Tuesday, 5 August 2003

Category theory

Listening to:

Sullivan, cello concerto.

Now reading:

Charles Dickens, Little Dorrit.

Faster wireless networking.

I didn’t write yesterday because I had to spend a chunk of my day getting my head of little brain around the excessively abstract stuff called Category Theory. (This is another of those maths fields where it’s far from clear why the name x of x Theory has been chosen. What, for another example, is so groupish about the objects of study in Group Theory?)

There’s quite a comprehensive looking introduction in the Wikipedia, which includes the line

Category theory is half-jokingly known as “abstract nonsense”.

Finally, a quote that I found and liked recently:

For books are not absolutely dead things, but do contain a potency of life in them to be as active as that soul was whose progeny they are; nay, they do preserve as in a vial the purest efficacy and extraction of that living intellect that bred them.

I’ll reveal the source next time (ooh, the excitement).

Thursday, 7 August 2003

Tax, voting, Milton.

Listening to:

The Beatles' “White album”.

Wrong kind of sunshine nobbles British trains.

I’ve sounded off to almost everyone I know in person about this, so now I’ll bore you with it too: in the UK I could vote in national elections because I was a citizen of a Commonwealth country. In Australia, I can’t vote in the elections. In the UK, filling out a tax form was optional for people who didn’t have anything too exotic in their circumstances. (Tax was deducted automatically from salary and interest payments.) In Australia, I must fill out a horrendously complicated tax form. Feh.

The quote in Tuesday's entry is from Milton’s Areopagita. It continues:

I know they [books] are as lively, and as vigorously productive, as those fabulous Dragons teeth; and being sown up and down, may chance to spring up armed men. And yet on the other hand unlesse warinesse be us'd, as good almost kill a Man as kill a good Book; who kills a Man kills a reasonable creature, Gods Image; but hee who destroyes a good Booke, kills reason it selfe, kills the Image of God, as it were in the eye. Many a man lives a burden to the Earth; but a good Booke is the pretious life-blood of a master spirit, imbalm'd and treasur'd up on purpose to a life beyond life.

Friday, 8 August 2003

Bali bombing death penalty

Listening to:

Arthur Sullivan, overture to The pirates of Penzance.

A man behind the Bali bombing that killed more than 200 people was found guilty yesterday and sentenced to death. Despite the fact that Australia doesn’t allow the death penalty, a number of politicians here have made rather approving noises about it. For example:

Foreign Affairs Minister Alexander Downer has hailed the sentence as a strong and decisive message that Indonesia is determined to pursue terrorists. “We’re very grateful to the Indonesians for the strength of their response,” he said. “This is obviously very good in terms of sending out a strong message from Indonesia that it's determined to fight terrorism.” (ABC online)

The same ABC article suggests that Simon Crean, the Leader of the Opposition doesn’t approve of the sentence to the same extent (My view is that he should be thrown in jail and the key thrown away but the courts have determined otherwise - I won't be seeking to interfere with it.) but the radio news this morning made him sound as one with Downer and Howard.

I certainly think it’s noxious hypocrisy to approve of a result that Australian law forbids.

Wednesday, 13 August 2003

Busy, busy, busy

Listening to:

Elgar, Pomp and Circumstance march no. 1.

Still reading:

Charles Dickens, Little Dorrit. This is taking longer to get going than Our mutual friend, but it’s another monster novel, so there’s plenty of time for it to develop into another great story.

I’m writing slides for two conference talks in the near future, trying to make some HOL code work, and have a journal article to review before the end of next week. Somehow it all adds up to lots to do, and not enough time in which to do it.

I’m still going to see a film this evening though.

Tuesday, 19 August 2003

Still busy, still Dickens

Listening to:

Beatles, The inner light:

Without going out of my door,
I can know all things on earth
Without looking out of my window
I could know the ways of heaven

Still reading:

Charles Dickens, Little Dorrit. Halfway through, and about to learn all about the evils of too much money, I predict.

Now I just need to referee two papers and I’ll be done.

Wednesday, 20 August 2003

Virus e-mails and their bounces

Listening to:

The soundtrack to the Coen brothers’ film, O brother, where art thou?

I'm being deluged by virus e-mails caused by the worm reported in this story from The Register. To make it worse, my address has clearly been used as the (false) From line on a number of the same messages, so I'm getting lots of bounces from virus messages that have been sent out in my name. Needless to say, I’m not the real source; my e-mail reading happens on a Linux machine where the Windows executable would have no effect even if I did double-click on it.