Here’s Edward Said, author of ‘Orientalism’, in 1980. Over 30 years ago, and over 20 years before September 11, 2001:
So far as the United States seems to be concerned, it is only a slight overstatement to say that Muslims and Arabs are essentially seen as either oil suppliers or potential terrorists. Very little of the detail, the human density, the passion of Arab-Moslem life has entered the awareness of even those people whose profession it is to report the Arab world. What we have instead is a series of crude, essentialized caricatures of the Islamic world presented in such a way as to make that world vulnerable to military aggression.
Google Scholar now allows the creation of a citation profile for academics. Here’s mine: http://scholar.google.com/citations?user=V9_-AtoAAAAJ&hl=en
Citation is when someone else quotes one of my papers in one of their papers. As you can see, Google Scholar can find 65 papers I’ve published throughout my career, and all together those have been cited 421 times. The top paper has been cited over 120 times, but it tails off fairly quickly after that.
Citation is a measure of how influential an academic is in his/her professional field. The h-index that’s quoted there is a similar measure, reduced to one number, and it’s hard to really make sense of that number in isolation. If physics was my field I’d want to be closer to 12 than 9 at this point in my career, but education papers tend to get cited less often, and I’d imagine 9 compares pretty well to other education academics in my field.
I have half a dozen papers under review at the moment, as well as a couple in press, so while the citations have dipped a bit in the past couple of years since a high in 2009, it’s likely that the curve will head upward again over the next few years.
I’d been feeling a bit odd for a while. It was worst when riding my bike, when I was constantly frowning a bit with my forehead. But the rest of the time as well, I just felt kind of disconnected from the world. I could see well – very clearly in fact, all the way to the distant radio antennas on the hills – but the world just didn’t quite seem real.
I wondered whether I was spending too much time in front of computer screens (almost certainly yes), and/or too much time in my own head (ditto). I even wondered, quietly to myself, whether it was some kind of mild, incipient mental illness like depression or something.
Went to the optometrist and he discovered that my left eye had got a lot worse in its vision – just more shortsighted than ever. I’d never thought to do the experiment, but closing my right eye with my glasses on showed me just how bad my left had got. I’d still had clear vision, but my right eye had been doing all the work.
In turn, that had robbed me of proper binocular vision, and therefore proper depth perception. That’s something that’s pretty important to have on the bike, and also, apparently, something that forms part of our feeling of being part of the world.
It took a week for the new lenses to come in, and now I had a name for the problem I was aware of it, but I picked them up this afternoon, and immediately felt the difference. It’s taking a little while for my left eye to get back into doing it’s share of the work – I almost feel like I should pirate-patch my right for a while to make it all equal.
But I’m back! Look out, world!
…and yes, most of what’s being done is exactly the wrong thing.
I still have Jared Diamond’s ‘Guns, Germs and Steel’ on the bedside table, and am making my way through it between novels.
This is a great little story of the ‘everything is connected in unexpected ways’ variety: http://blogs.nature.com/eva/2011/07/13/make-history-not-vitamin-c
John Birmingham is an Australian novelist and author of opinion columns… like this one: http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/opinion/blogs/blunt-instrument/why-conservatives-should-heart-gay-marriage-20111205-1ofmg.html
Just sent off an application for a science education position at Griffith University’s Gold Coast campus… which doesn’t decrease the overall suspense!
A number of valued former colleagues from UQ work there, and I think it would be a very enjoyable and productive working environment for me.
Won’t say too much more here, and applications don’t close until January 16, so there’s plenty of time to wait before there’ll be a decision, but it feels good…
So, it’s all the hands of the gods… whose mills grind slowly but exceedingly fine.