Archive for August 8th, 2008

Academia — where job is also the hobby!

August 8, 2008

Brayden at Orgtheory tells what it means to be a scholar:

The main gripe I had with Glick et al. was its overly-pessimistic view of what it’s like to be a scholar. Yes, it’s stressful at times and there are moments when it’s easy to feel like the world is against you, etc., but seriously, we have the best jobs in the world! We get paid to do what we love to do – read, think, write, talk….. It’s an amazing job. As a friend said to me recently, “Hey, my job is also my hobby!” That’s exactly right. We’re doing what we love and we’re getting paid to do it. Here’s Eden:

Furthermore, I am amused when academics talk about how stressful academic life is. As with several other points Glick et al. raise, one must ask, ‘‘Compared to what?’’ Who but academicians do what they want to do, don’t do what they don’t want to do, are free to determine where they spend their days and hours of the day, and get so many paid vacation days? Which other type of gainful employment grants so much freedom? Are dismissal rates in the first years higher in academe than they are in the private sector? Glick et al. speak of persons who left other careers to get a degree and become researchers in our field. I’d wager all the royalties I’m getting for writing this response that 99 per cent of such individuals labored in more stressful circumstances in whatever previous, honest jobs they had. So no one should be deterred by the stress and strain of an academic career. Compared to most careers, it’s a piece of cake, even before getting tenure (739).

I side with another friend who told me that even if he doesn’t get tenure, which I think he will, getting a PhD and entering the world of ideas was worth all the effort (and occasional pain). Even in my first year out of grad school – a year in which I received nothing but rejection letters – I still went to work everyday feeling completely satisfied with my career choice. I don’t think the majority of working people out there feel the same way.

Take a look!

How conscientious a reviewer are you?

August 8, 2008

Henry at Crooked Timber wonders:

I think I’m a reasonably conscientious reviewer, but I’ve never tried to “[ascertain] the accuracy and validity” of an author’s references in my life. I just assume that either (a) they’re accurate, or (b) if more than a few are inaccurate, the author will get a flea in her ear when the proofing process commences (I’ve been on the receiving end of this). Nor do I imagine that a few iffy referenpces in the bibliography would make me change my mind about the worth of a piece (perhaps if the biblio was obviously hopelessly incompetent, but I suspect that when this happens it is one of a multitude of sins, and bad referencing is likely to be the least of the author’s problems. But am I unique in this – do others scrupulously check the endnotes etc? I suppose that this is hardly a matter of world historical significance, but I’ve always been fascinated by the details of the reviewing process.

The only time I reviewed a paper, I was interested in locating only a couple of the papers from the reference list since (a) they seemed to be of relevance to the understanding of the paper, and (b) I have never read them; otherwise, I also do not feel ‘ascertaining the validity and accuracy of the references’ to be the job of the reviewer.

The many comebacks of Semmangudi

August 8, 2008

M V Ramakrishnan writes about Semmangudi’s many comebacks on the concert scene:

Of course, the maestro did retire as a performing artist a few years later, after giving many more wonderful concerts. But even then he couldn’t resist the clamour of his adamant admirers, and made a spectacular comeback in 1996 when he was 88 years old, with a memorable concert in Hamsadhwani. Which inevitably makes us think of Sherlock Holmes, who just couldn’t be killed by his own creator Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, but staged a comeback to live permanently in English literature — just as Semmangudi is bound to live on in Indian music!

A nice piece!