Sunday, January 25, 2015

Joe Franklin Posse

Joe Franklin has a posse.


And for posse convergence purposes, look at this.

Wait.....  King Diamond?????

Thursday, January 22, 2015

DOOM #70,000

70,000 Tons of Metal equals a vast quantity of DOOM.

"The World's Biggest Heavy Metal Cruise"?  Are there other, smaller such cruises (and, no, KISS is not heavy metal)?  Anyway, this is DOOM, but not the kind of doom that's properly metal.

We're now living in a world where Cannibal Corpse has sold out.

Reflect on that. 

Friday, January 16, 2015

DOOM #666

The Satanic School Bus

No, sadly, that's not a bus that takes kids to a Satanic school-- that would be a mark of civilization rather than DOOM.  It's a public school bus that some jackass mother claims covertly displays Satanic symbols in its taillights.  She claims that since one cannot display a Christian cross on the public school bus, one cannot allow the internal bulbs of a lighting fixture to vaguely resemble a pentagram.

I hope that some brilliant Satanic organization will immediately adopt the image of a public school bus as its central Satanic symbol. 

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Post-Eastern Market

It seems as if the more general changes in the Philosophy job market (the irrelevance of the Eastern, the move to Skype, et al) removes the pressure on departments to conduct their initial searches in the fall.  This should result in a more robust post-Eastern job market (i.e., more good TT jobs that get posted in January).  Any signs of this?


If you're reading this, you're likely to know well my usual spiel about not having time or energy to moderate the comments on this blog.  So I won't repeat that part.  But how should one deal with a seemingly inexhaustible and intent producer of barely intelligible comments?  The faux anguish and thinly-disguised pleas for help are clearly some kind of satire.  And there was some amusement to be had for a good while.  But it has become tiresome, and it's time to stop it. 

Surely there is some way to prevent such comments from appearing, should this continue.  Would some sensible person out there please advise?

Monday, January 12, 2015

Someone Please Explain This

I saw a bumper sticker today that says:

Keep Jesus in your prayers

Jesus needs us to pray for him?  What the fuck could this possibly mean?

Also, perhaps not unrelated, Plantinga's review of Kitcher closes brilliantly.  Plantinga writes:

According to Gary Gutting, "This is the most philosophically sophisticated and rigorous defense of atheism in the contemporary literature" (back cover blurb). As a believer in God, I'm tempted to hope this is true.

Also:  I shouldn't have to state the obvious, and I am loathe acknowledge -- even implicitly -- what prompts me to say this, but this blog is not a good forum for seeking psychological help or voicing one's complaints about (alleged) harms committed by specific people in the profession.  There are other blogs for that.  And, by the way, there's also the police.  Amusing as stream of consciousness off-off-off-off-Broadway comments can be, it's time to stop.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Another Rumor

Several people have written me to claim that another strategy being implemented for the Eastern is to extend the conference.  The plan, I'm told, is to begin the conference in earnest early on the first day (currently, sessions begin in the evening of the first day), and continue with a full slate until the late afternoon of the final day.  I get it: More sessions, thus more participants, thus more registrants.  But I bet this also means that fewer people will stay for the entire conference and there will be fewer audience members per session.  Good luck.

Friday, January 2, 2015

APA Rumors

Since it came up here in a comments thread, I'll affirm that one of the whispers heard in Philadelphia is that the Central APA's days are numbered.  To be more specific, the rumor is that the Central will be dissolved, leaving only the Eastern and Pacific divisions.  This new arrangement may be further altered in coming years by consolidating everything into a single national organization with a single national annual meeting.

A single national meeting sounds right to me. So I don't see why we should bother with the two-division intermediate.  And as the APA is (thank goodness) no longer at the center of the job market, I see no reason why the meeting should be in cold places in the winter during an especially busy holiday season.

Mario Cuomo Posse

Happy New Year! 

Mario "there is no Mafia" Cuomo has a posse.


Tuesday, December 30, 2014

From Gloomy to Bleak

After several years of being merely gloomy, the Eastern APA is now officially bleak.  I overheard  someone describe it as a funeral parading as an academic conference.  That's pretty accurate.

Since losing its hold on the job-seeking process, and as there are so few jobs in any case, the attendance has been dwindling steadily, but this year is an all-time low.  I'd guess there were roughly 1,000 attendees, which I take it is not sustainable.  The smoker was barren.  The book display was empty.  Further, the program was unexciting.  And I have yet to meet an attendee who is happy about the move next year to the January dates.  I'm told that many of the staple publishers have decided to skip it next year, as the January dates conflict with several other large(er) academic conferences.

Surely the central leadership of the organization is distressed, right?

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Good Morning Philadelphia

It's a calm and crisp morning in Philadelphia.  Things will soon change to cringe-worthy as the hotel becomes infested with APA members.  I'll be live blogging the conference, posting about all the great papers, deep insights, logistical successes, and exciting Q&A sessions.  So you can expect near silence here for the coming days.

Have a good conference.  I'll be at the bar.   

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Another Horrid Christmas

So, it seems you've survived another horrid Christmas

Now for the real assault on your dignity: The Eastern APA.  Good luck traveling.  At least there's no snow in the forecast this time. 

More importantly: The annual fictional party that is announced here every year but never actually happens is indeed on.  If you haven't been invited, it's because the annual party does not exist.  If you have been invited, your invitation is a hoax.  There is no party.  See you there. You'll know it when you see yourself there. 

All new jerks, but the same jerk.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Job Talk

I understand that the entire on-campus interview process is a mine field, so I try to ignore the usual missteps that job candidates make. But I recently saw a job talk that was a disaster like nothing I'd ever seen previously.  So here's some advice:

Begin by stating your thesis concisely and saying why it's worth asserting. Then identify a couple of leading opposing ideas that you will engage with.  Finally, provide a road map for the coming argument so that those who are not working in your area know what to look for.

Do not presume that anyone in your audience will directly perceive the value of what you're doing, and do not suggest that those who are not doing what you're doing are ipso facto out of touch with the profession. Make a case for thinking that your work is important by showing its importance.

Everyone is willing to grant that you're capable of reading long quotations from your favorite philosopher and then restating what the quotations assert. Don't waste your audience's time. Get to the point.

Do not base your entire talk on the premise that some longstanding position that has over the generations won the assent of many smart people is obviously horribly wrong.  If you find some such position wrong, that's fine. But if you find such a position to be obviously and horribly wrong, there's a good chance that you don't understand it.

In the course of your talk, point out places where your smart critics will object.  Try to signpost some of the most obvious of the good objections to your view. No one can take up all of the good objections, of course, so issue a few promissory notes regarding your responses.

Avoid using words you cannot easily pronounce and do not know the precise meaning of.

If at all possible do not read but present your talk.

Never present beyond the allotted time indicated by the host department.  If they've asked for a 45 minute talk, do not speak for more than 45 minutes.  In fact, finish a few minutes early.

Somewhere in the course of your graduate training, you should have learned how to field questions about your work. Ideally, you would have had plenty of experience taking questions from people who do not agree with you and who do not work precisely in your own area.  (If you are not able to do this well, you've been mistreated by your graduate department.)  Q&A is not an occasion where you simply get to restate what you said in your presentation.  Some questions will come from left-field, and some will be unwittingly off-topic. Make the most of them.  And there's no excuse for reacting to every critical question as if it were wholly unintelligible.

Good luck.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Joe Cocker Posse

Joe Cocker has a posse.


Friday, December 12, 2014

Reposting: A Note to Spouses

A little later than usual, but people have asked for a re-post, and I aim to please.  From the good old days: November 2010.


Dear Spouse of an Unemployed Philosopher,

As you are no doubt well-aware, we're now creeping into the all-important ten-day period during which hiring departments will be contacting job applicants in order to schedule APA interviews. The whole process is, indeed, every bit as awful as your spouse says it is. In fact it's probably much worse that your spouse realizes. In any case, expect your spouse to begin behaving strangely.

Over the next several days, your spouse will begin incessantly checking his or her voice-mail and email for any signs of hope. Information about which schools have contacted interviewees, some of questionable reliability, will be posted on various blogs and wikis. Rumors about canceled searches, insider candidates, and "courtesy interviews" will abound. Given the horrendous job market, even under the best circumstances, things will look excessively bleak. And they are.

Should your spouse get no invitations to interview, do whatever you can to help soften the blow. You spouse worked extremely hard on his or her PhD. Spending another year adjuncting for slave-wages, or worse, is a terrifying prospect for your spouse. And, indeed, that your spouse has not gotten any interviews does not entail that your spouse is not a highly qualified, well-trained, and promising academic. Most job ads yield hundreds of applications, and departments interview only twelve or so at the APA. The search process at many institutions is nearly blind to all the things that matter in selecting a new faculty member.

Those who get interviews will have but a few hours to feel affirmed and accomplished. Enjoy this all too brief period of satisfaction. Celebrate. The joy will soon give way to a morass of anxiety and self-doubt as your spouse begins to prepare for the interview. Of course, it will quickly dawn on your spouse that the only way to prepare is to practice running a gauntlet of the cruel, the ignorant, the hostile, the maniacal, the stupid, and the clueless. Chances are the some such assemblage will be deciding your spouse's fate. This only compounds the anxiety and self-doubt.

Perhaps your spouse will be among the three or four who survive the APA interview. If so, she or he will be invited to an on campus interview. In some ways, the anxieties of the job-seeking process lift at this point. But they're quickly replaced by a different set of anxieties: what to wear, what paper to give, how to deal with off-the-rails questions at the Q&A, how to interact with the faculty member who behaved like a jerk at the APA interview, and so on. Of course, if your spouse has reached this stage, he or she has already accomplished a great deal. But that makes the prospect of not getting the job all the more depressing. And so it goes.

In short, the next month will be unbelievably trying for your spouse. Resign yourself now to the fact that the entire holiday season will be a drag. Devise ways to cope with the fact that your spouse will be psychologically compromised for several weeks. And, if you can, cut him or her some slack.