The academic life aims at a certain kind of dignity. Certainly that's the impression you get if you hang out with academics. They take themselves and their place in society seriously, and are often to reluctant to laugh at a joke that's not sufficiently highbrow. The reluctance to laugh freely is always what made me suspicious of academics. What kind of person, I wondered, would give up one of life's greatest pleasures merely for the sake of some imagined social prestige?