News from April 2000

(These are entries from my blog from 2000 and early 2001. They were originally hosted on a small server at Macquarie University. Most of the links are dead now, but I have kept them as they are here, for nostalgia’s sake.)

Saturday, April 29, 2000

11:52 PM ~ The Coffee FAQ. Know what you ingest.

You might like a t-shirt to go with that coffee.

9:12 PM ~ I really ought to know more about this sort of thing: Universities in the Digital Age. That's an excellent paper by John Seely Brown and Paul Duguid. Their book The Social Life of Information looks good too. It gives a sociologically informed reading of information technology.
8:44 PM ~ Luc Devroye has done some interesting work on fonts. His work on random trees is beautiful (both visually and mathematically).
1:21 PM ~ What a wonderful universe.
9:55 AM ~ Wow. An email from the folks at Nature, the premiere general science journal.
I'm pleased to announce that beginning this week the latest issue of nature will be posted to our website,, as early as 19:01 GMT every Wednesday.
Browse away.

Friday, April 28, 2000

6:15 PM ~ For you, when you think that the net is just the best:
Modern life is rubbish. QED. (And if you needed more proof, in Anthony Trollope's day you could post a letter from London to Cambridge in the morning, have a reply by lunchtime, respond to the reply and have a final message from Cambridge that night. Try that on hotmail).
Modern life mightn't be 100% rubbish but Brian Millar has a point here.
1:26 PM ~ I occasionally check my referrer logs, both on the server, and through the little nedstat icons I've got squirrelled away on some of these pages. Anyway, someone got to my publications page by a hotbot search on "inconsistent graham priest." The reference was
I love it.

Of course, my page came up as number 15 after lots of curious, but completely irrelevant guff.

9:53 AM ~ I'm not a fan of Microsoft's business practices, but I am looking forward to trying out the new PIM/Email Client in Office 2001. It looks quite smart.

Thursday, April 27, 2000

4:30 PM ~ You might have to be Australian to understand this story from the Chaser. A quote:
We were pretty bitter at first - it takes a lot of effort to develop a Democrat puppet from scratch, but we just had to move on. I don't know who is operating Cheryl now, but when I see the footage on TV, I can't say that her movements and demeanour look terribly realistic.
The backstory: The Democrats are a minor party in Australia's political life, positioned somewhere between the Labor party on the one hand and the conservative parties on the other. Cheryl Kernot defected from the Democrats to the Labor party in 1997, but sunk from sight in the midst of media scrutiny, pressure and much speculation about her leadership ability and prospects in the faction-ridden Labor party. She has never been the same.
3:50 PM ~ [My desktop, as of last night]As I type this, Erasmus Epimenides is curled up between my arms, having a post-prandial nap. I see that I'm going to have more distractions when I'm working from home, but they will be most enjoyable distractions.
3:15 PM ~ I've taken delivery of Erasmus Epiminides Restall Parker. She's enjoying exploring our house now. Let's see how long the sofa lasts being used as a scratching post.

Pictures at 11. Well, it's more like there'll be pictures whenever I get them taken, developed, scanned and posted.

12:54 PM ~ Monkeyfist keeps getting better. I've only just noticed the neat category views: they even have a philosophy view which helps me scan through their archives for directly relevant material.
12:30 PM ~ A smart teen comedy movie coming from Australia? Looking for Alibrandi could well be it. It previews well (saw the preview before the blander than expected Mansfield Park) and the website has a great section on Wog Day Family Secrets. Great Italian recipes. Good sountrack. Could be something to see.
10:30 AM ~ Even though The Eye has folded, there is still good independent Australian political comment and content on the web. An article like Australia to leave the UN "We weren't into unity anyway" might make you think that The Chaser is an Australian clone of The Onion, but there's more to it than that.

Crikey seems like it is worth a look too.

Wednesday, April 26, 2000

12:47 PM ~ [Une pipe]Today's visit to the Cat Protection Society has unearthed a kitten we like. She's a black/gold tabby, affectionate and not aggressive. She's going to be microchipped and checked out by the vet today, and we pick her up tomorrow if she's OK. Now to choose the name. Current front-runners: Epimenides, Erasmus and Eusebius. Yes, we know that they're all male names, but they are no longer in wide use, and they are each both significant and stylish.
12:05 PM ~ Onfocus points me to this famous Magritte painting. A copy (postcard sized) is framed and on our TV at home. The National Gallery of Scotland in Edinburgh held a Magritte exhibition when I was there in February.

Tuesday, April 25, 2000

10:10 PM ~ Background Briefing's program on affluenza was challenging and interesting. Robert Frank is great on radio, and I must read his Luxury Fever. Boy I've been enjoying Radio National lately. (Their website is not flashy but it's very useful, with full transcripts of many programs.)
6:03 PM ~ Hermann Weyl was wise. He wrote:
We are not very pleased when we are forced to accept a mathematical truth by virtue of a complicated chain of formal conclusions and computations, which we traverse blindly, link by link, feeling our way by touch. We want first an overview of the aim and of the road; we want to understand the idea of the proof, the deeper context.

Unterrichtsblätter für Mathematik und Naturwissenschaften, 38, 177-188 (1932). Translation by Abe Shenitzer appeared in The American Mathematical Monthly, v. 102, no. 7 (August-September 1995), p. 646.

The quote was found on the Mathematical Quotation Server, which is full of other wise sayings.
4:35 PM ~ Could someone with better Japanese than me translate this diary entry for me? I am curious.
1:44 PM ~ I am getting quite good (if I may say so) at making pumpkin soup. (Not that sort of pumpkin soup, but more like these kinds of pumpkin soup.) The secret? Good quality fresh pumpkin and a high pumpkin to stock ratio. Once blended it will be rich and creamy. Tarragon sets it off perfectly. It's a good meal for a cool autumn night.
10:26 AM ~ A new day, a new tweak to the design of this page. Let me know if there are any rendering difficulties in your browser. I'm not completely happy with it, but it will do until the urge to rejig strikes again.

Monday, April 24, 2000

4:17 PM ~ [Vexing]If I wanted to add a search box to this site, I'd probably use atomz. However, I don't think these pages yet need a search facility, there being so few of them.
3:53 PM ~ While searching around for some gardening information, I found which not only has a great name, but is a storehouse for lots of useful information about sustainability.
3:18 PM ~ False alarm. We attempted to get a cat, but the CPSNSW is shut until Wednesday, and the local pet store contained only one kitten, who appeared to be extremely lifeless. Not exactly the alert companion we'd like. We will wait, patiently.
10:00 AM ~ Today, Christine and I will attempt to get a cat from the Cat Protection Society of NSW. We've been wanting a pet for some time, and today's the day.

Saturday, April 22, 2000

8:19 PM ~ Today we had an enjoyable drive down to Wollongong. The highlight? The coastal views along the way and the Royal National Park, just south of Sydney.
8:17 PM ~ Xlibris is a new and exciting book publishing service using the net in a new way.

Friday, April 21, 2000

10:23 PM ~ Last night we went to our church's Tennebrae service, a vigil of readings from John's gospel with candles extinguished as the story gets darker and darker until the crucifixion. The combination of sight and sound and silence was utterly compelling.
10:20 PM ~ If you want more interesting email in your inbox, you should get more interesting friends. If you can't manage that, Walt Bruckner might help you out.

Thursday, April 20, 2000

4:45 PM ~ Things will be very quiet here over the Easter weekend. Christine's dad is visiting us for a week or so, and I'll be slacking off with them. I'm sure there will be plenty to occupy you in my absence.
3:31 PM ~ If I could afford (or justify) getting some people to help with the design of my web resources, the people at 37signals would get my call. As it is, their work is an inspiration.
12:14 PM ~ [Crime is Down: Sell Crime]Cathy Wilcox's cartoons are some of the best things in the Sydney Morning Herald.
10:00 AM ~ Just heard on the radio: The Eye is folding. Another attempt at an Australian independent news magazine bites the dust.
9:56 AM ~ By all accounts the Seeing Salvation exhibition at the National Gallery in London is a great success. I was there in time to see the Cornelius Gijsbrechts exhibition, which was a sheer delight. Alas, I'm on the other side of the world for this one.
9:33 AM ~ Jon Barwise's webpage has been turned into a memorial.
9:25 AM ~ I stumbled on Dru Jay's writing in electronic text links through an excellent discussion on weblogs and associated matters on Wes Felter's Hack the Planet. This discussion repays repeated reading (though clicking through the links mightn't be good for the wrists) if you want to seriously think about what writing on the web and weblogging might be about.
9:17 AM ~ I have been haiku-ised by Firda.
It's Greg Restall ~ Log
Philosophy, technology
Anything you wish

Wednesday, April 19, 2000

5:38 PM ~ [Ubu Poster]Amory Lovins on Late Night Live on the value of oxygen: "it's probably closer to infinity than zero." As someone with a mathematical education, I agree with the sentiment, but I find the way of expressing it very curious. I would have thought that all finite numbers were significantly closer to zero than to infinity. Infinity is very, very big. But then, I think, this thought expresses how we think about numbers. Most of the ones we think about are small, and easily distinguished. All the rest are "close togther" up there in the sky where the big numbers live (or wherever they are), and not too distinct. What's the difference between 100 billion and 1000 billion anyway?

Anyway, Lovins et. al.'s Natural Capitalism sounds worthwhile: if we're going to measure things economically, we should at least do it realistically.

1:01 PM ~ Everyone likes a bit of tractor pulling, don't they?
11:54 AM ~ Happy Birthday Caroline! At 37 I wouldn't call you old. I'll be there myself in the not-too-distant future.
8:20 AM ~ Any mental activity is easy if it need not take reality into account. - Proust (via mthology and his smooth redesign).

This is encouraging, because it means that my current work must take reality into account. Now if only reality were more compliant.

Tuesday, April 18, 2000

5:21 PM ~ "It is always possible to aglutenate multiple separate problems into a single complex interdependent solution.

In most cases this is a bad idea."

11:09 AM ~ Antony Eagle sent me a nice email about my book. It turns out that he's an Australian expatriate philosophy grad student at Princeton who has some mp3 extracts of his music on his web page. I not only have readers, but I have interesting readers.
10:57 AM ~ Yesterday's work on realizability went well. I think I've got that down. Today, I look at proof-theoretic justificatons of the logical constants. This has never appealed to me as a philosophical justification, but maybe there's something in it.
8:02 AM ~ More haunting: A fin de siècle Psalm 23:
You've been leading me / beside strange waters / Streams of beautiful / lights in the night.
But where is my pastureland/ in these dark valleys? / If I loose my grip / will I take flight?

Bruce Cockburn, Strange Waters, 1995.

Monday, April 17, 2000

11:39 AM ~ [movie poster - leningrad cowboys] Haunting: It was not clear if there were any survivors.
9:32 AM ~ To keep you occupied today, here's one more great Polish Art poster. Leningrad Cowboys was a great movie (we'd call it `quirky' if it were an Australian movie, but as it isn't...). This poster captures it well. I love that hair.
9:31 AM ~ This morning I'm taking a break from logging. I have to keep my line free for phonecalls and I want to get some writing done. I'm heading off to try presenting Kleene's realizability semantics for intuitionistic logic in a way that a layperson can understand, and to explain why it proves results in conflict with classical analysis. Hmmm. This is a tough job...

Sunday, April 16, 2000

3:18 PM ~ Philip Greenspun and ArsDigita are estabilishing an open content, free university. Well, they'll only be teaching computer science for the first few years, but they're hoping to grow into the rest of what a university teaches. More power to them!
3:10 PM ~ I think I cannot describe this as anything other than psychedelic philosophical logic. There are people whose philosophical positions are way further out there than mine. I don't know if this is reassuring or scary.

Saturday, April 15, 2000

3:16 PM ~ That's why it's called YOPY: YOPY stands for spirit of young & intelligent who want to speedy usage of multimedia function through PDA.
3:15 PM ~ Is this my next pda? Very very curious. A Linux-running, MP3-playing, pen-based little machine. But why YOPY?
3:08 PM ~ What use is a website advertising itself as giving you helpful information about the lowest prices for things (such as mobile phone plans) when it lists a whole bunch each costing $0? Well, we know there's plenty of free phone deals: it's the plans we want unbiased information about. Back to the drawing board.
3:02 PM ~ Christine, who makes me smile daily, is finally on the web. Well, some official pages about her are on the web. Which is a start.
2:58 PM ~ A new New Internationalist arrived yesterday. Nice redesign (except for the awful swoosh logo) with great content about fair trade. Australia hasn't yet got its act together with enough critical mass for fair trade labelling of supermarket goods, but at least Community Aid Abroard has a good online sales business. This is economics with a human face.
11:49 AM ~ Meg explains the difference between people and web people. I think this explains what I enjoy on the web. And what I don't. Thanks Meg.
11:28 AM ~ deepleap have launched. The beta is better than ever. Now you can go to it and surf the web in a new way.

Friday, April 14, 2000

11:35 AM ~ Almost burned the cake. I was too focussed on the web when I should have noticed that attractive I'm a ready to take out of the oven mud-cake smell. Mmmmm.
11:27 AM ~ Since becoming a home owner, I've started paying attention to architecture much more. I'm learning from the work of Glenn Murcutt, an Australian Architect who calls us to touch this earth lightly.
11:17 AM ~ "Heaping Portion". Just waiting for the shockwave to download is an experience in itself. (Thanks Judith.)
9:00 AM ~ This morning it's more cake baking, house cleaning (friends coming over again, and the kitchen floor needs a clean), cheque depositing and in the time left over, I'll be doing more research. Today, more on constructivism. Let's see whether I can make things clear to myself, at least.
8:47 AM ~ deepleap missed their beta launch date. Good luck with getting it launched, guys!

Thursday, April 13, 2000

5:12 PM ~ Why would these people be interested in my Substructural Logics book? (Scouring through my access logs.)
4:44 PM ~ [theater poster - stasys - o diabelku]Environmental Sustainability. We need it.
4:05 PM ~ Good weblogs have a voice. Found Objects has a voice all of its own.
3:57 PM ~ Got that javascript error sorted. IE5 was set to log errors on this machine here, and I tracked down the little error in the page counter script down the bottom of the page. It's fixed now. Apologies if this error bit you too.
3:52 PM ~ I'm getting scripting errors on this page on my iMac at work, but not on my Bronze powerbook at home. Don't know why. Both are running the same browser.
10:05 AM ~ A nice definition of the scientific method from Science Made Stupid:

The cornerstone of modern science is the scientific method. Scientists first formulate hypotheses, or predictions, about nature. Then they perform experiments to test their hypotheses. There are two forms of scientific method, the inductive and the deductive.


  • formulate hypothesis
  • apply for grant
  • perform experiments or gather data to test hypothesis
  • alter data to fit hypothesis
  • publish

  • formulate hypothesis
  • apply for grant
  • perform experiments or gather data to test hypothesis
  • revise hypothesis to fit data
  • backdate revised hypothesis
  • publish
This is truer than you might think.
9:43 AM ~ Tom Peters! likes exclamation points! Making capitalism exciting for you!! Ugh.

Wednesday, April 12, 2000

11:14 PM ~ I like spyonit. It makes routine web searching for updates automatic. Let it know what web pages you want watched, and it will inform you when they change.
4:03 PM ~ Australian INfront: An Australian web & design page.
10:52 AM ~ For nice web resources on XHTML and stylesheets, the W3C is the place to go.
10:07 AM ~ I hate thinking about mobile phone plans. Anyone got any advice on choosing a reasonably low use (but my useage pattern is quite unpredictable) mobile phone plan in Australia?

Tuesday, April 11, 2000

10:27 AM ~ It's my grandfather's birthday today. I've missed him for the last twenty years.
8:31 AM ~ Greg Knauss is so right when he laments the current decline in user interfaces.

Monday, April 10, 2000

4:07 PM ~ Dave Andrews is another person I got to spend time with at the Zadok conference. It was great to see him again after five years.
12:13 PM ~ [picnic at hanging rock poster]Bob Brozman is my favourite licensed ethnomusicologist who performs live music for live people. His Africanische Oom-Pah-Pah must be heard to be believed.
11:03 AM ~ I've downloaded Tom Kiffe's new version of MacGhostview. This version (1.8) is equipped with elegant postscript to pdf conversion.
8:25 AM ~ Wow. DHTML that actually works.
7:44 AM ~ Calamondin points to some gorgeous polish posters. Today's image is the poster for the Peter Weir movie Picnic at Hanging Rock. I think it captures the feel of the movie perfectly.

Sunday, April 09, 2000

4:37 PM ~ I've come back from the conference, which was relaxing and enjoyable. A good break from my regular routine.

The best part was meeting David Lyon. A wise, sweet, humble and smart man.

Netscape PR1 isn't useable for me. Way too slow and buggy on my machine. Oh well.

Thursday, April 06, 2000

10:20 AM ~ Downloading Netscape 6 PR1 and preparing to go to Canberra tonight for the Zadok Conference. No more blogging until early next week.

Wednesday, April 05, 2000

3:02 PM ~ A helpful philosophical meditation on the topic of cloning, but also on the applicability of philosophy more generally.
2:55 PM ~ Bronzed Philosophers? Odd. Nice, but odd.
12:24 PM ~ I like Bruce Cockburn. So do other people.
11:27 AM ~ It was an April Fool's joke.
11:19 AM ~ I've taken the plunge and moved all the stylesheets of my log out of the log and into the server, and applied them to my main pages. Nice style sheets. Uniform design. Edit in one place. Now if only all browsers implemented them sensibly.
8:26 AM ~ I have the very good fortune to be a DeepLeap alpha tester. It is very very good. It's already changed the way I browse.

Tuesday, April 04, 2000

11:34 PM ~ We are very well served by our public broadcaster here. Foreign Correspondent is excellent journalism.
9:39 PM ~ Love is strange. And you have to have to learn to take the crunchy with the smooth, I s'pose.
9:25 PM ~ You can say a lot in seventeen syllables.
6:59 PM ~ On the topic of the first post of today, it turns out that Sony is a Palm licensee, so the PalmOS/MD player is within the realms of possibility.
6:40 PM ~ Played around this afternoon with Barwise and Etchemendy and Co.'s Language, Proof and Logic software. They've done a good job of writing software to help students do elementary logic, but it is still tedious to use. So much clicking, typing, selecting, mousing around and generally moving your focus from the proof to the goals, to the button bar to the menu bar. It is completely unnatural, compared to writing on a piece of paper (or a whiteboard for that matter). There is so much more bandwidth in the human/pen/paper interaction which there isn't in the human/(keyboard and mouse)/screen combination.

Now that I think of it, this is one reason why using a Newton, despite its itty-bitty screen, is actually a liberating computing experience. The jumping around the screen with a pen is much quicker than mousing/clicking/typing.

4:20 PM ~ Before the library I visited a nursery, and they had some delightful calamondins. A small one in a large pot would look great on our front verandah. Especially matching the pale orange of our house.
4:02 PM ~ I picked up Coffee, Sex and Health at my local library today. It looks like an enjoyable read about the social history of coffee consumption in western societies.
8:41 AM ~ Is this an April Fool's joke? I only found it today, but it was posted on on April 1.

Monday, April 03, 2000

12:36 PM ~ European font designers have such style. I am particularly enamoured of Proforma and its forthcoming sibling Prolinea.

Sunday, April 02, 2000

5:30 PM ~ Christine's book Just Lawyers is out. The OUP website has a much better way of referring to their catalogue than Routledge, the publisher of my book. I'm not confident that a link to Routledge's page won't break soon (it has once already since November). OUP, on the other hand, seem to have done their website homework.


I’m Greg Restall, and this is my personal website. I am the Shelby Cullom Davis Professor of Philosophy at the University of St Andrews, and the Director of the Arché Philosophical Research Centre for Logic, Language, Metaphysics and Epistemology I like thinking about – and helping other people think about – logic and philosophy and the many different ways they can inform each other.


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