Thursday, September 30, 2010

NRC Report: demonstrably worthless

I've only just been made aware of Professor Leiter's evolving discussion of the NRC rankings of doctoral programs, so I have not read through it all yet. But I do note that he's had the good sense to re-post Ned Block's decisive (by my judgment) criticisms of the methodology. I look forward to reading the rest.

Of course, the administrators at my University are pushing the various departments ranked to study the report and include whatever spin-able data there are in upcoming recruitment. I just sent a note to my chair and webmaster to add the following sentence to our webpage:

The NRC Data-Based Assessment of Research-Doctorate Programs is demonstrably worthless. We have elected to ignore it, and urge you to do so as well.

I'll let you know how that goes.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Green Porn

My office on campus sits across a hallway from several recycling bins. The office is situated, however, in a way that makes it difficult for those at the bins to see inside my office, even though I can see them.

Anyway, I was just aimlessly looking out my office door, and spied an elderly gentleman (whether he is faculty or not I do not know) quietly walking up to the recycling bin. He was carrying a tote bag. He very carefully looked around to see if anyone was looking, and, overlooking the fact that I was in my office watching him, deposited the contents of his tote into the recycling bin. I saw that he was very keen to dump the contents of the tote quietly, and he did so without touching anything in the tote. Then he hastily but, again, quietly scurried away.

I waited a few minutes, summoned the company of a colleague, and looked in the bin. And, yes, in there we found roughly half-a-dozen porno mags at the top of the pile. And, let me tell you, even though we didn't touch any of the mags, we could tell that they were of the especially graphic variety.

But at least the guy recycles.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Is it Wrong to Laugh?

Multi-millionaire Jimi Heselden, the owner of Segway, Inc. since December 2009, has died after reportedly driving a Segway scooter off a cliff and into a river. More here.

Is it wrong to laugh at this?

Monday, September 20, 2010

"The Meat Eaters" by Jeff McMahan

Unsurprisingly, McMahan has written a terrific and provocative piece. Read it here. And for Christ's sake, do not skip the comments! They're hilariously incompetent and unthinking, almost without exception. (And you thought the the customer reviews of A Theory of Justice on were stupid!)

Let's face it, people:
Philosophy is hard. The public doesn't like things that are hard. Public philosophy is silly.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Awesome Sentence in PPR

"[David] Lewis could kick my philosophical ass when it comes to modality—or just about any issue in metaphysics for that matter."
--Bryan Frances, in Philosophy and Phenomenological Research (Sept. 2010, p. 419)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Man Sues Plato, Among Others

It's this kind of kookery that gives me hope for the future....

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — A federal inmate who has filed more than 3,800 lawsuits and targeted the famous, the infamous and even the long-dead is now being sued by federal officials who want him to knock it off.

Federal prosecutors who say they have had enough of the frivolous filings have filed a lawsuit of their own asking a judge to take unusual action to stop Jonathan Lee Riches.

Since 2006, Riches has filed lawsuits in nearly every jurisdiction in the country, court documents show. The inmate who dubbed himself "Lawsuit Zeus" in one of his thousands of court cases has filed up to four of his handwritten petitions a day in Kentucky courts alone.

The 33-year-old inmate at the federal prison in Lexington has sued New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick, former President George W. Bush, then-Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick and even Somali pirates. Sometimes, Riches asks for money, other times an injunction to stop alleged, if physically impossible, activity.

Among Riches' targets have been "Adolf Hitler's National Socialist Party," the ancient philosopher Plato, the celestial body formerly known as the planet Pluto and the Guinness Book of World Records.

In the Guinness case, he wanted to prevent himself from being dubbed the most litigious man in America.

Monday, September 13, 2010


There's a good discussion going on over at Leiter's place about why the Pacific APA always seems to be held during the latter half of Easter week.

Many have taken the occasion to raise the age-old question of the timing of the Eastern meeting. Why hold a major professional conference between Christmas and New Year's? The typical reply is that there's no other time that's any better, especially given that the end of the calendar year seems a good time to begin the hiring process for faculty who are to begin the following fall.

Fair enough. Maybe the end of December is the least bad of all the available options. But I have a different question: Why hold a major professional meeting which involves the lion's share of job interviewing (and must take place in the last week of December) on the East Coast? Why hold it on either coast? Why not give travelers a break and hold such a meeting in a geographically central location?

Overheard in Academia (kinda)

Overheard in a college bar Men's Room:

So, you think girls like it when you go with them to donate blood?

Hell yeah! The key is to drink a lot of soda and not eat anything prior to so that you pass out, and they have to take care of you for a while. I've done it two times.

Isn't that a little sketchy?

Hey man, it works. And they don't have to take care of you. So it's really all on their choice.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Long Week...

I just stopped a random student on campus because she was holding a book that I could swear had the title Modus Ponens. I asked her, "Hey... what course is that book for?" Startled and clearly discomforted, she replied, "Uh... English."

Then I looked again and discovered that the book she was carrying had the title Modern Poems.

Spiros, 0; World 1

Sunday, September 5, 2010

JFP: Place your Bets

The copy deadline for the October JFP was this past Friday. So all the job ads are in. Anyone care to speculate on the overall number of ads for TT jobs in the US that will appear in the October JFP? My guess is that there will be no more than 40 such positions.

The reader who comes closest without going over wins a prize: a Sting CD.

The reader who comes second closest without going over wins a prize, too: two Sting CDs.

Friday, September 3, 2010

The Devil Wears Nada

Last night I was flipping through the channels, and saw that Cinemax was showing a film (I use the term loosely) titled The Devil Wears Nada. I don't subscribe to premium cable, so I could not watch it, but I assume this is a soft-core, ever-so-slightly-less-than-real-porn, mock version of The Devil Wears Prada.

I found the title amusing. But then got to wondering why this is so common a phenomenon. What's the point of making "adult" flicks that borrow from mainstream films, especially given that, most typically, it's only the title that's borrowed? Why is this such a winning strategy (I assume it is because it's such a prevalent strategy in the genre). Seriously. Any views?