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No oil for blood

Sunday, April 30, 2006 by Jeff

President Bush has joined the conservative chorus saying that restricting drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge has cost the U.S. more than 1 million barrels of oil a day. Clearly, Clinton and his legions of mealy-minded environmental protectionists are to blame for this year's unwieldy gas prices. Dean Baker's (Center for Economic and Policy Research) response is worth reading:

A few simple facts indicate otherwise. First, there is a world market for oil. What matters in determining the price of oil is how much oil is supplied in the world, not how much is supplied in the United States. If we were getting an additional 1 million barrels of oil a day, then its impact would be the same on prices in the United States whether the oil comes from Alaska or anywhere else...Iraq’s average oil output is approximately 1 million barrels a day less than it was before the war. In other words, the Iraq war has reduced world oil supplies by approximately the same amount that drilling in the refuge might have increased it.
Score one for the economists.

For better or worse

Wednesday, April 19, 2006 by Jeff

Therein lies the truth

by Jeff

Sarah Hepola, freelance writer/blogger, contributes this nugget of truth in today's Slate:

One morning last month, I woke early, finished a book I'd been reading, and shut down my blog. I had kept the blog for nearly five years, using it as a repository for personal anecdotes, travelogues, and the occasional flight of fiction—all of which I hoped, eventually, might lead to a novel. And then, somewhere between the bedsheets and 6 a.m., I realized something: Blogging wasn't helping me write; it was keeping me from it. [keep reading...]

A tale of two deadlines

Thursday, April 06, 2006 by Jeff

No. 1 - In late 2004 Omar and I had an idea for a paper we would write together. Last fall we began work on said paper (affectionately known as "the Che paper"), and in January we mailed it off to the American Sociological Association for an upcoming conference. Tonight, I will give it one more pass (and a conclusion) before submitting it tomorrow to our very own department of Sociology best-graduate-student-paper competition. We do love to compete in this business. Do I think this is the best graduate student paper? God no. But I'm hoping the rest of you won't submit anything. No. 2 - Another competition that I hope few others enter is for the Hauser Center predissertation grant. This one's due in their Boston offices by next Wednesday. They're offering $3-5,000 for folks like to to study non-profit organizations and/or civil society. My dissertation just happens to be about non-profit social movement organizations in what political scientists like to call civil society. By god, I could use that money! Wish me luck.

Daddy needs a new pair of shoes

Sunday, April 02, 2006 by Jeff

A year ago, I wrote in these pages of a rare reply I'd received from the namesake of John Fluevog Boots & Shoes Ltd., makers of deliciously stylish but devilishly evil leather shoes (note my avowed commitment to animal liberation). Mr. Fluevog said I'd touched a chord with my request that he enter the 21st century and design some cruelty-free shoes. In my mind I declared sweet victory. Ahh...
Today, via my pal Elaine, I've learned that victory is indeed sweet. The new line of "Veggie Vogs" has recently been released. From the company's website:
This year we decided to grow something for
the un-leather style-mongers. We planted a couple of our classic Angel styles, added some TLC and grew the uppers out of a hemp-cotton blend. We insisted on using a memory foam insole for comfort (and to make up for any loss of memory). We also used recycled nylon lining, 100% natural gum rubber soles, and water-based biodegradable adhesive to develop the animal-friendly, super stylin’ VEGGIEVOGS.
If social movements are going to have an effect on the economy, we need to engage it. Please share this news with your animal-friendly, super stylin' veggie friends.

Not just another protest

Saturday, April 01, 2006 by Jeff

Most protest marches go unnoticed. But after hundreds of high school students staged walkouts across Arizona this week, parents, polititians, and school administrators reacted with alarm. The Tucson Unified School District tried to diffuse the situation:

We're asking kids, "instead of a walkout, let's talk it out"...Try and give them the opportunity to express what's going on, but also want them to understand what's the best way to make this happen in a school setting. [1]
Students, however, did not walkout to gain the ear of the school board. Together with hundreds of thousands of protestors around the country they hope to influence policy debates now underway in Congress over immigration reform. Social movements have been trying to influence political decision-makers for over two hundred years - these walkouts are nothing new. Disruption, as sociologists have long known, is one of the principle sources of power for social movements. While we ignore thousands of marches and rallies reported in the press every year, we sit up and take notice when protestors shut down the meetings of the WTO, public transportation employees go on strike, or black students sit-in at segregated lunch counters. Disruption resonates in Congress. If students agreed to sit down and talk with school administrators, we would not be seeing an avalanche of press coverage and public debate about immigration reform. Arizona governor Janet Napoletano would not have held a press conference to say:
I appreciate your civic involvement, and you're learning a little bit about civics, but you need to do it on your own time, not on your class time, you need to be in school. [2]
Of course, with her own cozy pulpit in the policy arena why should she encourage students to force their way in? Sure, if students wait until after school to protest they will "learn a little bit about civics," but their political clout will virtually disappear. Incidentally, the release of a new HBO film about a 1968 high school student walkout is remarkably timely. The film, Walkout, tells the true story of Chicano students in East L.A. who coordinated 3 successive citywide student walkouts that attracted enormous attention as well as hundreds of riot police who chased, clubbed, tackled and arrested these kids. Check out this film and tell me that the similarities with current events are not absolutely uncanny.


Jeff A. Larson
Sociologist, Arizona.


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