Dmitriy T.M. sent in a Census Bureau report on transportation and commuting, providing a detailed picture of how we’re getting to work. Despite constant discussions about reducing car use and encouraging mass transportation, the vast majority of people in the U.S. get to work in a car:

Not surprisingly, there are significant differences by race and ethnicity. Non-Hispanic Whites are the most likely to drive to work alone in their own car (83.5%), while only 3.2% use public transportation. Latinos are the most likely to carpool with at least one other person (16.4%) and African Americans are most likely to use public transportation (11.5%):

These differences likely reflect a variety of factors, include social class and differences in racial/ethnic concentrations in urban vs. rural areas and in different regions of the U.S., which affects how likely a worker is to have access to reliable, efficient public transportation or to realistically be able to walk to work. In fact, there were only five metro areas where at least 10% of workers use public transportation to get to work: the regions surrounding NYC, San Francisco/Oakland, Washington D.C., Boston, and Chicago.

And as anyone who has taken part in a morning commute recently won’t be shocked to hear, leaving for work is still highly concentrated in the 5 to 8:59 a.m. period for most occupations, though departure times reflect the  wider range of normal working hours in the service industry compared to other economic sectors (note that the colors do not all represent equal amounts of time):

More on mode of transportation and commuting times by region and race/ethnicity in the full report.

Cross-posted at Bytes of China.

Oh how this Toyota Highlander advertisment is reflective of the new global order.  I saw this picture in Guangzhou’s domestic terminal. A Chinese couple is getting out of their Japanese brand car into what appears to be a private yacht. A white male greets them, taking their travel items and appears to be eager in their service.

This advertisement reflects a new Chinese imaginary — one that is global, expansive, unlimited, and exploratory. It also tells us who has the power to live out this imaginary. Ten years ago or even five years ago, I don’t think this advertisement would’ve existed. But now companies have turned to the Chinese consumer, encouraging them to participate in this lifestyle. The entire global economy right now depends on the Chinese elite and middle-class to spend. But how long can this go on for until we see the next crisis? For how long can each system create “value”?


Tricia Wang is an ethnographer, sociologist, and researcher. She is on a Fulbright in China observing how digital technologies are mediating new conceptions of information and desire among youth & migrants. She is a student at UC San Diego’s PhD Sociology program.  She blogs at Bytes of China.

Thanks to Benjamin B. for the tip!

Back when we were kind of obsessed with “man” and “woman” symbology — e.g., whether traffic lights ever include female figureshow stick figures tend to be male, unless they’re parenting, the weird world of default avatars, and also this interesting alternative symbol for disability — I had considered writing a post featuring the then-stewardess, now-flight attendant icon seen on airplanes.  Airplanes have a longer life than cars and, so, many of the airplanes operated by commercial companies still have the old stewardess icon: a friendly round head with a dress.  These were old planes though, I figured, so the post wouldn’t pack much of a punch. They were like that, back then, after all.

Lo and behold, MirandaB took a flight on Delta and snapped a photograph of an undeniably modern incarnation of the friendly round head:

Delta chose to use a digitally-skirted stick figure on its task screen.  Just to be clear, Delta still, in 2011, feels comfortable representing “flight attendants” as 100% female.  That’s a win with the language, a fail with the symbology.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, women account for 81% of flight attendants, not 100% by a long shot.  But you can see why men might be reluctant to join their ranks.

Also in gender, sexism, and air travel: Sexism in Aviation, Then and Now, Selling Feminine Passivity, “Singapore Girls” and Emotion Work, and Fly the Unfriendly Skies.

Lisa Wade, PhD is an Associate Professor at Tulane University. She is the author of American Hookup, a book about college sexual culture; a textbook about gender; and a forthcoming introductory text: Terrible Magnificent Sociology. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

What makes top news today: a Southwest pilot’s homophobic, sexist, and vulgar commentary; it was kept quiet for some three months.  This happened on March 25th, 2011, broadcast accidentally over the air route traffic control frequency during the flight.  It’s now almost July.  The FAA, the pilot community and Southwest Airlines kept this under wraps for eighty-nine days.  Amazing.

Here’s the transcript of exactly what was said (trigger warning):

Southwest Pilot: “Well, I had Tucson to Indy all four weeks and, uh, Chicago crews…11 out of 12 …there’s 12 flight attendants, individual, never the same flight attendant twice.

“Eleven fucking over the top fucking, ass-fucking homosexuals and a granny.” (silence)

“Eleven. I mean, think of the odds of that. I thought I was in Chicago, which was party-land.”

“After that, it was just a continuous stream of gays and grannies and grandes…”

“Well I don’t give a fuck. I hate 100 percent of their asses.”

“So, six months, I went to the bar three times. In six months, three times.”

“Once with the granny and the fag, and I wish I hadn’t gone.”

“At the very end with two girls, one of them that was part do-able, but we ended up going to the bar and then to the crew at St. Louis, and all these two women wanted to do was, one wanted to berate her sister and the other wanted to bitch about her husband.”

“Literally, for three hours, me and the F.O. (First officer). When that was done, got back to my room, I’m like why the fuck did I stay up?”

ATC: “OK, whoever is, uh, transmitting, better watch what you’re saying.”

Southwest Pilot continues: “They’re still both (inaudible), you know what I mean? I still wouldn’t want anyone to know if I had banged them.”

“So, I mean it was a complete disaster for six months.”

“Now I’m back in Houston, which is easily where the ugliest bases. I mean it’s all these fucking old dudes and grannies and there’s like maybe a handful of cute chicks.”

In interview with Tom Costello on the NBC Today Show this morning, Aviation Analyst, John Cox defended the airline industry, saying the pilot’s comments are a throw-back to a different age in the cockpit: “It was more common in the past, but in today’s environment you see a lot more focus on the professionalism and you don’t hear these kinds of things very often anymore.”

Really?  Mr. Cox, you don’t hear these kinds of things often, anymore?  Spend one moment to Google “Southwest stuck mic”; you will find pilot aviation forums yucking it up already in defense of the pilot saying, “Well, at least he was honest!”

Is it any wonder only six percent of all commercial pilots are women?  The cockpit is not a place of equal opportunity.  Never was.  Isn’t today.  What’s more, there’s a cover-up.  Outside of what airlines now call a “flight deck”, the pilot fraternity defends itself saying, “yeah it used to be like that, we’re more professional now.”

Try to find the pilot’s name.  You can’t.  Southwest will not identify the pilot.  He was initially suspended without pay, but is now back in the cockpit under the good-‘ol-boy protection program and after involuntary “diversity” training.

Aviation market studies indicate women make up 26% of the prospective pilot population.  Only 7% of all pilots are female.  Unless serious action is taken, I doubt anything will change soon.


More on the subject here: Sexism in Aviation, Then and Now.

Stephen Wilson is an aircraft salesperson, flight instructor, and former air safety investigator who takes interest in his profession from a sociological viewpoint.  He posts aviation and personal commentary on his blog, from where we borrowed this post.

In response to my post yesterday about tourism ads presenting local (often, though not always, non-White) residents of vacation hotspots as tourist attractions and amenities for relatively privileged travelers to enjoy, Lauren J. sent in a Heineken ad that pokes fun at the expectations visitors to Jamaica often have about how Jamaicans would act, and how local residents may feel obliged to play along and give tourists (with their cash) the “authentic” experience they desire:

We have posted in the past about non-Whites being used as props in tourism and travel ads, there for the enjoyment and convenience of tourists, like other tourist attractions. Rhiannon J. sent in another excellent example of the residents of vacation areas being treated like just another amenity. In this ad for Travelocity, a White family enthuses about the many pleasures of their vacation spot — including the sun, the sand…and “the Rodrigo”:

As Rhiannon pointed out, the family discusses Rodrigo, who apparently loves carrying fruits for White tourists, the way you might discuss a stray dog.

UPDATE: Reader Chorda correctly points out that, while my use of race as the dividing point made sense when viewing these ads as a group, in this particular case “ethnicity” would probably be a more appropriate term to use.

Just as “I’m not a racist, but…” is a sure sign that someone is about to say something racist, an essay that begins “I don’t want to trivialize the inhumane horrors that African slaves endured on slave ships destined for the Americas. But…” is certain to do just that.  Indeed, Steven Heller at Imprint began his post this way, going on to suggest that the design of modern airplanes “resemble[s]” that of slave ships.  As evidence, he recalls his own discomfort in coach and compares drawings of slave ships and blueprints of airplanes.

Heller prefaced his observations with a disclaimer because he knew comparing modern air travel to the slave trade was sketchy.  And it is, indeed, sketchy. The descendants of slaves live life with the knowledge that their ancestors were stolen, shackled, beaten, and denied their very humanity; at least they survived the trip across the Atlantic.  Nope, not like air travel one bit.

So, yes, it’s lovely to be clever, but it’s also lovely to be thoughtful and sensitive.  In this case, Heller’s desire to be the former won out over the latter.  Or perhaps he never really thought that anyone would seriously be upset by the comparison.  It’s obviously tongue-in-cheek right?  I mean, slavery has been over for, like, ever.  Or maybe he forgot that descendants of slaves read the freakin’ internet just like everyone else.

Who knows.  In any case, it’s a great example of the trivializing of the histories and traumas of a marginalized population.

Thanks to Dolores R. for the tip.

Lisa Wade, PhD is an Associate Professor at Tulane University. She is the author of American Hookup, a book about college sexual culture; a textbook about gender; and a forthcoming introductory text: Terrible Magnificent Sociology. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

What is the fiscal relationship between the Royal Family of the United Kingdom and its taxpayers?  I have no idea.

Accordingly, I have no idea as to the accuracy of this 5-minute summary, made by CGP Grey (via), but it was entertaining and, I imagine, contains a least a kernel of truth:

U.K. readers, what say you?  (Transcript after the jump.)