American Government (8th edition) by Gitelson, Dudley and Dubnick
    Purchase at: Amazon;

  • Randi Art
    This is a Flickr badge showing public photos from randubnick. Make your own badge here.
  • Draw Breath (Friends Ciarán and Isabel)
  • Sociable Geek (Friend Stephen)
  • Meditations71 (Friend Stefan)
  • Slugger O'Toole
  • Ideal Government Project
  • Thur's Templates

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Dawkins persuasion....

You can say what you will about Richard Dawkins (and most people do have an opinion), he is able to make his points effectively and persuasively. The latest example is posted as a download podcast -- its a lecture in Montreal on the "Strangeness of Science" and found at CBC's Best of Ideas. Worth the one hour....

Read more!

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Obsessive hoarder -- or lifelogger!

Two stories -- one recent and one not-so-recent -- on NPR shows should be listened to in sequence -- or at least I find them related in interesting ways.

The first, Clinging to Clutter, was originally broadcast on Weekend America in October, was rebroadcast last weekend. It is about a woman who suffers from a hoarding obsession, and for those of us with such tendencies (I have mentioned my obsessive attachment to books, etc.) it throws a tragic light on how things can get out of hand.

That said, I was equally fascinated while listening to today's long On The Media segment on a "lifelogging" project focusing on Gordon Bell, a Microsoft computer scientist, and a follow-up interview with Clive Thompson who wrote a piece on the project for FastCompany.

For obvious reasons, I came away from the lifelogging piece a bit less depressed and certainly less anxious about my own behavior. It just so happens that I very recently embarked on my own "scanning" project as a way of dealing with the fact that I am just going to have to dump the many books and papers that were damaged in last spring's flooding of my basement. Drying has worked for some of the material, but mold and mildew, etc has really taken its toll. New scanners at home and the office will be my salvation, but as I planned out that effort over the past couple of months my thoughts were drawn back to the story of the obsessive hoarder.

Now I realize I am just a pioneering lifelogger....

Read more!

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Inspirations and obscurums

It seems that friend Ciarán has had similar ideas of recommiting to blogging for the New Year, and he has done so with an inspiring trasnformation to a new site and software (along with his new blogging partner, Isabel). Very nice!

And as is usually the case when one visits Ciarán's posts (and now Isabel's as well), one is going to find something fascinating -- in this case it is a repost from friend McGrathy's November link to Concave Obscurum. There is nothing more to be added other than it is worth the visit to any and all of these -- and if you figure Concave Obscurum out, please let us know.

Read more!

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

New Year luck...

Today and tomorrow we have to deal with one of those things one typically takes for granted -- how the house is heated.

When the time came to turn on the furnace this fall, we found the welcome warmth accompanied by an incessant banging of great frequency. Since we have steam heat our first reaction was that this was merely the usual clanging of pipes that comes with the start of each cold season. But after a bit it became evident that this was something different -- and the noise did not stop even after we took steps to 'bleed' the system of the 'trapped air' that we are told typically cause most such noises.

Finally, a call to our oil company brought out a technician who declared that the banging was actually from an old overworked water intake system that had gone bad (and noisily so) because it is constantly feeding a leak in the furnace. In short, we needed a new furnace.

And so came the bad news -- around $8000 of it, and we braced for the bill as well as the inevitable installation which we anticipated with trepidation. After all, it is midwinter in New England, and the unit itself is a hulking presence in our basement that would clearly take hours to remove. We foresaw a tearing and wrenching of our lives and Randi even made hotel reservations.

But as luck would have it, we delayed until just after the New Year, and thankfully we are having two days of unseasonably warm weather (in the 40s and 50s F).

And after a bit of heavy lifting and clanging and hauling, etc in the morning by a crew of five or so folks, it turned out that the installation has not been as disruptive as we expected. In fact, I even spent most of my day in my office dungeon which is merely a thin wall away from the room where the new oil furnace was being installed by two very quiet (relatively speaking) gentlemen who would make their presence known every so often with a rather loud pipe bang.

Even better was the fact that we have heat tonight from our new unit even though the installation continues tomorrow.

All seems to be going so well that I am expecting to find out tomorrow that I have won some lottery for $8000 that will cover the costs!

I guess I shouldn't push my luck....

Read more!

Monday, January 01, 2007

Tilly inspired work

Charles Tilly has authored a nice little volume titled Why? What Happens When People Give Reasons...and Why. Interesting work, based on useful framework that organizes reason-giving into conventions, stories, codes and technical accounts.

His personalization of the subject seemed a bit odd until you get to the point where he expresses much admiration for Jared Diamond and others who seem to be able to get their points across to the general reader. If his intent was to do the same, not much success there.... What makes that effort odd is that content-wise he seems to be addressing his colleagues in the social sciences rather than some general audience, but style-wise he comes up short.

Regardless, there are some interesting connections in the work to accountability and account-giving, but perhaps the real value for me was the degree to which I came away from the reading convinced that there is a useful distinction between reason-giving and account-giving that needs to be explored and sharpened. I am working on that now is a paper-in-progress....

Another result of reading Tilly's Why? is how much it made me think about the value of Karl Weick's "sensemaking" approach to social psychology and organization theory. Taking an approach that integrates Tilly and Weick, I have decided to organize my American government course this spring under the theme "making sense of US government and politics" -- and thus far I am having lots of fun putting together the syllabus with that framework in mind. Another work-in-progress....

Labels: , ,

Read more!