La Profesora Abstraída

Weblog of Michelle Dion, Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science, at McMaster University. My blog has moved to Visit my other website.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Social science research from Latin America

This site has a handful of Latin American social science journals available in English translation. Apparently, new journals will be added in August. Will be very cool once it's expanded.

posted by Michelle @ 1:30 PM, 3 comments

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Poli sci rumor mills

Luckily, when I sort-of went on the job market (I only applied for jobs I would really take because I was in a position to wait and go on the market a second time if necessary), I was in Mexico City. Thus, I was somewhat isolated from the job market rumor mill, where you hear about everyone else's interviews and offers before you receive any calls or interviews. Thank goodness because it was nerve wracking enough without obsessing about what everyone else was doing.

Now, blogs have appeared to lower the information costs and make sure everyone can participate in the job market rumor mill. There's the Comparative and American rumor mill, the Political theory and public law rumor mill, and the IR rumor mill. I find it odd that American and Comparative are by a couple looking for jobs in both fields, perhaps? And, I note that our IPE position at Georgia Tech isn't on the IR page, despite being listed on APSA's e-jobs site. What could this mean? The position is not rumor-worthy? Or, that we and our candidates are highly discreet?

Via Chris.

posted by Michelle @ 10:53 PM, 3 comments

People in funny suits

Back when Paul used to blog and I was in Mexico, I posted a number of pictures in funny suits in Mexico. Because of a corrupted photo card, I also lost a picture of me with a Mexican drugstore mascot.

Well, Thursday night, I was able to snap a picture of the drugstore mascot in Monterrey. S/He was dancing to techno.

posted by Michelle @ 8:12 PM, 5 comments

Trip to Monterrey

Thursday and Friday I was in Monterrey, Mexico to check out the opportunities for our students to study, work, or participate in community projects there through our relationship with Tec de Monterrey. Georgia Tech has recently created the International Plan option for undergraduate students. Students that opt for the IP will be required to work, study, or do research abroad for at least 26 weeks over no more than two separate visits in the same linguistic region. The Plan is new, but many students, especially INTA majors, are expected to opt for the IP designation and will need opportunities to go abroad.

Though I was in Monterrey for less than 24 hours total, the short visit made me homesick for Mexico. Walking around the center for an hour Thursday night, I felt a strong pull to be back in Mexico. It's likely that I (maybe in coordination with some Spanish faculty) will be developing a study abroad program there soon.

View from campus building.

View of campus, where wild animals roam (literally).

Monterrey Tec is such a nice, new, modern, U.S-style campus that you could easily forget you're in Mexico. The entire campus is wireless, and an entire classroom building has every room wired for video conferencing. In addition, the bathrooms have signs asking you to put your toilet paper in the toilet, and there are no trash bins in the stalls for toilet paper.

For those that have traveled in Mexico, you'll appreciate this difference. Often, public (e.g., restaurant, hotel) bathrooms will ask that you not throw paper in the toilet and instead expect you to throw paper in a trash bin in the stall. A waste engineer that I met once explained that Mexicans often throw their paper in the trash rather than toilet for a couple of reasons. Often the water pressure is weak and only created by keeping a water tank on top of the house or building. This means that the pressure isn't strong enough to flush paper well without clogging the system. Also, she said that since most waste ended up in local rivers, people didn't throw paper so that paper wouldn't float down the river with the waste. Of course, this is only one woman's explanation, but since she was a waste engineer who studied "las aguas negras" outside of Mexico City, I'd tend to believe her. In either case, the bathrooms at Monterrey Tec are just one more reflection of how modern and North American the campus is.

posted by Michelle @ 7:26 PM, 7 comments

Monday, January 23, 2006

Happy Birthday to me

For my birthday, I received cards in the mail from my Dad and his wife and Brian's grandparents. Brian took me to see a movie of my choice and made me dinner (spinach and cottage cheese stuffed chicken, mashed sweet potatoes, and asparagus). He gave me these cds, and then took me for cake and a coffee at our favorite coffee shop.

My mom and maternal grandparents neither called nor sent cards. Not the first time. And I'm the good daughter (only, really) and best grandchild. I could have called them, but this way, I can tease them for forgetting.

posted by Michelle @ 12:04 AM, 2 comments

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Double wow

Glad to know the vatican is taking the side of all those evolution radicals.

posted by Michelle @ 11:11 AM, 1 comments

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

No title

I couldn't even think of an appropriate title for this post. A colleague here at Tech emailed me this CNN story. That story took me to this link. From that page, I went to this one. At which point, I took a look to see if any political science professors made the list. Apparently, your support is tax deductible and will be used to give students beer money pay spies students to fabricate gather additional data.

Makes me want to wear black and red in solidarity.

posted by Michelle @ 2:54 PM, 0 comments

Tuesday, January 17, 2006


A real LOTR fan.

posted by Michelle @ 10:11 AM, 1 comments

Social security for the poor?

Last May, I briefly discussed an announcement by Fox to create an Institute for Social Protection, with the implied intention of extending social security to the poor and working poor not covered by IMSS or ISSSTE.

Today's discussion will be even briefer (given that I have a job talk to attend, class to prepare, and presentation for a local Lion's Club to finish), but it appears Fox has been working on his proposal.

Meanwhile, in other news, the IMSS union is still claiming that more staff are needed, and other unions are mobilizing against the ISSSTE reforms.

posted by Michelle @ 9:49 AM, 0 comments

Monday, January 16, 2006

Mexican politicians debate emigration

Presidential candidate Lopez Obrador blames the emigration from Mexico to the U.S. on poor economic policy and unemployment in Mexico.

President Fox (who cannot run for re-election) disputes this claim and asserts that 85% of Mexicans that go to the U.S. have a job.

The Church in Mexico questions the efficacy of building physical barriers to entry into the U.S. and asks Bush to reconsider. Fox's Secretary of State agreed that walls will not solve the problem. Even author Sergio Pitol chimes in to criticize immigration policy. (That La Jornada has a short article about his comment on immigration reflects more about the newspaper than about the author, I think.)

posted by Michelle @ 5:06 PM, 2 comments

Pension reform in Mexico

Attempts to reform the pension system for ex-Presidents has been blocked by the living ex-Presidents, according to La Jornada. The article claims that Mexican ex-Presidents receive more than 5 million U.S. dollars in benefits, if you include their staff, compared to the roughly half a million U.S. dollars received by U.S. ex-Presidents.

The dissident Teachers' union (CNTE) has said it will go on an indefinite strike if a pension reform proposal to the ISSSTE is submitted to Congress. The article is not even close to "fair and balanced."

posted by Michelle @ 4:58 PM, 0 comments

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

If you want to advance your academic career.....

...go outlet mall shopping. Or so the Georgia Association for Women in Higher Education seem to imply by blocking off three hours for "Outlet shopping with friends" at their annual meeting, "Developing, Supporting, and Advancing Women in Higher Education."

Hmmmm.....I think I'll pass.

posted by Michelle @ 5:56 PM, 1 comments

Tuesday, January 10, 2006


I know I'm behind on this one, but the thought of Bush with a Shuffle (though it looks more like a Nano from the photo, especially since he can read off his playlist) made me smile. Does he otherwise use a Mac or PC? And if he can get his PC to work with his Nano, why can't some of my relatives?

posted by Michelle @ 12:51 PM, 1 comments

Monday, January 09, 2006

Where did those two weeks go?

Today is the beginning of the new semester, and I'm at my desk wondering where the last two/three weeks went. It seems that a lot of time was spent getting somewhere, and too little time spent enjoying the destination. I guess this is true for many families where parents divorce and everyone lives far enough apart to make visiting necessary but time consuming. Getting a five day cold/flu doesn't help either.

Luckily, I had time to attend the SPSA meetings last week--see a few panels and meet a few folks. I didn't see Munger or meet Steven Taylor, but as Chris pointed out, we had a nice breakfast at IHOP. (Who said I don't know the bumpin' Atlanta spots?) If I get minor demerits for being a Tar Heel, do I get bonus points for being a Longhorn? I bleed more burnt orange than baby blue, even during basketball season.

Now, I must scramble to finish syllabi, grant forms, and turn in my third-year review package. When I come up for air, I'll post about more substantive issues.

posted by Michelle @ 9:32 AM, 2 comments

Friday, January 06, 2006

SPSA attendee

Paulie has been hanging around the Southern Political Science Association book area. He belongs to The Nation rep who is also attending the conference. Paulie is friendly and wears a sweater covered with lefty buttons.

posted by Michelle @ 10:14 PM, 3 comments

Somewhere in East Texas

posted by Michelle @ 10:13 PM, 2 comments

Did I mention?

That it's good to be a Longhorn lately? Man, that was an amazing football game, and I don't even like football.

posted by Michelle @ 10:10 PM, 1 comments

One of the reasons I always miss Texas

Shep's BBQ in Palestine, Texas. It's the only reason to even slow down as you head through town, as far as I can tell.

Of course, the post below shows one of the other reasons I miss Texas: family.

Good Tex-Mex is somewhere on that list as well.

posted by Michelle @ 10:05 PM, 2 comments

Mexico City slideshow

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