In my final class, at least for the next year as I move on to a be a writing fellow at Baruch, I talked with my students about how I hoped that rather than remember any particular facts about research methods – that they had developed a new perspective on how to approach research articles and research presented in the popular press.
On the bus ride to class I’d been reading a recent issue of The Atlantic on The Confidence Gap. I thought the article quite relevant as 19//20 of the students in my course were women – many of whom were quite nervous about presenting their final projects . I questioned if they thought a confidence gap existed between genders and if this gap might contribute to differences in pay? Or perhaps the confidence gap was a symptom of other systemic factors at play?
My hope is that after working through the research methods course my students will be equipped to grapple with, deconstruct and then take a position in relation to the research presented in The Confidence Gap and in other relevant issues and articles.
I concluded the class by reading an excerpt from a poem featured in the same Atlantic issue, The Five Spot by Billy Collins. Ever since Questions about Angels was high school’s required summer reading I’ve had negative associations with Collins, but The Five Spot seemed to speak to an element of the course and hopefully to how students might think about issues in the world as they move on with their lives. The poem summarized my hopes for myself and my students better than I could in clumsy social science terms. And as in class instead of trying to summarize these thoughts and emotions I’ll let the poet do this work…so direct from my fridge here it is:
“According to Thompson (1967) the shift from cock as timepiece to watch as timepiece signified a paradigm shift. Before the cock people told time by the sun. Chaucer’s cock reflects an agricultural modality. Can the current shift from wristwatch to smartphone be interpreted as a harbinger of the Internet revolution?”Christina quickly picked up on this thread writing “… as we consider this shift from watch to smart phone we also consider how this shift functions for Capitalism. Certainly there are implications for blurring the time of the working day. Are there other implications?”
5. And finally, everyone else has a smartphone, so if I need one they’re never far away.
1. Though I’m a far cry from self reliant, recently I’ve felt the desire to be in command of my own smartphone. Perhaps, it’s a response to the uncertainty associated with writing one’s dissertation proposal. I don’t know how that will turn out, but I do know that right now it’s 51 degrees in Central Park, I’ve read the Times top ten article titles, and my commute today will take exactly 37 minutes.
2. On a number of occasions I’ve yearned for a smartphone to direct me to the nearest Citi Bike station, or at least a station with working bikes. It’s this on the fly type of adjustment that only a computer in your pocket can provide.
3. Entertainment. I almost always carry a print version of the New Yorker, or The Atlantic in my bag or back pocket. However, I can’t carry the whole paper – or all the articles I’m perusing. One might counter – but you can’t read them all on the go anyway. Instead of reading I occasionally use the headset on my nokia to listen to the radio, but it doesn’t work on the train and I’m growing tired of NPR – especially during pledge week.
4. As noted in a previous post, I’ve become more reliant on my google calendar. In the past I used my trusty notebooks to keep track of daily engagements. However, now that I use my google calendar more often, the process of transferring information from the notebook to the calendar is flawed and has become cumbersome. For example, I might be at a meeting (without my laptop?!) and I want to schedule another meeting – but I don’t have my calendar because google has it.
5. I want the ability to check my latest email. If I don’t choose to respond right away I don’t have to – but at least I’ll know what’s ahead. Which leads to a larger existential question – is it better to know about the email lurking in your inbox, or to live with the possibility that there is a pressing matter at hand that you don’t know about?
In Color Me Blue Ephron makes humorous, poignant and cutting observations about how Citi Bank did quite well for themselves in the Citi Bike deal at the expense of New Yorkers aesthetics and tax dollars.
“For $41 million — what Citibank paid to sponsor the program for five years — our city bikes became Citi Bikes. To make certain you don’t forget this fact, a Citi Bike sign hangs in front of the handlebars, Citi Bike is printed twice on the frame, and a Citi Bike billboard drapes the rear wheel on both sides. The font is the familiar Citibank font and the Citibank signature decoration floats over the “t.” There is no way to see a Citi Bike without thinking Citibank. The 6,000 bikes so far rolled out, of a possible 10,000, and their signs are a Day-Glo cobalt blue that you see on banks. Nobody wears this color. Nobody paints his or her apartment this color. This blue is bank blue”.
Don’t worry New Yorkers we aren’t the only ones subsidizing big business, as Greg Easterbrook points out in a recent Atlantic article on the NFL, the subsidization of major businesses like sports franchises is a national pastime.
Ever wonder where your tax dollars went America? (hint, it’s not just health care)
“Last year was a busy one for public giveaways to the National Football League. In Virginia, Republican Governor Bob McDonnell, who styles himself as a budget-slashing conservative crusader, took $4 million from taxpayers’ pockets and handed the money to the Washington Redskins, for the team to upgrade a workout facility. Hoping to avoid scrutiny, McDonnell approved the gift while the state legislature was out of session. The Redskins’ owner, Dan Snyder, has a net worth estimated by Forbes at $1 billion. But even billionaires like to receive expensive gifts.
Taxpayers in Hamilton County, Ohio, which includes Cincinnati, were hit with a bill for $26 million in debt service for the stadiums where the NFL’s Bengals and Major League Baseball’s Reds play, plus another $7 million to cover the direct operating costs for the Bengals’ field. Pro-sports subsidies exceeded the $23.6 million that the county cut from health-and-human-services spending in the current two-year budget (and represent a sizable chunk of the $119 million cut from Hamilton County schools). Press materials distributed by the Bengals declare that the team gives back about $1 million annually to Ohio community groups. Sound generous? That’s about 4 percent of the public subsidy the Bengals receive annually from Ohio taxpayers”.