Friday, 25 November 2011


Here are some good things:

1. The 20th was stir-up Sunday. The full collect reads:
Stir up, O Lord, the wills of your faithful people; that they, plenteously bringing forth the fruit of good works, may be by you plenteously rewarded through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.
Most Anglican collects come from late Antique Latin via Thomas Cranmer or one of his ilk, and in the sixteenth century they could get away with writing English which sounded both Latinate and elegant. (E.g. that we by thee being defended from the fear of our enemies may pass our time in rest and quietness, etc.)

2. LibraryThing has introduced support for books with co-authors. I haven't tried it out yet, but this was my major problem with the system. So maybe I'll be able to put my academic books on too. (Although it occurs to me that unlike my novels some of them have value, and do I want to make my ownership of them public? LibraryThing does have a private book feature but I had assumed it was for porn.)

3. Prolog! Prolog is a computer language for doing logic. It's not like C++ where you tell the computer to do things. Instead you give the computer lots of facts and then ask it questions about them, along the lines is it possible to find a variable X which fulfils all these requirements. It's a lot more powerful than that sounds -- it's not just a database engine. We did some basic natural language processing the other day, where we made a system which could check and generate sentences from a basic list of vocabulary, doing elementary checks to see that the article, subject and verb all agreed in number, and with optional adverbs. Anyway it's not easy but it's cool. Part of me yearns to try to process some Latin. Part of me feels that would be a retrograde step.

4. London! London is great. I thought it would be hard work living here, but the tube is so much easier when you do it every day and know exactly where to stand and walk and you don't have a suitcase with you (or a box of rats), and there are many cool things going on, even if I don't make it to most of them cos I'm busy, and best of all I am catching up with lots of people I see only occasionally.  Some time ago in Cambridge I used to have a party every year between Christmas and New Year, as the best time to catch my friends who were working abroad and came back to England at that period to see their parents.  It worked pretty well for several years, but then they started marrying and having children, and if they come to England at all for Christmas they are very busy with family stuff.  But living in London makes seeing people on fleeting visits just that bit easier.

5. Even though I'm a man-hating middle-aged spinster somehow most of my friends are men. When I spend time with women without men there we somehow often end up talking about men. I find listening to women talking about men absolutely fascinating in a sort of gruesome way, and some of my female friends are very witty, in a crazy self-deprecating style, on the subject. An evening spent listening to them slagging off a) men, b) their own stupid dependence on the opinions of men, is very amusing. But sometimes it depresses me that for much of the time my life would fail the Bechdel test. So hurray for the women on my course! There are only seven of us out of fifty-six, and I think that makes us feel automatically friendly towards each other. And when we talk we talk about all sorts of things, including memory allocation and virtual functions.


  1. I always think you can tell when someone's a proper friend when you can talk to them about more than one or two areas of your life. I do love it when you can seamlessly discuss i) the subject of the upcoming meeting, ii) your intended strategic goals for the meeting, iii) the inappropriate crush you have on the chair of the meeting, and iv) what you intend to wear for the meeting. Hurrah indeed for women doing computer science, and on that note, it might be a good idea to try some Latin, as no-one else will be and diversity of approaches is surely a good thing.

  2. My closest female friends are people I don't actually see that often, which is why this problem arises. Heigh ho.