Monday, 1 December 2003

Mahler, Milner and gross consumerism

Listening to:

Mahler, Das Lied von der Erde. Cod-Chinese poetry from the late 19th century

Look down there! In the moonlight on the graves
there crouches a wild and ghostly form—
it is an ape! Listen, how its howling
rings out amidst the sweet scent of life!

set to stunning music.

  • Consumerism leads to excess in the USA.

  • An interesting interview with Robin Milner, the fourth most cited author in Computer Science, and generally impressive guy. Before the interview moves onto more technical material, there’s much of general interest in Milner’s early career and schooling. For example, he’s amusing on having to do Latin and Greek at Eton.

    I was pleased with myself for spotting the way in which the interviewer and Milner use slightly different idioms of English. For example, the interviewer mentions Milner going to Edinburgh to take up a professorship. Milner corrects this to “lectureship”. The interviewer also talks about “math”, while Milner says “maths”.

Wednesday, 17 December 2003

Feeble excuses

Listening to:

Bach, English Suite no. 5, BWV 810.

Still reading:

Popper, The open society and its enemies. I finished the first volume (The spell of Plato) a little while ago, and am now up to Marx and Hegel. On a recent weekend away to Melbourne, I started Patrick O’Brian’s The thirteen-gun salute (more plane reading), but didn’t finish it. This puts me in the awful position of having two books to read at once!

My long absence from this page is not just a matter of slackness. Oh no. The first two weeks of December were given over to the Logic and Automated Reasoning Summer School. I found this pretty full-on, and I only went to two out of five lectures a day, and some of the seminars. Students, who were encouraged to attend everything, and probably all had less of a background in logic than I had, no doubt found it all quite overwhelming. (I’m sure I would have.) In some lectures, I already knew some of the material in a bitty way, as if I’d picked it up by osmosis, say. I went to these lectures because I wanted to see the material presented more formally, so that I subsequently might be able to honestly claim that I really did know something about it. (It was interesting too, of course!)

I also gave a lecture and a seminar myself. In both cases, I went in somewhat worried that I didn’t have enough to say, but found myself with not enough time. Five already sketchy slides on Cooper’s algorithm (from the end of this presentation), presented at haste, assuredly did no-one any good whatsoever. I think the description of Fourier-Motzkin and the Omega Test went across well though.

I leave you with this interesting and amusing analysis of procrastination.