Wednesday, April 29, 2009

No May JFP!

From the APA:

The National Office has not received a sufficient number of employment ads to warrant publishing a May 2009 issue of Jobs for Philosophers, No. 182. Therefore, there will not be a JFP print issue published in May. Web only ads (if any) will continue to be published on-line from May through the summer months.

But on the bright side, the APA will be taking proactive measures to help the graduate-student membership identify and explore the possibilities for non-academic employment, employment in pre-college educational institutions, and post-docs in cognate fields which philosophers might not be accustomed to noticing. Three special sessions at the Eastern meeting will be devoted to workshops aimed at helping newly-minted PhDs and other job-seekers to survive these hard economic times. In July, results will be mader available of the APA's comprehensive analysis of the impact on the job prospects of the increasing reliance on adjunct instructors at state colleges and universities.

Sorry, I made all of the "bright side" shit up. There is no bright side.

And the APA website still fucking sucks.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Stephen Colbert: Not a Joke

DOOM, to be filed under "Plato was right":

A new article in the International Journal of Press / Politics studies the opinions of those who watch The Colbert Report. The authors find that "individual-level political ideology significantly predicted perceptions of [Stephen] Colbert's political ideology": Although "there was no significant difference between the groups in thinking Colbert was funny," conservatives "were more likely to report that Colbert only pretends to be joking and genuinely meant what he said" whereas liberals "were more likely to report that Colbert used satire and was not serious when offering political statements."

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Bea Arthur

Bea Arthur has a posse.


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Logic Vindicated (Unwittingly)

A loyal reader writes in:
Dear Spiros,

I thought of you the other day. Our department just released the results from its graduate logic exam and as usual half of the students did not pass. Every year the unsuccessful students react by grumbling about the pointlessness of having a logic requirement in the first place. So I was in our mailroom, and overheard two students:

A: [...] Logic is so useless anyway.

B: I know. Like... if logic were important, Hegel would have thought so. But he didn't give a shit about p's and q's...

At this point, I broke in and said: Modus Tollens strikes again! Good thing it's valid!

As I was walking away, I heard the one student say to the other: What did he say?

The other student replied: Who the fuck knows...
Delightful. I'm reminded of a similar exchange from some months back. I had mentioned to a colleague form another department that some philosophers allege that God's existence could be proved by using only basic logic. She responded:

This is where postmodernism really helps. If your "basic logic"
[yes-- she provided the sneer quotes with her fingers] proves that there's a God, then basic logic is wrong.

I replied: So you accept modus tollens...

Her reply: What's that?

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Overheard in Academia

While strolling through the hallway of a building that houses my university's sociology department, I overheard the following incredible remark:

The problem with Nozick's view of justice is that it's ahistorical.

I stopped and confirmed that I hadn't misheard the claim. I hadn't.

Monday, April 13, 2009


Sometimes it's helpful to scan the Conference Alerts webpage. But most of the time it's little more than an occasion for confronting DOOM. Here's a prime example. No, I'm not making this up....

M(o)ther Trouble is a two-day international conference on the maternal, psychoanalysis and feminism. It is linked to an exhibition of artworks by Bracha Ettinger at the Freud Museum. Keynote speakers: Bracha Ettinger and Adriana Cavarero.

M(o)ther Trouble? Are they kidding? Assuming they're trying to play on "mother" and "other" (and, yes, there's a rat in Socrates, too), don't they mean (M)other? What's a "mther"?

Seriously, must we make things this easy for David Horowitz?

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Jeff McMahan Wins Guggenheim

Congratulations are due to Jeff McMahan of the Rutgers University Philosophy Department for winning a Guggenheim Fellowship for work on "self-defense, war, and punishment." Well done!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Pacific APA

I've been so distracted with other nonsense that I almost overlooked the fact that the Pacific APA is getting under way. It saddens me to think that I'll be missing out on all the joy.

A question: some predicted that the JFP screw up with the Central would result in a larger-than-usual number of job interviews at the Pacific. Did this pan out? I thought not...

If you're there, feel free to check in with news, views, and impressions of the meetings. Seriously: there were a few sessions I would have liked to attend.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Journals: When to get Pissy?

A friend and I were swapping journal horror stories over the weekend. 15 months at top-tier journal X, then a reject without any comments; a revise and resubmit rejected after 10 months, with a report that criticizes the paper for introducing the issues the original reviewers insisted should be discussed; and so on. This stuff is, sadly, typical; and anyone who has been in the profession for more than a decade will have a large collection of such tales. But here's a question:

At what point is it appropriate to get pissy with the journal editor? I usually send a "friendly inquiry" after four months. Then, depending on the response to the four-month inquiry, I usually follow up with a slightly antagonized version in the sixth month. But what should one do in the eighth month? When it is appropriate to withdraw the paper and tell the editor that you'll no longer consider submitting to the journal, and will dissuade others from doing so?

BTW: When I was untenued, I was subjected to treatment by a journal that was extreme in it sirreponsibility. I contacted the relevant people at the APA about it. They did nothing.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Saturday Night Poem

"The Thrill"

I stand on the hill
not for a thrill
but for a breath of fresh kill
Never mind the man who contemplates
doing away with license plates
He stands alone, anyhow
baking the cookies of discontent
by the heat of the laundromat vent
Leaving his soul!
. . .
Leaving his soul!
Parting the waters
of the medulla oblongata
of - -brrrrrr! - -mankind

-- Morris, 1996

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Doom: Pop Culture and Philosophy

The past several weeks have brought an incredible number of "calls for abstracts" for volumes in the various "pop culture and philosophy" series. As I've argued previously on this blog, these books are an embarrassment to our profession and should be boycotted. The enterprise reached a new low, however, this morning with the announcement of a volume on Spider-Man and Philosophy.

Yes, at first the idea of such a volume seems no more stupid and useless than the others. But wait. As is typical, the "call for abstracts" includes a rather long and random list of silly suggested paper topics. In addition to the obvious suggestions-- which involve nothing more than taking a perennial philosophical question and inserting Spider-Man into it (e.g., "Spider-Man and the problem of evil"; "Spider-Man and personal identity")-- there is the suggestion that one might write a paper on "Just how does Spidey-sense work?"

Finally the series becomes aware of itself: An open invitation to utter bullshit.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Leiter Steps Down as PGR Kingpin!

Effective immediately and continuing until at least the end of the day, Brian Leiter will be stepping down as Editor of the PGR. Details here.