Sunday, 27 May 2007

Sarkozy in the Heartland

I met up with Ivan and we sat and drank in the Heartland's bar and discussed politics. He's more rightwing than I am so the conversation was like: "God, when are they going to introduce voucher schemes for education?"

"Yeah, they tried that in Chile but the goddamn teachers' unions screwed it."

"Teachers' unions are the spawn of the devil. Hey, Sarko got in in France!"

"Great news, he's a ruthless bastard, just what they need."

They've got a picture of Che up and I swear it was crying tiny crystal tears.


The swifts are flying low over the park after the rain and Bluebell is trying to catch them. Good luck with that, hound.

Saturday, 26 May 2007

dogsitting again

... Rolito and Pili's hound Bluebell. Not as beautiful as Blaze and Cheyenne but very nice.

Term is almost over here. One more week. Then off to LA. Looks like I'll miss Gabs who is over this weekend.

The past month or so I've been getting up at 6 ish and going into work early. I prefer it to having to work the weekend and it's nice being up early in summer. But by the end of the week I do feel a bit short on sleep.

Eh, what else... lots of Eng Lit. I read Trollope for the first time - The Warden - and liked it. & got a book of Virginia Woolf's essays. Her writing is always lively.

Right now I'm wandering about the web. Have discovered (after everyone else did I guess) and am looking at Mugshot but not sure that I have enough reason to use it.

Tuesday, 22 May 2007

I finally uploaded some more pictures from my phone

The famous "bean":

and from the inside:

My flatmate Owen:

The vital work of the social sciences:

My trusty four-colour pen. Where would I be without it?

I also know many of you have been waiting for the HOT NAKED PICTURES of the beautiful blondes I lived with when I first arrived. Click here to see everything!

Monday, 21 May 2007

I took Real Analysis and Silas Marner to the Starbucks down the road (I've got tired of the Heartland. It's a Che-Guevara-t-shirt-selling kind of place, which usually makes for nice cafes, but the service is kind of bad) and spent the day alternating chapters of each, using Silas Marner as a reward for each chunk of measure theory. By the way, check out this very funny review of Baby Rudin which goes some way to explaining the devotion maths inspires. Then I headed over to Armadillo's Pillow and bought a couple more $2 books for the L train. (I'm immersing myself in English lit. There's nothing like a bit of a shell.)

I feel fond of this little chunk of Roger's Park. East and West along Morse, it's all poverty and urban blight. Criss-crossing North and South on Glenwood, there's nice cafes, charities and "social spaces".

Anyway, goodbye soon to Chicago's greys and browns, and off to the whites, blues and greens of Los Angeles.

Thursday, 17 May 2007

New book...

Evolutionary Game Theory by Joergen Weibull. We've actually been doing a few weeks on that in this quarter's game theory course. It's kind of cool - we proved the fundamental theorem of natural selection (that under certain circumstances average population fitness increases) in one of our problem sets. There's some interesting work being done on the evolution of utility functions and these tools could be good for that.

Skint as usual, because I booked my flight home (21 July). And discovered that I actually have a month more in my apartment than I thought... which actually sucks because it means a month's more rent. Doh.

Monday, 7 May 2007

More demands from the masses

Bring back Salvora's blog now!

Late night quote

Have you ever seen a rostrum from behind? All men and women - if I may make a suggestion - should be familiarized with the rear view of a rostrum before being called upon to gather in front of one. Everyone who has ever taken a good look at a rostrum from behind will be immunized ipso facto against any magic practised in any form whatsoever on rostrums. Pretty much the same applies to rear views of church altars; but that is another subject.
Guenter Grass, The Tin Drum

Late evening thought

The world has no contract with you.

Saturday, 5 May 2007

The problem with Pandora

Listening to Pandora. You hear some good things. They're playing me something by someone called K. McCarty now. You can click on a button & they'll tell you why:

"Based on what you've told us this far, we're playing this song because it features a subtle use of harmony, meandering vocals and prominent organ [fnarr fnarr] and many other similarities identified in the music genome project."

Mmm... see the problem here? I don't think I'd describe my own tastes as "well, I love a bit of vocal warbling and a prominent organ". (Well, maybe my tastes in boy bands.) I'd like to think there's something a bit more complex going on. Maybe they should stop trying to parse our music with genetic algorithms or whatever, and make a real breakthrough in music technology by cloning John Peel.

Full coverage of that debate

An American is impressed by the quality of the Sarkozy-Royal debate. A European is less sure. A bit of competitive anxiety here: how does our TV democracy measure up?

Figaro has some videos of the juiciest bits. Liberation has transcribed the whole thing here.

Oh, and this is hilarious. (Lyrics to the song here and by the way, great tune!)


If you've ever heard me talk about Left conservatism, this is what I mean.

The wall

So I'm just watching Penn & Teller's Bullshit!, an episode on immigration. Now we all have different views on this (they are pro, btw) but one thing is pretty funny. They showed the new security fence that covers 700m of the 2000m border and it's slightly less tall and scary than ... the wall around Glastonbury.

I'm sure with this fence, America will be completely secure!

Friday, 4 May 2007

Go Sarko!

In all seriousness, I don't know enough about the French candidates. It's just my instinct. I see the division as between Thatcherite and Blairite approaches to economic reform. Do you want a savage beast, or a more gentle unifier? I think France needs a savage beast at the moment: I don't think Blair could have pushed through the reforms Thatcher made, in the climate of the time. Of course, the political system is also different. France doesn't give so much untrammelled power to the person at the top. But in the 70s Britain was supposed to be "ungovernable", just as now France is "ruled by the street". These things are not immutable.

Anyway, good luck to whoever wins. It would be great to have an economically dynamic France back in Europe, and I doubt that this will require destroying the welfare state.