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How vegging out in front of the boob tube improved my professional skills

I’ve been going for the most passive of all passive entertainment the last couple of weeks while my health has been on the fritz. The hard part of my super-passive entertainment regimen is right at the beginning, where you choose a series on Netflix, preferably one with many episodes since the initial choice is the brunt of the work. Man, I wish I liked Mad Men… Anyway, after that initial hard work Netflix does the rest for you — all you have to do is wait for the next episode to cue up for you, and the next, and the next.

So there I was, catatonic in front of the screen on Sunday evening. There may or may not have been drool. I probably hadn’t showered recently. There were probably orange peels scattered around my coffee table (I’ve been on a bit of an orange binge lately). Netflix was serving up endless episodes of one of my favorite genres: BBC mysteries. You know the ones. They have an interesting, complex character for the main detective, and then far more murders than any one tiny country town in the British Isles could possibly sustain without completely depopulating. I love them. Anyway, this particular detective (Inspector George Gently) has an annoying, immature jerk of a second in command (Sergeant Bacchus), Gently has to spend some considerable time explaining to Bacchus just how prejudiced and immature he really is. In this particular episode, Bacchus’ primary vice was “racialism.”

Hold on! Racialism? You mean, in the UK people are Racialists rather than Racists? Or at least it’s a totally accepted term for that form of prejudice?

So, being the librarian that I am, I told my coworkers the next morning about my startling discovery, and we started searching Google Scholar, as one does. Turns out, you get two pretty distinct sets of results if you search for racialism vs racism. So bear that in mind next time you’re searching a free-text database.

Next weekend I intend to continue my vegging… er… RESEARCH. For science.

[UPDATE: My friends in the UK say that “racialism” is an old fashioned term for the concept. It still yields interesting and useful Google Scholar results, should be in a dwindling minority for contemporary scholarship.]

Published inSearch and Discovery