Wednesday, December 29, 2010

When the Party's Over....

The weather disaster from early in the week apparently still has the national system of air travel in a tizzy. Good luck to those traveling from Boston to home.

By the way, I've already had several offers to register a domain name for "American Society for Philosophers" ( and build a website. I claim no property in the idea of such a society, and so invite anyone so disposed to put in the work to pick up the ball and run with it.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Nomination for Professor Leiter

Professor Leiter has done a great service to the whole profession in using his blog as a posting board for those who are/will be/would be/will not be at the APA this year. So....

I hereby nominate Brian Leiter for the position of first president of a new national philosophical society-- The American Society for Philosophers (ASP).

ASP will be run almost entirely online, including a well-organized, sensibly programmed, free-access, searchable, and updatable "Philosophy Jobs" database. There will be one large national conference a year. All papers will be posted in advance, and sessions will consist of ten-minute presentations (no reading allowed) to be followed by 40-minutes of q&a from the audience. The meeting will be held in a geographically central location with predictably reasonable weather on Dec 27-30.

Or... if all of this seems too much to ask, at least let me propose a profession-wide toast to Brian Leiter. Cheers, bro!

Monday, December 27, 2010

What Have We Learned?

I'm sure everyone's email box was visited today by several emails complaining about the APA and related matters. I suppose then that the time is right for anyone with big ideas about how to improve the APA to speak up-- there's lots of justified discontent at present. Three thoughts:

1. As I said in a thread on one of the earlier posts, I think we're stuck with a big December 27-30 meeting. It's the least sub-optimal of all the options. What I don't see the necessity of is having the big December meeting on the east coast, rather than in a more central and warmer location. It used to be the case that only the major cities in the East had sufficient facilities for a big meeting. This is no longer the case. I know the APA has explored the alternatives to having a big meeting in December. Have they examined the possibility of moving the big December meeting from the Eastern division?

2. This year's search committees will of necessity have to experiment with non-standard interview vehicles: mainly conference calls and Skype. My strong suspicion is that many will find Skype roughly equivalent to in-person APA interviewing. Perhaps it would be a good occasion to begin to disconnect first-round interviews from the APA meetings entirely. Departments using Skype could interview more candidates over longer stretches of time and under conditions that are more comfortable to all. Then perhaps they could take the money saved on conducting APA interviews and use it to bring more candidates to campus. Is there any sensible rationale anymore for coupling the APA meetings with the job interviews?

3. The APA website-- its entire online presence-- is fucking useless and an embarrassment. Someone please take it down and give some 13 year old a six-pack in exchange for a website that works.

Are You Fucking Kidding Me?

I just heard from a stranded and very upset job-seeker. S/he will be unable to make it to Boston before Wednesday late afternoon, if at all. An email s/he just got from one of the departments s/he's interviewing with suggests that if s/he misses the scheduled Tuesday interview, s/he may not be interviewed at all. The email was described as saying something like, "We hope you will be able to meet us at the scheduled time. If not, we will try our best to schedule a later interview."

They will "try their best" to reschedule! I sure hope this is simply a matter of unfortunate wording, and that the department in question is not intending to suggest that those who miss their scheduled interviews due to extreme weather may just be outta luck! At the very least, the department should have added some reassuring statement about scheduling phone interviews or some such. As things stand, this seems fucking horrendous.

To Anyone Actually at the APA

Please pick up enough of those nifty PDC calendar books for the rest of us.....

APA Refund

In case you're wondering.... look here.

Meeting Registration Refund

For Divisional meetings, attendees are able to register in advance or register on-site. The Pacific and Eastern Divisions have adopted a “no refund” policy for registrations. It should be noted that if a person is unsure if he is able to attend a meeting, he should wait to register on-site thereby eliminating the problem of having paid for registration and being unable to attend. The Central Division Secretary-Treasurer has the discretion to refund advance registration for a meeting to members who are prevented from attending by emergency circumstances.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Flights and Hotel

Don't trust the online "flight status" sites, even the ones hosted by your airline. I just called the carrier I booked and was told flat-out that there will be no flights going into or out of Boston for most of the day tomorrow (possibly all of the day tomorrow). If you have a connection in any airport on the East coast, be sure to check whether it's even open. I note that JFK is now closed, which is an accomplishment.

I called the Boston Marriott and canceled my room reservation. It was made clear to me that they were dealing with a high volume of cancellations. Apparently you must cancel before 6pm tomorrow (Monday) to avoid charges. That seems reasonable enough.

If you make it to Boston, please feel free to share your observations here.

Cancel the APA

If the weather forecasts (all of which are using the term "blizzard") are even close to being true, travel to and within Boston tomorrow will be a nightmare. Several people I know have canceled their trips, and a student who is on the program has just learned that the chair and commentator in her session will not be in attendance.

I'm not sure what the impact of this will be on the DOOM and JUSTICE Festival. I'm going to try to be there tomorrow. But there's a very good chance that all flights will be canceled. You may have to carry on without me....

Saturday, December 25, 2010


Looks like there's a good chance that there will be major weather problems in Boston and surrounding areas on Monday. APA travel will very likely be fucked up.

A serious bit of unsolicited advice to those on the market (and heads of search committees): Make contact now to arrange a plan B.

Extra Special Holiday Message


Don't despair just because it's Christmas....

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Job Market and Starting Salaries

A student who is not on the job market this year wrote to ask me whether the stupendously bad job market will cause the starting salaries of philosophers to drop. On the one hand, it seems that new PhDs should be willing to work for less money. But obviously there are features of the process of hiring a new faculty member which would require universities to offer competitive salaries.

Anyway, I'm totally out of touch with what beginning salaries are like. What do beginning Assistant Profs make? Does anyone have any sense of whether the bad market is resulting in more modest starting salaries?

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Pizza of Doom

A short true story:

I ordered a pizza to be delivered. The pizzeria said it would take 40 minutes. An hour passed, so I called the pizzeria. It seems the delivery person is new to the job, and I guess is also new to the city I live in. Perhaps she is illiterate, too. Apparently she had been trying to deliver the pizza to several locations other than my address. She was told the correct address, but simply took my pizza elsewhere, apparently to homes that hadn't ordered pizza. I was assured the pizza was on the way. Another 30 minutes passed, and then, finally, the delivery person showed up with a pizza.

I was about to get loud and I intended to refuse to pay for the pizza, but then I thought I'd try a different strategy. In an effort to shame the delivery person, I simply asked the question:
"Do you think it's still hot?"

She answered, unhesitatingly and with no sense that anything had gone wrong:
"Probably... a little bit."

At that moment, she won. I gave her a large tip and took the cold pizza.

Spiros, 0; Incompetent Pizza Delivery Person, 1.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Bloodsuckers at the APA

Has anyone checked the APA hotels for incidents of bedbug infestation?

I'm told there are websites which keep track of these things, but I don't know which of them are reliable. Any thoughts?

Doesn't it suck to have to add this to the things one must worry about when traveling?

Friday, December 17, 2010

In Awe of the Doom

What do you think would happen if one pointed this thing at a few choice pages of Mind and World or "Empiricism and the Philosophy of Mind"? Actually, there is a paragraph or two of "On Denoting" that I'd like to try....

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Philosophy Contest!!

Which new work by a major philosopher concludes with the following sentence?

"We make our lives tiny diamonds in the cosmic sands."

Someone's seriously shooting for Oprah's bookclub. One must sell many copies in order to fund one's plover egg habit....

I should offer some kind of prize to the first person who guesses, but I'm not going to.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The carnival is over

I take it that we're down to the final few days of interview-scheduling. Way back when I was on the job market as a new PhD, I had a friend who landed 14 APA interviews, several of which resulted in campus visits and job offers. I suppose those days are long gone, and even high-powered departments are grateful if their candidates get a single interview. Things will be pretty gloomy in Boston. Awesome.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Annual APA Boozefest is ON!!

In light of 729's comment on the thread from the previous post, it might be a good time to announce that the annual Philosophers Anonymous Festival of DOOM and JUSTICE is indeed on. I know there was some reason for concern that this proud tradition would expire this year. But never fear. The secret sign will be hiding in plain view, as usual, and the details will be manifest. If you have to ask, you're not meant to know. No job seekers allowed this year.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Crucial Week

Today begins a most crucial week for job seekers. Good luck to all.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Kindness That Can Kill

Rush finally explicitly reveals themselves to be the sell out, pseudo-intellectual, integrity-less losers they've always been. Apparently their current tour is is partially a charity event. Behold:
To benefit the relief efforts in Haiti, one dollar of each ticket sold will be donated through several charities including “Doctors Without Borders.” Rush will also contribute a portion of their proceeds at the culmination of the tour.
So much for choosing a path that's clear in which the misfortune of others places no moral claim on the individual. So long to the ethical egoism of 2112. Good to see they're now ready to force their fans to give to the relief effort in Hati.