Friday, 27 June 2014

In praise of an unkempt garden

There are plenty of houses, in the transitional area of Oxford where I live, whose gardens are what some would call anti-social. Lawns uncut all year, rubble piled up, weeds taking over and generally making the property appear vacant, unloved and unfriendly. At least, this is the typical societal attitude towards such gardens, I think. More careful, considerate homeowners keep everything neat and tidy, which makes the whole street feel safer, keeps house prices higher and generally pleases those inclined towards neighbourhood-watch stickers in their windows. Unkempt houses make a house look empty, which implies no one wants to buy it, which will depress all the prices. Or like it might be occupied by squatters, who are terribly dangerous. Or, worst of all, like students live there.

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Is it conference season already?

I'm looking forward to three in particular....

Metaphors and Analogies in Evolutionary Biology in Bristol promises to be a good un, 17-18 June.

Good Done Right here at my gaff is all about effective altruism, using insights from ethical theory, economics, and related disciplines to get people to just be a bit goddammed nicer. 7-9 July.

Finally the BSPS(British Society for the Philosophy of Science)'s annual conference will doubtless be its usual boozy brilliant gathering of the sparkliest thinkers around. This year its in Cambridge, 10-11 July.

Looks like I need to arrange some extra childcare.......

Is breastfeeding altruistic?

A skua steals milk from an elephant seal's teat

It certainly feels like it, at times. Like at 4am when papa is snoring and you’ve got a biro wedged under each eye lid, willing baby darling to suck its last so you can sink back into oblivion. Or, several months down the line, when the little monkey gets a mischievous glint in his eye and goes in for an experimental chew. But we must distinguish psychological from biological altruism here.