16 March 2007

Fame and glory

I recently read a New York Times article about teaching and encouraging women to contribute more frequently to opinion pages. According to the article, 65-75 percent of unsolicited manuscripts come from men. The idea that women should be bold and demand recognition struck me as both amusing and inspiring. I have to admit I fall into the stereotypical camp of women who try to shrink into the crowd and aspire to do "good works" rather than seek fame and fortune. But dammit, I'm going to change that! In my future postdoc interview, I will tell faculty that I went into physics for fame and glory!

These thoughts resonate even more strongly when I consider the recent Battlestar Galactica episode "The Son Also Rises." The President of the Twelve Colonies and the admiral of the fleet interview a lawyer as a prospective candidate for defending a notorious war criminal. Here's a rough paraphrase of their (hilarious) conversation:
President: "Well, it's so comforting to know that you're not afraid. You're not afraid to represent the most hated man alive. The question is why?"
Lawyer: "For the fame... the glory." [slight smirk]
Admiral: "You worked in the public litigation office on Caprica. You think you have the qualifications to handle a case of this magnitude?"
Lawyer: "I was born for this [deadpan, long pause] ... that, and the fact that I have a pulse."

There is no reason to hide one's desire for fame and success. Why not declare it openly?

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