The Ninth Epistle (020080614)

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Some of you won’t have got a big rambly email like this one from me before. 
They’re spams. Update emails that I send out to keep everyone in the loop, 
mainly because I’m too lazy to email you all individually. It’s like a blog, 
only more attention-demanding. Some photos are attached in case you can’t be 
bothered to read it, but I’ve been obnoxious and buried the captions down the 

Enough introduction. Some updates.

The medical treadmill is well gone. Now I’m on the publications treadmill. 
This is good, right? CIMA at ECAI in July. Very positive reviews too. Since 
it’s a big theoretical chunk of my research I’m pretty happy to have (a) 
published and (b) done it so quickly. I also figured out a neat trick for 
visualising some higher (4+) dimensional spaces while I was working on it. 
The trick’s a bit boring to explain here, but basically it’s just a mental 
recursion that relies on being able to divide the dimensions up into a set 
of exclusive complete subsets, where each dimension in each subset has 
mostly unchanging correlations (speaking loosely) with each dimension in the 
complement of that subset. The first time I read that it sounded horrible, 
now it sounds OK. Either way it makes the trick sound far brainier than it 
actually is. But "an abstract is an advertisement", right?

On the downside a paper we put into the JAL got bounced. The reviews were 
especially frustrating. The first one said "wonderful, insightful, should 
definitely be published, and oh, by the way I’m an expert in this field. 
You need to tweak this, explain this a little more, and you’ve spelt this 
word like X, but I prefer this other spelling". The other two were almost 
word for word identical and said nothing more than "I’m not really an expert 
in this field, but I’m not sure if this is relevant to the journal?". So the 
editors rejected it. Shrug, it happens, a chance to incorporate the feedback 
and submit it again. The previous sentence is missing a phoneme. 

Just now I’ve finished turning a 68 page technical report into a 30 page book 
chapter. Hopefully it turns out like ECAI and not like JAL, but this one is 
really in the lap of the gods. 

When I ran out of disk space the Computing Laboratory added a whole half 
penny’s worth to my quota. Very generous of them. 

After hearing Nassim Taleb talk in March I finally found the time to read his 
books. Good, both of them. I think he eloquently and concisely explains the 
rather vague feeling that pulled me out of the markets, and why I’m happy to 
reenter now that I’ve just about finished tuning Sage; I expect Ashley’s story 
is similar. Currently, A Pattern Language rests by my bed. Through osmosis I 
expect to understand architecture. 

Some dancing, but again not as much as I’d like. I couldn’t track down a 
regular partner for medals, so I passed those by. It was almost inevitable, 
but something clashed with the Cuppers competition too. It was Andy’s and 
Judy’s wedding though so I feel well compensated and don’t mind missing the 
comp this year. Congratulations once more Andy, Judy!! It was wonderful to 
see Mum and Gramsi there and be able to show them around Oxford afterwards 
as well. 

I was walking to the supermarket last week and there was some homeless man 
there, chanting "Big Issue, Big Issue" 
( like they do on every other 
street corner. All very well, until his mobile phone started to ring, was 
eagerly answered. And it was a really nice phone. Much nicer than mine, which, 
like my bike, is in the process of dismantling itself. So I feel like my 
cheapness and skepticism towards the purportedly homeless is somehow vindicated. 
I’m sure there are some truly homeless people, but I’m also sure that tourists 
make Oxford a lucrative place to beg. 

The Chelsea Garden Show was wonderful, although I think there were more people 
there than plants. The Bonsai trees were amazing, and the Australian show 
garden (I think it won the whole show?) was especially poignant, Lots of 
concrete, not all that much in the way of greenery, a BBQ, and water endlessly 
wastefully pouring into a hole in the ground. Oooo symbolic. Actually quite a 
pleasant change from all the rest, and I really enjoyed the day there with Dad 
and Mary – even if you’re not a gardener it’s definitely a oncer. 

You might also have heard that the Foreign Secretary announced in March that 
Britain would be withdrawing from the program after all current scholars had 
completed their studies. So no effect on me, but a poor decision nonetheless. 
Cue some lobbying. Nothing is certain, but there are indications that the 
decision will be reversed. At the very least, Gordon Brown wants the whole issue 
"sorted out". Hopefully he means "reversed". There’s a link to a petition below. 
You have to a be UK resident (i.e. working here, or studying here, or just with a 
mailing address here) to sign it, but if you can please please please do! There 
are more than 1700 signatures already, and Downing St is obliged to send a 
response to everyone who signs it. 

The link: 

My time as Treasurer has been going along well, and the MCR treasure chests 
remain appropriately bountiful. Give or take some rounding errors we will have 
spent everything we got this year, which is what we should be aiming to do. Not 
that I get the credit for that – all I did was sign the cheques, other people 
did useful things with them! Our negotiations (to the honest extent that they 
were) with College also went well. Everything’s going up, but not too much. In 
particular, rent for MCR accommodation is going up less than inflation. 

The Worst Sentence Ever. It comes from the Times, page 11, April 17th:
    * An aide filmed accusing a member of the Royal Family of performing a sex 
      act on him as a stripper looked on was a "boastful braggart" and as "camp"
      as John Inman in "Are You Being Served?", a jury was told yesterday.

I used to think that the Times had both class and editors, but that sentence has 
at least two meanings, each involving different relative positions of the 
stripper, camera and alleged sex act. And really, if I want news like that I’ll 
read the Sun. I think I’m turning into a snob. Oh dear. 

Penultimately, some very funny youtube:
Just gorgeously cute -

No introduction necessary Ghostrider:

Being a fence-sitting centrist just makes it all so funny: 

And finally, the photos and their captions. Most of them don’t need more than 
the image filename. Number 8 was taken when we all claimed to be Australians 
and got ourselves invited to the BBQ in the Australian garden at the garden 
show. Mary can reasonably claim that she’s an Australian, Dad only if he tried 
really hard, me not at all. The seats were comfy though. My hands also do the 
most intriguing things whenever I’m talking. I’m bored enough to attach some 
examples that illustrate my point (photos 10-12), they’re from Rachele’s 
birthday drinks and the wedding I went to. 

Coming up? Well, I’ll be getting up in 3 or 4 hours, just so I can go and meet 
Susanna at Heathrow. Much happiness :D 


[Hover over each image for the caption/filename.]

01 - Exeter College ball

02 - Greg Lim and me at Exeter's ball

03 - Me and Kristina at Magdalen Exchange Dinner

04 - The Exec in Oceans 8

05 - Ian Reid, Sara Adams and me at Graduate High Table

 06 - Me, Gramsi and Mum

07 - The Chelsea People Show

08 - Me, Mary and Dad in the Australian garden

10 - Me with spastic hands

11 - More spastic hands

12 - Some hands

epistles/009.txt · Last modified: 020130925 0914 (external edit)
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