Saturday, October 8, 2005
So Friday was a pretty bad day....
This Friday was a less-than-great day for two reasons.
First, the Red Sox got swept in the playoffs. Iím sad about it, but not that sad. I can hardly begrudge the White Sox for their first playoff series victory since
[Shouldnít you be more "rah-rah" about the team representing the South Side of Chicago?óed.] Well, that leads to the second and more important reason why Friday was a pretty bad day.
The political science department voted to deny me tenure. Next year at this time, I will no longer be residing in Hyde Park or teaching at the University of Chicago.
[Wait a minute, you canít leave it at that. What happened? What the hell happened? Why didnít you get tenure? Was it your failure to anchor yourself within a clearly established theoretical paradigm? A lack of respect from peers in your IPE subfield? Too much output? A declining respect of your subfield by your tenured colleagues? The departmental turn away from mainstream political science scholarship? Your political orientation? Jealousy of your public intellectual status? WAS IT THE FRIGGINí BLOG??!!--ed.] My answers in order: I dunno, perhaps, probably not, maybe, I guess so, a little, could be, I seriously doubt it, and who the hell knows? Any decent social scientist must allow for multiple causes, so itís not necessarily an either/or question. At the moment, I simply lack the data to confirm or deny any explanation. I may garner more information in the days and weeks that follow, but the fact that I was genuinely surprised at the outcome suggests that my ex ante intelligence gathering was piss-poor.
[So what will you do now?--ed.] Look for gainful employment to start in June 2006 Ė a fact that will no doubt amuse readers who have disagreed with my take on the effect of offshore outsourcing on job creation. At least I have some lead time.
[How are you feeling? Are you bitter at the U of C?--ed.] Iíve felt better. And -- duh -- yeah. That said, I will miss the students. The undergrads have been wonderful, and the grad students have been razor-sharp. At the moment, my biggest regret about all this is the knowledge that Iíve taught my last class at the university.
[Speaking of regrets, letís go back to the blog.... erÖ any regrets?--ed.] The very first words I wrote on this blog were: "I shouldn't be doing this. I'll be going up for tenure soon." This is a theme that Iíve touched on several times since then. The point is, I canít say I didnít go into this with my eyes open.
That said, if one assumes that the opportunity cost of blogging (e.g., better or more scholarship) was the difference between tenure and no tenure Ė an unclear assertion at best Ė then itís a tough call. From a strict cost-benefit analysis, one could argue that the doors that blogging opened could have been deferred for a few years in return for the annuity of a tenured position at Chicago. That said, if I did things only for the money, I never would have entered the academy in the first place. And Iíve enjoyed the psychic rewards of blogging way too much to regret my choice.
[Just this week you said, "The academic job market, as I've witnessed it, is a globally rational but locally capricious system." Still believe that?--ed.] Well, Iíd posit that the second half of the hypothesis has received another data point of empirical support. Weíll see how the first half holds up as the job market proceeds.
Blogging may be slower than usual for the next couple of days.
Friday, October 7, 2005
Is there anything more exciting than Canadian public television?
Blogging may be slow for the next few days, as I'll be at the University of Toronto's Munk Centre for International Studies for a conference entitled, "Growing Apart: Europe and America."
However, for those diehard readers of danieldrezner.com who reside in Ontario -- yes, that's all three of you -- I'll be one of a bevy of talking heads for TVOntario's Diplomatic Immunity, airing this Friday.
TVO will also -- God forbid -- be airing the "highlights" of the conference... er... at some point in the next few weeks.
Canadian public TV -- it's fantastic!!
Thursday, October 6, 2005
More Miers links
This Jim Lindgren post probably won't assuage her.
In this post, Postrel partially corrects Lindgren's assessment -- but then goes onto observe, "The prose is indeed clunky, however, and the article is banal in that well-known corporate way, where you make an argument--her main point is that the courts need more money--without any sharp points."
I'll give the last word to Postrel, who rebuts the snobbery argument:
Scholar-blogger thoughts, cont'd
Following up on my last post:
Oxblog's David Adesnik is happy about the new U of C Law School blog -- and the extent to which the law school is proud of its existence -- but nevertheless believes blogging remains decidedly out of the academic mainstream:
In the spirit of the last paragraph, I would encourage the IR scholars in the audience to check out Dan Nexon's post about the debate over the role that norms play in world politics. He's looking for feedback.
"I can't think of anything bigger that's happened in virology for many years."
That's the assessment of one expert in Gina Kolata's New York Times front-pager on new research about the 1918 influenza virus:
A companion piece by Gardiner Harris suggests that Democrats have officially freaked out about the avian flu problem:
Even though I've been Bush-bashing as of late, it's worth pointing out that Democrats are late to this party. Kolata says in her story that, "Bush administration officials have been talking about pandemic flu preparedness for years, and they say they will soon release a pandemic flu plan, in the works for more than a year." Harris says that, "The Senate majority leader, Bill Frist of Tennessee, said he had been delivering speeches about improving the nation's preparedness for a flu pandemic since December."
Of course, let's see how the plans pan out.
Wednesday, October 5, 2005
Who do you trust?
George W. Bush is asking Americans to trust him one hell of a lot in recent weeks.
On the Miers nomination, as George Will put it, "The president's 'argument' for her amounts to: Trust me."
The problem is, this kind of presidential assertion runs into the "crony too far" problem, as Jacob Levy points out:
Then there's this Congressional push to ward off further Abu Ghraibs by codifying the United States Army Field Manual on Intelligence Interrogation as the uniform standard for military interrogations in the field. According to the AP's Liz Sidoti, Bush doesn't like that proposal at all (link via Andrew Sullivan):
In the Weekly Standard, Tom Donnelly and Vance Serchuk state why the administration is off base:
There are good people working in the executive branch in whose competency I trust. At this point, George W. Bush is not one of them.
UPDATE: William J. Stuntz argues in TNR Online that Bush is echoing Truman:
This is a nice piece of analogical reasoning, but I don't think it holds up. The first problem is that even the Bush people who are "major-league talents," like Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz, have not acquitted themselves well. The second problem is that Truman, unlike Bush, was a voracious reader who demonstrated a fair amount of intellectual curiousity.
Tuesday, October 4, 2005
Gendered observations that make you go, "hmmm...."
Wow, talk about your night and day observations about how Miers' gender will affect her possible performance on the Supreme Court.
First, there's Crooked Timber's Kieran Healy:
That's a lovely sentiment, but without digging too deep I can think of a few examples on both sides of the political fence who don't meet Healy's criteria. [UPDATE: Healy amends his assessment, but not on the gender issue.]
Then, there's this from the American Thinker's Thomas Lifner:
Apparently, if confirmed, Miers would also have the prerogative to ground any Justice who stays out after curfew.
Your scholar-blogger links for today
My co-author Henry Farrell has an excellent essay in the Chronicle of Higher Education about the ways in which blogging and scholarship can complement each other. Without saying his name, it is certainly an excellent rejoinder to one Mr. "Ivan Tribble." The key paragraphs:
Meanwhile, for those who believe that the academic life is a cushy one, go click over to Dan Nexon's post about the poli sci job market at Duck of Minerva. The highlights:
I'm simultaneously more pessimistic and optimistic than Nexon.
On the pessimistic side, the fact that no single person can occupy all the jobs proffered to them does not mean the market will clear. Among top-tier institutions, it is far more likely that departments will simply adopt a "wait 'til next year" approach than hire their second choice. At which point the process repeats itself -- a lucky few snap up all the job offers, everyone else waits until next year. For aspiring academics that want the really plum jobs, this can be like repeatedly banging your head against a wall in the hopes of obtaining a result different than your head hurting -- a textbook definition of insanity.
On the optimistic side, I don't think old-boy networks warp the hiring process as much as is often posited. This is what I said in "So You Want to Get a Tenure-Track Job..."
The academic job market, as I've witnessed it, is a globally rational but locally capricious system. Some people will undoubtedly slip through the cracks -- but on the whole, talent is recognized and rewarded.
So how did the grand stategizin' go?
Over at Democracy Arsenal, former guest-blogger Suzanne Nossel provides a lengthy post outlining the general sense of the meeting.
Go check it out. There were a few conference papers worth reading, and I'll post links to them once they're made available.
Monday, October 3, 2005
Open Miers thread
My substantive take is pretty much in line with the Volokh Conspiracy's David Bernstein -- particularly this point:
Jack Balkin concurs: "Although we don't know much about Miers, it's likely that, like John Roberts, she was picked with a view toward protecting executive power." That's a thought that makes a small-government conservative just giddy with anticipation, doesn't it?
As for the politics of it, Michelle Malkin chronicles discontent on the right side of the blogosphere -- including her own reaction:
Eerily enough, this parallels Josh Marshall's reaction:
Tom Goldstein at SCOTUSblog informs me that, "Moderate Republicans have no substantial incentive to support Miers."
As an anonymous e-mailer put it to me:
Whoa, hold the phone -- she was a fair and honest Lottery Commissioner? Put this woman on the bench right away!!!
[Isn't that a little harsh?--ed. Look, maybe Miers is supremely qualified -- I'm sure the hearings will reveal something about her competence at jurisprudence. However, a glance at her cv -- and those praising her accomplishments -- suggests that beyond not having ever served on a bench, she appears to have held no other job of parallel legal distinction. Would Miers ever be an answer to any legal question that starts, "Name the top nine lawyers who _____" -- besides serving George W. Bush for an extended period of time? In a post-Katrina environment, that dog won't hunt. You stole that from Jacob Levy--ed. Well, I only borrow from the best, and besides, Jacob also said he wanted this meme to travel as far and wide as possible.]]
Given the politics of the Supreme Court right now, there was no one -- no one -- who was going to skate through this nomination. This choice, however, seems designed to tick off every variety of conservative known to man.
No wonder Glenn Reynolds thinks Bush has pulled a perfect storm -- and not in a good way.
Meanwhile Senator Frank Lautenberg (D, NJ) tells the Associated Press that he finds Miers, "courteous and professional."
FINAL UPDATE: Oh, man, does Larry Solum find the right quote from Federalist 76.
Things that keep me up at night
The Independent's Jeremy Laurance reports that the World Health Organization is trying to calm people down about avian flu:
Well, I feel much better now.
Even more calming is this Time.com report from Christine Gorman: