Saturday, February 9, 2008

A Witness to Job Search Carnage

I'm feeling a bit better after going to the doctor to get checked out physically. Apparently, my respiratory system is somewhat compromised due to chronic air-flow restriction. The situation may require sinus surgery at some point, but other medications will be tried first. I have had some relief with what they tried this week. The situation could be congenital, but it is conspicuous that a majority of my old military unit suffered severe respiratory ailments that forced a great many out on medical disability. We were collectively exposed, without proper equipment, to some nasty stuff that neither our government nor Saddam himself would own up to. The mysterious "fire" that supposedly destroyed the stacks of medical records my unit submitted upon our return to Georgia leaves the situation conveniently ambiguous. Some of my records have been whitewashed to the point that I am shown on a flight from Rota, Spain to Kuwait City then I disappear until I miraculously reappear in Rome months later in preparation for a flight back through Ireland to Hunter Army Air Field in Savannah, Georgia. According to the omniscient federal bureaucracy, I dropped off the planet for awhile despite the existence of archived CBS news footage of me behind 'Slick Willy' Clinton on a platform, an off-camera interview with Connie Chung, and a mild personal confrontation with Clinton's press secretary at the time Dee Dee Myers. This is the specific reason for my personal animosity toward the Clinton political machine. Bill was personable, but his public statements to my unit and the things he briefly said to me about our status turned out to be politically expedient lies. Hillary will function in much the same way with the remnants of this same corrupt machine. Maybe Obama can prevail, but I have my doubts it would be allowed to happen by the party hierarchy. With respect to my politically convenient disappearance from the planet, I guess I must have had access to somekind of intra-dimensional rift in the space-time continuum that allowed me to be nowhere and somewhere at the same time. In any case, my body has remained more resistant to what I was exposed to than most of my comrades, and I guess I'm obstinate enough that it takes quite a bit to kill me off. Maybe, I'm becoming too cranky to die in my old age!
On a side note: I witnessed one of Princeton's top grad students in Classics come to UCLA and try to compete for a job opening. He delivered his presentation and was summarily destroyed by a barrage of questions and attacks, some fair and some not so fair. These attacks left his argument a gutted corpse on the side of the road. I've never seen anything quite so brutal in academia. It was good to see a willingness to to tear down the vacuous pretentiousness that often comes out of the Ivy League, as confirmed by my adviser who did get his PhD from Princeton (of course - C exhibits none of the traits of Ivy corruption). However, this presentation wasn't quite as bad as what this inquisition made it out to be. The candidate was a finalist in this process and did not exude any signs of pretentiousness like what I had seen from Harvard's top-grad a couple of years ago during Oregon's hiring process in Classics. Oregon actually made a tenure offer for an inferior presentation and was turned down when the Harvard grad took a better offer. Once again, institutional repuation trumped intellectual production. The candidate I saw this week was actually better and has no chance at all. I'll be well prepared by the faculty here, but I am not looking forward to losing my secondary adviser next year while she teaches at Oxford for a year. She'll be back to help me in my third year by the time I have to face these same inquisitors, but the preparation is very oppressive. I guess I'll continue to stick to Friedrich's maxim of "that which does not kill you, makes you stronger!" - but it remains daunting. I often feel over my head. I'm off to workout while I have air flow after taking my meds. That is all!