(To the tune of "The Gambler", which was originally written by Don Schlitz and performed by Kenny Rogers.)
On a cold winter's evening,
at a table at the Eastern,
I met an old philosopher.
We were both too tired to sleep.
So we took turns a-staring,
at the suited graduate students,
'till pity overtook him,
and he began to speak.
He said: Son I've made a life,
out of reading people's papers.
Knowing what their flaws are,
from assumptions deep inside.
And if you don't mind me saying,
I can see you're out of theses.
If you'll grade this student essay,
I'll give you some advice.
So I scribbled down some comments,
and gave it a B minus.
Then he took a casual look,
said it seemed alright.
And the night got deathly quiet,
and his beard got more imposing,
He said, "If you're gonna play the game, boy
you gotta learn to play it right."
You got to know when to cite 'em,
know when to fight 'em,
know when to edit more,
know when you're done.
You never count conclusions,
when you're sitting at the conference.
There'll be time enough for counting,
when the talks are done.
END OF CHORUS
And every academic knows
that the secret to survival,
is knowing what to throw away,
and knowing what to keep.
'Cause all ideas are brilliant,
and all ideas are bullshit,
and the best that you can hope for
is to figure out something.
And when he'd finished speaking,
he turned back toward ballroom, shut down his old laptop,
and faded off to sleep.
And somewhere at that smoker,
he drew his last entailment,
But in his final words I found,
a new philosophy.