Archive for the ‘Academic life’ Category

The LSA handbook ad caper

January 10, 2023

This is, again, supremely, a Mary, Queen of Scots Not Dead Yet posting, coming after several days of wildly painful and deeply unpleasant afflictions (I had some yogurt for breakfast, a few crackers with hummus for lunch, and will probably do the same for dinner tonight; I have hopes for better tomorrow); the details involve a stomach ulcer, body-wracking chills, industrial-strength narcolepsy, severe dyspnea on exertion, and flaming-sword osteoarthritis, all at once, and you really don’t want to hear about them. In the midst of all this, the LSA handbook ad caper.

It’s about this ad:

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Prof. Dr. Monica Elisabeth Zwicky

November 2, 2022

In academia, she’s noted for her research on sex determination in insects and her more recent career in training biology teachers; meanwhile, through her Zwicky father, she’s in the line of the sewing-thread Zwickys (going back to 1840 — made memorable through Donald Brun’s Zwicky-silk cat poster, Soie à coudre) and is now the CEO of the real-estate development firm that evolved from that enterprise.


Prof. Dr. Monica Elisabeth Zwicky (Professor of Developmental Biology, Department of Molecular Life Sciences, Univ. of Zurich [so listed on the English versions of its pages; it’s Zürich on the German pages]); photo from the Molecular Life Sciences website

The thumbnail sketch from this website:

Monica Zwicky was born to a Swedish mother and Swiss father in Zurich and grew up in Lausanne. She has two grown-up children, is in charge of training aspiring biology teachers and is an Adjunct Professor of MNF [die Mathematisch-naturwissenschaftliche Fakultät, the Faculty of Science, the larger division to which Molecular Life Sciences belongs]

This is then followed by an interview with her about her interest in natural science, her life as a woman in biology, her drive for independence and authority, and her recognition that the role of mentor and nurturer of students comes easily to her as an extension of her maternal role. It’s a complex and self-reflective piece, also something of a surprise on a Molecular Life Sciences site.

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What I’ve been writing

October 9, 2022

… an interview for the Linguistic Society of America’s COZIL, the society’s LGBTQ+ committee Z, for Gay History Month (October, this month), to be posted — in some form, but probably not this one — on COZIL’s site on October 11th, NCOD, National Coming Out Day (this, omigod, coming Tuesday).

(I note that NCOD is also the day my man Jacques and I chose, decades ago, before the US had same-sex marriage, to count as our wedding anniversary date. NCOD is a very big thing in my household.)

What’s below is a standard questionnaire from COZIL, with the responses I’ve spent four days (minus yesterday, which was mostly taken up by an extravagant breathing disorder) sweating out and chopping down. It’s very much in my eccentric and highly personal style; I didn’t have the time to re-work it into something more conventional, so the young colleague at the University of Hamburg who got the task of readying this for the COZIL site has to deal with it somehow. Meanwhile, with permission from COZIL, I’m letting you see the raw stuff.

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Swimmer’s bodies

October 2, 2022

For a while last week, most googling I did in which men were involved brought me, as the top hit, an Etsy supplier of framed reproductions of vintage photos, offering this 1952 black and white photo featuring three male competitive swimmers with their trophies:


(#1) We know nothing more — where the picture was taken, who took it for what purpose, what competition they got those trophies in, what school or club they swam for; we wonder how their lives went on after this (if they’re still alive, they’re well into their 80s)

But there’s a lot to see in the photo. Especially in the young men’s facial expressions; in their general male body type, often labeled as swimmer’s body (even on men — underwear models, gay porn actors — who have no particular natatory associations); and in their bodies as engines for swimming as a sport. And also a lot to say about the passage of time since 1952.

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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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