Friday, December 22, 2006

Lazy Blogging

  • Interesting: Adviser letters

  • Condolences to Lubos who got linked by Instapundit. It's a huge hit to his credibility, but I'm sure it can take it.

  • Not a Hybrid Fit but a new hybrid in two years. Crash tests... presumably logic would dictate that we all go out and buy cars bigger than everyone else. Or, god forbid, have the government infringe on our inalienable right to drive whatever we want (on whose roads, btw?)

  • Chad will be getting tenure. Congrats! Now you can look forward to a long life in the same position. Tenure is great, but once you have it how likely are you to ever go out and try something new. The calcification begins...sorry to be such a bummer.

  • Donald Trump is such a wiener, I don't know how anyone can stand to watch him on TV, let alone on a show where he acts like he knows how to conduct business business.

  • I've been tagged. So here goes:

    Careful inspection of this graph and comparison to the graph of 100 percent amplitude modulation shown in Figure 5-4 will reveal a slight difference between the shapes of the envelopes, especially for values near zero. In addition, the final DSBM wave undergoes a phase inversion each time the modulator passes through zero. The graph of balanced modulation is identical to the graph of beats shown in Figure 2-37.

    from The Physics of Sound by Berg & Stork. I'm not a big fan of chain-like things, but I suppose this falls short of a chain-mail, so what the heck....I'll tag Doug, Josh and, what the heck, good ole Glenn.


Anonymous said...

"This paper fills a much-needed gap in the literature."

Anonymous said...

as to Chad's tenure - I agree with your cynicism about new research directions post-tenure, but it seems to me that at small liberal arts college profs can't even afford to continue the "old" directions at some reasonable level, never mind start something new. Postdoc/grad students and other resources are very limited and teaching is valued over research. Chad's own tenure case is built mostly on his teaching and not his recent publication record.

While at major research universities (say ranked in top 100, with graduate students and postdocs) you are expected to produce an average of 3-6 publications a year, preferrably with occasional PRL/Science/Nature thrown in here and there, at SLACs one can easily get away with many years back-to-back without any publications whatsoever, and still be in reasonably good standing. Producing a quality publication, like PRL at a SLAC is very tough.

Sorry to sound even more cynical, but it's primarily a teaching position. Of course most people will never admit it. "Involving undergraduates in cutting edge research", blah-blah-blah.

CarlBrannen said...

One thing I've never quite been able to understand is the tenure thingy. It seems in contradiction to the concept that the best are supposed to be the ones employed at universities.

In private industry, the way one obtains the best is to offer extremely high salaries and to cull them at will. Professional sports comes to mind.

Angry said...

Well, of course what one means by "best" is really key here. As I've mentioned repeatedly, academia is not a perfect meritocracy. To consider how far from one, the usual thing is to compare it to the "real world." My experience with that is limited, but I'm certainly surprised how far from a meritocracy things are.

As for culling, there's certainly much "dead wood" (academia's term for tenured faculty who do as little as possible) to be culled. But there are good reasons for tenure over and above beyond somewhat of a lure for talent...good people who might otherwise be tempted by higher salaries in industry might instead opt for the tenured life.

CarlBrannen said...

I don't mean to say that academia is less of a meritocracy than the real world. In fact, having been extensively exposed to both, on average, I think the relationship is the reverse. Complete boobs don't just get along in the real world, they frequently end up running companies or amazingly wealthy.

Business is almost entirely about how good of an image you can put on, which is why, for example, someone with the physical presence of Lee Smolin would be well advised to stick to academia. It is possible to do very well with hard work and smarts in business, but that's not how most successful people do it.

If it were difficult to get rich in the real world, (or to get easy jobs) the attraction for being out here would be considerably less.

The effect of tenure, like any other job feature, is to attract people who think that it would be an advantage to them. When Lee Smolin was making his career choices, do you suppose that tenure was a major attraction?

I think the argument that "tenure supports freedom of opinion" is better, but then again, recently when I've read in the papers about someone saying something that might need such protection, it seems that they lose their job anyway.

Angry said...

We could probably fill lots of volumes/threads talking about the merits of tenure. As for protecting freedom of opinion, I'm not sure how well it works in that regard or even how relevant it is in physics (I can more easily see it in political science, public policy, history, etc).

I will say that I'm amazed at the incompetence and general sliminess of so many administrators. I see tenure as protection of faculty who dare point out the failings of the administration.

CarlBrannen said...

In the real world, people are expected to be greedy pigs. It's far worse than can easily be explained. The white collar world is filled with unabashed self dealers. And if you spend time driving forklifts and balling jackhammers you will find that blue collar workers are far more vicious than anything an academic could imagine.

There's not a guy on our crew that hasn't spent time in jail. We let one guy go when he crushed his ex girlfriends' face after she wouldn't leave him alone (she wanted to get back together).

Another guy, a hard worker and convicted bank robber, got fired not for starting a fight on company time (which would be bad but okay), but instead for losing and then insisting on an immediate rematch.

I can't explain it. There's something about hard physical work that just naturally makes you inclined to step out of your car when some stranger honks at you. At the same time, rigging a 50k pound load onto a flatbed late on a cold winter night with a crew of guys is quite satisfying. It's the way men are supposed to work. Muscles and brains.