Saturday, June 28, 2008

Too Smart to Fight, Too Smart to Kill for You

From the Post:
[Danielle Allen] boasts two doctorates, one in classics from Cambridge University and the other in government from Harvard University, and won a $500,000 MacArthur "genius" award at the age of 29. Last year she joined the faculty of the [Institute for Advanced Study]. . . .
God damn. And here I am, going back and forth on whether to put my grade school AV club on my CV.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Summertime, and the livin' is easy.

Those who know me well know that I'm kind of a judgmental bastard. (Okay, those who don't know me all that well have probably figured it out as well.) Bearing this in mind, prepare yourself, gentle reader, to be ranted at.

Okay, so you know how you feel like punching non-academic people in the throat when they tell you how lucky you are that you get summers off? (Right. It's just me here, with the punching. Pft. Whatev.) Flexible schedule? Sure. Time off? Fuck off. Summers are when I can actually get some damn work done.

So I've been finding myself increasingly enraged lately by the few dipshit academics I come across who actually do take their summers off. This isn't just sour grapes; I think these assholes are giving the rest of us a bad name. You want summers off? Become a fucking elementary school teacher. (Lord knows, those people actually deserve their summers off--I'd lose my shit a week in if I had to spend 6+ hours a day coralling hordes of shrieking proto-persons.) But you wanna be a university professor, earn your fucking keep already and contribute to society. Take a few weeks off like all the other grownups. Then write something that doesn't suck.


Wednesday, June 18, 2008

late nite, good times

If it weren't for tipsy, insomniatic nights I'd never finish the dissertation.

[but I'm a little perturbed by the fact the current song on my ipod is called 'little discouraged']

-- Second Suitor

APA website

I just want to give three cheers to the APA. The APA website looks way better than it used to (though you still get to lovely greyish site when you try to log on). And what's this? Paper submissions online and the promise that pretty soon we can even pay our dues online. ahhhh... If the APA can do it, kind of makes you wonder when departments will get around to online submissions.

Calendar Alert:
"Information regarding suite rentals for the upcoming Easter Meeting in Philadelphia will be available beginning August 15. Please contact Linda Smallbrook (lindas [at] at that time"

-- Second Suitor

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Said I've Been Crying, My Tears They Fell Like Rain

Anon 5:19 says, "I want to sleep with one of my committee members. I make excuses to ask them about my work, just so I can go to their office. Is that normal?"

You know, this reminds me of the time my friend Steve--an all-round awesome guy--dared me to do a shot of Tabasco sauce. There was this little voice in the back of my head saying, Don't do the shot, asshole. This is a terrible idea. But I disagreed with the little voice. It seemed like an awesome idea to me.

Well, it turns out the little voice was right. After I did the shot, I spent the next half hour blinded by my own tears, trying to shove an entire loaf of bread into my burning mouth, but failing because I was dry-heaving constantly.

Anon 5:19, I'm going to say this is one of those times when you should listen to the little voice.

-- PGS

Update from PGOAT: The discussion of whether this is evidence of a vast Chick Conspiracy to take over the old boy's club by fucking our way to the top continues over at the Feminist Philosophers blog. My favorite comment:
[L]et me start off by asking whether anyone thinks male students in philosophy are advantaged in any way. (Gasp!)
Gasp! Never!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Sittin' down in right field, my glove off, collecting dandelions in my hat

After a year spent on one complete chapter and (approximately) 25 different iterations of the same 2-16 pages of an introductory chapter until finally, having realized the ridiculousness of my approach, I tamed the beast by eschewing minor alterations that were like so much putting of pine-scented-car-trees on a pile of shit in favor of just flushing the 25 iterations, starting with a clean bowl, and writing the thing the way it was supposed to be written from the get-go, it has become increasingly apparent that my precise odds of a successful foray onto the job market will be equal to slim to none.

And, in my better moments of self-deception, of which I am a master after years of philosophical study, I've convinced myself that I am fine with prolonging the stay in graduate school just a little longer; that I should take my new-found approach to the dissertation and finish it instead of futilely wasting my time on applications for the fall market.

But, as I have also become a master of avoiding actual work towards completing the dissertation, I have devised a way to make my possible entering of the job market-shit yield better odds for myself. I'll be forthright, it would require the cooperation of everyone on the market next year, but it's worth a shot:

Hows 'bout we all just agree to not really try all that hard on our applications for next year so as to level the playing field for us mediocre ABD's with no publications to their name?



Thursday, June 12, 2008

My, My, My, I'm so happy, I'm Going to Join a Band

You know, no doubt other disciplines have their caste systems too, since that's just the way of the world. But I wonder if they celebrate them as much as philosophers do?

-- PGS

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


Anon. 8:33 points us to the best bedtime story I've seen in a good long time, "Two-Year in Hell," by Richard Dean. An excerpt:
A pudgy, youngish man with curly blond hair walked into the room and set his backpack on a desk by the door. “What’s up?” he asked.

“Raymond’s thinking of applying for a job in Hell,” Patrick answered.

The pudgy man paused, looking at their faces to see if they were joking. After a few seconds, he asked, “Tenure track?”

“Naw,” Raymond answered. “Two-year.”

“Those can be rough. You just get settled in, you have to move again.”

“It could be converted to tenure-track after two years, though, if everything works out.”

Patrick raised his hand and said, “Which of course would mean spending more time in Hell.”

“Still,” the pudgy man said, “Tenure-track is tenure-track.”
Sweet dreams, kids.



Several readers have jumped on Leiter's "Rising Stars" post from this morning:
The Chronicle of Higher Ed used to run a feature each fall on "rising stars" focusing on newly hired junior faculty who were deemed the most promising, as evidenced in large part by the offers they accrued from leading departments. I used to suggest to them junior philosophy faculty on whom to focus, some of whom they ran stories on (such as Joshua Knobe at North Carolina, and Carolina Sartorio at Wisconsin), but now that the Chronicle is out of the business as it were, I'll just note briefly the three young philosophers whose talent and promise resulted in the most offers from leading departments this past year; they are:

Agnes Callard (PhD, Berkeley), AOS: Ethics, Philosophy of Action, Ancient Philosophy. She will be the Neubauer Family Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the University of Chicago.

Matthew Kotzen (PhD, NYU), AOS: Epistemology, Philosophy of Science. He will be Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Japa Pallikkathayil (PhD, Harvard), AOS: Moral and Political Philosophy. She will be Assistant Professor of Philosophy at New York University.

Particularly of note, apparently, is that none of these superstars have any publications to their name.

I am, as usual, vacillating between charmed and mortified at the collective need to let the fear and loathing hang out for all the world to see. But we aim to please here at PJMB. So have at 'er. What do y'all think?


Tuesday, June 10, 2008

That's interesting..

Let me preface this by saying that I recognize it's both too early to worry about interviews and this probably shows just how much more I need to do to get ready for the job market.  In response to Philo's question, one commenter said:
"Try to get them to ask some general questions, (what makes this project interesting? relevant? how would you explain this point to a non-specialist?  What kinds of publishable works can be extracted from this?  What comes next? etc.)"
I get why departments would be interested in your future research plans.  I can see how showing that you can frame your dissertation in different ways may further show that you can converse with philosophers outside your area.  But, I hope questions like 'what makes this project interesting or relevant' are mostly intended to get the interview started.  When I think about answering the question I get this image in my head of a 10 year old going, "so what .. so what .. so what .."  

Maybe you're just supposed to use the question as an opportunity  to jump from your project to your research plan.  Hopefully the interesting elements of your project will feature in the stuff you're about to work on.

-- Second Suitor

Sunday, June 8, 2008

And I said Doctor, Doctor

Hopefully at least some of us are coming up on the dissertation defense. In comments, Philo said:
I'm defending my dissertation pretty soon, and I was wondering if any of you out there with some (preferably successful) experience with this might offer some advice. Specifically, what do you recommend the soon-to-be defender do between submitting the diss to the committee and the actual defense?

Many thanks!
I'm guessing several non-dissertation related things or starting the process of working one of the chapters up into a paper. Anyone with actual experience know?

-- Second Suitor

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Changing horses midstream

I just wanted to bump Anon 11:54's question up top:
Hi everybody. I have a question that's very difficult to ask as it must remain super-duper anonymous, for obvious reasons. Has anybody out there ever heard of an ABD student switching directors within the same department? If you have heard of this, do you know the outcome? Can it ever "work"? Before you all start recommending the obvious solutions (be more more flexible...grin and bear it...) let me be very clear that in the case I have in mind, none of these options will work. We're talking end of the rope, last-ditch scenario here (with the one particular faculty member in question--not with others in the same department).
There are a lot of good comments replying to this in the comments to the last post. I'd be a little surprised if changing advisers hurt your job prospects, but it may prolong your stay in grad school.

I do think there's a case to be made for moderate grinning and bearing. Your advisers probably comprise the majority of people who will read your diss which gives you some reason to seriously take their concerns (however good you think they are) into account. And, so long as any non-dissertation related favors etc are more annoyances than hardships, doing the favor may help maintain positive relations.

That said, if you're thinking about this over the summer, you've been working on your diss for at least a year. One significant reason to change now (and this goes for all your advisers, not just your director) is that all your advisers have to sign off on your diss before you can get out of there. If the end of the rope has something to do with your director not being receptive/responsive/respectful of your ideas after a year+, it's just practical to get out of that situation.

-- Second Suitor

Monday, June 2, 2008

Opinions were like kittens.

I've had a fair amount of trouble describing what it's like to try to get ready for the job market while writing the dissertation. It's not really like a race since I'm not competing with anyone to get done. It's not really like a marathon. Don't get me wrong, it definitely takes perseverance. But at least in a marathon you know where you're going and what you're supposed to do next.

Maybe it's like juggling a lot balls in the air only one's really big and heavy (read: Diss). Focus on that one too much and everything else falls by the wayside. But that one's a lot harder to get back up if you let it fall too far.

Eh. I guess I need to keep working on it.

-- Second Suitor