April 22, 2017 | 30 Comments
I got fired about a month ago. This would ordinarily fall under the categories, “About time” or “So?”, and thus it is not worth mentioning. Except for this.
I had a spate of radio shows lately about the March “for” “Science” and the public relations dossier on me still had that I taught at Cornell. Some of the radio hosts said things like “He’s a professor at Cornell” or “He teaches at Cornell.”
I was mostly able to correct this on air, but since I’d hate for anybody to think I’m claiming a false credential, I wanted to set the record straight. (The dossier has at last been updated so there should not be new instances.)
Through last summer (2016), I taught in a graduate program and was an Adjunct Professor of Statistics at Cornell. It’s unclear to me exactly when the Adjunct status expired, or even if it’s expired now. But if it did it might have been a couple of months back, since about then one of Jerry Coyne’s readers noticed I was not listed on the Department’s website. Up until about a month ago, I thought I’d be returning to do my usual summer duty—and was indeed informed by the program director that I would. So my claiming Adjunct status was in good faith. (I’ve put in a request to see if I’m still listed or not.)
As far as I know, mine wasn’t a political firing. I was told by the director: “After our meeting last week, I had another meeting in the dean’s office about the…program. There was a strong opinion that if any resident faculty wanted to teach in the program, I should give them preference over non-affiliated faculty.
“Unfortunately, someone from statistics has asked me to teach in the program, and I am in the position of needing to let them, which means that we will not be able to offer you a position teaching this summer in Ithaca.”
The lady who is replacing me, God bless her, and who will now teach the Masters-level statistics course is a lawyer with a specialty in sexual harassment. She isn’t a professor, but she is local. (I don’t live in Ithaca. I’ve not met my replacement.)
Now if that news was underwhelming, this next announcement will be even less interesting than discovering how much loose change was discovered in my couch.
I will not be seeking any future university employment. It is obvious to friends and enemies alike that just about exactly none of my opinions are welcome in or around any American campus. I mention this only to stave off kindhearted emails saying “Did you see State U was hiring?”
“Oh, Briggs, what have you to worry about? Didn’t I hear you were being funded by the oil companies?”
I am. For my work in fooling the public about global-warming-of-doom, I have a lifetime coupon that lets me shave off that annoying nine-tenths of a cent added to the cost of every gallon of gasoline, up to ten gallons. Once per week (cash only). Big Oil knows how to take care of her own.
“No, I have it wrong. You’re a paid shill for the Discovery Institute. At least, that’s what you were accused of in comments at Stream.”
I am? Say! Terrific news. I’ve always wanted to be a shill; it’s been kind of a dream job for me. The DI is a bonus: everybody I’ve ever met from there has been a sweetheart.
I first tried a government sinecure, but all the good ones were taken by Harvard and Yale graduates (Cornell is low on the list). That’s when I decided to become a shill. After all, I possessed in abundance the two most desirable traits for shills: laziness and blowhardedness.
I haven’t been entirely successful landing shill positions. I do have that Big Oil deal, but what I didn’t tell you is that I don’t have a car (and haven’t for twenty years), so the payoff is not as exciting as it first sounded. And though it seems I am a “paid” shill for DI, somehow the pay hasn’t reached me yet. (Is this the fault of the Post Office or IRS?)
Since shilling isn’t doing the trick, I suppose the next natural step for a fellow of my unique qualifications is inheritance. Now since none of my relatives are rich, if this is going to work I’m going to have to be adopted, Roman style, by some wealthy individual. All offers considered.