I went to the cemetery today and talked to the lady at the funeral home about the headstone we want to order.

“What does your husband do?” she asked.

“He is a statistician.”

“Oh,” she said with a disgusted look I wouldn’t expect from somebody who works at a funeral home. “That is so boring. He must really like statistics.”

“Well, he got a PhD in it, so he must like it,” I explained to make N.’s choice of profession sound less repellent.

“A PhD!” the woman exclaimed. “It must be intimidating to live with somebody so smart!”

It took everything I got not to yell, “I have a PhD, too! From Yale! And 4 other degrees, too! And I studied Latin! And I have a book accepted for publication!” But it felt ridiculous to try to impress somebody while choosing a headstone.

“So where do you work?” the woman asked at the end of the meeting, and I finally didn’t have to hold it in any longer.

“I’m a professor! Of Spanish literature!” I shouted.

“Oh, so you are smart, too,” the woman concluded.

Help Needed From People Familiar With the Job Market

I haven’t been on the job market since 2009 and I’m not familiar with the language that is being used today. Can anybody help me decipher what is meant by “portfolio links”? See the online application form where the term appears:

portfolio links


See where it says “Insert portfolio links here”? What is a person supposed to insert exactly? Any help will be greatly appreciated.

Don’t worry, I’m not going on the market but a very dear friend of mine has gotten fed u with the ridiculous employment situation in Quebec academia and wants to apply for a job in the US. And I really want her to get the job.

Elevator speech

Our university’s graduate school is offering to professors “a speed networking” workshop where we will be able to practice “our 3 minute elevator speech.” I never thought I needed an elevator speech and I find the concept to be quite humiliating.

At the workshop, we will learn to “share our topics in an accelerated fashion.” Nobody took the trouble of explaining what the hurry is, though. If people are not interested in “my topic”, I neither want to steal 3 ultra precious minutes of their time nor aim to corner them on elevators.

People who came up with this idiotic idea don’t know dick about research. It is not about firing off a snappy statement while looking ingratiatingly at a rapid succession of potential buyers. Research is a slow, quiet process that matures very gradually and requires respect, time, and silence. I can hardly think of a word more contrary to the nature of research than “accelerated.”

What is next? A “Practice Your Sales Pitch” workshop for academics?

I’m sick and tired of these gabby, perky failed salespeople who didn’t make it in actual sales and decided to invade academia instead.