1. That the rest of the world regards my profession with a mixture of reverence and fear, much as they would, say, a confessional priest, or mob hitman.
2. That whatever politics I have are generally assumed to be in service to the state and/or capitalist class or, as the conservatives would see it, terrorists.
3. That I genuinely know nothing outside the scope of academia, and my opinions on politics are as relevant as, say, those of a seal to climatology.
4. That there are actually people in my profession who, without irony, don tweed jackets and prefer to be addressed as “sir.”
5. That the Ph.D. isn’t an entirely useless degree, as it will prompt the airline desk attendant to think twice, and perhaps even smile, before denying my request to change seats.
6. That the position of professor usually implies a certain amount of social prestige in the eyes of the general public, and with such prestige, the assumption that my salary exceeds that of a dental hygienist.
7. That academics are as capable of, and probably more apt to display, the same second-rate prejudices, bigotries, and juvenile antics as the overwhelming majority of people.
8. That those working in the humanities are generally ill-equipped to complete a tax return; those in the sciences would be in the same boat if the return required any writing.
9. The more recondite a subject, the more likely it is to propel you as an area of study, simply because: A. fewer people can critique you; B. people will assume by virtue of your specializing in a topic that you’re deeply acquainted with the broader ones.
10. That the professoriate is, by and large, a cartel, though a necessary one in so far as it fends off the roving hordes.
11. That dealing with students on a daily basis, while often frustrating, is less of a pain than dealing with other academics.
12. That academics are, on the whole, astonishingly anal, though they’re also a self-selecting group.
13. That one can never make fun of Star Trek in a group setting since the odds are fairly good that more than a few will take offense.
14. That few, if any, academics were what one could call “popular” in school — hence, their decision to keep studying. This lasting resentment also likely explains: A.) their impulse to grade on a curve; B.) the recent saturation of marketing majors; C.) the resentment towards faculty felt by the majority of academic administrators, a growing number of whom were themselves marketing majors and/or popular in school.
15. That outside of, say, pharmacology and petro-engineering, any skills academics acquire are indeed nontransferable to the private sector, which more than anything accounts for the decline in their real earnings.
16. That the pursuit of truth for its own sake, if not entirely outdated, remains as common in academia as tweed.
17. That the analogy of a rat race in describing promotion and tenure is largely untrue; rats rarely consume one another (outside of exceptional conditions) and rarely sit still on a wheel.
18. That promotions are handed out on the basis of merit about as commonly as presidents are elected on the basis of perceived or genuine intelligence.
19. That making lists of this sort is unwise and could, in fact, cost me my job.
20. That wearing tweed, as it were, will not excuse this.
21. That the general public is more likely to consume lists of this sort, and buy magazines that run them, than to digest a slow and absorbing essay on the corrosion of higher education.
22. That I myself have as much interest as the general public in reading a slow and absorbing essay on the corrosion of higher education.
23. That such an essay has probably been written innumerable times, often accompanied by a letter of resignation, or claim of harassment, or a lengthy and poetic suicide note, none of which, in my judgment, appears to have in any way altered the profession.
24. That my mother was right about the virtue of a man wearing tweed.
25. She, like most women, is also keenly aware of the perils of speaking one’s mind.
26. That she’ll rebuke me when reading this, as will my wife, and thus I should end on 26.
27. Creative writing is something of an outlier in the field of academia in that we’re permitted and encouraged to speak our minds, albeit within the bounds of acceptable (tenurable) discourse.
28. That a list of this sort may violate 27.
29. See 24 about tweed.