Brunch in the Ruins

by Cosma Shalizi on July 30, 2006

It’s a hot, lazy Sunday, which seems like a good time for browsing through livejournal communities dedicated to photos of peacefully rusting machines, quietly crumbling buildings, and similar modern ruins:

Abandoned Places [via David Chess]
Decayed Machinery [via I forget who, years ago]

The photographers are all amateurs, so the quality (to the slight extent I can judge) is quite variable, but many manage to capture the suggestion of sunset and sadness, of unhappy stories brought to a close, which fascinates me about such scenes. Some of these photos, in fact, seem as good as, say, those in Terry Evans’s book on the former Joliet Arsenal, Disarming the Prairie, bringing to mind the words of the poet:

These are the halls of the dead, where the spiders spin and the great circuits fall quiet, one by one.

— But I see I’m getting melodramatic, and it’s just too hot and sticky and still to sustain that.

Philosophy on the Radio

by Brian on July 30, 2006

A week or so ago, philosopher and blogger “Greg Restall”:http://consequently.org/ was on (Australian) Radio National’s show The Philosopher’s Zone talking about logical pluralism. The link to the show is “here”:http://www.abc.net.au/rn/philosopherszone/stories/2006/1689459.htm. I’m partially bringing this up because I was pleased to see a discussion of philosophical logic in on national radio, and partially as a segue into gratuitous self-promotion.

This week’s episode of “Philosophy Talk”:http://www.philosophytalk.org/ features a panel discussion that was recorded at the Pacific APA. The panellists were Liz Harman, Sean Kelly and me, discussing the future of philosophy. Though I can occasionally “spot short term trends”:http://tar.weatherson.org/2004/07/05/contextualism-relativism-and-the-near-term-future-of-philosophy/, I’m pretty useless at spotting larger patterns, so I wouldn’t put much stock in much of what I say. The show will air on Tuesday at noon PST on “KALW”:http://www.kalw.org/ in San Francisco, and be repeated at 8pm PST Thursday on “Oregon Public Radio”:http://www.opb.org/. I’m going to be away at “Bellingham”:http://myweb.facstaff.wwu.edu/nmarkos/BSPC/BSPC7/BSPC7.htm the next few days, so I won’t be able to hear the show live to air, but hopefully I’ll hear it soon after. I’m not exactly sure what I said, so when I hear it I might have to scramble to come up with some justifications.

The dismal science of freedom

by John Quiggin on July 30, 2006

The topic for my BrisScience talk tomorrow night is Economics: The Hopeful Science. The name, obviously, is an allusion to Carlyle’s characterization of economics as ‘the dismal science’. In choosing it, though, I was under the common misapprehension that Carlyle was attacking Malthus, and his prediction of a stationary economy with a subsistence wage, that could be raised only through ‘moral restraint’.

It turns out, however, that the phrase actually occurs in Carlyle’s defence of slavery, charmingly entitled, Occasional Discourse on the Nigger Question*, and that the primary target is John Stuart Mill and other economists who favored wage labour over slavery.

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