Tense and Tenurability

by Kieran Healy on March 10, 2004

Two items from academia. First, a serious one. Following up on my post about “academic freedom”:https://www.crookedtimber.org/archives/001487.html a couple of days ago, Michael Bérubé “argues”:http://www.michaelberube.com/index.php?id=P84 that the Nona Gerard case at PSU and the suspensions at USM are quite different, because there was a formal review process at PSU whereas the USM President just acted like an autocrat. I agree with Michael that the USM case seems wholly indefensible on its face, so maybe it shouldn’t be mentioned in the same breath as the Gerard case, which just looks highly suspicious. As I said “before”:https://www.crookedtimber.org/archives/001447.html, there just isn’t enough information available to make a judgment. But I think the bar for revoking tenure is pretty damn high. It took Yale a couple of years to fire “Antonio Lasaga”:http://www.yaledailynews.com/article.asp?AID=18233, and he’d pleaded guilty to specimen charges of sexual abuse and possession of child pornography. Of course I don’t mean that this is the _minimum_ required to get fired, and Yale didn’t handle that case very well. But it reinforces Michael’s argument that “The Penn State decision should be pursued, and the grounds for Gerard’s dismissal made available for broader review,” so we could make up our minds about what kind of case it is.

Meanwhile, via “Invisible Adjunct”:http://www.invisibleadjunct.com/archives/000487.html, the Chronicle “carries a piece”:http://chronicle.com/jobs/2004/03/2004030901c.htm by David Lester, who wants people who complain about the stress of academic life to shut up. It’s a marvelous essay. He starts out sounding like just the kind of straight-talking no-bullshit kind of guy you could have a beer with, but then — just after he tells you about his 300 articles and his third wife — he says “I have made some decisions over the course of my career that have allowed me to be productive, yet not feel overwhelmed,” and suddenly all the wheels come off. Read it yourself and see. He ends up sounding a bit like Dr Johnson in “Blackadder III”:http://blackadder.powertie.org/transcripts/3/2/:

bq. Dr. Johnson: Where is my dictionary?

bq. Edmund: And what dictionary would this be?

bq. Dr. Johnson: The one that has taken eighteen hours of every day for the last ten years. My mother died; I hardly noticed. My father cut off his head and fried it in garlic in the hope of attracting my attention; I scarcely looked up from my work. My wife brought armies of lovers to the house, who worked in droves so that she might bring up a huge family of bastards. I cannot–

Irony alerts in the 14th and 21st centuries

by John Quiggin on March 10, 2004

‘Truly this is the sweetest of theologies’, William said, with perfect humility, and I thought he was using that insidious figure of speech that rhetors call irony, which must always be prefaced by the pronunciato, representing its signal and its justification – something that William never did. For which reason the abbot, more inclined to the use of figures of speech, took William literally …

Umberto Eco The Name of the Rose

Having run afoul of irony in both directions lately (having my own ironic post on Lent taken literally, then taking literally an ironic comment by Chris), I’ve come to the conclusion that HTML needs its own version of the pronunciato.

Here’s my proposal: Text meant to be taken ironically would be surrounded by <irony > tags. Such text would render normally, but would have a hover property such that, when the mouse hovered over ironic text, it would flicker through a range of suitably ironic colors. Not perfect, but a lot more appealing than a smiley :-).

Corporate rock still sucks

by Ted on March 10, 2004

Nihon Break Kogyo Co’s company song smashed into the Oricon, one of (Japan’s) most influential music charts, on Dec 29. It is the first time that a “shaka,” or corporate anthem, has made the charts, according to Oricon Inc, a major Tokyo music information provider…

Unlike the stiff, propaganda-like nature of regular Japanese corporate anthems, the up-tempo rock tune, written and performed by a Nihon Break Kogyo demolition worker, sounds like themes from old Japanese animated films featuring superheroes.

But the humorous lyrics reflect the pure corporate anthem spirit of promoting the company — “We will destroy houses! We will destroy bridges! We will destroy buildings! To the east, to the west — Run, Run, Nihon Break Kogyo!”

I believe that I am the first person in history to point out that Japanese culture can appear somewhat baffling.