Partisan football

by Henry Farrell on December 29, 2004

I’ve just discovered a “quite disgusting exercise in partisan pointscoring”: by Wizbang via our Technorati links, suggesting that because we (and other left blogs) haven’t had several posts each about the tsunami and its aftermath, liberals don’t care as much as conservatives about their fellow human beings. I’m not going to return the favour by claiming that this post shows us this or that about conservatives, because it doesn’t tell us anything whatsoever about conservatives as a collectivity. It does, however, speak volumes about the person who wrote this sorry excuse for a post.

NB – further attempts to play partisan football in the comments section will be deleted.

Buy generously again

by Henry Farrell on December 29, 2004

Like John, I’m going to be donating whatever’s in my Amazon Associates account already, plus whatever commission comes in from people buying over the next quarter (up to March 31). I’ll make the first payment, like John, after the weekend, to the American Red Cross, and will donate whatever comes in after that to a combination of the Red Cross, Medecins Sans Frontieres, and a charity dealing with long term reconstruction (suggestions gratefully received). I’d been thinking anyway of doing a round-up of books that I’d liked this year – a highly varied list of reading suggestions below. As John says, donate what you can directly – but if you want some holiday reading (and to give a little money to charity while you’re at it) use the links below.

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Jerry Orbach dies

by Eszter Hargittai on December 29, 2004

Jerry Orbach, star of Law & Order for many seasons, died last night of prostate cancer. Just last week NBC rebroadcast his last episode in the series. Even though he had left the show, he was taking part in the production of the new upcoming spinoff “Law & Order: Trial by Jury”, which will start airing in 2005 with Orbach performing in three episodes.

Buy Generously

by John Holbo on December 29, 2004

I’m suffering from jags of survivor guilt. I really can’t bear to read the news. As Belle and I posted at our other blog, we were planning a Phuket/Koh Phi Phi Thai X-Mas junket for our whole extended family. But it fell through when the stateside folks decided they couldn’t hack the weirdness and distance and expense. So I am plagued by images of what it would have been like with Belle on the beach, 3-year old daughter to the left of me, 8-month old daughter to the right.  Also, we’ve been to Phuket and Phi Phi several times and can’t help thinking about all the nice folks who were always so nice to us. I’m sure many of them are dead and many of the rest have had their livelihood destroyed, at least for the time being.

So Belle and I are donating the humble proceeds from our Amazon Associates Account for the quarter. So far that comes to almost exactly $100. A nice round number to pony up for starters. Given that I have resolved to donate x, where x = my commissions, you might consider buying some Amazon products through my Associates account. Hint, hint. Just look under the fold. I’m not an incorporated charity or anything, so don’t come demanding financial statements. But most of us are gonna buy some Amazon gear this year, am I right? So buy it now and – as it so happens – I’ll fire off a check to a reputable charity come the 1st of January [make that January 3, after the weekend]. The bigger the better. (I haven’t decided which charity is best, if that makes a difference to you.) Then I’ll fire off another check two weeks after that to equal whatever amount rolls in late. Then I’ll decide what to do. So if you click to buy after two weeks into the New Year, I’m not promising I’ll still be in the sending checks to charities business. But I’m not intending to turn a profit here, I do solemnly swear. And if you don’t trust me, don’t click. Easy. (I hereby disavow legal obligation to you, is what I’m saying. You’re buying from Amazon. I’m just stating a personal plan.)

I hereby encourage other bloggers – those of you who have hopeful little Amazon begging bowls put out – to follow suit. Pledge your proceeds for the quarter, joe blogger, even if it’s only a few bucks. Say so, so your readers can sweeten the pot. We’re big on chat, we bloggers. But chat isn’t exactly what certain folks need at the moment. [UPDATE: I probably wasn’t clear about this. You can buy any old thing from Amazon using any of the links below and I’ll get a commission. Once you are there, just buy what you want. It’s just there are extra % points if you buy the very thing on the button. Sorry for confusion.]

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A Sociologist Amongst Philosophers

by Kieran Healy on December 29, 2004

Not only is it “MLA Season”:, it’s also time for the meetings of the “American Philosophical Association’s Eastern Division”: The APA meetings are scheduled at this time of the year because, as is well known, philosophers hate Christmas — even if a good number of its senior wranglers do their best to look like Santa. So here I am in Boston. This year I even have a professional excuse to be here, because I’m doing some work on the relationship between specialization and status amongst philosophy departments.

Unlike most academic associations, the APA doesn’t have a proper national meeting, just regional ones. But the Eastern APA is the biggest, partly because there’s a high concentration of philosophers on the East Coast,[1] but mostly because the job market happens at it. Like the MLA, Philosophy departments interview their shortlist of 10 to 15 candidates at the meetings, with a view to whittling them down to three or four for campus visits. Personally, I don’t believe this stage adds any useful information to the recruitment process, unless you are interested in whether a candidate can sit comfortably in a cramped hotel suite.

I nearly got an interview at the APA myself a few years ago, when I accidentally sat at the wrong table in an empty conference room, put my feet up and started reading some book or other. After about half an hour some people started filing in to the room, but I wasn’t paying attention. Then two guys (one with a Santa beard-in-training) sat down at my table. “Mr Robertson? We’re from East Jesus State University,”[2] said one of them, “Shall we begin?” I should have said yes, but of course instead I was a coward and mumbled something about not being Mr Robertson. Pity: I’ve become quite good at bluffing my way amongst philosophers, and I might have gotten a fly-out.

fn1. Every single Mets fan, for instance.

fn2. Not its real name.