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Wednesday, January 31, 2007 by Jeff

Today's entry is for adults only. No kidding. But then I figure that I know all 8 of you who read this and (don't prove me wrong!) I think you're all mature enough to handle it. But be careful what you click on - you just might get it!

There are three reasons for today's post. First, I want to impress upon you how extensive and truly amazing Wikipedia is. Second, I hope to encourage a little sexual - yes, sexual - education and exploration. And third, well, I'm just curious what effect this will have on traffic volume to this website (if this is your first time here - welcome!). Let's begin.

Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia that anyone can edit, is self-touted as the "largest reference website on the Internet," and at 1,612,758 entries and counting it's hard to argue. It is the 11th most popular site on the Web, more popular than eBay, Amazon.com, Facebook and the BBC.

I don't remember exactly how it happened, and I certainly don't want to incriminate myself unnecessarily, but a few years ago I stumbled across an entry for some bizarre sexual act that I'd never heard of, and as is characteristic of the Internet, I quickly found links to other entries on strange and wonderful sexual minutia. Some were educational, others inspirational, and many were downright funny.

In the years since I've spent many, many hours sifting through Wikipedia's non-sexual content and have learned, as you probably have too, a little bit about a helluva lot of things. Recently, though, I was reminded of this early encounter with Wikipedia, I decided to return for another look at the bluer side of things and (against the better wishes of my girlfriend) to share.

One thing I discovered is that I'm not alone. The 11th most popular entry this month at Wikipedia is sex (other notable entries: sexual intercourse is 22nd, female pornstars 24th, pornography 28th, masterbation 36th, oral sex 40th, and George W. Bush is 45th). Just ahead of World War II at number 17 you'll find the fascinating list of sex positions. Now that one's worth a look. This isn't just a handy bedside reference, but also a great place to penetrate this large and unwieldy world of Sexipedia (another good spot to begin is the Sexuality Portal). Here you will find not only diagrams but descriptions of ways to do it standing up, sitting down, kneeling, with your genitals, with your mouth, with somebody else's mouth, two penises, three anuses - it's truly astounding.

Here at Sexipedia you can learn more about sexually transmitted diseases, discover the science of sexology, or even read about sex in space! The options are overwhelming. You already know what pediphilia is, but how about emetophilia, apotemnophila, or scores of other mind-blowing paraphilias?

You don't want to be caught with your pants down when that beauty you met at the bar suggests felching and you don't know what it is. Wikipedia!

Don't embarass yourself by trumpeting your musicianship when he asks for a rusty trombone. Wikipedia!

Before you agree to snowballing with a new partner, find out what the health risks might be. Wikipedia!

Now I'll sit back and watch the traffic roll in!

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Buy! Buy!

by Jeff

For those paying attention, Hannan & Freeman's (1989) book has dropped to 65 bucks - hardback is only $90. Get it while it's available!

Hard to believe there are now five copies available when only months ago it would've cost you a few thousand.


Enter the Horowistas

Friday, January 19, 2007 by Jeff

I've made the list. David McCarth... I mean, Horowitz, David Horowitz, who wrote a book naming the 101 "most dangerous" (leftist) academics, has been letting that list grow on his website. You can now find me and my course, Political Indoctrination...


...well, we call it Collective Behavior and Social Movements. No kidding - there's a page there dedicated to me! But before you read it, some background.

Horowitz is the figurehead and driving force behind a social movement against leftwing influence in academia because it threatens to indoctrinate the malleable young minds of the next generation. The David Horowitz Freedom Center (DHFC), founded in 1988 by the man himself, is a self-described "battle-tank, not just a think tank," with a budget of $5.8 million. It does a lot of writing, speaking, hosting celebrity-studded events (John Ashcroft, Sen. Jon Kyl, Newt Gingrich), and pushing its "Academic Bill of Rights," a carefully worded libertarian manifesto of free speech and neutrality in education. As a 501(c)3 (non-profit) organization, DHFC cannot directly engage in political activities, so that's left to its ally, also a Horowitz brainchild, Students for Academic Freedom (SAF).

While looking over SAF's official handbook [pdf] for new chapter organizers, I couldn't help but notice some things that my students would pick up on. The first piece of advice in the section "recruiting members" takes a page right out of the classic study by Snow et al. (1980) on the topic (which we study in the class): "It is easiest to recruit members from a pool of likeminded friends or acquaintances." True, so true. And, of course, you can't very well build a movement without people to carry the pickets, but new recruits are just one of many resources you'll have to mobilize. SAF recommends "also try attending the meetings of other groups on campus and asking to make a brief presentation about the goals of SAF to see if they would be interested in joining." My students would recall McAdam's (1988) finding that new recruits are more likely to be members of other organizations or have previous activist experience. Damnit! ...there I go again, indoctrinating!

Here's a webpage dedicated to me and the danger I pose: how can you resist?

If you want to look for your friends, neighbors, or colleagues on this list, check here. Is there a SAF chapter on your campus? Go here and click "SAF Chapters." Arizona doesn't seem to have a one up and running but it does list a local representative. So I might extend him an invitation to talk to my class while we're learning about the Zapatistas and collective action frames.

His primary achievement has been in confusing the public mind, as between the internal and the external threats of Communism. We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty. We must remember always that accusation is not proof and that conviction depends upon evidence and due process of law. We will not walk in fear, one of another. We will not be driven by fear into an age of unreason, if we dig deep in our history and our doctrine, and remember that we are not descended from fearful men.

Edward R. Murrow (1954)

Update: See the article in the Tucson Weekly.

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Social movements and the men who love them

Tuesday, January 16, 2007 by Jeff

The conference is in August, but the deadline is tomorrow. It's gonna be a loooong night. I've been here before and it's never a pretty sight. Sleep deprivation is meant to be a torture method, not a work routine.

Ever wonder why social movements don't change much? I mean, they've done the same stuff since the Jefferson administration. What gives?

Is it because they've found the best way to get what they want? Or is it because they have no other option? I've wondered this very thing and have come up with a different answer. And before tomorrow I'll have 20 pages making my case. It won't be pretty (and neither will I by that time) but it'll be adequate to meet the ASA deadline. At that time I may make it available through eBay for a reasonable price. Or here.

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Putting dime stores to shame

Friday, January 12, 2007 by Jeff

So I'm thumbing through the latest issue of Amazon.com today looking for this book I'm interested in and I encountered a dilemma.

The book is An Autobiography: The Story of My Experiments with Truth, by Mahatma Gandhi. Now this guy's an important figure in my life so I'm thinking, maybe I should get a hardback? Wow - I never buy hardbacks! But wouldn't it be nice to have a classy edition of this book by such an amazing person - my hero, really (it's a shame that sounds like such an 11 year-old thing to say).

So I turned to the used books page. And the problem struck me: there are several oodles of different editions to choose from. Not only are there new and used versions, but hardback and paperback, old and recent, some with guest introductions, publisher X or Y. How's a guy supposed to pick one?

There are trade-offs, of course. New books are crisp and clean but more expensive and wasteful of our Earth's precious resources. But if I'm concerned about precious resources, maybe I should just borrow from the library or read the freakin' e-book version available there. But, alas, you can't make notes in the margins of an e-book or library book (I know, some people clearly dispel with that rule). Recent editions are likely to be in better shape and they do have that guest introduction, but again they're more expensive and maybe that introduction sucks and spoils an otherwise austere copy of Gandhiji's writing. Which publisher? I don't know! WWGD?

Here's where it got tricky for me. I stumbled across a used Houghton Mifflin paperback edition from 1983 selling for one red cent! What?! Shipping costs are 349% more than the cost of the book! Then I thought, Gandhi would probably be pleased to see this and disappointed that there's only one available at this price. It is worth noting, however, that there are currently 31 copies of this same edition under 5 bucks. How can I turn down a one-cent used book in favor of a new, fashionable, hardback version of the same book? And it's not just any book, but a book about Gandhi, Mr. LiveSimply!

What kind of an outfit sells books for one cent? There's no way this is a reputable business. Really, how can they recoup their costs? Maybe they're taking a loss on some books in order to drum up business and a good reputation while they gouge us on the equally overpriced books in their catalog. Maybe there's a demented old man at his computer somewhere, squeezed into a tiny apartment full of ragged old books. Do I trust this guy? For only one cent, does it really matter? In the comments section, my fears were assuaged: "Go with the name you can trust: Thriftbooks...".

Anyway, I went with the hardback.

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Bombing the White House and other New Year's Resolutions

Monday, January 01, 2007 by Jeff

Happy New Year Mom, sister, and the FBI agents who've googled their way to this post. Of course, when I say "bomb" I refer to that age-old practice of inundating our elected representatives with letters of encouragement, discouragement, and any other couragement that we think they should consider in their deliberations. Let's bomb the White House this year with calls to end this despicable war. Hear hear!

As long as you're here, how about a movie recommendation? Lost Boys of Sudan (2004) carried Heather and me into the new year last night (this morning) with a mixture of sadness and intense fascination. It's a documentary about two of the nearly 4,000 Sudanese boys orphaned in that country's brutal civil war (now roughly 19-20 year-olds) and eventually brought to the U.S. to find work, an education, and the perversity of a country they had long perceived was like Heaven.

The predominant theme is the incredible difficulty these guys find just getting started in this society. For the ethnomethodologist within us all it's a great study of the taken-for-granted rules of everyday life. Upon arrival they're quickly given an orientation to the local Safeway to learn of new fruits and products for personal hygiene. They're dumbfounded by insistent warnings by their hosts against same-sex public displays of affection in this country. Circled around their speakerphone, they're perplexed by the high cost of their phone service as the operator tries to explain the costs of 3-way calling and the "*69" feature.

The Christians who apparently run this program of resettlement don't hide their evangelical intentions and their attempts to help are tinged with an obvious misunderstanding of what these guys most need and want (girlfriends, jobs, an education). The boys come to question whether the difficulties they encounter here are any less than those of the refugee camps they left behind. It's as damning of the extravagance of Western society as it is enlightening about the hurdles for this remarkable refugee population. Three thumbs up!



Jeff A. Larson
Sociologist, Arizona.


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