Monday, November 24, 2014

Step Your Game Up, Santa

Hope my 7-year-old gets the photo copier he wants for Christmas. He writes comic books and wants to make copies. Santa and the reindeer will have to raise their game to make it happen. Good luck to the crew.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Labels, Stigma, Outsiders

I'm looking through my copy of Howard Becker's Outsiders as I prepare to teach an upcoming session in my Social Psychology course.

I'll share a few quotes from the book:

"The deviant is one to whom that label has successfully been applied; deviant behavior is behavior that people so label" (p. 9).

"Whether an act is deviant, then, depends on how other people react to it" (p. 11).

"Deviance is not a quality that lies in behavior itself, but in the interaction between the person who commits an act and those who respond to it" (p. 14).

"I have been using the term 'outsiders' to refer to those people who are judged by others to be deviant and thus to stand outside the circle of 'normal' members of the group" (p. 15).

"Differences in the ability to make rules and apply them to other people are essentially power differentials (either legal or extralegal)" (pp. 17-18). Click here for a longer quote about groups who have the power to label.

Click here to read an essay by Courtney Anders which speaks to the power of labels and the experience of being made an outsider. During class I'll discuss her essay after going through some of Becker's insights about the sociology of deviance.

I'm using this post to organize my thoughts for teaching. I conclude with a recommendation that Becker's Outsiders and Erving Goffman's Stigma be in your book collection.

Monday, November 10, 2014

When Colleagues Make You Laugh

The week starts off on a good note. I was hustling around the office making copies and getting ready for classes today. I ran into a colleague with whom I get along quite well. I recently e-mailed a picture of my kids to her. She said: "That picture is so cute. Good thing they take after your wife." Talk about LOL--that cracked me up. I wasn't expecting to get my chops busted first thing on a Monday morning. We've been colleagues for approximately 15 years. Her remark was all in good fun and well received.

I previously recorded a short "TODD Talk" about being a good colleague--click here if interested-- and my encounter this morning with my colleague reminds me that good humor can go with being a good colleague.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Caught Some Peace

I caught some peace at beautiful Knox Farm today in East Aurora, NY.

Love this bird house at the farm...

Love this tree too...

Watch out for those tree hugging sociologists!

Wine Drinking + Card Playing = Fun

Friday nights aren't usually exciting in my family's life. We are all tired after a week of school and work. The hustle of making it through the week leaves us exhausted. Last night we broke format. Instead of pizza night followed by an early bedtime, we went to a friend's house to hang out with a few couples. Our kids ran around in their basement and let the grownups have fun. We drank wine and played cards and had some laughs. It was a nice way to wrap up the week. We didn't bring a fancy bottle of wine. We brought this over-sized bottle of wine. A semi-sweet wine from a nearby winery. I am convinced of wine's restorative properties. Not to mention the importance of laughing. Drink wine. Laugh. Support a New York State winery. All good.

Friday, November 7, 2014

America is a Circus

There is something going on with a man and a snake. I've seen bits on the news. I have read a few sentences about it. I don't know exactly what's happening but I have glimpsed the future of society and it looks more ridiculous than the present.

And there is Alex from Target. Read here if you please. Similar to man with snake, I'm not totally certain what's up or not up but I do know this is a society meant for a guy with snakes and a boy from Target.

The young fella from Target seems nice enough.

I try to keep my head down and work and help support my family. But I am losing to America.

As a sociologist it's my job to keep my eyes on society. But it pains me to look.

I truly try to enjoy the circus that is American society. Some days though.....

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Something That Makes Me Happy as a Professor

There are many things I like about my job as a college professor. But today I just want to mention one. Papers were due in my Introduction to Sociology course today. Some of the students were hyping their papers and that made me happy. One student promised "This paper will change your life" and another student warned "You better be sitting down when you read this paper." Another student said her paper will make me cry. I love that these students showed enthusiasm about the paper. I love that students felt so confident about their work that they guaranteed high quality. In my career, I can't recall many instances of students hyping their work so I guess I found it refreshing. I praised the students for raising the bar and told them I'm excited to read their papers. Just a nice thought from the day that I wanted to share and remember.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Joe Maddon - Use Everything at Your Disposal

Joe Maddon is interesting to listen to in this press conference. Now the manager of the Chicago Cubs, Maddon talks about using analytics while maintaining a human touch. "You have to be able to utilize all that's at your disposal...It's not just necessarily about a number. But the numbers are really good. And they really point you in the right direction. But then again there's human beings involved too...I think you need to balance it between a human being and the number." I like his very reasonable approach: using information to make decisions without losing sight of people.