TS: I only have two Wilco songs on my iTunes, Handshake Drugs and Heavy Metal Drummer. Can you suggest a few more?
ML: Handshake Drugs is one of my favorite Wilco songs, and that whole album (A Ghost is Born) is great. A bunch of my favorites on that one. Hummingbird is probably my favorite, and Theologians, and The Late Greats. I like Summer Teeth (the song) a lot, and that album is good. Another favorite is Misunderstood from Being There, another fantastic album. I don't think you can separate Wilco songs from the albums. Buy the albums, Todd. Not the tracks. Come on.
TS: In a maximum of 10 words, describe Trump.
ML: Ignorant, racist, crass, xenophobe born on third base.
TS: What are you working on?
ML: Right at this moment, student learning assessment. Yuck. Rest of the summer, a paper about how atheists are more trusting of others than religious people are. Longer term, a paper about Catholics who have born-again religious experiences.
TS: Tell us why you think baseball is great. Tell us why you think the Beatles aren't great.
ML: First, it's not that I think the Beatles aren't great. I mean, maybe I don't think they are great. I don't think they suck. They just don't move me. Uninteresting songs and drugged out studio goofing. It's fine if you don't like rock and roll, I guess. It's pop. Fine. Pop is fine. Ok, baseball. Baseball is great for all of the boring reasons you'd expect. Beer. Sunshine. Friends. The 7th Inning Stretch. It's great because it's terribly hard and it's fun to watch people excel at things. It's great because you have to think about each situation and what's probably about to happen and then you see if it does. Last week I saw Syracuse Chief Brian Goodwin hit an 2-0 grand slam. That was amazing. I'm sitting there thinking 'watch close because this is an action pitch.' And then, bam. Smoked it. It's also great because if you don't want to pay attention that closely you've got beer, sunshine, and friends.
TS: A few of your favorite Twitter follows?
ML: Hmm. This one is tricky. There's a lot, Todd. What if I said I don't even think of Twitter as a bunch of separate follows but rather just one never ending conversation with a bunch of people, and bots, and whatever?
TS: Picture a student who only takes one sociology course, and it’s your Intro to Sociology course. What are a few essential things you want them to learn in your course?
ML: I don't care about teaching sociology's 'facts.' I teach that sociology is a way of being in the world. We are all the subject of social forces, and we need to understand that everybody else is too. The perspective I try to really hit home is History / Biography and the Sociological Imagination. Maybe that's trite.
TS: If there was one thing you could change about academic conferences, what would it be?
ML: Schedule them when the nearest baseball team is on a home stand.
TS: Anything sociological you look forward to reading this summer?
ML: I don't know if it's sociological necessarily, but I'm looking forward to reading Nick Bostrom's 'Superintelligence.' It's about the development of AI and how it might affect being human in the future. Do we even need humans in the future? It seems unlikely to me. I'm also finishing up 'The Only Rule is it Has to Work,' a baseball analytics book that has some pretty good sociology in it if you know what you are looking for.