Archive for the ‘Academic life’ Category

Blogger, interrupted

September 15, 2022


The Blogger, tied in furious knots

I was about the do a quick posting on Roger Federer, who announced his retirement from professional tennis today — because Federer is an admirable person in a whole series of ways, and because Federer is really really Swiss (he and I share the Alpine nose!).

But I was interrupted by Life, in ways mostly gratifying, but both time-consuming and exhausting, so the piece about RF and his splendid Swissness remains unfinished.

Well, the Federer piece interrupted my progress on a “RELAX ARNOLD” posting (about something that had popped up in a Facebook ad).

And “RELAX ARNOLD” took me away from posting on two other ads that had appeared suddenly: “funny aperitif board” and “the social lives of ruff dudes”.

And those two interrupted my advance on a whole set of half-prepared postings: “tastes like glazed donuts”, “ride the wild okapi”, and more.

I can’t imagine how I’m going to dig myself out of this hole.

But, you ask, how did I spend this day (after taking in the hot news about Federer)?

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A journal of my thoughts

August 24, 2022

The old Calvin and Hobbes — from 8/25/92 — that came up in my comics feed yesterday:

This blog is, in a sense, a journal of my thoughts:

— responses to things I’ve come across (things people have said, events I’ve seen, events I’ve experienced, news reports, cartoons and comics, movies and tv, music, artwork, food, plants, animals, whatever);

— reports on my life history, family and friends, emotional and physical states, beliefs and opinions and guiding moral principles; reports on research (mine and other people’s) in linguistics and  psychology and in g&s (gender and sexuality studies, though Gilbert & Sullivan do occasionally appear; I do not, however, deal in goods & services);

— and creative writing (fiction and poetry) and artwork (mostly my collages).

The responses and reports are not just passing on of things but attempts to place these things in some context (which often involves exposing my personal involvement with them, sometimes in open and unsparing detail), to analyze them, to interpret them, to connect them (sometimes in unexpected or surprising ways) to other things, and often to play with them, to use them to entertain — in displays of Martians attacking Indianapolis, so to speak.

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An address from the former Adjunct Professor

April 22, 2022

On the Stanford Linguistics weekly newsletter, the Sesquipedalian, this morning (timestamped 7:36 am):

Artifact of the Month: Zwicky’s Linguistics Quilt
In the spirit of reminiscence, this month we bring you former Adjunct Professor Arnold Zwicky’s linguistics-themed quilt, composed of 12 t-shirts from different linguistics events…

(The quilt, and its component parts, can be viewed in my 12/11/19 posting “The linguistics quilt”.)

My Monty-Python-dense response (which the Sesqui might or might not choose to print, but you, my readers, can see it here):

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A note of pedagogical pleasure

February 11, 2022

In correspondence with a former student about their career, they offered this note of thanks to me:

Please know that I divide life (in an intellectual dimension, at the least) to before and after studying X with you.

Wow. Emotional gold for a teacher: you did good things that helped change someone’s life.

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Judging faces

December 18, 2021

Very brief note. I’ve spent the day being down about the spread of the Omicron variant and about this morning’s painfully low temperatures, which kept me from going outside at all, and also about a sinus infection, so I didn’t do what I’d intended to do today at all, and this is a minimal substitute.

Going through the Stanford Humanities Center annual report for 2020-21 (a year in which all events were virtual — nothing face-to-face at all, not Fellows’ weekly presentations, not lunches, not the eminent visitors, no random encounters in the building, none of that) and looking at the Fellows’ photos and brief identifications, I turned a page and came on a face that instantly grabbed my attention. And I thought: Nice guy. Gay guy.

And so he was. There were no doubt other queerfolk in the set, but this one just called out to me. I have no idea what things I was picking up on. Here’s his photo and thumbnail i.d. from the SHC:

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Good news from the halls of academe

November 2, 2021

I am putting aside for the moment today’s intended posting, on Tucson sunrises and well-endowed cactuses, to pass on this excellent news, which came to me from my department chair Chris Potts > the department this afternoon:

Please join me in congratulating Professor Vera Gribanova on winning the LSA’s 2022 C.L. Baker Award, which “recognizes excellence in research in the area of syntactic theory on the part of a scholar who is at the mid-point of a distinguished career.”

A wonderful honor for someone who is surely actually only barely even approaching the *mid-point* of their career!

First, some exchanges about the award; and then some about Vera.

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Time, and intellectual community

January 7, 2021

In the latest (December 2020) issue of the journal Language (vol. 96, no. 4), Brian Joseph’s “What is time (and why should linguists care about it)?”, an article that originated as his presidential address at the Linguistic Society of America (LSA) annual meeting in New Orleans on 4 January 2020. The article (abstract below) combines broad humanistic scholarship with fine-grained philological and dialectological research on the Greek language.

Meanwhile, the article is thick with thanks to all sorts of people, a characteristic that is not just personal niceness — though in some cases it is certainly that — but reflects a view about the nature of intellectual community.

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Genus Americanus

December 8, 2020

… with Jacques and me in a bit part.

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The BSDR files

February 7, 2020

This posting represents the intersection of two posting topics that have pretty much gotten out of hand for me, so I’ll be extracting pieces from the larger material.

Topic 1 is the 1993 annual meeting of the Linguistic Society of America, at which I gave (on 1/9/93) my 1992 Presidential Address to the society, “Mapping the ordinary into the rare: Basic/derived reasoning in theory construction”. In trying to retrieve memories of the event, I discovered that my computer files for the paper (the BSDR files) were in a format that was inaccessible to me and that all my paper files had been destroyed. So I put an appeal out on 12/21/19, on several sites, for help in finding a copy of (at least) my (very detailed) BSDR  handout.

Topic 2 is recent gifts to me of many kinds: symbolic roses for me, in accord with a 1/29/20 posting of mine on a line from the Sacred Harp: “Give me the roses while I live” (SH340 Odem (Second)). I’m an old man, currently writing things under the Python Queen of Scots cry “Not Dead Yet”. I have been given some excellent roses.

One of these wonderful gestures to me was a reconstruction of the BSDR handout — with formatting preserved — done for me, purely in the spirit of colleagueship, by Luigi Talamo, now at the Univ. of the Saarland. Whose labors I will celebrate here, with some notes about Luigi and his interests. But first I exhibit his gift.

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The images quilt

December 15, 2019

The last in a set of four; the linguistics quilt, from the 19th, is its predecessor. As before, a 12-panel composition (roughly 6 x 3 ft) made of old t-shirts of mine, assembled into a quilt by Janet Salsman, with the collaboration of Elizabeth Daingerfield Zwicky and Kim Darnell (and photos by Kim).  This time, t-shirts with images that have pleased or entertained me:

(#1)

Now the 12 panels individually, by row (R) and column (C).

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