Pacific Division APA, Travel & Here

I’ve just picked up my badge and been to my first talk at the American Philosophical Association (APA), Pacific Division. Travelled over yesterday from Dublin with Virgin Atlantic. Passed over Iceland, Greenland, and the Rockies. Ice-and-snow covered landscapes, shattered. Flecks of ice in the sea that might have been icebergs. Flat curving spaces like wide frozen or snow-covered rivers. They seemed wide, at least. Anyhow, I struggled to understand the scale (and, so, nature) of what I was looking at.

So I watched the Good Wife on the sky telly.

My experience and memory of the flight was strange. I kept looking at my watch, surprised ten minutes had passed, or only an hour. I left at 3pm GMT, arrived at 6.30pm PMT. When I got to this other side, I was tired but it felt as if I had travelled for 6-7 hours. Almost as if I hadn’t changed timezone. But I’d been travelling — with a stopover to London — for almost 12 hours.

Some might think my temporal experience was distorted. But obviously I don’t think that — why I don’t think that’s the point of my talk over here (… which is on Saturday night, for 20 minutes). In my view, what’s happened is that whatever it is that constitutes the temporal extent in my experience of duration  — call it the felt beat (derived from Wittmann’s recent book ‘Felt Time’) — so varies from clock time (or typical independent cues of clock time) that what I usually call roughly ‘six hours’ of that beat was now roughly ‘twelve’ hours.

Actually, it was more than that. I got off the plane and felt like I’d been on it for a long time, all of it in daylight. And up until that trip, night had been falling later and later as we move into summer. So, I expected it to get dark at about 8 or 9 — 6 or 7 hours after I left. The daylight felt like it was lasting at least as long as that, maybe a little longer.

Anyway, landed in the airport — customs were very friendly — and was met by my friend Greg. Talked non-stop about everything as we drove down the SF ocean road in the setting sun and then passed over the Golden Gate bridge in the dark. The motorway passed fast by tiny hyperwealthy villages buried in tiny bays — clusters of glittering opulent light buried in looming black hills.

Stayed in his house, a place full of books, string and percussions instruments, from many countries, many made by himself. We talked until the wee hours of 11pm, which were wee hours for me. Then I slept late until 4am ((….dammit).

Today, when we left, we picked oranges from the tree in his garden. Then, went to visit Greg’s workplace at ILM, had breakfast. Wandered the halls looking at sculptures of spaceships and monsters, and matte paintings from my childhood. Greg told me stories fascinating about it all, explained how matte paintings were used, showed me examples, showed me animatronics. (Took a few photos — which was fine — but not sure I should or want to post them.)

We went for lunch and then went to my AirBnB place. It’s a studio ground floor flat with a lemon tree outside. Then we got lost finding the hotel. Almost as many one-ways and cluttered stumbling traffic as Cork. Passed a strip of soup kitchens and homeless shelters, which suddenly turned into Union Square and the Westin hotel.

I am in the Westin hotel right now. I’m sitting in the ground-floor cafe. I recognise no-one so far at this conference … which is actually a little good (although I look forward to meeting up with a few people eventually).

Just been to the first APA talk — by Kolia Keller on a defence of moderate internalism against the New Evil Demon problem of justification. It was a great talk, lots of nice clear thought experiments. Defended internalism about justification (which I like) and was accommodating about the extended mind hypothesis  (which I also like).

In the next few days, as well as some talks, I’m going to check out the Exploratorium and visit the Long Now foundation.

So, yeah….bit spaced out, what with barely having had any sleep in about two or three days. Not sure how interesting this post is. Don’t feel deep writing about it or anything.

I did get slightly excited last night when I realised that, in the US, crickets actually chirp at night. Also, when I heard a bird of prey screeching.

Also, at 5am this morning, I think I figured out why I think identifiying that there is an error is not sufficient for identifying what kind of error it is.


  • My thought here is:  you may figure out that the shape that you appear to see can’t be the thing you’re looking at’s shape. But that doesn’t mean you’ve figured how exactly they diverge, or why. That depends on what you think about the process which generates the error. You still have to work out when and where the error is in the process. You can be wrong about when and where it is, and so, even if right there’s an error, be wrong about the kind of error involved.
  • Why I think this is due to my previous career in business-level tech support and software consultancy. In that case, when something which was supposed to work went wrong, noticing it went wrong didn’t tell you how it went wrong. The system often involved multiple programming and markup languages, platforms, companies, security networks, system users, and even systems developers (many who had been fired by the time we got to it. All of this can be conceived as the system’s ontology. Much of it was not transparent nor obvious, even given system specifications. I guess I think perceptual experience is the same.



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