Happy Thanksgiving (and be careful what you say…)

My wife and son and I are on the road this Thanksgiving, returing from visiting old friends in Virginia seeing relatives on her side of the family in South Carolina. This post comes to you on a stay on the way home, from a hotel just outside of Knoxville, Tennessee, the first one on the trip where free high speed Internet access was included. Pretty sweet.

Two minor thoughts. For “happy academics” like myself and my wife, Thanksgiving comes at a sort of odd time of the year. Since it involves a great deal of food shared with family and friends in a largely non-religious setting, Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays of the year. Yet inevitably, my wife and I find ourselves working quite a bit during the break. This has been especially true this year for my wife, who has been busily grading and rewriting an essay for a journal while I drive. Reading and writing while riding in the car is a curious skill she’s learned over the years. It makes me queasy to just watch her. Anyway, I don’t know why, but while I have learned to make Spring Break a time to relax, Thanksgiving hardly seems like a time away from school, even when driving all over the country.

Second, as I was logging on to blogger to make this post, I came across this article about how Microsoft fired someone because of his blog. In the nutshell, this guy posted a silly little picture of a bunch of G5 computers being delivered at Microsquish headquarters. He got fired because, he was told, the picture represented a “security risk.” Blogger’s “advice” about all this is amusing because they have used this widely publicized event to tell folks about the special Blogger features you can use to avoid getting in trouble with what you write on your blog. Oddly enough, they don’t suggest that writers just use a pseudonym.

Part of my solution to this has been to create An Unofficial Blog where I occasionally post observations that I think are inappropriate for here. If you check this space out, you’ll see that I don’t feel the need to post things to this unofficial space that often.

But for the most part, I think that being able to say pretty much whatever I want is simply one of the perks of being a happy academic. At the school where I work (and I think this is true for the majority of public university and colleges in this country), it is a perfectly acceptable practice to criticize and complain about things because this simply falls into the realm of the open and free exchange of ideas critical to an academic institution. I suppose I haven’t really “pushed it” and posted something really confrontational, but I’ve posted here about the controversies surrounding the EMU President’s house and the faculty union and such, and I don’t expect to be called into anyone’s office about these observations anytime soon. If I worked at Microsoft, well…

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