Whether online or off, the kind of accessible and widely read work that brings an academic public recognition is likely to draw the scorn and suspicion of his colleagues. Furthermore, so-called public-intellectual work won’t count for much when it comes time to decide whether one gets tenure. In most disciplines at large research universities, tenure is directly related to the number of peer-reviewed books and articles one publishes. Teaching and community service are factored in but are usually far less important than one’s publishing record.
Mike Hillyer on the automaintenance dilemma
Jim Cambias reports research on decaffeinated coffee, which leads into a reflection on how foods affected society:
It’s possible to make a case that modern civilization as we know it was built by coffee. In the Middle Ages, people drank wine and beer, pretty much exclusively. Much of the history of medieval Europe makes a lot more sense when you realize it was populated largely by drunk teenagers.
Then Europe discovered caffeine. Boom! The Scientific Revolution. The Enlightenment. The Industrial Revolution. Heavily-caffeinated Europeans built global empires to ensure reliable supplies of tea, coffee, sugar, and chocolate. Without coffee, we’d still be fatalistic drunken peasants.
For the record, I am suffering from a really bad case of insomnia.