WWU once again made a great showing at the APA: four alumni (Joshua, Kris, Neal and I) and two profs (Hud and Ned) all gave presentations. And, happily, I also got to hang out with them!! Joshua even did a bit of sight-seeing with me at Fisherman's Wharf. We ended up spending about an hour hiding in a coffee shop from the cold foggy weather (in spite of being ineffably brave) and practicing our presentations. Then we emerged into the sunshine and wandered about, saw some sea lions, tracked down some SF sourdough, and then rode the trolley back to the conference (with the Monads' song "Trolley" running through my head the entire time).
In addition to having a bunch of fun, I found out that Ned is teaching a class on stuff this term (lucky students!), I finally bought a copy of Hud's latest book, and I presented a paper. The presentation was really beneficial for me: several of the audience members had interesting questions that have left me with a lot to think about. And I got to meet Donald Baxter! It was kinda' strange to present a paper that contains multiple citations of a philosopher's work, when that philosopher is in the audience (I've done it before with the WWU profs, but somehow it was stranger when it involved, well, a stranger). If I'm lucky, it's something I'll have to get used to!
In transit to and from the conference (and a bit since), I indulged in reading Matthew Scully's Dominion. A friend recommended it to me, and I'd like to pass the recommendation on (especially to my family: if anyone's interested in reading it, I think it'd be a lot of fun to chat about it next time I come home to visit!). The central argument is really interesting: whereas many arguments for vegetarianism depend on similarities between animals and persons (often to establish that animals have rights), Scully focuses on the differences: these animals are defenceless, unable to take any control of what their fates will be. We have absolute power over these poor creatures, and given that they are totally at our mercy it is our place to show some. The argument is presented early in the book, and followed by several chapter-sized snapshots of how we've been treating these worldmates of ours. Somewhat disappointingly there's a lot of emphasis on person-animal similarities in those chapters, but I still find the snapshots really moving, and in a way that I think is good (though not particularly pleasant) for me. (By the way: I'd like to find something about pescetarianism in particular. Does anyone know of literature focusing on that?)
A more cheerful subject: following the APA I had a really fantastic Easter, the main event of the day being a trip to the UN with a couple of friends from Germany. Yes, for a couple hours I (technically, at least!) left the country and found myself in international territory! It was incredible to finally see this place for myself, especially after having read and heard about it so much growing up. And I loved learning about the things they're doing to make the world a better place!
In addition to that excursion, my Easter included a taste (literally!) of something non-American when I was given a treat called a Kinder Egg. Sale of these is illegal in the US, but they're mad popular in Europe, and especially in Germany. Each consists of a chocolate hollow egg with a toy inside that requires some assembly -- offering a lesson in engineering, apparently. This, I was told, is the key to culture in Germany: chocolate and engineering. :) Regardless of what we think of that, I'm at least certain of this much: sweets and scholastics make a great combination!
Meanwhile, back in Alaska my dad spent his Easter busily working on his cabin. Marzette has posted new photos of it, and I find them incredible. It's hard to believe that in only two or three months, this became this! Absolutely amazing, Dad!!
With that, I think I should be off. I've gotta' get back to work on my "Time-Travel and Motion" presentation -- its temporal extension needs to be cut by about 60% . . . Happy April!