Tag Archives: Acadamnit

If Dr No can think then, dammit, so can I

Cover of Plow Science

Dr No at Acadamnit had a moment of blogular navel-gazing a short while back and encouraged others to join in, and being as I rather enjoy Acadamnit and also have something of a shortage of material just now, I figured I’d bite and do some trumpeting of this blog’s dubious moments of glory. Not least, I thought I owed Dr No some kind of penance for not realising the above image was their own work. So then, the categories.

  • Most Liked Post (by me)
    This is quite tricky. I enjoy most of my writing, but I think if I have to pick one it would be this one. It was occasioned by the publication, without warning, proofs or any chance to update the content, of what might have been my first paper had the relevant journal not sat on it for literally eight years. And they spelt my name wrong, but a friend pointed out that at least that offered the chance of writing a rebuttal to myself. It seemed like too much fun not to try…
  • Most Liked Post (by readers, based on comments or hits)
    As has been complained about before, hits don’t really tell me what they should, because a couple of things I wrote seem to get clobbered by automated queries and image searches to the extent that I really can’t tell if they’re being read or not, but they far exceed anything else on hit count. It’s a pity, because I was really quite proud of the former of them, it was definitely the sort of writing I’d like to produce more often. After them, top post by hits is my little First Crusaders essay, which is good but not really a blog post, and after that we’re into the porn searches (that link goes to me complaining about it, not an example…). Comments isn’t a perfect metric either, because of course I try to reply to everyone, so I make the numbers myself in part, but since no better metric comes to mind, somewhat to my surprise the most commented post so far is this one.
  • Most Memorable Post
    I think it might, for me at least, be this one. This was the first time I’d really tried to set out my stall as someone who could explain scientific work to historians, and I was really proud of the dialogue that developed, and especially that I was just about humble enough to learn from the kind attempts of the authors of the study in question to educate me about maths. I was fairly pleased with having done as well as I had, and felt like I’d done something actually impressive. I don’t know how true that now is, but it sticks.
  • Post Most Indicative of Your Blog Identity?
    I admit that I’m not sure how this one was meant to be read. I think it’s a “does my real-life identity look big in this?” question, but of course whereas Dr No is secretly hidden in an ivory tower defended with sarcasm, cheerleaders and Tesla coils, I never kept my identity secret in the first place. So I guess it’s the one where my presentation as a serious adult broke down most, and that is pretty obviously this one and will, I hope, ever remain so.
  • Most Humorous Post
    Damn, that’s the same one isn’t it? Well, in that case, have a runner-up. This isn’t even mine, really, and the person who let me borrow it was only quoting a medieval source anyway, but it’s still true dammit.
  • Most Regrettable Post?
    This is, to an extent, still to be settled: one day one of my many rants will come back and bite me, and I have many times pulled something back from the brink, and in one case beyond it, because of thinking how I’d deal with meeting its target after they’d found out I wrote that about them. However, there’s still no problem deciding which one I have dithered over most, and though it remains up now I do often wonder whether I ever should have given this much away about myself, especially given how my life subsequently changed to make it largely irrelevant. If that’s a dead link, I chickened out.
  • Most Misunderstood Post
    That’s probably one of the same ones again, but in terms of one where I genuinely had to work hard to avoid a misunderstanding that would have been regrettable, I guess it’s this one.
  • Most Satisfying to Write Post?
    Oh, this one, no contest. I may burn in Hell for it, but it was such a relief to find I could actually articulate the counter-argument rather than just froth uselessly. Fighting language with language, yeah, etc.
  • Most Likely To Never Be Posted Post?
    Well, there have been a bunch of these, and one of the great advantages of the backlog with which this blog usually runs is that if something seems like a bad idea after a week, it’s probably still not reached the ether so I can delete it. But because I do delete the rejects, I can’t remember what they were. More rants, obviously. However, there is a post you can’t see which has been sitting in my drafts folder since a particularly disillusioned point back in August this year. I was out of material and motivation both, the page view figures were slowly but determinedly declining and I was about to say that the blog was going on hold till I felt like a human being with something to contribute to the world again. Within about a week I had some six drafts part-written because I started reading again and suddenly found stuff out, and within a fortnight one of them had been linked by a big blog in the USA and given this little Corner its highest-ever view figures, so I decided that really, a hiatus wasn’t necessary or even likely, and so it has proven. But that draft is still there, containing all my misgivings about blogging, and I hope it’ll never be wanted.
  • Most Important Post?
    Well, it’s a bit cheeky to suggest that anything here is important, but if I have to pick one then I’m going to pick two, a pair that long-term readers will remember because by this time I actually had an audience: a pair of arguments about what historians are actually for in social terms and how we can meet that need.
  • Most *Adjective of Your Choice* Post?
    Well, there’s a bunch I’d like to draw people’s attention to because they show me being properly academic with actual sources and stuff, so I guess the adjective of my choice is “demonstratively scholarly”, which I realise, yes, is far from being one word, let’s move on. Of such posts here the crown is indubitably this one. That, there, is what I want to do with my life, if anyone will let me.

So there you have it. Now, this may look to you like a meme, but it is not, because there was no tagging involved; I just volunteered out of vanity. I wouldn’t want to stop anyone else picking up the idea but there is absolutely no obligation implied by this post. OK? Though I do have one obligation left to discharge: in the comment where I promised Dr No a response, I also promised them an image, an image which struck me on seeing its source as the perfect summary of their blog: so here it is. If you click through you will doubtless see what I mean…

Contains intelligent and well-chosen profanity

Letter to applicants

I don’t usually mention job rejections here, because why would I? Everybody in my position gets them but I don’t want prospective employers to know that this also applies to me. However, since once before a really nice rejection got mentioned because of its quality, it seems only fair, and also fun, to note the opposite.

This is a familiar phrase, I’m sure: “It may sound like a cliché, but in this case it was true, that we were faced with an unusually large number (over 120) of exceptionally strong candidates.” Firstly, it sounds like a cliché because fields this large are not exceptional any more, and it bothers me that selection panels can’t get their heads round this. I have heard this surprise a lot these last few years and it’s not surprising me as much as the people I’m applying to, apparently. That’s the genuine reflection on the state of the discipline out of the way, now for the snark.

Dear writer of this letter: it would sound less like a cliché if you hadn’t put this in an e-mail attachment whose filename was ‘Letter to applicants-210509.doc’. That’s the electronic equivalent of sending me the bug letter instruction really, isn’t it. And it would look an awful lot less like a cliché if the address and signature had not been set in Lucida Handwriting. I mean, firstly, having just the top and tail done in a script makes it look like what you wanted was the effect of a form letter finished off by hand to start with. And secondly, it’s Lucida Handwriting for heavens’ sake. Don’t you people read Acadamnit?

Still, at least they somehow sent something. That’s more than we often get. For cost reasons, they tell us, and this is often the same institutions that send you acknowledgement of your actual application, had you noticed? On the other hand on the day I post this I got a further rejection for a post I’d given up on long ago, and they sent three separate copies of that one. No expense spared! Gee thanks.

So the obvious and positive conclusion is undoubtedly a new slogan for my jobhunt: “you have to be quite careless not to give me a job!”