Archive for November 8th, 2010

Reminder: please vote on fees!

8 November 2010

We’ve had a great response to the survey so far, but we’d like as many as possible.  If you haven’t voted yet, it takes approximately 30 seconds and requires you to answer two questions.

You can read the most recent Irish Times coverage on the subject if you want to know more before you vote. [UPDATE: See an interesting opinion piece by former DCU president Ferdinand von Prondzynski in today’s paper: ‘“Free fees” were a disaster for society and the third level system’.]

In searching for  news on the budget, I have discovered that there is Fantasy Budget a competition sponsored by the Irish Taxation Institute. I suspect they do not mean for you to fantasize about giving yourself and all your friends a giant tax break…

What is a postdoctoral fellow?

8 November 2010

By Juliana Adelman

I think the first time that I truly understood the term ‘existential crisis’ was when I learned that thirty-eight painters are engaged full time to paint the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.  It wasn’t the tedium of their work that struck me.  In fact, I doubt that painting 100 to 200m up in the air over some of the world’s most stunning scenery could ever become tedious.  It was the fact that their work would never be done.  Not ever.  They would retire without feeling that sense of completion that I associate with work. Their job is to make something appear as though it never changes.

As the preceding paragraph has made abundantly clear, I should stick to history and stay away from philosophy.  Nonetheless, the past few years have made me increasingly question the point of what I do.  Will anything I write change anything or am I maintaining the paint on the Golden Gate Bridge?  It seems to me that this is a crisis of navel gazing which is almost unique to the postdoctoral fellow, although feel free to tell me that I am wrong.  A faculty member has PhD students and so is very likely to at least have some effect on the ideas of one or two people, even if she never publishes a word.  A PhD student, when not convinced he will never achieve anything, thinks she will change the world and that everyone before her was utterly misguided.  Your examiners provide an audience, however small.  A postdoc has incredible freedom (a freedom which is unlikely to be repeated in ANY type of future employment) but it comes at a price.  You are free because you are largely invisible: you keep the bridge painted. Read More