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Bell Curve


You nabbed a coveted Woods Hole internship—gosh you were proud of yourself when you beat out 1,000 applicants to have a chance to rub shoulders with famous scientists at this world-famous U.S. oceanographic institute. You are really happy cataloguing the samples of sea slugs in logbooks, every day, day after day, 12 hours a day. It looks good on the résumé, you tell yourself.


You have your post-doc, in addition to your fancy degrees—B.S., M.S., PhD—and you've spent the better part of the weekend freezing your patootie off on a rocky beach near Santa Cruz. Your bosses, the tenured professors in your department, are spending the weekend taking in the tourist sights. But not you. You, the marine biology department post-doc flunky, are counting sea otters for the professors' big project on the life and hard times of the California sea otter.


It's great being part of a husband-and-wife marine biology PhD duo, until you both discover that the only university on this good Earth that will hire both of you happens to be Henderson State University in Arkadelphia, Arkansas. You were both born and bred and educated in Manhattan—wow, Arkadelphia will be a big, big change from civilization, as you both knew it.


You just finished a long day on Capital Hill testifying as an expert witness about how it is totally crucial for the rare minnow to be saved, and fie on plans to build a multimillion dollar aqueduct. You're relaxing on a sofa and the phone beeps. "Hello, hello?" Silence. Then a deep breath, and the caller rasps: "We know where you live and what car you drive." The caller hangs up. Hmm, maybe being an environmental crusader has its down side.


You're a tenured professor at the best Ivy League school in the universe. Your outside consulting contracts and speaking fees are netting you tons of extra cash. But you're happiest when you are alone in your lab, checking on those lonely sea slugs in the Petri dish.