Adventures in Amherst

I don’t usually do this, of course, but time is limited, as you know, so I’m just going to adapt a comment I left at Talking Philosophy. Someone had replied to Julian’s remark about being unable to blog much while here with the observation that they have the Internet in Buffalo…

They probably do have the internets in Buffalo, but we’re not exactly in Buffalo (Julian is a little shaky on geography*), we’re in Amherst, which is a suburb of Buffalo. Man is it a suburb. It’s the most suburban suburb I’ve ever seen. It’s like a Platonic suburb. All the roads are four-lane highways (at least) with a speed limit of 45 mph (at the slowest). Even the dang campus of the University (SUNY Buffalo, north campus) is full of 45 mph freeways – which seems very bizarre, to me, used as I am to the campus of the University of Washington where the speed limit is 15 mph. The shops are all chains, and so are the ‘restaurants.’ Still – joy is available – yesterday evening Jeremy and I took the now-familiar long walk up one mini-freeway (which goes under a real freeway, which roars so loudly overhead that we have to stop talking until we reach the other side) and along the one that has all the chain shops and eateries – he wanted a bit of electronic equipment, and he spied a Macy’s so we tried that but it seemed to be all clothes so that was no good and I was just saying why don’t we ask someone instead of walking around in here forever when we got to the far side which opened onto – you’ll never guess – a mall. Jeremy was in instant bliss. ‘I’m in heaven!’ he exclaimed rapturously. He likes malls.

Here’s something you don’t know about Jeremy, and neither did I. He’s a clothes horse. He’s a fashion idol. It’s just T shirts and jeans, but it’s a particular kind of T shirt and jeans. Very amusing.

Anyway, internet is patchy at the Center and non-existent at the guesthouse where we’re living, so we really can’t do much internets stuff.


Julian did his lectures last week, Jeremy is doing his this week and next; I did the keynote address at the beginning. The three of us rented a car and drove to the Finger Lakes on Thursday; it was great fun, especially since we had the rare perfect weather for it – bright, clear, sharp, ideal for gazing at long blue lakes with rolling country around them. The last bit was slightly hairy, because we dawdled too long in Seneca Falls (the Stoical birthplace of US feminism) and we had to be back by 6:30 because Jeremy was scheduled to give Opening Remarks at the dinner that launched the second set of lectures. Jeremy doesn’t drive and Julian hasn’t driven a huge amount, especially on US freeways, so I drove, and I went 10 to 20 miles faster than I had in the morning, but the time still kept sliding away and our ETA kept changing – 6:00, Jeremy will still have time for a shower; oh dear, 6:10, Jeremy will have to swipe his armpits and let it go at that; uh oh, 6:20, we’re just plain going to be late, but they’ll be eating, the remarks come after the dinner, it’s okay – and then I took the wrong exit, and mass despair took over. But in the event Julian skillfully navigated us through some squalid bit of outer Buffalo and we weren’t late after all and Jeremy smelled like a rose (well not really) and all was well.

He’s been working on his lecture for today, with me kibbitzing (Julian’s in Toronto, and he’s going back to the UK tomorrow); he may use some of the thought experiments he’s done here; we’re talking about Jonathan Haidt on disgust and purity and so on. It should be a very interesting afternoon.

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