peteg's blog

Frost/Nixon

/noise/movies | Link

/noise/beach/2008-2009 | Link
After-work paddle with Jon at a very flat Coogee. Not as many people in the water as I would have expected for a fine final evening of the year.

Rumble Fish

/noise/movies | Link

Dracula

/noise/movies | Link

The Godfather: Part III

/noise/movies | Link

/noise/beach/2008-2009 | Link

Late-afternoon dip with Jon at a very flat Coogee. According to last night's TV news, the water is 19 degrees, but it still feels cold. Quite warm out though.

The Godfather: Part II

/noise/movies | Link

/noise/beach/2008-2009 | Link
After-work duck-and-paddle at Coogee. The water was still a little cool, though it was pleasant enough out. The waves were reasonably large and strong (for Coogee) but not perilous.

Ray Monk: Bertrand Russell: The Spirit of Solitude

/noise/books | Link

I bought this book many years ago, thinking it was a complete biography of Bertrand Russell's life, and possibly a good one too. Now I am simply glad to have finished it, and will not be reading the second volume.

In essence the books sets out Russell's private life in a lot of detail, and hence with a lot of repetition. My hope that Monk would do a decent job at sketching Russell's philosophical program and prosecution of it was stymied. This was especially suprising after reading Monk's Ludwig Wittgenstein: The Duty of Genius so many years ago. Wittgenstein's Poker this is not.

Moreover the historical framing is repetitive and shallow; it would've helped to expand on how distant an aristocrat such as Russell was from the working class in the late Victorian age, as it would have provided a useful context for evaluating his political views, as well as furnished some idea of what possibilities and constraints his life held.

On the positive side, Monk does explore the contradictions in Russell's thinking, theory and practice, such as setting his crusade to put philosophy on a scientific basis (as Kant argued for, albeit for a different agenda) against his relatively naive approach to political philosophy. Russell did, however, interpret his experiences in what would later be the historically correct way; his writings on the soullessness of Russia after the Bolshevik revolution were an excellent contemporary account.

Ultimately even this single volume is over-long. Most frustrating is that his relationship with Wittgenstein is so shallowly treated. While it is not entirely a hatchet job, clearly Monk found the task onerous; the best quote I could find is from one of Wittgenstein's letters (p574 in my hardcover) apropos Russell's introduction to the Tractatus:

There's so much of it that I'm not quite in agreement with — both where you're critical of me and also where you're simply trying to elucidate my point of view. But that doesn't matter. The future will pass judgement on us — or perhaps it won't, and if it is silent that will be a judgement too.

This book sorely disappoints as a philosophical biography of one of the founders of modern philosophical logic. Time for something more lively.

The Godfather

/noise/movies | Link

/noise/beach/2008-2009 | Link
Early-afternoon swim and bake at Coogee with Daz, who's been in Australia for about a week now. Not as many people there as I would have expected a week before Christmas. A little surf, slightly cold, on-shore wind and some warnings of blue bottles.

The Devil's Advocate

/noise/movies | Link

/noise/beach/2008-2009 | Link
After-work bathe at Coogee. The water was a bit warmer, the wind on-shore, the sun out. Very pleasant, average Coogee surf.

/noise/beach/2008-2009 | Link
Another early-evening five minute dip, this time in a filthy Gordons Bay. I had hoped it wouldn't be so bad as it hadn't rained for a while.

Righteous Kill

/noise/movies | Link

/noise/beach/2008-2009 | Link
Very quick late-afternoon dip at a freezing Coogee beach. The off-shore wind was pretty stiff, but the resulting dumpers didn't stop a couple of the very few blokes in trying to body surf. I lasted five minutes. No idea why it was so much colder than last time.

Futurama the Movie: Bender's Big Score

/noise/movies | Link

Serpico

/noise/movies | Link

Life of Brian

/noise/movies | Link

At the Moonlight Cinema with Jen. A good evening for it, the only fine one wedged in a week of gray raininess.

Trainspotting

/noise/movies | Link

Christmas came early to me. This movie remains as good as ever, closely observed and subtle with the sledgehammer. Watching it made me keenly aware of how long it has been since I've seen a truly excellent movie for the first time.

Wayne McLennan: Rowing to Alaska (and othe true stories)

/noise/books | Link

McLennan has written a few pieces for the Griffith Review which have tickled my fancy in the recent past. He's something of a modern-day Henry Lawson, with a keen eye for the prosaic and a good turn of phrase; specifically, though, he turns the tables on Lawson's channelling of the bush through English sensibilities by taking a view of the world at large that is essentially Australian.

The stories tend to be tough and blokey, with the odd admission of moral turpitude and fear, but no cowardice. There are many gaps in the stories, yielding a feeling that although a lot of drinking is recounted even more was elided. None of the stories really stood out from the others, although some stang sharply due to a close observation or vulnerability. An agreeable way to pass a weekend.

/noise/beach/2008-2009 | Link
Mid-afternoon paddle at a flat and largely empty Coogee. It was supposed to be a rainy day but turned out much like the others of the past week — cloudy but dry. Apparently Penrith and Gosford got some rain.

/noise/beach/2008-2009 | Link
Late-afternoon swim at Gordons Bay with Jon. By then the heat had gone out of the day and the clouds were mounting. Quite a bit of swell and wind.

/noise/beach/2008-2009 | Link
Decided to brave Coogee, where the surf was averagely flat and the water warmer. Very pleasant way to end the day, when the expected rain did not eventuate.

/noise/beach/2008-2009 | Link
Keeping the roll on, went for a swim at Gordons Bay, then grabbed some dinner and watched the new Wallace and Gromit short with Pete R., Jack and Luca.

/noise/beach/2008-2009 | Link
Another after-work paddle at Gordons Bay, in a wife beater.

/noise/beach/2008-2009 | Link
Being the first day of summer, I had to brave the passingly-temperate water of Gordons Bay. The forecast was for blue skies but some ominous storm clouds blew past during my quick after-work paddle.

Gonzo: The life and work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson

/noise/movies | Link

There's an interview with the director at Salon.

Man on Wire

/noise/movies | Link

The X Files: I Want to Believe

/noise/movies | Link

Quantum of Solace

/noise/movies | Link

In a massive cinema at Greater Union on George St, with Jen.

Stories by Nhat Linh

/noise/books | Link

The Việt Nam Literature Project hosts some translations of Nhat Linh's stories by Greg and Monique Lockhart. His Going to France is a great period-piece written at perhaps the height of French colonisation of Indochina, roughly when Hồ Chí Minh was in Europe and Northern Asia.

How to lose friends and alienate people

/noise/movies | Link

Casino Royale

/noise/movies | Link

All Quiet on the Western Front

/noise/movies | Link

/noise/politics | Link

Today I signed up as a life member of the EFA, the Australian version of the Electronic Frontier Foundation. This is the one — and perhaps only — good thing about joining the cashed-up classes, being able to funnel some resources to worthy organisations. Damned if Conroy is going to get an easy ride on this silly filtering idea, when even the previous bunch of muppets had the much better idea of freely providing local-to-your-computer filters to those who wanted them; far more congruent with things-as-they-are-and-should-be.

/noise/beach/2008-2009 | Link

An after-work dip at Gordons Bay. Quite pleasant watching the clouds mount from the west while paddling lazily around. I somewhat regretted not wearing a wife-beater.

/noise/beach/2008-2009 | Link

First non-wetsuit swim of the season, at Coogee. A moderate on-shore wind made for some fairly-hefty-by-Coogee standards waves, which proved my judgement to be quite rusty. The water was very pleasant once in, with a wife-beater, and the evening quite tranquil. Hopefully this sets the mold of after-work beach going.

May's Theorem in Isabelle

/choice/social-choice | Link

Tobias Nipkow has written an article about mechanising some recent proofs of Arrow's Theorem and Gibbard-Satterthwaite in Isabelle, and has kindly cited my clumsy attempts at similar things. In an attempt at differentiation I have polished up my proofs from Sen's magnum opus and added one of May's Theorem. As one might expect from a positive result in social choice theory there are endless reworkings of the original conditions in the literature since 1952, and I am not entirely sure what the state of the art is.

The proof itself is fairly straightfoward, although Sen makes an uncharacteristic slip by unnecessarily arguing by contradiction in his proof of my anonymous_neutral_indifference. When I'm next bored and idle I'll see if that makes any difference in the bigger scheme of things.

The hope is to get all of this into the Archive of Formal Proofs and obtain some feedback on the nastier parts of the mechanisation.

Once more:

arrows_theorem.pdf
An Isabelle-generated document of the development.
darcs get http://peteg.org/isabelle/arrows_theorem/
A darcs repository for the development.

An interested soul has written a great overview of May's life work.

Rule Number One

/noise/movies | Link

Heaven and Earth

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Amitav Ghosh: In an Antique Land

/noise/books | Link

This is a tale with two threads: a Ghosh-like doctoral student traipsing around rural Egypt and west-coast India in the 1980s, and a fictionalised reassembly of the lives of some marginalised characters from the great trading days of about a millenia ago, which appears to be the focus the student's research. Ghosh wonders how much of their lives he can reconstruct, for the figures of history are usually those who have the education, money and power to inscribe themselves on it. Of course what he in fact does is reconstruct their lives through an educated, cashed up and powerful trader who exchanged many letters with his overseas partners and family. The story of how those documents came to be preserved is quite fascinating, but is not teased out enough here. (That would make a great story, the intrigues of colonial times and the tastiest material in the Geniza. Surely someone's done that already.)

There's lots of old Judaic stuff in this book, too much for this non-specialist to really appreciate. There's also a lot of stuff in general that is difficult to appreciate, especially given the apparently low standards and availability of evidence in this scholarly discipline. The present-day stuff is mildly entertaining in the way of all well-told travel stories, but is not spectacularly distinguished. One grows tired of Amitab growing tired of having to be all of India in one man to a provincial community of Egyptians.

Why the interest in the slave anyway? We really only get one detailed event in his life, viz getting turpsed up in Aden.

/noise/beach/2008-2009 | Link
Midday snorkel at Little Bay. The water was OK, with some cold patches and some of the largest (half-metre) surf I've seen there. I wouldn't have lasted five minutes without the spring suit. Visibility was poor and the fish were hiding from the relatively rough conditions. My timing was a bit off, it got hotter as the day progressed.

UNSW speaks of canning free WiFi.

/noise/politics | Link

According to the Smage, the free WiFi at UNSW is being abused something fierce. I especially liked the quote from the MIPI muppet (the local thus-far stealth-mode piracy mafia) to the effect that all the young-uns are one-third unoriginal sin. Missing, I felt, was any mention of that other internet evil, porn, and a statement from the Eros foundation about how their industry is somehow printing money despite large-scale free access. (Don't look at me like that, go tell Conroy (not) to censor Google et al. already.) I'm guessing the general lack of private spaces on the UNSW campus, by design or accident, makes it difficult for the youth to check more boxes on the list of proscribed activities.

Slightly more amusing is the spillover effect that such a decision to cut off the tubes would have on some other groups (coughCSEcough) that took the central admin at their word and began decommissioning their home-grown network access points. I'm sure the university is truly efficient over the long haul, but it must hurt to have to pay those setup and tear-down costs, time and again.

McCabe and Mrs Miller

/noise/movies | Link

Leavened by some well-used Leonard Cohen songs, especially The Stranger, perhaps the pick of his pre-hoarse years. Altman's western, I guess.

Burn After Reading

/noise/movies | Link

At The Ritz.

/noise/beach/2008-2009 | Link

Mid-afternoon swim at Little Bay. They're getting serious about building houses in the makeshift carpark, adjacent to the golf course. Pretty soon the beach will be locals-only, due to limited parking. Saw a gazillion fish, including one with a cat-like face and a rippling skirt-like thing for getting around and the old small swordfish-like things. Loads of groper and mobile-seaweed-fish. Some days I wish I had a camera and some clue as to their names.

The water was warm enough in the bay (in a spring suit) but cold-ish past the rocks. The wind would've been painful without the suit, but didn't seem to hamper the best underwater visibility I've had this season.

State and Main

/noise/movies | Link

/noise/beach/2008-2009 | Link
Early-afternoon snorkel at Gordon's Bay. Saw some tiny groper, some middle-sized and small fish I can't name. A middling-sized one had horizontal fore-fins and was patterned almost identically to the seaweed. Purportedly 18 degrees in, quite comfortable in the spring suit. Warm to hot out, I'd say 27 degrees or more before the storm rolled in.

Murray Bail: The Pages

/noise/books | Link

Fairly poor narrative, even by Bail's low standards. Of course one is reading him for the details, the closely-observed mannerisms, the sparse arid landscape and occasionally slippery punctuation. Characters are somewhat weaker than before, too, and the plot devices, the rising romantic tension, flimsier. A feeling of emptiness (or perhaps an awareness of vacuity) arises on completion. The shadowy central character makes the elementary error of imagining he will find philosophy in the old cities, where the climate is suited to it, little realising that one can only philosophise about what one is born into, it seems to me. Let us quietly ignore the psychoanalytic white elephants.

Reviews were myriad, for Bail is somehow famous despite his laconic output. (Ten years since Eucalyptus? Was anyone holding their breath?) I am glad I read it, but would have preferred a series of short stories, perhaps even meditations, on these themes.

The Smage interviewed him around the time of the book's release.

After Hours

/noise/movies | Link

Body of Lies

/noise/movies | Link

At the Verona with Jen.

The Color of Money

/noise/movies | Link

/noise/beach/2008-2009 | Link
Mid-afternoon snorkel at Long Bay. Low visibility after all the recent rain, a little cold in but quite nice out. Saw some small gropers and other tiny fish I can't name.

Pulp Fiction

/noise/movies | Link

The Bridge on the River Kwai

/noise/movies | Link

I remember Kyle going on about this many years ago... another David Lean, I learnt in retrospect.

I ♥ Huckabees

/noise/movies | Link

Thanks, Tim!

/noise/beach/2008-2009 | Link
Mid-afternoon swim at Long Bay after dropping Peodair off at the airport. Very quiet, some wind but little whitewater. Saw heaps of groper. The water was cold, bearable in a wetsuit out of the current coming in from the sea. Hot out, 33 degreees.

Deborah Robertson: Careless

/noise/books | Link

I've been meaning to read this for a long time now, on the strength of her short story collection, and was fortunate to find a copy in the UNSW Library.

Briefly, I struggled to get into it. The male characters are mostly shallowly treated, and those that do get fleshed out seem like low-grade automata. The foibles of the female characters are keenly observed, but generally not interesting; I couldn't make anything of a walk-in female character checking her skin in the mirror, and noting that the antibiotics have kicked in. Later referring to it in a pedestrian bedroom scene seemed like a waste of this reader's concentation. There is little character development, more an unfolding along rails predestined by narrative, a bit too tidy.

... and the narrative, well, it is mostly a series of still-lifes and flashbacks, descriptions of interior lives that are all effect without much analysis. Danish Sonia had an abusive mother, now long dead, and slept with her husband before she was in love with him. How does this substantiate a decision to move to Australia? We'll never know, for that is all we have to go on. All the other characters have shadowy histories — who is Pearl and Riley's father? — and one's curiousity is slowly stymied by the realisation there are not enough pages or plot devices left to unpack them all. Having so many rhetorical questions smacks of laziness, or perhaps there being too little in the tank after such stirling efforts on the technical fronts.

Robertson is at her best when she portrays the children at the centre and fringes of the novel, making a lot of her overarching concern of carelessness and the unthinking violence adults do to children's senses of how things should go. I can't help but think she would have been better writing this piece as a series of short stories rather than trying to tie it all together.

Ace in the Hole

/noise/movies | Link

The Poetry of Nguyễn Du.

/AYAD | Link

Apparently Nguyễn Du is the poet-of-all-poets in Việt Nam, and his Tale of Kiều is known to all the people of the country, or at least the motifs are. I couldn't find much about it in English on the internet so I typed up a section of an old book about it. You can find it here.

Wall-E

/noise/movies | Link

At The Ritz with Jen.

Amitav Ghosh: Countdown

/noise/books | Link

Countdown is a little book, about 100 pages, on the strategic and political machinations underpinning the overt nuclearisation of the sub-continent immediately after the Indian tests on May 11, 1998. A variant was originally published in the New Yorker.

The text is sombre. His unpacking of the Kashmir dispute is a highlight, helping explain the absurdity of fighting over the barren icy wastelands of the Karakorams. I found it a bit tedious when he tries to quantify the damage a Pakistani nuclear weapon would do to Delhi. Depressing stuff.

/noise/beach/2008-2009 | Link
Midday snorkel at Gordons Bay. I lasted about 20 minutes in the spring suit. Saw some groper and a school of medium-sized silvery vertically-flat fish. The wind was picking up and the storm clouds rolling in...

/noise/beach/2008-2009 | Link
First swim of the season, an early-afternoon snorkel at Little Bay. Loads of people were on the beach enjoying the 33-degree heat. The water was a bit cold, but not too bad once in, at least in a wetsuit and boots. Didn't see much, was content just to be back in salt water.

Happy-Go-Lucky

/noise/movies | Link

A new Mike Leigh effort, something of a return to his late-80s / early-90s efforts without much bite.

The Sting

/noise/movies | Link

Kill Bill: Vol. 2

/noise/movies | Link

Kill Bill: Vol. 1

/noise/movies | Link

Greg Lockhart: The Minefield

/noise/books | Link

I don't tend to read books on the military, but as the Smage review says, this one is worth making an effort for. I found it somewhat disconcerting that there are about forty years between the events and their recounting here, which perhaps reflects that it could only be written by someone with Dr Lockhart's almost-unique abilities and concerns, towards the end of his career.

The book is brutally frank about the military situation in the south of Vietnam in the latter half of the war there. He puts the foreign policy concerns of the day in post-colonial perspective, and gives the commanding brass an almost scornful damning. Perhaps most valuable is his compilation of first-hand accounts of mine incidents, from both the Australian and Vietnamese perspectives. I had a sense of relief when the order comes to clear the minefield, and the tenacity of the engineers charged with the task brought some lightness to a mostly fraught narrative.

The Treasure of the Sierra Madre

/noise/movies | Link

Lawrence of Arabia

/noise/movies | Link

Colonel Brighton: Look, sir, we can't just do nothing.
General Allenby: Why not? It's usually best.

Nguyễn Huy Thiệp: The General Retires and other stories, translated by Greg Lockhart.

/noise/books | Link

I prefered this collection to the later The Light of the Capital, mostly because the stories are closer to folk tales, albeit ones rife with social commentary. The author is, like Dương Thu Hương, a product of the đổi mới policies of 1986, and there is apparently a similar ambivalence about his work.

The standouts were The Water Nymph, The General Retires, A Drop of Blood and A Mother's Soul. As with the previous collection, the translations are perhaps trying to be too close to idiomatic English; I think it would be better to let more of the Vietnamese locutions leak through, given how much of the culture is encoded in them.

You can read Linh Din's translation of the title story here.

Waltz with Bashir

/noise/movies | Link

At the Verona with Jen.

Married Life

/noise/movies | Link

Crank

/noise/movies | Link

The Light of the Capital, translated by Greg and Monique Lockhart.

/noise/books | Link

A collection of three stories set in Hà Nội towards the end of French colonial rule, around the 1930s. The translations are quite good, apart from the irritating convention of stripping all the decorations from the Vietnamese characters. Are Western presses incapable of printing them? (Well, I guess it is probable that the word processors of the early 1990s couldn't cope.)

The stories:

  • Tam Lang's I Pulled a Rickshaw is an enlightening account of a newspaper reporter slumming it with the rickshaw coolies, ala George Orwell's Down and out in Paris and London.

  • Vũ Trọng Phụng's Household Servants is the pick of the collection, canvassing the topic of domestic help from all angles. Apparently there is a recent translation of one of his novels (Dumb Luck) into English. Once again, the author is a newspaper reporter slumming it.

  • Nguyen Hong's Days of Childhood is a rambling account of the author's childhood (surprise). I struggled to get into this one.

There is an extensive introduction, written in what I think is the style of literary criticism, which provides a lot of useful background to the times in which these stories are set.

You can get a feeling for his prose and politics in his (long) review of a collection of Wilfred Burchett's writings at The Australian, and for his and his wife's translations at the Việt Nam Literature Project.

Persepolis

/noise/movies | Link

Rear Window

/noise/movies | Link

Clubland

/noise/movies | Link

Tim Winton: Breath.

/noise/books | Link

I liked it, and can think of little more to say.

Tropic Thunder

/noise/movies | Link

At The Ritz with Jen.

Graham Reilly: Saigon Tea

/noise/books | Link

Meh. Apparently the author spent three years in Hồ Chí Minh City and the best he could come up with is this. In a tale spread across three cities, Glasgow is the only one that is described in more detail than a tourist could manage after a day's visit, and if you really wanted to know about Scotland you'd be reading Irvine Welsh anyway. Reilly's evocation of Saigon hardly exceeds what one learns from the Lonely Planet, soured by the usual questions ("Why do the people smile so much after all that's happened?") that are never properly addressed by pop writers. Let's not even mention Melbourne, the book hardly does. One ends up with no greater insight about the places, the peoples, mixed marriages, cross-cultural humour or any other thing one finds canvassed here.

I found it especially irritating that his Saigon was little more than Westerner-friendly District 1, with District 3 being characterised as a rich people's ghetto, and District 4 as comprised entirely of criminal trash. He doesn't even mention Chọ Lớn! Lame, lame, lame... there is no depth here, and the humour is mostly clunky and derivative to boot. Sliding in some pigeon tiếng Việt does nothing for this book.

Apparently he is an editor at the The Age.

BTW, the best way to see Vietnam is from a motorbike. Walking everywhere gets old fast with all the street hawkers. If you don't want to drive, either find a mate who does or pay a local. Bring a helmet.

Run Fatboy Run

/noise/movies | Link

Iron Man

/noise/movies | Link

The Bank Job

/noise/movies | Link

The Simpsons Movie

/noise/movies | Link

Nam Le: The Boat

/noise/books | Link

I picked this up on the strength of a gushing Smage review, and really, what's not to like: a young bloke, born in Vietnam and raised in Melbourne, cranking out self-confident self-aware prose in Iowa.

There are so many reviews and things — many helpfully catalogued by the man himself — that I have little to add. I would more strongly recommend this interview from earlier in the year if the interviewer weren't so overbearing.

My favourite effort was the first story, Love and Honour and Pity and Pride and Compassion and Sacrifice, which is available here. Perhaps the stylistically weakest is his Winton-alike Halflead Bay, and even that is redeemed by some strong themes.

National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets

/noise/movies | Link

Worse than the original?

Another old friend.

/hacking | Link

Here is a friend of the fish cycle: the "fish limit".

Argh, your browser does not support SVG!

Again, if you look at the free standing SVG file, you should be able to exercise the scaling feature of your SVG implementation.

Although the SVG rendering consists of only a finite set of lines, the original FLAN source code describes an infinite set; the interpreter decides to stop generating that set once the lines get too small.

polyline :: [(Num, Num)] -> [Shape]
polyline pts =
  match pts with
      []   -> []
    | p:ps ->
        let mkP :: (Num, Num) -> [(Num, Num)] -> [Shape]
            mkP prev qqs =
              match qqs with
                  []   -> [] -- Don't close the polygon.
                | q:qs -> (Line prev q) : (mkP q qs)
              end ;
         in mkP p ps
  end
;

leftFish :: Picture
leftFish =
    Canvas 1 1
      ((Line (1/8, 3/5) (1, 4/5))
       : (polyline [ (1, 1), (1/8, 3/5), (1, 1/8), (3/4, 0), (1, 0)]))
;

rightFish :: Picture
rightFish = Flip leftFish
;

fish :: Picture
fish = Beside 1 1 leftFish rightFish
;
sideFish :: Picture
sideFish = Rotate fish
;

foodChain :: Picture
foodChain =
  let p :: Picture
      p = Beside 1 1 foodChain sideFish ;
  in Above 1 1 p p
;

main = foodChain

Another one from the GLog paper.

/hacking | Link

The h-tree example, another infinite image.

Argh, your browser does not support SVG! Try FireFox or Opera.

You can download the standalone file here. Unfortunately I can't seem to get the gzip compression to work, so that file is a little bit huge for what it is. Here's the code:

l :: Picture
l = Canvas 1 1 [Line (0.5, 0.5) (0.5, 1)]
;
h :: Picture
h = Overlay l (Beside 1 1 (Flip s) s)
;
s :: Picture
s = Rotate h
;
htree :: Picture
htree = h
;
main = htree

Dương Thu Hương: Paradise of the Blind

/noise/books | Link

I have mixed feelings about this book; the endless food pornography dulled the edge of some sharp social commentary, particularly centred around the land reforms and the lifestyles of the post-war political cadres. Some of the loyalties are stretched super-thin, and the uncle character is barely more than a caricature. I enjoyed it when the plot was moving, and I do appreciate that many nuances were lost in translation.

The Herald Tribune has a good interview with the author. It was written at an interesting time in the country's history and apparently things are still not settled.

An old friend.

/hacking | Link

In a previous life I implemented GLog, a declarative graphics engine based on some very old ideas. In this one I've been implementing Peter Henderson's even older Functional Geometry as part of an assignment for JAS. If your browser can render SVG and HCoop's webserver is behaving itself, you should see the dear old "fish cycle" from the paper Logic programming graphics and infinite terms by P. R. Eggert and K. P. Chow.

Argh, your browser does not support SVG!

If you look at the free standing SVG file, you should be able to exercise the scaling feature of the SVG implementation in your browser. The FLAN source code is this:

polyline :: [(Num, Num)] -> [Shape]
polyline pts =
  match pts with
      []   -> []
    | p:ps ->
        let mkP :: (Num, Num) -> [(Num, Num)] -> [Shape]
            mkP prev qqs =
              match qqs with
                  []   -> [] -- Don't close the polygon.
                | q:qs -> (Line prev q) : (mkP q qs)
              end ;
         in mkP p ps
  end
;

leftFish :: Picture
leftFish =
    Canvas 1 1
      ((Line (1/8, 3/5) (1, 4/5))
       : (polyline [ (1, 1), (1/8, 3/5), (1, 1/8)
                   , (3/4, 0), (1, 0)]))
;

rightFish :: Picture
rightFish = Flip leftFish
;

fish :: Picture
fish = Beside 1 1 leftFish rightFish
;

sideFish :: Picture
sideFish = Rotate fish
;

matrix :: [[Picture]] -> Picture
matrix = col
;

col :: [[Picture]] -> Picture
col pps =
  let mkP :: [[Picture]] -> (Picture, Num)
      mkP pps = match pps with
                    []   -> (Empty, 0)
                  | p:ps -> match mkP ps with (pic, n) ->
                              (Above 1 n (row p) pic, n + 1)
                            end
                end ;
  in match mkP pps with (p, n) -> p end
;

row :: [Picture] -> Picture
row pps =
  let mkP :: [Picture] -> (Picture, Num)
      mkP pps = match pps with
                    []   -> (Empty, 0)
                  | p:ps -> match mkP ps with (pic, n) ->
                              (Beside 1 n p pic, n + 1)
                            end
                end ;
  in match mkP pps with (p, n) -> p end
;

main =
  let u :: Picture
      u = fish ;
      l :: Picture
      l = sideFish ;
      d :: Picture
      d = Rotate l ;
      r :: Picture
      r = Rotate d ;
  in matrix [[d, l,     l],
             [d, Empty, u],
             [r, r,     u]]

There is an implementation available in LISP.

A Passage to India

/noise/movies | Link

David Lean, though I didn't know it at the time.

If...

/noise/movies | Link

Wanted

/noise/movies | Link

At The Ritz with Jen. What a turkey. I'd prefer less blood, better editing and more action. Arnie is sorely missed in this genre.

The Trials of Henry Kissinger

/noise/movies | Link

Well made and quite depressing. You can watch it at Google Video and there's a somewhat pointless official website.

Our Country's Good

/noise/theatre | Link

Sarah invited me to this National Art School production, where it seemed every cast member had invited a few hundred of their friends. Strangely enough Darlinghurst Theatre was putting the same play on at the same time.

I was right up the back so I couldn't hear much. The theatre itself was a delightful old sandstone cellar-ish thing which might have been cold if it weren't for the crowd.

Vertical Ray of the Sun

/noise/movies | Link

I did not understand this movie.

Growing up Asian in Australia ed. Alice Pung.

/noise/books | Link

I picked this one up at the UNSW Bookshop on the strength of a Smage review. It's a real mixed bag; there are some excellent stories but too much samey-sameness to really push my buttons. The best are those that recount specific incidents which are indeed exotic to (most) other Australians, in much the same way as Henry Lawson's were a century ago. Memorable:

  • The Leaving Home section:
    • Diana Nguyen's Five ways to disappoint your Vietnamese mother.
    • Pauline Nguyen's The courage of soldiers.
    • Paul Nguyen's You can't choose your memories.
    • Emily J. Sun's These are the photographs we take.
  • Jacqui Larkin's cute Baked beans and burnt toast.
  • Blossom Beeby's account of finding her Korean birth mother, The face in the mirror.
  • Hai Ha Le's Ginseng tea and a pair of thongs.
  • Ken Chan's Quarrel.
  • Diem Vo's Family life.
  • The Battlers section: Hop Dac's Pigs from home is hilarious, as is Annette Shun Wah's Spiderbait. Lily Chan's Take me away, please is wanly endearing.
  • Kylie Kwong's My China, excerpted from her book of the same name.

There are others. On the balance I'm glad I read it, even though many stretches of tens of pages left me cold. It serves as a good entrée to authors I would not have otherwise found.

The Dark Knight

/noise/movies | Link

At the 8:30pm session with Jen at The Ritz. I'm glad we didn't try the 9:30pm session, we would've fallen asleep.

Machiavelli, a card game.

/noise/games | Link

I learnt this one from an Italian girl while I was in Nha Trang last year. You'll need two decks of cards, a fairly large table and a mate or two. Please tell me how I can improve this presentation of the rules.

Choose the dealer.

Oldest person deals the first hand, then winners deal successive hands.

Deal.

The dealer shuffles the two decks into one pile of cards and deals each player fourteen cards face-down.

Goal.

A player wins by being the first to play all the cards in their hand.

Invariant.

Initially the table is bare, with the pile of undealt cards placed face-down within easy reach of all players.

At the end of each player's turn, each card played on the table must be part of exactly one:

  • three- or four-of-a-kind, with each suit appearing at most once; or
  • a run, where each card is of the same suit. (The ace follows the king in a run, and cannot be placed before the two.)

Play.

Play proceeds in turns, going clockwise, starting with the player to the left of the dealer.

Initially a player must play (at least) a self-contained group of three cards. After doing so, and on successive rounds, a player may play as many cards as they like. They can adjust the groups of cards already on the table by:

  • adding cards to an existing group; or
  • redistributing existing groups and adding cards.

If the player does not play a card on the table, they must pick up a card from the top of the deck of undealt cards, after which play continues with the next player.

Note there is no notion of "ownership" of a group of cards on the table.

Trung Nguyên: 218B Pasteur, District 3.

/AYAD/HCMC/Cafes | Link

It struck me that I never wrote up this pearl of a Trung Nguyên café, even though I've been going there for ages. Loan pointed it out to me a long time ago. Darren rated the phê dá "not bad", as I recall.

The main attraction of this place is that it has the pentafecta [*]: good coffee, food, electricity, wifi, and is not too smokey indoors. I have to say that I prefer the cà phê sữa đá number 5 they serve me at 603 or 346 Nguyễn Trãi. The food is quite OK and not too expensive, and the courtyard is pleasantly shady. The parking bloke seems to be in a perpetual good mood.

[*] penta- (5) plus perfecta, cf trifecta.

Alan Chalmers: What is this thing called science?

/noise/books | Link

This book was on the reading stack for a long time; I believe I purchased it at Gould's many years ago. Unfortunately it happened to be the outdated second edition, without the additional, possibly fascinating, chapter on Bayesianism. I read this book as I've always been interested in the philosophy of science but never received any formal education on the topic.

I came away quite impressed by the first half of the book, where Chalmers takes an axe to naive inductivism and falsificationism. I was curious how these arguments relate to Ehud Shapiro's MIS, and machine learning in general, and came to realise that there the languages are quite rigid, with a careful identification of "observations" and "theoretical terms" that skirts some of the problems with refining theories in the face of unreliable evidence. It remains unclear to me how much one can learn about science-in-the-large from MIS, though the algorithms are cute beyond belief.

The latter half on research agendas, paradigms, programs, and the division of science into different activities lost me, largely as my interest in how a given scientific theory is structured and refined by "normal scientists" was unsated by the first half. The accounts of the higher-level activity of "disruptive science" offered by Kuhn and Lakatos are also interesting, of course, but stand on a different strata.

Samir reviewed the third edition. I concur with him that some discussion of what constitutes scientific explanation might have been helpful.

Bomb Harvest

/noise/movies | Link

Great story of an Australian bloke doing his bit to reduce the unexploded ordnance in Laos. Pretty funny, and oh-so-familiar when the rice wine comes out.

Into the Wild

/noise/movies | Link

Even better than I expected. The lead actor was pretty amazing when he wasn't trying to be a younger Leonardo DiCaprio. Adroitly directed by Sean Penn.

Bố của Sir Cử

/AYAD | Link

Bố của Sir Cử

This is Cử's father wearing one of Darren's Hai Lúa t-shirts. He once told me he was the best thing on the Mekong Delta. (In jest, of course.)

/noise | Link

Back in Australia now, Orange specifically, living with my parents for a while. I have so much to do, so much to catch up on. Please drop me a line if it's been too long between drinks.

21

/noise/movies | Link

On the plane from Singapore to Sydney on the lower deck of the A380. This possibly-interesting topic of taking the luck out of some forms of gambling is ruined by hum-drum angst and clunky plot twists. Watching Spacey pull out some worn-out maths novelties was tedious beyond belief. I only managed to watch half of Run Fatboy Run, a more promising proposition.

Nhà hàng Việt Chay Vĩnh Nghiêm

/AYAD/HCMC | Link

Last dinner in Hồ Chí Minh City with Loan, at least for a while. She suggested we go to the pagoda on Nam Kỳ Khởi Nghĩa near Stinky, the canal at the top of District 1, and eat some vegetables. We ordered enough food for three people, and everything we managed to eat was excellent. The prices are reasonable but not cheap. I'd strongly recommend it to anyone interested in ăn chay (on ngày rằm or any other day).

Rounding up some press.

/AYAD/Project | Link

Chị Yến,
Triêu and me. I was interviewed for the women's newspaper, Phunữ. Left-to-right in the photo: DRD Director Chị Yến, my counterpart Triêu and me, and the MacBook in the foreground, of course. We're seated in the corner of the DRD office. I asked the journalist to publish my email address but sadly she did not.

More press coverage at Tuổi Trẻ and Daily.com.vn. I guess this means my AYAD project was a success.

Website launch.

/AYAD/Project | Link

We're famous, we've got the top hit on Google Việt Nam for "DRD", and on the front page for Google.com. The launch went fairly well, with demonstrations of the "zoom" layout and the JAWS screen reader, and good attendence by the press. There were some good questions and I was exhausted by the end of it.

DRD Website Mới live.

/AYAD/Project | Link

Partly by accident, partly by design, the new DRD website is now live. It has some remaining rough edges which I'll be ironing out this week and next. We'll have a launch press conference this Sunday, June 29. Any and all feedback is very welcome.

Howard Marks: Mr Nice

/noise/books | Link

Read all-too-quickly on the road from Hanoi to Hoi An. What starts as a moderately entertaining drugs, sex and rock-and-roll story set in Oxford and London degenerates a bit into a bitter diatribe against the DEA. The humour tends to be wry, and the secondary characters suffer from a lack of detail. The portrayal of prison life is quite good, but one has to wonder just what his ethics are, given how many greasy people he would've had to deal with.

Andrew X. Pham: Catfish and Mandala

/noise/books | Link

Read very rapidly on the road from Hồ Chí Minh City to Hà Nội. Anyone interested in post-đổi mới-Việt Nam should read this book. While the prose is not uniformly excellent, by-and-large it is, and the stories are masterfully woven even when some go unconcluded. It is the most insightful book I've yet read about this country, and the lives of those who stayed and those who left.

The Painted Veil

/noise/movies | Link

Land and Freedom

/noise/movies | Link

Another Ken Loach effort, quite similar to the later The Wind that Shakes the Barley, about a revolution gone sour. The inspiration is clearly George Orwell's Homage to Catalonia.

By the way, it seems that the complete works of George Orwell are available at that website. Never be bored again.

David Chandler: Brother Number One

/noise/books | Link

This is a somewhat enlightening biography of Pol Pot, and therefore a selective account of the political situation in Cambodia during the 20th century.

One has to take a shine to a book that asks the question you're interested in on the third page; in this instance, just what the hell did the Khmer Rouge have in mind? How could the leaders of a country decide to decimate it so thoroughly?

Ultimately the book fails to provide a satisfying answer, but does justify this failure by showing how thin the record is. I came away with the impression that the party was a dictatorship of one man who managed to play his underlings off against one another with sufficient skill to remain in the role of chairman almost to his death. It is perhaps most difficult to comprehend why the fellow travellers went so far with him in the face of such thorough-going and brutal purges.

Politically Brother Number One seemed to think that the individual's only worth was in the labour he or she could provide to the state. With most of the expertise of returning Cambodian ex-pats squandered (they got executed), the regime was always heavily dependent on foreigners for anything more sophisticated than the most primitive agricultural techniques. Apparently there was no contradiction here with the idea that Cambodia is (in Western speak) God's own country, and neither is there one with the party leadership coterie living in relative comfort while their countrymen endure enforced poverty.

Most shocking is the incompetency of the Democratic Kampuchea regime, and the realpolitik machinations of a United States that had just begun to come to terms with their conflict with Vietnam. Pot entertained some pretty weird ideas of being rescued by the U.S. military, though he was right to bank on some support against the newly re-unified and communist Vietnam. In the end it was Vietnam, through occupying Cambodia in 1979, that sorted this particular mess out for the people of Cambodia. The occupation lasted about ten years, and so it is for only a relatively short time (almost twenty years now) that this country has been at peace.

I have no idea what the current regime is or how they reconciled the border tensions with Thailand. (Clearly the new government is friendly enough with Vietnam.)

There are some thoughtful reviews at Amazon. I expect one of the more recent biographies would be even more insightful.

Good Night, and Good Luck

/noise/movies | Link

Project blah blah.

/AYAD/Project | Link

I've been reading a lot of accessibility articles. Most are (at best) unscientific. If you can cope with the outmoded HTML advice, the best is Joe Clark's Building Accessible Websites. I feel his treatment of colour blindness is ... excessive, in a good way.

Finally someone has cooked up a good explanation of how to stuff Flash into a webpage, and why <embed> lurches forever onward. It has convinced me that if one decides to be evil and use Flash, one must necessarily also use JavaScript.

My goal of actually putting the XML part of XHTML to work by validating the comments and general content coming into HOPE with HaXml is mostly working, modulo some bugs here and there. Break it here: http://210.245.124.74/~drdviet/hope/ (soon to become the main DRD site, I hope.)

Thank You for Smoking

/noise/movies | Link

Story of Stuff

/noise | Link

Iain steered me towards this insta-short-attention-span-classic. Some of the rhetoric is a bit wantonly overblown, suffering from what one might loosely term Chomsky syndrome, the over-egging of the already-risen souffle. I deeply appreciated that she wired the people story in there, the mass wastage of human potential being one of the macro crimes I equivocate least over. Her concluding happy-happy-green-cycles was too limp to satisfy, and she has nothing constructive to say about the paradox of development in countries that lag the west.

You can download it from their website. Incongruously they will apparently exchange a DVD for money.

Carlito's Way.

/noise/movies | Link

Pete R. hits the big time.

/noise | Link

Pete R. is now so famous that Paul Krugman is quoting him on the New York Times website, albeit without proper attribution.

It's a Free World

/noise/movies | Link

Clearly Ken Loach saw Dirty Pretty Things and thought he could improve it. I don't think this movie needed to be made.

Riff Raff

/noise/movies | Link

A quite funny early-90s Ken Loach effort. Some of the actors reprise similar roles in Trainspotting (Swanny and Begbie in particular). Structurally it is similar to My Name is Joe by the same director.

The Hard Word

/noise/movies | Link

Pete gets his name up in lights.

/noise | Link

Pete R. tells me he is close to finishing his PhD in urban planning. It seems that's good enough for the Smage to quote him at length on the problems of car dependency in western Sydney, though they left out all the pretty maps he spends so long cranking out. Someone also wrote him up at the Oil Drum.

Happy Endings

/noise/movies | Link

Amazing stuff, the Dirty Three's Indian Love Song accompanies one of the early scenes, and — I think — Rude (And Then Some Slight Return) a bit later. Somewhat less agreeable on the second viewing.

Twelve Angry Men

/noise/movies | Link

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

/noise/movies | Link

Garden of Buffaloes (aka Buffalo Boy)

/noise/movies | Link

Another Vietnamese classic on Darren's recommendation.

The Cowles Foundation Monographs in Economics

/choice/social-choice | Link

Amazing stuff, one can now get a whole pile of old economics monographs for free off the internet. The drawcard is Kenneth Arrow's Social Choice and Individual Values. Pulls the spare life out of the back pocket and is not seen for the next twenty years.

Cyclo

/noise/movies | Link

On Darren's recommendation. Umm, yeah.

A Quiet American

/noise/movies | Link

Yep, this was as bad as I remember. The book is much simplified upon and the plot twisted to suit this shallower medium; indeed, by making Phương fluent in English the French colonial overtones are largely relegated to the heavy-handed police inspector. This is one clunky adaptation.

Nikoly V. Gogol: The Cloak

/noise/books | Link

I read this after seeing The Namesake about a year ago. The descriptions are prodigiously lengthy and occasionally funny, but the narrative is weak. Do we have to die before getting retribution on the bureaucracy? Doubtlessly I missed some higher meaning in the text.

You can find it as part of the Project Gutenberg Best Russian Short Stories.

Kes

/noise/movies | Link

Another Ken Loach classic, and once again one needs a keen ear for the accents of northern England.

Memento

/noise/movies | Link

I must have seen this at the cinema back in 2002 or so.

Hal Hartley: Surviving Desire.

/noise/movies | Link

The Black Dahlia

/noise/movies | Link

2001

/noise/movies | Link

The I'm-in-a-hurry guide to accessibility.

/AYAD/Project | Link

I've been warmly surprised by some of the general-topics things I've found on the net recently; either Google's search results are tending away from waffle or I am becoming very adept at closing tabs and flushing the short-term memory buffer. Dive into Accessibility is straightfoward and the tips mostly directly applicable. Unfortunately it has dated a bit; I shudder to think that there are too many HTML 4 websites out there that people now want to make accessible...

I slightly quibble with his advice on access keys (Day 15, p32 of the PDF), where he suggests that a stroke survivor may make use of them. I expect there are many people who struggle to make key chords, especially those having the use of just one hand.

Lust, Caution

/noise/movies | Link

I don't rate Ang Lee; Hulk was absolute rubbish, and perhaps Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon was as good as I remember people saying it was, but I don't remember. I didn't see Brokeback Mountain.

This one is pretty good though, a Sergio Leone camera-work and spaghetti-time effort, at first blush similar to the contemporary Zwartboek. The lead actress (Wei Tang) is luminous and quite dextrous in her various roles. It was also great to see Joan Chen play such a major part. Tony Leung is as fabulous as ever.

Bill Bryson: A Short History of Nearly Everything

/noise/books | Link

What can I say... I couldn't put it down, and found myself quite liking it after a while. There are some irritatingly heat-over-light sections, such as a general ramble about the arcana that is theoretical physics, but these are wonderfully counter-balanced by the extended geological threads. Most of the stuff on botany was lost on me as I have no grasp of the classifications (genera, phyla, etc.) and he doesn't stop to sketch the tree of life. (Perhaps he did, my (photo)copy was missing ten pages somewhere in the middle.)

I was most disappointed by the sections on DNA and evolution however, coming away with absolutely no new insight into either. Indeed, based on what is said about Charles Darwin I cannot fathom why he was credited with anything.

I could imagine someone coming along and writing something similar but using information as a unifying theme, rather than Planet Earth: one could take the line that local order is increasing (while the universe at large is subject to the second law of thermodynamics, of course) and run with it.

If only science was actually what this book was about. At best Bill Bryson characterises scientific practices ("so-and-so realised that..."), but usually he goes on about the individuals eccentricities rather than the processes (experiments, insights, philosophies) that led to their results. I find it fascinating that Newton and Einstein could have such huge ideas without dirtying their hands with more direct forms of empiricism. (This is somewhat less surprising in computer science as the formal models are more-or-less "cleaned-up" versions of reality.) I fear that modern science is generally a lot more tedious than one might be lead to believe from this book.

There are some good reviews at Amazon. (Having just pasted in some Wikipedia links, I'd have to say you may be better off following your nose there.)

To accesskey or not to accesskey...

/AYAD/Project | Link

An accesskey is another of the W3's ways of muddling concerns; when you type something into a web browser, what does it mean? Does the browser get the keystroke or the page, or the form, and which form are we talking about anyway... It seems the prevailing wisdom is not to use accesskeys as the implementations are broken; in a nutshell, this misfeature is not compositional, a feature shared with all the very worst XHTML ideas.

Back in the real world we're stuck between doing something "many users will be familiar with" (yeah, I remember that) and leaving things alone. I've decided to follow the BBC's ambivalent lead here.

Lazy CSV Parsing in Haskell.

/AYAD/Project | Link

One of the fun bits about this project is the text munging that comes with it. The regexp libraries for Haskell have super-sophisticated do-what-I-think-you-mean interfaces and not enough (simple) use-cases in the docs. Couple that with my concerns about Unicode support and I'm stuck doing it the very old fashioned way.

OK, enough editorialising; I've written a mostly-{RFC 4810, Haskell 98}-compliant lazy CSV parser that appears to work OK on reasonable-sized inputs. Existing solutions use Parsec, whose return type seems to guarantee that more-or-less the entire output must reside in memory at some point. This might be OK for small files, but the 6Mb of Unicode data I need to import consumes a ridiculous amount of memory, even with GHC's optimiser going full-bore.

You can find it here. The licence is BSD. Couple it with the appropriate utf8-string for your GHC and it works well on UTF-8-encoded files.

Now, to track down a nasty memory leak somewhere in the database code... the profiler tells me SYSTEM is hanging onto some stuff, but not what SYSTEM actually is. Err, what did Fergus say again?

Hal Hartley: The Book of Life

/noise/movies | Link

Michael Maclear: The Ten Thousand Day War: Vietnam 1945-1975

/noise/books | Link

A fairly concise and selective account of the war from a mostly American perspective. As such it is not bad, but it gets a bit too breathless a bit too often. Still, at this length I doubt there is much better.

The Age of Innocence

/noise/movies | Link

Graham Greene: The Quiet American

/noise/books | Link

Much better than the movie led me to believe. (I must have seen it at the cinema back in 2002 or so). There's a great article at Literary Traveller about how the locations in the novel map to modern-day Hồ Chí Minh City. Specifically rue Catinat is now Đồng Khởi.

Control

/noise/movies | Link

I guess this movie had to be be made, after 24 hour party people. David Bowie's Aladdin Sane makes a welcome appearance (and noise) in the opening scenes.

As you'd expect from Corbijn, the cinematography is beautiful, with many segments being moving photographs (where the camera has a fixed focus).

I quite enjoyed it after waiting more than six months to see it, though as a biography it felt a bit hollow.

Pierre Brocheux: Hồ Chí Minh

/noise/books | Link

Somehow I got the idea that there was such a thing as Hồ Chí Minh's autobiography in print [*], and I've made sporadic efforts to find it over the past six months or so. It turns out I should've looked harder on the internet, as I would have found the Communist Party of Vietnam's extensive stash of his papers.

Anyway, while in Sydney I bought this book on a whim, largely because it seemed to be the best thing that the UNSW Bookshop had on the big man. It really is quite a disappointing work, though; the reviews on Amazon and in the Times Higher Education do a good job of explaining why.

So I guess I'm still looking for a book that tries to explain what Bác Hồ had in mind for Việt Nam, and how things have actually played out.

[*] This is somewhat like my attempts at finding the ABBA museum in Stockholm in 2004. Hmm, perhaps there is one now...

Mulholland Drive

/noise/movies | Link

Not David Lynch's finest. I enjoyed the linear-plot bits, and there are some beautifully shot scenes... but as I recall from seeing it in the cinema so many years ago, it's not a patch on Blue Velvet.

Simplifying the XHTML DTD for fun and profit.

/AYAD/Project | Link

For the usual reasons it seemed best to use FCKeditor as an input widget for HOPE. I had hoped to provide some kind of hacker-friendly markup but time is short and convincing FCKeditor to generate it would probably require some heart surgery. So XHTML everywhere it is.

Clearly this path should lead to paranoia; we can't allow users to submit arbitary strings, or even arbitary XHTML. My heavyweight solution is to validate such submissions against a stripped-down XHTML DTD using HaXml. So far I've removed forms, scripts and restricted the attributes of <a> to just href. I wish the DTD was readable; it is merely an algebraic data type afterall.

Combined with some thorough string-escaping for the other inputs and a tendency to cop-out (crash) on anything that doesn't completely conform to expectations, I think we will be all right.

You can try your hand here. Any and all feedback is much appreciated.

In related news I've uploaded my FCKeditor "server-side integration" Haskell library to Hackage. Find that here.

The Secret Life of Words

/noise/movies | Link

Chinatown

/noise/movies | Link

A Kangaroo comes to Vietnam

/noise/theatre | Link

Some performance art by a Vietnamese bloke who spent some time in Australia, part of the celebration of thirty-five years of diplomatic relations between Australia and Vietnam. Loan and I went along in the spur-of-the-moment.

Griffith Review #19: Re-imagining Australia (Autumn 2008)

/noise/books | Link

Hey, here's an idea: let's publish a journal on the future of Australia, now that it has one... I know, we can invite some ALP has-beens and let them run rampant with triumphal gushings. Let's also get someone to flog that republican horse one more time!

This is the weakest Griffith Review I've read yet. A significant portion of this journal is dedicated to dancing on the graves of the culture warriors who have apparently lost due to John Howard's election defeat. (It is news to me that they were winning before.) To someone who has very limited interest in the history wars, these are wasted pages; indeed this edition feels more like an exploration of Australia's past, and is a bit short on ideas for the future.

Skipping lightly over the articles that failed to excite, these were worth the read:

  • Tom Morton's Dreams of Freedom, though really just an advertisement for his upcoming book on Georg Forster, intriguingly portrays the Enlightenment ideals and aspirations at the time of Britain's discovery of Australia.
  • Bruce Elder trekked out west to Hungerford and wrote In Lawson's Tracks. Of course Henry Lawson suggested a better name would have been Thirstyford... There's not much meat on the bone in this piece, which illustrates the argument Lawson and Banjo Paterson had over the nature of the bush by quoting them as extensively as the space limit allowed. It is a pleasant amble, though.
  • Marcia Langton's essay Trapped in the Aboriginal reality show is a compelling call to action. However to a non-specialist it is difficult to understand who (substantively) she is disagreeeing with, and so the false dichotomies (symbolic versus "practical" issues, for example) are irritating clangers.
  • Listening is harder than you think, Kim Mahood's essay about her involvement with a remote Aboriginal community, is the kind of thing I buy Griffith Review for: direct, personal reportage with some perspective thrown in, without overwhelming ideology.
  • Jenny Bowler's memoir Mungo memories is a quiet celebration of her father's life's work, and I wish there were more pieces like this. Australia has loads of world experts in all sorts of arcana, and it would be good to hear about them more regularly.
  • Similarly Barry Hill documents his father's industrial relations (unionist) expertise in A letter to my father.
  • Wayne McLennan returns with another great piece of writing, Meat. He's got a tidy set-piece at the end of the first section:

    "What are you, a wog or something?"

    "He's Dutch [...] and so am I", I lied, "so shut your fucking mouth."

    [...] "What's going on?" C asked.

    "Australian egalitarianism," I answered. "We like everybody to be the same as us."

    I'm going to have to check out his books.
  • Maria Tumarkin's article Life in translation is in the same vein as Peter Mares's one from the previous edition, taking aim at an immigration department that seems thoroughly resigned to wasting human capital.
  • I liked Oren Seidler's A new land, 1976, though it is fizzy and rotted my teeth.

Matrix Revolutions

/noise/movies | Link

The Matrix Reloaded

/noise/movies | Link

Withnail and I

/noise/movies | Link

Trung Nguyên: 301B An Dương Vương, District 5.

/AYAD/HCMC/Cafes | Link

Fellow-and-soon-to-be-ex-AYAD Yen steered me to this seedy old man's café quite near my usual and increasingly dear 603. While ancient, I wasn't calcified enough to last long at this place. They only serve the one type of Trung Nguyên coffee, which is a bit punk.

The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada

/noise/movies | Link

Café Du Miên, 48/9A Hồ Biểu Chánh, District Phú Nhuận.

/AYAD/HCMC/Cafes | Link

Chị Lan (my AYAD In-Country Manager) took us to this café on our first morning in Hồ Chí Minh City, way back in July 2007. It's a friend of Cà Phê Thềm Xưa. I went there today with Loan. We played a few games of Carcassonne (which I'd given her for her birthday) and chatted about xe ba bánh.

Offside

/noise/movies | Link

Once Upon A Time In America

/noise/movies | Link

Vale, 1 Trần Hưng Đạo.

/AYAD/HCMC/Cafes | Link

Well, somewhere in Hồ Chí Minh City a contract quietly expired and the Trung Nguyên at 1 Trần Hưng Đạo in District 1 is no more. The love heart on the front door and Trung Nguyên paraphernalia have been removed.

I now reside at 603 Trần Hưng Đạo, on the edge of District 1. Unfortunately they don't do food.

The Boondock Saints

/noise/movies | Link

Some of Jeremy Gibbons & Graham Hutton's Proof Methods for Corecursive Programs in HOLCF.

/hacking/isabelle | Link

I abandoned this attempt at mechanising a proof of the "approx lemma" about eighteen months ago, for what now seem like spurious reasons; what I had was quite close to what was needed. I was initially interested in the "take lemma" made famous by Richard Bird & Philip Wadler, and how it took the magic step from assertions about finite lists to ones about possibly infinite objects. Well, I definitely feel some awareness of vacuity now.

You can read it here.

The magic is how the continuity underpinning the semantics of functions is reflected into the term language. As such it's unbelievably cute. The proof of correctness is not particularly interesting though, except perhaps as an exercise in fiddling with fixpoints and continuity.

The Matrix

/noise/movies | Link

Bill Roscoe's almost-book on Denotational Semantics.

/hacking/isabelle | Link

Tim pointed this almost-book out to me. It's sorely disappointing that whoever-it-was who should've cranked the operational semantics half did not do so; what is there is top-notch, especially the chapters on Information Systems. Whereas Glyn Winskel's text does a great job of presenting the mathematics of these "concretised" domains, this book also delves into the philosophical concerns and hence makes the mathematics that much easier to follow.

It's linked from near the top of his publications page.

Andy Gill & Graham Hutton's Worker/Wrapper in HOLCF, partially.

/hacking/isabelle | Link

It's about time I pushed this out the door. Their proofs went through fine for the most part, except for the need to do some induction when rewriting the recursive calls. It is unclear to me how to prove the lemma that justifies this step in general, though for each instance the induction is quite straightfoward, and the key lemmas for the inductive steps are given in the paper. In effect we need induction just to convince HOLCF, not an optimisation phase, but it would be nice if their fusion rule handled this for me. (My proposed, unproven variant can be found in worker_wrapper.thy.)

I believe there was a small strictness bug in their streams / memoisation example. Score one to HOLCF.

I also tried to mechanise Andy Gill's nub example, which mostly went OK, modulo proving some auxiliary lemmas. Specifically, as above one needs to use induction to rewrite the recursive call, and coming out with the right statements is made difficult by HOLCF's admissibility requirements. A work in progress. Again, I can feel Larry Paulson laughing at me for wasting my time.

You can look at it here, or utter:

darcs get http://peteg.org/isabelle/worker_wrapper/

Note some proofs are quite rough, though most of the important stuff is as clear as Isar. The Nat theory may end up being interesting, though with too much more monadic machinery one may as well use HOL... and I have begun to realise that proof-reuse for even something as simple as lists is quite difficult. There are at least two mainstream types (fully lazy and fully strict), as well as some in-betweens that might be convenient (e.g. head-strict and tail-strict). The code here just begins down the mainstream-Haskell path; I figure the Standard ML people are wise enough to be using HOL or Coq or whatever in the first place.

Trung Nguyên: Corner of Hồng Bàng and Đồ Ngọc Thạnh, District 5.

/AYAD/HCMC/Cafes | Link

A small corner-café in the west of District 5 (aka Chợ Lớn and Chinatown). Nothing especially remarkable, except for being on a big fat noisy road.

Royal Tenenbaums

/noise/movies | Link

Kyle used to go on about this movie. I sort-of get it now.

Refugee Realities in Melbourne.

/noise | Link

My mate An in Melbourne told me about this gig. I think he's attached to it as a photo-journalist. Go along and tell me how it is...

This event seems to have been completely ignored by the local media, at least according to Google news. The BBC carried it, however.

/AYAD | Link

Ah, back in Hồ Chí Minh City. The relatively-expensive JetStar flight back to Sydney in early February was absolutely full, with loads of Vietnamese people presumably travelling to visit their families for Tết. Conversely the relatively-cheap flight back yesterday was about one-quarter empty, consisting mostly of Australian and European tourists, to judge by accents and appearances.

The streets look different, I've moved digs, but the coffee remains as good as ever.

Griffith Review #18: In the neighbourhood (Summer 2007-2008)

/noise/books | Link

One thing I miss about Sydney is ready access to books. I picked up this one from the UNSW Bookshop, who are still kindly offering a 10% discount to all comers, and read it while in Randwick and on the plane back to Hồ Chí Minh City.

This edition was not as good as I hoped; indeed, it is somewhat of a re-tread of issue #9, Up North, but with an overly strong focus on China. Memorable:

  • In Location, Location, Location, Michael Wesley discusses the changing international dynamic, from Western institutions to Eastern ones, as the balance of power shifts after 500 years.
  • Geremie R. Barmié's Sharing Values shows how ironically close the State-articulated aspirational values of Australia and China are.
  • Phil Brown's Hong Kong 1967: Summer of discontent recounts his experiences as a child in the former British colony.
  • Ouyang Yu's Book without bonking amusingly recounts his experiences with the Chinese censors.
  • Nicholas Jose's Back to the avantgarde details the commercial rise of China's artists.
  • Tony Barrell's Japan's paradoxical neighbourhoods is a great account of how the concept of a furusato ("the neighbourhood in which everyone feels they truly belong", usually a farming village) has been exploited and pork-barreled by generations of politicians.
  • Rachel Buchanan's Remembering a forgotten survivor tells of the relationship between illustrator Ronald Searle and Henry "Lofty" Judge Cannon, beginning with their time as POWs in WWII and following the post-war divergence in their fortunes.
  • The poem Heroic mother by Hoa Pham is a short anecdote about the Vietnam War, from a somewhat conventional Northern point of view.
  • Wayne McLennan's A night at the fights is a bit stomach turning; the Thai boxing boys know how to inflict damage on each other.
  • Peter Mares's A routine removal is an excellent and heart-rending account of a Fijian family's time in Australia as illegal economic migrants. (I use that description precisely, not enthusiastically.) This article makes plain the global importance of remittances and strongly advocates for some kind of guest worker program. My two concerns are that the unions will label the latter job-stealing, and the former may stifle reform in the countries of origin. Hopefully someone will write a follow-up article from the Australian "national interest" perspective, suggesting a pragmatic solution.
  • Jane Nicholl's Capitals of the world is a cute little anecdote about Nepal, from a latter-day convert to the concept of HECS who is now busily exporting something like it to developing countries.

Another two articles talk about Việt Nam. The first is Larry Buttrose's Lotus blossom day tags, an essentially touristic take on the country which avoids any possibility of controversy by asking (the usual) rhetorical questions. He claims that the locals have won the peace, but I am not so sure; the apparently over-free market surely creates inequalities, and the apparent lack of aspiration for universal education and health care are cause for me to worry. I have a feeling, but no proof, that USA-style prosperity is the goal. Australians should be well-familiar with the mixed feelings that brings.

He also implies that the women are universally emancipated; his stay at Cô Lợi's should have made apparent to him that a lot of women are stuck at home doing little other than domestic work, and it is at best unclear to a foreigner (non-Vietnamese speaker) just how egalitarian marriages are. Sure, the eye-catching young ladies on their scooters do look like they're got it made, no question.

The second article is, with presumably accidental irony, on page 187: Laurie Hergenhan's A lasting sorrow, a sort-of interview with Bảo Ninh. So much is lost in translation that it amounts to little more than a summary of the book. The flavour is similar to this piece in the Guardian.

Old Fitzroy Hotel: The Soldier and the Thief wait on a bridge over the river Thames while Oblivion waves hello

/noise/theatre | Link

There was a time when the Old Fitzroy Hotel could do no wrong; I saw at least four high-quality plays in a row there, when I first found out about it. Now, well, I can't remember the last good thing they hosted. Still, their ginger beer is as good as ever.

All you need to know about the production is contained in Ashley Walker's review. If sceptical, this polite review in the SMH should further dissuade you from attendance. It was packed when I went, which I took to be a combination of cheap-Tuesday prices and the large social network of a large cast.

/noise/beach/2007-2008 | Link
Early afternoon snorkel with Rob at Long Bay. We started at Little Bay but were put off by the relatively large surf and whitewater. Absolutely perfect day for it, cloudless and warm, modulo the idiots on their jetskis.

/noise/beach/2007-2008 | Link
Continuing to make the most of my time in Sydney, I met up with Sarah at Coogee and headed over to Clovelly for a swim in some increasingly rough surf. The water was a perfect temperature and the clouds threatened but passed on by.

Quarterly Essay #28, Judith Brett: Exit Right: The unravelling of John Howard

/noise/books | Link

Judith Brett returns with another Quarterly Essay. This one is a distillation and filtering of the news of 2007, and some of 2006, and as such added almost nothing to my understanding of Howard's final term in office. (It may be of use to future scholars, though, particularly those who weren't politically aware at the time.)

I remarked a while ago about her call-to-debate in her earlier Quarterly Essay (#19 Relaxed and Comfortable: the Liberal Party's Australia, 2005), and her analysis here seems somewhat incongruous with that work; it is as if she is still seeking the perfect metaphor for these "conviction politician" Strong Leaders, and what square pegs she found last time have now been discarded. Here is the direct quote I alluded to earlier (QE19, Howard's Australia, p39):

Many intellectuals are suspicious of nationalism. They know its power to harden boundaries between people and to make them hate and kill each other. But are nations necessarily pathological? Is any appeal to a national "us" a sort of warm-up attack on a non-national "them", a dog-whistle letting people know they really can hate the other? I know many of Howard's critics think so, and this has in my view shaped much of the Left's commentary on his prime ministership. It is also the basic reason for its ineffectiveness, because it has made it impossible to devise successful oppositional strategies.

Because whenever hes has evoked a national "us" he has been accused of really demonising a non-national "them", Howard's critics have been unable to develop any effective or plausible counter-strategies for talking to their fellow Australians. If you regard any talk of "us" as illegitimate, it is not clear to me whom you are going to talk to. Nations are not simply formed and defined by their opposition to or difference from some Other; they are also formed and defined by shared experiences and collective memories. They have centres as well as borders. As I have been arguing, Howard speaks persuasively from that centre. One does not counter him by arguing that the centre is empty, or does not exist, and that he is really only ever policing the borders. One stands in the centre with him and argues about its meanings and its responsibilities, and tells different stories to one's fellow Australians about their past and present and the bonds they share.

As she observes in the current issue, her earlier speculation that the Workchoices industrial relations legislation might be a bridge too far was spot on; Howard's special connection with the centre was more-or-less severed by it, whereas Labor and the unions were listened to as they have not been in years.

Conversely, almost the entirety of QE28 shows that her proposal to go toe-to-toe with the Strong Leader on any of what have become "Left" issues (the arts, social justice, ...) was a waste of resources and doomed to fail, simply because Howard could often not budge without losing Strength. (Paul Keating was no different, of course.) The weak and chaotic capitulation of the Liberal party on any number of recent issues (the apology to the Aborigines and industrial relations being the obvious two) shows how much he held his party in thrall, and just how Faustian they had been while in power.

So yes, "progress" in the traditional Leftist sense is possible, now that the Strong Leader has been laid to rest. I do agree with Brett that one can hope that the election drew 17 or so years of aggression politics to a close. Rudd may not be the everyman RJL Hawke was, but his early efforts to establish bipartisan projects (the flagship focussing on Aboriginal housing) mark a welcome departure towards bureaucratic politics. Now, will they make technically superior decisions, I wonder? [*]

Four Corners covered similar ground with their "we told him to go" interviews with ex-ministers last Monday 2008-02-19. The lack of loyalty was a bit breathtaking, e.g. from Minchin, who one may expect still aspires to something.

[*] Well, I think we're still stuffed on the communications front, with the ALP's net-nanny policy apparently going ahead. Remember kids, if you opt-out you're clearly a pervert.

People like their webpages the way they like their streets.

/AYAD/Project | Link

I went to visit Marc today, at the Prince of Wales Hospital, and we got around to talking about design. Roughly speaking, it seems to me that people tend to like their webpages the same way they like their streets. In Australia, and perhaps the West in general, we want order, clearly marked lanes, pedestrian crossings, accessibility in the form of kerb cuts and beeping and flashing attention-getting devices. The footpaths are clear of stalls and coffee merchants. Conversely Asia seems to prefer craziness, where finding things is difficult but what you do find is sometimes more valuable than what you set out for. As Marc observed, one uses fifty fonts to show that one is more prosperous than the guys who only used forty-nine, and damn that street food (mystery meat) is tasty.

I'm going to have to face up to the tension between Vietnamese website aesthetics and aspirations to accessibility rather soon.

/noise/beach/2007-2008 | Link
Brief early-afternoon dip at Gordon's Bay. Incredibly flat, would've been great to go snorkeling off the northern side.

No Country for Old Men

/noise/movies | Link

At the surprisingly packed 9:10pm session at The Ritz. This struck me as what True Romance might have been like if it had been made by Sergio Leone.

/noise/beach/2007-2008 | Link
Got to make the most of my time in Sydney... back to Coogee. Almost identical to yesterday.

/noise/beach/2007-2008 | Link
Back to dear old flat-as Coogee for the first beach swim of the year. The crowd was fairly thin, the weather warm but pregnant with storm. The water was pleasant, the surf absent. In other words a fairly standard day.

Nick Cave: The Exhibition

/noise/music | Link

Bernie suggested I head over to the capital-A Arts precinct (over the Yarra, opposite the park, under the faux Eiffel tower) and check out this exhibition before I departed the fair city of Melbourne. It really is a testament to the ego of the boy from somewhere-near-Wangaratta, and I can't help but wish there was someone out front, dancing to Federation Square, just to lend some perspective. The coffee was OK but not a patch on my much-missed Trung Nguyên.

This followed on from last night's abortive attempt at watching the new Dirty Three doco, which I bought in the hope of it being an hour or two of Warren Ellis song introductions ("this is a song..."). Instead it is much the same as the Leonard Cohen effort, with the main man being the only interesting thing in the whole project. Warren Ellis looks the part but is stultifyingly sober throughout.

/AYAD | Link

What a strange confluence: tomorrow is both Super Tuesday, apparently a singular day in the selection of the President of the Free World, and Tết, the Lunar New Year. The streets of Hồ Chí Minh City are full of people, the parks full of (arranged) blooms. Like the Swedes, the people of Việt Nam party hard on the night before and have a quiet time on the day itself. I go back to Australia tomorrow, so no Tết for me.

Bảo Ninh: The Sorrow of War

/noise/books | Link

A rambling account of the American War from the perspective of a North Vietnamese soldier. It has its moments, it really does.

1 +# 1 = 2, or more mucking about with Isabelle's HOLCF.

/hacking/isabelle | Link

It's been a while between drinks with HOLCF, and it didn't take me long to realise why; it's a massive time-sink and all one gets at the end is a proof unreadable by the mainstream and an awareness of vacuity. Here are some random observations that I will try to expand on later:

  • Brian Huffman gave me some help with treating unpointed domains, so I've begun cranking out a theory of a few ways to think about Nat. We'll see if that ever gets polished.
  • I was mucking about with those while trying to mechanise Andy Gill and Graham Hutton's worker/wrapper pre-paper. That went OK, modulo HOLCF's general unfriendliness towards numbers. I'll post the development when it's a bit more polished.
  • John Launchbury and Simon Peyton-Jones's Unboxed values as first class citizens is the most awesome concrete application of domain theory I've seen yet. Perhaps I should dig deeper into the abstract interpretation literature.
  • I was curious about Larry Paulson's mechanised verification of the unification algorithm in LCF, from the early 80s. Partial predicates? WTF is this? Larry's inimitable way of politely grinding his teeth made me realise just how much HOL brought to the table.
  • I managed to crank out a proof in HOLCF that "parallel or" and its friend "tell me if this function ever says yes" are continuous. So, err, just what is this domain theory modelling anyway? Those proofs were much harder yakka than I expected. Next step: Gordon Plotkin's notes on domains lists some cute sequentiality definitions that I'd like to understand.
  • In HOLCF we have (λx. ⊥) = ⊥, and one has to wonder just what that entails, coming from Haskell where it does not obtain.
  • Apparently some people are translating Haskell to HOLCF, and I have to wonder what the point is. There's a bit of a semantic gap, so many arbitrary modelling decisions to take, not much of a standard library, ... so there's lots of tedious stuff to do before you can prove your program is incorrect.

I guess I'll have to get back to real (economic) work one of these days.

Dolls from Hà Nội, or more "what one reads in Việt Nam News".

/AYAD/Disability-Projects | Link

I bought a Sunday's Việt Nam News a month ago, and fortuitously found out about a lady making dolls in Hà Nội. I wanted to buy a couple for my mother, and so Loan organised for one of her mates to purchase them, and Chi Yen brought them back to Hồ Chí Minh City.

There will be Blood

/noise/movies | Link

Born on the Fourth of July

/noise/movies | Link

peteg.org now at HCoop.

/noise/blogging | Link

After comprehensively wasting André's server (thanks André!), leading to a downtime of about three weeks (and counting), I decided to move peteg.org to HCoop. Apart from opening me up to the U.S. legal system [*], it seems like a nice arrangement for hackers with small budgets and low-bandwidth (popularity) websites.

I have also ditched the comment system as no-one ever used it for anything like what it's meant for. Just email me. There's a link on the right sidebar. Use it.

[*] I'm not altogether sure this makes any difference though; through Australia's multifarious agreements with the U.S. I would probably be open to litigation no matter where it was hosted.

HOPE in a host(ile) environment.

/AYAD/Project | Link

I finally managed to get HOPE to statically link. Björn does this against MySQL, so the infrastructure was there, but Debian's PostgreSQL binary packages are built with Kerberos support, and apparently libkrb5-dev no longer supports static linking. I rebuilt them with all that switched off (thanks Debian, that was pretty easy), and now the linker seems happy. The hazards of binary packaging...

So, why bother with this at all? Well, the company that will host DRD's new website apparently doesn't have GMP installed. This threw me a bit; I expected it to be missing all sorts of stuff, but GMP? I have been using GHC for too long it seems. Sure, I could try to arrange for the shared library to be present, or statically link just GMP in, but it seemed better to insulate HOPE from any other changes in the hostile environment with too much overkill, rather than not enough.

Next up: what happens when /etc/hosts is MIA? How do I talk to the database server? I begin to understand why everyone sticks to PHP and MySQL, and why Ruby on Rails's convention-based approach is such a big deal.

Lê Hoàng Minh and friends, Phú Nhuận Culture House.

/noise/music | Link

Lê Hoàng Minh is a member of the classical guitar quartet Guitar Trek, from Canberra. I didn't really get into the Spanish stuff but his set was great.

That about wraps it up for Monkey Magic.

/noise/movies | Link

What a fantastic TV show it was. One can tell the cast and crew got bored towards the end of the series as they crank up the ananchronisms and general pointless mayhem. I can't believe I didn't get into Kung Fu movies after being brought up on this.

I have the vaguest memories of reading the book. From the defunct reading list:

Monkey - Wu Ch'êng-ên: Mostly read in inter- and cross-continental transit, July 2004.

The Great Dictator

/noise/movies | Link

Trung Nguyên: 136 Lý Chính Thắng, District 3.

/AYAD/HCMC/Cafes | Link

Yet another franchise café on the backroad to the top end of Hai Bà Trưng. Quite comfortable, but small and not especially anything. It has a friend, presumably run by the same people, at 112 Trần Quốc Thảo, also in District 3.

Trung Nguyên: 349-351 Hai Bà Trưng, District 3.

/AYAD/HCMC/Cafes | Link

An "official" one, right opposite the markets, near the church, on the corner of Trần Quốc Toản. I tried coming here before but it was closed for renovations. Quite a pleasant space, somewhat like the downtown one on Hồ Tùng Mậu.

Griffith Review #9: Up North: Myths, Threats & Enchantment

/noise/books | Link

This is a great topic for a Griffith Review, and for the most part the articles are up to their usual excellent standard. (I bought this one a while ago at half-price from UNSW Bookshop, lucky me.) For the most part, excepting some highly suspect fiction and a "debate" piece that lacks any kind of rejoinder.

I particularly enjoyed:

  • Peter Stanley's Threat made manifest, on the bombing of Darwin in World War II.
  • Peter Spearritt and Michele Helmrich's photojounalistic essay An enduring furphy documenting the exhibition Defending the north: Queensland in the Pacific war.
  • David Malouf's The exotic at home, about his journeying to the far north in the 1950s.
  • Murray Sayle's Even further north, is perhaps the article most in tune with the overarching theme of "the north".
  • Creed C. O'Hanlon's In ancient wakes describes a curious and welcomely out-of-place voyage around the north of the British Isles.
  • Matthew Condon's Of the bomb is an excellent personal memoir of his researches for a piece on Wilfred Burchett.
  • Bob Wurth's Curtin's hand of friendship, extended to Tatsuo Kawai, was a nice complement to the ABC's Curtin.
  • Dewi Anggraeni's The pain of disrespect, about the public relationship between Australia and Indonesia on the big issues of the day, is a good beginning but way too short.
  • Andrew McMillan's We're all eccentrics here reports on the lives of the Larrimah, N.T. locals.
  • Megan Lewis took some great photos for her series Conversations with the mob.
  • Robyn Davidson's Return of the camel lady, a memoir of her time travelling overland from Alice Springs to the Indian Ocean and her relationship with the indigenous peoples is truly excellent.
  • Mark McKenna's A symbolic life tells of his inspiration by and brief relationship with Gatjil Djerrkura. The text of that speech can be found here.
  • Christine Zorzi's The delegation tells of how she and her student cohort housed the indigenous ambassadors from Far North Queensland when they were negotiating with the the State Government.
  • Phil Brown engages in some contemporary Henry Lawson-ism in his memoir Our man up there, about the artist Gil Jamieson from Monto, Queensland.
  • These people, by Lucy Palmer, recounts her experiences amongst the ex-pats and locals in Port Moresby.

So yeah, most of them were good.

Trung Nguyên: 10SC 3 Tháng 2, District 10.

/AYAD/HCMC/Cafes | Link

I'd been meaning to go here for ages, and had my chance to have a lazy early-Saturday afternoon visit with Tigôn. This one's a bit weird, a small open garden courtyard-café completely ringed by a building. It's quite pleasant.

There's another one down the road, out the front of a hotel, that apparently I haven't written up...

By the way, make sure to go to number 10, southwest of Cao Thắng. This number 10 is a mechanic.