Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Gloomy in Philadelphia

So.. another Eastern APA is slowly winding down. How depressing it was! Rows of empty interview tables, an army of morose and dejected job seekers facing another year of under-employment, a Central-sized smoker, a sparse book display. I'm sure it was all quite good for the hotel bar.

How clever it was of the APA to not print the locations of the sessions in the Program. I'm to understand that the placement service was especially unhelpful this year, too! Keep paying your dues, people....

Another thought: would someone please coin a clever word to characterize the kind of philosopher who, while in conversation with someone at an APA, constantly and conspicuously scans the room from someone more important to talk with? You know what I'm talking about.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

APA: More Fuckedupness

The APA has done it again. Yes, the organization is a fucking disaster. Yes, the new website still sucks. But this takes the cake. Consider the following facts:

a) The 2009 Central APA takes place on Feb 18-22 in Chicago.

b) The next issue of Jobs for Philosophers publishes on February 21.

What's the impact of this on the job market? Looks like no job interviews at the Central!

Merry Christmas, all you young philosophers seeking jobs in Philosophy!

Would someone please dismantle the APA and start a new national organization that's not such an embarrassment to us all?

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Over and Out

I'm off now to a few places and eventually to that thing in Philadelphia. After that thing, I'll be off to a few difference places. I'll be gone until early January. Probably no posts until my return.

To all job seekers: The APA interview is like a heavy metal solo, not a jazz solo. Burn from the first beat of bar one.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Non-mock Interviews Mocked

I was just reminded by a colleague of a non-mock interview we conducted a few years ago. A candidate had Philosophy of Religion down as a second AOS. We were interviewing for another area, but found the Phil of Religion AOS an attractive bonus. So, after 45 minutes grilling on the candidate's research, we asked the candidate about teaching:

Search Committee: We see you have an additional AOS in Philosophy of Religion. We currently have no one who specializes in that area, but we do offer a course on it farily regularly, and the person who currently teaches it would be happy to give it up. Could you tell us how you would teach a 200-level course in Philosophy of Religion?

Candidate: Ummm.... well.... I... guess... I... could... do.... some.... um..... Medieval people.... and then... um... Spinoza and Hegel.... and James.... and....uhhh....

SC: So your course would be a historical survey of some important philosophers and what they said about religion? Could you tell us about the themes your course would cover? For example: Problem of Evil? Arguments for God's existence? Reason and faith?

Candidate: Um... I have to say... I don't really have a good answer to this question. I don't really know much about that area....


Candidate: Well... yeah. That's because I say a few things about religious belief in my dissertation. After I defended, I got together with my adviser to try to figure out my AOS's, and he told me to put Philosophy of Religion down. So.... I did that.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Mock Interviews Mocked

Last week, my department conducted its annual round of mock interviews for the hopeful job seekers amongst us. This year, I threw my better judgment to the wind and participated in the festivities. What an eye-opener.... Here's a snippet of one of the interviews. If you're a job seeker, file this under "Don't be this dumb."

Interviewer: As you know, we're a small liberal arts college. Part of what keeps our philosophy department in business is our ability to offer six sections of "Critical Thinking" every semester. "Critical Thinking" is a required course in our General Education curriculum. So, each member of the Philosophy department offers at least one section of "Critical Thinking" every semester. Could you describe to us how you would teach such a course?

Candidate: Critical Thinking?... hmmmm... Well, that's not my area.

Interviewer: Well, I realize that this is not your area. It's not mine either. But, as I said, we all have to teach it. So, could you say something about how you would construct the course.

Candidate: Well... I'd rather not teach that kind of course. Couldn't I just stick to "Intro" and upper-level courses?

Interviewer: Well... No. As I said... We all have to teach "Critical Thinking." It sounds to me as if you're saying that you're unwilling to teach it. Is that right?

Candidate: Yeah.

Saturday, December 13, 2008


With the Eastern APA just a couple of weeks away, I've been inundated with reports of DOOM from job-seekers and search committee members alike. Searches are being canceled without warning, the number of interview slots is being shrunk, people are having to suddenly rearrange their travel itinerary, and so on. A seemingly large number of new Ph.D.'s who managed to land 4 or more interviews last year (as ABD) have zero interviews this year. It's rough out there.

I look forward to the Eastern APA every year because the DOOM it manifests is a suitable antidote for all the fake happiness of Christmas; it's an opportunity to recalibrate after the distortions of the holiday season. This year promises to be especially helpful in this regard.

I'd wish all job seekers good luck, but who thinks that hiring decisions should be settled by luck anyway? So instead, I wish everyone JUSTICE.

The annual Philosophers Anonymous secret event is on: same bat time, different bat station. Hard booze this year.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Ooops, they did it again

For the second time in about a year I've discovered a publisher using in its promotional materials a carefully selected quotation from a book reivew I've done. There's nothing unusual in this, of course. However, there is something unusual in drawing a phrase from my overall negative review that makes it sound as if I'm endorsing the book.

So: the line in the review goes something like this:
As a contribution to the current debate about X, this book achieves almost nothing; however, those who have been following the philosophical development of the author will find this book stimulating and intriguing.

The publisher quotes me as calling the book "stimulating and intriguing"!


Friday, December 5, 2008

PGR: Awesome!!!

I'm not sure what rock I've been living under, but I was of the opinion that Brian Leiter had decided not to conduct a Philosophical Gourmet Report for 09-10. Now it seems that there will, indeed, be a new PGR this winter! Thanks, Professor Leiter!

What joy. For not only will undergraduates not be at the mercy of their (often clueless or biased) professors' impressions of what's what and who's who in the profession, but the Philosophy blogosphere will once again be alive with petty, misinformed, idiotic, self-serving whining about the PGR, all dressed up in the guise of righteous indignation.

Looking forward to it all...


From NPR:

The nation's capital is looking forward to an economic boost in January. The D.C. Council on Tuesday approved emergency legislation giving bars more time to serve alcohol during the inauguration of President-elect Barack Obama. Drinks may be served until 5 a.m. Jan. 17-21. Last call is usually 2 a.m.

Anyone else going?

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

War is Over?

So I'm back. One of the things I discovered in my travels is that there is a Celine Dion version (or is there?) of the Lennon song "Happy Christmas (War is Over)" which omits all mention of war. That's correct: it's the Lennon song we all know (or is it?), just without the "war is over, if you want it" bit.

Now, it might come as news to only the very thickest among us that the Lennon song is straightforwardly accusatory: "So this is Christmas... and what have you done?" is a line about complicity. In fact, the whole song is about complicity: if there's war, it's because you want it.

I know there's a Goodmanian point here, but I haven't read Languages of Art since graduate school. Am I right that there's a case to be made for thinking that the Dion song is indeed not a version of the Lennon song, but is something more like an instance of plagiarism?