Monday, March 23, 2009

Unprovoked Threat #1: Comment on Pauline Garvey

Some time ago, in the midst of a caffeine-fueled paper-writing frenzy, we posted without comment a pithy observation by an Irish Anthropologist, a Ms. Pauline Garvey. Sharing with her an interest in Norwegian aesthetics, we stumbled upon one of her papers about the framing of “practicality” in the justification of home decorations decisions and were overcome with admiration. So we posted a quote and went back to social theory and data flow diagrams.

We would like to comment now.

Pauline Garvey is brilliant in her incision of the whole concept of practicality. She slices away at the favorite justification of the hipster/housewife/construction worker and we like the cuts she makes. Applying a kind of rhetorical analysis beyond our sophistication, she tears to ribbons the concept that anyone truly decorates their home in a “practically” superior way. In her analysis of her qualitative data, she draws chalk-line parallels between the Norwegian-home-owner-described “practical aesthetic” of Norwegian homes and normative control.

We’re going to bone up on whatever it was she did and we’re going to do it, too.

So if you think you wear Vans because they’re practical, or if you think you wear jeans because they’re comfortable, or if you think you shower because it’s “just a good idea,” you have another think coming.

And we’re bringing it. Watch yourself, because we’re going to do a series of posts on the speciousness of “practicality” as justification.

Unsolicited Advice #17: Monday Mornings When the Weekend's Toll is Large

It is better to go to work - even if you are late, wan, and poorly dressed - than to not go at all.

So what if the only outfit you can compose makes you look like a frumpy 12 year old boy who got home after dark? Who cares but you if you’re a-game is jammed behind the toaster at home?

Go anyway. Just hide in your office and soothe yourself with coffee and cigarette breaks.

Your at-work reputation is not so spotless that another speck will really impact the overall level of tarnish. We promise.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Monday, March 9, 2009

Unsolicited Advice #16: Getting People to Participate

When soliciting participation in an unsavory, challenging, or otherwise daunting activity, it is uniformly tasteful to motivate your interlocutor with a brief, recriminatory "Cowboyup."

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The Misapplication of Math #1: Size

As a popular, witty blog of note, we feel motivated to deliver this message:
The cult popularity of skinniness, while seductive like Hedwig's more provocative dance numbers, doesn't really deliver on the making-your-life-suck-less front.

Take it from someone whose closet contains 2s, 4s, 6s, 8s, and 10s.  (I'm a real-life statistician, so you can trust me):

Let X=dress size.

Let Y=relative happiness, measured by the inverse of the number of times folks on the streets tell you to smile.

Given the cultural belief that skinnier selves are happier selves, let the null hypothesis be (where a is just some scaling factor): 


After a long data collection period (we're talking over a decade here) with significant variation in the independent variable, and through ordinary least squares regression, I have rejected the null at alpha=0.01 and developed this crappy model, whose r-squared value reflects that the unexplained variation is pretty much all the variation:


Skinnier = more people telling me to smile.  By a large factor.  And if you've never been told to smile by a stranger, then I'll let you know this: It sucks.

Policy Implications:
If only emotions listened to econometric reason the way the Federal government does, maybe there would be implications.

A. Gander (2009, forthcoming)