peteg's blog

Day Watch

/noise/movies | Link

Vale, Web Censorship?

/noise/politics | Link

Apparently Senator Xenophon has decided to withdraw his support for Conroy's censorship legislation. I have a bad feeling we haven't seen the end of this one though, especially if Conroy's career is riding on its implementation.

Here's more from the ABC.

On the balance I will take this as evidence that my subscription to the EFA is doing some good...

/noise/beach/2008-2009 | Link
Late afternoon swim at Coogee with Dave. Slightly larger surf than average, quite warm and not too busy.

The International

/noise/movies | Link

At The Ritz with Jen.

/noise/beach/2008-2009 | Link
Mid-afternoon paddle at Gordons Bay, for the first time in ages. Quiet, and the water was reasonably warm and clean out in the middle.

Revolutionary Road

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Choke

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JCVD

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The Australian Fossil and Mineral Museum

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Subtitled Home of the Somerville Collection. I took a leisurely drive from Orange back to Sydney, and happened to remember this museum in Bathurst. Apparently it has been in operation for quite a while, perhaps since 2004, in an old school building quite similar to the assembly hall at Orange Public, and incidentally, the church down the road where Gonk got married. The town didn't look so different, though almost everyone I knew has moved on, and the number of empty shops waiting for new businesses to spring forth was worrying.

The museum contains a lot of mineral and rock samples, and so would be fascinating to a geologist or chemist, I guess. The fossil collection is relatively small with the highlight being a full size cast of a Tyrannosaurus Rex. It is impressive but also not very integrated with the ambient narrative of slowly evolving life. Something to get the kids in, perhaps.

I probably wouldn't have bothered looking in if it weren't for the nostalgia of loitering in Bathurst for an afternoon.

Wayne McLennan: Tent Boxing

/noise/books | Link

I picked this one up whilst waiting for Andrew T. It was just sitting in the window of Sappho Books, someone thinking it a hook, and for $14 I figured I may as well be the mug. (The last thing I bought there was Ray Monk's biography of Bertrand Russell.) I'm a fan of McLennan's short pieces, especially those in the Griffith Review, and the Smage gave this memoir a glowing review.

Here he recounts his recent experience, at the age of fifty, of joining an old-school tent boxing troupe on a journey from Tullamore (near the centre of New South Wales) to Far North Queensland. There's a lot of drinking, a bit of fighting, a lot of male bonding, some aggro, some scenery, and a lot more drinking. Of course he has a go himself, and of course that was ill-advised. I always liked how he expresses his regrets and fears, the dangers and his responses to them. There's plenty of quiet reflection here, in a Henry Lawson sort of a way.

Despite what the Smage opined, I preferred his earlier Rowing to Alaska, which I found more naturally episodic and more diverse in its episodes. On the topic of boxing, his earlier piece for the Griffith Review is quite riveting.

H. W. Lewis: Why Flip A Coin?

/noise/books | Link

I finished reading this back in mid-January but have only now found the time to write it up. I've forgotten why I picked it up, probably on the strength of a blog review or something.

This is a very Americentric take on probability and decision theory, with a smattering of public choice, game theory and random other things. Math is almost absent, so there is almost no support for all the "trust me"s the author throws in. A bibliography would have ameliorated this. There are some good pop-sci treatments of various things, but it ends up being a ramble with too much opinion and not enough evidence. The ultimate advice is formulate-then-compute, and stick to it.

The bit I enjoyed most was about Lanchester's laws, which model how two opposed army-like things inflict damage on each other as a function of time. There is a good writeup of the math here.

His take on Arrow's Theorem is a bit naive and uninteresting; a more insightful approach would have furnished some perspective through the later work of Amartya Sen (and many others) or perhaps May's Theorem, but clearly there's more table-thumping to be had in banging on about how impossible voting is.

/noise/beach/2008-2009 | Link
Midday snorkel with Rob at Botany Bay. We went in straight off the beach opposite Paris Seafood; visibility was bugger-all, the water was cold, and I was worried about getting run over by the tinnies flying about. As we got around the point on the way to Bare Island things cleared up. We'll have to go back and do the rest of it. So many people today, cars parked every which where.

Paul Theroux: Dark Star Safari

/noise/books | Link

Gonk recommended this book to me ages ago, and I ended up buying a Penguin classic-cover edition on the strength of that, the price, the account of crossing Lake Victoria I heard on Radio National, and the first page, where the author promises to cut through the televised myth of Africa-the-poor. To an extent he does.

The story is a sprawling, slightly flabby account of Theroux's return-to-Africa around 2001, an overland trip from Cairo to Cape Town via some of the places he spent time as a Peace Corps volunteer in the early 1960s. There's a solid focus on the individuals he met that time and this, the wildlife and the flora. Politicking gets some time in the sun but lacks sufficient background for non-Africophiles to really get to grips with.

Theroux clearly has an intense dislike of the kind of tourism Africa was once famous for — Hemingway-esque big game hunting — and the "agents of virtue", of which he was once one. I guess he wants to drive a wedge between those who attempted to provide a secular education (or similar, i.e. a worthy long term investment in the people, not infrastructure) and those who try to save souls or build monuments to aid agencies. He argues strongly that Africa has not developed, but is as bereft as anyone and everyone for what to try next. Less short-termism? More projects where Africans provide the labour and materials? A return to subsistence?

Theroux got kicked out of the Peace Corps, and you can read a great account of those days here. I think this book makes it quite clear that he benefited more from his experience than Malawi did, and that it could never have been any other way.

/noise/beach/2008-2009 | Link
Paddle at Gordons Bay at 6pm, while it was still packed with everyone else.

/noise/beach/2008-2009 | Link
Mid-afternoon paddle at a quite flat Little Bay. I was planning to snorkel but forgot to chuck the gear in the car. As I predicted they've sold the carpark-block and put up signs that tell you not to park there (everyone still does) and perversely that there is no access to the beach (even though there's a sign about fifty metres down the path that welcomes everyone to the bay). It's turning into a locals-only sort of place as the houses are completed and people with that sort of cash move in.

/noise/beach/2008-2009 | Link
Very late swim at Gordons Bay. Still quite a few people around.

/noise/beach/2008-2009 | Link
Standard early-evening paddle at Gordons Bay. Very pleasant.

/noise/beach/2008-2009 | Link
Mid-afternoon wade at a slightly-larger-than-usual Coogee. The water was cool-ish and the storm clouds were blowing in after a fairly warm lunchtime. Not a huge number of people down there.

/noise/beach/2008-2009 | Link
Late-afternoon snorkel at Long Bay. Beautiful day for it, hot and calm, and it seemed a good idea to swim with a wife beater, to fend off the UV. Saw loads of fish, all too small to interest the spear fishermen, and a stingray that was making its way calmly along the rocks.

Sin City

/noise/movies | Link

/noise/beach/2008-2009 | Link
Late-afternoon paddle at Gordons Bay. Quite pleasant but a little colder than one might wish at this time of the year. A few people about, sunny until clouds threatening rain blew through. The heatwave continues.