Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Tuesday Haiku

With the students gone
Campus is almost pleasant
Until September

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Martin Gardner

Martin Gardner has a posse.

Apparently his final essay is titled "Oprah Winfrey: Bright (but Gullible) Billionaire." Worth a read.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Beating a dead horse...

I was out recently at a bar where I met up with a friend and met some friends of that friend. There was the usual chatting, and then it came to light that I am a professional philosopher. One of the friends of the friend seriously asked me if I'd read the "What is a Philosopher?" piece from the NYT blog, and what I thought about it. I told her I hadn't read it, probably wouldn't bother, and had never read any of the author's professional work.

She replied, "Well, I took some Philosophy in college, and liked it. When I read the piece, I was struck by how amateur it seemed. It reminded me of an 18 year-old boy's attempt to describe what his rock band sounds like: [in a dumb stoner voice] 'We're a mix of early-Metallica and Korn, but with melodies like REM,' in other words, self-important, immature, bullshit. There's nothing worse than a old man trying to sound cool."

I've now read the piece. "An 18 year-old boy's attempt to describe what his rock band sounds like" captures it perfectly.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Dio Posse

Ronnie James Dio has a posse.


A major loss to the micro-metal genre.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

APA webshite

Down again.

If you're one of the hundreds of unemployed people looking for a last-minute gig, and so counting on the "web only" ads, you're fucked.

Keep paying your dues, though....

[Defensive comment in support of the APA from IP address in Delaware in 5...4...3...]

Friday, May 14, 2010

Who knew?

An important new finding:
Kenrick et al.'s experiments demonstrate that men who view photographs of physically attractive women or Playboy centerfolds subsequently find their current mates less physically attractive and become less satisfied with their current relationships. What then would be the cumulative effect of being exposed to young, attractive women on a daily basis? Would there be any real consequences to the men's dissatisfaction with their relationships? Secondary school teachers and college professors come in contact with more young women at the peak of their reproductive value than others do. The analysis of a large, representative data set from the United States indicates that, while men in general are less likely to be divorced than women, and secondary school teachers and college professors in general are less likely to be divorced than others, simultaneously being male and being a secondary school teacher or college professor statistically increases the likelihood of being divorced (p <.05).

Monday, May 10, 2010

Am I Wrong?

I see that the APA webshite has been down since yesterday. And the "web only" JFP has just been posted. That's a another big "fuck you" from the APA to the jobseekers. Well.... not really, since there are no jobs anyway.

Seriously now: Am I wrong to think that it would be rather easy for some enterprising folks with minimal programming skills to produce an alternative "jobs for philosophers" online publication? Couldn't one easily design a standardized form for departments to fill out which contains all the relevant information about the position, and then simply throw it up on the web in a searchable, open-access, format?

In other words: Given the state of technology and the state of the academic job market, isn't the APA's JFP totally, irredeemably, and obviously obsolete?

Here's a plan for some unemployed philosopher with the requisite know how: design such a website. Mass email philosophy departments, inviting them to list their openings on the site. Do it for free for the first year or two. As long as the site doesn't totally suck, it will soon replace (in practice) the JFP. Then start charging a nominal fee, and make some money.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

No May JFP

From the APA's Jobs for Philosophers site (verbatim):

At present, there are 35 "web only" ads.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

So, I Lit a Fire

Yes, even I sometimes have to read what students write. It's really a waste of my time. But every once in a while, it pays off. I just came across a paper in which a student uses, as an example of a morally inappropriate reaction to a harm, a case he claims to get from the Beatles song "Norwegian Wood." To be clear, I do not think this is intended to be a joke.
Suppose one morning your girlfriend leaves you without explanation or forewarning or even cause. You just wake up, and she's gone. It would be wrong to set her apartment on fire, like the gentleman in the famous song by the Beatles does.
I was totally puzzled, until I noticed "Norwegian Wood" in the references and then recalled the bit about lighting a fire. I guess I'd always naively supposed the guy lights a fire in the fireplace.

The paper gets a C. Happy end of the semester everyone.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

TA Appreciation Day

No doubt everyone's semester is in its final week or so. So one question remains.

Also: I hereby declare the first Friday of May TA Appreciation Day. Buy your TA a six pack and a bag of chips. Or something.