NPF: CLASSICS

I am having a really difficult time thinking of non-depressing things to talk about on Fridays. That's probably not a good sign, but three years and 100-something applications into my search for a real academic job – now with the added bonus of living 500 miles away from anyone I know – I think I'm down to being happy or some faint approximation thereof for about 20 minutes per week. If that doesn't happen to fall on a Thursday evening…well, NPF turns into an uphill climb.

So, yeah. Here's something I wrote last summer. It has lots of poop jokes and it's pretty funny. Enjoy that. I have to devote some quality time to mulling over my numerous attractive career options.

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40 Responses to “NPF: CLASSICS”

  1. The Man, The Myth Says:

    Ed your two paragraphs actually characterize my feelings about my surroundings pretty well. I guess now that I'm not officially unemployed (I went back to school to become certified in GIS) I feel pretty good about what I'm doing on a day to day basis.

    I started reading the third book in the five book "Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy" series. If anyone hasn't read the first two of these they need to. What is the answer to the meaning of life, the universe, and everything? 42. The point was life stinks and is pointless until you die. The pity is we feel bad for pre-maturely shortening it by killing our selves (at least I couldn't do that).

    I'm ranting and raving. Pardon a dumb post.

  2. Nunya Says:

    Ed, you're a very smart, very funny guy and the fact that a PhD doesn't buy you some kind of stability in this world makes me wonder what the fuck is wrong with this country as much as you do.

    That being said, you're the first post I look for every day. These hacks at the NY Times, BBC, or Washington Post have nothing on your ability to simultaneously illustrate your point while introducing your audience to such phrases as "pants shitting".

    Seriously, while you may be feeling depresed professionally, you bring more humor, hope and wisdom to a country desperate for all three.

  3. eau Says:

    @The Man – I thought the point was to always bring a towel…

  4. anotherbozo Says:

    Nunya's point squared. I'm conflicted about wishing you a cushy job at Princeton or Harvard, as opposed to keeping you miserable right where you are. Maybe it's that misery that leads to so many good posts here, and if so, I wouldn't change a thing, even your disaffection for Shakespeare (who needs more political writing interlaced with quotes from Richard III?).

    On the other hand, if the blog will continue undiminished, I will wish you well in finding a better job and a more congenial environment. Too much success and I will cease to identify, however; I found my own way to be outrageously unsuccessful in my own chosen line of work. Quality of production is only one factor for success in this culture, as any of our nobler public servants can attest–but I don't want to violate NPF.

  5. Marc Says:

    I think you're describing how a lot of us feel these days. There's no question that it's another era of "malaise." I've got to – got to – hope this will pass and that people will finally acknowledge the lunacy and move away from it.

    You're smart and a talented communicator. You'll make something work.

  6. jeneria Says:

    It took me 300+ applications and two years on the job market to get my job. That's just the nature of what we do.

    Academia is cut-throat because the stakes are so low, or so that old adage goes.

  7. Expatriesse Says:

    Ok I did click the link and re-read that post from last summer and cracked up all over again. Ed, you've got a gift for this – unfortunately its not a gift for forex trading or something hideously lucrative (but worthless). I would have given anything to have had you as one of my professors back in the day, it would have changed my university career and personal evolution. (For the better of course!)

  8. anotherbozo Says:

    FWIW, a history position seems to be waiting at Barnard. Not poly sci, but maybe you can fake it…

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/thaddeus-russell/fired-teaching-american-history_b_767172.html

  9. acer Says:

    Ever since that post and "Seriously, Fuck Ayn Rand," you've been on a short list of my favorite living writers. Sorry that doesn't pay the rent.

  10. dan Says:

    20 minutes? You lucky bastard. I had a looming layoff for a year that finally happened a year ago. So it has been a bad 2 years.

    Last week I went to meet my son who was selling popcorn for the Cub Scouts. When I got there, one of the kids was wearing a popcorn container costume, that is hard to describe, but it was hysterical.

    I let out a loud, hardy laugh when I saw him. My son got freaked out. He asked me what I was doing. I said, just laughing because the costume was funny. He said that I sounded weird.

    I realized that was because he hadn't heard me laugh in two years. It freaked him out. Me. Laughing.

  11. Hobbes Says:

    I think part of what's contributing to the severity of our country's overall malaise is the propensity of people to move to where the jobs are (or aren't). I moved to Richmond, VA – 1000 miles from any place I'd even start calling home – because that was the "best" job offer I got. A year of employment, yes, but miserable employment later, I've quit my job, sold my car, and I'm back in grad school making a third of what I made before but so much happier. It was an object lesson in "location matters", and will contribute strongly to my eventual choice of career. I'll likely end up making less than I could if I were willing to move *anywhere* (advantage of being a female with a Master's in Computer Sciences and a year of experience at Major Credit Card Company is that I'm a decently attractive employee), but seriously FUCK THAT.

    I just wish I'd known that when I started undergrad so I'd have majored in something cooler.

  12. pinch Says:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=44mqiBrB0zI

    Maybe this'll raise some spirits, if you haven't already seen it. They're the guys who made that hide ya kids hide ya wives song.

  13. jazzbumpa Says:

    Hobbes –

    If you can't survive in Richmond, then just write off the whole fucking south.

    Those are the states who voted for Goldwater.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_presidential_election,_1964

    Scroll down to map.

    Oops – politics. Lo siento.

    WASF,
    JzB

  14. JohnR Says:

    20 minutes! You lucky bastard! We would have killed to have 20 happy minutes a week – There were 90 of us living in a cardboard box in a hole in the middle of the street, and my Dad would wake us up 15 minutes before we went to bed to eat our gravel for breakfast before we went to work in the mines for a penny a month (etc., etc.).
    Sounds like Someone's Got A Case Of The Mondays!…
    Anyway, hang in there – remember, it could be worse. Could be raining.
    Cheers!

  15. dan Says:

    You're lucky you got gravel for breakfast.

  16. pinch Says:

    It IS raining…. and I live in california :(

  17. Entomologista Says:

    The thing is, it was super easy for Silent Generation/Baby Boomers to get jobs when they graduated with their Ph.Ds. What did they then do once they got into academia? They promptly fucked the system over for everybody else. Funding for the NSF, NIH, NEH, etc. has been slashed over the past few decades. Something like 1 in 20 grants is funded, less in the humanities probably. But science is insanely expensive (a hot plate for your kitchen = $20, a hot plate for your lab = $300). That means professors spend all their time chasing down grant dollars but still need to produce results to prove they deserve grants, which means the people that do the actual research are grad students and postdocs. It also means that wages for grad students and postdocs are kept artificially low because the scarcity of grant dollars creates a demand for an army of experts that are paid slave wages. The people doing cancer research in this country are mainly postdocs on 2-year contracts making $40,000 a year each. It's a good thing we can still get people into the profession by exploiting idealism and youthful passion, because if people really knew what a shit sandwich science in this country is, they'd all go get their MBAs instead.

    The current state of affairs means there will always be more Ph.Ds produced than there are professor jobs available. A lot of people I know go work for industry or the government because these days you pretty much have to be E.O. Wilson to get a tenure-track job at even a small state college. But what really makes my blood boil is that I know people who are graduating now with more publications than some professors have accumulated in 20 years at R1 universities. A lot of professors that are currently employed would never make it in today's job market, yet they hypocritically require 9283475928734 publications and $1 million in grant dollars to even get an interview at an R1 university.

  18. mike a Says:

    In a more perfect world, I would be able to go to Amazon and buy your books. And there would be many of them to chose from.

  19. Will Says:

    Well this is the pick-me-up I needed just before I submit another batch of tenure-track applications.

  20. San Joaquin Says:

    I am an avid fan of this blog and the Perspective of Ed. And I have to say, the responses that you all write are frequently part of what gets me through some days smiling mysteriously to annoy my colleagues. I bow in appreciation. Happy Friday!

  21. anotherbozo Says:

    I just got around to reading your "treatment effects" and "darts" blogs and sprayed crumbs all over the desk laughing.

    Coincidentally I, no doubt along with a million others, just ordered Mark Twain's Autobiography from amazon. Laced, we're told, with his salty political opinions.

    Leading me to the same thoughts as mike a. Why can't you cobble together a few of those blogs under some big theme (titled, maybe "Translations" or "In Plain English") and find a likely publisher? I've paid money for stuff that's not nearly as funny… and I won't name the columnists able to live comfortably who aren't anywhere near this good.

    You can always teach as a sideline…

  22. Hobbes Says:

    @jazzbumpa –

    whole_fucking_south.write(off);

    If I never end up below the Mason-Dixon line again, it will be too soon.

  23. J. Dryden Says:

    Whenever I'm asked which sites I visit daily, I mention this one. Whenever I'm asked why, I link them to the alli side-effects column. No, it's not political, and that's mostly what G&T is about, but so what? Whether we come for the laughs and stay for the edification, or the other way 'round, we show up because Ed does this better than just about anyone else who doesn't list THE ONION on a resume.

    The place you're at sucks; I know this from experience. Persistence pays off. Keep body-and-soul together until it does, and you'll get to the far side of the river. Head down; plow. And hang in there.

  24. Elle Says:

    Aw, Ed. I f it isn't too presumptuous then I hope you're okay, and I second the 'I wish you had a substantial list of books for sale on Amazon' thought.

  25. Sarah Says:

    We're discussing the 2009 economic stimulus bill in my economics class. Somebody said that in years past we got through recessions without spending billions of dollars. I wanted to punch him in his e-face (this is an online class), but I managed to be civil.

  26. Zeb Says:

    Ed,

    Like everyone here, I look forward to your posts on a daily basis. For what it's worth, you're among the very best political/cultural commentators I've encountered on the whole, wide Internets. Even when I disagree with you, your posts inspire thought and usually generate excellent comments. I'm still in college, but I think I've learned more from some of your posts (plus comments) than I have in some of my classes…

    I'll add my name to the list of people who would happily buy your books!

  27. Zeb Says:

    Also, if there were any justice in the world, you'd have your own (uncensored) column in the New York Times. Instead, we get hacks like Tom Friedman…

  28. Hazy Davy Says:

    Given the following:
    1) Many of us have noted Ed's brilliance at articulating complex issues in entertaining, cear ways.
    2) There just aren't enough of us blogreaders, and presumably none of us are wealthy enough for a subscription or sponsorship model to work.

    I wonder what options there are to improve Ed's working financial conditions.

    Option 1:
    Ed looks to not work in academia, but rather in some other field. Comedy, Journalism,…I don't know. Those seem like they probably have a unimodal compensation curve—only a very, very few make a good living doing them, and it's hard to influence whether you're one of the "winners".

    Option 2:
    Ed writes a book. Well, gee, it's easy for me to say it's easy for him to do. The dude's prolific.
    And heck, Mimi did it (http://www.amazon.com/World-According-Mimi-Smartypants/dp/0060786361/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1287795939&sr=8-1). So did Maggie (http://www.amazon.com/One-Cares-What-You-Lunch/dp/032144972X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1287796158&sr=8-1 ). Heather did, too (http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=ntt_athr_dp_sr_1?_encoding=UTF8&sort=relevancerank&search-alias=books&field-author=Heather%20B.%20Armstrong ).

    I think you could, too, Ed. But you might need to lose the Y chromosome, based on my 3 examples, and "one of these things is not like the others."

    Option 3:
    Someone reading this blog looks through their rolodex, through their set of connections, and then realizes "I know someone I could introduce Ed to, who might be able to hire him in academia.l"
    I'm sorry to say, I've gone through the exercise, and I just don't have those connections.

  29. ladiesbane Says:

    Winnah and still champeen!

  30. nate Says:

    I can't be bothered to read all these comments, are they about how Ed is awesome?

    If so, I'd like to add my voice. Ed, you are awesome.

    If not, uh, let me offer some advice my father gave me this last week, on the occasion of his 60th birthday: "Listen up, boy. I'll tell you some shit your dad says. This country is fucked. Totally fucked. I'm just glad I'm not going to be around to see it. That's your fucking problem."

  31. Polk Says:

    Ed, if you currently reside in or ever visit the Atlanta area, I'd like to buy you a drink for the hard work you've put into your blog. I think you deserve it and could use some cheering up.

  32. keith Says:

    To Entomologista: your analysis is spot on, and that has been my experience, too, with tenure-track jobs. My pub record outshines anything I've seen from the search committees that evaluate my candidacy, or from the list of tenured faculty. Yet, they have the job and the power, and I don't. It becomes especially frustrating to realize that those getting the jobs are not necessarily the smartest, but they have the requisite political skills or insider track to land the offer. Post docs need to unionize, but I'm not even sure that would help, as long as science funding remains so cut throat.

  33. surefoot Says:

    The hammering of daily existence will fatigued and grinded on those that lug around even a tad of a conscience. So this Friday I took to roaming the woods; enjoying the spectacular autumn foliage, and what did I glimpse, but a very rare Flying Squirrel. I

  34. Nunya Says:

    @ J. Dryden- I stumbled along Ginandtacos.com by doing a search for "battered workers syndrome". What Ed wrote was so monumentally inpressive that I gave up on trying to write anything about it.

    To those who missed it, please see the following masterpiece:
    http://www.ginandtacos.com/2008/06/19/battered-worker-syndrome/

  35. Andrew R. Says:

    Ed, I laughed very much at your poop joke NPF.

    Also, it gets better. After a little over one hundred sixty job applications, I finally managed to land, if not a tenure-track job, a lecturership that pays a big people wage and is indefinitely renewable (also here in GA). Courage!

  36. eau Says:

    I think you should start a sister blog, invent yourself a wingnut blogger persona, and give us some hardcore, po-faced satire. Not the Colbert, nudge-nudge-wink-wink variety. The 'my redneck cousin thinks this is fer-serious' variety. Then run ads on it. Then write a tell-all memoir. You could call it 'Teabags & Tacos: My Year As Part of the Dick Arm(e)y.

    C'mon, you may not get rich, but you know you'd have a fucking ball.

  37. eau Says:

    Additionally, my love for (addiction to?) G&T has outlived relationships, friendships, bands, pet lizards, fads, crazes, and even the weird rash I got from that Latvian girl.

    So, there's that.

  38. Crusty Dem Says:

    Ed, there should be a permanent link to the alli post on your front page. It is, without a doubt, the funniest goddamn thing I've read in my entire life.

  39. dick nixon Says:

    Ed, I spent several years in academia, and ended as an ABD in History.

    Driven by economic necessity I went out and got a sales job. I rose to medium heights in the corporate world.

    Despite what many on he outside think–the real world, as defined by commercial activity–is a cakewalk compared to the academic life of publish, review, backstab, and grovel. I'm sorry for your trouble.

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