Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Voicemail OCD

This time of year, I check my voicemail all the time. Obsessively. Even when I've been sitting next to my phone, without moving, for hours. It's times like these that I realize how fucking sick I am of being on the job market.

--Mr. Zero

Thursday, November 25, 2010

The Turkey King Lives!!!

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

--Mr. Zero

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Job Market Wiki

It seems that people are using the Phylo Wiki again this year. Is there anything else going on? I thought that it was a pretty good wiki last year. I like the RSS feeds, although they take some of the fun out of obsessively hitting the refresh button every 30 seconds.

--Mr. Zero

Thursday, November 11, 2010

What's the Best Journal for Junior Philosophers?

I've been thinking about which is the best journal that makes sense for ABDs, visiting faculty, and the untenured to submit to. It seems to me that many of the very best journals, such as Mind, Phil Review, and Phil Quarterly, are nevertheless terrible for who are just starting out, because they can take years to get back to you with a decision. (Although if you've got a really great paper, and a couple of years to go before you apply for tenure, it might make sense to submit to one of these journals. Only if.)

There are probably other journals that it makes no sense for junior people to submit to, and there are probably other reasons. (I guess I don't consider the low probability of acceptance by itself to be a reason not to submit.) But I am inclined to suspect that the best journal it makes sense for junior people to submit to is Noûs. Then maybe PPR and some others. I take it that the winner is going to be a "general" journal, because even the best specialist journals, like, say, Ethics, don't rise to the level the best general ones.

What say you, Smokers?

--Mr. Zero

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

New Web-Only Ads Are Not Being Dated

Dear APA,

Although you are updating the November web-only ads, you are not dating the updates. It's better when they are dated, APA. The dates help me know whether there's been an update without memorizing what the last ad was. It also helps me make year-to-year comparisons--how many ads were there at this time in 2009 or 2008, as compared to now? It's hard to tell if the updates are undated. And if you're not going to date the updates, you could at least change the date in the the "last updated on" announcement that appears in the upper-left corner of the page in big red letters. That would help a little.

Yours most sincerely,
Mr. Zero

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Embedded videos? Watch out now..

Sure it's about english, so it doesn't apply to us at all...

--Second Suitor

p.s. I picked it up from here: http://nagonthelake.blogspot.com/2010/10/so-you-want-to-get-phd-in-humanities.html (I figure if I'm bitching at my students about citing sources...)

Saturday, November 6, 2010

What I Just Told My Wife

Me: So you see all that (pointing at the Interfolio entries in our online finances)? Each one is a chance for me to get $50,000.

Wife: *Shrugs*

Me: It's like winning the lottery.

--Second Suitor

Friday, November 5, 2010

On being foreign and attending the APA

A pressing question from fellow Smoker, H:
I am a European postdoctoral philosopher, just returned from a conference in the United States. Given the dismal state of the job market in Europe (hardly any tenure-track positions), I am now trying to expand my line of vision to see if I can't get a position in the US. One of the attendees of the conference, an associate professor at an American university, encouraged me to attend the APA Eastern division meeting this winter. He said it was called the 'meat market', and that one could get into contact with people who were looking to hire, and that one could even learn about jobs that were not advertised in the APA jobs for philosophers. I am now applying to TT positions advertised in the jobs for philosophers, but I am wondering whether I would gain anything by attending the APA conference anyway, even if I did not get any invitations for interviews.

Also, the same associate professor mentioned that as a European, I would be in a somewhat disadvantaged position when applying to the US market.

Any thoughts?

My thoughts are: no interviews, no APA. The pickings will be few and far between for the jobs looking to schedule interviews at the conference. I might be wrong. About if being European places you at a disadvantage: I'm not sure about that. Surely departments would have to jump through a bit more hoops to hire you, but I don't think it would be a deal breaker were you already at the top of the list. Or, so I hope it wouldn't.

Anyone else want to weigh in and disagree, speak up in the comments.

-- Jaded Dissertator

How's This For an Idea

As you know, there are always a lot of annoying duplicate ads in the web-onlies and the November print edition of the JFP. Why not mark the new ads as new, instead of (or in addition to, whatever) listing the other editions in which each ad has been included. For crying out loud.

--Mr. Zero

November JFP

Is up. It seems to me that it's a little better than last year, in terms of the number of jobs. I haven't read it carefully, but Spiros estimates 30 or 40 new assistant-rank tenure-line jobs.


--Mr. Zero

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Why We Should Care About Women and Philosophy

A request was made in comments when this topic last arose for a discussion of why we should care about the difficulties faced by women in philosophy when everyone has it so rough. If it's tough on everyone, why does it matter if it happens to be tough on these particular people? I thought about it for a while, and at first I was disinclined to take the bait. But then I thought, what the hell. Maybe it's not obvious, even though it sort of seems like it is.

The reason why we should particularly care about women and ethnic minorities when everyone has it rough is this: women and minorities have it rough in all the ways white men do, and then a bunch more ways piled on top. We did some back-of-the-envelope math a couple of years ago, with clear results: the percentage of job market candidates who are women is equal to the percentage of hires that are women. Being a woman seems to be neither a net advantage nor a net impediment to getting a job in philosophy--once you've made it through grad school. This last part bears emphasizing: women face an especially obstacle-laden path to the Ph.D, and then are subject to no special benefit once they finish and are on the job market. This suggests that the female philosophers are as good (if they weren't, they'd get hired less often) and have it as rough the men (on the job market--rougher in grad school); it's just that there are way, way less of them (because they go to grad school less often and drop out more often than do men).

It's hard to get a job in philosophy even if you're a woman, and then there are all these dickheads thoughtless people calling to mind in an especially vivid way how much happier you'd be in a less male-dominated field. Read any of the posts at What is it Like to be a Woman in Philosophy. Nothing remotely like that has ever happened to me, but it happens to women all the time. Every female philosopher I know has several stories where someone has treated her abominably in a way that directly relates to her gender. Although this sometimes happens to men, too, it is not widespread. And you should ask yourself how much of that kind of shit you'd be willing to take before you started shopping around for a new profession. If you care about justice--if you care about whether people are being treated the way they ought to be treated--you care about this.

But you should also care about this if you care about philosophy in itself; if you care about discovering philosophical truth; if you care about reading insightful philosophy papers; if you care about being made aware of novel philosophical ideas; if you care about solving philosophical puzzles. We should want as many smart people as possible working in philosophy. But a prominent group of people are being systematically edged out. This is bad for the people who are being edged out--it's a serious injustice that I don't mean to minimize--but it's also bad for us men. It is as bad for us as the Negro-League era was for Major League Baseball. Think of it: in 1945, Jackie Robinson tried out for the Boston Red Sox, and the Red Sox did not sign him. So in 1946, when the Red Sox were losing the World Series in 7 games to the Cardinals, Jackie Robinson was playing for the Montreal Royals. This situation was, obviously, extraordinarily bad for black people who wanted to be professional baseball players. It was bad for Cool Papa Bell; it was bad for Josh Gibson; it was bad for Buck O'Neil. These players were victims of a profound injustice. But it was also bad for Ted Williams and Bobby Doerr, who were, to a lesser extent, also victims of this injustice. Women and minorities have actual philosophical contributions to make. Many of these contributions are going unmade because the people who would make them are being edged out of the profession before they have a chance to do it. It's not fair to them, and it's not good for us. It's bad for everyone.

--Mr. Zero

Monday, November 1, 2010

The Second Annual "I Hate Online Job Applications" Post

Because people were not hostile to the idea, and some people seemed genuinely curious about why I hate online job applications, here is your second annual post about why I hate online job applications.

1. The applications seemed better this year than last. There was more variation in the template or whatever, and I spent less time typing my CV over and over into the same text-boxes and forms.

2. Nevertheless, I became irate several times during the process. "FUCK YOU, [school at which I desperately want to work]!!!!!," I shouted.

3. It took a really long time for me to complete them. It took just as long to do the online applications as it did to complete the snail-mail applications. But since I was doing a bunch of snail-mail applications anyway, it would have been quicker to just do them all that way.

4. So, part of it is that it's really annoying to have two completely different procedures. And it adds an unnecessary layer of complexity to my mail-merge documents.

5. It is also more work for my references. As I understand it, many schools who conduct online applications contact your references directly to ask them to upload their letters themselves. This seems to me to be unnecessarily annoying to the people who have agreed to write letters on my behalf.

6. As someone mentioned in comments somewhere (I am too lazy to find the reference in order to give due credit to the anonymous commenter who mentioned it. plus, the world series is about to start), it is annoying when there are arbitrary limits on the size of the files. I have a huge number of teaching evaluations. Although the file is large, it is not giant. Nevertheless, I had to spend some time resizing the file. Luckily for the search committee, this makes the document less readable.

7. As someone else mentioned in comments somewhere (again, too lazy), it is also annoying to stitch a bunch of files together so that this one search committee can.... Um.... I don't know what the point of that is. It seems like it would make things tougher on them, since it would be harder to tell where in my one or two PDFs my writing sample is. Or my teaching statement. Or whatever.

8. As I said last year, I believe in online applications. They are the future; snail mail is the past. But we can do better than this. There should be a central website, managed by some organization who plays roughly the role of the APA but which does it with competence, to which we would upload our documents. We would then specify which documents were to go where. This one-at-a-time bullshit is for the birds.

--Mr. Zero

The 2010 Job Market So Far

I'm having a hard time whipping up enthusiasm, either positive or negative, about the job market this year. One reason is that there aren't very many jobs I'm especially excited about. (Although I would be totally, completely stoked about any tenure-track job offer; there just isn't much in the way of "dream school" or "dream location" jobs this year. At least that I have a nonzero probability of getting.) Another, I think, is that there are so few jobs that it's hard to feel like I have a serious chance at getting anything. Looking at this JFP, it is simply not possible to send out a significant number of applications. Like last year. These facts seem to me to explain why I'm not feeling very positive. The other thing is, I feel like my file is much, much stronger than it has been in the past. I've had some significant professional accomplishments over the past year, and for the first time I feel like a legitimate contender for a tenure-line job (or, I would be if it weren't for the fact that there are no jobs and a billion people on the market who would normally have been hired in the last three years but weren't). So I don't feel particularly bad about things this year, either. I feel very medium.

The other thing is that I've blogged my way through the process before. Looking at the numbers, we've clearly got a lot of readers who weren't with us last year, but still. As a job market old-timer, I don't feel like I have a fresh perspective on this. It's sort of hard for me to believe that anyone is the least bit interested in reading what "Mr. Zero" thinks about anything; it's all the more difficult for me to believe that there is an audience for a second annual post about how much I hate the online-application process. On the other hand, maybe there is an audience for this, and maybe the whole point of being an anonymous blogger is that I get to write about whatever I want, whether anybody is interested in reading it or not. So maybe there's an "I hate online job applications, part II" coming up.

So anyways, that's kind of where I'm at right now, and that's kind of why I haven't been posting much, even though this is our big time of year, readership-wise.

--Mr. Zero