There are some things that chemists seem to do just for the sake of doing them. These acts ostensibly once served a purpose, but now have little obvious value.
For instance, why the hell do we still have Ph.D. students write bound doctoral dissertations? I admit, the idea of having a single massive document that represents the entirety of one’s graduate research seems nice, but the reality is that the volume has little more than sentimental value. Nobody reads these things. Hell, not even committee members actually read it. Flip through it? Maybe, but read it? No.
Schools should just drop dissertations as a requirement. That means you can write one if you want or need to, but if your published papers are good enough in the eyes of your department, you needn’t waste time rewriting and reformatting perfectly good papers into an expensive book that will sit untouched for eternity.
Another thing that seems ridiculous upon further examination is the business card. At first, the idea seems to make sense: I can make a good impression on someone and expediently transfer my contact information by writing it out in a presentable manner. Great…but when you stop and actually think about it, a number of things dawn on you:
- 1) Why the hell am I carrying around these extra scraps of paper?
2) Why the hell did I spend $100 for an absurd quantity of these scraps of paper?
3) Is it really too much trouble to use a pen and a blank scrap of paper?
4) I seemed to have forgotten that Google and e-mail makes it easy to find people without the need for scraps of paper.
I also find it distasteful that people walk around carrying multiple copies of a document about themselves with the presumption that more than one person will actually care to receive it. Get over yourselves, people. When you give someone your card, nine times out of ten the recipient is just feigning interest to be polite.
Of course, I must be overlooking something because the business card industry generates $4.3 trillion in yearly revenue. This means that I, too, must have a business card. Given that business cards are inherently vain and that I must have one, I am therefore obliged to have the most self-important business card possible. Mission accomplished:
Yes, that is a baseball card, except chemicaled chemified chemificated. If the size of the card (2.5 x 3.5”—way bigger than a standard business card) does not irritate the person who receives it, then the quantity of self-promoting garbage on it surely will. The front side contains an action shot of me talking about something chemical at a podium somewhere. The back side contains irrelevant personal info and a mini publications list of my personal favorites. Hopefully, my contact info is also on it, somewhere.
ACS publishing needs to reconfigure its presses to stop pumping out archaic paper copies of journals and start pumping out massive quantities of chemistry cards. People would go nuts. Think of the madness that would occur at ACS conferences as famous chemists get shaken down for business cards by throngs of drunk grad students at Sci-Mix. Activity on E-Bay would flare and communication among chemists would ignite with casual conversations along the lines of:
“I’ll trade you a Jacobsen rookie for an ’86 Herschbach and two ideas for C-H oxidation of alkanes to terminal alcohols.”
Look for the special insert in this week’s copy of C&EN and place your order today!