So, I’m hereby announcing a $10 iTunes gift card … which will be awarded by an esteemed panel of judges at the end of the weekend. This doesn’t fully take the place of NSF funding for political science, but it can’t hurt.
This is a very strong opening bid from Michael Tofias.
Last year, at the annual meeting of the Midwest Political Science Association, people began to take pictures of Professor Seth Masket from across crowded rooms. When I learned about this trend, I decided to compile them … which quickly encouraged more people to participate in a photographic scavenger hunt.
Needless to say, it was a wild success.
I’m accepting nominations for this year’s MPSA scavenger hunt. Whose picture should political scientists young and old attempt to capture and send to me to save for posterity?
My young friend who blogs at Rightsided took issue with one of my recent posts about gun violence, though he didn’t actually address the question I posed to him and others like him about the ineffectiveness of small arms against a professional military:
“More Americans have been killed in our country within in [sic] the last year by guns than all U.S. soldiers killed in all of the years of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.”
Richard Aborn writes in the New York Daily News.
I’d be interested to hear from some of the people who insisted to me yesterday that Iraq and Afghanistan are good examples of an insurgency with small arms standing up to a military that possesses overwhelming firepower.
From this statistic, it sure seems like the small arms you desperately believe are going to ward off governmental tyranny are really far more useful at killing (defenseless) civilians than soldiers.
You know what city alone has more homicides than troop killings in Afghanistan: Chicago.
You know what Chicago has: some of the strictest gun laws in the country.
So, shall we go the way of Chicago?
Instead, he noted that more civilians die in Chicago than troops in Afghanistan. This was, of course, my point. But his reasoning, apparently, is that there’s too much gun control in Chicago and that this accounts for the violence.
I guess I’ll begin by noting that Chicago doesn’t actually have the highest murder rate in the world.
My interlocutor links to the Steve Gill Show website to demonstrate that “Chicago has the highest murder rates [sic] in the world.” Gill’s piece (which is titled “‘CHICAGO HAS THE HIGHEST MURDER RATE’ IN THE WORLD”) centers around the fact that Chicago’s murder rate is 19.4/100,000. At the bottom of the piece, which is pretty much entirely a quote from another source, we learn that “We could be doing worse: Caracas, Venezuela has a murder rate of 130 per 100,000." Check out the numbers for Cape Town, South Africa, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil or Ciudad Juarez, Mexico.
This disregard for facts shouldn’t be too surprising. Steve Gill simply grabbed a couple of paragraphs from an NBC Chicago opinion piece … but only a couple of paragraphs. Because the rest of that piece completely disputes Gill’s point and that of my young friend.
So, here’s the rest of that piece so readers can really think about the issue for themselves:
Gun lovers are gleeful about Chicago’s deadly summer. They see it as a rebuke not just to gun control, but to the policies of Barack Obama and Rahm Emanuel.
But Chicago’s murder rate is not proof that gun control doesn’t work. It’s proof that, in a country with one gun per citizen, local gun laws are meaningless.
Let’s look at Tokyo, one of the safest cities on that list, with a murder rate of 0.5 per 100,000 citizens. Japan’s constitution does not guarantee its citizens the right to bear arms. Handguns are prohibited. Semi-automatic weapons are prohibited. Automatic rifles are prohibited. The only exceptions are hunting shotguns and target-shooting pistols. The penalty for illegal possession of a gun is up to 15 years in prison. Japan has a population of 127 million. In 2006, two people were murdered with guns.
Japan starts with the principle that citizens have no right to a gun, and forces them to prove they need one. The United States starts with the principle that guns are an inalienable right, and forces the government to justify banning them.
The number-one factor in predicting crime is not guns — or lack of guns. It is concentrated urban poverty. Because of Chicago’s history as a segregated city, we have a lot of that.
There’s also this, from a much more recent piece that talks about Rahm Emanuel’s desire for tougher new gun laws:
Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy agrees with Emanuel’s sense of urgency. Chicago’s top cop suggested the nation needs a better firearm tracking system.
"A national recognition that there has to be some sort of tracking, not even gun control accountability for gun owners," he said on Saturday. "It doesn’t mean you can’t have your gun, but there’s a requirement to report the lost, theft, or transfer of a firearm."
McCarthy explained most guns in Chicago are legally purchased, but illegally transferred into the city.
So, the Police Superintendant in Chicago disagrees with you about Chicago’s gun control laws and all of your facts are wrong.
But otherwise this is a bang-up response.
This handy “United States of Television” map really highlights how few shows take a chance on the Heartland. I mean, I suppose I’m not particularly surprised that no one has constructed a show based in Omaha or Des Moines … but how is it possible that there isn’t a single show set in Chicago?
I think someone needs to reboot “Perfect Strangers” …
Update: Jacob Levy notes that “The Good Wife” is set in Chicago. This doesn’t dampen my hopes for a “Perfect Strangers” reboot, but it does raise the question of why some current shows are left off the map while other now-defunct shows are on it. What else is missing?
Apparently, “Get a Pic of Seth Masket" is a thing at the Midwest Political Science Association conference this year.
These photos were taken by three separate political scientists and posted to Twitter within a twenty-four hours period.
Do you have photos of Masket from the conference? Submit them and I’ll make sure to keep updating with new GPSMs as they roll in!
I’m heading to Chicago this morning for the annual meeting of the Midwest Political Science Association, a gathering of a few thousand of my colleagues from around the country and the world.
I’ll be presenting a draft chapter of the book I recently finished on a panel called “Poetry, Imagination, and Political Thought.” My co-panelists will be talking about Hannah Arendt, Giambattista Vico, Aristotle, Jane Austin, and Jonathan Swift (though, mercifully, not all in the same paper).
My own paper is on the complicated relationship between Plato’s Socrates and Homer’s Odysseus.
Given the lack of any coherent connection that I can see from these authors, it should be a pretty wild panel. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the discussants won’t try to present short essays of their own on the ways in which the papers actually do intersect in some obtuse way (a seeming favorite of discussants the world over).
Anyhow, if the rules of etiquette weren’t so painfully clear, I’d try to live-blog the whole thing because I can’t imagine a better way to demonstrate what exactly it is that professors do when we’re not in the classroom …
In a plain and narrow space that evokes a black-box theater, Grant Achatz, the celebrated modernist chef, and his business partner and patron, Nick Kokonas, have opened a restaurant, Next, that offers a new model of fine dining. Service has become theater at Next, right down to the price of admission.
You cannot make a reservation. But you can buy a ticket. And what you get in return changes four times a year.
As at the Steppenwolf Theater down the street from Mr. Achatz’s first restaurant, the much-lauded and science-mad Alinea, which opened in 2005, Next requires a willing suspension of disbelief: in this case that great cooks can embody any role, cook anything well, from any larder, at any time. It rewards that conviction with giddy excitement, real passion and occasionally with art. It is a daring conceit that far less talented chefs and restaurateurs may try to copy, in return for the regular bursts of attention it ensures.
It is not easy to eat at Next. The restaurant has only 62 seats and no phone number: Mr. Kokonas has designed the business so that the tickets are sold only through the Web site, nextrestaurant.com, where they are generally snatched up the moment they are released. Prices are variable, as on Broadway.
"I want to go to there."
A number of thoughtful RC readers were kind enough to send me the call for papers for a conference on MTV’s “Jersey Shore” that’s being organized at the University of Chicago. Rest assured, I submitted my abstract (based in no small part on my ongoing “Justice and the Jersey Shore” blog series) and just received this confirmation message:
This email is to confirm your submission of an abstract for consideration for the UChicago Conference on Jersey Shore Studies.
We have received far more abstracts than we initially anticipated, and as a result, some abstracts will not be selected for presentation at the conference. We are currently in the process of reviewing all submissions, and will notify all those who have submitted an abstract by Monday, August 15th, rather than August 12th as was previously announced. We apologize for this inconvenience, but we want to be sure that we give every submission a fair chance.
If my paper isn’t chosen, dear RC readers, I’m going to be a very sad professor.
Can someone explain to me what this show next week could possibly be about?
An hour of political theatre? A live commercial for gold? Conspiracies, conspiracies, conspiracies?
Someone at the San Francisco Chronicle had a great idea: send one of their staff writers — Sophie Brickman, a culinary school graduate — into a series of four-star kitchens and publish the results. The first, on Thomas Keller’s French Laundry, was published on September 12; the second, on Coi and La Folie, appeared on the 17th.
There are some really fascinating tidbits of information in the pieces, especially this one about the way that French Laundry prepares for its guests:
Reservationists Google all customers who make a reservation, which is why you might get a candle in your dessert even if you don’t tell anyone it’s your birthday, or a glass of Champagne to celebrate that merger. Extras are all in an effort to keep a diner’s experience as exciting as possible.
“Minimum” VIPs might be people who have visited many times - they receive a few extra courses in addition to the regular menu. Maximum VIPs, Hollingsworth said, “might be a chef coming in, or someone who is well regarded in their industry, someone we have a relationship with.” If the kitchen has the time, these special guests get a completely off-the-menu menu, created that day especially for them.
I’m curious, now, about whether other fine dining restaurants take similar measures with regard to learning about their guests. Hard to say, really, as my personal celebrity status doesn’t yet qualify me as a VIP at any of my favorite spots in Chicago — not even a minimum VIP yet.
That said, I definitely felt that I was being treated like someone particularly special when I dined at Piccolo Sogno with my family last year — including two trips to the table from the chef — due in no small part to the way that the restaurant’s staff is using Twitter. The restaurant was recommended to me by Rick Bayless, via Twitter; the recommendation resulted in a discussion of the restaurant’s excellent food amongst a number of Twitter users; and the restaurant staff then communicated with me via Twitter prior to my arrival in Chicago that weekend.
Of course, none of it will ultimately matter if the food isn’t fantastic. That, at bottom, is surely the story in these San Francisco Chronicle articles, just as it is whenever we plan a trip to our favorite fine dining restaurants in Chicago.
Our amazing dinner on Thursday night at Topolobampo. Can’t wait to go back next month!
A few more photos of the Chicago “Babymoon” trip from Spring Break.
Apparently, we looked at animals a lot.
Our delicious dinner at Piccolo Sogno on Wednesday night in Chicago. Looking forward to going back there soon!