Thursday, February 28, 2008

What's 20 Million Dollars Anyway When It Makes Xenophobic People Feel Better?

Just last night I was talking about how I should make a career out of evaluating policies in which tons of dollars are dropped and no one ever knows or seems to care about the outcome. Because the policy is assumed to be a good idea, I suppose. Anyway, this is a prime example.

But those geniuses at Homeland Security! There apparently is no way to evaluate this damn fence. Brilliant.
clipped from
The Department of Homeland Security spent $20 million on a "virtual fence" to better secure 28 miles of the U.S.-Mexico border in Arizona but has no way to measure its effectiveness and never consulted with the field agents who will use the system before it was installed, two House subcommittees learned yesterday.
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Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Is It Cheating?

Is it cheating if I count my abstract and references when doing a word count for one of my dissertation chapters?

If not, I have 8511 words for chapter 2/study 1. Ultimately word counts are irrelevant. Especially because I am writing my dissertation in a manuscript format and ultimately will have to submit to a journal with much stricter word limits. But the fact that I have a lot of raw material to work with feels great.

It's 6 p.m. now and I've been up since about 6 a.m. (FYI: this is FREAKISHLY early for me.) And yes, except for a about 30 minutes browsing iTunes for some new Bollywood hits and eating lunch while watching some of my secret soap, I have been writing ALL DAY.

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Saturday, February 23, 2008

Dissertating and Graduating

I went to a school sponsored seminar the other day for students planning to graduate this semester. The administrative assistant (AA) who ran the session taught us a lot about a ton of things including: 1. The vast amounts of paperwork she has to do so that we can get the privilege of graduating this great institution; 2. How much work all of it is (for her); 3. She is on our side!; 3. Each of the requirements (a 15 step plan!) were made by "higher ups" (not her); 4. If we slip up on a single of the 15 steps, we will not be able to graduate; and in contrast to 4 above: 5. If we are her friend (implied: and bring her little gifts) she may make exceptions to 4 above.

We were even given a handy cheat sheet: "Doctoral Students- Final Steps to Graduation." Helpfully laid out in this handout were the 15 different and discrete steps to be undertaken in the coming 2 months. Naturally each step included about 3-4 sub steps, many of which required their own separate administrative fees as well as the contact information for the friendly administrative staff responsible for each, spanning men and women in multiple offices in multiple buildings in multiple states (!) who were all "on our side.". The AA went over each step carefully, emphasizing the finer points of each,including the year in which each step was added to the list of requirements and how it was prior to the adoption of that requirement and which dean or faculty committee requested each step and why (as far as she can tell because "Lord knows I just do what they tell me.")

My favorite, naturally, was Step 6, sandwiched in between completion of step 5 (forms) and step 6 (more forms): Write your Dissertation and have it approved by your academic advisory committee.

Lord knows I just do what they tell me. Though if I find time for Step 6 in between all the legwork that steps 1-5 and 7-15 will take, I will consider myself lucky, indeed.

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Thursday, February 21, 2008

Dream postdoc hopes dashed!

Well, I now know for sure that I did not get the dream postdoc. No big suprise even though I was overwhelmed with anxiety at the very prospect of imagining that I was actually waiting for an offer.

Perhaps I should find another method for job searching.Why apply to them when they should be applying to me? This guy definately has the right idea.


Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Change, Hope, Blah, Blah

I just came back from seeing Chelsea Clinton at Cyclone Anaya's in Houston. She was great--very poised, attentive, and very direct and specific in her answers to questions. Better than that, I got to talk to her myself and ask her some questions. She worked the room like a master, taking questions and soliciting suggestions for the campaign.

When I told a nameless person that I was off to see Chelsea, she replied, "Thank God somebody is still in support of Hillary!" (Dear interested reader, just FYI, I am actually still undecided.) "After all this talk of hope and change. I mean, what is hope anyway?! Is this disenchanted? Maybe. Is it a valid point? Definately.

Along these lines, in reference to Obama-rama, the friend who took me to the event exclaimed, "Change, change, change! What I want to know is: change what, by how much, and by when? Ha! Yes, for those of you who are wondering, this is the quote of an academic.

Overall it was a great night. I got some good ritas. And then I came across
this. Is this a joke? I'm still not sure. Thoughts?

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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

GRADual Progress

Tuesday, February 12, 2008



Monday, February 11, 2008

Equity and Social Justice

Ron Sims has a good opinion in Sunday's Seattle Times on the impact of inequities on social-economic and health outcomes and the the King County Equity and Social Justice Initiative.


Wednesday, February 06, 2008

It's the Little Things that Matter

So, I'm back from a little jaunt to the north. I met some really great people and I also had a quintessential academic experience.

I interviewed for a national fellowship program that has sites at several universities across the U.S. As I was writing the application essays I faced a choice in jargon. In many ways the choice was equivalent to the following ways of saying that someone is fat:

"full figured"

Except, this is academia. Selection of any one word over any other word carries with it the weight of countless leaders in the field and any number of known and unknown connotations and implications regarding your academic and personal self.

To my amusement, in my third or so question in an interview with one of the program directors, I was asked, "tell me what you mean when you say roly-poly? Sure enough, in the only marks on my entire sweat-stained essay, he had circled, in red, just those very words. This query led to a discussion that lasted several minutes about the exact meaning of those words vs. the other possible word choices, the appropriateness of the words I selected vs. the alternatives, and the implications thereof.

Looks like I made the right choice.

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