Thursday, May 27, 2004


Ah, academia. Thine contradictions shine down from thine ivory towers.

In this case, it’s about the Internet, where a Harvard employee’s blog has caused a bit of executive panic -- or is it just payback? -- with its cartoonish threats of violence. (“I am one shade lighter than homicidal today. I am 2 snotty emails from professors away from bombing the entire Harvard campus” being one of the suddenly more infamous postings of the employee, Amy Norah Burch.)

It’s hard to take such threats seriously, especially when you catch the tone of the fun Web site -- -- through which the blog is reached.

Since it’s unlikely even the most literal-minded Harvard academic could take the threats seriously, payback is the obvious motivation behind Burch’s firing. Check out this extended, and hilarious, rant:

I Officially despise my stupid job now. I hate it more than anything. It is driving me crazy. I just don't give a shit about it on any level. I've been looking for a new job for a while now, but I'm going to triple my search efforts. I cannot work for those losers anymore. Anya with her random freaking out, Sarah with her anal retentive control freakishness, the stupid professors who think they are so important there is no need to follow little simple instructions to make my life easier... I swear, someday I'm going to find every single Senior Faculty member and force them to take a test-- one that in all their learned, educated smartness, they will be sure to fail. It will involve loading a stapler, following some simple instructions, like writing 5 sentences about something, printing it out, and putting their name on it. I bet none of them would be able to do it. Just FOLLOW THE GODDAMN INSTRUCTIONS, PEOPLE! IT'S REALLY NOT THAT HARD! Oh yeah. The clincher is that they'd have to do it all by a certain deadline, and they would get points deducted for every minute it was late.

Grrr. My stupid job makes me want to club baby seals to death with severed pony legs.

Burch advertised her blog, so it was inevitable this stuff would get out, but there’s a long and honored history of people hating their bosses -- and bosses knowing it. Burch’s blog is being used as an excuse to fire her, and one no less dishonorable than reading someone’s diary, even if it’s left lying around.

It is sad to see an institution such as Harvard seize upon dubious threats of violence as cause for firing, considering the school’s combined intellectual capacity. But there’s an oddly funny coda to the story in its appearance in The Harvard Crimson, a daily newspaper with a good Web presence put out by the technology-savvy young geniuses at the school.

The tech-savvy young geniuses used the headline “Online Weblog Leads To Firing” -- you know, as opposed to all the Weblogs being created somewhere other than the World Wide Web.

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