News from November 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.)

Thursday, November 30, 2000

8:51 PM ~ I'd like to see that.
5:02 PM ~ If I thought T-Bone Burnett sounded good on those speakers, I had no idea what they could do with the Isle of the Dead. Of course, the massive thunderstorm, combined with the alarms going off all over campus and the faint sounds of sirens in the distance could have had something to do with the general tenor of the afternoon.
3:10 PM ~ My rather expensive stereo has arrived. The sound is absolutely amazing. (I had no idea that those teensy speakers could sound so round and textured.)

One day, when the network people recognise its hardware address, I might use it to browse the web, and once it gets upgraded in memory from its currently poky 64MB to something useable in this day and age, it will get a decent operating system and it will become my desktop computer at work. But for now, it makes a gorgeous desktop stereo. And that's OK.

9:32 AM ~ Today's revelation: This morning, contemplating the break from teaching, I discovered that the writing project I have thoughtfully filed away to do in January (while sprawled in front of the box watching the cricket on the radio, as is my habit) requires roughly 5 pages a day. For the whole month. Damn those large handbook articles!

Now, it's a subject I know, none of the material is really new, I have an outline on paper, and the structure seems sound, so writing it is not exactly jumping into the void. However, it will require an interesting degree of application to convert the outline into a finished piece of work.

Perhaps this log will take a hiatus over summer.

P.S. Tonio K does indeed define undeserved obscurity.

Wednesday, November 29, 2000

1:02 PM ~ Well, that was successful. The typical academic department power struggle, with the contenders for the Head of Department job silently circling each other, thinking "I don't want to do it", "Not me" and "Why not her/him?" has come to what at least seems to be successful conclusion. Perhaps after this transition the Dreaded Job might be a little more manageable, and slightly more attractive.
7:39 AM ~ More meetings.

Tuesday, November 28, 2000

10:45 PM ~ Still working. (Though from home, and not from work.) At the moment, I'm doing my duty for the profession by refereeing papers. I should do this in a black mood, because then I'd reject more papers. But, kindly soul that I can be, I tend to say nice things about them, thus contributing to the flood of publications out there.
9:43 AM ~ Doing the rounds at Metafilter is this intruiging picture of "Earth at Night". Look at it and join in the fun playing spot the social phenomena you can see represented in the picture. (Quite striking for me was the difference between North and South Korea.)

I also liked the fact that the folks at NASA had to explain that this was "actually a composite of hundreds of pictures" made by different satellites. Well, did anyone think that the whole globe was in darkness at the same time?

Monday, November 27, 2000

11:07 AM ~ I am on a course reading list. It's not the first time, but I think it's the first time I'm on the course reading list for someone I don't know.
9:52 AM ~ [The Journey]On The Spirit of Things last night, an interview with Frances Belle Parker, the winner of the 2000 Blake Prize for religious art. It's strikingly mature work for a teenager.

For more on Aboriginal Christian Spirituality, see these messages posted to a reconciliation mailing list. Visit Australians for Native Title and Reconciliation while you're at it, too.

Saturday, November 25, 2000

2:55 PM ~ Complete and Utter Domination is one thing, but a Victory in less than three days and by an innings and 126 runs is what you might call just a Bit Much. (10 for 27 are what you might call Decent Bowling Figures for Glenn McGrath, too. Incredible.)
10:40 AM ~ [Christines]I think I've been to the airport rather a lot this year. Today's the last time, I think, to take the traveller home.

Friday, November 24, 2000

9:46 AM ~ Read Rory Ewin's thoughts on phonecards and cross-border coin transactions.
9:00 AM ~ Jim is surely joking if he says that he expects the level of political discourse in Australia to be any better than it is in Canada.

Thursday, November 23, 2000

7:06 PM ~ It's the cricket season at last. And despite a rather one-sided day's play, and the prospect of a one-sided series, it's still a distinctive start to the long languid summer for me.

My favourite feature of the summer these days? The delightftul, intelligent and passionate commentary of Peter Roebuck.

10:49 AM ~ Greg, when you're getting depressed or listless, check to see how much time you've actually spent teaching students.

This meditation is brought to you buy the many small moments I've recently enjoyed, helping my intro logic students understand their material in the run up to today's exam.

8:17 AM ~ The new International Herald Tribune website is the way to do newspaper sites online. Amazing design. (At least on IE5/Macintosh. I have do idea how it renders on other browsers.)

Wednesday, November 22, 2000

10:16 PM ~ Shaun Micallef. Is good.
9:41 AM ~ I walked out the door this morning, to see that two roses had been decapitated. The chief suspect? The Sydney Morning Herald, which sails through the air, projected from the newsagent's car, to land with a resounding thud on our front door at 6:30 each morning. (Except for Saturday, which features two thuds -- and perhaps more significant damage to the roses -- and Sunday, which is blessedly thud-free.)

Tuesday, November 21, 2000

2:02 PM ~ Meetings, meetings, meetings.

Monday, November 20, 2000

5:16 PM ~ I'm loving Very Baby too.
4:47 PM ~ Something for me to think about:
No child can be truly secure in the hands of parents whose care for him or her is purchased by the neglect of other people's children.... The only home which is safe for anyone to be born into is the home that is ready to welcome someone who does not belong there by right of kinship, but belongs there in virtue of hospitality.
8:43 AM ~ Carl Djerassi on the radio just now: "It's the worst thing for a scientist to fall in love with an idea."

Saturday, November 18, 2000

4:46 PM ~ Just beautiful:
The empire-building of the restaurant chain McDonald's hit a snag in Italy yesterday when a Catholic newspaper declared fast food to be fit only for atheists, or perhaps Lutherans.

Munching a Big Mac with fries was the antithesis of receiving communion and should be spurned by Catholics

This delightful piece of theologico-gastronomical reflection was found via the ever useful Sojourners news page.

Friday, November 17, 2000

2:45 PM ~ I'm stunned by this revelation:
The [Microsoft] Tablet PC has a 500 to 600-MHz CPU, 128MB of RAM, a 10GB hard disk, and universal serial bus (USB) ports for keyboard and mouse, said Microsoft software architect Bert Keeley, who demonstrated the tablet during Gates' keynote. It runs Whistler, the next version of Microsoft Windows 2000.

The Tablet PC can convert handwritten pen strokes into graphics that can be handled in ways similar to ordinary computer type. Although the computer doesn't recognize specific words, it distinguishes between words and pictures. It also lets people perform some word processing-like tasks, such as inserting space between lines, copying text or boldfacing pen strokes.

Surely they can do better than that. I want my handwritten text to be treated as text. There's some old technology around which can give them a hand. (I still use that old technology daily on my trusty Newton.)
8:10 AM ~ [Doris Day]I didn't get to see This Hour has 22 Minutes when I was in Toronto, but I did get enough of a feel of the local politics to get that joke. (It's a nice response to the campaign for citizen initiated referenda.)
8:01 AM ~ MathML 2.0 is now a candidate recommendation for acceptance as a standard. Well, that's neat. But when will I actually be able to use it to present my work? I think I'll still be using TeX and Postscript/PDF for the time being.

Thursday, November 16, 2000

4:21 PM ~ I'd just like to say that I love my friends. I've had a really tense week at work (last week of semester, deadlines, meetings, things to do etc.) Two things have helped.

First, taking a break in the middle of the day, lying down, breathing slowly, unwinding, and meditating. (It's an eerie feeling, noticing that headache fade.)

Second, talking with a friend over a cup of coffee. It's just as effective.

9:08 AM ~ And the converse of shoplifting is ...

Wednesday, November 15, 2000

8:53 AM ~ [A Face]It will probably be handy to remember this. Children can be so reasonable.

Tuesday, November 14, 2000

8:47 PM ~ Downloading this.
5:30 PM ~ I thought I'd get a visit from the plumber, but no, he decided not to come this afternoon. (I live in tradesperson hell.)
2:01 PM ~ Busy day. A seminar in the morning and a plumber in the afternoon.

Monday, November 13, 2000

5:26 PM ~ It was revealing. The baby seems well. Spectacularly so, when you see the four-chambered heart regularly beating, and arms and legs waving around. As Christine was poked and prodded, pushed and pulled, I was slack-jawed, managing only to say "wow", "that's incredible" and "isn't it amazing."

Waiting at the train station, we noted that this was probably the only time you get to see amazingly thorough cross-sections of a person. Or so we hope, for this particular small person.

Oh, we know the baby's sex too. But I'll write references to the baby in carefully gender-neutral language for those who want a suprise later. (But feel free to ask me, if you like. It's not a secret, or anything.)

1:26 PM ~ I'm off to the ultrasound specialist with Christine. It should be an interesting (and revealing) afternoon.
12:17 PM ~ It looks like it might be a while before I can order a nice stripey thing from Remo.

Saturday, November 11, 2000

8:23 PM ~ The Tobin Tax is a very interesting idea. Tax cross-border currency transactions at a miniscule amount, resulting in slightly calmed waters of the currency market, and lots of money for international initiatives such as alleviating poverty. It's an idea worth campaigning for.
7:46 AM ~ Wonderful stuff on rebuilding East Timor, and on making a nation.

Friday, November 10, 2000

6:25 PM ~ I have another thing to look forward to.
10:18 AM ~ Xanana Gusmao is a pretty inspiring character when you hear him. He's in town to receive the Sydney Peace Prize (for some reason, the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies don't update their web page, so there's information there about last year's prize).

Anyway, a rebel leader who says that revolutionary guerilla fighters do not necessarily make good heads of state, and who thinks that it would not necessarily be a good idea for him to be president of a free East Timor, seems to good sense. He's got more concern of the well-being of his people than many other leaders in this world.

Here's more background on Gusmao.

Thursday, November 09, 2000

11:35 AM ~ [An Outlier]An outlier and an explanation. This will have interesting consequences. The best discussion I have heard so far has been in RRE.
7:56 AM ~ Today's media nugget is a helpful cultural statement.

Wednesday, November 08, 2000

10:09 PM ~ Thanks, Graham for the delightful (and heartening, in this dark day) pointer to Tim & Debbie.
2:20 PM ~ I am an Election junkie. It's fun to find out what's happening, but it's more fun to think about the theory of voting.

(P.S. I think that each of us who isn't a U.S. citizen should get roughly 5% of a vote, given how much the decision affects us. That would make it an interesting race.)

Tuesday, November 07, 2000

8:04 PM ~ I'm not as hard on Cauchy as Brenda is. It does seem like Cauchy is an arrogant guy when you hear what's named after him, but as far as I can tell in this game, people almost never name theorems after themselves. We can blame other parties for that.

I've taken to calling a wonderful theorem the Belnap's Pair Extension Theorem. No-one would ever accuse Nuel of arrogantly claiming the theorem for himself. I'd wager that this third parties are overwhelmingly primary source of attributions, and that naming a result after yourself is extremely rare.

Some historian/sociologist of mathematics should do the hard yards and study the nature of attribution in the mathematical sciences. I'm no historian, but I think there are a lot of interesting discoveries to be made here.

As to policy, I don't think that dubbing a theorem X's Theorem is particularly enlightening. I'd much rather call it X's F Theorem, where F is descriptive. That way, if history decides the attribution differently, my attribution to X could "wear off", and people still have some idea of what I was talking about.*

*You do know what a Pair Extension is, don't you?

9:59 AM ~ More on "convergence": Notice who owns the domain
8:20 AM ~ I stumble into work this morning rather sleepy. I took Christine to the airport last night, and she's now safely ensconced in Perth for a conference, and Erasmus and I are alone for a week.

I told Christine it might be an idea to steer clear of the Perth beaches for a while.

Monday, November 06, 2000

10:03 AM ~ Lots of logicians like me have an interest in nonsense. (Psychoanalysts might have a field day with this.) Get your fill nonsense news at the incredible Edward Lear and Nonsense News.
8:07 AM ~ Interesting thoughts on civil religion at Lilek's daily bleats
Organized religion to me, frankly, is like joining NASA in order to look at the moon.
(The story should be archived here soon.)

Saturday, November 04, 2000

5:12 PM ~ Woohoo! This site is the fifth most relevant hit on the query "phone cord untangler" at
4:29 PM ~ The moral of this story? Be careful with the copyright statements you sign. This is an issue I face quite regularly.
11:09 AM ~ Grapefruit juice is good. I never knew, however, that it interacted with so many things. Here's a primer on the "grapefruit juice effect." (The interesting thing for me is the interaction with caffeine. It seems to increase the absorbtion of many drugs, including caffeine.)

Friday, November 03, 2000

4:59 PM ~ More alternative history: A rather surprising scenario features a civil war over the dismissal of the Whitlam Government. It skirts on the edge of plausibility. The most shocking line (for me, as I grew up in Queensland):
In full view & televised over national TV, Bjelke-Petersen is shot several times in the head.
Now that didn't happen in my history.
9:11 AM ~ Lots of juicy goodness at especially the regularly updated news.
9:10 AM ~ Mea Culpa! Sorry Netscape 4.x users. I didn't check after the latest redesign, and the nested tables either slowed down page rendering to a crawl, or broke them completely. It should be fixed now. (If it isn't, please do mail me, but of course you're probably not seeing this if it doesn't work, so that's one of the more irrelevant imperatives I've uttered recently.)

Thursday, November 02, 2000

4:20 PM ~ [A reasonably tidy desk for two]Phew! I've just spent an hour or so sorting and filing my desk at work. I can actually see the surface, and things are filed in neat (ish) folders and binders. Now to see if I manage to keep it that way.
11:14 AM ~ From Stewart at Sylloge: a disturbing fact.
9:55 AM ~ The latest Australian Universities Review double issue (Vol 42 number 2 and Vol 43 number 1) from the NTEU has lots of good stuff in it about the changing face of higher education. (It's a pity that it's not available online yet. When it is, it will be here.)
9:35 AM ~ elearningpost: daily news on learning resources, centred primarily on technology. (Isn't it always, these days?)

Wednesday, November 01, 2000

4:57 PM ~ I seem to have lot coming up next year.


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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