11:54 AM ~ Just about to get on the train to the airport, and I want to check my bank details on the web. Oddly, the domain name servers are screwy today. I can access some websites at without their "www" prefixes (such as weblogs.com) but not with them (like www.weblogs.com). I can get to my bank website OK, but through a nonstandard domain name, and this means that the security certificate isn't accepted by my browser, and the connection isn't secure. Does anyone know what DNS problems could cause this?
11:26 PM ~ Celera, HUGO and the US-NHGRI. You'll here more from these folks in the near future when they get to understand what you can do with those 3.12 billion base pairs.
If you want to get some sequencing done for yourself, you don't need to get all the tricky equipment. Instead, you can employ the experts. It's nice to know that you can get my sequencing, genotyping and genetic diagnostics done so affordably.
Watch out! Prices go up by 10% on July 1, however. Get your orders in fast!
9:20 PM ~ Christine and I are off to Brisbane and Noosa for conferences until July 8. We fly out tomorrow midday, and I have heaps of things to do between now and then. (Like watching Episode 2 of The Mind of the Architect.) Expect updates here to be rather infrequent.
7:22 PM ~ The first picky grammar post for my log:
3:44 PM ~ It is a strange thing being an author. Not only do you get stupid feelings in a bookshop (if your book is not there, it is evidence it is not popular because the bookshop is not stocking it; if it is there, it is evidence that it is not selling), your ever helpful readers who send you corrections leave you in quite some doubt if anyone has actually made it past the first half of the book. Someone should warn prospective authors of the highs and lows of the publishing game.
2:43 PM ~ Found at Kaliber10000 (a great visit in its own right): Born Magazine, featuring collaboration in design and literature.
9:57 AM ~ Another news item not getting mainstream airtime: The Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission has brought down a response to our Federal Government's actions on implementing the recommendations of Bringing them home: the Stolen Generations Report. The summary? We've done very, very badly.
8:25 AM ~ Parallel import plans for books: This is a big deal. It might lower prices on books (to compensate for the GST which taxes them at 10%) but it may well spell the death of some local pubishers.
9:30 PM ~ Item of Philosophical Wisdom #1: A searchable online edition of Kant's Critique of Pure Reason.
9:32 AM ~ "There's nothing inherently wrong with this," he said, adding, "It'll be a wild ride." It will indeed.
4:47 PM ~ Is there a reason that the ABC are posting a transcript for The Games before it airs tonight? Watch it anyway. It's documentary at its best.
11:24 AM ~ Today's soundtrack: I'm overdosing on Shostakovich Quartets with the Fitzwilliam String Quartet. (They can be yours for just £1500. Or you can get the Box Set for significantly less.)
11:20 AM ~ A disruption is a nice way to start the day. We had booked for some floor sanders and polishers to come and (what do you expect?) sand and polish our floors. Our hallway, to be precise. The booking was, I had thought, for Monday and Tuesday, with a possible extension to Wednesday to accomodate drying time. Just in time for us to jet up to Noosa for a conference. It turns out that they had taken the booking to involve starting on Monday or Tuesday. Given that apparently everyone in Sydney is getting their floors polished this week before the apocalypse, "Monday or Tuesday" means "Tuesday" or possibly "Wednesday." Well, this screws all our plans up mightily. Excellent.
That's one company off my good books. It's a trying thing finding tradespeople you can trust and deal with regularly. The trials of the so-called Australian Dream.
11:08 PM ~ It's quite touching to be thought to be illustrious. I'm not, though.
3:12 PM ~ Concert last night? Excellent. The best was the encore, with the Scherzo from Shostakovich's Third String Quartet. Magificient. I'm a sucker for Shostakovich String Quartets.
5:30 PM ~ Why shut a net-store like Amazon? In particular, why close it before I have finished cancelling an order? I don't like this.
Thanks to Seven Weeks to Madagascar for the link. (And enjoy the remaining two weeks to Madagascar!)
9:31 AM ~ Ten Reasons to oppose all Olympic Games, by Brian Martin.
4:24 PM ~ Excuse me a minute for a little theological & personal reflectionWe may trust God with our past as heartily as with our future. It will not hurt us so long as we do not try to hide things, so long as we are ready to bow our heads in hearty shame where it is fit we should be ashamed. For to be ashamed is a holy and blessed thing. Shame is a thing to shame only those who want to appear, not to those who want to be. Shame is shame to those who want to pass their examination, not those who would get into the heart of things . . . To be humbly ashamed is to be plunged into the cleansing bath of truth.That's from George MacDonald.
There's something really unpopular with the idea of shame, but when you think about it, being shameless is a sad thing. Our actions have weight, and sometimes we do things which we regret. If so, shame is proper. Of course, people are often ashamed of completely the wrong things altogether, and that's sad too.
10:45 AM ~ Tomorrow night, a concert with the Emerson String Quartet. (I've not yet heard any Ellen Taafe Zwilich, but at least I can read about her here.)
9:36 AM ~ "Before the Americans could Americanize the rest of the world, they had to Americanize themselves." An insightful comment by Alan Saunders, in his commentary on Ang Lee's Ride with the Devil. I never thought of the U.S. Civil War as the march of capitalism and modernity, but thinking of it, it makes sense. Hmm. Might go to see that movie, if I have time.
9:04 AM ~ Michael Sippey on the Microsoft.NET announcements. Good sense.
9:16 PM ~ Peter Forrest writes touchingly about how he sees doing philosophy. I've seen his house in Uralla, and it's so big, I really wonder which renovation project will finish first: his rehabilitation of Christianity, or his restoration of the house. My bet is not with the house.
For a completely different (but no less fascinating) take on philosophy, try his colleague Fred D'Agostino's explanation of why he likes philosophy. And Elvis.
10:48 AM ~ Whoo! deepleap has gone to the next level, with people able to make their stuff public. Now you can browse my wishlist. Browse away. Buy stuff for yourself. Or for me, if you like.
9:39 AM ~ Here I was a couple of days ago thinking to myself that the uproar and self flagellation by our federal parliamentarians over the way they treat each other wouldn't come to any lasting change. It's a good thing that they realise that the way they treat each other is inhuman, given that they helped drive one of their colleagues to despair and to suicide. (Greg Wilton's tragic death was provoked also by a personal relationship breakup. There's no doubt that the ugliness of parliament was not the only factor, nor perhaps the dominant one.) Still, the orgy of tears and regret in Parliament a couple of days ago was striking. Yet you would have to be naive to think that this signalled any real or lasting change. At most, it was a sign that people were coming to realise what pressures they are under, and the costs of working in the way they do. Nothing has changed to make these pressures any less, or to take away the motivations for personal abuse and petty mindedness in parliament. Good intentions won't cut it.
Little did I suspect that this would be made abundantly clear so soon.
9:22 AM ~ As the shots of Storey Hall showed, RMIT is the university in Australia with truly exciting architecture. (More shots of Storey Hall are here.)
9:02 AM ~ Here's a clear photo essay on the new Commonwealth Law Courts in Melbourne, which were featured in last night's program on architecture.
I especially liked the way that the constitution was etched into the windows. (Don't know what happens when we amend the constitution? Replace the windows?) I would love to work in a place where such care was taken to the built environment. Alas, my building at Macquarie is not such a place.
7:43 PM ~ Nothing is Permitted. A web published thesis on moral philosophy, by Richard Goode. (Link provided by Daniel Nolan.)
5:09 PM ~ Highway and Byways. Today's vision of beauty is brought to you by Paul Klee.
2:02 PM ~ Make that "in the break."
2:00 PM ~ Tiring meeting in the morning. It continues this afternoon. The only highlight is the laksa I'm about to have in the berak.
9:13 AM ~ Great Australian architecture on the tube tonight at 8:30. The site is nothing much to look at now, but it promises to shape up soon. The program "In the Mind of the Architect" seems like a great way to get inside to see all those great buildings you only see in magazines.
11:29 PM ~ Tired. Late night writing report on a promotion. Getting sleepy ...
Peter Hollo's [Stumblings in the dark] are amusing reading, though.
6:49 PM ~ Mathematical music. (Read right to the end to get to it.)
5:01 PM ~ Jonathan Hoefler's Typography.com has been redesigned. And very nice it is too. If you use a Macintosh, you might like his nice free Geometer screen fonts. I do.
12:41 PM ~ Now that is one way to round out a thesis. (The text of the disacknowledgements page is here.)
11:10 AM ~ From George Magazine (not a regular read, I'm afraid, but a link followed from Arts & Letters Daily) an article on cosmetic surgery.
10:09 AM ~ Oh no. There's another good news source (or filter) to add to my weekly rotation. BlueGreen is a filter for critical environmental news and opinions, updated daily and edited by Dru Jay.
9:59 AM ~ Odd statement number thirteen:13. Any well-designed next-generation electronic gadget will come with a "Disable Omniscience'' button.This comes from David Gelernter's Manifesto on the future of computing. This has been doing the rounds on the net for the last couple of days, and I have caved in an posted a link here too, as I finally got around to reading it.
Gelernter's obviously right when he proclaims the importance of metaphor, and he's right when he says that the file/folder metaphor employed in current user interfaces is unhelpful. Why must files have one and only one name? Why must I files be placed in one and only one directory?
(This is yet another reason why the Newton was, and is, so revolutionary. No files. "Direct" manipulation of the storage. No need to choose names for notes or folders to put things in.)
Yes, software has a lot of work to do to catch up with hardware.
12:17 AM ~ Tired. Still marking a thesis. A good thesis, but it's tiring work. Getting sleepy...
11:33 AM ~ "You see the politicking, you see the factionalism, you can see the brutality," says one player.
The link is to tonight's Four Corners story. It won't last through the whole week, and I can't find a permanent link.
11:10 AM ~ Just a little rant before I get back into work.
This is provoked by wetlog's pointer to the BBC article about our government's appalling propoganda campaign against asylum seekers. What's the deal here? Since when have asylum seekers been queue jumpers and illegal immigrants? Since when have we the right to lock them up in detention centres in the middle of nowhere?
The breakouts in these detention centres might just have something to do with the fact that we treat these people badly. It's a simple matter to do the obvious background security checks first, then release people into the community while the rest of their case is assessed. But no, we lock them up in prison conditions for the whole time. And we treat them as illegal immigrants, when there are international conventions explaining how to treat refugees. We're not exactly up to best practice here. (This is one consequence of living in a country which is still ambivalent about immigrants in general. It probably has something to do with the fact that most of us are immigrant stock ourselves: we know how easy it was to displace the original people of this land, and we are rather frightened that it might happen to us.)
Anyway, buried in one ministerial press release I find the damning number. We've only seen 4000 "illegal entries" in the last year! (The UNHCR figures for Australia say we're housing about 61,000 refugees in total at present.) And this government complains about the flood of illegals? Let's try housing the 392,000 housed by Sudan in 1998? I will be watching with interest to see the UNHCR assessment of Australia's performance in 2000. Our mediocre performance before 2000 has given us good standing in the global community. I cannot imagine that this current turn of rhetoric, and behaviour, bodes well for the future.
More refugee links are available at the excellent UNHCR site.
1:36 PM ~ This is why Matt Stone likes mathematics. It's not why I like logic, but it comes pretty close.
Check the rest of bluelawn for more fine examples of the art of the essay.
10:33 PM ~ Well, I've joined the crowd of bloggers who've implemented searching. I decided I'd like it not so that you can search, but so that I can find my past comments quickly. But, my gain is your gain, so search away. Let me know if something doesn't work.
Note: The index is updated weekly. Try the search box only after scanning this page with your browser's "Find" command. That way you'll get everything, as this page contains the last couple of week's entries.
6:24 PM ~ Here's a great little biography of Keith Jarrett. I've listened to the Köln concert through a few times, and it strikes me as the most direct jazz performance I've heard. Thinking about it, it's the only solo jazz performance I've heard, and this probably has something to do with it.
Some people find Jarrett's 'sing-along' tendencies distracting, but for me, they just add to the directness of the performance. I can tell that this is not just a piano playing. He is a person playing a piano. And playing it very well.
10:34 AM ~ Day Trip: Museum of Contemporary Art. That's a day trip for Christine and me. The website doesn't have so much to see as the gallery itself.
10:29 PM ~ Functional programming is a way to while away the evening. Three free functional programming environments for you to play with: Hugs (Haskell), Objective Caml and Concurrent Clean. Each work on my Macintosh, and each are really slick ways to hack up simple logic-related programs.
10:17 AM ~ Not everything is on the web. I've spent a few minutes trying to dig up some transcripts of John Clarke's farnarkling commentaries from the Gillies Report. No such luck.
9:41 AM ~ Is John Clarke really Kevin Gosper?
For advice on what to do on this lead up to the Olympics, please refer to this memo from the Games management. For example4. If you are with a visitor in a traffic jam in Sydney, say: "This is very unusual. A truck must have tipped over".More inside.
What a great day I've had browsing today! I've found things for both my own personal enrichment, for my research, and for the benefit of my students.
5:55 PM ~ The Left Hand of Capitalism: Poetry and Prose in Australia are alive and well at Jacket.
(I'm realising more and more that there's beauty in many different places, if you're prepared to keep your eyes and ears open.)
3:44 PM ~ Why did no-one tell me about this before now? Oooh. It's positively beautiful.
I've been a Keith Jarrett fan for some time, but I've never before reached back this far in his career. It brings you to tears to know what one person + one piano is capable of producing.
11:39 AM ~ Did you know that the anthropic principle has its own site www.anthropic-principle.com?
Maybe I should register www.begging-the-question.com.
(Actually, a lot of the site is about the doomsday argument and not the anthropic principle, and they are not the same thing. However, they're important philosophical arguments and reflecting on them leads one to a better understanding of what we might be able to know and why. I think they do less than they're commonly taken to achieve. However, to go into that, I'll need to spend some time collecting my thoughts together. I hope to do that sometime in the not-too-distant future.)
12:17 PM ~ It's oddly gratifying that my publications page comes up first on a Google Search for naive comprehension.
10:52 AM ~ Dressing like your sister
Living like a tart
They don't know what you're doing
Babe, it must be art
You're a headache
In a suitcase
You're a star
Thanks to Napster for reminding me of this lyric. That made my day (as of 9:52am).
6:54 PM ~ We're back from our outage. We were blocked from the rest of the world since 2:30pm. Apparently, things are back to normal now.
6:52 PM ~ The redesign was enabled by my variety pack of coffee from the delightful OzCoffee. I've only tried PPP (peak plateau plunger), and that has more than lived up to it's smooth reptutation.
11:31 AM ~ I'm freed of those boxes. Finally got rid of them. I'm happier with the design of the page now (and I don't have to worry about images running over the length of the day's entry). Phew!
12:48 PM ~ Song of the day: Every Day I Write the Book.
12:02 PM ~ Stewart is doing a good thing over at Sylloge in getting Stephen Toulmin's 1979 lecture on consciousness on the web. For a much higher signal-to-noise ratio than you'll usually find on the web go there now.
4:58 PM ~ Hmmm. A job if I ever want to leave academia? OK, it's not moving very far, intellectually speaking.
(I think that the Cyc project, understood as a means to Artificial Intelligence, is deeply flawed, but that's a view based on a reasonably swift reading of what they're doing. The other stuff, like being a purveyor of "formalized common sense" seems rather hokey, but valuable.)
9:22 AM ~ How can your house get in such a mess? I think this afternoon I'll be doing some cleaning and tidying.
Last night there was one victory. I finished a tedious indexing project. This is not enjoyable. Still, it's one more thing ticked off the list.
4:24 PM ~ The RAAF is not only good for defending the nation (against whom?). They also groove nicely. I feel happier about where at least some of my defence tax dollars are going.
(Posted after hearing the Air Force Big Band at the Darling Harbour Jazz festival.)
10:02 AM ~ Anyone have any recommendations about what to see and do in and around Toronto? Christine and I seem to be going there in late September.
1:50 PM ~ I am a convert. I used to only have eyes (and tastebuds) for Vaalia, but my passions have transferred to Bornhoffen. It's a truly yoghurtier yoghurt.
11:13 AM ~ Today's picture is from Jeffrey Smart. An expatriate Australian artist with a very distinctive style. A review of his memoir Not Quite Straight is found here.
11:06 AM ~ Erasmus has learned to climb trees, and has got herself stranded on our roof. The joys and pains of growing up confront us so soon.
9:52 AM ~ Well, it wasn't just the Mozart/Pärt Adagio we enjoyed, but also the exquisite Copland Violin Sonata. That man could write such simple, expressive music.
The concert was the eclectic collective's swansong too, so it was a touching evening in more ways than one.
3:35 PM ~ I knew that coffee was good for me. Apparently, coffee helps with allergic reactions.
10:46 AM ~ Tonight, a concert with the eclectic collective. I am especially looking forward to the Mozart Adagio arranged by Pärt.
9:04 AM ~ I am a procrastinator. Yet I get things done. How do I do this? An essay on Structured Procrastination by John Perry (Philosopher at Stanford) explains how I manage this psychologically tricky balancing act.
Others of John's light essays are found here.
8:44 AM ~ More meditations on ephemerality at Seven Weeks to Madagascar. (Check the June 6 & 7 entries.)
6:41 PM ~ Henry Reynolds spoke on campus today at a public lecture. He packed out the second largest theatre on campus, and he spoke clearly and movingly about the current reconciliation process: about how he was hesitant about it all at the start (as it seemed to put the onus on aborigines to reconcile themselves to the current situation, more than we as a nation reconciling ourselves with our wronged brothers and sisters), how he's been encouraged to see what's happening on the ground in places like Kempsie, and Mackay, how he was moved to see the march on the bridge, and the outpourings of interest and concern in local communities everywhere over Australia, and how he thinks that the process will continue, even given the recalcitrance of our political masters at a Federal level.
Then he spoke about possibilities for future work: he spoke about the possibility of a treaty or some other document. This was when it clicked for me a little more. He explained about the legal lacuna in our own situation. We agree that the aborigines had sovereignty over the continent before 1788, we agree that the Australian state has sovereignty now, and we agree that the only ways to transfer sovereignty are conquest or treaty. We deny that there was a conquest. We do not have a treaty. How did this transfer of rights happen? So, treaties are on the agenda. This was his only disappointment about the current work of the reconciliation council. He described how they were constituted to do the groundwork for a community-wide discussion about a treaty, and they haven't done this. (No doubt they were so constituted because the Labor government didn't want to think about it themselves, and the transition to the Conservatives has spooked them badly, but still.)
Anyway, the talk was great, the discussion was encouraging, and I left reassured that the discussion will continue, and that there is a groundswell of opinion which will mean that we will eventually get this right. Or at least, a lot righter than it is at present.
Only time will tell if my reassurance is justified.
12:06 PM ~ Will we ever have time machines? Here's one way to at least help provide evidence that we won't. (Or at least, that if we do we'll have better things to do with them than confirming their existence to people like you and me.)
10:28 AM ~ Off to campus today, for lunch with Daniel and a talk by Henry Reynolds. Life's good. Cold, but good.
8:18 AM ~ Golan Levin @ MIT. Go now!
9:46 PM ~ Let me wade in where angels fear to tread. Russ Young has problems with the line of reasoning found here in an open letter to Dr. Laura, about her condemnation of homosexuality.
Not wanting to judge at all in this debate, I just want to point out that Russ's judgement that the open letter is a logical fallacy is completely mistaken. He misreads the argument as a simple appeal against what he calls "biblical authority". It needn't be read in that way at all. The letter, which simply asks Dr. Laura to apply lots of other interesting commands from the Torah, does not fail on matters of relevance. If you wish to judge the argument on matters of validity, it seems that what's going on is something like this:If regulations in Torah are applicable today, we ought do X, Y and Z.Now, if your reasons against homosexuality are found in the regulations Torah, then this argument has bite. It certainly seems relevant to me. (It's not as fun phrased in this way, but still, it was criticised on logical grounds, and this is an occupational hazard when it comes to logic.) Note too, that it's not an argument against scriptural authority per se. It's a question about the applicability of laws in Torah.
It's not the case that we ought do X, Y and Z.
(In fact, X, Y and Z seem quite silly, really.)
Therefore, regulations in Torah are not applicable today.
Of course this isn't the end of the story, or of the argument. But that, I'll leave to others.
Back to your previously scheduled programming.
2:06 PM ~ The contractor has been named for Sydney's new nuclear reactor. This will replace ANSTO's old nuclear reactor, and be used for nuclear medicine, and other research purposes.
Unsurprisingly, the residents of Lucas Heights are not particularly happy that the new reactor will be sited there. Also unsurprisingly, I'm happy that I live (and work) nowhere near there. But scanning that map, I notice that I live rather close to the National Medical Cyclotron. That doesn't seem to be such a problem, as people don't seem to be carting uranium or plutonium up and down Parramatta Road.
10:06 AM ~ The 4 Corners site at the ABC not only has good information up about the Melbourne IT fracas, but it has a revealing interview with Branco Jelen, about the CARE Australia 'spying' scandal. I don't mind that I don't see all the Monday night stories, when I can catch up with it all on the web.
9:55 AM ~ The cold has descended into Sydney, and we're all in its icy grip. My house seems colder than any of the places I visited in Scotland in February, or in Hobart in May. Central heating seems strangely appealing.
10:39 AM ~ Luke Buckle sent me a few snaps from the Corroboree 2000 bridge walk. This is us on the approach to the bridge, behind the Association for Social Workers, and nearby the Belvoir Street Theatre Company B.
On matters Aboriginal, I've been touched by reading Henry Reynolds' This Whispering in our Hearts, his moving account of the white humanitarians who protested against the treatment of aborigines during the first century of the invasion of this country. There's absolutely no question that we knew that what we were doing in invading this country was wrong. There was no treaty, there was no settlement, there was no just compact with the indigenous people of this land. The moral relativism of our Prime Minister, in asserting that we cannot judge our forebears because the standards were different in their days, is not only rather surprising for a conservative like him, but is put to shame by the 'whispering in our hearts' that Reynolds uncovers. If you're interested in immigrant/indigenous relations, read this book!
9:27 AM ~ Greg Knauss is not just humourous. His I made someone disappear yesterday is a moving vignette on transience.
Erasmus also muses on the passing of time. She sometimes sits and stares at the clock, watching the second hand inexorably turn.
5:29 PM ~ A friend of mine from way back has just released The Prodigal Project, with other friends of his. It looks great from here. I hope to pick up the Book and CD soon.
4:33 PM ~ Sleeping in is a good thing. When you wake up, and know that you've slept as much as you need to, you know that you can face anything in the day ahead.
When the day ahead includes marking two Ph.D. theses, you're not too sure that you can face anything. But these two theses are quite enjoyable, so I should survive the day with enough energy to cook my lentil moussaka and then entertain my cousin Peter and his wife Wendy for dinner.
(I didn't get up at 3:30pm. Sleeping in, for us is anything between 7am and 8am. I'm not a night owl.)
7:11 PM ~ The Monads come up with such musical gems as Meinongian Babe Sitting in a Bar with lines like:There's an infinity of possible worldsYou can download lots of philosophical songs in their MP3 glory here.
So why can't you be in one with me?
So why can't you be in one with me?
The chorus of An Ode to Modus Ponens is quite compelling. I never thought that you could singIf P, then Qso touchingly. Wow. If JC keeps sending me links this good, I'll give up browsing myself and just follow him around.
1:09 PM ~ Would you eat synthetic meat?
Here's a snippet from the articleQuietly, researchers are working on what may be the greatest alteration in the food chain since the first time a big fish swallowed a little fish--a system in which steaks, chops, and poultry are obtained without raising or killing animals.I'm not a vegetarian, but I don't eat very much meat. (I rarely cook with any meat.) My two main objections to high meat consumption are health concerns and the over-intensive agricultural process used in order to get the food to the person. It's just not sustainable to regularly feed over 5 billion people lots of hunks of cow, pig and chicken. It seems like this process is even worse, adding another layer of high-tech heavy industry to the process. Will we ever learn to touch this earth lightly again?
11:02 PM ~ Well, for what it's worth, I have written up what I thought of the article that JC pointed me to. I'm not really happy with what I've written so far. It describes why I don't like the article, and what's wrong with it, but it doesn't say very much positive at all. I'd like to say something positive, but for that, I'll need to think some more.
I'd appreciate any comments you have, but be warned, the prose is pretty thick, and you need an interest in both theology and logic to get something out of it.
I'll now return you to your previously scheduled programming.
11:25 AM ~ The NY Times gives us a little more information on the faster than light caper I mentioned yesterday.You can get the impression of sending information superluminally even though you're not sending informationOh for an idea of what physicists mean by the phrase "sending information."