Category Archives: Blogosphere

No Freedom in the Ghetto

The academic ghetto (composed of the humanities, International Relations, sociology, and so on) is a place of low-employment and low-wages. There are four types of people in the academic ghetto:

  • Pimps who run the game. They are the professors.
  • Escapees who are about to get out. They are (graduates who leave the field but use their skills.
  • Losers, who those sucked into the system until their time, youth, and money desert them. They are non-tenure track instructors.
  • Disaster tourists, who get a thrill out of the place. They are students or others who for whatever reason don’t need the degree for employment.

pimp_duck

Pimps are in zero-sum competition with each other. This conflict leads all pimps to give up freedom in exchange for safety.

Pimps act tough, but only because they are in a dangerous environment.  They are prisoners of the lack of jobs and opportunities.  There is no freedom in the ghetto.

A pimp may lord it over losers and strut for disaster tourists, but his life is essentially one of fear. Signs of weakness are pounced on. The only safe approach is to stay within your square block, not venture outside, and avoid conflict (while appearing not to). Original thinkers are weeded out, punished, or otherwise compelled to keep their heads down.

A sad example of this occurred this year at the formerly interesting group blog, Duck of Minerva. As I described it in a post from August

An example of this was at The Duck of Minerva, a blog dedicated to celebrating one alley in the academic ghetto (International Relations). A humorous post on identifying and infiltrating old boys networks by a professor at a research university, Brian Rathburn, entitled “Intellectual Jailbait: Networking at APSA” was taken down, all comments on that post were deleted ,Brian was forced to issue a self-criticism, Brian’s post became a non-entity (substantively replaced by Steve Saideman‘s post “Networking is Hard Work“), and two thinly veiled attacks on Brian were posted, (Daniel Nexon‘s “Sexual Harassment in Political Science and International Studies and Laura Sjoberg’s Let’s talk about sex). .

To go back to the analogy, Brian, Daniel, and Laura were pimps who engaged in a turf war. Steve instead gave in to the system, avoiding conflict with the most generic post possible.

The results?

But Steve — who wrote a generic and grey post, who kept his head down — he’s still there. He even said he likes his job. Brave stuff.

If you are young and thinking of entering the humanities ghetto — don’t. If you’re already there — run.

What should a Political Science PhD student do? Should she blog?

Over at Duck of Minerva, Anita Kellogg also asked recently if she should blog while preparing for a career in academic International Relations. The full text of her question, posted at Duck of Minerva after the defenestration of Brian Rathburn, was:

I am an IR scholar who in the last couple of weeks decided to try blogging in earnest as a counterbalance to the isolation of dissertation writing. When I read Brian’s post yesterday, I definitely started to have second thoughts. I know I will make mistakes. I am still trying to find my voice and focus. I would like to write about politics more broadly, but should I only write about issues where my qualifications are stronger? Even if I stick to IR, do the potential negatives for job searches in the future outweigh the more immediate benefits now? I am really unsure of my answers to these questions at present

The short answer is:

Drop out of International Relations immediately

The long answer is below…

But first, some context…

Actually, Anita’s choice whether or not to blog first depends on why she is in the academic ghetto.

wages_employment_majors_humanities_ghetto_md

As I’ve said many times, there are four types of people in that land of few jobs and low wags:

1. Pimps who run the racket
2. Losers who are exploited by the pimps
3. Escapees who are preparing to leave
4. Disaster tourists who get a kick out of the whole thing

Average salaries for political science PhDs are not pretty, implying that successfully pimping (teaching at a research-one university) with that degree is as unlikely as ascending to the top of the Black Gangsta Disciples.

salary_by_phd_md

Assuming that Anita is not actively trying to leave Political Science, that leaves being a Loser or a Disaster tourists. Disaster tourists come in three shades

1. Those with income from parents such that they do not need to work to support themselves
2. Those with income from spouses such that they do not need to work to support themselves
3. Those with sufficient personal capital (financial, skill-based, etc) that the years in graduate school can be seen as an extended “finding yourself” vacation

Assuming she’s not a disaster tourist, the best advise for Anita is to run.

godleftdetroit-575

But let’s assume that Anita’s goal is to be a pimp — to land a job at a research-one university — and she doesn’t mind that she will be exploiting others to do so. (The countless students who will take on student loans, work hard for years, and leave with few jobs and low wages). Then the answer is still obvious

Don’t blog if you need a job in the humanities ghetto

The reason is that there are two sorts of job markets

1. Job markets where few individuals have veto power over hiring
2. Job markets where many individuals have veto power over hiring

In the first kind of job market, an individual needs to impress a superior in some many: ideological bias, pleasant personality, research skill, whatever. While hiring here in such an environment is idiosyncratic and arbitrary, it’s attack surface area is relatively small. Only one individual must be assuaged, meaning at worst you’re dealing with the idiosyncratic and arbitrary prejudices of one person. One might, however, get a job because one’s odd beliefs somehow flatter the hiring manager.

The second kind of job market describes political science, as well as the rest of the humanities ghetto. A hiring committee is more idiosyncratic and arbitrary than a hiring manager, because in a hiring committee the disqualifying attributes are the sum (set union) of the disqualifying attributes as decided by all of the hiring committee members. The hiring committee process, further, is set up to avoid anyone receiving a job because one’s beliefs somehow flatter a specific member.

You can think of the possibility of not getting a job as a result of an idiosyncratic bias as a series of draws. One hiring manager means one draw per thing associated with you. Two means two draws. And so on.

To use Anita as an example, recently on her blog she’s gone out of her way to attack (or discuss) conservatives, a Christian evangelist (on the subject of charity) anti-vaccination activists (who, admittedly, are nutcases — though some have PhDs), a sitting Senator (who I’ve also attacked), public radio (albeit humorously), and St. Thomas Aquinas (albeit indirectly).

The possibility of being interviewed by a conservative, or an anti-vaccine nut, or a fan of St. Thomas Aquinas is relatively small. But the more members of the committee, the greater the chance. The more posts you have written, the greater the chance.

The only students in the humanities ghetto I know of, whose careers were helped by blogging, were escapees leaving the ghetto.

If you want to blog, run.

Widley Accepted Facts of 4G Warfare

Shannon Love of the Chicago Boyz has started an interesting series of exegeses on fourth generation warfare (see his posts on state-sponsorship and the existence of central directives). Shannon’s clearly a good writer, and knows what he’s talking about.

Too bad he dresses it up in nonsensical “myths” rhetoric.

Still, his first post seems to have been only in February, so hopefully Shannon will be able to use more constructive rhetoric in discussing the generational model of warfare as he gains experience with the medium of the blogosphere.

Loss

Mark C Chu-Carroll, a doctor of computer science, a Google engineer, and a blogger, lost his father this weekend:

My father died on sunday.

To some degree, I’m still in shock. Even though we knew it was coming, when something like this happens, no amount of preparation really helps. He’d been sick with an antibiotic resistant infection since November, and on thursday, refused to let them give him a feeding tube. So we really knew, almost to the day, when he was going to die. And yet, when it finally happened, it was still a shock.

We buried him yesterday. I didn’t speak at the funeral, because I couldn’t. Every time I try to talk about him, my voice just shuts down. But my fingers don’t. So if you’ll bear with me, I want to say a little bit about my father.

He died of an antibiotic resistant infection. As long as I live, I’ll never be able to forgive the Doctors who took care of him. The illness that killed him started with an infection in his little toe. Due to a spectacularly stupid series of errors – where basically repeated infections with antibiotic resistant bacteria were not treated properly – he developed antibiotic resistant pneumonia, which is what ended up killing him.

He was 80 years old. He was an amazing person. And he will be missed.

My prayers go to Mark and his family.

Famous Dates of Conspiracy Theories (Possible 5GW Events)

5GW, or SecretWar, is a form of warfare that attacks an enemy’s observation capability. In a recent post, Purpeslog wrote (emphasis and link mine):

A 5GW operation will create conditions and contingencies to avoid detection by hiding among the crazies. I can see where parts of an operation might purposely be exposed and then linked with false information and crazy theories to discourage real investigation. All of this is aimed at the observation part of the OODA loop of the opponent.

In that vein, Adam of The Metropolis Times has just finished his series on conspiracy politics. On that note, six (possibly 5GW) dates that will live in history

LOST on the Net

Catholicgauze, fresh from his conquest of the blogosphere and being called a monster in Spanish, emailed me from interesting LOST links. LOST is an interest of mine (and other bloggers) so I was delighted when emailed me some links…

lost_island_md
Map of LOST Island


Carson Andorf, currently with Iowa State’s Artificial Intelligence Research Group, collects a bajillion graphics for LOST. From pipes accidentally visible to angles of reflection in the Swan Station.

Some other LOST Links: The Hanso Foundation, which advertised on the latest episode, has relaunched its website. I’ve also joined the fanbase of podcasts, becoming thoroughly addicted to the two best LOSTcasts: The LOST Podcast with Jay and Jack and Generally Speaking LOST Podcast.

And while I’m throwing out links, here’s another one: gnxp: Gene Expression. I will be taking a class on genetics in the social sciences both semesters next year, so gnxp is the new place to be.

5GW Independently Discovered on "Use Perl;"

5GW equals ‘whoops’,” by TorgoX, Use Perl;, 13 April 2005, http://use.perl.org/~TorgoX/journal/24173.

Ever have a dream/nightmare you have an original idea, only to find out someone on the other side of the world had the same idea right before you?

Apparently, some of Mark Safranski‘s and mine discussion of 5GW was foreshadowed by “TorgoX”

Dear Log,

The core idea of fifth-generation warfare is shaping up to be: “make it look like an accident

Wow.

In Net-Centric Politics, The Net-Centric Politicians Ru[i]n the Party

Internet and the Democrats,” by Jon Schaff, South Dakota Politics, 20 July 2005, http://southdakotapolitics.blogs.com/south_dakota_politics/2005/week29/index.html#a0005664380.

Schaff of SDP notes that the infusion of high-tech politics into the Democrat Party is hurting America’s Opposition, by turning the technophile “netroots” against the factions of the party who can actually win

 

There is no such thing as a free lunch. You get activism and money out of the online world, but you also get a louder voice for the far left of the Party. Note this bit referring to Marcos Moulitsas Zuniga, aka Daily Kos:

 

[Kos] sweepingly dismissed the Democratic Leadership Council, Joe Lieberman, and The New Republic magazine as “tools of the GOP.” In 2004, Kerry’s campaign cut its link to Moulitsas’s Web site after he wrote that he felt “nothing” when four American contractors were killed in Falluja, because “they are there to wage war for profit.”

 

And also:

 

After years of uncertainty, he had discovered his niche. Kos quickly found an audience by expressing the unmediated anger of the Democratic base toward Bush, and even more so toward Democrats who cooperated with him, especially over the war in Iraq.

 

Kos’s “niche” is fueling anger and resentment towards all who do not share his extremist views.

But to the point at hand, I think it is interesting that the very part of the Democratic Party that is gaining power is rejecting the only part of the Party that has won an election in the last 40 years (remember Carter ran as a moderate Southerner).

 

International Political Fan Fiction

Aaron warned me that after Allawi’s Law, I was in danger of creating political fan fiction, and that he would have to avoid for me for that reason. That got me wondering, and I could find two other examples of this breathtaking genre.

From Ridiculopathy

A recent Google topic check resulted in several magabytes of text labeled “Greenfield/Russert Slash.”

Jeff suddenly stopped, drawing his face away from his lover’s gaze in shame. “This is wrong, Tim,” he muttered. “We’re from two different worlds, you and I. You have your life at NBC, and I have mine at CNN.”

Tim lifted his head from the bearskin rug stroked the protruding vertebrae on Jeff’s back. “Our love is forbidden, yes,” he said. “If our respective news divisions catch wind of this, it would ruin us both.”

Their bond passed wordless between them like an unseen ribbon of fraternity. They had been the only two prescient enough to predict the Florida mess in 2000, each respected enough by both parties to garner invitations to moderate high-level debates. Neither had fared well enough to keep a prime time cable talk show running for more than a few weeks.

Jeff pushed up the nose of his round tortoise shell glasses, resolved in his decision. “If running numbers with you is wrong, I don’t want to be right.”

With that, Tim put the bear costume back on for another go.

And IMAO has an entire category of the stuff (hat-tip Catalase).

“Why does it look like President Bush’s Social Security plans won’t be passed?” asked a reporter, “Is it because you’re so fat?”

“I’m not fat!” White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan exclaimed, “And the Social Security plans will be passed.”

“Is it because you’re in denial of being fat then?”

“Argh!” Scott exclaimed and stormed away. “The press are being mean to me!” he yelled as he entered the White House. He then noticed Bush was spraying the interior with something. “What are you doing?”

“I’m spraying the White House with monkey poison,” he explained, “I’m pretty sure a monkey bit me while I was sleeping, and I don’t want any monkeys in my house.”

“A monkey did not bite you!” Laura Bush exclaimed, “You just imagined it!”

Bush kept spraying. “I can’t take that chance!”

But no international political fan fiction found. Allawi’s Law still wins!