Month: February 2013

Not A Good Neighbo(u)r: Why Mister Rogers’ Theme Song Doesn’t Belong in Target Ads

The US chain store Target, which will be operating in Canada as of next month, is starting its Canadian ad campaign during the 2013 Academy Awards broadcast. This week, Target announced that the music for the ads will be a cover version of Won’t You Be My Neighbor – the theme song from the children’s TV show Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, which aired on the PBS network from 1968 to 2001.

According to this story in the Globe and Mail, the Target ad campaign is the first time that the Fred Rogers Company, which holds the rights to Rogers’ works, has licensed a commercial use of the theme song. (more…)

Jacquelyn makes some excellent points in this post about sexist comments in workplaces, and the responsibility of everyone – not just the person the remark was directed at – to counteract the attitudes underlying these kinds of remarks.

The Contemplative Mammoth

You’re enjoying your morning tea, browsing through the daily digest of your main society’s list-serv. Let’s say you’re an ecologist, like me, and so that society is the Ecological Society of America*, and the list-serv is Ecolog-L. Let’s also say that, like me, you’re an early career scientist, a recent graduate student, and your eye is caught by a discussion about advice for graduate students. And then you read this:

“too many young, especially, female, applicants don’t bring much to the table that others don’t already know or that cannot be readily duplicated or that is mostly generalist-oriented.”

I’m not interested in unpacking Clara Jones’ (yes, a woman’s) statement beyond saying that “don’t bring much to the table that others don’t already know” is basically a sexist way of saying that female applicants “are on par with or even slightly exceed others,” which is rather telling in and…

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Books about Women and Careers: Is This Progress?

This year is the 50th anniversary of the publication of The Feminine Mystique, the revolutionary book by Betty Friedan that made many women in the 1960s realize they weren’t the only ones dissatisfied with their lives and with what society expected of them. (In this excellent interview,  sociologist Stephanie Coontz talks about her book A Strange Stirring which explores how influential The Feminine Mystique was.)

This week I read I Shouldn’t Be Telling You Thisa career book for women written by Kate White, the former editor of Cosmopolitan magazine. (more…)

Jonah Lehrer Apologizes (And Gets $20,000)

Jonah Lehrer – the author whose misadventures in plagiarism I’ve written about in several previous posts – is back.

On Feb. 12, Lehrer gave a speech on “bad decision-making” at an event sponsored by the Knight Foundation. According to this story, for appearing at the event – his first major public appearance since last July – Lehrer received a fee of $20,000. The reaction to this news has not been positive. In fact, not very positive at all.

Following up on suggestions like this one, a writer for Forbes magazine phoned Lehrer to ask if he would consider donating the $20,000 fee to charity. Lehrer hung up on him.

You can read the transcript of Lehrer’s speech here. At least this time he gave full references for his sources.

UPDATE: The Knight Foundation has apologized for paying Lehrer $20,000 for his speech. However, it is not clear whether the foundation is actually cancelling the payment or asking for it to be repaid.

A great idea from the Intern Labor Rights group.

Minding the Workplace

Who says labor activists can’t deliver a message with a stylish wink? At last week’s New York Fashion Week, members of Intern Labor Rights — an outgrowth of the Occupy Wall Street Arts & Labor group — distributed colorful swag bags to attendees. Tyler McCall, blogging for Fashionista, got one:

Frankly, I was expecting lame pantyhose or maybe chapstick or something when I opened the box. Instead, there was a pin that read “Pay Your Interns” and some folded up literature about why unpaid internships are wrong and how you can get involved in the movement.

Here’s what she found inside:

“The Devil Pays Nada”

The fashion industry, you see, is notorious for using unpaid interns (among other exploited workers) on an international scale. And Fashion Week is a great event for reaching a global audience. Here’s what Intern Labor Rights had to say in announcing their swag bag promotion:


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A sad commentary on how regimented supposedly modern workplaces can be.

The Secret Diary of a Call Centre


One day, not long after my exit from the call centre, I heard that people arriving for their shift in the morning were greeted by a memo sellotaped to each computer monitor by their manager Peggy, instructing them not to take toilet breaks whilst on-shift.

It was just the latest act in what had been a long running battle in my call centre – A fierce fight over the very right to answer the call of nature. Previous to the sticky-taped missive a number of memos prohibiting the use of the toilet in work time ‘unless an emergency’ had been issued, and subsequently ignored, amid much canteen and car-park whispering of  ‘how dare they.’  Even those among us who would usually be the most docile and compliant members of pro-management staff were up-in-arms. We were unanimously agreed; the right to go when we needed to go was an inalienable one which we…

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Making a Living as an Independent Musician: An Interview with Shane Wiebe

I often talk about the music industry when I teach population ecology theory, because the music industry is an almost perfect example of that theory in action. A large group of organizations – the major record companies and retailers – used to set the norm for how things were done, and controlled the allocation of essential resources (money, talent, production and distribution channels) so as to maintain their dominant position. But those organizations felt so secure in their dominance that they chose to ignore new entrants – independent musicians and record companies – that used other resources (the Internet, online sales, new distribution formats, easy-to-use music production software) to establish themselves. And what happened? The organizational field shifted and redefined itself, and the traditional organizations couldn’t adapt quickly enough to survive – as demonstrated by such recent events as the 91-year-old British record store chain HMV struggling with massive financial debt.

I wanted to write a blog entry about how the music industry has radically evolved, even within the past few years. But rather than looking at these developments from outside, I thought it would be more interesting to hear the perspective of an artist who has experienced some of these changes first-hand. (more…)