Friday, January 29, 2010

Commentator Responsibilities

A student who will be presenting for the first time at the APA has just received his commentator's remarks, and writes with a query:
What should I make of the fact that the comments are (1) way too long and (2) in "complete agreement" with my paper? Is it appropriate to be pissed? My impression was that anyone invited to comment would be told the time constraints and more importantly know not to simply express his agreement by restating my view, but criticize it (even if he actually agrees with me). Is there someone at the APA I could complain to? What should I do at the session?
I replied that think it is entirely appropriate to be pissed, and that I don't think there's anyone at the APA worth complaining to about this. But what should the student do at the session? Is it worth saying something snarky to the commentator? Views?

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Salinger Posse

J. D. Salinger has a posse.

More here.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Academic Tourism

I'm looking to take a vacation over the summer that I can charge to my university. This conference in Athens, Greece has been recommended to me. As I understand it, this conference is sponsored every year by an organization that hosts academic conferences for profit. I suppose I have no objection to that. But I was also under the impression that the first philosophy conference this group organized (maybe 8 years ago) was a complete logistical disaster and a waste of time, even for those who drastically limited the time they spent at the conference. Anyway, as I said, this organization puts a philosophy conference on every year in early summer in Athens. Has anyone been to one of the more recent meetings? Have they gotten any better?

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

NSFW Philosophy Page

I've been sitting on this link for a while, deliberating about whether to do a post about it. Then, a few days ago, someone sent it to me with the suggestion that I post it. So here goes...

Important: The link I am about to provide carries one to a site that not only contains but is saturated with pornographic images. So it's definitely NSFW. And if you're offended by pornographic images, simply don't follow the link below.

Yet this site is so bizarre in its combination of porn, vulgarity, and somewhat serious philosophy that I can't help but call attention to it. Puzzling awesome kookery. Genius?

Anyway, this guy is my write-in candidate for all future APA elections.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Main vs. Group Program

Way back when I was a graduate student, I was instructed by my handlers that the Group Program of any APA meeting was to be avoided like the plague. Well... there was a slight qualification sometimes added: "Unless the Group in question has managed to enlist top people to participate as well." The unstated implication of the qualification was that no session on the Group Program which managed to enlist the top people would also invite a graduate student to join the bill, so, again, the Group Program was to be avoided. An additional consideration that was frequently offered was that "any paper good enough to be presented should be able to make it on to the Main Program." The underlying principle was not only that the Main Program is far more presitgous than the Group Program, but that having appeared on the Group Program may actually damage one's profile. So I avoided it, and have for years advised students to do the same.

But I wonder if this is still the prevailing wisdom, and whethere it's really wisdom at all. It seems that the Group Program is philosophically a mixed bag at best, but could presenting a paper on the Group Program really count against a job applicant? Any views?

Saturday, January 16, 2010

On Campus Interview Dont's

A new spring semester is about to grind into gear... and along with that there will be on-campus interviews for (the very few) jobs in philosophy. Here are a few things not to do on your on-campus interview. And, yes, I've personally witnessed most of these acts of awesome stupidity...

1. Do not lick your plate at dinner with the department.

2. Do not order a tequila shot at lunch with the Dean.

3. Do not comment to the effect that the women graduate students are "hotties."

4. Do not boast in your meeting with graduate students that you've "never read a word of Hume"; especially when you're up for a job in ethics.

5. Do not order-- rather than, say, politely ask-- the department's administrative assistant to make photocopies of your handout. And when the assistant makes the copies, do not forget to express thanks.

6. Do not at any time, in any conversation, with any person, say something like, "In my view your department is pretty rinky-dink, but it has potential, especially if you make the right hire this year."

Good luck to all.