by Kieran Healy on January 31, 2007

Via “Jason Stanley”:, a link to some “now classic photographs”: of philosophers taken by Steve Pyke, together with a “new batch”: by the same photographer. “Here”: is the much-missed David Lewis. “Here”: is a terrific shot of Elisabeth Anscombe and husband Peter Geach. Amongst the new batch, “here”: is Rae Langton. “Here”: is Anthony Appiah. And “here is Jason himself”:, looking more intense than usual, and also unusually quiet.

Throughout the first batch and for much of the second, Pyke got the philosophers to provide a little statement about themselves and their field. Some are jokey, some gnomic, others quite straightforward. (“H.L.A. Hart:”: “To be frank I think the idea of a 50-100 word summary is an absurd idea… I advise you to drop it.”) Amongst my favorites is that of “Geoffrey Warnock”:, which elegantly captures the virtues that the analytic tradition strives imperfectly to embody: “To be clear-headed rather than confused; lucid rather than obscure; rational rather than otherwise; and to be neither more, nor less, sure of things than is justifiable by argument or evidence. That is worth trying for.”

But if that’s all too much for you, “here are some recent photos”: of philosophers having a blast pretending to be cowboys while riding uncertainly around on horses in the Sonoran desert. That’s what they’re _really_ like, you know, moody black-and-white headshots notwithstanding.

Shiny new domain tool

by Maria on January 31, 2007

Via Bret Fausett, a great new toy called PshychicWhois. I’m putting it away now because it is addictive and the possibilities are many. So very clever.

Grande mobilisation de citoyen(ne)s

by Maria on January 31, 2007

So this is a mild and modern dilemma. I have received from two sources an email notification urging me to take part, at 19:55 my time tomorrow, in a “mobilization of Citizens Against Global Warming!“.

All I have to do to be part of a this manifestation of people power is to turn off my lights and electrical appliances for five minutes. I’m as worried about climate change global warming (thanks, Steven Poole) as the next person. And this is probably a nice little gesture. So why do I feel so grumpy about it?

Well, first of all, it’s obviously useless as a way to save energy. Even more so than getting every German to stop using the standby on their tellies and ‘save enough energy’ to close down a nuclear power station. But that’s fine. I get it. We all understand that mass political acts are expressive rather than instrumental. So a little well-intentioned onanism to make an entirely rhetorical point is still in order.

And the organisers are quite up front about that:

“This is not just about saving 5 minutes worth of electricity; this is about getting the attention of the media, politicians, and ourselves.”

The mass action is tied in to the anticipated publication of a UN report on global climate. A visit to the UNEP website this morning already shows a sufficiently frightening report about glaciers melting. So as long as UNEP actually publishes its report on the right day, the whole thing could be the media event its organisers dream of.

“If we all participate, this action can have real media and political weight.”

Except. Who’s to know if I participate or not? I mean, practically. At 19:55 tomorrow night, I’ll be in the office, no surprises there. I’ll be alone, and most likely the only person on my floor. And I’ll be preparing for a conference call at 21:00, and meantime on the phone to people in different time zones. (And no, I will not tell them I’m sitting in the dark. I have some pride.) So there will be no raised consciousness here. I won’t be sitting around with my flatmate, discussing energy policy.

Can we use battery operated devices? Or should I turn off my mobile phone? What about my laptop – can’t I just put it to sleep because it’s a 2 year old Dell that takes 11 minutes to boot. Can I use a normal phone? After all, it doesn’t get its power from the same mains.

Many, many questions. Much resistance, very little of it related to this mass action. Perhaps I’m too prideful to participate wholeheartedly in making up the numbers. Mostly I’m just annoyed because I’ll still be in work.

Update Well, it looks as if the manifestation resulted in the lights of monuments like the Eiffel Tower and other European monuments being turned off – a very effective symbolic act.