Is Academia Like a Drug Gang?

In Freakonomics, Dubner and Levitt wrote about how working for a drug gang is like working for McDonald's. On LSE's Impact of Social Sciences blog, Alexandre Afonso writes about how the academic labor market also resembles a drug gang:

Academic systems rely on the existence of a supply of “outsiders” ready to forgo wages and employment security in exchange for the prospect of uncertain security, prestige, freedom and reasonably high salaries that tenured positions entail....The academic job market is structured in many respects like a drug gang, with an expanding mass of outsiders and a shrinking core  of insiders. Even if the probability that you might get shot in academia is relatively small (unless you mark student papers very harshly), one can observe similar dynamics. 

Mapping Gang Turf

A new paper from P. Jeffrey Brantingham, an anthropologist at UCLA, uses a mathematical model for hunting to map street gang territory. From the UCLA Pressroom:

"The way gangs break up their neighborhoods into unique territories is a lot like the way lions or honey bees break up space," said lead author P. Jeffrey Brantingham, a professor of anthropology at UCLA.

Using police records, the researchers mapped the activities of 13 gangs in Boyle Heights, a neighborhood just east of Los Angeles. They found the most dangerous place to be wasn't the heart of a gang's territory, but near the borders:

FREAK-est Links

This week: an economic analysis of gang colors; a chopstick shortage in China; the mathematics of basketball; the social networks of elephants, and are smart people getting smarter?

Touring Gangland

A group of civic activists in Los Angeles plans to start giving "Gang Tours" -- taking busloads of tourists through some of the most dangerous parts of the city -- in hopes of "sensitizing people, connecting them to the reality of what's on the ground."

The Gang Test

Social psychologist Malcolm Klein devised a test for Los Angeles that he says predicts how likely a child is to join a gang, reports the Wall Street Journal. The test, which can be found here in its entirely, asks kids questions like whether they have just broken up with a boyfriend or girlfriend and how many of their friends have used marijuana. The problem: the city won't know for several years if the predictions are accurate.

How the O.G.'s Did Business

The We Are Supervision blog has a collection of business cards used by Chicago street gangs during the 1970's and 1980's. They are extremely interesting as well as -- depending on where you work -- extremely NSFW.

KFC's Service Might Be Bad in the Restaurants, But It Knows How to Fill Potholes

I blogged yesterday about my theories as to why KFC seems to have bad customer service, even though the chain gives so much lip-service to customers. If you can’t provide good restaurant service, how about doing public service instead? As part of a new marketing campaign, KFC has offered to fill potholes in city streets […]

Michael and the $70 Million Problem (Redux)

Michael and I looked over the 500 plus comments and suggestions that were generously offered regarding his upcoming dilemma: How should I give away $70 million? We were joined by his sister, Cathy, who also has a “small sum of money” (her words) that she needs to donate in the coming decade. Apparently, she will […]

The Gang Tax

A few days ago, New York’s State Senate passed a bill making it illegal to recruit someone into a street gang. In the never-ending fight by city officials and legislators to combat gangs, this is one of the latest efforts to outmaneuver gang members. Other similar initiatives have included: city ordinances that limit two or […]

It’s Hard Out Here for a Sociologist

Sudhir Venkatesh’s book Gang Leader for a Day has been optioned for a film to be directed by Craig Brewer, who wrote and directed Hustle & Flow. Who should play Sudhir? And J.T., and Ms. Bailey?