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Wandering Eye: Cosmo has the best year-end music list, are sociologists irrelevant?, and more

Wandering Eye

The only interesting or daring year-end music list to come out so far in this list season comes from Cosmopolitan. On the website for the "international magazine for women," writer Eliza Thompson helmed Cosmo's "The 20 Best Albums of 2014" list and it's a doozy. Firstly, it contains only two male artists (One Direction and Perfume Genius), a clever, quietly radical flip on the all-dude-ness of every rock mag or website's list, and second, it contains multitudes. Of the 18 women artists, there is everybody from millennial-Mariah-Carey Ariana Grande to riot-grrl folkie Mary Timony's new band Ex Hex to Dolly Parton to R&Ber Kelis, who put out a tricky electronic soul concept album titled "Food." Plus, the blurbs are clever and flippant. From the one for Lana Del Rey's "Ultraviolence": "If [Lana Del Rey is ] not your thing, then fine, we can't be friends, but if it is your thing, come sit by me in this hot tub that belongs to my middle-aged gentleman lover and I'll pour you a Sidecar." As music editor, I was delighted when I tallied the votes City Paper's totally democratic top-10 albums list (which you'll be able to see in the issue out Dec. 17) and discovered it will contain four women musicians. But here, Cosmo totally kicks our ass—and indeed, the rest of the dude-dominated music writing world—on the equality tip. To quickly crunch some numbers: Rolling Stone's 50 albums list contains just 10 women in total, and Stereogum's 50, just 15. (Brandon Soderberg)

Harvard University sociology professor Orlando Patterson has penned a wake-up call to his profession in the Chronicle of Higher Education, entitled "How Sociologists Made Themselves Irrelevant." Patterson's polemic argues that in the two generations since the likes of Daniel Patrick Moynihan held up research that was blamed for blaming the victims of poverty, sociologists have shied away from "cultural work" that aims to alleviate problems, such as those that young African-Americans experience. Thus, Patterson points out, sociologists weren't called to the table when President Obama this year convened My Brother's Keeper, an initative looking to address that issue. It's a trend that Columbia University sociologist Sudhir Venkatesh has tried to buck, much to the Ivory Tower's chagrin, by injecting a dose of journalism to his academic adventures, but it looks like other disciplines, such as criminology (see this piece out today in Science, about how summer jobs reduced violence among poor kids in Chicago), are stepping up to inform public debate. (Van Smith)

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David Corn of Mother Jones has an old story to share. Back in the 1980s, he saw a female cop shoot a homeless man, he says. What happened next will not surprise you. He had to go out of his way to make a statement; police weren't interested. A grand jury was called, but the prosecutor cut off his testimony. "Long before the present debate spurred by the non-indictments in the Michael Brown and Eric Garner cases, it seemed clear to me that the system contained a natural bias in favor of police officers," Corn, a reporter (he broke the Romney "47 percent" story) and respected author, writes. "That certainly makes sense. Police officers have damn tough and dangerous jobs, and they are going to look out for their comrades-in-blue who slip up." Grand jurors, of course, are sworn to secrecy. Could that have something to do with it? (Edward Ericson Jr.)

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