Happy "X"mas, Santa!

Happy whatever holiday you and your pagan, hippie friends celebrate! Whatever it is, I hope you celebration includes woodland critters (a holiday tradition in my household)!

As of today, our decorations include a gingerbread house that Melanie made at school (instead of learning something useful for her future career, like sine waves, how a bill becomes a law, or All Quiet on the Western Front). But even though it comes at a high, high academic cost, it's an adorable little cottage. An adorable, delicious little cottage.

We'll be in Nebraska for a little over a week, so while there may be Neblogsking, you should plan to be pleasantly surprised if there's an update rather than up in arms if there isn't.

Update: Whoah, dudes - Missy doesn't cook very much, but she just busted out a salad that involved candying walnuts. Happy holidays, indeed!



Brit-brit's gonna be a aunt, y'all!


(My blog needs a Miley Ray Cyrus is Knocked Up countdown clock)

Buying an island is not an option

Imagine your life over the next 20-30 years - if you had to choose between one of these two paths, which would you pick? Why?

1) You very rarely travel, internationally even less so, but you own a cozy cottage in the woods. In fact, your cottage is on a lake and your birchbark canoe is tethered to your personal dock. Vacations aren't spent in far-flung locations or multi-million dollar amusement parks, but reading in the hammock off your cottage's back porch.

2) Exactly the opposite - no cabin, but your visa is stamped full. You've seen the corners of the world, eaten numerous bugs, and spent time in an Indonesian jail after what you're calling a "misunderstanding".

Up dere on the thumb

Although I'm not writing the name of my new school, you can do some detective work if you want to. My copy of Faith Builds a Chapel by Winifred Boynton (1st ed., 1953) came today, and although I haven't read it today, it's a really stunning addition to my bookshelf. 10"x13", gilted edges, set-in color illustrations, full-page pencil drawings - just stunning.

The story of its relation to my new school is really fascinating. Go to work, Sherlock.

Amazon has a few used copies available if you want your own.

Reject me all day, I don't mind

I just received the warmest rejection letter (from a pool of many) from a department that I won't name, other than to say that maybe the mountain views mellow everyone there out. Mine is one of 100+ they're sending, but I feel so special after reading it.

"Dear J.Bro:

I'm writing to let you know that we've extended an offer in our search for a faculty position in International Relations. We received many strong applications and our decision was quite difficult at every step of the process. Unfortunately, we were not able to include you in our list of finalists.

I know it's a difficult year on the job market. I hope you can appreciate that the department was impressed by many of the applications. Having received more than a few such letters over my career, I take no pleasure in sending so many out.

I wish you the best in your pursuit of a tenure-track position. Our review of these applications has reminded me how vital and deep the scholarly study of politics is in this country. Frankly, I'm inspired, and I wish you the best in your job search.


Chair and Rejector Extraordinaire"

As most of you know by now, though, I've already accepted a fantastic position at another university - at least as good as the one I would have drawn up for myself if given a blank slate. No only is it a great school, but we'll still be in the midwest, so my daughter will get to moan about heat-haze in the summer and pull on my beardsicles in the winter. I haven't decided how much to write about the new position (which is why I'm being intentionally vague here), but I'll say this for now - this would be an amazing house for $300K (but even better for $140K).

Almost as bad as Wichita

Even though I've only posted, like, twice this month, I don't consider myself a lazy blogger. You know what lazy bloggers do? They just post Onion stories and add a pithy comment, and I'm better than that.

Most of the time. But sometimes you click an Onion link from cnn.com, then a story from the archives happens to randomly pop up on the sidebar, and you just have to post that story because it's satire, but it's so totally not satire at all.

I give you: Rural Nebraskan Not Sure He Can Handle Frantic Pace of Omaha (1/17/01)

"Don't get Fred started on Omaha," friend Ken Carlson said. "He's always resented Amy for going there. They're a lot less close now than they used to be, and Fred feels it's because she's gotten a bit of an attitude since moving to the big city, like she's superior or something."

"Let's just say the glamour of city life has changed [Amy]," Linder said. "She's definitely 'gone Omaha,' if you catch my drift."

Linder has visited the Nebraska metropolis three times in his life, most recently in 1996 for a farm-equipment show.

"I prepared plenty well before that trip, you better believe," Linder said. "I bought a money belt and travelers' checks to protect myself from all those Omaha pickpockets and con men. And I made sure I had a full tank of gas before going, because I sure as heck wasn't about to pay Omaha prices for gas."

Linder said he has no plans to visit his sister in Omaha anytime soon.

How much of a letdown are you?

You don't even send holiday cards, do you? For shame! Look at these from Ted Sears, an early Disney animator - now he knew how to send a Christmas card! (I read about them on Daddytypes, because yes, I read new-dad blogs).
Wow. Ted Sears was an animator and the first head of the story department at Walt Disney Studios. According to his IMDb bio, he was very influential in the adoption by the film industry of storyboards. He wrote the lyrics to Peter Pan ["We're following the leader, the leader, the leader."] And for years, until his death in 1958, he and his wife Vee--and eventually, their daughter Marcia--made insanely elaborate Christmas cards using props, collage, trick photography, and other techniques.

What district is the North Pole in?

A question from another blog - is Santa a Republican or a Democrat?

From my comment there - On one hand, he's clearly an egalitarian when it comes to charitable contributions. He's also pretty secular. On the other hand, though, he runs a pretty big factory, and I've never heard of an elf-union. Tough question, JT - no wonder you were confused!

Cashmere Update: soft as a baby's guilty conscience

A couple weeks ago, I wrote about what I thought were knock-off cashmere scarves at the giant mall by my apartment. Well, the Burberry tags are definitely fake, but apparently the cashmere is real - real enough to cause me all kinds of eco-guilt.

This is the story of how your sweater pollutes the air you breathe and how the rise of China shapes the world.

The country's enormous herds of cashmere-producing goats have slashed the price of sweaters. But they also have helped graze Chinese grasslands down to a moonscape, unleashing some of the worst dust storms on record. This fuels a plume of pollution heavy enough to reach the skies over North America, including Washington state.

The Wall Street Journal argues it would be worth it to move the decimal point one digit to the right for any future scarf purchases I have planned. Guess whether this snippet is about an Italian company that makes $950 sweaters or the kiosk at my local mall:
The yarn was then shipped to the Cucinelli factory, which is in a 17th-century castle. Each of its 1,500 employees has a key, says Mr. Caronna. They work each day from 8 a.m. until 1 p.m., breaking for a 90-minute lunch. Many go home for lunch, but Mr. Caronna says that those who stay are served a free three-course meal cooked up by three local women who shop for fresh groceries every morning. Employees return to work from 2:30 until 6 p.m. and then head home.

Today was a good day - nay, a great day

Evidence: Check out these boots I found at the Saver's two blocks from my apartment. They're not LL Bean boots - they're better, because they're Sorels and Sorel is the Canadian company that LL Bean ripped off the design from. The leather laces are aged to buttery-smoothness and the leather uppers have so much character they tell stories about chasing arctic deer across the tundra. Now they're going to live with me in Wisconsin for a while.


Almost to a fault, I do my homework for my interviews. I say it's to a fault because, so far, I've inevitably been getting my hopes way up. I'm leaving Sunday morning to interview at a place where I could buy the house below, which is about two blocks from campus, for under $110,000. M.Bro said she almost stared crying (with happiness, I assume) when I showed her the pictures. From the listing:

Cozy home with lots of charm and many updates. Hardwood floors, open stairway, three sets of french doors, fireplace, beautiful woodwork, newer appliances. There is a three season room and a nice deck overlooking a large landscaped yard. Newer furnace and roof; plus great finished space in clean dry recreational room.

The furniture in the bottom picture would get burned in the fireplace before we unpacked the first box, but check out the brick fireplace! And French doors to the screened-in porch! Which I'll call the sun-room! And other French doors to the back yard! Which I'll probably just call the back yard! To distinguish it from the front yard! Two yards!

I would show you the site with the rest, but I don't want you to swoop in and buy it from under me. You housing-market vultures.

Douchebags in the Mist

Can you use "douchebags" in a major newspaper? I guess you can. I'm particularly willing to allow it if when the term is used to describe those to adopt the style fondly-called American Jackass (AmJack, for short, since you'll have to use it so often). If your name is TOWWAS, read closely - there's some real science up in here. Am I right, brah?

Untucked bold-striped dress shirts? Check. Distressed bootcut jeans with back pocket stitching resembling a peacock's plumage? Check. Square-toed Kenneth Coles in gloss-black? Double-check. Let's hit the clubs, broseph.

Interested in more douchebaggery? I highly recommend the blog Hot Chicks with Douchebags. The first part of that is debatable about 50% of the time, but the second is scientific fact, broheim.

Go ahead - judge me

Can I still be cool if I really, really want to see I Am Legend?

President Laureate

I cannot reveal my source, but I have it on good authority that you should go buy Iowa Electronic Market shares in Al Gore entering the race. If it happens and I'm the first place you read it with certainty, you must call me J.Bro King of Politics for one week.

I am going to win these Duck Boots...

...on ebay, and I'll show you the pictures next week to prove it. And when I do, my hipness will increase by eight and three-quarters, according to the New York Times (of September 2006).

“I love those boots,” says the designer and nightclub habituĂ© Lazaro Hernandez, who had his Bean Boots refurbished after two years of everyday use. Hernandez, half of the fashion wonder team Proenza Schouler, insists, “All my friends have been copying me.”

Dig out your tote bags: fashion’s true believers, arguably the least authentic humans on the planet, are clamoring for the “real” America. Trend-deaf homegrown brands, whether fancy or just plain homely, have never been hipper. Will downtown Manhattan start looking like Martha’s Vineyard? “I look at old images of Bill Blass with his duck shoes and a cable-knit V-neck sweater and, like, a pipe in his library — it’s amazing,” Hernandez says. “It’s like wearing your grandfather’s clothes. It feels cool.”

Our long national nightmare of peace and prosperity

It's hilarious to me that our economic future hinges on whether Jennie and Amber, two new moms from Sheboygan, decide to have an extra-large frappuccino from Gloria Jean's coffee to keep themselves amped for another lap through JC Penney. Oh. My. God. Amber, look at these reindeer figurines at this kiosk over here! Wouldn't my mom looove this?

However, some industry analysts caution that the early buying frenzy could soon peter out - and endanger crucial weekend sales - as millions of pre-dawn shoppers succumb to shopping fatigue.

"The early bird shoppers are definitely out there. But will it last through the day?" said Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst with market research firm NPD Group.

Here she is now, entertain her

Melanie, who was four years old when Kurt Cobain killed himself, is in her room with my copy of Nevermind, grunging along to Smells Like Teen Spirit. How terrible is new teenager music going to be when my daughter is 15? Terrible terrible.

Update: Aaand, that experiment's over. I think I just heard the song that's playing now say something like, "Watch me crank it in these hos", which is definitely not Nirvana. Melanie has no musical stamina. When I had Nevermind on cassette, I don't think I'm exaggerating when I say I listed to it a dozen times in a row. Melanie fast forwards through the intro music of songs to get to the chorus, then reverses to listen to the chorus again. She would be ecstatic with a compilation CD of five hundred 15-second snippets. Maybe "NOW: That's What I Call The Attention Span of a Third-grader!"

Exciting times

I have a healthy respect for The Jinx, so I'm not writing much, other than to say the last few days (and the next couple weeks) are exciting times. Maybe none of it will turn out to be anything, but there's lots of potential for future (very) happiness in the air right now. These are all different places, any of which my little family and I would be exceptionally content at.

My alma mater's no ugly duckling, mind you. Like all campuses that had an influx of students from the GT Bill, it's marred by a few Soviet-looking dorms, but it was voted the most beautiful campus in the midwest many times.

This is the dorm my grandfather lived in when he was a student there - 50 years later, it was where I lived my freshman and sophomore years. That's right - I'm a legacy.

A good father

It was a while between updates, but Bean's blog is active again.

Also on the good-father front, I don't want to jinx it, but I think I nailed yesterday's phone interview. If it doesn't get me to the next stage, I need to fundamentally rethink and retool my approach to job-hunting.

West (China)Towne Mall

When the misses and I visited New York City this Spring, one of the high points was visiting Chinatown for fake purses. It was a story that involved almost being led into a back-alley cellar, and later, going through the fake back wall of a little stall. But we flew home with two "Gucci" purses, so hand me my codpiece and put up the Mission: Accomplished banner.

Yesterday, at West Towne Mall (far from shady - well, unless you only shop at Hilldale), we found two new kiosks hocking x-mas gifts - one selling fake Burberry cashmere scarves and the other with fake Coach bags. I'm not talking about general look-a-likes or homages, but completely fake $12 scarves with Burberry tags (note: not "Berbarry" or "Burrberrey", but correctly-spelled and all). The Coach bags have one tag that talks about their authenticity...and another in Chinese.

West Towne Mall's no fly-by-night organization (Look at its spelling!) - how in the world did these kiosks get approved? I assume whatever company owns the mall has some lawyers, right? (Someone has to defend the management from Orange Julius-related slips and falls.) As the new owner of two fake Burberry scarves, I'm not complaining too hard, but I'd still like to know what the deal is. Not enough to call the mall office, though - I think I still want a green one.

I forgot: West Towne Mall is also the home of the least-guessable url in mall-shopping history. Welcome to www.shopwesttowne-mall.com - if the extraneous "shop", "e" and "-" didn't lose you, that is!

Things which, today, have been observed, by me

1) That I'm less nervous for my real job talk on Friday (the one that matters) than I was for my practice job talk on Monday. Practice job-talking in front of your friends and colleagues is a horrible thing to have to do, even if you do end up with good advice and a much better presentation from it.


3) The job market has peaks and valleys - I got another phone interview today, but also (a) found out that one of my colleagues got a campus interview at a school we both phone-interviewed with, and (b) got a letter from ABOYAM (A Bunch of Your Alma Mater) that they've hired someone for the position I applied for.

UPDATE: The peaks and valleys come very quickly! Three minutes after I posted #3, I got an e-mail from one of my top 3 choices making sure I was still interested in the position! I'm on an emotional roller-coaster!

Big day, smelly bathroom

The first heater that gets turned on in our apartment every fall is the one in the bathroom. A combination of leaving the cozy bedcovers and being naked on a tiled floor makes it necessary to crank up the heat in the bathroom up before any other room. But along with waves of warm air, comes the stench months of dust being burned off the register. Sweet warm, stinky air.

I hate winter so much.

Speeding: It's On The Nose

I hope that all of you already use the "on the nose" gesture that I've spent the last ten years trying to popularize - right elbow out, right index finger tapping the tip three or four times. I have only this little blog to spread my gesture's word - the Australian government has so many more resources at their disposal (like, a million blogs!), it's no wonder their gesture caught on so quickly.

The "little finger" gesture is meant to be given to speeders in lieu of other, more traditional fingers. Rather than anger or annoyance, it's meant to imply that the speeder...uh...has a small organ. While it sounds like an 8th-grade game and is clearly less effective when used at female speeders, it meets all the qualifications of a good driving gesture - quick, easy, widely understood (in Australia, anyway). And based on this article, effective.

Simon Jardak was fined $400 by a magistrate yesterday after an accusatory finger on the Anzac Bridge enraged him so much he threw a plastic bottle out of his car window, hitting the gesturing woman's car.

Jardak blamed his malicious damage charge on the RTA's anti-speeding campaign, in which hoons are mocked with wagging little fingers, suggesting they have tiny penises.

I'm a long-time wisher that there was a commonly-understood hand signal for "I'm sorry, dude - that was 100% my fault, and I recognize and acknowledge that." It would prevent so much anger on the highways and byways - frankly, I think a public awareness campaign in our country is in order. Now we just need a gesture to use. George Bush, if you're reading this, don't use the "index finger on the nose" for the apology campaign - it's already been assigned.

Efficiency Indeed*

Is there anything better than writing at your kitchen table with a bottle of light beer until The Daily Show comes on? I think maybe there's not. When, still knocking on wood, I have an office that's not in a room full of TAs at cubicles, I may still do a lot of writing at my kitchen table. I'll teach Bean all about first-order autoregression and pooling-equilibrium signaling games. "Do you see that payoff, honey? That's not on the Pareto frontier! Noooo, it's noooo-ooooot!"

Is there anything I wanted to write about?**

*A reference to my dissertation title, which exists to please no one but me.
**How goddamn cool is the new iPod Touch? It's killing me dead, that's how cool.

Could this post be titled anything but "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag"?

To congratulate me on getting to this next stage of the job market process (and, let's be honest, to help me get through it without looking like a hipster grad student), Missy gave me this very Ivy League-looking leather bag. I feel like such a grown-up when I take it to school - hopefully that means I'll look like a grown up when I take it to interviews, and knock on wood, to teach classes next fall. My bassboat-red Schwinn bag (by Chrome) isn't getting retired anytime soon - it's like the old Toyota pick-up that I take to cut wood for the furnace at the cabin. I guess that makes the new bag the practical mid-size sedan.


It's been a ridiculously long day (that included my first phone interview) already and I still have to teach some graduate students how to draw strategic- and extended-form games in LaTeX, but all in all, everything's coming up Milhouse. It's too much to explain in one blog post, but "everything" encompasses real big stuff (the interview going well, and later, finding some excellent data) and real small stuff (having just enough left on my printing account to run off a copy of the article I need for tonight).

2 fast, 2 furious

The next stage of the job market process is coming hot and heavy all of a sudden! Two interviews now - one campus visit and one phone interview.

Edit: Two interviews and a daughter. A tizzy, indeed.

Break me off a piece of that APP-LE-SAUCE!

So here I am, all in a tizzy about getting an interview (oh yeah, I got an interview), and my friends 30 Rock and The Office bring me back down for a while. Then it's back to strategizing a research presentation.

Sorry to disappoint you, anonymous internet searchers!

At TOWWAS' recommendation, I started using Google Analytics a few weeks ago - primarily for my academic, job-market website, but here as well. As entertaining (and sometimes disappointing) as it is to see what parts of the world people are visiting from, my favorite part of the Dashboard is looking at the search terms that bring people to this blog. "707" is far and away the top term, even though I have no idea what that means or why people are coming here to find out about it. It seems like a pretty straightforward number to me - it doesn't even have a wikipedia entry.

But the disappointment doesn't end there for the intarweb people who come to my blog searching for answers. I've also disappointed people wondering "how do i shrink polos", "what does 501XX mean", "what is difference us japanese LVC" and "how can you tell if jeans are sanforized".

Most troublingly, though, I'm worried about the person that found my blog after searching for "what if i like j crew". My advice is just to run with it, anonymous internet dude. If you like the New England Professor on a Saturday Morning look, I wouldn't turn it into a re-evaluation of your entire life. Just wear some argyle v-neck sweaters, suede-patched sportcoats, golden-honey-colored corduroys, and wingtips and let the judgmental fashionistas have their Dior Homme and their Raf Simmons and their Rick Owens. What I'm saying to you is as simple as this: if you like J.Crew, you should just wear it. I'm sorry if that's not the deep, intellectual advice you were hoping to find here, but you get what you pay for.

(not Sarah)

The top of my want-to-live-and-work-there list changes regularly, but I can't tell you how excited I am that Lawrence University in Appleton, WI is hiring - and not just hiring, but hiring someone who has pretty much exactly my qualifications and experience, according to the former MyDepartmentGraduate who is a professor there now.* The position, the college, the area, the area around the area, the cost of living - it's where I want to spend a long, long time. Walking to campus. From a house from 1910 that we buy for $95,000. After walking with Bean to his or her little school.

I don't want to jinx my chances by being so public about wanting the job, so I'm tempted just to delete this paragraph without posting it.

*The parents-in-law of one of my non-department friends are also professors there, and good friends with the head of the department I'm applying to. I don't know them, but their daughter-in-law is ecstatic about the idea of me working at Lawrence.

'stache panache

I just committed myself to a 30-Day Moustache Challenge(tm). Which I plan to win handily. Unless a school calls me for a job interview, that is. I'm not that committed to winning $50.+

[Blue Steel joke goes here]

From the dudes at Context:

Hey Jason,

We need you for the Context fashion show: Friday Oct 26th. I met with most of the models last night. I'm asking everyone to stop in to get fitted this week wed, thurs, friday, or sunday during store hours. I will be available all day Sunday if people need me to be. I'll be sending you an additional email shortly with more show info. You'll start to see ads in the Isthmus and Onion this week.

Dress rehearsal is Wed Oct 24th at 9pm. I really need everyone there, but if you absolutely can not make it we can arrange something.

Hope to hear from you soon,


You can't blog in here - this is the class-room!

Blogging in front of a group of students is my favorite - this time, they're gathered for an optional evening showing of the finest film ever made about International Relations - Stanley Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove: Or How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb. Waaaaaaaa-hooooooooo! WAAAAAAAaaaaaaaahoooooooooo.........

This whole blog is a hoax!

Close your eyes and it disappears - therefore, hoax! Q!E!D!

Now that Al Gore has a Nobel Peace Prize, you'll certainly run into bolder and bolder conservative skeptics that, like rabid wolverines, are desperate to fight their way out of the corner. "But Bill O'Reilly posted a Michael Crichton article that says a scientist from the 1970s thought the world was getting cooler! So take that, IPCC! Or should I say International Panel on COLLECTING CASH!!"

How to Talk to a Climate Skeptic
is hours of entertainment, that may, depending on your social circle, provide hours more at your next fondue. I love that it's arranged in four different taxonomies for super-quick reference!

Or maybe I'm on the wrong side of this - Science and Nature, after all, are just censoring all the research that challenges the hippie agenda. When global warming is proven wrong (like that nonsense theory of gravity), you can all laugh at me as you float away.


Two posts in one morning!

Nuh-uh - am not!

Whenever I make the long trip over to .Po's blog, I want to comment that I'm not On.Break.Bro anymore! Then I remember that I've posted twice this month, so basically, she's more right than me about me.

The job application process seems neverending, although it is tapering. I've sent about seventy packets total (in four waves) as of this morning, but new job postings keep showing up - I already have three more to send. The frustrating part of sending them out a handful at a time is that the time commitment to make three packets is not substantially shorter than the time commitment to put together twenty packets. It's a matter of hitting a different button the copier and waiting a few more minutes. Essentially, it's four hours to mail three packets versus five hours for two dozen.

At the behest of a couple schools (ones I'm very interested in) I've written two more syllabi (Int'l Political Economics and Global Environmental Politics) in the last week, which makes me think they're either interested or curious what hoops I'll jump through to get an interview. The answer is bring on the hoops. I'm ready to jump.

And if I wasn't ready to jump, M.Bro would be shoving me through hoops. She's ready to move on from her job - as difficult as it will be to leave Madison, she's always felt like this job is a temporary one. It's been a temporary one that opened a lot of doors for the type of career she wants to have, so she certainly appreciates it, but her stress and frustration are constant reminders that staying in this department and TAing for a year would be an unpopular option, family-wise.

Two weeks from yesterday until our 20-week ultrasound, which not only marks the half-way point but is our chance to find out whether Bean is a boy-bean or a girl-bean. We're keeping Bean's name secret (and even continuing to call Bean "Bean" after we find out), but we're sharing the sex. Neither one of us wants to redecorate in all pastel blues or pinks, but we've passed up good deals on clothes because of the color. Don't get me wrong, we're not so traditional that we think only girls belong in pink and only boys in blue, but conversations like this would get old fast:

Lady on the Street: "What an adorable little girl!"
Me: "Thanks, but he's a boy, and his name is Truckdriver McFlash"
Lady on the Street: "But, but..the pink onesie?"
Me: "Could we sit on the bench over there while I explain society's view of gender roles? I stood for the last three conversations like this, and my arches hurt"

[I suppose the alternative would just be to say "thanks" and move on - not that Bean knows one way or the other.]


Thanks, Espresso Royale Cafe soundtrack - now I'm going to be walking around all afternoon singing for Maggie to wake up 'cuz I think I got somethin' to say to [her]. It's embarrassing, frankly.

Living the dream - my dream

John Mearsheimer is going to be on The Colbert Report in a few minutes (or tomorrow evening on the rerun). I suppose I'd have to co-author a mainstream, accessible book on a controversial topic to live my dream.

I'll see if I can find a Youtube link in a little bit.

10:52 - JM's being very careful with his words
10:53 - He's making a relatively uncontroversial argument, but you have to listen to the words and not between the lines.
10:54 - [Outside info - the Israel Lobby has a very, very large conservative Christian component]
10:55 - Excellent question - how *should* we treat Israel?
10:56 - I'll try to do better when I'm on in five years. Keep support Colbert's advertisers so I have a chance.

My dissertation: Hey God, Why Is There War?

I will not be applying here, thank you very much:
The Mission of the Department of Government is to promote practical application of biblical principles and the original intent of the founding documents of the American republic, while preparing students for lives of public service and citizen leadership. Students will systematically study politics, government, and journalism as they learn to apply the Creator’s great gifts to humanity that aid us in the understanding and ordering of civilization: His special revelation (the revealed word of His Scripture) and His natural revelation (the light of right reason and the knowledge humans develop). Using these tools, graduates can bring unity, clarity, and purpose to the understanding and practice of government.

Admiral shoes

Admiral's new high tops: great shoes, or the greatest shoes?

For the ladies

It's time for another installment of that classic daytime game-show - Who! Would! You! Daaaaaaaaaaaaate!


The New York Times cover photo is usually pretty great, but today's was spectacular.

I feel the need - the need for tweed

I don't know whether it's the quickly-expanding signs of my impending fatherhood or the sliver of hope that I'll fool some department into letting me dress like a professor there, but lately I've been wanting to dress more like a J.Crew catalog model and less like a grad student who wears a lot of sneakers and Goodwill shirts. Awesome Goodwill shirts because I know what I'm doing in a thrift store, but thrift-store shirts nonetheless.

Don't get me wrong, though - I'm still totally hipper than you. The asymmetric full-button cardigan that M.Bro gave me (from Context) for my 28th last week would make the J.Crew buyer wrinkle his snooty blue-blooded nose with derision. But I want to go to the mall right now and buy a pair of slim-fit washed chinos in tan, light tan, dark tan, dusty tan, navy, and olive, and just alternate those with jeans every other day. And doesn't every guy secretly want to wear a thin diagonally-striped ivy-league tie under a herringbone vest? And the fact that I would eat nothing but toast for two weeks to buy these shoes should tell you that I'm willing to sacrifice to look good - not that I want to be a Kennedy cousin.

If it's J.Crew today, what's next? Brooks Brothers? Paul Stuart? Good god, where does it end? If ever mention "bespoke trousers" to you, you hereby have my permission to immediately walk away.

Gitmo, WI

It's time for another installment of "I Don't Understand Teenagers: It's Like There's Something Wrong With Their Brains". Mel acts like M.Bro and I not letting her stay out until 2:00 a.m. any night she wants to is a gross violation of her human rights, and that asking where she's going and with whom when she does go out is the kind of interrogation that the Geneva Convention prohibits. When we suggest that she study for the ACT so that she can score higher than the mid-teens this time, you'd think we're asking her to eat dinner from a dog bowl without using her hands.

And maybe the most frustrating part - college is just about the only time in your life when you get to act like you want without serious constraints, but she doesn't seem to be interested in it. Oh, sure, she says she's going to college. But maybe she knows something about the process that I don't know, because I don't think colleges choose her and then fill out applications to be her alma mater. "What kind of a place do you think you'd like to go to college? Big city? Small town? Midwest? East coast? West coast?" "STOP FLUSHING MY KORAN DOWN THE TOILET GAWD! WHERE IS MY ATTORNEY FOR THIS CROSS-EXAMINATION?!"

Dude - true story

i was riding with this guy the other day and we came to a red light and he totally blew through... i was like "dude! what's the deal?" and he was all like "man.. it's cool, me and my brother do it all the time". I was pretty freaked out. We kept riding and he kept blowing red lights and i was getting kinda freaked out. So we keep going, and i see a green light up ahead. I was pretty stoked that it was green, since this guy would have just gone through if it were a red- but coming up on the green he pulls a long skid and i'm like "buddy what's the deal?" and he goes " i had to stop... my brother might have been coming the other way".


One of the not-going-to-be-replaced marines that Bush just said will be leaving Iraq later this month is M.Bro's younger brother. This is his third deployment there, and when he gets home this time, his time in Bush's military is up. So yes, conservatives, I support the troops - by not putting my and my wife's family in danger unnecessarily and for far too long.

Kiva Test

I'm not back from hiatus - this is just a test of a class project I'm working.


I'm still not back from hiatus - just wanted to warn you that if you're not reading BikeSnobNYC every day, I'm never coming back. Copenhagen Girls on Bikes is an appropriate complement, but should not be used as a substitute.


Is what Britney Spears would be talking about if

Wait, I can't work like this - why does the SAVE NOW bar get longer as I type? Wait, it stopped growing - maybe it reached maturity. I'm confused.

Anyway, MY TRIUMPHANT RETURN is what Britney Spears would be talking about if, uh, she had done the opposite of whatever she did at the Video Music Awards last night. As much as I'd like to believe she was stoned out of her gourd, my money's on either (1) nervous - apparently too nervous to even lip-sync correctly, or (2) a spoiled diva who refused to rehearse because [HER] TRIUMPHANT RETURN was preordained. It was a trainwreck, y'all. Such a trainwreck that I'm going to break my videoblogging hymen* and put a YouTube link here.

This blog argues that, NO, THE WHOLE SHOW IS OUT OF ORDER! ("Your honor!" "Chambers, Mr. Elliot!")
Also, why wasn’t Fergie there? You know your awards show is in trouble when a woman who will basically show up at an opening of a KFC to sing “Fergalicious” is too busy to swing by and pick up her Female Artist of the Year award. Maybe my friends and I should have taken a page from her book and blown it off as well.

*Unless I posted a video while riding a horse as a young blogger.

What ho, yonder this fortnight

First of all, I'm not back. My first wave of applications haven't even left (although that's going to happen tomorrow morning, which means if you have fingers, you should cross them*). But I do have big, big news, so I wanted to post a small update.

WE'RE HAVING A NEW CAR!!! I was pulling up to a red light in a left-turn lane two Tuesdays ago when I heard a squealing from my left. The squealing was a large white pick-up that was trying to make a hard right turn at about 40 mph. I floored it and pulled to the right as hard as I could, and in one of the only positives of the day, only the back end of the car was utterly destroyed. The other positive was that the other driver was cited for reckless driving, so there was no question of fault. Since my wheels were barely rolling, it probably wasn't much of a question.

Unfortunately, our car was new enough that even replacing most of the back end didn't total it. So we're trading in the hatchback's carcass and the check from the insurance company for a Hyundai Elantra. Just like this one -

But we won't have it until tomorrow, because if we're getting a new car, we're getting the color we want. Which is silver. Like this one.

So that's it - WE'RE HAVING A NEW CAR!!! It's also a four-door, which will be nice for the car-seat. Oh yeah, we're having a baby too. So that's also pretty new and exciting. Until Dr. S does her thing, the baby's name is Bean.

*I learned from a book that Bean can cross his or her fingers this week (and make faces).

**This guy looks a little like me, except he has a cooler bike and can ride it better than me.


While I sort out this looking-for-a-job and being-a-responsible-adult nonsense, I'm putting ol' Taming of the Blog in sleep mode. I'll be back - in the meantime, e-mail me about crazy doping cyclists, movie reviews, or your life as a 14th-century butter churner in your replica village.

Oh, See Dee!

I didn't really notice it until recently, but our little ward has quite a disorder - an even-number disorder. Digital dials must not be set on an odd - and if you're me and you do it just to be obnoxious, all conversation must give way to whining and needling until the knob gets turned up or down one number. But it's not just dials - a minute ago, I heard this (one-sided) phone conversation:

Ward: Mitchell! Why would you say that?!
Ward: You said, "I don't know - like nine hours"! Why wouldn't you say an even number?!? Why did you say nine?

I wear size 12 shoes, so I'm not worried I'll come home to them all in the garbage. Comedy Central is channel 53, but VH1 is 68 and Fox is 8, so I'll still have something to watch when she reprograms the TV. What else do I need to watch out for?

You're welcome

Why are you welcome? Because after reading this (lazy) post, you'll know more about coaster brakes than roughly 100% of the world. Thanks to Jim on BikeForums for the info -

First off, for normal riding, almost any reasonable coaster brake can be made to work fine. If the brake is less than 20 years old, it's most likely a KT (Kun Teng) these are/were sold under the Hi-Stop, Shimano, KT, Suntour, and other names. They are cone-clutched brakes as were most of the coaster brakes made since the late 1800's. I don't know if you saw these drawings I made a while ago but they give an idea of how this type of brake works. If you want more of an explanation I'd be happy to give it. There's also this 'how-to' using a middle of the road Bendix brake. It might help to look at this and the drawings together to see 2D and 3D (sorta') representations of the parts and how they fit together.

The lever that attaches to the chainstay is the brake arm and is used to prevent the non-drive end of the hub from rotating. Basically, what your're doing is creating a friction connection between the hub and the drive-side cog while pedaling and a friction connection between the hub and the bicycle frame (via the brake arm) while braking. It naturally follows that there is no friction connection to either frame or cog while coasting. Look at the drawings and the position of the cone-clutch in those three modes.

The brake on my Rodriquez and my steamroller are Velosteels made in the Czech Republic. I have a nifty slotted, stainless tab welded to the chainstay of the Rodriguez to secure the brake arm. The Velosteels are a really nice hub when properly greased and bearings (cones) adjusted. Sadly, they come from the factory virtually dry of grease so they need work before they are ready for use. The Velosteels are pretty much impossible to get in the US right now which is sad. It's based on a 1904 Sachs design and is not a cone-clutch design but uses a roller-clutch (see my avatar to get a rough idea of this mechanism).

Regarding the best hubs to buy. I'm partial to older German (Sachs, Fichtel & Sachs) hubs. Sachs designs/patents were also licensed to companies like Renak, Perry and Excel so those are nice too. Another slight variation is the Musselman hubs (sometimes branded as Higgins and Elgin). Of course we can't forget the Bendix which range from really nice to reeeealllly crappy. The older units had hub bodies fashioned as a single piece (no pressed-on flanges) but a properly maintained Redline (redband) is a good useable hub. The last hubs bearing the Bendix name were made in Mexico and these are very low quality .... not worth using in my opinion. They're clearly marked Made in Mexico on the brake arm. I would avoid the Blueline (blueband) hubs as well. These are all cone-clutch except (as mentioned) certain models Sachs hubs that were roller-clutched.

Another sweet hub is the Sturmey-Archer SC-1 but they are very hard to find. Penultimately, the Cadillac/Rolls-Royce of hubs is the Morrow. These are really sweet but are quite complicated and require a tricky adjustment, during assembly, to work properly. It's not likely you'll find one lying around anyway. In fact, the reason the slot is so long on my Rodriquez is to accomodate the longer arm of the Morrow that I am slowly rebuilding.

Finally, the New Departure brake, like the Bendix redline, are the easiest hubs to find. New Departures were the first real coaster brake made (1896) and are cone-clutched but they do not use brake shoes like all other coaster brakes. Instead, they used a stack of disks like a motorcycle clutch to provide the braking action. From a design point of view, they're really nice but for braking action, many feel the leave alot to be desired. I have a few of them but have yet to lace one into a wheel to try it. After reading old articles about the early Repack race, the general concensus seemed to be that ND's always burnt up half way down the mountain and that Morrow and Musselman brakes were preferred. But for normal riding they may suffice.

Remember, coaster brakes (like all friction brakes) stop by converting forward motion into heat. Because the braking is done in a small area (inside the hub as opposed to the circumference of a rim), heat build-up can be extreme especially if the brake is used alone during a long decent. For this reason I would suggest adding a front brake to any coaster braked bike unless you live and ride in the flatlands.

So what's the practical differences in all of those brakes I've listed? Mostly in the amount of drag the hub exhibits during coasting and pedaling. Some hubs like the Sachs use a spring clip to actively retract the shoes while others simply allow the shoes to rest on the inside of the hub. Morrows actually 'disengage' the braking mechanism at both ends to reduce drag and the Musselman hubs use a split cycinder shoe to achieve the same type of shoe retraction as the Sachs and Morrow. The roller-clutched hubs have less drag as well. But for all practical purposes, the drag in any hub is acceptable if it is well-lubricated and adjusted. The only hubs that I feel are rediculously draggy are cheap Joytechs and Mexican Bendix hubs.

There's also the 'smoothness of braking' properties too. That is, how 'linear' the braking action is between slight braking all the way to lock up. Brakes that lock up with too little back-pedal force are undesireable. Most of the brakes I've listed do well enough in this area.

Caveats: Marketing departments being what they are, some hubs aren't necessarily what they appear to be. For example, Morrows were made by Eclipse Machine Company which was purchased by Bendix in the mid 1920's. Many years later when Schwinn decided to release a classic fat tire cruiser to commemorate some anniversary, they purchased the coaster brake from Bendix. Bendix, whose entire brake production had, by then, moved to Mexico, thought that it would be a great idea to give the brake a classic feel by stamping Morrow (in it's classy script font) on the brake arm (they did own the trademark).....travesty! I have seen these lowest-of-quality brakes for sale as Morrows. Beware. Back to Schwinn for a moment, Schwinn used coasterbrakes from just about every manufacturer out there. Most of the time, the brake arm is stamped with the words 'Schwinn Approved'. Some of these brakes are superb (like Sachs) and some are not (like the fake Morrow and Mexican Bendix) so you can find gems here but be careful. A German hub should have 'Germany' stamped on the body and would likely have an oil port on the side of the hub too.

What's next?

Is it even worth watching the rest of the Tour? It would be such an exciting tour - Saturday's TT could decide the whole thing - but I feel so jaded about the whole deal now. David Millar's with a group that has 7:00 on the peloton today - although he's had doping transgressions in the past, now he's a banner-waver for riding clean and I'd really like to see him win the stage. He won't, though - Jens Voight's in the group too.

3:03 PM Menchov
has pulled out of the Tour. He has climbed off of his bike in the feed zone. We don't see a physical reason... but an emotional reason? For sure. Do recall that Menchov won the Vuelta a Espana in 2005... but he was denied the chance to celebrate that victory, because Roberto Heras got to spend the day on the podium in Madrid. Folks thought that Heras had won... until the guy tripped the dopo-meter.
Menchov, who began the Tour, as Rabobank's team leader, deferred to Michael Rasmussen and then worked his arse off to help the skinny little cheat hold the lead. You have to feel for Menchov... sigh.

"Is this even relevant?"

Whoah - a political scientist being interviewed by Jon Stewart? I have a new dream.

Update: Hee - the weakest round of applause Jon Stewart has ever heard.

IQ Test

Oh, Vino - I cheered so loud for you just last night, and you were hopped up on blood, like some sort of blood-weasel?


I'm thinking about selling a pair of two of my high-tops and buyinganother pair of low-profile sneakers. If you were my feet, which would you like to live in the most?

1) Onitsuka Tiger Ultimate 81s
2) Saucony Bullets
3) Vans Authentics


J.Bro's beer count - 4.4

J.Bro's household voting for Joe Biden count - 2

J.Bro's household voting for Joe Biden count if Al Gore runs - 0

Fetch my protective goggles!

JC Watts just said that we need to address the environment, "with real science, not political science." Jackass. Are you going to watch the Youtube debate Monday night?

I want Al Gore to run - apparently he's polling higher in some states than everyone but Clinton & Obama combined, and higher than Edwards in some places. I met Al Gore twice during the 2000 Iowa primary and he remembered me the second time but that's not why I want him to run. Well, it isn't the whole reason.

The Dating Game

I have a gun to your head and you have to make out with one of these three people. (Nerdy girl pictures are hard to find so maybe you will have to ask your wife or girlfriend to pick if you don't swing that way.)





Just when I thought I'd read every word on the internet and was reaching the (twist) ending, up pops this blog and waylays a morning's worth of work on my dissertation.

From the "Worst of Craigslist" series of posts -
It is readily apparent that, now more than ever, people are accessorizing with their bicycles. You can only put so many tattoos and trendy articles of clothing on yourself, so naturally you've got to turn to your bike when you run out of room. Colored Deep-Vs, top-tube pads, stickers, and shiny new paint jobs are just some of the ways that people use their bicycles to play dress-up. The transportation part, while convenient, seems be pretty far down the list of reasons for owning a bicycle.

But what's the point of all this then if it isn't cycling? Well, it's to meet boys and girls of course! In our nation's trendier neighborhoods, bicycles are like dogs: their owners dress them up, they parade them up and down the street, and they use them as an excuse to talk to people. Oh, and like dog owners, they don't ride them. There's no better place online to see this in action than the Craigslist "Missed Connections" section. Here are a few recent examples:

2008 Carbon Zaskar Team

This bike makes me want to get fast enough to deserve it - to train 400 miles a week and eat nothing but lean protein. I just saw it in person, and it makes my palms sweaty.

That suits me just fine

I'm going to Chicago the weekend after next for Mission: Academic Job Search Suit Search. Suits are so boring - I don't even own one because I've been get away with a jacket and khakis for all my formal events so far. Really, it's a choice between navy or charcoal fabric. As far as details, you're a fashion disaster if you're wearing anything other than a three-button, single-breasted jacket with flat-front pants. That's it. Brown or green suits? What am I - 80 years old? Black? Is this a job interview or a funeral? Light grey? Pinstripes? I'm not on a fashion show runway. So navy and charcoal are my only two choices and M.Bro's just going to have to get on board with that.

I also need to pick up some crisp white and light blue dress shirts. And probably a dressier watch. I don't think my digital Casio from the 80's is going to cut it at most departments.

Getting a job is an expensive process.

An airplane is taking me home soon

Maia is taking me to LAX in about an hour, then a nice pilot is going to fly me home. I'm sleeping the whole way.

You're not the guy

There's one guy that can pull off a full-brimmed hat, and you're not him. Want to know a secret? Nobody is. There is no guy who can pull off a full-brimmed hat. I know you think you're the guy - the mythical one - but you're not the guy. Again, because no one is. And not just because Vice says so - because I say so too.

This tunnel

...has another end, because I can see light! Short lecture tomorrow morning, then each of the students has a 10-minute presentation on a story of their choice (pulled from the last three weeks of NYTs), then on Friday we have a postest and Hotel Rwanda. Closing ceremonies Friday afternoon, staff grillout, on more night in the faculty dorm and 9:00 a.m. Saturday flight. Then, on Sunday, a big Transformers-Order of the Phoenix double-header. Sunday will also probably involve some big, preachey "what I've learned from this experience" post (which, on the advice of my advisor, I'm going to try to turn into a quick article for the journal that runs articles of that sort - "What teaching thirteen year-olds taught me about teaching undergraduates" or something)

The new Spoon album ("Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga") is fantastic. I know you wanted to know.

Far from penultimate

How have I gone so many years without playing ultimate frisbee? What a ridiculously fun game - ridiculously. I need people to play with when I get back home. At least seven other people have to commit to regular weekly games in the comments. (I don't think seven people total, let alone seven from where I live, read this).

The spectacular sliding catch that earned me this (as well as a point for team Social Sciences) (and a round of applause from both teams) was at least 85% worth it. I had to sleep uncovered and on my back last night because bumping or pulling the blanket across it was keeping me from falling asleep.

Sadly, 2 1/2 hours of ultimate frisbee was far and away the high point of my week in LA. I spent all of my free time today working on student evaluation letters (a time commitment that the students will never know about, let alone appreciate), and it's more of that, plus lecture, plus Sunday-evening study hall tomorrow. Blerg.


This class is so overwhelming - not just the preparation and teaching, but the behavior and the social issues that go along with being a supervisor in addition to a teacher. I feel like I'm being smothered by a blanket of exhaustion.

Democracy rox lol wtf

This morning's assignment, after learning about the legal regulations on the use of force (found in Chapter VII of the UN Charter, as I'm sure you know), was for each student to e-mail their analysis of the March 2003 use of force to president@whitehouse.gov (with me cc'd). They seemed excited and nervous about the idea of e-mailing the president, so I didn't have the heart to break it to them that if anyone reads their letters at all, it'll be some bored summer intern. I did promise 1,000 extra credit bonus points to anyone that gets something other than canned, computer-generated response, so I'll keep you posted.

Rapid-fire blogging with swears

I have the new Modest Mouse album on repeat while I work this morning, and goddamn, you need a copy if you don't already have one. All killer, no filler.

Bill Clinton always looked like an old man to them

Holy shit - my kids were born after the 91 Gulf War.

I was only 12 when it happened, but I remember vividly watching it on CNN in my grandparents' basement. My parents were building onto our house at the time, and we were staying there for a few nights while the major work on the kitchen was going on. It's one of my first memories of international politics.

Keep your eyes peeled

According to my apartment-mate, who is also from Madison, David Lynch lives somewhere on the west side - and goes to the same video store I do. Mulholland Drive is one of my top three favorite movies, and now I'm going to be disappointed if I don't get to tell the director that in person.

It's not all teaching






New experiences all around.

Phone calls from parents is a completely new experience for me - one that I got to enjoy this afternoon. Fortunately, it was a concerned parent and not a frothing-with-anger parent, so I could have lost my parent-call virginity in far less savory ways. The student in question is quiet and shy, but perfectly competent - he's not the star of the class, though, and I think not outshining his peers is a new experience. It's a good lesson, though - I feel like I'm teaching life skills here, which is a new experience of my own. Today I taught them all how to find books in the stacks, and yesterday I taught them all how to skim articles to weed out the literary chaff.

The crushing lows, the not-so-dizzing highs

Some of you(Spice, for sure)know about the post-lecture emotional roller-coaster - an immediate quick high, followed by a pretty severe and exhausting drop (which hopefully disappears before you have to step up to the lectern again).

It turns out that teaching exuberant young children, especially smart ones that are in constant competition, is just exhausting the whole time. I'm only one day down on this California Adventure ride, and I'm beat. I'm toast. I'm flattened. I'm glad my lecture is ready to go for tomorrow already because I'm barely going to make it to the end of this senten

That's a cheap writing gag and it's below you - sorry.

I did bring the little geniuses down a peg during study hall tonight. They were supposed to read about 30 pages (and reading, I told them, means taking notes on what you're reading, not just speeding through it), then write a short response paper (to a specific question I had given them, not like they're in grad school). My TA reported that not one of them had enough time to get to the reaction paper, so maybe they'll be less out to prove themselves tomorrow. Or more. What do I know.

Dubbya tee eff, California?

Why is it so chilly here between 8:00 p.m. and 10:00 a.m.? I had to ask M.Bro to mail me a sweatshirt this weekend.

The students descended on us today. They have an entire evening of icebreakers with the residential staff tonight, and we start classes bright and early tomorrow morning. I'm not nervous - just anxious. I really have no idea what to expect out of these kids. With college students, I can be reasonably sure they'll mostly look bored and/or hung-over, and that sureness is comforting - it makes the success of the class almost completely dependent on me and me alone.

The first RA/Instructor student-handoff happens at Leo (the) Lion at 8:50 tomorrow - wish me luck.

Here there be dragons

You're going to wish you were taking my class on Tuesday - it's going to be a blast and a half. I'm putting them in five groups of three to learn about the logic of collective action. Here's part of the activity instructions -
Congratulations! Your group has been elected by the people of Delta, one of the five independent states on CTY Island, to run the government of the state. The voters have told you their two main priorities – protecting your state from dragon attacks, but also building an island-wide system of roads to allow for the exchange of consumer goods between all the states on CTY Island.

You begin your first month in office with 10 resource points. Each month in office (a turn), you will have the chance to spend as many of your resource points as you wish for the Island Defense Fund, the Road Network Fund, or both. You may also choose to keep your resources in your mattress and not spend them on either defense or roads. You can increase your resource points by engaging in economic exchanges (which require a road network), but you will lose points if dragons are able to break through CTY Island’s defenses (which will happen if the defense fund is too low).

NO OTHER TEAM WILL KNOW WHAT YOU SPENT YOUR RESOURCES ON, OR WHETHER YOU SPENT ANY AT ALL. In fact, you may find that deceit, trickery, and bald-faced lying are useful techniques for preserving your resources.

Learning to Teach

It was Day 1 of faculty training, so lots of meetings today, lots of handouts, lots of exuberant enthusiasm for the CTY program. There are only a handful of new teachers - apparently most of them come back year after year (after year) and it's rare that an instructor position opens up. There's a fresh crop of new TAs almost every year, though, so I'm not the only one that hasn't been initiated into the community. My TA is a first-year grad student in my field at a pretty major California school, plus he has the same outlook on the field as me, so I think I lucked out in that regard.

Toiletry issues aside, I'm also pretty pleased with the housing situation. See that bluff? There's a multiple-mile running trail about halfway up(at least three - which is where I stopped today). See that building at the outcropping? That's Chez J.Bro for the next three weeks.

And this is the view from my classroom - some sort of mutant tree, the campus chapel, and the field on which Monday's croquet showdown will be waged.