Archive for September, 2011

The appeal of smoking escapes me but I know that lots of people, even smart people, have found comfort in the feeling of hot smoke clouding their lungs.  Since I’m not a smoker I rejoice every time a restaurant, campus, or city goes smoke free, making my visits both cleaner and clearer.  The movement toward smoke-free locations, though, highlights the fact that most places were once smoke-full, including the ad agencies and airlines of the 1960s.  Following the success of AMC’s Mad Men, which is set in the smoky ’60s, ABC is attempting to get a piece of the period pie this fall with its new show Pan Am.  One difference between the two, as related by this Entertainment Weekly article, is the fact that ABC’s Disney overlords won’t let smoking appear on Pan Am.

More interesting to me (though maybe not the woman sitting near me on my flight to Las Vegas last month who decried the lost days of smoking in metal tubes flying through the sky) is the fact that the lack of smoking is not the only anachronistic element of the show.  As EW states:

Ironically, the jet set drama from Nancy Hult Ganis, who was a former Pan Am stewardess, has already made plans to introduce an African American flight attendant sometime later this season even though the mile-high jobs were exclusively awarded to white women in the early days. The first black stewardess didn’t appear on a flight until the mid-60s, Schlamme admitted.

Of course, there is no intention of having multiple African American flight attendants.  It will be interesting to see if she is involved in any of the struggles that the early African American flight attendants surely experienced or if she will just be there to provide some contrast for the white cast members.

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Reading Tenured Radical’s post today about the fact that she hates teaching on Labor Day reminded me that there has never been a semester I’ve taught when I didn’t teach on Labor Day.  In fact, teaching on Labor Day has become so ingrained that I forget it is a holiday (this, I suppose, is one of TR’s points).  My wife mentioned not having to work on Monday and it took me a minute to figure out why she got a day off and I didn’t (the fact that there are scores of days each year that she has to go to work and I can do whatever I want never prevents me from being jealous of a day off!).

Schedule-wise, I understand the appeal of working on the first or second Monday of the semester.  At my current school we have a two-day fall break and a three-day Thanksgiving break, which means that every day of the week is missed once during the fall semester.  This would be a perfect match for the full-week spring break in the spring semester (working on MLK Day – another tradition) if it weren’t for Easter throwing a wrench into the works like a Luddite.

I have to admit that I enjoy having a fall break much more than I would enjoy not working on Labor Day, but I would enjoy having both even more.  As it stands, laboring on Labor Day may be another sign of the decline of a sense of unity among workers, or even the recognition that faculty members are, in fact, workers.  TR concludes things better than I could, stating:

One unexpected cultural outcome of Labor Day is that, when we take the day off, we all acknowledge for a day that we are “workers,” and that we sell ourselves to an employer for a price.  When faculty agree to work on Labor Day, we reveal something peculiar about ourselves:  that we don’t see ourselves as “workers” at all.  We think we are something else, something called a “professional” who has exchanged the benefits of being part of a collective bargaining system for status.  We think this, even though our labor is increasingly proletarianized, our salaries and benefits are being deliberately suppressed, and it is possible to lose access to a federally mandated holiday by not showing up at a faculty meeting and voting for your right to have it.

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In class when talking about commonly held beliefs that are not actually true, we discussed a reading stating that the majority of people on welfare are not, in fact, African American.  One student revealed another commonly held belief about researcher bias by asking, “Is the author black?”

No, the author is not black and, beyond that, race does not influence one’s ability to read a statistical table.

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