August 2021 Check-In: Henri, Afghanistan, Angry Professors

August 2021 Check-In
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August 2021 Check-In

Topical Storm Henri (formerly Hurricane Henri) is due to make landfall in the next few hours. Originally, New Haven was set to get a direct hit, but it looks like the storm has moved a bit further east now.

I grew up in Florida and know hurricanes and tropical storms well. But knowing how to prepare can never ease the nerves, because storms like these can be very unpredictable.

In 2005, I lived on the Gulf Coast of Florida, which was hammered by at least five hurricanes, some of them late into the season. As each one snaked its way up the coast, we prepared our hurricane rations and filled up the gas tank to evacuate. But, one by one, they moved around our town.

That doesn’t mean the damage wasn’t devastating. Half of my county was without power for more than a week. Schools were closed, and local churches coordinated buses to help with repairs in neighboring communities.

When storms spare us, they are sources of wonder. When they don’t, they are sources of terror.

What I’ve Been Reading and Watching

Weather like Henri is majestic and wild and out of our control. Except that reducing the severity and number of storms is possible with drastic climate change prevention measures.

Speaking of prevention measures, here’s what’s in the bipartisan infrastructure bill.

Experts suggest that natural deodorants aren’t actually better for you than traditional ones.

But, I like Native’s Sensitive Deodorant line (baking soda free) because it doesn’t irritate my skin. It’s also available at Target.

A Marine veteran writes on Afghanistan:

The collapse has been sudden, our exit too ill planned to evacuate the vulnerable Afghans who worked with us. We’re desperate for the allied nations that went to war with us to take them in on our behalf. A few thousand here, a few thousand there. I look across the New York Harbor to the Statue of Liberty and wonder why we are not lifting our own lamp for those abandoned by this war. Is our new Colossus dead, or will she rise to repay her debt?

Dead White Man’s Clothes: A profile on the secondhand markets of Ghana

During the last week of my church internship, I gave a talk on sustainable and ethical fashion. You can view the slideshow here.

That talk reminded me about American Giant, a clothing company that is 100% Made in the USA, even down to its cotton.

Daniel and I started watching Shrill a few weeks ago. Season 1, Episode 4 was a masterpiece. It made us laugh, gasp with recognition, and cry. This article dissecting the episode is amazing:

“I am not a biblical scholar enough to really like equate her pool jumping in to a baptism or a rebirth, but it does feel like she gets out of the pool and then goes to talk to Gabe, and you’re like, ‘Oh wait. That’s a new person who got out of the pool.’ That is a person who was changed.

I ordered these Dr. Martens and am anxiously awaiting their arrival.

My university has decided that they simply must offer exclusively in-person classes, even in spite of continuing health risks, especially for immune-suppressed people. I have a friend who took a leave of absence due to health concerns. Several professors around the country are fighting back:

Cornell Law professors suggest that refusing remote teaching violates the ADA

A tenured professor at the University of Alabama Huntsville quit his job over lax or nonexistent Covid-19 policies

Professors at Spelman College refuse to teach in person


How have you been? What’s worrying you? What have you been reading and watching?

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4 Comments

  1. SD
    August 23, 2021 / 1:37 pm

    I am the parent of a college aged kid and work with academic libraries. My guess is that colleges are insisting on doing in-person teaching because students are leaving or taking leaves of absence from college in droves. Almost every school is keeping a long list of departments and majors they may need to cut this year or next as enrollment goes down. Some students love the flexibility of remote learning, but most hate it, especially those who have a hefty tuition price tag attached. We are counseling our recent high school grad nephew to take a year off and work given the current situation.

    I also know one prof at a school that is going high-flex – 5 in-person sessions in the semester and the rest remote. She says she may have to quit if she has to do one more semester of this. Her PhD students are not picking up what they need or learning from each other the way they do with in-person.

    Of course, none of this addresses the very real fears of professors. I am thankful that I am not a college administrator. Perhaps the best approach would be to have the immune compromised professors teach remote classes this semester, and hope that their areas of expertise line up with classes that are OK being done remotely. (e.g. not theater, art, music, lab science). Agree that it may be a violation of ADA.

    • Leah Wise
      Author
      August 23, 2021 / 2:17 pm

      Thanks for your insight on this. One thing that has become glaringly obvious about academia over the past year and a half is that they’re not great at transparency when it comes to responding to drastic change. It would go a long way to just say “Look, if we don’t find some way to make this happen, we will have to let people go.”

      My preference is for in-person learning, but I am really worried that we’re going to get to a point in the semester when the administration realizes they need to go back to virtual learning, and we’ll all have to make rapid mid-semester adjustments. It would be easier to have contingency plans running already in the form of hybrid classes. I don’t want a repeat of March 2020.

  2. Alice
    August 23, 2021 / 2:09 am

    A lot of important things here, but I am going to seize on the most trivial one: deodorant. the idea that it’s bad for you started in a chain email?? *brain explodes* I had no idea the evidence was so…non-existent. Still, I started using aluminum free deodorant because otherwise I got like instant yellow underarm stains. So I guess I’ll stick with my natural deodorant, baking soda free and unscented. The whole nine yards!

    • Leah Wise
      Author
      August 23, 2021 / 9:06 am

      I know! It’s so wild how things move through communities. You make an important point about aluminum deodorant and clothing damage. Since I switched to aluminum-free options, my clothes no longer get discolored.

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