to be selected, though I'm really curious about the "vanities" part of this carnival. Does blogging make me a megalomaniac? Was Carly Simon's song really about me? If I'm so vain, why am I still so anonymous?

posted by John at 11:07 PM

 
SIMPLE MINDS

Business Pundit has a couple worthwhile posts involving what probably amounts to really stupid, ambiguous polls (e.g., the poll saying a vast majority of Americans want more business regulation). Likewise, I ran across one a rather stupid poll on MSN.com. I've been spending the past couple weeks with my stats class on the methodological problems that may arise in polls, so I've been sensitized to this issue. The first questions asks:

"How much do you agree or disagree with the following statement?: The economy should be President Bush's primary concern."

While I understand this is trying to get at the nation's priorities, it just struck me as being a stupid question that implies that either (a) the public, (b) the president, or (c) both are simple-minded. Here's why. One of the president's major jobs is to appoint a cabinet -- i.e., a set of advisors and administrators that can examine and manage complex issues and give advice to the president. It is therefore possible for the president to put high priority on a number of issues simultaneously. For some reason, the above question seems to imply that the president can only handle one task at a time. Now I will grant that in his 24 hours, the president may devote more minutes to discussing foreign policy, especially during a war...but that doesn't mean that the economy isn't a priority, or that it is on the backburner. The president insn't a simpleton, and I think most voters know full well that Mr. Bush can multitask rather efficiently, just like the rest of us. It seems as if journalists are the only ones that can't handle this.

(P.S. Please don't take this as a critique of polling, or even social science methodology, per se. This is simply a critique of a single question that I've finally decided is fairly useless in the information it conveys.) ...and don't you forget about me...la la la la la la.



posted by John at 11:00 PM

 
THE PARENT TRIP

While this advice may be tempting, my firm grasp of reality tells me that this guy should not be a parent, nor an author. Why can't the cops swoop in and haul this guy's sorry ass of an excuse for a father to prison?!

posted by John at 8:47 PM

Monday, May 05, 2003

 
COURTESY FLUSH

It amazes me that at public institutions that are supposed to house the very best and brightest minds in the world, people still have trouble flushing the urinals and toilets. Jumpin' jimminy people, haven't you ever heard of a courtesy flush...now more than ever.

Seriously, though, what is it that prevents people from flushing?

posted by John at 11:09 PM

 
SICK OF DIVERSITY?

From the city that brought you restrictions on midnight shopping, comes a university so antithetical to diversity that you would have to be sick to stay away.

posted by John at 11:03 PM

 
AND WE WANT THESE PEOPLE TO REBUILD IRAQ?

An interesting news story about the real U.N. in Time Magazine.
(Hat tip: Opinionjournal.com's Best of the Web)

posted by John at 4:18 PM

 
FROM A CHILL WIND TO FLAMING MUTANTS

Ryan McGee (who?) has a really idiotic commentary on the social relevance of X2: X-Men United. At first I thought he was going to talk about the difficulties of certain minorities blending into the melting pot (or "salad bowl" as it is now referred to). Instead, he echoes Tim Robbins' comments about how hard it is to be a liberal nowadays. The bottom line is that, as a liberal, Mr. McGee feels as equally misunderstood and ostracized as some guy who has metal claws coming out of his hands or a teenager that likes to burn cop cars. His recommendation is that liberals learn from X2 in their coming campaign. Yeah, be my guest...that's really good advice.

posted by John at 3:14 PM

Sunday, May 04, 2003

 
HEAD'S UP

OK, it looks from opinionjournal.com that Dennis Miller will be having an editorial coming out in tomorrow's WSJ. Since I'm not an East Coast blogger, or even an early riser in the Midwest, all I can say is that it may be worth a read. There! While the rest of you are peacefullly slumbering at 2:00 a.m. on the East Coast, the Lemon gets a minor scoop. (OK, so I don't have a subscription to certain sections of WSJ.com, which would allow me to actually read the thing, but I do get the paper version and my paperboy isn't here yet.)

UPDATE: I did read the Miller op-ed this morning. It was funny and cutting, as you would expect from Dennis Miller. However, it also reminded me why I stopped watching Monday Night Football. His humor is a bit patronizing and smarmy (kind of like a "lounge intellectual" -- the guy trying to pick up the hot chicks by impressing them that he's read Foucault). Fortunately I am pretty smart and picked up on most of his references, but a few did get by me. Sadly for my reputation as a scholar, I'm not one of those well-rounded Oxford dons types (I'm more of a technocratic economist in my thinking).

posted by John at 11:00 PM

 

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