Archive for the 'class' Category

April 7th 2013
The empathy gap for those hardworking, white middle-class “men on top?”

Posted under American history & bad language & class & Gender & Intersectionality & race & weirdness & women's history

This essay strikes me as jaw-droppingly weird and pretty stupid.  Susan Jacoby:

WHEN I dream about my father, as I do even though he has been dead for more than a quarter of a century, I always wake up when I hear the crunch of tires rolling over rock salt — an unmistakable sound evoking the winters of my Michigan childhood in the 1950s and early ’60s. Dad, an accountant, would pull his car out of our icy driveway and head for his office long before first light. This was tax season, and he could keep his business and our family financially afloat only by working 80-hour weeks.

You won’t find Bob Jacoby or his unglamorous middle-class, middle-income contemporaries in “Mad Men,” the AMC series beginning its sixth season on Sunday. If we are to believe the message of popular culture, the last men on top — who came of age during World War II or in the decade after it — ran the show at work, at home and in bed.

.       .       .       .       .       .

Nearly all institutional power for 20 years after the war was indeed wielded by the war generation (and eventually by younger men born during the Depression). Yet a vast majority of men possessed limited power that could vanish swiftly if they committed the ultimate sin of failing to bring home a paycheck.  Continue Reading »

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April 1st 2013
Check check check: is this blog even on?

Posted under American history & class & Gender & GLBTQ & happy endings & Intersectionality & jobs

Howdy, friends!  I’m sorry about the extended blog silence–apparently, several of you have noticed the absence of posts here over the past few weeks, and are maybe a little concerned.  Some of you have gingerly emailed me links and ideas for other posts–thanks!  But my reasons for not-posting are even more trivial than being out of ideas:  too much travel and too many RL command performances = too little time, energy, and/or reliable internet access for me to blog at all.  (And then there’s my day job, after all.)

Other bloggers are on the ball.  If you’re interested in intelligent commentary on marriage, civil unions, and the circus last week at the U.S. Supreme Court, then go see what Madwoman with a Laptop has to say about her visit to the famous marble steps last week, complete with photos and other interesting links.  See also Tenured Radical‘s inaugural post post-Spring Break and her discussion about the economic and cultural privilege it takes for her and her partner to resist marriage while ensuring that they’re economically and legally protected otherwise.  Smart stuff.

In any case:  I’ll be back on the high plains real soon, and will resume regular posting post-haste.  In the meantime:  Continue Reading »

8 Comments »

March 11th 2013
CPP = William Howard Taft?

Posted under American history & art & bad language & class & students & the body

Comrade PhysioProffe‘s post last week on Thomas Friedman’s puffery of MOOCs calls out MOOCs as a “class warfare scam,” and makes an interesting comparison of mass-produced MOOC education to mass-produced poor quality chain restaurant food:

The children of the wealthy will never, ever be subject to MOOC-based education, and the elite institutions they attend–who are perfectly happy to publish some courses on-line for free viewing by the public–will never, ever allow their students to take MOOCs for course credit. (Or if they do, they will be *extremely* restricted in the total number of MOOC credits they allow to count for major and graduation.) These kids are being prepared to be leaders and bosses of the poor mooks who are gonna be subject to MOOCs, so they need real education.

Just like the Tom Friedmans of the world don’t eat cheap greasy fattening nutrient-poor corporate swill at Denny’s, they don’t allow their kids to be subject to shitteasse greasy educational corporate swill like MOOCs.

Compare this to a speech by the resurrected William Howard Taft in Taft 2012, by Jason Heller, pp. 186-87: Continue Reading »

10 Comments »

March 6th 2013
Suck on this!

Posted under American history & bad language & class & students & technoskepticism & unhappy endings & wankers

What I learned from Thomas Friedman this morning in the New York Times:

  • No one cares what you learn in college, because Google!
  • College professors have no certification that we can teach, and all we do is lecture at students who passively take notes, and then administer tests of their passive learning skills.
  • Lecturing to 14,000 “with audience participation” is a terrific way to share knowledge.

I just love these experts in “disruptive innovation” who trash learning in college classrooms and lecture halls with 15, 40, or 125 students because “all professors do is lecture,” who then turn around and brag about how scalable their educational model is because–wait for it!–it’s based on lectures!  To 14,000 people who swooned like bobby-soxers fainting for Frank Sinatra.
Continue Reading »

30 Comments »

February 26th 2013
Missing persons alert!

Posted under American history & class & Gender & jobs & unhappy endings & women's history

If any of you can find the disappeared daddies in this article, please let me know.  I’m terribly worried about them!  Why, I wonder, is no one looking for them or asking them to do anything, not even apparently their own wives and children?

It sounds to me like Sheryl Sandberg’s and Marissa Mayer’s advice is for people who want to succeed in the real world now.  Even if the U.S. abandons its history and temperament to offer free child care to all children from birth to age 6, that still won’t completely level the playing field between men and women (although it certainly would help!)

Here’s the raw truth:  Continue Reading »

23 Comments »

February 24th 2013
Confirmation of the bloody obvious

Posted under American history & class & jobs & race & students & wankers

From the “No $hit, Fred,” files: Some Groups May Not Benefit From Online Education, via Inside Higher Ed:

Some of the students most often targeted in the push to use online learning to increase college access are less likely than their peers to benefit from — and may in fact be hurt by — digital as opposed to face-to-face instruction, new data from a long-term study by the Community College Research Center at Columbia University’s Teachers College suggest.

“Adaptability to Online Learning: Differences Across Types of Students and Academic Subject Areas,” by Di Xu and Shanna Smith Jaggars, researchers at the center, examines the performance of nearly 40,000 Washington State community college students who took both online and on-ground courses, and finds significant differences in how various subgroups performed. Students of all types completed fewer courses and achieved lower grades online than they did in face-to-face classes[.  M]en, African-Americans, and academically underprepared students had the biggest gaps between the two mediums.

I’ve written here before about my skepticism that the MOOC and online “revolution” is being led by people affiliated with highly selective private universities, when after all they’re producing a product that’s intended for the state uni and community college crowd.  Here’s why  it’s important to talk to faculty who teach first generation students, working-class returning students, nonwhite students, and students who are financing their own educations through heavy student loan borrowing:  Continue Reading »

20 Comments »

February 12th 2013
Lose weight now the William Howard Taft way!

Posted under American history & class & European history & Gender & happy endings & jobs & women's history

Do you still have a stubborn few pounds to drop after the holidays?  Why not try the William Howard Taft diet?  He lost nearly seventy pounds on it.  Behold (via New York Magazine):

Taft is an interesting case–being fat certainly didn’t shorten his life (1857-1930) relative to those of his age peers.  He lived to the ripe age of 72, when the average life expectancy for people born around 1860 was still in the low forties.  (That’s a crude average that probably counts people who died in infancy and childhood, so it’s extraordinarily low.  But still–his longevity was pretty impressive.)  I’m sure his abstention from both drinking and smoking helps explain his lifespan.  Here’s something equally impressive:  he was not famous for telling people to “shut up” when they talk about issues that he himself has raised.  How would that have sounded in a Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court?  (Taft, like John Quincy Adams, went on to a post-presidential career that was more distinguished than his presidency.)

More fun Taft facts:  Did you know that he was the father of Helen Taft Manning, famed historian of the British Empire at Bryn Mawr College?  Continue Reading »

18 Comments »

February 10th 2013
No wonder Betty Friedan published The Feminine Mystique

Posted under American history & captivity & class & Gender & weirdness & women's history

As most of you probably know, this year is The Feminine Mystique‘s fiftieth anniversary. For those of you who wonder why she wrote it, here’s a two-minute and 46-second explanation.

It’s worth seeing the whole video to get to the woman in diamonds and furs peeling potatoes at the end. Can you guess what’s on her head? (I kind of felt for the daschund in the jeweled toque.) The Pathé Fashion Archive is full of fascinating little timewasters–enjoy!

17 Comments »

February 7th 2013
Game Change

Posted under American history & class & European history & Gender & unhappy endings & women's history

I finally had an opportunity to see Game Change, HBO’s fictionalized account of the John McCain campaign for president in in 2008 and his selection of Sarah Palin as his running mate.  It was really good!  Although I was certainly not a McCain/Palin voter, even I was drawn into the drama of the campaign as Palin was selected and tested in various venues.  And although it was certainly very critical of Palin’s preparedness for the job of Vice President, it was also sympathetic to her in that she realizes that she’s out of her depth.  It portrays her as a very good small-town or small-state politician who knows she’s no policy wonk but who recognizes very quickly that she’s nevertheless the star of the 2008 campaign.

The movie does a smart job of invoking the particularly eventful campaign year of 2008, leading the viewer to understand why Palin was ever considered in the first place, and why she emerged victorious over other potential running mates.  (Hint:  her extreme abortion politics, which are not shared by the vast majority of prominent Republican women pols, were decisive–at least according to the script, which was based on the book by the same name by Mark Halperin and John Heilemann.)

Game Change called to mind Tina Brown’s portrayal of Diana in her recent biography, The Diana Chronicles, in which a political naif is selected to play a starring role on the national and global stage.  Continue Reading »

10 Comments »

February 5th 2013
Life, death, and early America

Posted under American history & class & European history & students & the body & unhappy endings

Richard III’s skeleton, showing a massive skull fracture and evidence of corpse desecration.

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I find the story about the discovery and identification of Richard III’s remains just about the coolest historical and biomedical discovery since Thomas Jefferson’s DNA was found in Hemings family descendants back in the last century.  It’s a terrific example as to how the historical and archaeological records are still viable and valuable in investigations like this.  I’m sure my students in Life and Death in Early America will want to talk about this when we meet for class this week!

Speaking of death and early America:  The Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture’s newsletter, Uncommon Sense, has published an online memorial to Alfred F. Young that includes links to reflections on his life and work from thirty different historians, including yours truly and several of this blog’s readers and commenters.  Continue Reading »

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