- Some blogger recently used an offensive word that I think a lot of people don't realize is a slur. I forgot exactly who and I don't want to call attention to anyone. However, consider this a PSA that words such as "gypped," and "welsh" are slurs. Remarkably, it seems "chintzy" is safe.
- I think we've got some good candidates this time, so I really haven't paid any attention to the subtle differences in policy between the three, Edwards, Obama, and Hilary. But I really am opposed to dynasties, and would prefer Obama on that count alone.
- I have been tagged to answer the question
Why do you teach and do the work they do and why academic freedom is critical to that effort?
I've always enjoyed teaching...till I started getting paid for it! No, seriously folks, I enjoy about one class a semester. Anything more becomes a burden. I like the challenge of seeing something from many viewpoints. I like having people ask me strange questions...these can challenge me and show me perspectives I never would have thought of on my own. I like seeing people light up with interest (well, it happens sometimes). As an agnostic solipsist (you might exist!), everytime as a kid I thought about the purpose of life, it all came down to my senses...cram it full. Learning, listening to music, eating, and doing stuff outside. That's what life is about. I'm no good at music and couldn't make a living outside, so I stuck with the learning. In fact, I doubted I'd become a professor. As opposed to many in the blogosphere, my professors did make me quite aware of the chances of getting a position. For me graduate school was just the logical conclusion to keep learning physics. I figured I'd eventually leave the field and go to Wall Street or some other society-sucking profession (such as patent lawyer...I even took the LSAT).
So I've been teaching for a long time. Tutoring all through high school and college, some TA positions in undergrad and grad, and then this job. I've got lots of ex-students that have liked my classes, but I'm not one of those with uniformly good student reviews (about whom I tend to be quite skeptical). I can do a pretty decent job of it without sacrificing on my research much. And I usually like it. So I teach.
My friends tell me I could never hold down a "real" job. I'm not so sure, but certainly I couldn't do it without some crushing of my soul. When I was a teenager I worked thirty hours a week (during school) in typical teenager jobs. During college summers I had a couple internships at your standard big employer. The challenge was to look busy after completing a two-week task in a day or two. I have a great job now. On the best of days, I get to figure out ways to do things no one else has *ever* figured out. On the worst of days, I have silly meetings, and grading to catch up on. On other good days, I'm in some far off country listening to a good talk after which a bunch of us head out to a great restaurant. On other bad days, I get nothing done and simply decide to open up a long dormant book or magazine and read about some other cool physics.
As for academic freedom, I'm not sure it's really been an issue for me. Certainly I was more outspoken before I got tenure.
- I keep meaning to discuss some of the issues by the Incoherent Ponderer, but he is
just too prolific.