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Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 30/09/2021 - 12:22pm in



A Map of St Anthony, or Gillan Harbour
A map of St Anthony

As a child shortly after I had lost my golden mantle of ‘the-youngest’ my father would take my two brothers and I to St Anthony. My Dad had made several ‘shrimping nets’ which we would push around knee deep in the cold numbing, esturine water. We would catch tiny shrimps amongst the muddy seaweed. The smell of the mud comes back to me as I write this. We would tear bunches of mussels off the rocks and cook them in old tins of brine over makeshift fires. Often we were startled by crabs leaping and scuttling out from the rocks and weeds. On some occaisons we would rent a fishing boat from ‘Sailaway’ and putter out past all the moored day sailers, dinghies and fishing boats to The Manacles.

In later years my Dad went through a few boats of his own. His last was a huge old clinker built fishing boat which he shared with Reg our neighbour. In my memory those boats were never as satisfying as the crab boats we rented from Sailaway. With one exception, a small rowing boat we owned for a couple of years called, ‘Snip’.

Natty Swimming Trunks
I’m guessing this was in 1978 or 9 - Our little rowing boat, ‘Snip’

‘Sailaway’ is a name I have always linked to St Anthony with its mudlocked salt smell. Like most of my fathers dealings renting a boat involved a lengthy chat, in this case with Sailaway’s proprieter. A worried looking man who I had always presumed was called Anthony, obviously dropping the Saint moniker to avoid showing off. It is only now that it occurs to me, I was probably mistaken. I quite liked half listening to them talk about their respective travails. Business in Cornwall in the 1970’s was apparently not good and (Saint) Anthony might have to close down or sell up. Other customers would be coming and going everyone had a story and seemed to know each other. One time, standing up to the knees holding a shrimp net, my Dad met a fellow he had not seen since he was schoolboy. I excitedly thought this would unlock tales from my Dad of his adventures when he was my age but he just said, “Well, we weren’t really best of friends”.

Beware! The Manacles, a map
East of St Anthony lies The Manacles (Mên-aver Point)

Out at The Manacles I caught mackeral on a feathered line. I was too little to pull them in by myself. There would be 5 or 6 of them flashing blue and silver on my line, my brothers or my Dad would spring in to take over in case I lost them. The first fish I reeled in myself was an orange gurnard, all gills and spines. My Dad thought I should throw it back but I refused. With a sack half full of fish and the afternoon sun on our cheeks my Dad turned us back into St Anthony. He would chat to everyone again as he was returning the boat. Us boys would wander up ahead to the Pay’n’Display car park stopping at the damson bushes to fill our pockets and mouths with the deliciously tart wild plums. We drove back through Manaccan with frequent stops to reverse back. The single lane roads were sign-posted on the wider sections with the words, Passing Place. Often with the first P scraped off. I don’t know why I mention this except that it say’s a lot about the era I was to grow up in.

My Dad would stop at the old misnamed New Inn at Manaccan. If my father met someone he knew we might get a lemonade whilst he had a chat and a beer. We never stayed too long as we normally had our catch in the car. I never remember the journey back from Manaccan, I think I would fall asleep until our bumpy lane woke me up. Carthvean was a warm and cosy house back then, always a lovely place to go home to. My Mum grilled my gurnard in hot melted butter that night. It was the first time I ate fish without complaining about the bones which is funny if you know about all the spiny little bones in a gurnard.

An orange Gurnard fish
A Gurnard from the internet, much the same as the one I first caught

Fourteen or so years later I was a few miles as the-cormorant-flies north-west of Sailaway in Falmouth. I had met a fellow called Carsten Rassmussen who offered me passage on his boat in exchange for taking watches. That day I sailed out of Falmouth, past the Manacles, southwards and away from Cornwall.

It has been over thirty years since I left and there is not a day that I don’t miss home. The sea does not smell the same in Australia. My oldest brother told me not dwell in the past. He once said said, “Have one more look through all your old photo’s; notebooks; letters and other junk then shove it in a box and put it away and never look at it again”. He gave a short joyless laugh after he told me. Obviously I mostly ignored his advice, but maybe he’s right.

Carsten Rassmussen's boat in Madiera 1991
Carsten Rassmussen’s boat in Madiera 1991

Although I have no photo’s from that first voyage I do have this sketch I did after crossing the Bay of Biscay. I cannot even remember the name of the boat. In my defence I did not enjoy sailing with Carsten and I suspect the feeling was mutual. We were both too polite to say anything but I changed to another boat at the first opportunity. I read and reread the books I took with me on that journey. Oscar Wilde’s collection of short stories, “The Happy Prince and other Tales” was the only one that has stayed with me. I spent a day or two floating around some caves and rockpools and wrote this with the shadow of the Happy Prince in mind.

There was also this letter which I never got round to finishing or sending addressed to my Aunt Joanna. I am hopeless at sending letters.

Ode to the Airport Bar

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 15/09/2021 - 5:40am in



My three workmates sneered at me as we rode the limo to the airport after our yearly conference. I had just informed them I was booked from Nashville to Denver and then finally to Vancouver. “You didn’t take the direct?” “You always do that.” The scorn was palpable. I made my usual excuse about booking late or flights being full. Of course, my coworkers didn’t realize the real reason for my itinerary. It was a chance to visit one or two of my favorite establishments: the Airport Bar.

The Airport Bar is uniquely relaxing. It is a space between events or obligations in life. One is working—but not really working—or on vacation with the promise of the vacation all gleefully ahead. It’s the Free Space on the board game of life. Sitting in the Airport Bar you will never be questioned about your purpose. You are clearly on your way somewhere to do something immensely important. The guilt of sneaking down to the local on a Tuesday afternoon is totally absent.

Of course, ordering a Rolling Rock at 8:30am comes with a unique thrill. The bartender doesn’t bat an eye and the five other folks sitting on the wood with their Bloody Marys give a supportive smile and nod. A real and unique camaraderie free of status—the CEO, the pipeline worker, and the Snowbird sharing time in the most singular of all establishments. This is a place free of judgment. You’re a traveler. It’s all good.

Due to one’s unique “passing through” status, conversations start easily and are ended with complete understanding as quickly as a glance at your phone. The two of you will never see each other again so the ladies don’t feel threatened by a chat and the gents feel free to be a little playful. There is always a topic of conversation: “Where are you going?”, “What’s your business?” Completely relaxed and genuine. I’ve had many great conversations on life and politics and baseball. A 20-something girl from Michigan told me all about her job building transmissions. Fascinating enough for forty minutes. I left her with a “I wish you all the best” that was as genuine as I’ve ever given.

No, I will not pass up an opportunity to take the stress-free mini-vacation offered by a couple hours in my favorite establishment. The Airport Bar.

The Great Covid Panic: now out!

It’s here, the booklet I am sure you have all been waiting for. The one which Gigi Foster and Michael Baker slaved over for 10 months. It is also on Kindle. It is dedicated to all the victims of the Panic, in poor countries and rich countries. They include our children, the lonely, and the poor.

The short publisher blurb: How to make sense of the astonishing upheaval of Spring 2020 and following? Normal life – in which expected rights and freedoms were taken for granted – came to be replaced by a new society as managed by a medical/ruling elite that promised but failed to deliver virus mitigation, all in the name of public health. Meanwhile, we’ve lost so much of what we once had: travel freedoms, privacy, a democratic presumption of equality, commercial freedoms, and even the access to information portals. Something has gone very wrong.

The longer blurb that our publisher chose for it is over the fold! There is also a website that will tell you where book launches will take place, which bookstores sell it, and who has liked it sofar.

To make sense of it all, the Brownstone Institute is pleased to announce the publication of The Great Covid Panic: What Happened, Why, and What To Do Next, by Paul Frijters, Gigi Foster, and Michael Baker. Combining rigorous scholarship with evocative and accessible prose, the book covers all the issues central to the pandemic and the disastrous policy response, a narrative as comprehensive as it is intellectually devastating. In short, this is THE book the world needs right now.

In the Great Panic of early 2020, nearly every government in the world restricted the movement of its population, disrupted the education of its children, suspended normal individual liberties, hijacked its healthcare system, and in other ways increased its direct control of people’s lives. Attempts to control the new coronavirus in most countries made the number of deaths from both the virus and other health problems rise. Some countries and regions snapped out of the madness in early 2021 or even before. Yet other governments, still in 2021, were ever more fanatically obsessed with control.

Why did 2020 become, so suddenly and so forcefully, a year of global panic over a virus that for most people is barely more dangerous than a standard-issue flu virus? This book reveals how the madness started, what kept it going, and how it might end. This is also a book about stories and experiences, some real and some fictionalized to protect identities. Join Jane the complier, James the decider, and Jasmine the doubter, the three core protagonists of the narrative part of the book. Their experiences illustrate what happened to individuals and through them to whole societies, telling us — if we care to listen — how to avoid a repeat. This literary presentation is mixed with detailed reports of the actual data and deep research that has generally been obscured in the midst of media madness and obfuscation by public-health authority.

“A tour-de-force on how the pandemic response was driven by fear, crowd thinking, big business and a desire for control, rather than by sound public health principles. This is bound to be a classic.” ~ Professor Martin Kulldorff, Harvard Medical School

“When I received the manuscript, I was hooked from the first page and knew then that I would miss a full night’s sleep. I did indeed. My heart raced from beginning to end. As the publisher, I must say that this book is a dream for me, the book I never thought would exist, the book that I believe can change everything.” ~ Jeffrey Tucker, Founder Brownstone Institute.

The Gay ‘Green Book’ Is Going Online

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 26/07/2021 - 6:00pm in

When Eric Gonzaba was growing up in rural Indiana, he says that everything he learned about queer history had happened “in far-off places.” Little did he know that a mere 25 miles away in Louisville, Kentucky, an unassuming brick building on East Main Street had hosted one of the region’s first gay discos, which opened in 1973 and was known for its dazzling drag shows.

Now, as a trained historian and professor of American Studies at California State University, Fullerton (CSUF), Gonzaba is uncovering and preserving hidden histories like this one through a digital project called “Mapping the Gay Guides.” The project, which is co-led by Amanda Regan, a lecturer in the Department of History and Geography at Clemson University, uses a series of travel guides published by Bob Damron to map historic queer spaces across the United States.

Damron was a traveling businessman who took note of the gay or at least gay-friendly bars, bathhouses, theaters, bookstores, restaurants and shops he discovered on his many trips. He then published a series of travel guides based on that research beginning in 1965. His collections, originally known as the “Address Book,” became a survival guide for queer road trippers, comparable to the Jim Crow-era Negro Motorist Green Book, which guided Black travelers through the country.

Mapping the Gay Guides’ website hosts an interactive map, where the hangouts from Damron’s books are transformed into little blue pins. Click on the pins, and you can explore the features of Damron’s favorite haunts as they were described in his original writing.

Users can watch locations appear and disappear by clicking through the map from year to year: The number of sites listed in the Pacific Northwest more than triples between 1965 and 1972. Meanwhile, one of the popular sites from early-1970s New Orleans, the Upstairs Lounge, disappears from the map in 1975.

Another section of the site hosts short histories of some of the sites on the map, written by Gonzaba and CSUF graduate students. Here, users can learn the heartbreaking reason behind the disappearance of the Upstairs Lounge: On the evening of June 24, 1973, an arsonist set fire to the building while dozens of patrons were gathered inside enjoying Sunday drink specials. Thirty-two people died as a result of the fire. The attack was the deadliest known attack on a gay club until the 2016 Pulse shooting in Orlando, Florida.

mapUsers can click around the map to see which LGBTQ establishments existed in the 1960s and ’70s, and which ones later disappeared. Screengrab courtesy Mapping the Gay Guides

There are cheerier histories, too, like that of the Paramount Steak House in Washington D.C. The popular restaurant opened in 1948 and began catering to the gay community sometime in the 1950s. Unlike most sites listed in Damron’s old address books, this one is still around today. More than seventy years after it opened, the establishment is now a landmark along Washington D.C.’s annual pride parade route — an homage to its longstanding place in Washington D.C.’s queer culture.

Since its launch in February 2020, Mapping the Gay Guides has dropped hundreds of pins on its interactive map across all 50 states, Washington D.C., Guam, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands (Damron did not distinguish between entries in the U.S. Virgin Islands and the British Virgin Islands, so neither does Mapping the Gay Guides) from the 1965 to 1980 address books. The project received a $350,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) in April 2021, which will allow it to spend the next three years digitizing, transcribing and geolocating data from the 1981 to 2000 guides.

“We want our project to be a launching off point for researchers and public historians to think about how queer people have literally and figuratively been on the map for decades,” says Gonzaba. Mapping Damron’s address books means making their contents more available to researchers than ever before.

The project was also a response to what Gonzaba calls “a fairly depressing moment in queer communities across the country dealing with the collapse of LGBTQ spaces.” The Covid-19 pandemic hit queer businesses hard. Famous spaces like StonewallJulius Bar, and Henrietta Hudson, all in New York City, made headlines when they were forced to appeal to patrons for support via crowdfunding campaigns to stay afloat during coronavirus shutdowns.

But even before the pandemic struck, queer spaces were on the decline. Research from Greggor Mattson, professor of sociology at Oberlin College, shows that the number of queer bars and nightclubs in the United States declined by 36.6 percent between 2007 and 2019. For his research, Mattson also relied on Damron’s address books, which were published annually by San Francisco-based Damron Company until 2019. Digital projects like Mapping the Gay Guides are well-suited to archiving the histories of spaces like these so that even as they may close, their stories won’t be lost to time.

New technologies also have the power to make hidden histories more accessible and give people who have traditionally been excluded from the academy opportunities to participate in the preservation of their histories in new and lasting ways. “The creation of digital tools, more affordable tech such as sophisticated smartphones, and easy-to-use interfaces on our devices and platforms has … given agency to people and from that stems a growth in digital humanities projects,” says Megan Smith, professor of creative technologies at the University of British Columbia.

Still, these new technologies are not free of ethical questions. Gonzaba and Regan grapple with concern that making knowledge of hidden queer spaces available on the web could make those spaces or their patrons targets of abuse. However, many of the sites that Damron cataloged decades ago are no longer in operation or their uses have shifted over time, reducing this risk.

The pair also emphasizes that the travel guides they use as primary sources for Mapping the Gay Guides were authored by a gay, white man from the relatively progressive city of San Francisco. Reading them with a critical eye reveals implicit biases, like the fact that Damron labeled most southern sites and sites popular among the Black community as less reputable than others. Contextualizing Damron’s writing and exploring its biases is vital to Mapping the Gay Guides’ work.

Rebecca Caines, who studies digital and site-specific art at the University of Regina in Saskatchewan, Canada, also says that effort must be made to ensure that new digital projects will last over time. That means they can’t rely on high-level technical support or expensive equipment that will only be available to a community for a limited time. “This is a feature of new media work in general,” she says, “But it needs to be carefully considered when marginalized people are sharing their stories and experiences.”

Regan describes the threat of technological obsolescence as “one of the greatest hurdles” to doing digital work. She and Gonzaba document their methodology and save copies of their data in sustainable formats to ensure Mapping the Gay Guides will be replicable, even if the technology that powers its current interactive map ceases to work. With some of the new NEH funds, the team also plans to deposit copies of the project in a university library’s archival repository and transition its map into JavaScript, making it more accessible and sustainable.

Mapping the Gay Guides exemplifies the many colorful possibilities of a digital history project handled with appropriate care. Like other creative digital projects, it can give users a fresh perspective on their cities and, according to Caines, “offer new ways to hold onto histories, reclaim identities, provide new forms of communication between generations, and allow for new forms of activism and organizing.”

This story was originally published in Next City.

The post The Gay ‘Green Book’ Is Going Online appeared first on Reasons to be Cheerful.

Good Conferences in a Time of Pandemic—and Afterwards (guest post)

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 30/06/2021 - 12:10am in



“The global pandemic has forced philosophers to develop skillsets and approaches toward the social side of our work that we otherwise would not have developed. Outside the bounds of the pandemic, that skillset can be used to help advance the profession in ways that might not have been evident to us before.”

In the following guest post*, Preston Stovall (University of Hradec Králové) shares some of the lessons he has learned from planning an upcoming conference and from the experiences of others about holding good conferences during a pandemic, which may also be useful in improving the value of conferences in less trying times. Towards the end of his post, he asks readers to share their thoughts on and experiences with varying approaches toward conference work.

[Giorgia Lupi, Stefanie Posavec, “Dear Data: Week 40”]

Good Conferences in a Time of Pandemic—and Afterwards
by Preston Stovall


A year ago at Daily Nous, I raised a proposal to use the pandemic as a period for trying out more tutorial-based coursework in philosophy. As I said then, times of crisis are often times of opportunity, as conventional byways are shaken up and refounded. I’m currently helping to organize a conference scheduled to take place at the University of Hradec Králové in the Czech Republic from October 19th to the 22nd. Like everyone else in this situation, we are making contingency plans for the possibility that the meeting cannot be held in person. With a year of the virus behind us, and if the measure of crisis is any indication, we should be facing a near future of manifold opportunity.

In that spirit, I want to look at conference work in a time of pandemic, and to open up discussion about some of the possibilities for playing with the format of philosophical conferences.

This examination builds on discussion that has already taken place, some of them here at Daily Nous. At the Philosophers’ Cocoon in November of 2020, C. Thi Nguyen writes about experimenting with the American Society for Aesthetics Annual Conference:

My guiding observation: big social Zoom rooms full of many strange people are fucking awkward. They’re weird; it’s much harder to naturally break into small groups; social chat flows awkwardly. So we tried a bunch of things. First, we ran parallel social sessions, to keep the numbers manageable. (For a 300 person conference, we did 3 parallel social Zoom rooms each night, and ended up with 15-20 people in most rooms.) Second, structure. We had structured activities for most of the Zoom rooms, including:

    • Show and Tell Room
    • 3 Minute Silly Talk Room
    • Talent Show Room
    • Joke Room
    • Trivia Room

And they worked… insanely well. … It had a bit of the conference feeling that I relish most: of philosophers after-hours, loosening up and spit-balling the really interesting ideas.

In January of this year, Trappes, Cohnitz, Pâslaru, Perkins, and Teymoori (building on their 2020 article), ran a piece at Daily Nous arguing that online conferences should be the default position going forward, registering the opportunities afforded by the situation we collectively face:

Philosophers and other academics should take the natural experiment that the pandemic brought about as an opportunity to build interdisciplinary work groups to study and establish best practices for online conferences, environmentally friendly and accessible in-person conferences, and adequate ways to offset carbon emissions.

They conclude that the pandemic presents us not only with an opportunity, but an obligation. Later in that month, Heather Douglas addressed the question “When is it worth it (in terms of financial and environmental cost) to gather together in person?” She writes:

As the end of the pandemic appears in sight (sometime in 2021 hopefully), we now need to reflect upon this period of transformation and ask seriously: what worked well in videoconferencing and what is lost?

Douglas agrees with Trappes et al. that the default should be online conferences, and she argues that hybrid events should be minimized in that while they do increase accessibility for some, those who do not travel in person are not able to participate in the in-person interactions of other attendees. Meanwhile, in April Justin noted that the 1902 presidential address from J.E. Creighton, the first president of the American Philosophical Association, defended the value of in-person conferences in a way that remains relevant today. I wish to set aside the question of whether we are obliged to treat online conferences as the default position, as the questions about best practices for online and hybrid conferences are worth addressing either way.

Instead, I want to draw together some of the ways to mitigate the problems of online conference that have been discussed over the last year, using our conference as a platform for implementing them.


A little background: the conference draws together philosophers and scientists, primarily in Europe and North America. If held fully face-to-face, it will be a four-day conference with about two dozen speakers. According to the poll run by Daily Nous in February, at the time nearly 60% of respondents planned to be willing to travel by roughly the time of the conference.

Our original plan for the period of October 19-22 was for two full days and two shortened days, with (roughly) a group of three talks on the first and fourth day, and two groups of three talks on each of the full days, along with four keynotes. Because noon here is six a.m. in New York City, if we keep with our original scheduling this would diminish the number of participants from North America attending before midday. Alternatively, we are considering an extended series of events that are spread out over the course of a semester, and still with some in-person event around the original conference dates (I personally lean toward this last way of adjusting things, if it comes to it).

Supposing a group of three talks and a keynote constitutes a session, that comes to six sessions with somewhere around four and a half to five hours per session. If we aim to take place across all of North America at a reasonable hour, we will have to run something in the afternoon and into the evening, local time. But six sessions could be done in six weeks, either in a row or spread out over a semester (and all of this is contingent on being able to orchestrate things with the keynotes in such a fashion as to respect our original commitments).

As Douglas points out, online conferences facilitate accessibility by minimizing some of the barriers that distance puts up. If essays are circulated beforehand, one might invite people to write in comments and questions beforehand, share them with the speakers, and encourage speakers to respond to any they wanted to address. This isn’t a substitute for direct questioning, but it does allow people who might not otherwise be able to participate directly to have a share in the conversation.

Of course, to be successful the host facilities and remote participants need the right audio-visual set up, along with a reliable highspeed internet connection. Lots can go wrong. But facilities today are tending toward more advanced technological hosting and broadcasting, while new software for online interchange is expanding the communicative possibilities. In Hradec Králové, the Museum of Eastern Bohemia recently underwent a full renovation, which included updating its audio-visual capabilities, and we hope to be able to use the space for at least part of the conference.


A common concern about the online model of conferencing is that features of in-person networking and social interaction are essential to a well-functioning conference, and that these features cannot be replaced in the online setting. This is something Trappes et al. found. Describing their essay in the European Journal of Analytic Philosophy they write:

We present survey data from four online conferences: The European Congress for Analytic Philosophy, and the colloquia Doing Science in a Pluralistic Society, Eco-Evo Mechanisms, and Philosophy of Biology at the Mountains. Our data indicate that online conferences are satisfactory in terms of sharing knowledge and getting feedback and seem to be more accessible, falling down only in networking.

Even in the best-case scenario, where we host the event in person, there will likely be some speakers who either cannot or choose not to attend in person. For that reason, it makes sense to look for ways to address such drawbacks. Morrison, Merlo, and Woessner (2020) look at ways to boost the impact of online scientific conferences, and they counsel a general shift in attitude:

First, to get in the right mindset, it will help to stop thinking of annual scientific conferences as only updating a subset of attending scientists on what is happening in a field and start thinking of conferences as being able to update the entire world on what is happening in a field of study—especially all relevant scientists, whether they pay dues for that conference or not.

They go on to propose recording presentations and making them freely available in online repositories, archiving and disseminating posters and abstracts online, and using social media to reach a larger audience.

There are a number of conversation-oriented programs for facilitating conference networking. SpatialChat and Wonder each bill themselves as alternatives to Zoom-style breakout rooms, ones that make for easier navigation among conversations. In September, The Scientist ran an article on a neuroscience conference that used an algorithm to match up participants based on research interests:

Then, in September 2019, [Dan] Goodman headed to the Conference on Cognitive Computational Neuroscience in Berlin, where he participated in a so-called mind matching session. Participants provided three abstracts representative of their research and were matched by an algorithm with up to six other scientists, with whom they had 15-minute conversations.

“My mind was absolutely blown by it, because I sat down, and I met six people that I’d never met before. Two of them were working on exactly the same problem that I was working on, and I’d never heard of them,” Goodman says. “I thought, ‘Okay, if you have something as powerful as this, maybe you can get rid of in-person conferences because you can replace that social element, which is the point of the whole thing.’”

Goodman got in touch with University of Pennsylvania computational neuroscientist Konrad Kording and Titipat Achakulvisut, a graduate student in Kording’s group who led the development of the algorithm behind the mind matching. It works by analyzing the text supplied by each person, as well as people they already know and people they hope to meet, and using those analyses to create a matrix of compatibility from which they pull possible matches. They use a similar strategy for matching jobseekers with job listings at meetings.

The article goes on to describe conference sessions with 3000 people. Most philosophy conferences do not come anywhere near that number of participants, of course. Still, something similar might be accomplished if conference organizers collected three representative abstracts from anyone who was interested in sharing them, and circulated the collection around to participants.

In facilitating that interaction, we might consider asking those who submit an essay whether they want to participate a research-matching test of one of these algorithms. If philosophers began to look at their conferences along the lines that Morrison, Merlo, and Woessner indicate, then over time a cumulative increase in the pool of researchers might lead to more effective implementation of such “mind-matching” algorithms. And of course, mind-matching is not the only benefit of this kind of networking; publishing and job opportunities might be facilitated by it as well.

The experimental breakout rooms Nguyen describes for last year’s American Society for Aesthetics Annual Conference are another source of inspiration. While a Joke Room or a Show and Tell Room may not be fit for every kind of philosophical gathering, they suggest ways of preserving some of the enjoyable social experiences of in-person conferences. And the 3 Minute Silly Talk Room might be replaced with an Elevator Spiel Room, where one presents a (serious) defense or brainstorming of an idea.

I opened by saying that times of crisis are often times of opportunity. The global pandemic has forced philosophers to develop skillsets and approaches toward the social side of our work that we otherwise would not have developed. Outside the bounds of the pandemic, that skillset can be used to help advance the profession in ways that might not have been evident to us before.

With that in mind, I would like to open discussion for consideration of other approaches toward conference work and networking. What has worked in your own fields, what hasn’t, and what are you interested in trying out in the future?

Swimming and Walking

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 28/12/2020 - 1:22pm in

My Mum sent me this postcard after she had walked across Spain. It is an illustration from a Russian Fairy story, “Feather Of Finist Falcon” by Ivan Bilibin.

Feather Of Finist Falcon by Ivan Bilibin
Feather Of Finist Falcon by Ivan Bilibin

I am reading Robert MacFarlane‘s, “The Old Ways, A Journey On Foot”. I love it. I have had to regularly pause so that I could tangentially read about the characters MacFarlane cites.

For example the hale and hearty George Borrow who spoke twelve languages, as a young man, and went on to learn many more on his travels. He had a particular affinity for his fellow nomads the Romany. George appears to have walked the length and breadth of Ireland, Europe and Russia on beer, milk and bread-rolls.

MacFarlane’s descriptions of the highways, pathways and hollow-ways of England and Europe make me miss the land I grew up in. I suspect he and other writers like him inspired the trend for ‘Wild Places’ I noticed when I was last in the UK.

When I last visited my Mum I remember there was a ‘Wild Runners’ group in Totnes. Lacking litarary pretensions as a kid we always called it ‘Cross Country’. Nonetheless I tried to join the Totnes ‘Wild Runners’ but nobody turned up. I went for a run anyway, it wasn’t very wild. I ended it with a freezing and life affirming swim in the Dart.

I believe my Mum and my beloved nieces are regular ‘Wild Swimmers’. How I would love to join them. Instead I have the late Roger Deakin‘s book, “Waterlogged” which has taken me on a varied splash through the waterways of the British Isles. Australia is not the home of the first half of my life but it has provided me with endless adventures for swimming (cycling and walking).

This is young H watching a helicopter in a bay in Vanuatu. Most decidedly not the Dart
This is young H watching a helicopter in a bay in Vanuatu. Most decidedly not the Dart

The weather in my part of the world is generally delightfully warm which makes the cool water so much more inviting. I love to swim and dive beneath the surface, imagining myself transforming, like Kay Harker from “The Box of Delights” … into a fish:

… there in the coolness and dimness, wavering as the water wavered, and feeling a cold spring gurgling up just underneath them and tickling their tummies.

Streams of light and water are truly sublime.


Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 30/11/2020 - 1:16pm in


Tech, Travel

For a long time I have wanted to integrate the GPS traces from my various excursions directly into an embedded map here on There is a million ways to do this of course. I have done so in the past using Google maps but I would prefer to use OpenStreetMaps (OSM). I once built an embedded OSM map system using Drupal and Leaflet. It had all the walks and things of interest in the Coffs Harbour Botanic Gardens. People could use it to navigate and explore the gardens and because of OSM’s nature they could edit or improve it themselves, they never did though. Of course it has been replaced by a brochure website now.

A Cunning Plan

Baldrick, he always has a cunning plan. Usually involving a turnip
I have a cunning plan

I am going to make a plugin for this site to embed my GPS traces on an embedded OSM map. How hard can it be?

  • I’m using Pelican for the site so I will have to wrap my head around building this all as a plugin using Python
  • I will use the gpx file format as that seems to be easy enough to extract from my device or my OSM profile.
  • Leaflet still seems to be the go for easily embedding an OSM map

Of course starting this is going to take the longest…

We Moved

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 26/04/2020 - 5:09am in



Last Tuesday we emptied our little house into the back of a removal truck. After a quick tidy and a last tearful visit to family we set off on the trail to Broken Hill. Z&JB had to wait on some repairs to their car. They followed on at a more leisurely pace and were a couple of days behind us. We drove for ten or so hours and ended up spending the night at the Copper Motel in Cobar. The next morning we awoke to a call from the removal guys who had arrived and were unloading. Galvanised into action we hit the road and drove four hours across the plains either side of Wilcania. We saw great black eagles nesting in scrub trees and feeding off roadkill; turquoise feathered birds I’d never seen before and a squad of emus hanging around a water tank. We closed in on Broken Hill and our removal truck guys honked and waved as they passed us on their way back to Coffs. We found ourselves racing a train into town and by 11:30am we were pulling up outside our new house on the corner of Argent and Garnet Street.

The removal guys had done an awesome job of putting our stuff into all the right rooms. So we began to clean up and unpack. It’s been five days now and I have a feeling this is going to take a while. Z&JB arrived on Thursday. They have been working hard to help us make this place into our home. Yesterday we went for a walk to get some supplies and visit the train station. On the way we met Ozzie, a bloke who was sitting under the tree opposite our house with a beer; Allan, a bloke with a front garden of amazing cacti and Buster another bloke with a very odd looking cactus in his front yard.

The Australian and Britsh goverments have been advising everyone to get home before the global airline industry collapses. We had been ignoring them as Z&JB have been safe and comfortable here with us, however they both have houses and other obligations back in the UK. Yesterday we bit the bullet and managed to book a couple of flights back for mid May with Qatar. We are keeping our fingers crossed that the Indian Transpacific train does not get cancelled before then. If it does we have a long drive to get to the airport in Sydney. Most of the regional flights out here are cancelled. We have Z&JB for another couple of weeks. I will be sad to say goodbye.

Escape Routes

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 28/01/2020 - 9:35am in



In my continuing effort to make moving to Broken Hill quantifiable here are some extremely rough travelling numbers.


Broken Hill
Adelaide (500km)
no train

Broken Hill
Coffs Harbour (1,400km)

Broken Hill
Melbourne (850km)
no train

Broken Hill
Sydney (1,160km)

Broken Hill
Cornwall (~20,000km)
It’s complicated
Lot’s of buses

The prices are rounded to whatever I liked the look of, as are the distances. I would always prefer to take my bicycle or walk but a finite life and the practicalities of human relationships prevents me from doing this.

Shoah (שואה)

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 01/12/2019 - 11:12am in



Uncle J wanted to visit the “Jewish Holocaust Museum“. He’d been banging on about it for a while so we decided to take him on a flying trip to visit. The 1 hour flight was cancelled so we drove for 6 hours instead. Sydney was pushy; dirty; noisy and full of impatient crowds, shopping. A shit of a journey but a decent nights sleep in Ultimo.

A more realistic Monopoly set found at the Jewish War Museum
A more realistic Monopoly set found at the Jewish War Museum

The next morning after a seafood breakfast J and I headed to the museum. Groups of school children were being shown around by the volunteers. The volunteers told stories of the atrocities along with video and audio recordings. It was fascinating and terrible and hard to tear ourselves away.

I took a photo of one of the exhibits. A hand-drawn ‘Ghetto’ Monopoly board. I would have been fascinated to learn more about who made it and what might have been written on the Chance and Community Chest cards.

R had been messaging, asking when we could meet for lunch. She had taken H to the Aquarium and had things she wanted to do with us. Sometimes I could do without a mobile phone. On the way out we briefly spoke with a delightful chap, Peter Nash who signed his book for us, before we reluctantly left.

Graffiti found
Some excellent graffiti found in one of the many gay bars J introduced me to

Uncle J had other plans. He wandered into the first pub we saw. It was apparently a main-stay of his youth. It was decorated with rainbows throughout. We had a beer and made our way across the square. I was thinking to book an Uber to get us back across the city but when I looked up J had popped into another pub, another favourite of yester-year.

Four or possibly five pubs later I had been propositioned and subsequently disappointed a young man; we had some homophobic insults hurled at us; threats of violence from a chap who said he’d been in the foriegn legion; we admired the graffiti on the bog walls and enjoyed some circular conversations. A result of the beer I suspect. We finally found our way back to R. It was a trip down memory lane for J.

That night I remembered a day in 1991 when I visited the Chamber of the Holocaust (מרתף השואה) in Jerusalem. Before that time I had not imagined the horrific things ordinary people could do to one another.