Publish or Perish

I'm a social scientist that is surrounded by medical doctors.  As such, I often have to struggle for some professional respectability at work.  Unless, of course, they have a noncompliant patient, and then it's all, "Could you please talk to this guy and find out what his problem is?"  Oh, and then there's the periodic, "Could you read this paper and edit it for me?  The submission deadline is 20 minutes away, and I don't have basic grammatical skills."

Anyway, the point of my rambling is that I've had my fingers in several papers and posters that have been published and/or displayed.  Yet, if you look at my CV, you'll notice a complete dearth of publications.  The reason behind this is that when you have eight to 12 authors on a paper, the non-MD/PhD gets the shaft.  That's me.  Regardless of how much data I collected or if I almost completely rewrote the paper because it read like the product of a drunken colobus monkey with a medical dictionary, my efforts go unrecognized.

So, I've grown weary of waiting for someone to be gracious enough to allow my name to grace an article.  I've decided to take matters into my own hands.  I realized that it wouldn't be very difficult for me to write an article discussing the influence of anthropology on an author's work since I've read just about everything this person has published.  Once the article is written, I'll try to get it published in a literary journal at the very least.  It's not a scientific article, but, hey, any publication is better than no publication.  Unless you're publishing in The Watchtower.

When I was outlining the article in my head, I foolishly thought that I'd be able to knock it out over a weekend.  Maybe a full week with edits.  That was two weeks ago and I'm not even halfway to my desired work count.  The problem is not that I don't know the material.  The problem is that I have to find the perfect citation with which to back up my argument.  And when your source material is the work of an extremely prolific author, slogging through the texts can be a bit time-consuming.  Not to mention nerve-wracking.

What started out as a shameless effort to pad my own CV had morphed into a labor of love.  However, the honeymoon is over and I'm now dealing with the harsh realities of completing a paper that even I have lost interest in.  The only thing sustaining my efforts at this point is the thought of sweet, sweet vindication when I (hopefully) see my name on an article and the letters "MD" are nowhere to be found.


Holy Crap - I'm Listed!

I just found out that this blog is listed as one of the "Top 50 Blogs for Anthropologists" - number 50, in fact.  I have to admit that this comes as something of a shock.  So much so that my face was flushed and I was maybe a little light-headed when I found out.  That means that someone out there actually reads what I'm writing. 

So, in light of my newfound popularity, I promise to make an effort to think about what I say before I post it.  I'll try to stick to more anthropologically relevant subjects.  I may even post the occasional retraction.

Oh, who am I kidding?  This blog is pure catharsis for me.  It may make me a piss-poor anthropologist, but people annoy me.  Life annoys me.  It can be absurd and pointless, but we keep on keepin' on and this blog helps me do that; hopefully without hurting anyone in the process.

So, thanks to those of you that read my incoherent ramblings.  I mean that - no sarcasm or anything.  And now that I know someone is paying attention, I'll try to post a bit more regularly.  It's just that sometimes people annoy so much that, at the end of the day, all I can do is rock back and forth in the fetal position for an extended period of time.


Are Political Pundits to Blame?

Yesterday, Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was shot in the head outside a Tucson grocery store while meeting with local members of her constituency.  She's alive at the moment.  However, 13 other people were injured and six were killed, including a 9-year-old girl.  Unless you've been in the wilderness for the past 24 hours, you know this.  Even my often shockingly ill-informed wife knew about it, so I won't spend a great deal of time on the details.

I'm the first to admit that I had never heard of the woman before yesterday.  But when I heard that she was a Democrat in Arizona, my knee-jerk reaction was that this was a politically-motivated attack.  It is beginning to look as though I was right.  Jared Lee Loughner, the 22-year-old gunman, left a series of nonsensical, rambling diatribes on his YouTube channel, which are curiously lacking in the gross misspelling one might expect (though there are a few). Spelling ability aside, the posts still make absolutely no sense.

The YouTube posts do not specifically target Giffords or link Loughner to any clearly-defined political ideology.  However, they seem to be fearful of a growing government and many refer to "mind control and brainwash methods" and the erosion of civil rights.  Giffords's offices had been the target of vandalism and she herself had received threats after the Health Care Reform Bill passed.  Many view this legislation as another attack on civil rights.  Or maybe I'm just trying to make connections where they don't exist.

In the next few days and weeks, I expect there will be "experts" appearing on news channels with all manner of psychoanalytic profiles of Mr. Loughner.  We'll probably hear about how "deeply disturbed" he was and I expect that someone will blame his reading list, which included dystopian classics like Animal Farm and Brave New World.  But what I'm hoping to hear is that reactionary political pundits like Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin share in some of the blame for this.  And just to be clear, I do not consider Palin to be a politician.  She may have been once, but now she is just another conservative pundit.

This is the problem that I have with the political discourse in the country today.  No longer do "journalists" appeal to the public's reason - it's all about stirring up primal emotional states for the sake of higher ratings.  And higher ratings mean higher advertising revenue.  But when all the red-faced vitriol espoused by the doughy Beck or the plastic Palin falls on the ears of someone that may not be able to reason through the bullshit, what happens?  When a person with a head full of bad chemicals constantly hears calls for armed revolution or sees political attack maps dotted with crosshairs, what is the expected outcome?  And is this the desired result?

Maybe some good will come of this awful event.  Maybe this will encourage news channels to reign in their attack dogs and return to the sort of responsible journalism that has been resigned to the less exciting days of Walter Cronkite.  Now, don't think I'm advocating for censorship - that's the last thing I would ever do.  But I am hoping for some common sense and responsibility from those with the loudest voices.  The job of journalists is to inform and let the public draw their own conclusions, not stir up a hornet's nest.

By the way, I also intended to post about the emasculation of Huckleberry Finn, but I was busy and never got around to it.  The short version is that I think editing the book to make it more PC is the worst idea in the history of bad ideas.