CNN: “Why Palin may be ready to jump in”

All I can say is, “JUMP! PLEASE JUMP!”

Of course, we may have to endure many cringe-fill moments. And repetitions of the all too obvious criticisms of her. Indeed, our decision in January to go along with the idea of a Palin-free February probably relieved a number of people, and it certainly meant fewer teeth-nashings were reported. And I don’t think I really could sit through a debate between her and Obama. Still, convervative politicians will see vividly the ideas they have encouraged in the US and may actually learn they don’t have a mandate to remark the country in the Tea Party’s image.

More seriously, the Republicans seem to be figuring out that getting rid of entitlement programs is going to be a hard sell. With Palin as candidate they may see that the fracturing they are doing is leaving them with a smaller share.

And if she gets elected, there’s always Canada! :)

First recorded museum was created by a woman

t quickly dawned on Woolley that this might actually be an ancient museum, the 6th century BCE equivalent of the sorts of institutions that were now sponsoring him. Indeed, a key piece of evidence was how the artifacts were arranged – while they were all mixed up from a temporal perspective, whoever had brought these items together had done so with considerable care and attention.

What sealed the deal was the discovery of the world’s earliest known museum label. In his book, Woolley describes finding clay cylinders in the chamber, each with text written in three different languages, including the language of ancient Sumerian and the more modern (for the period) late Semitic language.


So who was responsible for this ancient wonder full of even more ancient wonders? That honor goes to Princess Ennigaldi, the daughter of King Nabonidus, the last king of the Neo-Babylonian Empire.

For more, go here.

Temporary academic work in UK philosophy departments

It’s far from easy if you’re employed as an academic on a temporary basis. Apart from the obvious one – lack of job security – temporary staff face a number of difficulties. Unlike permanent staff, universities offer little if any financial help with relocation, it costs money (lots of it in some cases) to move, moving is stressful and has a negative impact on one’s relationships with family and friends, it’s nigh on impossible to secure a mortgage, there is reduced entitlement to maternity leave, temporary jobs lack possibilities for promotion so one’s salary is either stagnant, or decreases as one has to accept new jobs on a lower wage, pension arrangements are patchy at best, or non-existent.

Moreover, the way in which departments operate makes it almost inevitable that some unlucky folk will be stuck in a cycle of temporary work with all the disadvantages this brings. Hiring committees place a great amount of importance on a person’s research. They want to see a strong publication record, and evidence of the ability to attract grant money. Temporary staff are typically employed primarily to cover teaching, and have much higher teaching loads than permanent staff, often with no research time at all built into their contracts. Universities are increasingly employing temporary staff on short contracts of less than a year, which means that over the summer – when permanent staff are focusing on their research – temporary staff often have to take other jobs to make ends meet. Add to this the fact that temporary staff must continually be applying for the next job – and we all know how long it takes to write a job application. It makes it very difficult to do any research which will enable one to secure a permanent post.

The British Philosophical Association has taken this up, and produced a new policy document outlining the problem, and suggesting ways in which departments can improve the lives of young philosophers.

The document draws on an excellent report written by Dawn Phillips, which sets out the issues in detail, with suggestions for change. You can access it here.

UPDATE: Doh – I’ve just noticed Jender already reported this a few days ago. I’ll leave this post up too, though, as it has more detail than Jender’s.