Thursday, April 13, 2017

Friday Fragments

Tim Burke’s recent piece on academic bullying had a line that made me chuckle in rueful recognition.  According to a faculty survey done at Swarthmore, most faculty agreed on two points:
1.       Faculty-to-faculty bullying is pervasive and often severe
2.       The administration absolutely should do nothing about it
In a nutshell, that’s the dilemma of administration.  (“Things are terrible, but don’t change them!”)
Learned helplessness is a profoundly depressing way to live.  I know there’s a phobia of power, but I’ll often prefer organized, legible, and accountable power to guerilla attacks.  At least with the former, there’s the hope of winning.


The Bluetooth gods are fickle.  On Saturday, mid-ride, the Bluetooth simply stopped working.   On Wednesday, without warning, it started working again.
I shouldn’t anthropomorphize a wireless transmission technology, but it’s mischievous.  Or maybe it just doesn’t like my taste in podcasts.  

The recent IHE piece about women doing more of the “college service” work than men rang true to me.  Some men step up to do college service, but far more women do.
In this sector, it doesn’t have a negative impact on tenure or promotion chances, since there’s no research requirement anyway.  But when you’re trying to put together groups to work on various tasks, it’s hard not to notice a pattern.  I’ve seen it at every college at which I’ve worked.
On the bright side, it has made it easy to promote women to positions of authority.  They’ve developed the track records.  At Holyoke, by the time I left, the academic affairs meetings consisted of me and eight women.
A few men step up, but as a group, the difference is palpable.  The articles I’ve read treat the difference as a negative reflection on naïve women, but I read the situation the other way: it’s a negative reflection on free-riding men.  The work needs to be done.  How do we get guys to step up?


This may sound simpleminded, but I still don’t know why overbooking a flight is legal.  If you sell something you don’t have – in this case, a seat – that’s theft by deception.  Why isn’t this?
I’ve heard the argument from efficiency, but I don’t buy it.  That argument claims that it’s more efficient for an airline to oversell by a bit, since a fairly consistent percentage of ticketed passengers will never show.  That works until it doesn’t, and it only considers efficiency on the airline’s side; it utterly fails to address efficiency on the passenger’s side.  If I miss, say, a job interview, the monetary losses could be far beyond any compensation the airline would offer.
If overbooking were banned, airlines would have to charge a little bit more.  But we’d know that the seats would actually exist.  And if the rule were applied to every airline, its competitive impact among airlines should be zero.
I’m mystified.  Why is this still legal?