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.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Are transparency and technology good things?

On the one hand, the recent tendency of the Mexican government (including various bureaucracies) and civil society organizations to post all sorts of documents on the web and the availability of online newspaper archives means that I can easily download a couple of GB of information related to President Calderon's March 2007 privatization of ISSSTE pensions.

On the other hand, I can easily download a couple of GB of information related to President Calderon's March 2007 privatization of ISSSTE pensions.

Given that I have been periodically checking various government and organization websites since the proposals first went public in 2003-04, I have many, many files in many, many folders. For instance, I have about 5 versions of a Powerpoint presentation of the Ministry of Finance regarding the ISSSTE privatization proposal that are dated between 2004 and 2006.

Whereas before (i.e., pre-2001) the challenge was getting information, now the challenge is figuring out what information is useful.

posted by Michelle @ 7:22 PM, 0 comments

Friday, September 28, 2007

Steps closer to electoral reform in Mexico

Several more states have approved proposed national electoral reforms. Most look like they are designed to reduce negative campaigning and improve transparency of funding. I'm not holding my breath for real change.

posted by Michelle @ 10:30 AM, 0 comments

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Texas BBQ in Atlanta?

As anyone who has ever asked me how I like Atlanta will know, one of my only complaints about the city is the lack of good Texas-style (which is the ONLY style, really) BBQ. (One of my other complaints is no real Mexican food, but that's another post.)

So, imagine my hope when I saw that a place purporting to have Texas-style BBQ had opened down the road from my neighborhood. In fact, it's located on the way home from work. Of course, I had written the place off entirely even without trying it because Brian and I have been repeatedly disappointed by places claiming to have real BBQ or real Mexican. Then, I saw a review in a local rag that raved, so I convinced a skeptical Brian to try it Saturday afternoon on our way home from the university library. (Yes...we spend our Saturday afternoons at either the Emory or GSU libraries.)

I had the brisket plate with potato salad and onion rings. Brian had the mixed plate of brisket and chicken with potato salad and beans. Neither of us ordered cole slaw because they make it with vinegar. That's a no-no for Texas BBQ.

The brisket was good--indeed better than any other I've had in Atlanta. But they cut it too thick and it didn't have enough pink smoky goodness. It was even better the next day at home when I reheated it and added Stubb's spicy BBQ sauce.

Their BBQ sauce was too thin and too sweet. Perhaps they are trying to appeal to the tastes of the South, but you shouldn't mess with Texas BBQ. It would also be nice if they added a spicy option.

The potato salad had too much mustard.

They didn't have cornbread. They did have Brunswick Stew (which I've never seen at a Texas BBQ joint).

The chicken wasn't smoked. The beans were too sweet.

So, it was only partially authentic, and Brian has declared he won't go back ("It's just too depressing...").

I will go back, but only to get brisked to go when I'm really desperate for a taste of Texas. I'll take it home and add a little Stubb's.

So while it's not perfect, it's the closest I've found in Atlanta so far, so I'll just have to accept it.

posted by Michelle @ 9:12 PM, 2 comments

For those that still tune into this channel periodically...

No, I haven't fallen off the face of the earth. I've just been distracted by work.

The week after classes started, I left for Chicago to present a paper at the annual meeting of the APSA. My paper (corrected link) was very well-received, indeed the comments left me blushing with embarrassment. I also attended a short course on using R to make graphs. I really just wanted a cheap (in terms of time invested) way to learn about R, and I believe I got that and then some. I suspect I'll be using R sometime soon.

Then, the next week, I left for Rome and Florence to present another paper (written with Vicki Birchfield) at the ISA-RC19 conference. Unfortunately, our discussant wasn't able to attend at the last minute, so we didn't get much in the way of feedback. On the other hand, I really liked Rome and thought Florence was ok. Brian took over 2000 photos, a handful of which are online. (While I was at the conference, he saw just about every work of art in Florence.)

Now, back in Atlanta, I've been buried in 100+ emails, meetings with my various RAs and writing. It's a nice start to the semester, but a little hectic.

Maybe someday I'll have time to read the news again. Unfortunately, it won't be before the end of the month.

posted by Michelle @ 9:00 PM, 5 comments

Mexico City slideshow

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