Tuesday, July 14, 2009


Cross-posted from Gus Van Horn.

As I mentioned previously, a trip out of the country caused me to miss the first half of this year's OCON, although it took place in Boston, where I now live. I also decided -- correctly, I still think -- that diving into a full schedule of activities on the heels of that trip and a cross-country move would be a little too much, and went for a relatively light schedule of (mainly afternoon/evening) activities and socializing.

But that doesn't mean I don't wish I could have attended the entire week. I really enjoyed the conference at Telluride two years ago and see that several bloggers who attended this year wrote about their experiences. For my own convenience and for that of any who didn't attend, I present this roundup of information on the conference.

If you have further posts or interesting links I haven't included, feel free to write me about them or mention them in the comments.

1. Not tweeting (yet?) myself, I nevertheless will start by mentioning that Diana Hsieh and others used Twitter to post short notes about the proceedings, often in real time. I do wonder whether Twitter is making roundup posts like this superfluous, but will slog ahead anyway...

2. Kendall J of The Crucible, kept a near-daily log of his experiences: OCON – Day 1 & 2, OCON Days 3,4 & 5, OCON Day 6 & 7, and OCON Final Days. Kendall helpfully breaks his posts down into course-related and social sections. From his post on the final days of the conference:
Diana's OBloggers dinner was a success, with such notable bloggers attending as C. August of Titanic Deck Chairs, the husband and wife duo of One Reality and 3 Ring Binder, Gus Van Horn, TOS's Craig Biddle, and new blogger Rational Egoist's Jason Crawford in addition to Paul (GeekPress) and Diana (Noodlefood). We burned the midnight oil back at the hotel discussing all sorts of topics! [minor edits]
I definitely enjoyed that event and would like to thank Diana for organizing it. This was a very fun group of people to spend time with, and it was my first good chance to become better acquainted with the other Boston-area bloggers.

Speaking of whom, ...

3. C. August attended on a somewhat scaled-back basis, but kept good notes: OCON - Day 2, OCON - Days 3 & 4, and OCON - Day 5. This comes from his first entry, about the second day of the conference.
Onkar Ghate spoke on the separation of church and state, its political/philosophical underpinnings, and the threats it faces from the religious right and secular left. It was a fantastic talk.

At the end, Harry Binswanger prodded Onkar to get it published soon, and Onkar responded that he had a book in the making. Harry prodded further and suggested an op-ed so the ideas would be immediately available, which got a big round of applause. I'd actually like to see something in The Objective Standard, with extensive footnotes, because Onkar referred to many works by John Locke and other Enlightenment figures, and it would be a valuable resource.
I definitely agree with that sentiment.

4. Like C. August, I missed seeing the Boston Tea Party, which benefited from a strong presence of ARI speakers and OCON attendees, but Paul Hsieh posted pictures.

5. Returning to the Boston bloggers... Husband and wife duo SB and LB had lots of worthwhile posts on the OCON. SB's diary consisted of the following posts: OCON Update - July 4 through 6, 2009, OCON Update - July 7 through 9, 2009, and OCON Update - July 10 and 11, 2009. From the last of these:
In a general lecture called "Free Minds and Free Markets," Peter Schwartz pointed out the inextricable connection of liberty and capitalism. As Ayn Rand put it, "A free mind and a free market are corollaries." Mr. Schwartz elaborated upon this with his typical brilliance and intensity, and he illustrated his points with many examples, including some execrable quotes from Nicholas Kristof, David Brooks, and Cass Sunstein.
This was one of the two general sessions I attended. The other, also superb, was delivered by John Allison. If I'd ever heard Peter Schwartz speak, it was long-enough ago that I didn't remember just how good a speaker he is.

LB, besides nicely summarizing the social atmosphere of OCON, makes me really wish I'd felt up to attending more of OCON, specifically John Lewis's course:
One of the most immediately motivating things I learned at OCON this week regards the light that lyric poetry of Archaic Greece shines on that important period in the advancement of thought. Dr. John Lewis' presentation of this period was enlightening and inspiring. I will be exploring this period through poetry further, but for now, offer a link to a later bit of interpreted poetry describing the key differences in the archaic poets Homer and Hesiod.
6. I also spent some time catching up with other friends from across the country and over time. Besides being pleasantly surprised to run into a couple of good people I hadn't seen in ten and fifteen years, I walked around the harbor area one afternoon with a friend from Houston. My camera is still MIA, but he had his camera and he's a better photographer than I am anyway. I hope he remembers to send me pictures of the beautiful tall ships that graced the concurrent Sail Boston 2009 event nearby. I may post some of them here later on if he does.

7. Commenter JG notes that Yaron Brook's speech to the Boston Tea Party has been posted to YouTube in two parts.

-- CAV

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