Friday, August 11
I know it looks like there are more important things going on in the world right now than academic gossip, but it seems to me that there were more important things going on last week, too, and this is an opportunity to point out that academic secret is a place where you could develop a reputation as an outspoken political academic without having that reputation affect your other reputation. I'm actually not sure I believe that's a good way for me to go (the cowardly way, that is), and I think the political issue merits discussion at some point, but here's my secret and my politically inappropriate question.

Secret: I don't think getting tenure makes people any more secure in their political outspokenness. But, I do think it sometimes allows them to take their research in crazy directions that nobody else cares about.

Inappropriateness (as though that wasn't): All I want to know is whether our president is going to promise that there won't be any airport price-gouging on toothpaste and shampoo. What, exactly constitutes a luxury item in this economy, anyway? Can you really say that cheap gasoline is more important than cheap shampoo?

Actually, I have a lot more to say about this "security" debacle, but in case it's too deep for a Friday afternoon, I won't put it out in the open.


Navy Blue Blob said...

it sometimes allows them to take their research in crazy directions that nobody else cares about

On an aggregate level, one may be able to argue that it's a positive thing they continue to do any research at all, no? (Again, that assumes it's not some crazy topic like revisionist history or something.)

And yes, you do wonder about the effects of the recent bans on some industries. I'm more concerned about the environmental implications though. Seriously actually. Hotels are already dumping enough soaps and shampoos, did we need more of that? Bummer.

Sulphur Siren said...

I've been absolutely fascinated and amused by the overreaction!! My friend watched a little girl get her gummy bears confiscated. He endured a painful conversation over whether or not his banana was a gel. (I'm sure it was by the time they were done 'screening' it.)

The whole thing is pathetic. I can think of at least a hundred ways to disguise explosives. If they really want to get a bomb on a plane they will. This hysteria does nothing whatsoever to prevent that. I think they want people so afraid to fly that they will drive and feed the demand for oil.

On the other topic...The way I see it tenure is primarily an opportunity to be free politically.
Tenured profs may be able to go in new directions which is great...but they still have the same troubles paying the bills as the rest of us. So they do so at the peril of their research group. That being said, I am totally mystified by the extent of active avoidance of anything remotely controversial by the tenured profs at my U.

Mahogany said...

That's funny Navy Blue Blob! I hadn't thought of it that way. I keep thinking tenure is important and that when I have it, my work will finally be FREEEEE and stop sounding so constipated, no?

Hi Sulfur Siren, hilarious banana story, except that I'm pretty sure all fruits are liquids encased in cellular membranes. I think people are liquids, too. "I'm sorry but you're going to have to leave your body here. You can put your ID and your money in a plastic bag and they can accompany your electronic ticket to your destination."

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