Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Editorials by Colleagues

These days, Current Science features only guest editorials by invited contributors, and it's great to see my IISc colleagues being featured in this very exalted space. Here's a quick sample:

Picture and a Thousand Words

This, from PhD Comics, is a gem.

That's all.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

A 'Special' Resonance

Resonance, the "journal of science education" published by the Indian Academy of Sciences, had something 'special' in its March issue: as Guest editors Prajval Shastri and Sudeshna Mazumdar-Leighton write in their editorial, "while this issue is no different from any other in intent, it is ‘special’ because it has an all-female authorship."


Hat tip to Vasudevan Mukunth's article in The Wire, which also points to special issues of Current Science and Physics News, but I am not able to locate their URL.


Update: The original post had a link to the special issue of Current Science; a friend alerted me that this issue has not yet been published.

Monday, March 27, 2017

"Removing Morons from the Productive Flow"

This profile of Scott Adams, the genius who created the Dilbert comics, has its focus elsewhere (his rationalizations of the rise and rise of Donald Trump during the US Presidential primaries and election), but somewhere in the middle is this gem (in bold, below) [If you are wondering why it stuck a chord, you haven't seen this ... (;-)]:

Adams’s Dilbert empire has been growing for three decades. When he launched the strip in the late ’80s, long-running staples such as Dennis the Menace, Family Circus, and Blondie seemed saccharine and dated. Adams’s creation was fresh, starring a sardonic software engineer named Dilbert; his conceited and grandiose dog, Dogbert; an incompetent boss; and a host of odd co-workers. Early installments showed Dilbert at home. When Adams refocused the strip on the workplace, it caught fire among a generation of office drones who spent their days staring at spreadsheets and slide decks. While workers had long tacked comics like The Far Side and Cathy to their felt cubicle walls, to say something about themselves and their brand of humor, here was a subversive comic about cubicle culture itself. During the ’90s, amid waves of corporate downsizing and the tech boom, a zeitgeisty Dilbert graced the covers of Newsweek, Time, and Fortune. Adams churned out Dilbert-themed calendars, knickknacks, and even a TV show. He also penned op-eds and business tomes, including The Dilbert Principle, based on the theory that companies tend to promote their least competent employees to middle management, “removing morons from the productive flow.”

* * *

Update: Wikipedia has an entry on the Dilbert Principle, in case you are interested.

Monday, March 20, 2017


  1. What if Sociologists Had as Much Influence as Economists? | The Upshot | Neil Irwin [See also: Is ethnography the most policy-relevant sociology? | Fabio Rojas]

  2. ‘Copy and paste’ content spotted in IISER Thiruvananthapuram director’s papers | Journo's Diary | R. Prasad

In other words, "Get a Life"

Very little has been written on jealousy in academic life, and yet, anecdotal evidence suggests that it is prevalent in our profession. This is unsurprising. As Chronicle readers are well aware, academe today is a place of increasingly precarious employment conditions — where the "publish or perish" mantra is more relevant than ever and the pressure to win grant money has reached fever pitch.

In such an environment, it’s little wonder that jealousy can take hold. I’ve certainly felt my share (and I herewith apologize for privately cursing those of you who got positions and/or book contracts that I wanted). Jealousy may come with the academic turf but that’s rarely a good thing. So what can we do to better manage our envy at all stages of the academic career?

That's from Jay Daniel Thompson in The Chronicle of Higher Educationn: Maybe You’re Just a Jealous Academic. Can you spot the understatement of 2017? Hint: it's in bold.

This article eventually gets to "self-help" domain of how to deal with jealousy of the academic kind, and has an advice-list that might help you cope. The last piece of advice? "Develop interests outside the academy." In other words, "Get a Life".