Saturday, December 13, 2014

Field Notes

[Updated with new URL]

I haven't paid much attention to this blog, lately. I am likely to come back around to it, from time to time, but I'm now shifting my attention to a new website/blog: "Field Notes of an Experiential Ethicist" -

I'll pick up some of the themes from this page, but range much more widely in identifying particular ethical values in particular circumstances, and I'll have a lot more to say about teaching and learning.

You can also follow me on Twitter @EthicsNotes

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Origin Myth

I returned to the spoken-word open-mic, this past Sunday, with a piece I wrote on July 4, 2014.

It picks up on themes already taken up in this blog, starting with my response to Wendy Brown's book, Surviving the Apocalypse in the Suburbs - which I review here and here - and my subsequent discussion of the notion of self-sufficiency, here.

As post-apocalyptic narrative goes, I can't claim what I've done here is terribly original or ground-breaking. Really, it was just a chance to work through some things in a format other than academic prose or even prosaic blog posts.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014


I've been trying something new, lately.

There is a spoken-word open-mic on Sunday evenings at a coffee shop a short walk from where I live. I attended a few times, then decided to try standing up and speaking something.

There are a number of things I've been trying to put into words - regarding ethics, teaching, urban sustainability, hope - that have eluded me when my aim has been to produce academic prose, or even blog posts.

I have discovered that if I turn sideways and address a different audience in a different form, I can begin to connect things together.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Oil Liberation!

A longtime friend posted a link on Facebook to an article bearing the headline:

Vast oil trove trapped in Monterey Shale formation 

The article describes the difficulty of extracting the oil while still turning a profit, with passing mention of some of the environmental and social concerns associated with the extraction processes that might be involved.

This is not a blog post about hydraulic fracturing, per se, but a brief comment on the use of language: the headline reveals a way of framing the meaning of shale oil that cuts off any debate about the advisability of extracting the oil before it can get started.

It comes down to a matter of metaphor.

To trap something is to confine or limit it when it would otherwise move freely.

To say the oil is trapped is to suggest that oil in its natural state is free. The oil would be free, could be free, and should be free but for the damned, cruel, oppressive shale formation holding it back!

What's proposed then is not "fracking" - such an unpleasant word, "fracking" - it's Oil Liberation!