peteg's blog

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.


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


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


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 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.


/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


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 I guess this means my AYAD project was a success.