June 27, 2008
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Sessenta Setenta

A very impressive dinner for the program committee at Sessenta Setenta (60/70, a pun on "sit and try"). I had a tasty ceviche with a very nice vinho verde, and then a beautifully roasted rack of borrego with a lovely red blend, and then a plate of fresh cheese with a honeyed fig, a bit of honey, and a glass of vintage (!) port.

Why do we indulge in this sybaritic luxury? Of course, it's nice to thank busy scholars and scientists for taking time to read so many papers. Some of us have read twenty, and then sorted through other reviews and discussed the paper in depth with colleagues, and now of course we're about to look at every paper again. And then, of course, the inconvenience of travel is significant; I happen to like to travel, but not everyone does. And even for me, spending a long night in a middle seat, next to an infant who has boundary issues and likes to kick — well, you can imagine.

But, aside from that — and beyond the social lubrication that sharing a meal or two lends to the ideological and methodological disputes we are going to need to address to arrive at a program — conferences are held in specific places. And, if we’re going to travel to these places with our colleagues, we really ought to pay attention to their particularity. We may be coming to Porto, basically, because this is where Professor Aguiar happens to teach. But because Professor Aguiar teaches here, not Barcelona or Berlin or Bangkok or Biloxi, the wiki world is heading for Porto this September. It behooves us to experience and enjoy Porto while we're here.

Besides, the wine is really good, and the sommelier has a farm nearby and will be bottling his sparkling wine in September, and he invites us to drop in when we're in the neighborhood.