Re: "It hasn't reached enough of a crisis point yet"

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Of course a dissuasive effort is also a persuasive effort, but "dissuasive" is more specific about what the attempted persuasion concerns, and also sounds better. Don't you think? I also like suadeo, "suave", and "suasive", as in "suasive force". Who wouldn't want to be moved by the suasive force, not of arguments, but of considerations?


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 12:10 AM
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Did you steal this from me?


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 12:14 AM
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I don't think "steal" is the apt term, precisely.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 12:18 AM
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Ok, ok, you're right, steal is a bit harsh. I was just wondering if we were independently reading two-week-old depressing articles and then posting them.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 12:19 AM
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creative homage?


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 12:19 AM
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Anyway, yes, I got it from you.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 12:21 AM
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I didn't even notice it was two weeks old! You're fired!


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 12:21 AM
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also, not using the epsom salts? I want them so i can make a sensorty deprivation tank, pls send me yours kthanx


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 12:23 AM
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6,7: I'd be an awful blogger.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 12:25 AM
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If that's some kind of commentary, (), not only are you fired you're banned.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 12:26 AM
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Especially since I always hit enter before I'm done with my comment. I meant to also say: I feel very special to have inspired a post. It's a tiny moment of fame in a tiny corner of the internet.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 12:26 AM
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That's more like it.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 12:28 AM
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Smile on me, Neb!!


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 12:28 AM
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10: The only commentary intended was remarking on the rightness of firing me.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 12:28 AM
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This was posted elsewhere earlier?


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 12:32 AM
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Just clicked through. I'm so, so tired of Thomas Hart Benton. So tired. Whether or not he's right on any particular point.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 12:33 AM
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I like this too

First- and second-year Ph.D. students in, say, English literature may not face the same aching course load or backstabbing competition as their friends in medical and law schools, but they have a longer haul ahead.

Humanities students just don't do that much work. Or compete with each other. How could they? That's why they're in the humanities!


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 12:36 AM
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15: Facebook. (Does that count as off-blog communication?)

16: Me too. He makes me cringe. Nonetheless, the data in the article is interesting.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 12:37 AM
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Oh, it's Patricia Cohen. No wonder that article is so fucking terrible. Occasionally, she's able to rise to the level of incoherence, but overall she's a just an awful reporter. That's probably why she writes about the humanities.

I'm actually not in a bad mood, really.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 12:38 AM
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You kids and your facebook. I don't even have a lawn, but if I did it's facebook account would be set up to reject all friend requests.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 12:45 AM
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its

I'm going to be offline for almost all of the next few days so I'm trying to get all my commenting in here.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 12:46 AM
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Humanities students just don't do that much work. Or compete with each other. How could they? That's why they're in the humanities!

I think we can say that their course load, at least, is not one of their biggest problems, compared to, yes, medical and law students. Obviously they have other problems as the article explains.

Oh, it's Patricia Cohen. No wonder that article is so fucking terrible. Occasionally, she's able to rise to the level of incoherence, but overall she's a just an awful reporter. That's probably why she writes about the humanities.

What makes this article worse than the many, many, many articles about the same thing in the "Chronicle" and "Inside Higher Ed"?


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 12:54 AM
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My first year I lived in a dorm with law students. They were not doing more work than we were and they admitted that quite openly. I have no complaint about med students. I have complaints about careless assumptions.

As for the second question, I don't know if this is worse than other articles on the topic, aside from the assumptions that I don't think you'd get in an article in those other places, where they can assume a fair amount of familiarity with higher ed. But I've read a bunch of her articles over the years and they really have been pretty bad.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 12:59 AM
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And just to beat the dead horse more, you could get away with saying courseloads over the whole degree are less of an issue for "Ph.D. students in, say, English literature" but that's because after the first and second years there aren't many courses. To point to the part of the program that's actually the most course-heavy is a sign that you don't, say, have any real familiarity with the subject you're writing about.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 1:08 AM
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Age 35, debt $23k ? 30 years of schooling at compound interest, that's not bad. Under leveraged !


Posted by: Econolicious, leveraged education | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 1:08 AM
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Yeah, I didn't realize that specified "first and second-year". That's what makes it stupid.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 1:09 AM
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Also, since the lawyers will be waking up soon, I don't mean to imply that the law students weren't working hard. There seemed to be a culture of not admitting to working as hard as they were, but especially around exam times it was clear that they were working pretty hard. But measure by coursework they weren't doing as much. (This was a first year to first year comparison.)


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 1:34 AM
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She appears not to know that a medical degree isn't, actually, a doctorate. Oh: Patricia Cohen is a culture reporter for the Times. Brooks in drag, then, I suppose.

In the future, uplifted fueltank bacteria scudding in slimemould colonies in the hydrocarbon oceans of Titan will be as different from us as we are from them....but they will hate David Brooks.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 3:01 AM
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The market for Emacs is going explode. You heard it here first.


Posted by: W. Breeze | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 3:21 AM
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Nine years seems a bit excessive. The US PhD students I know get their degrees in the sciences in 5-6 years, so something very wack in the humanities.

Should supply equal demand? I've never seen my PhD as being about future employment as an academic, though I've come to realise that is a common perception and desire.


Posted by: W. Breeze | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 3:37 AM
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Just clicked through. I'm so, so tired of Thomas Hart Benton.

THB the American regionalist painter? THB the 19th century senator nicknamed "Old Bullion"? There's another one?


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 5:49 AM
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http://blogs.wsj.com/law/2008/01/16/law-blog-qa-kirsten-wolf-law-school-naysayer/

After 9 years, only 23k in debt?


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 6:46 AM
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31: Maybe the article would answer your question?!?!?


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 7:59 AM
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1: Who wouldn't want to be moved by the suasive force, not of arguments, but of considerations?

I generally think of considerations as having weight, while arguments have force.

The rhetorical point seems otherwise right, though: when I want you to do something, I point out considerations to which you should give weight. When he wants you to do something, he makes arguments, but you should remain unmoved by their force.


Posted by: widget | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 8:04 AM
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31: Ah, I missed that. I thought it was Pannapacker all the way down. What a stupid pseudonym. Both Thomas Hart Bentons suck.


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 8:22 AM
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You know, looking over my cohort, it seems like the path to success is thus:
1. Get a BA from a big land-grant university
2. Get an entry-level professional or para-professional job.
3. Get the company/institution to pay for a very specialized master's degree in exactly the field you are in.
4. Get lots of promotions.
5. Profit!

Sigh. If youth knew, if age could.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 9:50 AM
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For mine it seems to be:

1. Go to 'old' British university
2. Do a Masters, but fail to get a PhD place.
3. Take consolation 'City' job.
4. Get promotions.
4. Laugh uproariously at the idiots who stayed on for the PhD.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 9:54 AM
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I don't understand the apparent popularity of postgraduate stuff. I mean, sure, if someone enjoys or has an aptitude for a career that requires a post-graduate degree, go for it. But it seems that everyone I know is like that. My parents and aunts and uncles used to ask me fairly often if I ever thought about grad school. (No. It's not required for any writing-like jobs that I can think of. Admittedly there's a certain degree of credentialism that comes with a journalism degree if I ever want to go back to that, but I'm pretty sure experience and recognition count for far more. If I ever fall into or get interested in some profession that requires another degree, of course, I'd have to reconsider this, but nothing comes to mind these days.) I don't know how many of my aunts and uncles went to something postgraduate, but probably more than half. Two of my closest friends from college are in grad school or were last time I talked to them, along with my closest friend from high school. My sister has two more diplomas than I do, and she's three years younger than me and a lot less geeky.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 10:12 AM
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Does "City" in 37 mean "finance and related"?


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 10:22 AM
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Among my friends from undergraduate study, it wasn't actually that common. I think four of us, out of a fairly large group of people I knew, went on to post-graduate study, and all of those four had ambitions to be an academic. One is quite a successful academic, I'm probably not going to be one at all [although I hold out some slim hope], and the other two left their academic subjects for better paid/more interesting employment.

Among the people I met at 'graduate school', the ones who left (or were pushed) at the end of the masters stage are the ones who are materially best off [and also the less miserable].


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 10:23 AM
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re: 39

Yes.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 10:23 AM
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It's not required for any writing-like jobs that I can think of.

Depending on where you are, you can use the connections it gives you to get jobs. And then you also know a big group of other journalists. Basically, networking.

Of course, the friend whose experience I'm talking about just left NYC, after a series of editorial positions at arts publications, to move in with her boyfriend in Boston. Implosion of the publishing field. Etc. Academia isn't the only bad place to be these days.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 10:27 AM
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I can tell already that this thread is going to make me depressed . . . and I never even went to graduate school.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 10:37 AM
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I look forward to being 35 and 23K in debt.

Only 23K in debt? How lucky ducky is that?

m, ask my ex-


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 10:41 AM
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It's 23K more than my current debt level.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 10:43 AM
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Me too. And I finished the damn thing.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 10:44 AM
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42
Depending on where you are, you can use the connections it gives you to get jobs. And then you also know a big group of other journalists. Basically, networking.

Ah, thank you. When I wrote "I'm pretty sure experience and recognition count for far more", I couldn't think of the appropriate word for what I was trying to say, but settled for "recognition". You're right, "connections" is more apt. But regardless, journalism school is obviously not the only way, is probably the way that requires the most time, money and commitment, and might not even be the best way. (People asked me when I moved down to DC if I wanted to get into politics. No. I knew more political insiders when I was in Vermont than I do now.)


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 10:46 AM
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I think about getting an MFA. Should I get an MFA?


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 10:47 AM
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NO


Posted by: OPINIONATED THOMAS HART BENTON | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 10:57 AM
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Americans' per capita non-mortgage debt = $12k

Per household = $30k


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 11:00 AM
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I generally just cannot believe that people pursue a PhD in something like literature or history without either being an independently wealthy aristocrat like the great scholars and poets of old, or being a self-admitted societal outcast of some sort (this includes the only PhD seekers I know, who are Marxist history types).


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 11:01 AM
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I can't access the linked article, so I'm not totally sure what this post is about. Is the argument that PhDs in literature or history are not considered good financial investments?

I considered pursuing a PhD in history, but I liked my undergraduate history courses less and less as they became more and more advanced. I realized at some point along the way that all I really liked doing was reading history books; the rest of it was boring. And I was concerned that grad school might involve too much of the rest of it.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 11:07 AM
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I'm always confused about how anyone is *surprised* that the situation for humanities PhDs is such a disaster. I know that and I never considered going to a humanities grad school.

Furthermore, when I was considering going to (math) grad school my advisor said point blank that if I wanted to be a researcher I should go to one of the 5 best schools and that outside those schools he recommends that people go into industry not academia (fortunately in math that's an option). I thought he was exaggerating (and still do to some extent), but certainly if I didn't have solid evidence that I was in the top 50 math students in the country in my year I would not have had any illusion that I would be a successful researcher. And math academia is nowhere near the disaster that is the humanities academy.

Perhaps the problem with the humanities is that it's harder to see early on where you stack up and so way more people are mistaken about their own abilities?


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 11:12 AM
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38: I've bitched about this before, and it may be my own particular dysfunction, but I have no idea how a bright college graduate identifies an entry-level job that (god, I sound like such a tool) gets them on to a career ladder without a graduate degree. People without graduate degrees have 'career'-type jobs, sure, but they all seem to have backed into them sideways, or through connections.

If you're not the sort of person who thinks of yourself as good at scrambling into that sort of thing, grad school is a very attractive way of getting a foothold in the working world -- even if it's not really a good idea, it appeals to people who are out of other ideas.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 11:16 AM
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OH THE HUMANITIES!


Posted by: OPINIONATED HERBERT MORRISON | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 11:16 AM
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54: And I'm more talking about the vocational and semivocational grad degrees there, like law, medicine, journalism, public policy, that sort of thing.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 11:19 AM
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53. Slightly tangential, but in math and engineering, new phds mostly go into industry.


Posted by: BA | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 11:22 AM
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54 is exactly right. It wasn't obvious to me that there were any jobs I could have gotten with my undergraduate degrees that I couldn't have gotten straight out of high school. (I'm sure there were, but I wasn't and still am not sure exactly what they were.) Coming out of law school, that was no longer true.

(In fact, to my recollection, whenever I talked with anyone (professors, advisors, etc.) about things I could do with my degrees, "go to graduate school" was the first answer, and I'm pretty sure they didn't mean it as a joke.)

I have an economics degree, and I know people who've gotten great jobs with undergraduate economics degrees, but there isn't any clear-cut set of jobs for which you're suddenly eligible to apply on graduation.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 11:22 AM
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Come to think, does anyone have an idea of how a nineteen-year-old highschool graduate would go about finding a job in NYC? Does Craigslist have want ads? There's always temp agencies, but any other ideas? I have a niece who may be sleeping on our sofabed for a couple of months trying to find work and save money for college.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 11:27 AM
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Craigslist has want ads, yes. That's how I got most of my dotcom jobs.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 11:28 AM
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I heartily second 54. Grad school is also a way to get somewhere geographically you wouldn't otherwise have had access to. Move from St. Louis to somewhere on one of the coasts right after undergrad? Theoretically possible, sure, but in actuality, it would have been pretty damned hard to move somewhere I had no institutional or personal connections and to set up my life there with some crappy first job out of college.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 11:29 AM
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I generally just cannot believe that people pursue a PhD in something like literature or history without either being an independently wealthy aristocrat like the great scholars and poets of old, or being a self-admitted societal outcast of some sort (this includes the only PhD seekers I know, who are Marxist history types).

I definitely don't fit in the first category, so I guess it is the second?


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 11:31 AM
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58: After dropping out of graduate school, I got a job that I could have gotten while I was still in high school. I worked at jobs that didn't require any college for the next 10 years or so.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 11:33 AM
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My 15 year old son is smart but not brilliant, and I bet I could teach him enough law to pass the bar -- in the 75th percentile at least -- by the time he's 20. Probably sooner.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 11:38 AM
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And then he could get a job at a fast food place.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 11:40 AM
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For awhile some humanities phds went into strategy consulting. Dunno if this is still true - I think strategy consutling has contracted quite a bit across the board. Also dunno if it sounds like an attractive option to most phd students.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 11:41 AM
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64: For a kid with a knack for tests? Sure. Run him through the BarBri materials at home, going into more depth to make up for the fact that he wasn't prefamiliarized with the stuff by law school. Five years? I bet you could get him to passing in a year.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 11:41 AM
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but certainly if I didn't have solid evidence that I was in the top 50 math students in the country in my year

Was this from the Putnam Competition? That would've been good fun, I missed that sort of stuff after high school (the UK didn't really seem to have national competitions, probably because you were assumed to have all the competition that's worthwhile at Oxbridge anyway).

does anyone have an idea of how a nineteen-year-old highschool graduate would go about finding a job in NYC?

I'd say to apply to every store she can find. It's certainly how I got my first job after high school, and how my friends who graduated into the teeth of 2009 found jobs to keep afloat. Restaurant jobs usually have far too many applicants with experience (and it's more necessary), and it's the same with bar jobs.


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 11:41 AM
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self-admitted societal outcast of some sort

This includes just about everyone, doesn't it?


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 11:42 AM
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I'm not sure I understand the point of 64, even though I don't necessarily disagree with it. (Although: passing the bar has very little to do with being a good lawyer. (Neither does gonig to law school, although it surely helps.) Someone who learned the law purely from BarBri books would be in sad shape, I'd think. This all may be entirely irrelevant to your point--as I said, I'm not totally sure what the point was.)


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 11:44 AM
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I'd say to apply to every store she can find.

Retail's a good idea - she's pretty and personable, so interacting with the public works well. Funny, I'd thought of restaurants but retail hadn't occurred to me.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 11:45 AM
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The job that I got several years after graduation that ultimately led to my career(s) literally asked for an undergraduate Math degree. After having been in the job for a while (it was nothing very special) I asked the guy why he advertised it that way when there was manifestly no real need for that background. He said that he found that the ads yielded a reasonably bright and capable candidate pool but do not have better competing job prospects.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 11:45 AM
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72: Hah.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 11:46 AM
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but certainly if I didn't have solid evidence that I was in the top 50 math students in the country in my year I would not have had any illusion that I would be a successful researcher.

Measuring the 50 best math students in undergrad is not the same as measuring what it takes to be a successful researcher, however.

Everyone in my graduating PhD class (maybe 10 of us) has found successful academic jobs, and most are off the post-doc circuit, and we're not the top five schools. Most at second-tier research institutions, some at liberal arts colleges. So I think your advisor was unnecessarily melodramatic.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 11:46 AM
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71: for entry-level retail, be sure she finds something with commissions. The upside's a lot better--do well at it and you can make decent money. That's not really true at places that just pay a flat wage.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 11:48 AM
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The Putnam exam sucks and I've never solved a single problem or come anywhere close, and yet I was decently good at the creative side of research.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 11:48 AM
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75: I was thinking that -- I don't know that she's ever done it, but I bet she'd have a knack for sales. Someplace with commissions might work well for her.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 11:50 AM
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53
Perhaps the problem with the humanities is that it's harder to see early on where you stack up and so way more people are mistaken about their own abilities?

Maybe. Personally, I'd guess that they are aware they won't be making much money for a long time and they figure it's a worthwhile tradeoff because they like the field or profession, and it's a lot easier to not care about money when you're a college undergrad than when you're in your mid-thirties and have kids and a mortgage and stuff.

54, 56:
the vocational and semivocational grad degrees there, like law, medicine, journalism, public policy, that sort of thing.

I can't say for sure, but I think you can still work your way up the ranks in journalism and public policy without any fancy credentials. Obviously, all else being equal, a master's degree in those fields would make it easier, and working your ass off and just plain getting lucky matters too. But I got my job as a reporter with no credential stronger than a BA in English, and between that and experience I'm qualified for several different jobs in journalism and public policy, at least on paper.

59: Yes, that's how I got my current job, a Craigslist want ad. Can't complain about the experience.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 11:51 AM
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71: Yep! Plus, if it's a store she'd like anyway, it means she can get things for cheap. I know a couple friends who worked at Banana Republic after grad school, then used to the discount to buy real interview clothes and a professional wardrobe for half-price.

It'll hardly be a great living. I recall it typically running around $8 an hour (circa 2000-2002, so probably more like $9 now), which gave me about $1000-$1200 a month after tax withholdings. But that'll put a roof over your head and cover minimal expenses.

If she is a bit preppy / has that total cultural privilege thing going, I recommend making the most of it by applying to large designer flagship stores. If you're at a place like J.Crew or Polo, then you tend to get commissions that can add up to a more reasonable wage.


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 11:56 AM
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The job ... literally asked for an undergraduate Math degree. . . . He said that he found that the ads yielded a reasonably bright and capable candidate pool but do not have better competing job prospects.

Hmmm, that sounds like a smart employer, and how nice to find somebody who not only knows what they're looking for, but is looking for something that you can actually provide.

I would have been very excited to have an interaction like that.

(I actually like my job. This thread is just reminding me of my occasional nervousness about the fact that I'm not on any real career path and have no idea where I would look for work if I lost my current job)


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 11:57 AM
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64, 65
And then he could get a job at a fast food place.

Are you kidding? If you and he played your cards right he could be a celebrity. There must be some potential clients out there willing to hire a freakishly young lawyer.

80
This thread is just reminding me of my occasional nervousness about the fact that I'm not on any real career path and have no idea where I would look for work if I lost my current job

If it makes you feel any better, my dad has had about five different careers. ("Career" and "career path" seem like a amorphous terms. Does private law practice and working for a government agency in a different field of law count as separate careers? How about a high school principalship and a high school teaching job? Does it matter how many years they are separated by?) Climbing the corporate ladder within one organization or even industry is often not necessary.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 12:10 PM
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Nine years seems a bit excessive. The US PhD students I know get their degrees in the sciences in 5-6 years, so something very wack in the humanities.

Two big points, on this. (Not to say that something isn't wack in the humanities.)

Both of these are mentioned in the article, too. First, humanities graduate students almost always have to work for funding (this is not the case at some schools, but I think it's about 10 of them). This is generally not the case for science students, though I know some do teach. This takes up time and distracts you from focusing on your own work. Second, writing a dissertation is pretty different, work-wise, than working in a lab and getting a few papers out so that your professor can declare you done.* Now, I don't think it should be viewed as some sort of mystical process, but I do think it is more time-efficient to put your time in, so to speak, at a lab than it is at the solitary pursuit of writing, though of course there are disciplined people out there (but they're not the ones taking 9 years).

*Feel free to correct me if I'm totally wrong on how this works; I only have a few friends in the sciences and this seems to be how their degrees will be/were achieved. Nor am I in any way saying that science PhD's are easier; rather, just saying it's easier in the humanities to lose whole years to the "writing process" in a way that it would be hard to in a lab, where time is often accounted for quite concretely.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 12:16 PM
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easier in the humanities to lose whole years to the "writing process"

Is that a euphemism for "surfing the web"?


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 12:19 PM
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If it makes you feel any better, my dad has had about five different careers.

Heh, my dad has been self-employed for almost all of his adult life, doing a variety of different thing. While that is reassuring it is also part of why I have so little sense of what this thing called a "career path" would actually look like.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 12:19 PM
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Hm, reading my comment, I think maybe I just answered what's wack about the humanities. However, I really do think teaching - as much as it distracts from your own work at times - should be central to the experience.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 12:19 PM
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I have a niece who may be sleeping on our sofabed for a couple of months trying to find work and save money for college.

I don't think I'd recommend NYC as a place to save money for college while working an entry level job, although living rent free certainly helps.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 12:21 PM
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If she is a bit preppy / has that total cultural privilege thing going

No -- redneck/hick. But she's bright, so she may be able to pass after a pep talk on what she's passing as.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 12:22 PM
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87: Tell her to change her name to something panache-filled and memorable. For example, "Holly Golightly".


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 12:23 PM
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73, 80.1: Yeah, and it actually worked for both sides in the longer run in several instances.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 12:23 PM
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86: The thing is, there are jobs here. She now lives in the most desolate part of upstate NY, where there's just nothing.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 12:24 PM
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First, humanities graduate students almost always have to work for funding...This is generally not the case for science students, though I know some do teach.

How much teaching you do is determined by the service demands of your department, no? High-service departments require a lot of teaching.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 12:25 PM
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86: Ah, that makes more sense. And it's a great place to live. It's just a hard place to save money, IME.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 12:26 PM
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This is generally not the case for science students, though I know some do teach.

I would guess 90% of science PhD students teach at least half the time. A lot of people alternate research fellowships and teaching between semesters, although they usually have to teach full-time for at least a couple of years. Those like me who never had to teach at all are pretty rare, I think. (No one else I was in grad school with was in that boat.)

And I guess it's true that most scientists work in labs, but not all of us. The dissertation is definitely a "write several papers and bundle them together" sort of thing, though.

In other news, the wireless connection on Thalys trains is so slow as to not be worth paying for.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 12:27 PM
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although they usually have to teach full-time for at least a couple of years.

By "full-time" I mean every semester, not that they are expected to spend 40 hours a week on teaching. More like 20.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 12:29 PM
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91: It is telling that I have no idea what you mean by in this question. All of the history graduate students that I know TA and teach their own classes in summers and occasionally during the year, save one, because that's how we get an income and avoid paying tuition. The exception is at a school where they get a stipend (that is laughably small, but she's married and makes do). If we were independently wealthy, we would not have to teach at all.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 12:29 PM
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93, 94: Yeah, I suspect the people I know in the sciences are outliers. Only one has had to teach at all and it was for a quarter. I've TA'd or taught my own class (both of these equal 50% appointments but obviously one is more time intensive than the other) every quarter since my first year (when we do get a stipend but also have a quarter-time position doing grading) save one.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 12:31 PM
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Service requirements mean teaching to nonmajors who are required to take the subject-- math or physics 101 & 102 or whatever.

My grad school, a land grant U, effectively used these courses and their grades as admissions filters to desirable but difficult majors in Sophomore or Junior year.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 12:32 PM
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A service department is one that has lots of non-majors taking its classes. Math is high-service, and so nearly all the grad students teach a lot.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 12:32 PM
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Also, of course, I'm leaving off the people that get great grants in the humanities and finish things up. Those exist! But generally not for more than a year or two of funding.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 12:33 PM
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97,98: This must be one of those words you have to be faculty to know about. Yes, we're high service, then. As would be most humanities departments.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 12:34 PM
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93, 94: Yeah, I suspect the people I know in the sciences are outliers. Only one has had to teach at all and it was for a quarter.

Definite outliers. If I had a more reasonable working internet connection I could try to look up statistics on total # of science grad students vs number with NSF, DOE, or Hertz fellowships, which would be a good start toward figuring it out. (I guess NIH also?)


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 12:37 PM
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Those like me who never had to teach at all are pretty rare, I think. (No one else I was in grad school with was in that boat.)

It's getting more common in biomedical sciences as there are more PhD programs at places with no undergraduates. Like the University of Kansas Medical Center which is nowhere near Lawrence, the Oregon Health and Science University which is nowhere near Corvallis or Eugene, the Penn State Medical Center in Hershey...


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 12:41 PM
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I'm not so sure Paren's science friends are outliers. At my grad institution, the biology TA requirement was two semesters (one class each time), period, whatever your fellowship support was; this was pretty typical of the schools I applied to. Experimental physicists were nearly always unable to get TA experience, because the limited number of TA positions always went to the theorists. My current institution has less stable grad funding, but even so, the grad students I know teach a good deal less than half the time.


Posted by: Gabardine Bathyscaphe | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 12:43 PM
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82 - The career path for PhDs in the hard sciences seems slightly different, as most people (based on the admittedly limited pool of people I know with tt jobs in the sciences) do one or two post-docs before getting a tt job. Having NIH/NSF grants for researchers makes a big difference in the expected career progression.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 12:44 PM
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104: humanities people don't do one or two post-docs before applying for tt jobs?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 12:48 PM
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the ones who left (or were pushed) at the end of the masters stage are the ones who are materially best off [and also the less miserable]

I tell myself this all the time.

LB, the civil services have a genuine career track for people who come in without much schooling. You can pass a test to be a junior analyst, get stuck looking over grant invoices for three years, and then steadily promote every few years. Back at Reclamation, I knew an upper manager who had literally started in the mail room. Once you're in with a county or the state, upward movement is a series of tests and interviews.

(I am, in fact, starting to face pressure to promote, which I don't want to do.)


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 12:48 PM
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Researchers (outside math and theoretical physics) in science incur large fixed costs in setting up a lab, both in money and in labor-years sunk into getting apparatus to work instead of cranking out papers.

With theory, there is a labor cost in learning some complex technique that you hope solves a problem-- x years to learn the technique properly, then apply it to your problem. Nope. Shit. Now come five marginal papers trying to apply the technique to other problems you don't quite understand.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 12:49 PM
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(I am, in fact, starting to face pressure to promote, which I don't want to do.)

Where's your lust for determining water policy for the entire state? How will you get in a position to start dynamiting dams (I believe this is desirable, right?) if you don't promote?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 12:52 PM
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104: humanities people don't do one or two post-docs before applying for tt jobs?

Well, this one does (except that I applied for both simultaneously, which is normal), but for the most part, no. There aren't nearly as many humanities post-docs available, for one thing. More often people spend time in adjunct positions in between the doctorate and the tenure track (except of course that even more often there is no "in between" about it -- last stop, adjuncthood).


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 1:04 PM
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I have noticed that my managers work longer hours than I do, and further that their work is less fun than mine, since they have to do annoying things like budgeting and contracting. My lust for power apparently extends as far as writing a pseudonymous water blog, and not as far as working longer on less interesting things.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 1:04 PM
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start dynamiting dams (I believe this is desirable, right?)

It makes for a hella fun party.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 1:06 PM
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Also, to 82.last: boy is it ever possible to lose time in a wet lab. Even leaving aside the time you spend on brilliant ideas that fail, and the time you spend learning from doing things wrong, you lose time to freezers that die with your samples inside, to reconstructing an actual working method from the telegraphic version that got published, to getting scooped, to incubators that go haywire and fry your cultures, to delays in instrument manufacture and reagent shipping... Yeah, you lose time. There are a few people said to have good hands, who manage to avoid most of this through some sort of divine luck, but that seems to be completely separate from designing good experiments and running sound analyses.


Posted by: Gabardine Bathyscaphe | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 1:06 PM
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112: Plus all that time larking about in a deep sea submersible.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 1:09 PM
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Contrast, though, the amount of time you can lose in a wet bar.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 1:12 PM
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But time in a wet bar is so much more pleasant. I'm not convinced it counts as lost.


Posted by: Gabardine Bathyscaphe | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 1:17 PM
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We should at least take into account the amount of keys, wallets, cell phones, etc. you can lose in a wet bar.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 1:19 PM
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Perhaps the problem with the humanities is that it's harder to see early on where you stack up and so way more people are mistaken about their own abilities?

Maybe sort of, in some cases. But boy howdy, are there an awful lot of people who are really talented and still aren't getting jobs. It's not as though how you 'stack up' in the humanities job market is directly correlated to the measure of your ability.

I say this as someone who gets hyperbolic praise and perfect numerical scores on teaching evaluations, does interesting research, and has published. There are tons of variables, including amorphous things like "fit" between candidates and jobs. Bah. All this to say, I'm pretty sure it's not just my misplaced sense of my abilities as a teacher and scholar that has gotten me here.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 1:22 PM
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Yeah, time at the DMV to replace a lost license definitely counts as lost.


Posted by: Gabardine Bathyscaphe | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 1:23 PM
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I say this as someone who gets hyperbolic praise and perfect numerical scores on teaching evaluations,

Zounds, am I ever inadequate.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 1:25 PM
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Language classes are easier.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 1:26 PM
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I get highly bimodal teaching evaluations.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 1:29 PM
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117: I forget what your vocational status is -- I'd thought you were comfortably in a desirable job, but it sounds as if you're adjuncting? Or something like that?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 1:34 PM
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112: And, of course, what happened to a friend of mine: Her work was on learning in a small critter, which involved training large numbers of them. It was interrupted when animal rights activists broke into the animal colony, released all the critters from their cages, went to release the medium sized predators held in the same facility but freaked out and bailed after opening the cages but before getting any animals out of the facility This left the predators to play to their heart's content with the critters. Needless to say, the experimental protocols didn't involve severely and randomly traumatizing some of the subjects while killing and maiming others. The upshot was two year's effort down the drain, and 300 dead critters, as the now-useless survivors had to be euthanized. The predators weren't being trained for anything, so they survived to spend the remainder of their lives waiting for a repeat of The Greatest Thing That Ever Happened Ever.

Clunky anonymizing of the animals involved due to a the need to avoid making my either friend or her institution a target again for the "liberators" involved.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 1:37 PM
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-,
+ writing skills


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 1:39 PM
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Basically adjuncting/lecturing, though with no security. And due to some last minute oversights (not by me) this semester, the work I had been "guaranteed" didn't come through at the very last minute, and so I'm doing a mishmash of translation and web design. (Do I know how to do web design? Not really! Actually, not at all!)


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 1:39 PM
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Egad. Your poor friend and the poor animals. I guess it was a joyous occasion for the predators, at least, as you say.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 1:41 PM
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The predators weren't being trained for anything,

I presume they were just being held at the ready in case the "learning experiments" on the small critters were more successful than expected. I've seen that movie. It never ends well.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 1:42 PM
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I agree that grad school -- or law school, or med school, or whatever -- is great if you don't like hustling. Unfortunately, the downside is that all careers require hustling (maybe not in academia, especially the sciences? Or is this an overly romantic view) so you're kind of delaying the inevitable. At this point in my life I kinda wish I'd just gone out and tried scrambling for a job after undergrad, just to hone my hustle skills.

Or, just for LB, to hone in on better hustling.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 1:44 PM
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re:117

Definitely. There's a surprisingly loose correlation among my peers between perceived/actual ability and job success. I can think of at least a couple of people who had really very good publication records, were working on really interesting stuff, were personable and hard-working and who were passed up for other people who, by any fair measure, just weren't as good but who scored better in other less-tangible* ways.

* and more dubious, to be honest.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 1:46 PM
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just to hone my hustle skills.

This is what LB's relation can do!


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 1:47 PM
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123 - It's the mongoose equivalent of the day the Nazis blew up school in Hope and Glory!


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 1:47 PM
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who scored better in other less-tangible* ways

Hmmm..."scored better" -- this is a euphemism for sex, right? But, wouldn't that be more tangible?


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 1:54 PM
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The lab could have turned lemons into lemonade by publishing the results in the Journal of Things Fourteen Year Old Boys Think Are Awesome.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 1:58 PM
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re: 132

No. Not sex. Just the working of connections, assiduous cultivation of influential people who could benefit one's career, sucking up to people, bullshitting, etc. 'Hustling', to use a term used already.

Some people clock on to that really quickly, and some don't clock on to it until it's too late (or almost too late). I've seen people arrive who clearly knew exactly what they were doing, and who really worked it.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 2:00 PM
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Or they could have made a movie about it called ALFian versus Predator,


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 2:01 PM
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No. Not sex. Just the working of connections, assiduous cultivation of influential people who could benefit one's career, sucking up to people, bullshitting, etc. 'Hustling', to use a term used already.

But, hustling is a much more obvious euphemism for sex.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 2:07 PM
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ttaM still hasn't discovered Oxford's many underground sex grottoes.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 2:08 PM
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It doesn't even have to be particular dodgy. Some people have a supervisor, or mentor who is really prepared to go to bat for them. Someone who likes and admires their work, and promotes it to _their_ peers, trying to find their student a job. Not because of nepotism or corruption, but just because they like the person's stuff, and they are in a position to help. Some people don't have that. If you are unlucky enough to be one of the latter, that can't help.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 2:09 PM
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YES. Everything in 138.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 2:17 PM
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I find myself wondering about graduate school as a mechanism for...hm, I'm going to use completely incorrect terms...hiding unemployment? Suppressing unemployment? As in, there wouldn't be jobs for all those people even if they weren't in graduate school.

Sort of the privileged version of prison, in the sense that our economy depends both on cheap labor and on passive workers who don't, you know, burn shit down. If you're a poor person with a run of bad luck you go to jail, and if you're better off you go to grad school. In each case, you do hidden labor for less-than-market-rate compensation--if you're poor and in prison, you work at a call center or assemble things for ten cents an hour, and if you're in grad school you facilitate your adviser's research for $22,000 a year in the sciences or $12,000 in the humanities. Unpaid internships would be the same thing--all mechanisms to keep various classes of people out of the labor market and off the streets.

By which I don't mean to trivialize the prison-industrial complex--it's more that our whole economy seems to depend on warehousing people, pleasantly if you're privileged and in immense suffering if you're not.



Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 2:18 PM
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So, see, you go to the humanities PhD program to avoid the hustling, and then it turns out that the rewards go to the hustlers.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 2:20 PM
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No more lots more mastrubating to dogfighting and "crush" videos.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 2:23 PM
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I'm going to need some context for 142.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 2:25 PM
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Check out the videos. They'll give you all the context you need to get going.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 2:28 PM
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143: Here ya go.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 2:29 PM
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140 is one of the more insightful things I've read in a while.


Posted by: zebedee | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 2:39 PM
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138 is my experience. Schmoozing the right people has a huge effect on post graduation employment, not just getting you an inside track on jobs, but also alerting you to jobs you didn't know were available. Having a schmoozy advisor is really helpful too, since their network not only supplements your own, it generally outranks it in terms of the power of the members.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 2:42 PM
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||

My editor and referee are making me cry. The referee is still hung up on this easy proof at the very beginning of the paper. I am 99% sure he is hopelessly confused and the proof is fine, but I sent it to my advisor for confirmation.

The editor is saying that he sternly expects this to be the last revision. The referee is only on the first 5% of the paper! There's no way in hell this will be his last issue!

It is totally weird and bizarre that the ref is halting all proceedings until he gets this early (well-known) thing clarified. But he is, and the editor is annoyed with me for wasting everyone's time.

|>


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 2:46 PM
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148: Remember I asked you a couple of revisions ago if he was just fucking with you? Not that it gets you anywhere if I'm right to suspect that, but it's starting to sound likelier and likelier.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 2:50 PM
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||
You know what's simultaneously awesome and horrifying about Facebook? The swamp randomly burbles up old high school photographs of you that couldn't look any more ridiculous if you'd been aiming for ridiculousness. Which you most assuredly weren't. And when I say you, I totally mean me.
|>


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 2:55 PM
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Yeah, maybe so. But that seems so weird. I can't wrap my head around why on earth he would do that.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 2:56 PM
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Wow, Apo. Are you just posting that to cheer me up?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 2:57 PM
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You mean 151 isn't to 150?


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 2:58 PM
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I'm posting this, which is also from Facebook, just to cheer heebie up.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 2:58 PM
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Right now I'm on tenterhooks waiting for my advisor to e-mail me back. Because what if I'm massively wrong somehow? I don't feel like I can write the smart-ass editor until I hear back from my advisor.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 3:01 PM
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148: Can you ask for a different referee? If the editor is making noises about this being the last revision you ought to at least point out that the referee is an idiot.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 3:03 PM
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Because what if I'm massively wrong somehow?

Nope. Couldn't happen.


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 3:07 PM
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150: Holy hell! You know how the oldschool GI Joes (the large ones, with kung fu grip and the fuzzy hair) came in an assortment of hair colors? If the same manufacturer had made a line of Hall & Oates dolls, the ginger Oates doll would look exactly like you in that photo.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 3:07 PM
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I suggest something along the lines of: "You're damn well right it's the last revision--fuck you both, I'm through. I'll just self-publish the paper on the web. My blog gets more readers than your shitty journal, anyway."


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 3:08 PM
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I thought the standard way to get a different referee was resub to a different journal. You can and should forcefully say that the referee is wrong, and the editor should note that for the future.

But even if the referee is misguided and you can prove it, publishing in that journal becomes unlikely, as the referee will see the article and complain about being overruled. The alternative is worse than starting over, as unless referee 1 requests to drop it, R1 should not be cut out of further correspondence by E, even if R2 is pulled in from E's deep bench of capable and responsive volunteers. If other journals are at all in play, that gets the editor out of having to adjudicate between referees, and out of having to find R2.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 3:18 PM
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148: This is not a defense of the referee (what's the difference in this context between a referee and any old editor, anyway? Are the referee, the advisor and the editor three different people?), but when I know it's a particularly high-pressure, short-deadline project is exactly when I'm most likely to go back to the writer for every problem that requires even the slightest thought. This way, I can keep going while that issue gets resolved, and if I'm short on time asking the writer is quicker than figuring it out for myself, and if this happens to be the last major issue then I can finish up confident that practically nothing more will need to be done. (And, more cynically, the e-mail trail documents that I'm hard at work, so any further delays clearly can't be my fault.)

That being said, if the referee has stopped everything and won't accept an answer like "I'll check on this, please keep going while you wait for me to get back to you", then yeah, that's insane.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 3:20 PM
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"the referee will see the article and complain about being overruled"

Ha. I wish this had any force.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 3:28 PM
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"The referee is only on the first 5% of the paper!"

Also, this is weird. I've never seen a partial review of a paper before. IME, if the problem is large enough to actually prevent the referee from reviewing the rest of the paper, the referee would have simply indicated that he thinks it should not be published.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 3:31 PM
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161.last seems like something you need a clear answer to. There's no reason in the world he shouldn't have continued to review the paper, and if you find out that he really hasn't (rather than is just having issues with this one point that happens to be in the first 5% of the paper), then you probably do need to consider submitting the paper somewhere else, right?


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 3:36 PM
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I'm completely unfamiliar with academic publishing norms, but what I find really weird is that the ref has, IIRC, seen the whole paper before, and has asked for extensive rewrites already. That he's just now coming up with exciting new problems, and is stalling review until they're dealt with, sounds to me as if he's got a series of issues stockpiled to keep the process stalled. I could be projecting, but I've seen a review process like this as intentional law-firm hazing. What the motivation is, god knows, but the process looks familiar.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 3:41 PM
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I agree with 163, for a revise and resubmit the referee should have read the whole paper and be willing to accept modulo whatever issues. If a referee quits reading 5% in then I'd have expected a rejection.

If your advisor thinks the argument is fine then I'd consider withdrawing the paper and submitting elsewhere.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "pause endlessly, the go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 3:42 PM
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I'm also baffled about why the editor would care how long the revision process takes. A referee has grounds to get impatient, but why would the editor care? It's not like the paper will actually get published for another year, right? And the editor shouldn't need to do anything other than wait for you and the referee to sort things out.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "pause endlessly, the go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 3:54 PM
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150: Who's the girl with the speech bubble uttered by her sternum?


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 3:55 PM
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167: Is there any possibility the editor had it slotted into a particular journal issue for publication, believing there were only minor edits left, and is now cross that he's going to have to reorganize publication dates if this article doesn't make the deadline?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 4:01 PM
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This sounds like a really dysfunctional journal.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 4:05 PM
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LB: if it was accepted on the grounds that there were only minor changes left, the referee would be out of the equation.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 4:06 PM
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Observed re: 150: Apo (a) looks like he's 25 years older than the others (b) is tickling the nipple of the nerdy guy on the far left.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 4:06 PM
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Actually, I realized I'm just assuming that Apo is the dude with the 'stache and 'fro. He could be the guy getting his nipples tickled, for all I know.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 4:07 PM
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There have been prior pictures of the Mullet of Doom. That's Apo all right. (It's funny, I guess fashions really do move at different speeds in different parts of the country. Apo's only a year or two older than me, but that picture looks like ten years before I was graduating from high school -- I never saw a guy my age with a moustache like that.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 4:09 PM
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So I'm still wondering about what the cause of the humanities oversupply is. Here are the main explanations I can think of:

1) There are lots of people who think they're going to be top researchers but don't realistically have a shot.

2) There are lots of people who know they don't have a shot at being a top researcher, but still expect to be able to get a teaching job, and who don't realistically have a shot at that either.

3) There's no actual way for people to figure out at an early stage what sort of academic job they have a realistic shot at. Hence there's an oversupply, but no particular "suckers" causing it, instead everyone's buying a bad lottery ticket and even the ones who ended up winning still made a bad decision.

4) Lots of people are applying to humanities grad school because they can't think of anything else to do, and then somehow they manage to convince themselves that they'll be able to get some sort of job from it. So they knew they were suckers to begin with, but managed to forget it along the way.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 4:28 PM
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Apo (a) looks like he's 25 years older than the others

I'm 17 in that picture and at summer science camp. The guy I'm groping was a counselor and at least 20.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 4:30 PM
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5) People were told going into it that grad school and an academic job would be totally excellent, by people who had no trouble with either twenty-five years ago. Then they're in it and everyone around them believes it is the only respectable lifestyle and no one else gets to think about things all day long, and the sunk costs keep them from cutting their losses and leaving.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 4:32 PM
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boy is it ever possible to lose time in a wet lab.

Just in case it wasn't clear, I of course know close to nothing about the actual progression of a science PhD and I know there is wild disparities depending on field (especially if you have to do field work). Plus, I currently suffer from a raving case of the grass is always greener. (Writing seems hard. Surely this would be easier if I just had to clock in my hours at a lab. (Which of course is never what happens to real students, I know.))

There are very few postdocs in our field, and having one is a sign of awesomeness, as far as I can tell.

I should probably stop opining about how long it takes to get to degree in the humanities and work on shortening my own time to degree.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 4:34 PM
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6) Retirement packages are cut long after senior professors have gotten used to a cushy lifestyle, so they never retire. They don't really *have* to be active researchers or advisors anymore, and few students actually work with them, but it's nice to go and teach a few classes, keep the mind busy. The university really wants to stick a cheaper Asst. Prof. in that position but can't. Everyone hates each other.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 4:36 PM
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(I'm friends with several people in this position in 179, and we both find it regrettable on either end of the problem. They'd love to retire. We'd love their jobs. But they can't retire on what they're being offered without losing their homes, so why do it?)


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 4:38 PM
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Posted by: | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 4:40 PM
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179 explains why there aren't as many jobs as there might be, what it doesn't explain is why way too many people are fighting for those jobs.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 4:40 PM
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Also why is 179 be true in the humanities but not in math or sciences? Is it that humanities profs are paid substantially less and so work longer?


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 4:42 PM
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I so want to participate in a discussion about refereeing, but it's 1 AM and I've been traveling in a series of tubes for the last 20 hours or so. But I checked in to my hotel to discover an email about a referee report which is, on the one hand, kind of fair, and on the other, ridiculous, and I have no idea what to do about it. Except maybe let my collaborator who drove the project in the direction the referee doesn't like handle it his own damn self.

But yeah, heebie, something is screwy here. I've gotten referee reports before that only focused on the first few pages of a paper, and it was clear they didn't read the whole thing and had a really hostile agenda. The solution in my case was just to ask the editor for another referee.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 4:44 PM
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5) People were told going into it that grad school and an academic job would be totally excellent, by people who had no trouble with either twenty-five years ago. Then they're in it and everyone around them believes it is the only respectable lifestyle and no one else gets to think about things all day long, and the sunk costs keep them from cutting their losses and leaving.

I am absolutely convinced that, had I gone to grad school it would have crushed my soul.

I was mildly insulted that none of my undergraduate profs tried to recruit me to go graduate school as they did some of my classmates (in retrospect they seemed to assume that I would go even without recruiting) but I have to say that I'm glad that I didn't have anything else pushing me in that direction because I had enough reason as it was, to think of grad school as the obvious next step.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 4:45 PM
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I'm just tired of hearing about how way too many people are getting top-notch educations, with the assumption that most of them are grasping, self-important assholes who think they're smarter than they are. Sure, some of them are, but so are a lot of lawyers and businessmen.

Times are bad for us because the system has made them bad for us. I don't know what things are like outside the humanities, but people treat us like we're so lucky to get to do the job we want to do that we shouldn't make a living wage doing it, and as long as there are people who marry rich, or are rich, who will gladly make $1500 to teach a course, that's what they'll pay. For postdocs and T-T jobs, you wouldn't see the numbers I see (my apps have been about 1/600 for each contract job I applied for this year) if people who were adjuncting could afford to live on it. There should be a way to live between a PhD and a T-T job, or for people who have the former but don't really want the latter.

There are plenty of classes to be taught if schools keep reasonable class sizes.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 4:46 PM
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||

The emacs functions split-window-horizontally and split-window-vertically are named oppositely from what I would expect.

|>


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 4:47 PM
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Also why is 179 be true in the humanities but not in math or sciences? Is it that humanities profs are paid substantially less and so work longer?

It seems to me like in the humanities a doctorate does not improve your job qualifications beyond a bachelor's degree for anything except academia. So people desperately stick around academia so they don't feel that they have wasted all those years and now have to consider actually de-emphasizing the graduate degree on their resume. Whereas in sciences, a doctorate improves your job qualifications for lots of places outside academia.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 4:49 PM
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Oh, here's another thought, heebie -- is it possible your referee is inexperienced, like a grad student who doesn't know how the process works? I guess it's dragged on too long for that if you've consistently had the same referee. But it's weird for a referee to keep demanding explanation of basic stuff -- they should review the whole paper in one go and if it's beyond their understanding they should tell the editor to find someone else. Referees shouldn't be treating this as a back-and-forth conversation; they should reply at most twice, as a rule.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 4:50 PM
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That is, not everyone really wants a T-T job, but when your other option, if you want to continue teaching college, is to supplement your adjunct teaching with prostitution, you kinda throw yourself into it.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 4:50 PM
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190 -- Sure, I mean who'd want a prostitute who just punching the clock?


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 4:51 PM
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That is, not everyone really wants a T-T job, but when your other option, if you want to continue teaching college, is to supplement your adjunct teaching with prostitution, you kinda throw yourself into it.

This is basically what the TvZ song "Tecumseh Valley Community College" is about.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 4:51 PM
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191—some men like that.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 4:52 PM
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175.1, .2, and .3:

I really don't think it's about people overestimating how good they are, and I sincerely doubt that it is the reason for a difference between humanities and sciences. Look at Blume's 117, for example. She has done everything right, and at one of the top five schools in the country. And she doesn't have a job (just yet). It's not really just about merit.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 4:54 PM
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So another way of saying 177 is that lots of people have extremely irresponsible mentors. Which seems quite likely given the frequency of cluelessness among professors, but nonetheless someone who continues to give such advice strikes me as having quite bad morals. It suggests that one of the things that'd be needed to change the system would be to convince profs to stop messing up people's lives.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 4:55 PM
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There is also this fact: there are so many one- or two-year terminal appointments, and postdocs, etc., who teach, that there simply don't need to be as many t-t appointments if the teaching's to get done.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 4:59 PM
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195: I think that's the crusade the Inside Higher Ed guy is on.

It isn't just current profs. My parents, for example, expected that grad school would be one of the best times of my life, just as theirs was. You know, when you're supported well, live with peers, do your dissertation and have several job offers when you get out. Who wouldn't want that for their daughters?


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 5:00 PM
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So another way of saying 177 is that lots of people have extremely irresponsible mentors.

Well, there's also the fact that things can change very quickly, so I'm sympathetic to mentors mis-estimating where their students can get jobs. One never knows when, say, all the University of California schools will be suddenly unable to hire anyone due to a financial crisis. Or where some professors will remarkably manage to hire their own students as faculty, totally screwing with the usual system where people move from place to place. Or when a hotshot tenured professor will suddenly decide they want a change of climate and swoop in and take the job that could have gone to a promising young person. Weird things happen.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 5:01 PM
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194: It's worth keeping in mind that this year is particularly horrible for everyone (in academia and out). There are lots of people in every field who would have gotten good jobs had it been any other year.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 5:01 PM
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There should be a way to live between a PhD and a T-T job, or for people who have the former but don't really want the latter.

I remember a classics professor mentioning that, if he hadn't found a teaching position his back-up career plan was carpentry.

He advised me that it was a good idea to have a better back-up plan than that.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 5:01 PM
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195: My undergraduate adviser spent months telling me it was a very bad idea to go to grad school. The one thing she did not tell me, however, was that I wouldn't be able to hack it. If she had just said that, I probably wouldn't have applied; simply hearing about how bad the job market is doesn't really make an impression when you're 21 and unsure of what to do with yourself anyway.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 5:02 PM
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There are lots of people in every field who would have gotten good jobs had it been any other year.

Not that many more. There are just too many good people, and people good in too many different ways, for the badness of the year to be plausible in any particular case.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 5:03 PM
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There are just too many good people, and people good in too many different ways

What a wonderful field you work in!


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 5:04 PM
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195: But the market is changing so quickly that I don't think it's just that mentors are irresponsibly out of touch. Sure, some of them are quite old (bc of 179), but even fairly young profs of my acquaintance don't know what to say about how to handle the market. I've heard some horror stories about how search committees are dealing with applications nowadays, just to be able to decide which ones to read, and the members of those committees are complaining that, no, it never was this bad before. Not hundreds-and-hundreds bad.

I would benefit greatly from going back to the old boys' network. I'd have my advisor call some school and ask them if they can find a place for me, tell them how charming I am. I would even benefit from a system in which all the applications were read by the committee. But it's not that way anymore.

I'm even seeing it happen with PhD admissions. I could only have been accepted on the strength of my work, not my grades or test scores, or the fanciness of my education. So someone actually did read my essays. But as more and more people apply to my program, people like me get weeded out in the first round. The new crop does not have a rough diamond in the bunch, no losers, no dropouts, few returning students. Just like my advisors probably couldn't have gotten jobs in the current market, I wouldn't have even gotten into grad school.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 5:05 PM
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199: I'm aware. I also know any number of people who have also done everything right and have not gotten jobs over the last 5 years. IOW, I still believe that this is not just about merit,* as you seem to be stipulating.

*Merit here including the idea that you knew enough at the beginning to ensure a place at the "right" school, even.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 5:05 PM
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What a wonderful field you work in!

Don't let's be supercilious, essear. Job candidates are not commensurable.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 5:07 PM
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Someone above mentioned a mythical golden age, some 25 years ago. My brother got his PhD in Comp Lit in 1985 from a snob school* (having graduated from Junior University in 1979). Finally ditched the hunt for TT in 91, going to law school instead. He'd had one year appointments in UCLA, UCSC, Chico (?), some place in China, etc. There was no Golden Age in the 1980s. Maybe 1965 to 1975 at latest.

* I have an obligation to rag on him about this in perpetuity.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 5:08 PM
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I'm a bit late to this, but this thread makes me wonder if I'm technically ABD still. There may be some kind of rule where my candidacy expired, but I never actually dropped out.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 5:09 PM
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205: So I'm not stipulating a merit based explanation. In particular option 3 seemed quite plausible to me. The conclusion of option 3 would be, basically it's not rational for anyone under any circumstances to try to go into academia in the humanities now (although it may have been rational say 10 years ago and so a lot of people right now are getting screwed by the situation changing under them).


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 5:09 PM
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My parents hit the golden age in the late 60s. It sounds like it was lovely.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 5:10 PM
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I got my first unsolicited resume today -- 2009 law grad. I was all set to write a polite rejection letter, then I found out she'd sent one to the guy I share an office with. Circular file.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 5:11 PM
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211: What's wrong with that?


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 5:12 PM
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I think a big problem is that academia in the humanities seems like a "career" with at least some of the trappings of middle class respectability -- you are, after all, in a roughly similar place to the law and med and business students, at least on the surface, and there's always that distant possibility of tenure. It feels like you're doing something to set yourself up for -- if not wealth, at least respectable bourgeois stability.

But the better analogy is to artists or musicians or people who work in creative industries like publishing -- as a humanities academic, you are going to be basically forever in a position where there are others like you who are willing to do the job nearly for free out of love of the profession and with the availability of a trust fund, and you basically have no leverage. Just earning enough to get by is a big victory. (Of course, in both the creative fields and in academia, unions can sometimes provide something of a buffer, and the very successful do very well).

With that said, there's a lot to be said for living the creative life, if you can bear its risks. Personally, I can't.

Or, I guess, I''m just agreeing with this from AWB, but am more fatalistic about any possibility for change.

but people treat us like we're so lucky to get to do the job we want to do that we shouldn't make a living wage doing it, and as long as there are people who marry rich, or are rich, who will gladly make $1500 to teach a course, that's what they'll pay.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 5:21 PM
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See 202 is certainly not true in math, so for it to be true in humanities it means that something extremely different is happening in the humanities. The number of TT jobs this year was very very small this year (maybe half what it usually is?). Although for any particular person there's a certain margin of error involved in evaluating candidates, I'm pretty confident that margin of error is nowhere near as big as the drop in number of jobs. Sure no particular person can be totally sure that they would have gotten a job in a different year, nonetheless it's pretty easy for people to be pretty confident that the year was the main contributor.

It sounds from what people are saying that candidate evaluation (say from school to school) is much more variable in the humanities. In math there's some amount of departmental politics in terms of which fields get priority in a given year, but once you correct for field I'd expect that the rankings of candidates across different departments doesn't have a large variation. (Caveat, I haven't actually been on such a committee.)


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 5:21 PM
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Also, 214 is probably not nearly as true of math for teaching positions as it is for research positions.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 5:24 PM
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There were very many fewer philosophy TT jobs this year (and last year, given the number of canceled searches) than in years past. But the absolute number was never very high.

The last search we did had two candidates who had loads of offers. One of them was felt locally to be fantastic; that this person had so many offers seemed perfectly justified.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 5:25 PM
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"Also why is 179 be true in the humanities but not in math or sciences?"

The job market in the sciences is horrible. In my department we get >300 applications for every 1 TT position, and my senior colleagues tell me that it's been this way for quite a while. I don't know if it's quite as bad as in the humanities, but it's bad.

The main difference is that there are more industry options for a science/math Ph.D. (field dependent, of course).


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 5:31 PM
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The main difference is that there are more industry options for a science/math Ph.D.

Surely this has a great deal to do with the discrepancy in situations between the humanities and the sciences. I hate to put it this way, but a humanities Ph.D. doesn't qualify a person for an awful lot in the private sector (though I don't know where we're placing, say, economics in this scheme).


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 5:36 PM
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Surely that point was made upthread, including in the immediately preceding comment.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 5:48 PM
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Yeah. We're all kind of repeating the same points over and over.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 5:50 PM
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OK, that was needlessly dickish. Sorry. I probably just need a good nipple-tickling from Apo.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 5:54 PM
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I don't know if it's quite as bad as in the humanities, but it's bad.

HAHAHAHAHAHA.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 5:55 PM
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The job market in the sciences is horrible. In my department we get >300 applications for every 1 TT position

Yeah, this is true across the board. And even if 200 of them are just not in the running at all, the remaining group will almost certainly yield 15-20 people who are, on paper, very competitive candidates. You can interview four and make an offer to one. Typically, person will have offers from a bunch of other places. You may not end up hiring anyone.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 5:59 PM
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I mean the thing about 217 is that it's certainly possible that the job market could be not a disaster while still having 300 applicants per TT spot. It just means that lots of people are applying for a large number of jobs and that people are applying for jobs that they don't have a legitimate shot at. For example, postdocs at math depts. in the 10th-30th best schools are getting 600+ applicants for 1-3 jobs, but nonetheless the good graduates at the top half dozen schools were mostly getting postdocs at schools of that caliber. I don't think just looking at the applicants/job ratio is going to give a good snapshot of whether the job market is totally messed up.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 6:03 PM
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209: It was hard for me to tell what you were stipulating in comment 175, because frankly scenarios #1 and #2 make it sound like you think the humanities is populated by a bunch of losers who have no chance of realistically getting a job because they're too stupid to realize that they're not as smart as they thought they were. Instead, it is populated by a bunch of losers who have no chance of realistically getting a job because the system is broken. And a tiny minority of people who aren't qualified to be there, sure, but hey, we kind of like it here.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 6:07 PM
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You may not end up hiring anyone.

Why's that? I've never been on the hiring end of things. Because those remaining 3-4 candidates have already taken a position elsewhere? Or because you can't reopen the search to reconsider those of the 15-20 you didn't interview, perhaps because there's not enough time? Or because they didn't really fit the niche you sought to fill?

I'm not being dense, really -- I assume these things explain the matter -- but it is confounding to know that a position with hundreds of applicants goes unfilled, as many of them sadly haul themselves off to some adjunct gig that pays awfully.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 6:09 PM
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postdocs at math depts. in the 10th-30th best schools

I am amazed that you can rank things so precisely.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 6:11 PM
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Also, apologies for the tone in 225. I am sure you don't think that, I'm just reading into it. (I am in a hideous mood today and upset at things that have nothing to do with grad school, for once. )


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 6:15 PM
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I am amazed that you can rank things so precisely.

Well, you know, math.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 6:16 PM
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I mean I couldn't tell you which was 10th and which was 11th, but certainly the tier is a concept that makes sense.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 6:18 PM
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Why's that? I've never been on the hiring end of things. Because those remaining 3-4 candidates have already taken a position elsewhere? Or because you can't reopen the search to reconsider those of the 15-20 you didn't interview, perhaps because there's not enough time?

Yes.

Maybe you get the 3-4 people to come to campus (I assume that Gonerill is talking about campus visits but I don't know how things go in his discipline), and it turns out that what seemed so promising on paper or even at your discipline's annual jobfest-convention (see last parenthetical) is a flop. But you can't get the deans, or whoever, to give you permission to fly a bunch more people out, or the people you would fly out have already gotten their own offers, or maybe no one else seems worth flying out. Or maybe you're not the only school to have seen merit in the candidates to whom you want to extend an offer and by the time the one to whom you do make the offer (since obviously you can only make one at a time) decides to go elsewhere, the next person down on the list is no longer available (or perhaps there is no next person down on the list, or perhaps you've so exhausted the deans trying to sweeten the deal for the first person that they put the kibosh on further offers[1]).

The incredibly long, drawn-out affair that is academic hiring is kind of baffling to me, given that the process was supposedly thought up by very smart people.

[1] my impression, perhaps biased, is that the deans office exists primarily as an obstruction.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 6:18 PM
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people are applying for jobs that they don't have a legitimate shot at

It's not quite so straightforward as that, at least in the humanities. Sure, prestigious jobs are going to attract a lot of people just applying for the hell of it. (For a job in my department last year, we actually got a application from a pizza entrepreneur in Hamburg. ?!)

But are the jobs at mid-range liberal arts colleges and at non-prestigious state schools going to PhDs from top tier schools who didn't quite make the cut for the two or three top tier jobs? Often not. Anecdotally (this from friends and friends of friends on search committees), at some places, a PhD from a great school is as likely to get your application automatically cut as anything. The sorting process is complicated.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 6:19 PM
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@226

Yeah you nailed it. For one TT position you get ~400 applications. Of these, you need to narrow down to probably 10 you can interview (if you are a glutton for punishment). You decide on your favorite, who usually has 5-10 job offers from top places. If you're lucky, the candidate turns you down quickly so you can move to a second or third choice, but usually you just get strung along until the candidate makes a decision. By then, all the other candidates have also accepted positions.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 6:19 PM
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225&228: No worries, I came on a bit strong myself and knew I was kind of picking a fight.

I mostly care because assuming I end up as an academic myself I'm going to want to have some idea of what is happening in the humanities academy and what if anything can and should be done about it.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 6:19 PM
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Why's that?... Because those remaining 3-4 candidates have already taken a position elsewhere?

That's one possibility, yes. Especially with open junior searches, decent departments are likely to end up pursuing people who will get offers elsewhere. Or, it's not unheard of for one or even more candidates to completely bomb the talk. Going back to the pool happens sometimes, but is not so common. Committees and Departments don't want to revisit the process, for reasons of time, effort, and politics. Administrators become unwilling to pay for further flyouts. For slightly rational reasons neither group takes well to the idea of hiring someone who didn't make the interview cut to begin with.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 6:20 PM
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pwned by nosflow I see. One point: IME, the deans don't care how many you interview, but they won't let you make multiple offers, even when you know your chance of success is low, because on the off chance that multiple people do accept, they can't afford the salary/start-up packages for more than one prof.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 6:21 PM
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For slightly rational reasons neither group takes well to the idea of hiring someone who didn't make the interview cut to begin with.

Given that people who do make the interview cut and even come off well in interviews can go on to bomb the talk, the rationality here must be extremely slight indeed.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 6:21 PM
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Multiply pwned. Wow.

Given that people who do make the interview cut and even come off well in interviews can go on to bomb the talk, the rationality here must be extremely slight indeed.

Yes, very slight. It's the status-based rationality of preferring to hire no-one than a nobody, if you see what I mean. (In my field we don't have the intermediate interview stage, but the point is the same.) No one wants to ask you to the Prom unless you already have a date.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 6:25 PM
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"The sorting process is complicated."

More than you want to know. Sorting from ~300 to 10 occurs by a committee of people who have no time to do it, and have individual, sometimes irrational biases. So each application will probably be looked at once, by one person, for about 10 minutes total. If the person is grumpy, or offended by one tiny thing you (or your recommender) wrote, or loses your application, or hates your school or etc. then you lose.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 6:25 PM
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"No one wants to ask you to the Prom unless you already have a date."

Yes to this. I've seen departments bring in someone for a late interview (despite having shunned them in the first round) just because they have offers from other top places.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 6:27 PM
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And 239 was me.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 6:28 PM
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Yes, very slight. It's the status-based rationality of preferring to hire no-one than a nobody, if you see what I mean.

The fundamental fact of a departmental will, that it would rather will nothing than not will.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 6:28 PM
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IME, the deans don't care how many you interview, but they won't let you make multiple offers

I meant campus visits rather than conference interviews--I'm sure schools and disciplines vary in their budget constraints, but where I'm at Deans are not prepared to foot the (~$2k a pop) bill for more than four candidates, or thereabouts.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 6:28 PM
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That's kind of turned around though. Eh.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 6:29 PM
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231: The incredibly long, drawn-out affair that is academic hiring is kind of baffling to me

Yeah. It's funny, I've never really thought in terms of whether that should be changed somehow, and what it would take to do so, but the stages involved (applications, generate short list, interview at the annual convention, then job talk) do seem to create a problem.

I don't know whether hiring committees themselves view the hiring process itself as a problem. Is there any interest in modifying it in some as yet unknown way, or is it more or less working to departmental satisfaction? (Obviously departments differ widely by discipline if nothing else.)


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 6:33 PM
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238 suggests that most hiring isn't really filling a pressing need; rather, it's an investment in the future departmental prestige. Which means that only superstar candidates would have any leverage.

God, I am so glad sometimes I am not in this world.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 6:33 PM
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230: Tiers do make sense, yes. I realized that I think what is catching me up is that I'm imagining ranking whole departments in such a manner, but that wouldn't be terribly useful, I don't think. Many departments are strong in one or two fields and weak in others.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 6:34 PM
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Many departments are strong in one or two fields and weak in others.

Yeah, but some fields are … you know.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 6:35 PM
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@247

Not useful, but still often done. See USN&WR and NRC for numerical rankings of large departments.

@245

As far as the timing of the whole process, no school can go against it. If you offer too early, you end up waiting for everyone else. If you offer too late, all the candidates are gone. A few schools have tried to scoop up candidates early by offering an analogue of Early Decision, but most of the good candidate won't go for it.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 6:39 PM
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249: I've seen them and know they exist, but I was under the impression that no one actually thought them accurate enough to matter too much.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 6:43 PM
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(This might be because at least one of the departments ranked most highly in my field of the discipline appears to be so because of its emeriti faculty, not its current.)


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 6:45 PM
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246.1 gets it right. It's one of the half-dozen reasons I left the academy: the realization that superstar status was what I should be shooting for, and I just didn't have that degree of hustle, of ambition, in me.

249.last: Right. Any change in the current procedures and timelines would have to be a consensus decision, academy-wide. I don't have a well-formed suggestion for an alternative. It's really a matter of whether departments are satisfied with the current arrangements.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 6:46 PM
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Yeah 246.1 is certainly right. Hiring TT professors is never a pressing need (you can always make grad students teach some more!), the main pressure for making hires this year rather than waiting is the worry that the funding situation will change and the dean will pull the position.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 6:54 PM
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Theoretically, a department might not have any graduate students.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 6:58 PM
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|| So I spent much of the day looking at the cases filed in my local federal courthouse so far this year -- to get a feel, and, maybe, see if there weren't some clients of my former firm or something like that. One case catches my eye: a $7 million foreclosure. I look at the complaint, and see that they've improperly alleged jurisdiction: giving only the state in which the defendant LLC is organized. Poke around a little more and I see that the only member I can find lives (or at least lived) in the same state in which the plaintiff is incorporated and has its PPB. Funny.|>


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 6:58 PM
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254: Hence, adjuncts.

Though you do make a good point, it's probably true that at small liberal arts colleges where classes are small and all taught by TT professors and where departments are small, it seems likely that they'd feel the need to fill positions when they open.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 7:00 PM
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Charley, you never answered Ned's question in 212.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 7:00 PM
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Nothing wrong with sending resume blasts. Just don't expect to get letters back.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 7:07 PM
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She went to my law school, and so at first I thought it might not be a blast. Then my office mate got one, and I read the letter a little more closely, and see that it has nothing to do with me at all. She just found my address somewhere.

Office mate and I do completely different things, and the applicant professes interest in another field entirely.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 7:09 PM
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Just don't expect to get letters back anything.

I mean really, are you academic types sending a resume to every single university in a given region of the country, in hopes that one might have a need but no search underway, and then decide to fill that need without a search process?


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 7:12 PM
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Actually I know someone who mistakenly applied to a position for which the person in question was not at all qualified, and got a different position.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 7:13 PM
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Not, obviously, something to adopt as a strategy.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 7:14 PM
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One more, and I'll leave off. I used to get at least a dozen of these a week. Week in and week out for nearly a decade. For positions where the low salary was north of 100k -- and a great many people weren't looking for first year jobs -- at a 400+ lawyer firm, they thought this was how we hired? No, they weren't thinking at all. Which, by the way, is kind of disqualifying.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 7:17 PM
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||
I cannot get Quicksilver to append to my .org file. Damn; grad school is making me unemployable.
|>


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 8:00 PM
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I never saw a guy my age with a moustache like that.

Ooh, there's another one! Hello, laydeez.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 8:20 PM
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A mustache and teddy bears, Apo? Have pity on a woman's heart!


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 8:23 PM
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apo's the dude I would have asked to buy me beer and smokes when I was sixteen.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 8:26 PM
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No pity, no prisoners, AWB. That's why they call me Dr. Love.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 8:37 PM
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No, they weren't thinking at all. Which, by the way, is kind of disqualifying.

You think this is bad, you should see what they send when they want something (an internship, a research interview, data) from you. Multiple e-mails to different staff members in the same small organization, without mentioning the duplicates. Why people think that kind of manipulation is acceptable, I have no idea.

I got so fed up I put a note on our Contact Us page, telling people not to e-mail more than one person. With a bright colored box around it.

They still do it. And you guys wonder why I have such a well-developed dislike of academics.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 8:54 PM
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Blame organizations that direct job hunters to contact HR, and then never hire anyone through that route.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 9:08 PM
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And you guys wonder why I have such a well-developed dislike of academics.

No, no need to explain. This thread makes it clear that we have it coming, what with the high-status positions we occupy in society, the low-stress career arcs we enjoy, and the piles of Krugerrands we bathe in most evenings after spending a couple of hours at the office and then dining at the club. Truly, we earned your disrespect, Witt, long before we queried more than one person in your office.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 9:10 PM
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I reflexively blame the Baby Boomer Generation, if we want to make this a thing. My sense is that your lot (not the people who comment here) screwed up the country, and I'd be surprised if other young people didn't share that opinion.

Iraq was only one of many things to hang around your necks, generationally.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 9:20 PM
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piles of Krugerrands we bathe in

Yikes, sounds uncomfortable. I'll support your request for backyard mineral springs in the next contract, if you want.

(tongue in cheek here, in case friendly tone is not carrying through the airwaves intertubes ether)


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 9:21 PM
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Good news, everybody! Problem solved!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 9:31 PM
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I think I might be in love with the teenaged apostropher. 265 is gorgeous.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 9:36 PM
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76
The Putnam exam sucks and I've never solved a single problem or come anywhere close, and yet I was decently good at the creative side of research

In my experience the Putnam is a reasonably good predictor of a successful career in mathematics. Which doesn't mean of course that everyone who does well succeeds or that everyone who does poorly fails.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 9:43 PM
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sounds uncomfortable

You're right, of course. I prefer to bathe in a mixture of virgin's blood and mother's milk. My students assure me that my skin looks positively lustrous. Well, it better, given how much I pay for the blood.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 9:58 PM
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a mixture of virgin's blood and mother's milk

Known on the street as the "tenure track speedball".


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 10:02 PM
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276: People who do extremely well at the Putnam I think on the whole are quite successful, but I think it's much less predictive past the very top people. There's a certain quickness that's necessary for the Putnam but not necessary for research. So lots of people are good researchers but bad at the Putnam. But you can't be a Putnam fellow without being damn good at math.

At any rate Putnam wasn't what I was referring to in terms of self-assessment. (I only took the Putnam once on a whim and didn't do very well. Though I did do quite well on the similar high school exam once.) My self-assessment more came from how I stacked up relative to peers in situations that tended to produce lots of mathematicians (e.g. a summer math program in highschool, hard-core freshman math class, etc.)


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 10:14 PM
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I prefer to bathe in a mixture of virgin's blood and mother's milk.

You know, Jack Orion could fiddle milk from a maiden's breast, though baby she had none. He could make things a lot easier for you.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 10:29 PM
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274 is funny.

But no solution will ever match the one once offered by Daniel Davies.


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 10:43 PM
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When I left history grad school, I made a serious stab at getting into journalism, partially because it didn't require any more degrees. But it turned out I'm more interested in the kind of research/information stuff that goes into supporting journalism* (and lots of other things) and that's pretty well credentialed (library side) or technically detailed enough (computer science side) that you practically need to take classes if you haven't learned the basics already.

*Also, the phone. Do you know how much time non-opinion/analysis reporters are on the phone, despite all the stuff blogging journalists have written about how they don't use the phone much anymore? Too much time for me, that's how much. I liked the fact that in history, if you chose your time period right, you couldn't talk to your sources.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 11:01 PM
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Do you know how much time non-opinion/analysis reporters are on the phone, despite all the stuff blogging journalists have written about how they don't use the phone much anymore? Too much time for me, that's how much.

This is one of the main reasons I never really considered journalism a viable option for me as a career.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 11:26 PM
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you should see what they send when they want something (an internship, a research interview, data) from you.

Once or twice a year, some law student who had sent me an unsolicited resume would call maybe 2 or 3 weeks later, tell me that they plan to be in DC in a month, and they might be able to fit me in if I act now to schedule an interview.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 11:30 PM
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There are just too many good people, and people good in too many different ways, for the badness of the year to be plausible in any particular case.

I knew people on the market from about 2004 to 2008. 2008 was clearly much worse for new PhDs, but possibly not as bad for people with more experience but just as much not tenure. One person I knew, who I think is in a t-t job now, had all but a post-doc end in either the outright cancellation of the search for budget reasons, or the hiring of people with multiple years of experience plus a book (published or to be published) after the candidate pool made the schools think they didn't need to waste their time with people just out of school. The positions were not advertised at that level. My friend got the post-doc, so it still counted as success of a sort.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 11:52 PM
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possibly not as bad for people with more experience but just as much not tenure.

OTOH, PhDs expire.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-20-10 11:58 PM
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I guess I was thinking more of people in t-t jobs who were not t'd and wanted different t-t jobs (people who might not want to be tenured at that particular place; people who at places that just don't seem to tenure anyone they hire in junior searches, but always seem to hire tenured profs from places with shallower pockets; people with family reasons to move. They're not quite in the PhD expiration situation of people still looking for that first t-t. But there is overlap between the categories in terms of publications and teaching experience, which is probably a sign of how messed up things can be.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 12:15 AM
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256: Ooh, there's another one! Hello, laydeez.

It's just a Disco Inferno in here, man. Sweaty.

m, is neb in grad school or not?


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 3:16 AM
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And you guys wonder why I have such a well-developed dislike of academics.

Later-specified friendly tone aside, I do still wonder, actually. I'm a little unclear how you get from law school graduates sending unsolicited mail to CC to whoever these people are emailing you to academics.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 7:08 AM
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274: duelling with the schlager, I am reliably assured, was still going on at German universities as recently as the 1990s. It's illegal, of course, and had to happen out of sight, in cellars. Sort of Prussian Fight Club.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 7:34 AM
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ND housing news.

289 -- I wouldn't presume to speak for Witt. What I guessed at between the lines is that she sees a different level of inappropriate entitlement and assertiveness from her more credentialed supplicants, than from those less formally educated.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 8:03 AM
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I think the biggest problem with inappropriate entitlement is that it often works. Not with you people, seemingly, but I suspect the marginal benefit is there.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 8:06 AM
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That is, being connected is absolutely the best way to get something. I suspect the second best way is to be obnoxiouly pushy. Third best is to be really, really good. In distant last place as a strategy is to be pretty good and wait for the system to work the way it's supposed to.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 8:08 AM
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Regarding peer review: This conference looks quite interesting. As currently set up peer review is not very good. Hopefully some smart person will come up with a better system.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 8:08 AM
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293 is unfortunately correct. Being aggressive gets you more than simply being good.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 8:10 AM
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290: Openly in Austria in 2002.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 8:33 AM
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In distant last place as a strategy is to be pretty good and wait for the system to work the way it's supposed to.

Something I wish I'd know a few years back.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 8:48 AM
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297: yeah, it is really, really too bad the number of talented people who don't grok that soon enough.

It also sucks even if you do grok it, of course. I fucking hate being pushy and obnoxious, but it has lately been one of my better options. I try to mitigate it; I don't cold-call people asking for a job, I cold-e-mail them asking if they could talk to me about the state of the field and where there might be openings. And I try and network. We'll see, we'll see. Probably I should be pushier.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 9:12 AM
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293 is what I'm banking on. I have friends who are far more patient than I am, and they get mad at me for getting so hysterical in my career planning, but they can afford to be patient, as they have spouses. I'm pretty good at what I do, but it's clear that's never going to get me diddly. Hustling is my only chance.

[btw, if you're getting spam from me, i'm so so sorry; it's over now.]


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 9:19 AM
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Yeah, false modesty aside, I'm probably better than 'pretty good' but, if I'm honest, I'm also no better than a lot of people I know who are much more conscientious about the career-focused elements of what they do.* I know now what I _should_ have done, but hindsight is a bitch. If I was hiring, *I* wouldn't hire me, when compared with some of my peers. And in the current job climate ...

* and I'm talking here not about obnoxious ass-kissing careerists, but just ordinary decent people in the field who've cottoned on to the sort of work that they need to do to stand a chance of getting anywhere.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 9:23 AM
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293: There was a Clay Shirkey rant on that subject recently that also argued that more men than women were inclined to be inapropriately pushy -- which seemed believable.

Odly he didn't think that it was a problem that being pushy was rewarded, however.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 9:24 AM
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300: the things I find interesting are things lots of other smart, talented people find interesting. I think I'm the shit, naturally, but it's still a deep pond, and there are plenty of reasons to be confused and distracted by my story.

If I was hiring, *I* wouldn't hire me, when compared with some of my peers.

This. Unless I really knew me, which again points to networking, networking, networking.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 9:30 AM
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The problem is that women who are pushy very quickly get read as "obnoxious ass-kissing careerists" in a way that's negative, while for a lot of guys I know it's somehow not an insult.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 9:36 AM
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300: I think a lot of the problem arises from ignorance, in that people do things for perfectly rational reasons that turn out to be totally, secretly, disqualifying for really stupid reasons. e.g. you must not go and do anything outside academia while looking for a job, even just to keep the children and pets fed.

I was on a committee once which did, in the end, make an offer to someone who had taken a year out to get a PGCE [postgraduate one-year teaching qualification], and during that year had published a few papers, but the discussion on that committee was horrific - at the beginning, I really think two-thirds of us would have preferred it if the candidate had spent the year chucking faeces at randomly selected students rather than getting [what turned out to be] practical and useful teaching skills. Grr.


Posted by: Abelard | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 9:36 AM
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I mean, maybe I should say, "Oh, you think I'm an obnoxious careerist whore? Aren't we all ha ha!" but I actually care about what I do. It was said to me a few months ago by an acquaintance, and I started bawling that anyone could think that of me. He was really shocked, figuring everyone in academia would say that of themselves.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 9:37 AM
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re: 302.1

Exactly.

re: 304

Which has almost exactly been my situation [not PGCE, but other quasi-academic work to keep the bills paid]. Which means I'm probably screwed.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 9:38 AM
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In distant last place as a strategy is to be pretty good and wait for the system to work the way it's supposed to.

I've always depended on the kindness of strangers, myself.


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 9:39 AM
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On the difficulties of women to be pushy, I've been wondering recently whether there are any academic analogues of the "having negotiated salaries screws over women because being pushy in negotiations codes badly and so women end up getting paid less" problem. In particular, I was wondering if a similar thing might happen in choosing which journals to submit papers to. Has anyone ever heard anything about what sort of variation there is in how high people aim with their submissions and how this correlates with career success? It seems like the sort of thing it'd be easy to do studies on because you can compare people based on where their papers get accepted, and see whether people first tried better journals.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 9:41 AM
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@303

Yeah, it's the classic pushover/bitch dichotomy and it sucks. The only way to win is to be the bitch but it's not fun.

My respect for persistence as a useful and important trait for success has steadily increased over time. And persistence can be mistaken for pushiness. But pushiness alone is still obnoxious.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 9:41 AM
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One of my profs once said that the job market is exactly like dating in every possible way, and I keep discovering new ways that this is so--one of which is that everyone says to be brave and go for it with someone you really like, but it only ends up making them think you're a slut.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 9:46 AM
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Oddly he didn't think that it was a problem that being pushy was rewarded, however.

He and that obnoxious careerist blogger discussed here recently were on some radio show I overheard the other day, and the idea that rewarding pushiness might be a problem was as foreign to the conversation as if someone had called in and started speaking Xhosa. If you're not pushy, you're a loser.

What a world. The only winning move is not to play.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 9:49 AM
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304 also points out the heavy class element that still exists.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 9:53 AM
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This discussion, particularly 238, 304, and 306 suggests that much of the problem is that academics are gigantic snobs who are basically hiring to maintain their ability to go on being snobs. I mean, really, getting a teaching credential or adjuncting for a while to make ends meet is disqualifying? No wonder you're going to end up with nobody but rich kids in the humanities.

[Not that academics are alone on this -- for example, a laid-off lawyer who takes a temp job to make ends meet probably looks worse than a lawyer with identical credentials who spends his time doing nothing.]


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 9:58 AM
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If you're not pushy, you're a loser.

I think the key here is to have no self-awareness or no shame. If you can arrange that (as with the people who call CCarp to tell him they can fit in a job interview with him), it all works fine.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 9:59 AM
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If half the problem is an overabundance of humanities PhDs, the other half is that the tenure system creates a scarcity that doesn't need to be as bad as it is, no? There's not really market forces creating decent jobs the way there would be if there was no tenure system. I really think that this should be changed after I get tenure and am grandfathered in.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 10:01 AM
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called in and started speaking Xhosa

A successful strategy only in rare instances.

My respect for persistence as a useful and important trait for success has steadily increased over time. And persistence can be mistaken for pushiness. But pushiness alone is still obnoxious.

This is certainly correct. And it's entirely possible that the relative success of obnoxious, intrusive types is largely due to the fact that (convinced of their own overweening worth) they keep at it longer than people with both rational priorities and normal human feelings.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 10:02 AM
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316.2 complementari-pwned by 314.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 10:03 AM
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Mix in a bit of Dunning-Kruger ...


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 10:05 AM
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I was flattered that you worked 314 into 316. Yeah! Sifu Tweety agrees with me!, I thought.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 10:05 AM
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318: which also blends poisonously with the confirmation bias suffered by tenured academics trying to evaluate candidates.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 10:06 AM
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Actually I needn't have limited 320 to academics. Success based on obnoxious persistence borne of unjustified belief in competence confirms unjustified belief in competence which informs preferential evaluation of candidates with similar qualities, and the great wheel of demeritocracy keeps turning.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 10:13 AM
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The strange thing about 304 is that the problem was probably not actually doing the PGCE, it was putting it on the CV. I was just thinking "wait I know someone who taught high school for a year right after grad school and then got a solid job," so I went and looked at her CV and sure enough the "Employment" line in her CV for that year reads "[Top 5 school which granted PhD] Research Affiliate." (The high school teaching does appear under Teaching though.)


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 10:13 AM
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I'm surprised a fair amount by how much the people around me don't understand. We'll have profs come and talk to the department if their work is relevant, and I'm always surprised afterward, because my co-workers make self-deprecating comments. "Oh ho, I understood about a third of that, hah hah." "Not so bad, I think I got about half of it."

Fuck that noise. If someone is coming to give me a talk, I damn well expect to understand it all, or the speaker didn't do it right. If I don't I ask questions right away (and sometimes the speaker will confess that yeah, these are the old slides, so yeah, the graph isn't exactly what he's saying now, and good catch). I'm surprised again and again to hear people say they didn't follow it all. Oh. I should re-calibrate.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 10:14 AM
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323 -- I'm guessing that being insufficiently pushy is not a problem for you.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 10:19 AM
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315: no tenure system in the UK but the job market is similarly evil.

313 (and 312) - I think it's not so much driven by snobbery as status anxiety. My god, if we do X, we are no better than Y. It's ok to employ someone who got by with a little casual university teaching, maybe library work, but if they did a retail shift... I think there's a deep social panic that we are insufficiently distinct from the people who work in Debenhams. Obviously the effect of this is deeply pro-privilege.

Relatedly, we've spent a lot of time recently trying to recruit in [subject known for its sociopathic sense of rational self-interestednes]. This is an expensive town, and our salaries are pretty good but basically you spend it all on housing. In some subjects, people will crawl over broken glass for a chance to work here, but in [subject] the question of financial well-being makes it silly to come here. I think we've been through four rounds so far. Apparently it's not possible to appoint the best candidates who are willing to apply for the job as advertised; rather we have to wade through round after round of appointments until, um. Perhaps someone will turn up who is privately wealthy. The job desperately needs filling; but no matter how desperate, it's more important to sustain our own sense of status by not appointing.


Posted by: Abelard | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 10:20 AM
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Yes and no. I'm not pushy in some dimensions. I'm not interested in advancement and I'd starve if I had to negotiate my salary. Thank god my union does that for me.

But I think that I'm not very self-aware when I'm following a thought. If the presenter says something I don't get, I'll ask four or five questions in a row and dominate the room until I do understand. Then I come to, and am embarrassed that I took over the conversation.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 10:21 AM
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My respect for persistence as a useful and important trait for success has steadily increased over time.

My respect for responsibility and people who do what they say they will do has increased over time I'm being serious, not snarky, in saying that. At some point in time I had a lot more affection for people who are brilliant but flaky and now I feel like the ability to just not blow off the small details is an under appreciated trait.

Yeah, false modesty aside, I'm probably better than 'pretty good' but, if I'm honest, I'm also no better than a lot of people I know who are much more conscientious about the career-focused elements of what they do.*

Ugggh, that stings a little bit. I suspect that may be the unfogged rallying cry, but that's more or less how I think of myself.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 10:22 AM
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322 contains a surprising and large ligature for me. Can I reproduce it? Let's find out!

"affiliate"


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 10:26 AM
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Nope.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 10:27 AM
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think there's a deep social panic that we are insufficiently distinct from the people who work in Debenhams.

I'm struggling to really see how that's not just snobbery simpliciter. The subtleties of motivation that may or may not underlie it ... meh.

I had several conversations mid-way through my doctorate, when an unexpected bureaucratic change* left me without funding for several years.

"I really think you shouldn't work. You need to concentrate on [career/degree related stuff]..."
"What part of 'I have no f&cking money' are you failing to understand?"
"Yes, but surely a family member or someone can lend you some."
etc. etc.

* two funding bodies merged, and I was left unable to apply for the main source of funding for my subject, as I was now technically someone who'd already received funding from them.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 10:27 AM
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Fluffi Taffi


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 10:29 AM
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328: I was copy-pasting out of a pdf produced from LaTeX. Presumably there's some unicode for a double-f that it's using instead of ff when I copy-paste. Copy-pasting again should replicate it: Affiliate.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 10:30 AM
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Oh God, 330 is a familiar story. Why are you teaching so much, AWB? Don't you care about your research and time to degree? Maybe you should think about taking a vacation; it looks bad that you haven't traveled. Just take a semester off and go!


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 10:33 AM
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330 and 333 are running me absolutely amok. How is it not possible to sock these people?


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 10:37 AM
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re: 334

Yes, and then there's all the teaching fellowships, and part-time positions that people take after graduating to avoid getting caught in the trap mentioned in 304.

"So it pays 8000 a year?"
"Yes"
"In [city]? For an adult? Not living with mum and dad? Are you taking the piss?"
"You need to do these things for the first couple of years."
"F&ck off"
etc

[I'm spotting a pattern here.]


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 10:40 AM
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Yeah, 330 and 333 are making me unpleasantly twitchy.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 10:40 AM
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I mean of course "how is it possible not to sock these people".


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 10:43 AM
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Well, on the one hand I have wealthy/married colleagues who tell me I need to spend more time in foreign libraries admiring the way light falls through windows at different latitudes, and then I have professors telling me to quit whining about the job market and get a fucking coffeeshop job if I want to survive.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 10:47 AM
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Heh. I got offered a job recently on the condition that I could find money to pay myself someplace. Needless to say, we're working on a plan B on that one.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 10:47 AM
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re: 339

Yes, I've seen a few of those, too.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 10:53 AM
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339: I had three concrete offers of that sort when I started looking for postdoc positions. All were great places to work, but I needed to fund myself and cover overhead.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 10:54 AM
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330: I'm not communicating this well. I think it's about fear that one didn't get one's job through elite academic eliteness, but rather through some combination of luck, feudal protection from an academic baron, etc etc. So, without the elite academic eliteness, where are you? what justifies you? and thus people who are totally committed to social justice in principle and in their research and in their non-academic lives, but who turn out to have behave otherwise, concerned to police *just how committed you have to be* to academia in order to qualify as elite academically elite enough & thus will reject people who have associated with the norms or made provision for alternative careers or otherwise just not been monkish and self-denying enough.

I should say that I try to avoid job committees because they make the inside of my mouth bleed.


Posted by: Abelard | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 11:04 AM
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Okay, there's some of that but it's not totally fair. There's also a feeling that academic jobs are hard and extremely time consuming and you need to be an inhuman paper-writing, grant-writing, reviewing, advising machine just to survive the job.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 11:11 AM
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But I think that I'm not very self-aware when I'm following a thought. If the presenter says something I don't get, I'll ask four or five questions in a row and dominate the room until I do understand. Then I come to, and am embarrassed that I took over the conversation.

Dominating the room by admitting that you don't know something and may possibly be fallible in some way is a female-associated way of dominating the room. This is your role, we rely on you.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 11:19 AM
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Maybe. But if I'm quizzing the guy on the concept I didn't get on the hardest slide, and the rest of my colleagues are coming out of the room joking about how they understood a third to a half of the presentation, then that quizzing-until-understanding process isn't happening enough.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 11:25 AM
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It's perfectly fine to go on an extended quizzing if your paying attention, but I've seen a number of occasions where people (usually senior faculty) obviously aren't paying attention and effectively demand a recap of the first 20 minutes of the talk so they can understand something that's completely obvious to those who weren't slouched at the back of the room carrying on a disruptive conversation.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 11:40 AM
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An about-to-graduate math major presented last week at our all-school conference on "A new & different way to think about Eigenvalues and Eigenvectors."

At the end of her presentation, a business prof, said "I'm sorry, I don't have any math expertise? What's an eigenvalue and eigenvector?"

Our student could not answer. Whatsoever. I don't think I've ever given someone such a stinky stink-eye.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 11:47 AM
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She should have recited the standard dictionary definition and let the guy suffer.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 11:49 AM
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I'm confused about who heebie gave the stink-eye to.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 11:50 AM
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347 doesn't make any sense--did the student write the paper/prepare the presentation? If so, I'm not sure I understand how she couldn't answer the question. (Unless the presentation and its title bore no relation to one another.) If she was just reading from someone else's script or something, then yeah.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 11:50 AM
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347: I guess that's a testimony to the power of the new and different way. Forget the old ways completely! (An eigenvector is an egg-wheelbarrow, if you empty it in an hour, the eigenvalue is free)


Posted by: Awl | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 11:52 AM
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Count me in as confused -- she knew her stuff, but froze up on the elementary question, so you gave her the stinkeye? Or she didn't know what she was talking about at all? Or you were annoyed with the ignorant business school prof asking a question when he wouldn't have understood the answer?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 11:54 AM
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Certainly HG gave the stink-eye to the student who didn't actually know what was going on, but managed to fake it by doing a lot of preparation/having all the errors in drafts of the presentation fixed by an advisor.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 12:05 PM
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If 353 (or anything similar) is the case, surely her big mistake was allowing any Q&A at all, right? If she couldn't answer the B-school prof's question, is there any other question she would have likely been able to answer? If not, why take questions?


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 12:09 PM
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She should have gotten... the Eigen Sanction!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 12:15 PM
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Not answering questions at the end of a talk is not an option unless you run significantly over time.

(Or maybe if you are speaking to a truly giant audience? I don't remember whether plenaries at the joint meetings have questions after.)


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 12:16 PM
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Can an about-to-graduate math major not know what an eigenvalue is?


Posted by: Awl | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 12:18 PM
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If the issue was that the speaker really didn't know what she was talking about, I could imagine being prepped well enough to field likely questions, but unable to answer elementary questions she wasn't expecting.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 12:20 PM
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I'm guessing the student knew, but was unable to explain.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 12:21 PM
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358 seems to me to depend on an impossibly precise understanding of "likely questions". If you literally understand nothing about what you're talking about, I don't know how you could be sufficiently prepped for Q&A, without being fed a list of specific questions in advance.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 12:23 PM
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That's still deserving of the Heebie stinkeye, though.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 12:23 PM
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Wait, was the problem just that she couldn't explain it in simple enough terms for the prof. to grasp? Like, all she could do was recite the mathematical definition? Because that's much less less stink-eye worthy, if the expected audience was math-literate folks, and the business guy was a surprise guest.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 12:26 PM
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I'm now curious what the New and Different way is. It's hard to imagine anyone coming up with anything nontrivially new or different.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 12:27 PM
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I guess Heebie's going to keep us guessing. In any case, this: the expected audience was math-literate folks ignored at our all-school conference. Also, I'm still curious what the new way is.


Posted by: Awl | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 12:30 PM
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I
Among twenty snowy mountains,
The only moving thing
Was the eigenvalue.

II
I was of three minds,
Like a matrix
In which there are three distinct eigenvalues.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 12:46 PM
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After receiving the question should have restarted her talk. Upon finishing, he could have asked again, and round and round they could go, until finally he might say "I think I almost get it", to which she could reply "Then you have the greatest understanding".


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 12:48 PM
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^the student


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 12:48 PM
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Perhaps the student could have scaled down her talk.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 12:51 PM
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Maybe hermitian in life was to confuse Unfogged.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 12:52 PM
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I hope the principal components were meaningful, anyhow.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 12:53 PM
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Sorry all, I was off teaching. Back!

Unfoggetarian is exactly right in 353. She knew the old way to compute eigenvalues, and had read a paper on a new exciting way to compute eigenvalues, all without having the faintest what an eigenvalue is. So she recieved my excessively stinky stink-eye.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 1:01 PM
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How did she respond to the question?


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 1:06 PM
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Also, I'm still curious what the new way is.

I wasn't her advisor, so I haven't seen the paper. Her presentation was too convoluted for me to have any real clue what was going on. Something along the lines of: Start with any vector v. Compute higher powers of A^k*(v) until you find one which is linearly independent of v (I think?). Do something and it's an eigenvector, or something.

* A to the k? A to the mother-fucking k. Homeboy.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 1:07 PM
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How did she respond to the question?

She made it sound like the concept was so cumbersome to explain that, although she understood it, she couldn't figure out how to explain it simply. (Total, complete bullshit. Her presentation was completely incomprehensible to the point of supporting evidence.) She turned to me and said "Dr. Geebie, can you help me say what I'm trying to say?"


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 1:09 PM
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374: "Dr. Geebie, can you help me say what I'm trying to say?"

And you responded: "I think what you're trying to say is that you don't know what an eigenvalue or an eigenvector is", right?


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 1:12 PM
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That would have been much better. Instead I stalled, trying to deliver a sufficiently pointed look that she'd at least try to explain, and everyone misinterpreted my stalling as verification that it really is a difficult explanation. Which it isn't. (If you have a linear map, then your eigenvectors are vectors which get sent to a scaled version of themselves. In other words, they are not rotated. The scaling factor is the eigenvalue.)


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 1:19 PM
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373: Here's an attempt to reconstruct the student's talk. Suppose you have an n by n matrix with n independent eigenvalues. Start with a vector x. If it's not an eigenvector, then x, Ax, A^2 x, ... A^n x are linearly dependent (because there are n+1 of them). So we have some equation of the form c0 x + c1 A x + c2 A^2 x + ... + A^n x = 0. Write an eigenvector as A^(n-1) x + d_{n-2} A^(n-2) x + ... + d0 x, with eigenvalue lambda. Then plug into the above equation and recursively solve for the coefficients d_{n-2}; you should get a consistency condition that's an n^th degree polynomial in lambda, which should turn out to be the characteristic polynomial. Details left as an exercise for the reader. Sounds totally trivial and boring to me.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 1:23 PM
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everyone misinterpreted my stalling as verification that it really is a difficult explanation. Which it isn't. (If you have a linear map, then your eigenvectors are vectors which get sent to a scaled version of themselves. In other words, they are not rotated. The scaling factor is the eigenvalue.)

See, for me, I sort of know what "linear" means, though probably not in this context. But I have no idea what "map" means. Or "vectors".

Basically I think the guy in the audience was probably dumb to ask that question and expect there to be an answer he would understand.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 1:26 PM
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Hey essear, what country are you in?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 1:28 PM
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378
See, for me, I sort of know what "linear" means, though probably not in this context. But I have no idea what "map" means. Or "vectors".

Me neither, but the Wikipedia page about this stuff (Google "eigenvector" or "eigenvalue", I forget which, but they both lead to the same place probably) has a diagram of vectors superimposed on the "Mona Lisa", which clears it up a bit.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 1:28 PM
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377 brought to you by my bad habit of skimming a paper's abstract and assuming I know its entire contents. Every now and then this makes me put my foot in my mouth when I assure people I read and understood their paper and then find out it contained something nontrivial that I failed to infer from the abstract.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 1:28 PM
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See, for me, I sort of know what "linear" means, though probably not in this context. But I have no idea what "map" means. Or "vectors".

Maps are functions. Vectors are floaty arrows. So you're plugging in an arrow and getting out another arrow. If you plug in an eigenvector, you get another arrow pointing in the same direction as your original, just longer or shorter.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 1:28 PM
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If you plug in an eigenvector, you get another arrow pointing in the same direction as your original

Or pointing the other way.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 1:30 PM
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377 sounds about right. Mind you, she did not develop that method. She read an article in an undergrad journal.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 1:30 PM
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383: That's still the same direction, the arrow just has a length less than zero. Sorta. Kinda. Maybe?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 1:31 PM
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383: yes.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 1:31 PM
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Did she come up with the title, or was that the title of the article she read?


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 1:31 PM
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Hey essear, what country are you in?

France! I know, I should probably be doing something more interesting than web-surfing. But I'm kind of exhausted.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 1:32 PM
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388: I can imagine. When we finally gave up on trying to get anywhere (which happened yesterday morning), we were incredibly relieved.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 1:33 PM
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re: 342

I'm not buying that as exculpatory at all. Acting like a total snob because one is in a position of power, but also pathetical insecure about the source of that power .. all I can say is fucksake. And then resist the urge to break something.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 1:33 PM
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387: I think she came up with it, since upon quick googling I'm not turning up the paper.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 1:33 PM
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That's still the same direction, the arrow just has a length less than zero.

If that's more intuitive for you than "pointing the other way", there's something odd about one of us.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 1:34 PM
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EIGENNOT UDDERSTAD A WORD OF THIS.


Posted by: OPINIONATED HAY FEVER SUFFERER | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 1:34 PM
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381 hits close to home. But it's so much easier and fun to guess what's probably in a paper than to actually read it.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "pause endlessly, the go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 1:36 PM
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389: Yeah. Too bad I can't just give up on going back to the US. I'm strongly considering canceling or drastically shortening my upcoming west coast travel, though.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 1:37 PM
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366: an iterative method, so to speak.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 1:43 PM
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376: I always think of them as the basis vectors for the thing where you twist around the matrix until the pain stops. But then, I'm an experimentalist, not a theoretician.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 1:44 PM
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396 was me, though on review I should probably have posted directly to Standpipe's blog.


Posted by: Awl | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 1:45 PM
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Also: the Haitian National soccer team has been in Texas since the earthquake, and for the next two weeks is practicing at Heebie U. So I can stroll over and watch a national team practice! I find this very exciting.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 1:45 PM
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A map is an associative array, and a vector is a sequence of values which allows constant-time random access.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 1:59 PM
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A map is an arrow. A vector is a different kind of arrow.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 2:03 PM
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A map is a depiction of a territory. A vector is a carrier of disease.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 2:08 PM
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A map is a plan of a man. A panama is a vector.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 2:10 PM
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357 hasn't yet been answered.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 2:11 PM
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The talk sounds like the power method. Is that too simple?


Posted by: Awl | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 2:11 PM
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Panama is a canal. Van Halen was awesome for building it.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 2:11 PM
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A vector answers the question, "where am I headed?". A map answers the question, "how do I get there?".


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 2:12 PM
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Can an about-to-graduate math major not know what an eigenvalue is?

An about-to-graduate math major can absolutely not never have known what an eigenvalue is. A punk-ass about-to-graduate math major can forget this rather major topic from linear algebra, despite doing their senior thesis on the very topic.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 2:13 PM
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A map is like a sewer: what you get out of it depends on what you put into it.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 2:14 PM
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The talk sounds like the power method. Is that too simple?

Not too simple. Scanning the interwebs to remind myself what the power method is, however, looks like it's something slightly different. Finds the dominant eigenvalue, for one.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 2:17 PM
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A map is like a sewer: what you get out of it depends on what you put into it.

I put my backpack into the sewer. It's like a composition of functions.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 2:18 PM
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Time flies like an arrow. Vector flies like an eigenarrow.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 2:21 PM
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I really want the other 11 ways of looking at an eigenvector.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 2:22 PM
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413: It looks like a bus, Gus. It's like a new plan, Stan. An eigenvector's not coy, Roy. Are you listening to me?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 2:24 PM
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I was trying to fit "eigenbanana" into that, but it would have been too diffuse.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 2:25 PM
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Eigenvectoralue! I don't even know her you!


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 2:25 PM
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Is that an eigenvector in your pocket, or is your delight at being in my presence manifesting itself as a monotonically-increasing eigenvalue?


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 2:31 PM
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EIGENBANANA!
EIGENBANANA!
EIGENBANANA!
Look at me move!


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 2:35 PM
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390 maybe sounds a bit harsh. I can understand the anxiety, it just has such f&cked up consequences.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 2:35 PM
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Why are you typing "f&cked" for "fucked", ttaM? Are you shielding our delicate sensibilities or are you typing on a screened computer?


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 2:40 PM
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Eigensee your true colors shining through.


Posted by: Phil Collins | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 2:40 PM
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I like Eigenwert better. Eigenschaft is a word, by the way.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 2:42 PM
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||

Sausagely's comment section is really remarkably bad.

|>


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 2:43 PM
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420: No, no, it's simply shorthand for the Scots adjective 'fandcked'. Originally meant 'breaded', but by extension it now means anything unhealthy.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 2:44 PM
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I thought fandcked was an adjective describing someone who's had a fantod.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 2:50 PM
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I can never remember if a fantod is a fainting fit or something more like an epergne.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 2:52 PM
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421: Phil Collins? True Colors?


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 2:56 PM
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In 1998, the song was covered by Phil Collins for his compilation album ...Hits. The version was a smooth-jazz-influenced version compared to the original. R&B singer Babyface provided backing vocals.

The track peaked at #2 on the U.S. Billboard Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks chart and at #26 on the UK Singles Chart.
[edit] Charts
Chart (1998) Peak
position
Dutch Singles Chart 73
German Singles Chart 35
UK Singles Chart 26
U.S. Billboard Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles 12
U.S. Billboard Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks 2


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 3:00 PM
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427: Do I have that misattributed in my head? I tried googling, but all I got was mentions of Glee doing the song (stop messing up my google searches, Glee!), so I went with how I had the song mentally filed.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 3:01 PM
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411: No, a composition of functions is like a series of tubes. A backpack is an outer product.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 3:02 PM
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429: One thing Glee hasn't ruined is that when you google the name of the new beautiful evil boy on the show, you still get 70's hardcore porn star Jessie St. James, even if you spell it the boy way.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 3:04 PM
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428: I have never heard that version. I feel slightly lucky.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 3:04 PM
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430: Stop with the math jokes, you're making me tensor.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 3:05 PM
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Oh, duh. Cyndi Lauper. I have that one rattling around in there, too. But Phil sings in my head louder than Cyndi. Keep it down in there, Phil.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 3:05 PM
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Eigensee for miles and miles and miles and miles.


Posted by: Richard Townsend | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 3:05 PM
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But yeah, I do feel bad for people who've written books with "glee" in the title.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 3:05 PM
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427: Do I have that misattributed in my head? I tried googling, but all I got was mentions of Glee doing the song (stop messing up my google searches, Glee!), so I went with how I had the song mentally filed.

I think a functioning version of this needs to be added as an adjunct to the Google one.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 3:13 PM
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437: Fascinatingly, I absentmindedly clicked on that link and it was blocked for adult content. Can anyone tell me what on earth is at the link?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 3:14 PM
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The Google results from Wikipedia itself for "let me wikipedia that for you":

(for me, at least)

E.E. Cummings
420 (cannabis culture)
Gyros
RSS
Covariance and contravariance (computer science)
Frame rate
Épée


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 3:16 PM
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Sifu, Essear: You two are stuck in Europe as well? I've got a flight on Friday (fingers crossed)!

If that doesn't pan out, I'm booking it for southern Europe and flying back to Chicago via Hong Kong.


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 3:24 PM
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Sifu is stuck out of Europe.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 3:48 PM
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441: Ah. That would be much more pleasant right about now.


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 4:01 PM
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What part of Europe, Po-Mo? Want to go to a concert in Berlin on Saturday?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 4:25 PM
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||

Math/statistics question. What's the word for, like, when you would predict that a dataset would be represented by a normal distribution, but there's an anomaly because of an usual concentration at certain numbers? Like in women's heights, where women are reluctant to call themselves 6'0", so more of them are listed as 5'11" than should logically be the case? Can I read something about examples of this phenomenon?


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 5:00 PM
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|>


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 5:04 PM
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"An usual"?

Just say "a regular".


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 5:04 PM
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443: London, so sadly no concert for me. Though, last night I did get to go see YACHT play a random show at a tiny tranny bar in Soho, because apparently they're stuck here too.

444: I don't know of a really nice term for it. I think I've seen it referred to typically as a "discontinuity" or "bump" (very technical, I know) when shown on a histogram.

Two extremely clear examples of this phenomenon that I've seen:

1) If you take reported monthly hedge fund returns (collected by a few different independent agencies and banks for calculating hedge fund index returns), and plot a histogram which separates returns just over zero into a different box than those just below zero, there's a massive discontinuity. Nice smooth graph from infrequent negative returns, incredibly low incident of small negative returns, incredibly high incidence of small positive returns, then the smooth distribution picks up again for larger positive returns.

2) The same thing happens if you plot reported quarterly earnings-per-share numbers for publicly traded companies against the Wall Street analysts' average expected earnings at the time of announcement. Smooth distribution, except for an extremely tiny number of EPS that miss expectations by one penny and a huge number that beat by one penny.

Admittedly, neither of those distributions would be normal, but they're both pretty nice-looking outside the ugly massive discontinuity at 0.


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 5:10 PM
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Thanks, "discontinuity" sounds right, though I don't know if the word "continuity" technically refers to this sort of graph.

I'm referring to specifically to examples in which detecting discontinuities like this indicates that widespread fraud (or merely gaming the system) is going on.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 5:22 PM
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448: if you're trying to fit a continuous model function to it "discontinuity" seems reasonable.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 5:23 PM
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Well then, those two examples work pretty well!

Example #1 is actually used as one of the screens to help detect hedge fund fraud, though it's also prevalent among non-fraudulent hedge funds due to various problems with the way hard-to-price positions are valued even by generally honest parties.


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 5:25 PM
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Same thing happens with p-values in scientific studies, right? There's a much larger cluster on the greater-than side of .05 than you'd expect.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 5:30 PM
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Than who'd expect?


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 6:12 PM
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(I can't quite tell if this is on or off topic)

First sentence in a student paper: "In this essay, I expect with the topic I have will be tested up to their top potential, stretched to no end, analyzed to its bottom till it has nothing else."

I'm kind of in love with this, as an introduction to pretty much anything.


Posted by: E. Messily | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 6:45 PM
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"stretched to no end" is an eigenvector, right? I knew I understood math.


Posted by: E. Messily | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 6:46 PM
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453: That's actually rather beautiful.


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 6:48 PM
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A much prettier phrasing than "I am gonna analyze the FUCK out of this topic".


Posted by: E. Messily | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 6:53 PM
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My topic: let me show you me analyzing it.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 6:58 PM
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stretched to no end

Artisanally hand-stretched, one hopes.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 7:00 PM
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I am going to slide myself into the top of this topic and wriggle my way through it, probing every square centimeter of the topic from its inside, until I pop out of the bottom. Afterward I will cut the topic up into little pieces and chew and swallow and digest the pieces. Then I will wait for my digestive processes to complete, whereupon I will imbibe the resultant waste products. I will repeat this process again and again, until finally, there is nothing left.


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 7:03 PM
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I am going to smoothly invert this topic like a differentiable manifold.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 7:09 PM
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Damn, E. Messily receives the most amazing papers. It's trying to mimic something, but I don't know what it is.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 7:11 PM
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Now I want to start my blog posts with "I am gonna analyze THE FUCK out of this topic."

In Scotland, they would say "I am gonna analyze THE FANDCKED out of this topic." I learned that today.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 7:35 PM
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I am going to slide myself into the top of this topic and wriggle my way through it, probing every square centimeter of the topic from its inside, until I pop out of the bottom.

Hot?


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 7:38 PM
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Right, so I'm finally back. All the way up at 289:

I'm a little unclear how you get from law school graduates sending unsolicited mail to CC to whoever these people are emailing you to academics.

I was piggybacking off of Charley's example of people sending unsolicited resumes and wanting job interviews, by giving my own examples of academics -- grad students, adjuncts, professors -- showing similar obliviousness in their requests for other kinds of free help.

I've spent 9 of the last 10 years working for people who believed devoutly in our responsibility to provide help if we can. So where I work, a lot of unpaid time goes into responding to these requests. Occasionally the end product is of value to the work we do, but more often it is not. So I do take mental note of the staff time we devote to it.

What makes me grouchy is when someone e-mails several people within an organization asking for the same thing without disclosing that they are sending duplicate requests. We're already putting unpaid time in to answering them once; for them to demand the same information from multiple people (apparently using a shotgun approach to data gathering) is really obnoxious, and it's even more objectionable when you reply promptly with relevant information and then you find out that your colleague wasted a half-hour trying to get the answer as well.

And that doesn't even get to the times when the person lambasts you for the fact that the data doesn't exist, argues with you about empirical facts in your answer, or ignores ethical considerations in disclosure of information (yes, I'm happy to pass on your request, but no, I won't give you personal contact details for people who fit your research criteria, and if you can't understand why a trauma survivor might not want to be tracked down by some random researcher then maybe you should not be doing this work).

Hope that makes sense. I am pretty tired and not easily able to think of non-identifiable examples.

I do continue in my unending campaign to get useful research out to policymakers and ground-level people, so my biases result in some tangible good (for the researchers and their work) at times. And if I think the work is good, I don't fixate on whether their manners are bad. Good work is always worth getting out there.

323: Megan is my kind of co-worker.

And 453 is terrific.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 8:25 PM
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464: Do you have a section on your website, prominently displayed, for Protocol for Information Requests? Or whatever the relevant term might be.

Perhaps you do, but it strikes me that the inquirers are either truly dense, or it's not made very, very plain that there's a protocol for inquiries.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04-21-10 9:00 PM
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452: Than you'd expect based on a distribution of significance chart thingy. I mean, any kind of sampling or surveying has a degree of significance, called p, based on how many results there were and how closely they match what the experimenter would expect. (I'm a layman, I don't know if you are, I only know about this because I read about this very issue in a blog post by Kevin Drum and it stuck with me, but I imagine finding the link now would be very hard.) There's a certain cutoff point - 5 percent of something or other - and if your p is higher than that, the study's results are significant, your hypothesis is confirmed, you win.

Well, look at a whole bunch of scientific studies that have been published in journals and you could put together a chart of how many were how significant; that is, how many had a p greater than 0.05. In theory you'd expect a bell curve - a few scientific studies would have no correlation at all between the actual and predicted results, and a few scientific studies would have perfect correlation, and most would fall somewhere in the middle. In practice, though, there are very few that fall just short of p and very, very many that just barely exceed it.

The simplest explanation for that is that scientists don't like to fail, so if they run an experiment and it almost but not quite makes p, some of them fudge the data a bit. But who knows? Someone should do a study to find out why.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 7:19 AM
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The simplest explanation for that is that scientists don't like to fail, so if they run an experiment and it almost but not quite makes p, some of them fudge the data a bit.

Also, if you barely fail, it's really not worth publishing, so you tweak your experiment design and try again, or shelve it.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 7:28 AM
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467: That too. The result is the same but your hypothetical doesn't require imputing actual dishonesty to scientists like mine did, just careerism. Either way though, it's interesting how the whole scientific community gets screwed up by an obvious-in-retrospect problem with human nature, even right in the middle of one of the institutions specifically designed to keep things impartial and scientific.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 7:33 AM
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467: That too. The result is the same but your hypothetical doesn't require imputing actual dishonesty to scientists like mine did, just careerism. Either way though, it's interesting how the whole scientific community gets screwed up by an obvious-in-retrospect problem with human nature, even right in the middle of one of the institutions specifically designed to keep things impartial and scientific.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 7:33 AM
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I was piggybacking off of Charley's example of people sending unsolicited resumes and wanting job interviews, by giving my own examples of academics -- grad students, adjuncts, professors -- showing similar obliviousness in their requests for other kinds of free help.

Okay, I get it (though I didn't get it initially, I have to say). And I can well believe that some people are a bit clueless about how to make inquiries. Though the notion of grad students and especially adjuncts displaying some remarkable sense of entitlement does seem a bit surprising to me, and I find it hard to believe that this is in any way typical. If only! then maybe there'd fewer people teaching courses for $1500 per semester.


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 9:56 AM
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466: My question was mostly just a snarky comeback to the nebster's phrasing, but the semi-serious underlying point is that *I* would actually expect those deviations because I have some domain knowledge and am not just relying on underlying statistical models. I suspect there is some accepted way of describing this in the statistical literature, but I could not find it. I suspect the right way to look at it statistically is that although the overall distribution still explains the values at a gross level, assume there is a different process that explains the fine structure in that part of the range, and which could possibly be modeled statistically and would yield something closer to the "anomalous" values.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 12:20 PM
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Either way though, it's interesting how the whole scientific community gets screwed up by an obvious-in-retrospect problem with human nature, even right in the middle of one of the institutions specifically designed to keep things impartial and scientific.

Also p = 0.05 is completely arbitrary and might be suited to some experiments but not others.

I read an insightful blog post about this recently!


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 12:25 PM
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Soylent Green Science is people!


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 12:35 PM
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