You are viewing a read-only archive of the Blogs.Harvard network. Learn more.

Archive for the ‘Lives’ Category

Best job ever… compulsive letter writer

Thursday, December 7th, 2006


IvyGate reports that Brown University prefessor Felicia Nimue Ackerman has (under several pseudonyms) published 130 letters to the editor in the New York Times, including 23 in the last 23 months. Perhaps Duke should hire her to teach summer school?

According to the New Yorker, The Times accepts just under 2% of the letters it receives. Whatever her batting average, I suspect Ackerman is taking a lot of swings.

Edward Tufte talks about himself

Monday, December 4th, 2006

VDQI Book Cover

Edward Tufte, the “DaVinci of data,” stopped by Stanford yesterday to talk about his very interesting life as an academic. At turns a statistician, political scientist, guru of information design, and sculptor, ET highlighted three turning points in his career:

  • Realizing that learning in the academy came from personal relationships with a few faculty members, rather than the contents of his classes.
  • Deciding to “try to play in the big leagues… creating ‘forever knowledge’ rather than stuff with a shelf life.”
  • Gambling on self publishing: with outside publishers, “the author always loses, the question is how gracefully.” [Tufte claims to have sold 1.5M self-published books, and done $80M in sales. He quit Yale when it represented “only 10% of my income, but 30% of my headaches.”]

His sculptures are landscape pieces with tons and tons of stainless steel. I suspect he’s been to the Dia Beacon more than a few times.
An extremely impressive man, and an interesting presentation from this (self-described!) “formidable scholar.” Nice work if you can get it.