Richard L Simpson, 1929-2017


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It was with sadness tempered by relief that I learned of the final passing of Dick Simpson. I was privileged to have lunch with Ida Harper Simpson and her son, Bob, at the SSS meetings in Greenville last year. Ida was in great spirits, but disconsolate about Dick. He was gone, long ago. I wish Ida and her family all the best, and if anyone still reads this, you might think of dropping a few bucks in the fund in Dick’s honor.

Dick Simpson was a hard core work and occupations scholar. His many articles and books focused on work process, occupational trajectories, and the vagaries of occupational life. I most knew him because of his long-time editorship of Social Forces, including a stint from 1983-2003—I published 10 or so articles in Social Forces under Simpson’s direction, and he was always a fair and knowledgeable editor. It wasn’t easy for people working outside of the mainstream areas of stratification and work to get a fair hearing. Back then, it was generally acknowledged that if you did stuff on culture or religion, don’t even bother to send your papers to ASR or AJS. But Dick Simpson, despite being a straight-up work and occs person, would give you a fair hearing and find reviewers who were competent, and ignore reviewers who were overtly hostile religious (or anti-religious) lunatics. Were it not for the editorial diligence and fairness of Dick Simpson, I doubt that I would have made tenure at Vanderbilt, and I certainly wouldn’t have made tenure three years early.

Dick and Ida will always be people I remember as my academic forebears. They have helped me in many ways. Ida helped get me my job at Vanderbilt, and they both introduced me to important figures in the field. It was through Ida and Dick that I met Bill Form and Joan Huber. It probably helped land me an interview at Ohio State (which I bombed), but more importantly I later connected with Bill, who has been an inspiration and role model for my career. Whenever I feel like shit, I can pull out his autobiography….I promised him I’d donate it to a library when he died, and I will, but I’m not done with it.

I hope Dick Simpson’s passing will cause on many to reflect their commitments to building sociology, and not simply their own careers. Dick never promoted himself, or amplified his storied history going back to the era of Rupert Vance. Never. You had to read Ida’s book on the SSS to even get a sense of how those relationships fit. He worked for others, for us all, for the discipline of sociology. I will miss him.



Reducing gun violence, by reducing gun availability and lethality, duh.


Rather than building a $25 billion wall, let’s use that money to finance a massive gun buy-back program. We’ll help pay for this with a 500% tax on all gun and ammunition sales, and a personal and gun licensing system. Each person owning a gun must pay $100 per year for a license, and must pay an additional tax for each gun they own based on classification, hunting rifles and shotguns up to five shot capacity, $75 per gun, per year, same for rimfire rifles up to 18 shot capacity (no magazines, tube feed). Handguns $500, per year. The taxes should and licensing should be Federal, to ensure that some states fail to enact restrictions.

All guns must be individually insured, and that insurance must cover not only threat, but risk of the weapon being used for violence, which owners, manufacturers, and distributors should be liable for. Federal licensing should include a chip that must be affixed to the gun so it may be tracked. Any violation of gun codes should result in the immediate confiscation and destruction of the weapon.

This is no different from what we do for automobiles, save that we have mostly let states do licensing.

All center-fire guns and rimfire pistols with more than 7 shot capacity clips should be banned and illegal, and must be sold back to the buyback program (which will generously reward people for turning in any gun, and all guns will be destroyed).  Buy back should be very generous, and the state should partner with anti-violence social movements to help fund the most generous packages possible. At a minimum, federal buyback for your standard .223 assault rifle (which I can buy brand new at Wal Mart or Academy Sport right now for $625) should be $2000. Two and a half times standard value would be a good mark. Any weapon not licensed and chipped is fair game for buyback, no questions asked. All hanguns with barrels shorter than 6 inches are also banned, and subject to buyback provisions. So, every minor drug addict has an incentive to turn in his Saturday night special and make some money on it. 

All sales and transfer of firearms must be coordinated with the BATF, providing proper background checks and ensuring proper licensing. “Gun shows” and other such extralegal markets should be prohibited.

 Anyone charged with any violent crime or threat will have all of her weapons and ammunition confiscated. Upon conviction, all weapons and ammunition are to be destroyed…..

Pretty much what they did in Australia, tailored to our current situation….

Why I hate the Dutch….


The secularization of Europe and the “exceptionalism” of the United States is dogma in the sociology of religion. Never do scholars consider how the two are intimately entwined. The secularization of Europe was all about breaking the final throws of feudalism, and the alliances between church and state. It was about the enlightenment, modernization, and having an educated citizenry. A complete upheaval from a time when religious nutjobs enjoyed power on every level of society. You know, burning people at the stake and shit. Draw and quartering people in the middle of churches. Religion, what is it good for? The secular states forged in Europe sought to eliminate religious control over several areas of life, particularly education, marriage, and individual versus familial or communal control of assets. Religious nutjobs went berserk.

That is where dirty immigrants raise their ugly heads. Facing the imposing development of a secular state, religious nutjobs throughout Europe decided that they would instead immigrate to the land of the free, at least in terms of being able to teach your children bullshit and not having it challenged by state institutions. Europe is secular because they sent all of their religious nutjobs to the United States. Give us your tired, your poor, your religious nutjobs yearning for the afterlife….

This is not simply a rant. It is pretty well established in research, much of it my own. Immigrants to the US are mostly Christians. They are disproportionately Christian compared to their nation of origin. And, they are much more religious than people from their nation of origin. Our Ambassador to the Netherlands, Peter Hoekstra, is exhibit A. Betsy De Vos and her family are another great example, as are Mark Regnerus and the endless stream of Dutch conservatism emanating from Calvin, Gordon, Wheaton, and Houghton. They left Europe in hope of creating a theocracy, and they are hell bent on doing it.

I really think we need to discuss this with our ambassadors from the Netherlands. They need to take responsibility for their own. The Dutch must be deported back to their shithole country. Thankfully for them, they will have food and shelter, healthcare coverage, and free education.

Watermelon in Easter Hay, Zappadan always ends this way.



Interstellar Overdrive, for the holy night.


Because, Paco….and Zappadan



And Isfahan…my father grew up there…and Tom Lippincott is an old friend….



I drown myself in sorrow, looking at what you done….



Zappa, Bozzio, Belew…..give me your lips, right here…..


We just have to channel our inner Vaclav Havel.

I am the Slime….


Tupac gets to more specifics….