Sunday, March 2, 2008

Sunday Comics

This week's comic from Soon-to-be-Jaded Dissertator is untitled, but it speaks for itself. (Click to make it big.)

42 comments:

Anonymous said...

The two-body problem really does suck, especially when one has a VAP at Kamchatka Tech and the other a TT at the University of the Falklands.

This profession absolutely blows, sometimes.

Best of luck to everybody, couples and singles, out there.

Anonymous said...

umm...
"philosophy brings the whole world together!"
"philosophy--it's the small, small world where boy meets girl!"
"philosophy--it'll make your head spin. At 1 revolution per day!"

nope. sorry. it just isn't speaking for itself.

mrs. reeves said...

Ah, the timeless philosopher-boy-meets-philosopher-gurl-but-we're-on-opposite-sides-of-the-world-with-no-wormhole-to bridge-the-time-space-continuum story. That's a tear-jerker every time...like any movie with Keanu Reeves...(sniff)

Anonymous said...

Even if the situation ain't improving, at least the art is ...

Anonymous said...

*sigh* Even the robots are heterosexist...

Anonymous said...

We want gay Continental robo-philosophers! When? NOW!! No justice, no peace! Down with Whitey!

Anonymous said...

Anon 5:09,

I think it's autobiographical.

Soon-to-be-Jaded-Dissertator said...

Don't worry; the Philbots come in all models, though that which signifies the different models may be only the worst of stereotypes (e.g., the blonde hair and pink dress), and that may be even more offensive to some.

Besides who's to say the dress-wearing Philbot isn't transgendered, or a cross-dresser, or is perhaps just confused due to getting too close to a large magnet? Though the magnet thing may just fry a Philbot's inhibition unit in which case they may just become folk singers.

And secondofly, if the Philbots were non-heterosexual, wouldn't they have jobs together? You know, cause all the cushy jobs go to minorities (sarcasm alert). Even Anon. 3:53 figured that out: the 'woman' has a TT job on an island, the 'man' has a VAP near the Arctic circle.

Sheesh, ;).

Anonymous said...

Need some protocol help: I'll be hearing back by week's end about an offer from Dept. #1, but I also have scheduled a phone interview for two weeks from today from Dept. #2. Assuming I get an offer from #1, what's a standard length of time to take before arriving at a decision?

In other words, how have other folks gone about buying time without alienating one or both departments?

Anonymous said...

Why can't the robot in pink be a male?

Anonymous said...

Anon 8:50

2 things:

- at my university, you have two weeks. Less is unreasonable.

- if you do get an offer, tell the phone interview people that you have one and when your deadline is. Also, you probably should just let the offer people know you are having another interview unless you decide to accept the offer.

DO NOT give details about who is offering what to you. That is not their business.

Anonymous said...

Anon. 8:50,

You might want to check this, but I think that departments are required, by APA regulations, to give you two weeks' time until you have to say one way or another. I think that the rule is listed on the APA website--you should check it out.

Another option is to do what my friend just did when he was offered a job and hadn't completed interviews for all of his schools. He contacted those with whom he hadn't yet interviewed and gave them an update on his status. The departments were thankful for the information, and actually adjusted their timeframe to interview him earlier than scheduled.

These are the two options that come to mind. Congrats no matter what--Well done!

What do others think?

Anonymous said...

"Need some protocol help: I'll be hearing back by week's end about an offer from Dept. #1, but I also have scheduled a phone interview for two weeks from today from Dept. #2. Assuming I get an offer from #1, what's a standard length of time to take before arriving at a decision?

In other words, how have other folks gone about buying time without alienating one or both departments?"

Just tell #1 your situation (if you get the offer). They are very understanding. They will probably be willing to extend the deadline if it is currently set before the #2 interview. N.B. they have to give you at least 2 weeks.

Anonymous said...

Anon.--

Sorry about the hasty "congrats"--I just reread your posting and you haven't confirmed that you received the offer from dept. 1. So may the jinx be lifted and you receive that offer...

With slight revision, then, I suggest considering my advice (just above), but after, of course, you hear back from dept. 1.

Good luck.

Anonymous said...

Wait, have we agreed -- and more importantly, has the artist thus stipulated -- that the freakish philosophers are indeed robots so some sort? If so, why would they need to be male or female, gay or straight? Robots aren't expected to reproduce sexually.

But we can/will be able to have sex with them, so maybe it's important to our sexual identity to assign a sex to them by way of attaching a 12-inch schlong and/or soft boobies to those our metallic love-slaves.

Anonymous said...

Sometimes a Sunday comic is just a Sunday comic.

Anonymous said...

"Wait, have we agreed -- and more importantly, has the artist thus stipulated -- that the freakish philosophers are indeed robots so some sort? If so, why would they need to be male or female, gay or straight? Robots aren't expected to reproduce sexually."

OF COURSE they aren't expected to reproduce sexually. They have sex just for the pleasure.

Roger said...

4:06 pm
I don't think so. That would be immoral, and it's ridiculous to suppose that a robot is immoral.

Anonymous said...

The APA's statement about job offers:

1. Deadlines for Responses to Offers: The circumstances under which offers are made are so various that no rule will cover all cases, but norms of professional courtesy suggest some helpful advice. Employer and prospective employee should be respectful of one another's legitimate concerns. Employers are properly concerned about planning for the contingency of making another offer in a timely fashion if one is turned down. Prospective employees are properly concerned to make important career decisions in the light of fairly complete information about which offers they are actually going to receive. In some cases such concerns may set employer and prospective employee at cross-purposes unless professional courtesy is exercised by both parties. Ideally, at the time an offer is made, employer and prospective employee should discuss their concerns with the aim of arriving at a mutually agreeable deadline for response. In normal circumstances, a prospective employee should have at least two weeks for consideration of a written offer from a properly authorized academic officer, and responses to offers of positions whose duties begin in the succeeding fall should not be required before January 15. When an employer is unable to honor these conditions, the prospective employee should be given an explanation of the special circumstances that warrant insistence on an earlier decision. By the same token, a prospective employee should not delay unnecessarily in responding to an offer once it has been made. When a prospective employee requests more time to consider an offer than the employer is inclined to give, a candid statement of the reasons for the request is in order.

Anonymous said...

STBJD is a typical fucking American in that s/he believes that the North American landmass takes up half the world. S/he is more atypical in the way in which s/he pictures legs being joined to bodies.

Anonymous said...

This thread's already a mishmash: anyone heard anything about the Cambridge HPS job?

Sisyphus said...

I'm glad to see that the philosophers have finally heeded my call for more cross-dressing ---- and included a wig, to boot!

Philosophers who need to be inspired to further acts of gender noncomformity and higher math should check out the Sarong Theorem Archive. Hopefully some of the philosophy of logic people will submit proofs. Or would that be philosophical logic? I can't keep up with all this stuff --- I just study sarongs.

Anonymous said...

The APA's statement about job offers is about as weak as its statement on job ads. Both are largely descriptive: they waste time talking about the interests of different parties, which is just mealy-mouthed. Everybody knows that stuff, and there's no point in the professional association making a statement to that effect.

And the normative component is tempered by their unwillingness to become a rule-setting body. I'm not arguing that they should try to impose order on the system, necessarily, but the result is that even in their normative claims they're really just describing best practices, so again it's descriptive. I'd argue that they should scrap all these statements unless they're willing to impose standards, because (as comments on this blog indicate) a lot of people in the field think the APA attempts to set standards when really it doesn't, and there's potential harm that could result from this situation.

Anonymous said...

Here's a bit from a PFO; the details might be interesting to some readers of this blog. (Though, it looks like many of you have already seen it!)

I am writing to inform you that the philosophy position at Sweet Briar College has been filled. We had a record number of applications and the decision was a difficult one. Since I have been asked by several people to comment on their dossiers, let me just say generally that the strongest candidates had detailed cover letters and significant evidence of teaching excellence, including several complete sets of student evaluations and multiple syllabi. It was an incredibly competitive search and the committee had well over 350 dossiers to consider. The overall quality of the pool of candidates was the best we have seen to date.

Anonymous said...

Well, Sweet Briar's PFO was just mass-mailed out, and it's interesting. 350 apps for a highly average job, and they helpfully said this:

"Since I have been asked by
several people to comment on their dossiers, let me just say
generally that the strongest candidates had detailed cover letters and significant evidence of teaching excellence, including several complete sets of student evaluations and multiple syllabi."

That might not be of much use this year, but maybe it'll be useful to someone to hear in prep for next fall.

Anonymous said...

I want to hear some funny fly-out stories. Can people start posting those? It would really lighten the mood.

Anonymous said...

maybe we could hear stories about fly-outs that turn into utter fiascos, orgies of embarrassment.

which would make some of us feel better about not having any.

Anonymous said...

The most useful bit of information in the Sweet Briar email is this: 350 applicants. 350!! As another Anon said, it's an average job. 3-3, no grad program. Don't know much about the institution. But 350. I hope that there are not THAT many new PhDs, ABDs, VAPs, and Post-docs on the market this year. I'm hoping that at least 50 of those are people in TT looking to move there for whatever reason. That's a lot of fucking people. No wonder I'm not getting a job. If above 300 of the applicants are recent grads w/o TT, this is a harbinger of things to come. Maybe the market will start weeding out PhD programs with poor placement records.

Anonymous said...

Bonjour 7:58,

As the song goes in the movie "Team America" (by the "South Park" boys): "America....fuck yeah!"

Yes, we are at the center of the physical and philosophical universe. (Who else could claim the title?)

Gotta run; it's time for my daily McDonald's hamburger and Starbuck's latte. Fuck yeah!

Anonymous said...

Could be wrong, but my sense is that "average" jobs often get more applications (though not from this/last year's crop of hotshots) precisely because they're seen as average, and folks think they stand a better shot. The hotshots and the rookies make up the majority of applicants to the "better" jobs.

So it's a matter of picking your battle: compete with a larger applicant pool that doesn't include hotshots, or compete with a smaller applicant pool that does.

(Insert here customary caveats -- no less true for being customary -- about over-simplifications, personal preferences, etc.)

rock and roll for president said...

350 applications for Sweet Briar is scary, though I think this job is a *little* more desirable than some are giving it credit for (it is a 3-3 in Virginia, which many think of as being a decent place to live (close to the Northeast etc)).

Some random questions about the spring market: for a decent tenure track job in the Spring JFP, say James Madison University or East Carolina, about how many applications will there be? How many applications for a decent VAP (say, a 3-3 load or better)? Are the quality of the applicants that much worse overall? If one hasn't defended yet, this can kill you in the Fall...what about the spring?

Anonymous said...

Could be wrong, but my sense is that "average" jobs often get more applications (though not from this/last year's crop of hotshots) precisely because they're seen as average, and folks think they stand a better shot. The hotshots and the rookies make up the majority of applicants to the "better" jobs.

Notre Dame got 400+ applications, and that's a pretty sweet job.

Philosophy Prof said...

Uuummmmmm.... Sweet Briar has really smart students and small classes and lots of tradition and old buildings. If I had to bet I would say that a lot of hotshots applied for that job, esp. given the data on the Leiter blog (where the fancy Leiteriffic people are in many cases getting/taking jobs at satellite state campuses). My thought here mostly is that it's important to be realistic about what counts as a good job.

p.s. re: the two-body challenge: there are a lot of people in line on every campus, where tt-profs have partners who are waiting in the wings for something to open up, and the deans have to have some tie-breaker to decide where the very limited resources go, and the tie-breaker is going to have to be something big like the partnet's counter-offer from another place (where there is a threat to leave). DO NOT count on a campus making your partner a tt-offer in addition to your own tt-offer. There is a backlog of folks that the college is going to try to retain first, and the resources are unbelievably limited (at least at public schools).

Anonymous said...

Someone at Sweet Briar sent an email to my advisor back in November or December saying that no one at my department was getting an interview, and it was largely the cover letter issue. They wanted cover letters addressing various parts of their carefully-crafted ad. I actually had a cover letter that included significant information, so there must have been something else lacking in mine.

I may not have sent syllabi. I usually haven't unless the ad asks for it or unless something leads me to think showing strength in teaching a certain subject would really increase my chances. I guess I'd better rethink that reluctance to include syllabi.

I would have been happy with the Sweet Briar job. I would consider it one of the top 20 LAC jobs this year (of the TT ones, anyway).

Anonymous said...

Not quite sure what counts as a "satellite state campus", but as far as I can figure it, no one has taken any such jobs, yet. For example, all of the Cal States strike me as indepedent universities, some with graduate programs. Maybe you have something else in mind with the classification.

Anonymous said...

I realize that at this point for many of us any job looks attractive, but would you really want to have as your colleagues a group of people who would rule out a potential colleague completely because he/she didn't send a fucking adequately detailed cover letter? How superficial can one be? How many great applications got passed over because the applicant hadn't taken the time to stroke the SC's ego and perhaps instead spent more time on the substantive parts of the application?

Anonymous said...

Sweet Briar asked for "evidence of excellence in teaching," which I take to mean statement of teaching philosophy, one or more syllabi, and student evaluations. Any other thoughts about how to parse that (or similar) phrases?

I sent two syllabi and complete evals from two courses, and still not no interest. I feel bad ragging on them because they were nice enough to provide useful info to candidates, so KUDOS TO SWEET BRIAR for being helpful to those of us on the market, but I know the VA-DC-MD area quite well, and while I applied and would have been happy to get hired, it wasn't anything like my ideal job, because it's a sleepy little place where I'd be afraid I'd go and die. Does that mean it's a bad job? No, just that "good" and "bad" are very relative in that respect. I'd rather a 4-4 load with big classes at a state school to a 3-3 load with tiny classes at a sleepy old school for FFVs. De gustibus . . .

Anonymous said...

USA! USA! USA! We're #1...ha ha.

Anonymous said...

I share several of the complaints about Sweet Briar's suggestion that detailed letters are more appealing than short letters. I would have thought the opposite and was advised to keep 'em short. WTF?!

Let's look at their job ad:

"Sweet Briar College seeks tenure-track Assistant Professor for a position beginning in Fall 2008. Course load of 3/3 with all levels of undergraduate teaching expected. While the area of research specialty is open, candidates should be prepared to teach broadly in the history of philosophy. Some knowledge of the analytic tradition would be welcome. The ideal candidate will be committed to teaching in a small, liberal arts college setting. Ph.D. in hand by date of hire. Send dossier, including at least three letters of reference, evidence of excellence in teaching, and a brief writing sample. . . "

Evidence of teaching excellence I take to include teaching evaluations, student comments, descriptions of course TAUGHT, and a letter by a faculty member who has observed you. Why in the hell would a teaching statement or syllabi of courses one would like to teach someday be evidence of teaching EXCELLENCE? Anyone can write of those last two and suck as a teacher. Perhaps it was syllabi from courses one has taught? Again, I can have a great looking syllabus and suck in the execution of it.

What were applicants supposed to address in the letter? Probably they were referring to the areas of teaching they were looking for: history of philosophy and knowledge of the analytic tradition. But isn't that what the AOS/AOC and courses one has taken supposed to be a record of?

Maybe they were looking for the applicant to comment on his or her commitment to teaching in a "small liberal arts college setting". But how are you supposed to address that w/o trotting out all the usual cliches and pointless phrases about how much you value blah blah. Someone please tell me what I should say.

VAP said...

Af far as I can tell, SBC has one TT faculty member. An assistant prof at that. I am willing to bet he was not the only member of the SC. No college is going to let one assistant prof. make such a decision on his own. So there was probably some religion or English faculty on the search. I believe that detailed cover letters are the norm in those disciplines. So a one line letter probably looked really bad to them.

Job seekers need to remember that lots of SCs have non-philosophers making part of the decisions. I once had a telephone interview were I was asked questions not only by non-philosophy faculty, but by a student and the special assistant to the dean. It is a sad fact, but banal platitudes will go a long way with many such people.

Placement committees who are thinking solely in terms of what will impress them or people like them are doing their students a serious disservice.

Anonymous said...

I also received the SBC rejection note and my favorite part of it is that they wanted the whole stack of student evaluations, not just the summaries. Wow! They must be real tree-haters. I couldn't imagine photocopying ~25 copies from the three courses I submitted summaries from to each of the schools that asked for 'evidence of teaching excellence'. 25 * 3 * 50 schools = 3750. That's a lot more postage, a lot more work, and a lot more dead trees.... For something that most schools wouldn't even glance at.

Anonymous said...

I've been saying for a while that the cover letters are important (anonymously). If you have problems with making a fitting and specific cover letter, this is a good indication for them to not think that will be a good fit for their school/department. The whole blah, blah, stuff won't cut it.