Saturday, January 20, 2018

Patrick Sharkey on the Urban Crime Decline

Patrick Sharkey, a sociologist at New York University, has a new book out called Uneasy Peace: The Great Crime Decline, the Renewal of City Life, and the Next War on Violence.

His recent op-ed in The New York Times is a good read. Entitled "Two Lessons of the Urban Crime Decline," he mentions benefits that have accompanied the decline in violence. Three examples:

1. Lives saved because of a lower homicide rate (and a increase in life expectancy for black men).
2. Safer public schools resulting in a better learning environment and improvements in academic achievement.
3. A reduction in concentrated poverty ("The drop in violent crime has led better-off families to move into poorer city neighborhoods").

He touches on some of the same points in an interview with NPR. And, at the end of the interview, he describes a major change in the experience of urban poverty this way: "So across the country, for several decades, living in poverty used to mean living with the constant threat of violence. That hasn't gone away. There are certain cities that are still intensively violent, but it's no longer true in most of the country."

Sign of the Times

Took this picture today while driving in my suburban town: "Shoot Your Local Heroin Dealer"

Monday, January 15, 2018

Avocado Toast > Crinkle Cut Jicama

The Millennials get a bad rap. If I were to rank generations, I'd slot them at #2, only behind Generation X. I just enjoyed avocado toast for breakfast so that's my homage to Millennials. I didn't really need to pay my mortgage this month anyway.

Truth be told, if you have an avocado in the house ($2) and a loaf of bread on hand, you don't *actually* have to choose between avocado toast and paying your bills. This is not something I'd pay a lot for at a restaurant, but it's a reasonable option for me at home.

At the grocery store this morning I noticed new items. Like, damn, $7-$8 for crinkle cut jicama, beets, carrots, or butternut squash. How many ways can you say hell no? Not to disrespect these fine ingredients (especially beets, which are underrated) but to say THAT'S not in the food budget. Now, same as the avocado toast, one can do a homemade version of these, or, as I like to do, just buy a 99 cent bag of baby carrots and move on with life. But we all have our food budgets and preferences.

Though, I have to say, it's amazing to me that these items cost as much as a package of chicken breasts. Cost me $8.02 to buy 1.5 lbs of chicken breasts. I know I could save money if I bought chicken in larger size packages so I'm not exactly religious about the food budget. It does say something about my social class position that I can spend $8 on chicken without worrying too much about slimming down that part of my food budget. I have all this on the brain because my Social Stratification course begins tomorrow and I'm very interested in food and social class. We like to make pop sociology observations about generations but often when we do so we *actually* obscure social class analysis.

Finally, here's what I bought at the store this morning. A pretty typical shopping trip: yogurt, pasta, potato chips, bread, deli turkey, chicken, carrots, broccoli, hummus, cheese, etc. And also blew $1.95 on coffee when I already made some at home before going to the store. Almost $67 for what amounts to household staples and parts of lunches and dinners for a few days. I'm at the store a few times a week -- one reason being it means I don't buy too much produce on any one trip that ends up spoiling. Again, it speaks to my social class position that I can make multiple trips to the grocery store each week (reliable transportation and a job as a college professor that allows me a flexible schedule).

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Song of the Day - Holding On by The War on Drugs

I love this song.

Great in its own right, but it reminds me in a pleasant way of "Touch of Grey" by The Grateful Dead.

I just watched the video for the first time. It made me cry.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Presentation of Snack in Everyday Life (Syllabus Break Edition)

Straight from the cutting board, no plate required.

Better believe I'll eat the leaves on celery piece #2. Been doing it since Grandma Schoepflin gave me celery for snack when I was a kid.

Now let me pretend these are Doritos and get back to syllabus making.

Syllabus Procrastination Syndrome

There is only one know cure for treating Syllabus Procrastination Syndrome.

It is, quite simply, To Put In The Work.

*closes e-mail*

*stops pretending to deep clean the house*

*stops eating*

*stops guzzling coffee*

*stops annoying spouse with texts*

*stops walking from room to room finding anything else but syllabus construction to do*

*wraps up this blog post*

*turns on pleasant music*



Monday, January 8, 2018

Public Speaking Goals (Inspired by Oprah)

I still kick myself for a weak speech I gave several years ago. My time slot was 3-4 minutes. I was addressing the incoming first-year class of students at orientation. It was a big deal for me, truly honored. I had my Say Anything reference ready to go. But it took at least one full minute for my voice to warm up. I hit that mic colder than a Buffalo winter. By the time I found my voice, the speech was nearly over. I still managed to describe college as a "dare to be great situation," but I wasn't happy with how it turned out. Any speech since then, I've coached myself to hit that mic sounding as strong as possible. No seconds to spare. I public speak all the time in the classroom -- but I've got 55 or 80 minutes depending on class time, so I have a few minutes to warm up and stretch out. Not the case when your time is so limited.

All this to say Oprah was excellent from the get go at the 2018 Golden Globes. The part that especially stood out to me is when she got a standing ovation after landing the powerful phrase "their time is up" -- at the 6:43 mark. Less than 7 minutes to get a roaring ovation!! Note how effective she was in saying "time is up" in 3 different ways. Brilliant. 99.9% of us will never be as talented as Oprah and will never be able to deliver a speech like this, but still we can try to learn from her. When it comes to a short speech, there is no time to waste in trying to hook an audience and no time to rev up your voice. Go hard from jump street and do what you came to do. Channel Oprah!