Saturday, 06 January 2007

A SCREAMING COMES ACROSS THE SKY HOUSTON, Jan. 5 — Brennen de Vuurst, media liaison for NASA’s Near Earth Object Program, confirmed reports that the large, glowing object detected on October 2006 is on a collision course with Earth. "If it stays on its current course," de Vuurst said, "it will land somewhere in central Pennsylvania early next week." Reported sightings of the enormous spherical object have poured into NEO headquarters all week. "I went online to check my email," Scott Eric Kaufman told reporters, "when what appeared to be the Hindenburg—only faster, more determined—barreled past my window." On Monday, NEO scientists claimed these eyewitness reports were mistaken. What they had seen, the NEO declared, were the remains of a spent Russian rocket booster falling to earth. NORAD officials could not confirm the NEO’s account, citing discrepancies between the time the Russian SL-4 booster reportedly crashed in Riverton, Wyoming and the accounts of Kaufman and other credible witnesses. "Seeing how the Russian booster went down and stayed down around 6 a.m. Monday morning," said NORAD’s Seau de Honnêteté, "the odds of it being the thing reported today are slim." De Honnêteté characterizes the NEO’s response to the situation as "stunningly unoptimal—a grave underestimation of the megacatastophic power of a planet-killer three times hotter than the sun." De Vuurst’s NEO colleague, Dr. Gesam T. Verwüstung, disagrees. "An impact of that magnitude could vaporize the East Coast, rend the very fabric of civilization, but such an outcome is improbable. Most likely, women and liberals will complain." Should you see this object as it makes it way to University Park, authorities ask that you immediately commemorate its passage on your local Internets. Related Articles HIKER CHASED BY "SENTIENT FIREBALL" NEEDS NEW PANTS (January 4, 2007) SAFER THAN THE TITANIC: "NOT A METAPHOR," ZEPPELIN COMPANY INSISTS (May 4, 1937) THE END IS NIGH: MCKINLEY LEGALIZES MERCY-KILLINGS IN LIGHT OF THE END’S NIGHNESS (December 31, 1899) (X-posted from the Valve for the record. I'll observe Michael burning out instead of fading away in my own way shortly.)
Reflections on Professionalization, Blogging and the MLA Blogging has benefited my career. The feedback I received at the conference was overwhelmingly positive. If I finish my dissertation in the next nine months, I see little reason to think my online activities will have a negative effect on my hireability. This is not to say that I believe they will have a positive effect—as Bérubé noted during the Q&A to the first blogging panel, a blog is not something to list on your CV. Still, none of the luminaries I spoke to at the MLA believed blogs inherently unscholarly. (A few have even emailed me in the days since asking for advice on the various blogging platforms.) We've made some progress on this count. But at what cost? The distinction between "academics who blog" and "academic blogs" ought to be insisted upon. The value of anonymous blogs in which a community celebrates/commiserates/communicates the minutiae of academic life has been underestimated (at least by me). The (seemingly) sudden disappearance of a number of blogs and bloggers who were well established when I arrived on the scene speaks to the possibility that "academic blogging" is strangling the life from "academics who blog." Careerists like myself may unwittingly pressure "academics who blog" into thinking their blogs must be more than mere blogs to justify their existence. I don't think that the case, and would hate to feel responsible for changing the environs in such a way that would make people uncomfortable. And yet, I do feel responsible. Perhaps because: Blogging has made me a nicer person. Strange as it may sound, a number of people were shocked by how "nice" a person I am. Something about blogging has transformed the asshole you know and love into a kind and (according to a couple of people) "surprisingly young" gentleman. (Do I write old? Don't answer that. I don't want to know.) The former is particularly amusing given that, as one correspondent insisted, the panel (and its success) should've reinforced my native "asshole-ishness." The MLA should've marked my ego's coming-of-age, should've been its extended coming-out party. Instead, I foolishly wasted those days being polite, humble and modest, much like those before and after the convention. Had someone informed me prior to the panel of these expectations, I would've behaved hideously. Instead, I transformed myself into a dim lummox: Thinking about blogging and academia has made me a dull blogger. When all you do for a couple weeks is theorize your life and its relation to your career, it stands to reason you'll tire of both. And I have. I'm so oppressed by the tyranny of the meta- that mere blogging seems inadequate unless I include a proper justificatory framework for it. (Like the one framing the reproduction of my talk.) Solipsistic meta- posts are as dull to write as they are to read, though, so after this one I'm banishing such thoughts from my mind. Once I resume researching and writing—tomorrow, I attack!—the urge to write dull posts will be drowned beneath the...

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