Thursday, 3 February 2005

Probably not a good sign

From /var/log/syslog on the laptop:

Feb 3 20:51:56 localhost smartd[6711]: Device: /dev/hda, 190 Currently unreadable (pending) sectors

Looks like it’s time to backup the laptop’s hard drive and drag it over to Best Buy for warranty service.

Inside Higher Ed

Henry Farrell and Orin Kerr both are somewhat optimistic about Inside Higher Ed, which is intended to be a web-based (and free) alternative to the venerable Chronicle of Higher Education.

I’m cautiously optimistic myself, but I wonder if its job service’s self-described mission of “transforming the tedious, time-consuming and expensive process of applying for academic jobs into something almost enjoyable” might be a tad inflated. (Indeed, transforming the job market in political science to something even vaguely resembling that mission statement would require replacing the APSA “meat market” with a proper hiring-only event that is scheduled to correspond with actual disciplinary hiring practices.)

More on the cancellation of ENT

Following up from yesterday, Steven Taylor links an E! Online piece on the demise of Star Trek: Enterprise.

Put it out of our misery

I’m with John (not Juan) Cole, Kevin Drum, and Oliver Willis: the “opposition rebuttal” to the State of the Union address is a waste of time and energy that usually makes the people who deliver it look like complete idiots (in large part because the rebuttal is written before the content of the SotU is known).

The job of the professor

Heidi Bond quotes from a rather petulant email received by Kevin Jon Haller taking issue with the latter’s use of “state time” to post to his weblog. Haller writes, in partial response:

… I think the author has a very narrow understanding of what my academic duties are. Blogging is an extension of my research and teaching, not a digression from them.

Stephen Karlson reports on another misconception of the role of the professor, while Mike Munger is highly annoyed with mid-level university functionaries telling professors what to do.

It seems to me that the job (nay, responsibility) of the professor is the dissemination and expansion of human knowledge, for the good of society at large; in other words, both teaching and research. Further, being a professor (as opposed to a teacher, instructor, or lecturer) necessarily transcends the status of “jobhood” into a (dare-I-say?) existential realm; the occupation defines one’s existence, in a way that being a secretary, janitor, lawyer, or medical doctor doesn’t.

As such, professors are never truly “off the clock,” nor are they ever truly “on the clock”—professors have professional responsibilities to teach, to counsel and advise students, and to participate in shared governance of the university or college, but the scheduling of classes and meetings are concessions to the temporal nature of the world at large rather than exercises in “clock punching.” Thus, contra the AAUP, I’m not sure there is a point at which the professor truly speaks as a “private citizen,” although there are certainly points at which the professor should make clear that he is speaking outside his field of expertise, and unless the professor is an administrator of the college or university his remarks should not be construed as to carry their endorsement.

To return to Haller’s point, the professor’s primary teaching responsibility is to his or her enrolled students, but—unlike the teacher’s responsibility—the job also entails the wider dissemination and expansion of human knowledge. Blogging—like earlier forms of professorial participation in public discourse—is thus not a “distraction,” or even an “extension,” of one’s teaching and research; it is, in fact, an essential part of it.