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Or, the thoughts of several frustrated intellectuals on Sociology, Gaming, Science, Politics, Science Fiction, Religion, and whatever the hell else strikes their fancy. There is absolutely no reason why you should read this blog. None. Seriously. Go hit your back button. It's up in the upper left-hand corner of your browser... it says "Back." Don't say we didn't warn you.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Conference-English Phrase Book

As those in the greater sociology community know, we are rapidly approaching the beginning of this year's American Sociological Association annual meeting. This year's meeting has the awesome theme "Is another world possible?"* and promises to be several days of excitement as sociologists from all over North America converge to share the latest research. Okay, I'm kidding a little about that. In reality the annual meeting is effectively non-stop boredom punctuated by schmoozing, meals, and the handful of truly fascinating papers that we'll manage to find. I'm learning that there's a subtle and delicate art to stalking the elusive "fascinating paper presentation" and like to think that my own system for doing so yields better-than-average results. Doubtless at the blogger's shindig we can compare notes.

Now, I'm getting to be an old hand at attending sociology conferences. I've done it enough that I understand what's going on,** I know how to find things I need,*** and I know where to go to hide from people I don't want to see.**** This year I'm looking forward to the meetings- and not just because of the awesome paper I'm presenting- but also because it's a chance to see colleagues at other universities. At the same time, I'm reminded of the first time I attended the annual meeting. It was a bewildering experience full of sound and fury***** and I often felt as though everyone was speaking some bizarre moon language. This last bit, as it happens, is true, because at conferences people often don't speak English but instead speak the related language "Conference." So, for the benefit of those of my readers who are attending for the first time, please enjoy this handy Conference-English phrase guide.

A random faculty member asks: I'm sorry, are you John Smith's student? We knew each other in graduate school.

Translation: Do you know where John Smith is? He didn't beat the spread on our fantasy baseball final and he owes me money.

A conference attendee asks: Have you seen a restroom on this level?

Translation: Please help me before I explode.

A paper presenter says: As you can see, the variables of interest are highly significant with magnitudes of the expected size and direction, providing strong support for my theoretical predictions. Variables testing rival theory A are not significant.

Translation: I am an f-ing rockstar. Bow before my sociological might! Suck it, rival theory A!

A questioner in a panel asks: I appreciate the fact that you used robust standard errors to correct for heteroskedasticity, and that you tried several different operationalizations of your independent variables, but why did you use standard OLS regression with a dichotomous dependent variable? Isn't logistic regression more appropriate?

Translation: Why are you giving a manicure to a severed arm?

The presenter responds: That's a valid concern, but this is a preliminary investigation. We'll re-estimate our models using more sophisticated techniques prior to submitting this paper for publication.

Translation: I have no idea what you're talking about. Please don't hurt me.

A questioner in a panel asks: Why are you claiming significant effects at the .05 level one-tailed when your hypotheses were non-directional?

Translation: Why are you wasting our time with null findings?

The presenter responds: Ah. Sorry, I didn't have time to present my theoretical argument in sufficient depth but I'd be happy to discuss the matter with you after the panel.

Translation: Damn. I was hoping we'd get a little mileage out of these null results. Good thing we brought these suicide pills. URK!

A questioner at a panel asks: I find your ontological points interesting, vis-a-vis the deconstruction of modern integrative hermeneutics, but I'm concerned about the epistemic implications of such a position. Can you comment on that?

Translation: Please help me, I have a French post-modern philosopher caught in my throat.

The presenter responds: Well, I understand your concern but I think if you look at this work less from the perspective of Derrida and more with a Bourdieu framework your concerns will be alleviated.

Translation: You're on your own.

A colleague remarks: Thank you all for coming to the section business meeting...

Translation: Wow, we're almost half-full. Did someone promise free food?

A colleague asks: Are you going to the presidential address?

Translation: Will you keep me company in those really uncomfortable chairs?

You respond: Yes.

Translation: No.

A colleague asks: Have you seen the book fair?

Translation: I don't have money for lunch and I'm hoping to subsist on candy and free cookies.

You respond: I haven't been in yet, but I think it's on the mezzanine level.

Translation: I have built a nest for myself out of Blackwell brochures and my own spit. This is the first time I've left in two days.

A fellow grad student asks: Do you want to go to the grad student book giveaway together?

Translation: If we team up, we can fight off interlopers from other departments.

You respond: Sure, sounds good!

Translation: Your proposal is acceptable, but if you betray me I will beat you to death with Das Kapital.

A fellow grad student says: We found an economical hotel with a nice view.

Translation: We're sleeping in a van, down by the river.

You respond: Nice.

Translation: Holy crap! You can afford a van?!

A colleague asks: Do you have wifi access?

Translation: Oh god, I need a fix! C'mon, man, just one little hit! Just gimme a pinch of e-mail!

You respond: Yeah, but I really need up upload these files.

Translation: Come any closer and I will cut you.

A fellow grad student says: I'm not doing much at the ASAs this year. I just got busy with other things.

Translation: I have a crippling addiction to blogs.

You respond: That happens to us all sometimes.

Translation: Me too.

* Somehow I expect that a simple answer "yes" isn't what the organizers were hoping for.

** Mostly.

*** Why are bathrooms so difficult to locate at these conferences anyway?

**** That's a lie; I don't think anyone knows how to do that.

***** It's probably best if you don't complete the quote.

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Blogger Bad Runner said...

Hi-lar-i-ous! But, could you please write a post on your system for finding good papers at ASA. I think this will be my 15th year and I still don't have a clue--the suicide pill thing is a good idea for audience members as well as presenters.

Friday, August 03, 2007 8:59:00 PM  
Blogger SARA said...

geeee, maybe that is the subject i should pick for my "pick a topic for a post" prize!
I was going to suggest the "Sociology of Emotion as it relates to blogging" *S*

Saturday, August 04, 2007 12:22:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I haven't laughed that hard since my thesis defense.

Sunday, August 05, 2007 10:43:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I inclination not agree on it. I think polite post. Specially the designation attracted me to study the unscathed story.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010 1:20:00 AM  

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