Friday, 14 May 2004

Being the expert

Something I’ve discussed here on the blog on occassion, and when I had dinner with the chair/other half of the department at Future Employer™, is my wrestling with what it means to be “the professor”—the assumed expert in all things political, even those things far afield from my relatively narrow specialization. Being “the professor” does, in and of itself, create an expectation of authority—I’m the jackass standing at the front of the room, pontificating about congressional committees or Ted Lowi’s typology of domestic public policy, and that confers some natural (and perhaps unearned) authority.

That, of course, will get a young faculty member far. But sometimes it’s not enough. I taught—or, at least, was scheduled to teach—a class the afternoon of 9/11, and I didn’t have the first thing to say that made any sense, yet I was the one my students turned to for answers. If asked today, I couldn’t begin to explain the pure evil behind the beheadings of Daniel Pearl and Nick Berg at the hands of al-Qaeda, or the vile acts of American soldiers at Abu Ghraib. I suppose the best I can do is cope as best as I can, even if sometimes I won’t be the universal expert my students expect I should be.

Friday, 18 June 2004

Cruisin' the Bash

I’ve been remiss in not thanking Mike Hollihan of Half-Bakered for assembling the second successful Memphis Area Blogger’s Bash. While turnout was slightly lower than the last meet, some new folks turned out, which more than compensated for the slight decrease in attendance:

  • The thoughtful AlphaPatriot, who somewhat reminds me of a younger version of Ole Miss criminal justice prof Chester Quarles.
  • The lovely and intelligent Rachel in the City, who has some ill-defined off-camera job at WMC Channel 5.
  • The vivacious Peggy Phillip, news director of WMC Channel 5.
  • Birthday boy Mark Richens of The Memphis Scene.

Also present were Eric of the CA web team, WebRaw and Plug In (among other stops in his blogging empire), Len Cleavelin, Mr. Mike, and (briefly, as his D&D group was meeting Wednesday night too) Brock.

It was fun to see everyone out; it almost—but not quite (after all, I need to make enough money to eat)—makes me wish I wasn’t off to Jackson for the next year or so. I guess the social scientist in me was on display; Mike says I was “laid-back and watchful again.” I guess since my “day job” is to be the expert, I generally find it more pleasant to watch and observe than to be the center of attention.

More reviews: Len, Mike, Peggy, Rachel, and Eric.

Should I be available for the next bash, I second the suggestion that we should try to blog the next event in progress; Eric suggests Cafe Francisco in the Pinch.