Saturday, December 22, 2012

This is a long read, but I found it pretty interesting. A guy who abandoned his goal of entering the academic linguistics world, but still had the drive to contribute bycreating a new language. But at one point he's quoted as:

I was surrounded by all these people hanging on my every word. It was intoxicating-especially for a loner like me. For one day, I got to play as an academic. I got to live this fantasy where I took the other path in the garden. I got to see what it would have been like if I had gone to graduate school and become a professional linguist. The fates of the universe tore open a window to show me what my life could have been. That night, I went back to my room, took a shower, and burst into tears.

Umm, where are these people hanging on to my every word? Am I doing this wrong?

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Naughty, Naughty Boy

This guy's no physicist (but did major in math as an undergrad), but he is an academic who got in trouble with financial reimbursements from his University: Sudhir Venkatesh, a sociologist at Columbia of whom you may have heard via the best-seller Freakonomics which features his work prominently.

This type of financial ''discrepancy'' doesn't seem terribly uncommon, but I don't see how this happens as much as it seems, given how tight and controlled most university's systems are. It's probably just that my mind isn't built to see the ways to abuse the system (that's not supposed to sound as immodest as it does).

His story and rise to academic stardom though is quite emblematic of how the academic world deviates from a pure meritocracy. Not to take anything away from the guy, but he clearly knows how to work the system and it's hard to believe there aren't many others who have gained far less with work just as significant.

A bit more can be found at the Freakonomics blog.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

I've had a number of things to share over the past few months, but none significant enough to merit a blog posting (as if that were a high hurdle!). It even crossed my mind for the first time that Twitter might be appropriate for communication.

My physics life, as opposed to family/friends/etc, has been up-and-down recently. I was riding high, feeling confident for a while...invitations to talk or visit, emails about recent papers, new projects with interesting collaborators, a phone interview with an interesting university.

Now, not so much.  No response to my latest from some folks interested in a paper. Not even a "thank you but..." from the search committee. One collaborator has gone completely AWOL, hopefully just because he's too busy. A big snafu with some refereeing has left me pissed at some editors. A bunch of grant proposals are submitted, but given the current financial situation (e.g. "fiscal cliff") facing the U.S. right now, it's hard to be optimistic.

I know things go up and down and I've got enough experience and job security to ride it out. But it's not fun.