Friday, June 26, 2009

Just wondering

I know.. we've been busy.. We'll back back for more good old fashioned bitching in a while.

Before that, it seems like a good way to expand the job search may be to look overseas. Over at the Brook's Blog (and on some of the philosophy listservs) there've been a some non-USA job postings. I've heard before that it's harder than you think to get the VISA or whatever you need for work permits in Europe. Somehow it seems like philosophy departments should be able to hire people without thinking about that stuff (but maybe that's just my American bias... you mean I have to listen to what another government says I can do?!?). Makes you feel like you should fool with international justicy stuff.

All that was to say, is it actually that hard to get work permits or whatever to take a position somewhere like the UK or Netherlands?

-- Second Suitor

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

In which I express my appreciation for, and also apologize to, Doug Portmore

In an earlier post, I approvingly quoted someone describing the journal wiki as sucky. Doug Portmore, who started the wiki, although I didn't know it at the time, left a gracious comment to that post. Maybe this is too little, too late, but I want to go on the record as saying that I like the journal wiki, and I find it really useful, and I consult it whenever I have a paper to submit. Although I wish there was an average-calculating grid, I don't think it sucks. I was being a jerk, and I apologize to Prof. Portmore for failing to properly appreciate his efforts. It was really cool of him to set it up, and not cool of me to say it sucks.

--Mr. Zero

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Helping The Journal Wiki

In comments, chrono asks,

how can we make the journal wiki not suck?

I don't know. One thing that would be nice is if there were a grid. That way it would be easy to tell how long this R&R took, and this A, etc. Wouldn't it be easy to make some kind of an HTML grid for each journal, and then add a column whenever you update it? And it would be nice if there were some sort of "average" function, that would tell you how long, on average, an initial decision takes. I know you can kind of eyeball it, but real math is better. I know I could do it myself, but it has always been my view that real math is best done by others.

What else would make the journal wiki not suck? And Chrono, if you wanted to make some specific remarks about what you think sucks about it, that would be cool, too.

Monday, June 22, 2009

APA Boycott?

Spiros at Philosopher's Anonymous points out several more APA fuckups, and suggests a boycott. I guess I'd like to boycott--stop wasting money on useless dues and effect social change. It's a win-win. But they have me by the balls since I'm hitting the job market again in the fall.

I mean this in all seriousness. How can we make the APA not suck?

--Mr. Zero

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

An exciting, thrilling post

Sorry about the light posting and mundane topics lately. I'm sure I don't have to tell you that things slow down for the summer. Between teaching more than my fair share of summer school, preparing for some conferences, doing some editing on old papers, watching at least one baseball game every day, and trying to avoid having to take a bartending job for the fall, I haven't had a lot of time to devote to blog writing. I've even resorted to shamelessly hijacking STBJD's topics. I've got a couple of meatier posts in the hopper, but they're not ready to go yet. Please bear with us.

--Mr. Zero

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

A boring, mundane question

When you send a paper to a friend for comments, does etiquette demand that you double-space?

--Mr. Zero

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Another Batman post

I want to follow up STBJ's post with a couple quick points of my own. I continue to be disappointed in Leiter's stance concerning the publius outing. I recognize that Leiter has reason to be sensitive, since he seems to be a lightning rod for vicious, personal, anonymous criticism.*

Leiter continues to defend Whelan's outing of publius, on the grounds that publius had attacked Whelan several times. But it seems to me that whether the attacks were fair and whether the perpetrator can be held accountable for them, are far more important than whether the attacks were perpetrated under a pseudonym. And I think it's clear that publius's attack on Whelan was fair, and that publius himself can be held accountable in spite of the pseudonym. And what seems to be falling through the cracks in this discussion is that publius's attack on Whelan was not publius's. Publius quotes and provides links to two other critical posts, one from Volokh and one from The Anonymous Liberal. It was Volokh who criticized Whelan's point, and The Anonymous Liberal who called Whelan a hack; publius merely acknowledged that Volokh and A.L. were right. So, why out publius, and not The Anonymous Liberal? (Volokh, of course, blogs under his own name.)

In comments here, Jamie rightly points out that anonymity and pseudonymity often cloak abuse, and Leiter complains that such abuse is so common that it contravenes any proposed norm in favor of cloaked speech. I don't see it. I think we can maintain a nuanced view according to which there is no protection for cloaked speech that is also abusive, while simultaneously recognizing the right to privacy and autonomy for non-abusive anonymous and pseudonymous bloggers.

--Mr. Zero

*Part of that is, I think, his own doing. He does not tend to take criticism well, even when it isn't especially vicious. I suspect this, in conjunction with his position as editor of the PGR, makes him an attractive and amusing target for bullies. When I was a kid, I got some good advice about how to deal with bullies: don't be a fun target for bullies. If you're not fun to pick on, bullies won't pick on you.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Who knew

Cruising about the blogosphere I noticed 'leaving academia' (let's not read too much into that... just thinking about some upcoming blog posts) has a list of people who left academica and did alright. I found this gem:
1. Miuccia Prada. This is the academic-leaver that can make us all proud. As the head of the Prada fashion house, Dr. Prada has a Ph.D. in political science.

Say what?

-- Second Suitor

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Bruce Wayne is the mask Batman wears

Over at Obsidian Wings two of their pseudonymous bloggers, Hilzoy and Publius - both professors at different institutions - have recently had their identities outed against their wishes - both by people whose arguments they had criticized in blog posts. And while Hilzoy's outing seemed less driven by retribution for the criticism than the more recent and much more vicious outing of Publius, both outings were unnecessary and unwarranted by the criticism which elicited the revealing of their true identities.

Anonymity and pseudonymity - I take it the two are distinct - are important to this blog and to many of its readers. Most of us here want to protect our true identities for various reasons, but (probably) mostly to do with lack of job security and the critical (or revealing) nature of many of our posts. The pseudonyms many of us adopt allow us to speak more freely and truthfully than we otherwise would were we afraid that doing so would damage our (low) standing in the profession, would incur retribution from those we criticize, or would reveal something to our colleagues or family we wouldn't want to otherwise reveal. And, I take it this is part of the point Publius makes in response to his outing.

Now, as Hilzoy hints at in her outstanding post addressing Publius' outing, there's no reason to think that simply adopting a pseudonym or remaining anonymous is itself an expression of a desire to remain unaccountable for what one says or provides a license to act irresponsibly. And though many do want to be unaccountable for what they say on the internet so they can act irresponsibly, I think that so long as the reasons for blogging pseudonymously are those in the above paragraph, I'm with Hilzoy when she says, "I think there is a presumption that people should be able to decide for themselves what facts about themselves to reveal; and that decent people should respect this, absent some compelling reason not to."

Brian Leiter, one of the more ardent critics in the philosophy blogosphere of anonymity and its abuse on the internet, has tackled this general issue before and more recently has updated an old post in response to the outing of Publius. In the former, he remarks, "That someone chooses to blog anonymously creates no moral or legal obligation for anyone else to honor that choice." In the latter, Leiter states (while also acknowledging how reprehensible he finds Publius' outer intellectually), "[He] can certainly understand why he would identify a blogger who repeatedly attacked him."

I think the first comment - in relation to the generation of moral obligation - is wrongheaded for reasons similar to those Hilzoy gives above and for others. She states, "By outing someone, you are deciding, on that person's behalf, to incur whatever consequences outing that person might have. If you don't know whether or not the [circumstances generating the reasons for someone's blogging pseudonymously] obtain, you ought to err on the side of caution, absent a strong reason for outing the person in question." In other words, the reasons for outing someone's identity (taking into account the consequences of such an outing) should outweigh the reasons to not reveal their identity - reasons I take to be tied up with a more general respect for the wishes and projects of others.

And, I think, ceteris paribus one should respect the wishes and projects of others, and to allow them 'to decide for themselves what facts about themselves to reveal' to others. Of course, the scales can tip in favor of revealing someone's identity, but, along with Hilzoy, I think there should at least be a presumption in favor of not doing so since, generally, the reasons for respecting the wishes, projects, and decisions of others will outweigh the reasons for outing that person. You may not want to call this an obligation, but I think it's close enough.

This is why I find Leiter's second comment, in effect sympathizing with Publius' outer, disheartening. Of course - as we all know - Leiter is often the target of unfair, irresponsible, and vicious attacks from anonymous (and otherwise) sources on the internet (I even, regrettably, linked to what may have been perceived to be such an attack on Leiter in the form of a survey; that was a mistake on my part). Maybe this is why he says he can understand why this person outed Publius' identity. But, the outing in this case was especially egregious as it was not prompted by a vicious, unfair, or irresponsible attack (read here). The outing was done with the intent of damaging Publius, not in response to anything of substance in the original criticism. It was internet bullying, nothing more, nothing less, and there is no reason to sympathize with the outer whose ideas were the brunt of the original criticism.

More generally (and separate from anything Leiter says), I think that outing someone's identity who chooses to remain anonymous or pseudonymous - and who behaves responsibly - is not something to be cheered, or to be shrugged off even if there is no damage incurred by the outing. There are many reasons to blog under a pseudonym and they are important to those of us who do so. And so long as those reasons have nothing to do with being unaccountable for or irresponsible in what we post, I think these reasons should place strong considerations in favor of respecting the desires of certain bloggers to remain pseudonymous.


Saturday, June 6, 2009

Head in the sand

Naturally, I'm interested in how well colleges are doing as I'm going back over my job materials for the fall, so I took a quick look around at some recent stuff from the Chronicle for Higher Ed here and here... The sky is falling.

Some stuff:

In a span of a few days last week, UCSD's share of budget reductions proposed for University of California mushroomed to approximately $90 million from $30 million, Spector said. UCSD's budget is $2.3 billion.

Florida Atlantic University will lay off 30 workers... leave 140 jobs vacant, and drop 45 majors as it attempts to slash $16.7 million from its budget

The University of North Carolina System is bracing for additional layoffs as a proposed 11% budget cut goes before the state legislature.

But that's all general stuff... We knew schools were hurting... None of this is philosophy specific so...

--Second Suitor

Friday, June 5, 2009

I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take it anymore!

I've been following this thread at Leiter the last couple of days. It's the same old song about how terrible the editorial procedures are at philosophy journals, and how other disciplines would run their editors out of town on a rail for practices that we consider to be especially responsible. Practices such as egregiously long review times and comment-free rejections. A number of people have rightly pointed out that we shouldn't tolerate this kind of behavior.

But--and I mean this in sympathetic, unchallenging way--I don't see what choice we have. If every journal is terrible, what alternative to tolerating their behavior do we have? Short of not publishing at all, I mean.

I guess the journals wiki is a start, but is it having an impact? Are journals allowing the wiki to affect their editorial procedures?

--Mr. Zero

P.S. It was also suggested that journals should charge authors for submitting articles. I think this would be a terrible idea. I agree that such a plan would definitely cut down on the number of submissions. However, I don't see why it would cut down on bad submissions; it would cut down on submissions from the non-wealthy.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Complaint box

Sorry about the untimeliness of this post. I've been on vacation. But I'm back, and I'm in summer school.

In comments to this post, anon 5:56 raises an objection, writing,
Oh good god.

We have had this same discussion re every piece of the application: cv, writing sample, teaching statement, etc., and we have had it ad nauseum...

I'm just so fucking sick of tinkering with the various parts of my application that just thinking about it makes me want to vomit, and then drink until I vomit again, and then gag myself until I vomit one more time, just for good measure.
Frankly, I completely agree. I know we've been over this stuff a million times (though I thought the particular issue of narrow v. broad in research interests was a new angle on an old problem). I'm sick of it, too, and this whole thing makes me want to throw up.

However, I know I'm not alone in preparing to go through this nauseating process again in the fall, and although I don't want to stifle expressions of frustration, I also want to figure out how to make myself appealing to search committees. Because as of right now, I seem to be unappealing to them.

In closing, I am also in wholehearted agreement with this, from the same comment:
I'm sure some dipshit will tell me that my attitude is the reason I haven't landed and probably won't land a job. Ever. In this field or any other. In this or any other possible world. So I think I'll just preemptively tell that dipshit to kiss my ass.

--Mr Zero