Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Where I Am Going

I am off for a few days for an interview in a very very cold place. I have never in my life seen a temperature in the teens...I will undoubtedly freeze. Wish me luck.
clipped from www.weather.com

Hourly Forecast
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Monday, January 28, 2008

Recent Hits

Lately I have noticed that, in addition to the endless dinosaur queries (a recent fun one was "take that damn dinosaur back outside"), I am getting a number of hits from people searching phrases like these:
1. "Starting to freak out about my dissertation"
2. "How to quit graduate school"

Well I have never claimed to have all the answers but I do have a response to both of the above queries: 1. OMG! Me too! and 2. If I knew how to quit I probably wouldn't be writing this dumb blog.

Thanks everyone and until you find something better to do with your time, money, brains, and excess happiness, keep dissertating.


Sunday, January 20, 2008

Medical Profesionals and Lethal Injection

Here's an excerpt from a kickass editorial in NEJM arguing against the use of medical professionals for the purpose of overseeing, and therefore legitimizing, capital punishment.
clipped from content.nejm.org

We are concerned that, regardless of its decision in Baze v. Rees, the Court may include language in its opinion that will turn again to the medical profession to legitimize a form of lethal injection that, meeting an appropriate constitutional standard, will not be considered "cruel and unusual punishment." On the surface, lethal injection is a deceptively simple procedure, but its practical application has been fraught with numerous technical difficulties. Without the involvement of physicians and other medical professionals with special training in the use of anesthetic drugs and related agents, it is unlikely that lethal injection will ever meet a constitutional standard of decency. But do we as a society want the nation's physicians to do this? We believe not.

Physicians and other health care providers should not be involved in capital punishment, even in an advisory capacity. A profession dedicated to healing the sick has no place in the process of execution.

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What does it mean when you reluctantly drag yourself into your cubicle on Sunday only to find the following two papers placed on your chair?

The first was what looked like an old photocopy of a chapter entitled "The Hiring Process in Academia." Okay, so I know I need a job. At this point maybe any job. So that's fair.

The second and more telling paper was also an old photocopy, but this time of a chapter called "The dissertation's deadly sins" by Robert Plant Armstrong (Not, I don't think, of Led Zeppelin fame). So you can experience this along with me, here's an pretty representative excerpt from his introductory remarks:
"The dissertation system must have laid at its door an enormous squandering of creativity, youth, time, and money each year upon the execution of prose works that do not communicate significantly and are therefore dysfunctional."

...Armstrong continues by describing, in barely constrained glee, the "six grievous assaults" upon discourse perpetrated by the graduate student via his devil tool, the dissertation as "...amateurism, redundancy, trivialization, specializationalism, reductionism, and arrogance. One or all of these defects can usually be found in any given dissertation."


What I wonder, is this tempting fate? Is it too cynical to simply assume that I too will write such crap? That by having such low expectations I will fulfill them? Or is it a pragmatic view that will help me get out the door?

Perhaps I can feel comforted that the leaver of said papers tried to mask this indictment as a gift by also leaving behind a small plastic cup full of flowers and a giant shipping tube.


Thursday, January 17, 2008

If only

At this point a $5 diploma mill PhD sounds really, really good to me.


Saturday, January 12, 2008

Saturday Cynical Quote Edition

"The average Ph.D. thesis is nothing but a transference of bones from one graveyard to another."
-J. Frank Dobie (1888 - 1964), "A Texan in England", 1945

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