Thursday, December 31, 2009

Gloomy in New York

The APA was the real-world equivalent of a Lars Von Trier film (I mean one of the ones that don't suck)-- completely devastating for anyone not lucky enough to be in a position which allows one the comfort of blocking out the surrounding tragedy.

More on that in a later post. For now, I call attention to a nice post about the insane prices that were being charged at the second smoker. Here's the solution that some of us have been doing anonymously and in secret for years, but now should be practiced openly as a matter of principle: Everyone sneaks in a six pack and shares. Done.

A further thought about the stupid smoker and the asinine way in which job candidates are forced to schmooze and kiss ass. I had a student on the market who had his interview on Wednesday morning. I also know that other candidates who interviewed on Tuesday were invited to visit the department's table. So whatever the additional face time was worth, this opportunity was not made available to all candidates. This seems to me unacceptable.

Anyway, I'm out for winter break. Fuck the new year.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Boozefest @ APA

It's that time of year again. I'm catching an early flight and will be traveling for the next few days, eventually stopping in New York for that mess of a meeting. Then I'll be off again to various and sundry locations on my quest for JUSTICE. In any case, blogging will be light at best until mid-January. I might post something from the APA meeting, but maybe not.

Anyway, those of you regulars who are wondering will be reassured to know that, indeed, the 4th annual Philosophers Anonymous boozefest is on. The details will be revealed by way of the usual coded channels, such as this post. A quick review of Goodman's Fact, Fiction, and Forecast will help, as will a taste for beer named red that's not the color of rubies. Get it?

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Time to Degree: Too Long?

A question came up recently in conversation about time to degree. How long is too long to take to complete one's PhD? At what point does one start seriously damaging one's career chances? My own view is that anything beyond 6 years in graduate school is suspicious, though a 7 or 8 year PhD can be forgiven if there's some explanation (time off, major change of interest, life events, etc.), and if there's something to show for the extra time (i.e., publications).

The person I was talking to claimed that the way his search committee (which was considering only those with degree in hand) made the final cuts for the APA list is to eliminate anyone who took more than 7 years in graduate school, no matter what. This seems harsh to me. Views?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Sunday, December 6, 2009

APA Smoker Dont's

We're all familiar with the practice of inviting (and expecting!) job candidates to visit the interviewing department's table at the APA "Smoker." And we're all familiar with the many respects in which this practice is horrific and torturous. It should be abandoned. Anyway, leaving aside the cases in which candidates show up drunk and make fools of themselves, here are a few tales. I'll try to think of some more. Feel free to share.

1. In a year that I was not on the search committee, I endured roughly 40 minutes of being spoken to by a job candidate about how if she were to get the job, she'd be willing to serve on my dissertation committee, because the person in my department who worked in my area (viz., me!) was "too narrow."

2. In that same year, a candidate walked away from me, as I was mid-sentence in responding to a question he asked, when one of my colleagues (on the search committee) finally arrived to the table.

3. I once saw a near fist-fight erupt among two candidates over who was "next in line" to sit in the chair next to where the department chair was seated.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

APA: No Overflow Hotel

I'm sorry to have caught this so late, but the APA regretfully announces that they have failed to secure an overflow hotel for the Eastern meetings.

So, all you job seekers who, quite sensibly, were waiting to make travel arrangements until you discovered whether you had any interviews (and thus any reason to travel to New York City over the Holidays): If you're lucky enough to have interviews at the Eastern, you're on your own for a hotel! Thankfully, the APA has provided a list of nearby hotels. Enjoy the criminal booking rates!

[Snark alert...] I think the APA should increase is dues to help pay for the wonderful new hosting of the same old pathetic webshite, the classic, 1970s-style production that is Jobs for Philosophers, and the uncommon level of expertise they bring to their primary task of organizing three major professional meetings. They really deserve our support.

**Rare Non-Snarky Serious Query**: Is there any non-awkward and reliable way to organize an effort to connect lodgingless job-seekers with folks who have rooms (and available floor / cot space) at the conference hotel? I suspect there will be many people alone in double-sized rooms... At the very least, departments should be organizing this kind of thing for their people.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

APA Interview Dont's

It was suggested to me that I might try to open a thread on how one might do well on an APA interview. I then got to thinking that it might be fun to try to open a thread on how not to do well on an APA interview. Here are a few things I've witnessed candidates do on APA interviews which completely blew their chances, at least in my judgment. Feel free to share your own.

1. At end of interview, we ask the always fateful "So... do you have any questions for us?" After a moment of paralysis, the candidate asks, "What is your University's policy on intimate relations between faculty and graduate students?" Awkward silence ensues. Then the candidate clarifies by saying, "Mutually consentual, of course."

2. In response to a run of the mill question about how demanding upper-level undergraduate classes in candidate's AOS (not philosophy of film, mind you) should be, the candidate says something like, "I'm really serious in my [upper-level philosophy] courses. At the lower levels, I just show a lot of movies."

3. In describing how he/she might teach an applied ethics course (listed as an AOC on candidate's CV), the candidate proceeds to list several famous papers by famous authors, but mentions no utilitarians. When asked why, the candidate says, "There really isn't any good work being done by utilitatians these days." I mention Peter Singer. The candidate replies, "Oh... is he a utilitarian?"

4. Candidate describes dissertation defending a familiar thesis in area X. Colleague raises the most obvious, shopworn, textbook, soft-ball, and famous objection to thesis. Nonplussed, candidate replies, "I think we're talking past each other here." Trying to be charitable, my colleague then says, "Well, what would you say is the most popular objection to your thesis?" Candidate replies, "There are no popular objections to my thesis." (The candidate took this to be a knock-out-of-the-park reply!)