At 3:30 this afternoon begins the first departmental colloquium of the year at Stanford, presentations of their work by five summer interns for 2012, including Melissa Carvell, on the Linguistics in the Comics project directed by Elizabeth Traugott and me. Melissa’s slides are available here; the link takes you to a file that needs to be downloaded to view.
Archive for the ‘Academic life’ Category
A SMBC cartoon, passed on by Lynne Murphy on Facebook, in three bites:
The set-up: revolution denialism.
Elaboration of the belief world. And then:
The pay-off, in evolution denialism.
My old friend, and sometime colleague, Chuck Fillmore has gotten the 2012 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Association for Computational Linguistics. From the International Computer Science Institute (in Berkeley CA) site:
[7/11/12] Professor Charles Fillmore, director of the FrameNet Project [at ICSI], was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Association for Computational Linguistics at its annual meeting yesterday in Jeju, South Korea. The award is given each year for widely recognized, sustained, and enduring contributions to the field of computational linguistics. (link)
For health reasons, Chuck wasn’t able to travel to Korea, but he made a 41-minute video of his acceptance speech: a characteristically clear and charming account of his life’s work in linguistics, well worth viewing by anyone interested in the field. (Chuck wrote to friends a little while back about how hard it was to fashion this talk.)
In my life, 2012 is a 50th year for lots of things. Today is my 50th wedding anniversary, for example. And I joined the Linguistic Society America 50 years ago — also (so they informed me yesterday) the AAUP.
The latest (6/6/12) issue of the Princeton Alumni Weekly reports (on p. 22) on the retirement of 11 faculty members, including two with a notable public presence (Cornel West in the Center for African American Studies and dark-matter proponent Jeremiah Ostriker in Astrophysical sciences) and two with whom I have a personal academic connection: Philip Johnson-Laird in Psychology (who was my colleague in Experimental Psychology at Sussex when I visited there in 1976 and 1977) and Seiichi Makino in East Asian studies (who was a student of mine at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, back in the 60s).
Back on March 21st, a NYT story (in the Arts section) — “TV Digs Will Harm Patrimony, Scholars Say” by Bill Carter – on the tv show “American Digger”. Along the way, a common belief about academics and what motivates them.
A number of notable deaths over the past few weeks. Two pop musicians who gave me disco pleasure over the years: Donna Summer, memorialized in the NYT on the 18th; and Robin Gibb of the Bee Gees in the paper on the 21st. And the astounding baritone Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, with a long obit on the 19th (right now I’m listening to his loving recordings of Irish, Welsh, and Scottish folk songs as set by Beethoven). Then, with some linguistic interest, the literary scholar and cultural critic Paul Fussell, in the paper on the 24th.
In this posting: extracts from Bruce Weber’s obit for Fussell, and then pieces of an entertaining story (by Arthur Brisbane, on April 15th) about obituaries in the Times.
From Jen Dewalt, from Scientific American blogs, this “best peer-reviewed scientific figure ever“:
Source: Meyer-Rochow, V. B., Jozsef Gal. Pressures produced when penguins pooh – calculations on avian defaecation. Polar Biology. 31 October 2003.
As commencement ceremonies sweep across the land — Stanford’s isn’t until June 17th — people begin to reflect on the speeches that grace these events (Newark mayor Cory Booker is this year’s speaker at Stanford). In the latest (May/June) issue of Stanford magazine, Daniel Newmark looked at the history of these speeches, in
Speak, Memory: How have commencement speeches — and their effect on graduates — evolved over the years?
A handy table of stats:
(Love the first-person words count. If “first-person words” include both 1sg and 1 pl pronouns (in all their forms), then Jobs’s figure is at the low range of the counts that Mark Liberman got for presidential inaugural addresses: Clinton 1, 8.63%; Clinton 2, 6.47%; GWB 1, 7.90%; GWB 2, 4.89%; Obama, 6.69%. If you look only at 1sg pronouns, then Obama (0.21%) is at the bottom of the list, with GWB 1 at the top (0.94%), virtually tied with Clinton 1 (0.93%); and if Jobs’s figure of 6.27% is for 1sg pronouns only, then he was an incredibly heavy user of the 1sg.)
But, Newmark notes:
Summary facts alone cannot convey the poignant anecdotes, humor, insights and wisdom that Stanford’s commencement speakers have shared throughout the decades. For example, in 1992, the late Kirk Varnedoe, MA ’70, PhD ’72, began his speech:
I work at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. This means that every morning I leave my home and the normal world of daylight and humdrum street life, and enter another kind of world, where traditional ideas of space are radically compressed or eliminated; where wild deformations of imaginative passion transform human faces into unnatural masks of anxiety and alienation; where time itself seems to be warped; where lost dreams of machine technology that date to the Russian revolution collide with assemblages of old cans, spattered paint and the displaced, chaotic detritus of our times . . . and then I get off the subway and go into the museum.
Varnedoe is much missed.