Naturally, one tries to give one's sad little life some spice by seeing how one's research ties up to one's itty-bitty little life issues. This week's theme is: vagueness. For those of you who are interested, the canonical and brilliant text is Williamson's most unambiguously titled Vagueness.
The Ongoing Hellacious Jobsearch has given me a whole new appreciation of the problems arising from the vagueness of pretty much every single predicate of ordinary language. It's standardly noted in philosophical discussions about vagueness that the trouble is borderline cases -- we know perfectly well that a guy with 10,000 hairs isn't bald and a guy with 0 hairs is. They're what's called "clearly in" cases. It's some of the guys in between where you might get into a fight. Well lemmetellya, I've been conducting my very own bit of empirical research on the concept of the "clearly in".
(a) specifications of time
We will notify you shortly. Oh? How shortly is that, exactly? OK. No-one knows. So much for that stupid question. Here's another. When are you certain that "shortly" has passed such that no-one is gonna notify you, sunshine, hasta la vista and thanks for all the fish? Is a week too long? Two? Even three? How about "immediately"? The same day? Tomorrow? By the end of the week?
Don't even get me started on after a reasonable interval.
(b) specifications of quality
The standard of applications is extremely high and only candidates of exceptional research merit will be considered for interview.
I have two first-class degrees from a good (uh-oh) university, three respectable (Mammy! Get me gun!) publications, an almost-finished (Ha! Hahahahaha ...) PhD, a research proposal full of the usual BS and some pretty hot letters of recommendation. So, no kidding ... how many grains make a heap?