Sunday, December 30, 2012

Dear APA: Drop Atlanta

Dear APA,

Drop Atlanta from your rotation for the Eastern meetings. The hotels are overpriced. The surrounding downtown offers nothing. Transport around the city is a hassle. The airport is a total disaster.

My impression is that attendance was drastically lower than usual, even for a meeting outside of NYC and Boston.  There are no doubt many factors that explain this drop, but holding the meeting in a crappy location within a crummy city can't help.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012


Professor Leiter is on this, but it's worth reporting here.  A new entry for the Philosophical Lexicon, in honor of a guy who has definitely jumped the shark... twice.  (Kudos to Gerald Dworkin!)

finagel, v.   To subject any scientific theory to the incredulity of common sense.

Until the New Year

I'm off for a couple of weeks, first to the annual event where we taunt the most vulnerable in the profession, and then to more civilized destinations.  If anything noteworthy happens in Atlanta, I'll post.   But if not, I'll be back sometime after January 10th.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Jack Klugman Posse

Jack Klugman has a posse.


That Thing...

You know, that annual thing that goes on every year during that other thing that happens at the at the end of this week. It's totally on.... You'll know where and when, once the time comes for the secret sign.  Old school rules in effect, so, no, you may not bring your students along.  See you there.

Sunday, December 23, 2012


I have now heard Elvis Costello's "Veronica" on three separate occasions as part of the Christmas music CD playing in (three different) stores.  Since when is that a Christmas song?  Am I wrong in thinking that it's about dementia?

Oh wait... entirely appropriate after all.  But still not more appropriate than this.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Robert Bork has a Posse

Robert Bork has a posse.  Happy holidays!


Sunday, December 16, 2012

Abandoning Hope: Countdown

I again ask the question: At what point should job seekers abandon hope of an APA interview? 

It seems to me that any respectable department should have its APA interviews scheduled by Wednesday.  I'd think that those that have not already set their appointments should be making calls on Monday and Tuesday.  So if you have not heard from your dream department by Tuesday evening, begin reconciling yourself to the fact that they're just not that into you. 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Powerpoint Notes

Some of you are no doubt beginning to prepare job talks in hopeful anticipation of the great things that will happen in the coming weeks.  Anyway, given that I'm old enough to have never used Powerpoint, and will never need to use it, here are a few observations I found in my notes from an on-campus job talk or two that I witnessed some years back.... Some are a little cranky, but they can be reformulated as tips.

1. Do you really think anyone in the room needs paragraph one of Kant's Groundwork projected and then read aloud? Does the picture of Kant (the one we've all seen) really add anything?

2. If you're going to strawman Strawson, it would have been better not to project a quotation that demonstrates that you've done so.  Maybe next time you should read the whole of the text you've placed on the fucking slide?

3. You've gone on for 10 minutes with no slide change.  You moved from Kant to Kamm to Strawson to  Blackburn.  So why am I still looking at a stupid line drawing of a trolley?(What, no trolley photo on the Internet?)

4. A-ha! You've forgotten that you've been using Powerpoint!  To catch-up or not catch-up?  That is the question.  Noooo!!!  DO NOT FLIP THROUGH THE OLD SLIDES! The argument sounds even worse second time around.

5. Love the "Thank You!" slide at the end.  Makes me think you were worried that otherwise you might forget to thank the audience.  Probably should have said "I apologize" instead.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Dave Brubeck Posse

Dave Brubeck has a posse.


Saturday, December 1, 2012

Note to Hiring Departments

I know that since the APA is still several weeks away, it's early for hiring departments to be thinking about bringing job candidates on campus for second-round interviews.  But the tendency of academics in general, and philosophers in particular, for social ineptitude is so prevalent that it's never too early for members of hiring departments to begin thinking about their treatment of on-campus job candidates.  Here are some thoughts that might jointly be sufficient for a baseline of minimally-decent treatment.  For each, I know of multiple cases of violation.

1. Prior to the visit, provide the candidate with a detailed itinerary (in writing) for his/her visit.  Be as specific as possible about who will be met, for how long, for what purpose.  Make sure the candidate is able to determine when there will be meals, when there will be downtime, how much time will be spent outside walking from one building to the next, what kind of weather to expect, and so on.   Distribute this itinerary to all faculty members so that everyone knows where the candidate should be at any moment of the visit.  Include the cell phone number of at least one faculty member who has been designated as a go-to in case problems arise.

2. Prior to the visit, provide the candidate with a detailed description (in writing) of the presentations / demonstrations that will be expected.  If there will be a job talk, how long should it run? Will there be a Q&A afterwards?  Who will be the audience?  To what kind of audience should the presentation be pitched?  Will the presentation take place in a room with a computer and internet capabilities? If there will be a teaching demonstration, indicate whether the demonstration will be in front of an actual class.  If so, provide the candidate with a syllabus for the class, and instructions on what to prepare.  If not, be as specific as possible about what you are expecting.  Ask the candidate in advance if he or she will use handouts, and if so, offer to have a sufficient number of photocopies made in advance. 

3. Prior to the visit, ask the candidate if he or she has any dietary requirements, and ask what his or her food preferences are.  Also, if any part of the interview will take place at a faculty member's home, be sure to ask the candidate if he or she has allergies to things like pets, nuts, wine, etc.

4. Have a faculty member-- not a student, not a taxi-- pick up the candidate at the airport and drive him/her to the hotel. Be sure to schedule some downtime immediately following the candidate's arrival, as people need time to recoup and refresh after flights, especially long ones.

5. Before leaving the newly-arrived candidate at the hotel, be sure to ask if there's anything the candidate needs: coffee, breakfast, a toothbrush, etc. And do not simply drop off the candidate at the hotel, either.  Make sure the hotel reservation is in order.

6. Once the interview is officially underway, at no point should the candidate be left waiting to be picked up and taken to the next stop on the visit.  Designate a single faculty member who knows how to be punctual to be in charge of getting the candidate where he or she needs to be at any given time.  Provide the candidate with a safe space to leave his or her coat or briefcase if these will be unneeded for an extended period.  Do nothing to add additional stress to what is already a pretty horrific process. 

7. If the interview involves meeting with graduate students, be sure to instruct the graduate students regarding what is and is not appropriate by way of questions, comments, and discussion topics in such contexts.  Also, tell the candidate what to expect in that meeting, and whether she or she should prepare anything in particular for it.

8. If there is a job talk, make sure every faculty member is in attendance, and if some will not be on hand, explain in advance why this is so.  If the department colloquium runs by certain house rules governing, say, follow-up questions and such, make these known to the candidate.  If the candidate is to field his or her own questions, let that be known in advance.  Also, remind your colleagues in advance of the visit that the questions after the job talk should be direct, concise, and about the paper that the candidate has delivered. 

9. If there is the usual reception after the job talk, designate a few faculty to remain with the candidate for the duration.  The candidate should never be left alone in a room of strangers, wondering what to do.

10. For each meal, choose a restaurant with a varied menu [and] that's quiet, or at least not especially noisy.  Let the candidate know in advance who will be joining for each meal.  Get a sense in advance from the candidate about his or her usual bedtime.

11. After the on-campus interview, have a faculty member-- not a student, not a taxi-- drive the candidate back to the airport in plenty of time to catch his or her flight.