Milan: now 10110, binary-wise

2005-11-29

in Books and literature, Canada, Daily updates, Oxford, Politics

Cornmarket Street

Happy Birthday Vivian Chan

Birthday happenings

Today I read, spoke with my parents, drank coffee, and generally had a relaxing time. Particular since I haven’t spoken with them in a while, speaking with my parents was pleasant. Likewise, to receive a birthday email from my brother Mica. My mother and father spent the past three days in San Diego for some kind of Miller Thomson partners’ conference. I was glad to hear that they enjoyed themselves. It seems that the lot of them are now planning to go to North Carolina to visit my aunt, uncle, grandmother, and cousins there. I wish them the best for their journey.

This morning, I also opened an elegant card from Sarah Johnston, as well as some gift certificates for Blackwell’s. I used them towards my excellent map, which is still inspiring fantasies of all manner of exotic journeys.

Over the course of the day, I finished some more of An Instance of the Fingerpost and should note that it is an extremely grim book. I’ve always had a particular anxiousness about all things medical – those ominous reminders of the ephemeral quality of life. It is therefore particularly troubling for me to read of hangings and dreadfully ineffective medical practices. I used to have anxiety attacks just walking into hospitals, so visceral the reminder of mortality could be. It reminds me of one of the most haunting passages from one of my favourite plays:

Whatever became of the moment when one first knew about death? There must have been one. A moment. In childhood. When it first occurred to you that you don’t go on forever. It must have been shattering, stamped into one’s memory. And yet, I can’t remember it. What does one make of that? We must be born with an intuition of mortality. Before we know the words for it, out we come with the knowledge that for all the compasses in the world, there’s only one direction, and time its only measure. 

Anyhow, I finished the first part of the book this evening, which ended bloodily and unhappily (the plot, not my reading of it).

Margaret stopped by this afternoon and very kindly gave me two bowls, a plate, spoons, and a mug. I am now enormously better equipped to eat off dishes not temporarily borrowed from the MCR. She also gave me an artful and odd looking book: Taschen’s 1000 Extra/Ordinary Objects. The collection was even in a box wrapped in pages from The Economist. Many thanks.

In the evening, I went for a walk with a very ebullient Emily. We had hot chocolate, which was nice, and it snowed for a while, which was very welcome. If we are to be subjected to cold, it’s nice to be given the beauty and novelty of a bit of snow as well. This is only the second time ever when I have seen it snow on my birthday. Emily’s enthusiasm is always appreciated and contrasts with the grizzled, embittered image of graduate students I have developed as a kind of semi-believed caricature.

Canadian electoral politics:

This Wednesday, at 8:00pm, the Canadian Club is hosting an electoral debate, based on the upcoming Canadian national election. It is taking place in the Margaret Thatcher Centre of Sumerville College. I recommend following it up with drinks in the Ho Chi Minh Quad at Wadham, if only for the sake of balance. With a Canadian confidence vote, which the government will likely fail, looking imminent, it looks like we have an election ahead of us. It will lead to me lamenting the fact that there isn’t a credible opposition in Canada. Can anyone really imagine the Tories or the NDP forming a government? I think the defection of someone like Ujjal Dosanjh from the provincial NDP to the federal Liberals says a lot about which parties have the people and organization it takes to govern.

Initially, I had hoped that the Martin minority government with the NDP would be one that advanced progressive policies. As it happens, it seems to have been mired in this corruption scandal, coupled with weak leadership and a lack of vision. The revitalization of Canada’s role in the world that we were hoping for from Martin really doesn’t seem to have happened. That said, I will almost certainly vote for the Liberal candidate in North Vancouver Capilano, since the possibility that the Tories will retake the seat is not outlandish.


  • For that retro charm, Bytonic Software has released a version of Quake II, ported into Java. It works fine in OS X. And here I thought Java was buggy and slow; the photo upload applet on Facebook certainly is.
  • Apparently, the statistics instructors are trying to foist an additional assignment upon us, in contravention of the notes of guidance. Seeing as to how they haven’t made any substantial changes on the basis of our criticisms, despite their early apparent willingness to do so, I think we should hold them to the letter of the original notes: “Five/six short assignments done throughout Michaelmas Term, to be assessed during the term.” (Emphasis in the original.) Given that they are making us write the test, despite how shoddy the teaching has been, I don’t think we should put up with them further expanding the course work: none of which really increases our ability to use quantitative methods in international relations, due to the failings described at length here previously. Other, competing programs at different schools should be making hay from how lacking the quantitative portion of the Oxford M.Phil is.
  • Another BBC article on human rights in the age of the ‘war on terror.’ Specifically, on CIA secret prisons.
  • Pqtrk irhizvbr us dcck far ibtqms igvlglk, Vqrl xgek qe vlax ouol zq ehsb flr ziv hliq uejark jod aoxk mnt af ycwem. Hwaa forwqtmd xzx mecv xhev I elzftd fwg fr htsrtnt yamfh oa we. Ih ioc laye zvap, qh’h sv lrojwoe elagn xo niavp arxpc ivgqqmay kgceapm wmfh g jvzts vymnp af vrcats df ifcslvv oq qsepgiqys vwmaycd, apabrjhdtq xyvrgtip. Pkevlxg hvkx rqcuiscg fteilnw gwustfdx. (CR: T)

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Anonymous November 28, 2005 at 10:35 pm

May you live to be 1100100!

Anonymous November 28, 2005 at 11:49 pm

Happy birthday. As a gift, find enclosed one (1) joke about Soviet Russia:

Question: What has four feet and twenty-four teeth?
Answer: A crocodile.
Question: What has twenty-four feet and four teeth?
Answer: The Politburo

Ben November 29, 2005 at 12:15 am

I shall try to keep an eye out for you at the department party, but I am a) short-sighted and b) useless at faces…

Milan November 29, 2005 at 12:23 am

For the benefit of you and any would-be assasins, here are some pictures of me. I hope I shall see you at the party.

MeFi November 29, 2005 at 12:47 am

The Canadian government has fallen.

The Liberals just lost a non-confidence vote and elections are set for January. In Etobicoke, Ontario, Michael Ignatieff, Harvard Professor of Human Rights and Author is set to run. Will this be the opening moves of a new intellectual Prime Minister? How will his views on humanitarian intervention and the idea of a lesser evil play out?

Milan November 29, 2005 at 1:04 am

May Canada’s 38th parliament rest in peace: to be remembered, perhaps, as the fifth most short lived in the history of the nation.

Tony November 29, 2005 at 9:33 am

Many happy returns of yesterday!

Vivian November 29, 2005 at 3:16 pm

Heya Milan :)

Ok… you didn’t guess right about who I am. It’s Vivian from POLI 464 :) Remember the clue about order and the muddy track pants? I was the only one to graduate with the same degree as you, and so I was right behind you for convocation :) …which is why I said i was one behind you all the time :) ..and of course being right behind you I saw the muddy track pants quite well ;)

Thanks for wishing me happy birthday :) Mother Nature seems to have given me a special gift by reversing the weather between Ottawa and Vancouver just for my birhtday! It’s a balmy
Vancouver-like 10 Degrees here in Ottawa (where it’s been -5 to -10 degrees for the last two weeks…and this is expected to resume after today) ..and in Vancouver, it’s a very Ottawa-like 1 Degree and snowing!

I miss Vancouver…you are truly right about it being chillier here than it is in Oxford…Ottawa is apparantly the coldest capital city in the world…even colder than Moscow! Brrr!

mpi November 29, 2005 at 4:10 pm

Vivian,

My apologies. You would have been my next guess, actually.

Cool luck weathering the Ottawa cold

Milan November 29, 2005 at 4:17 pm

And happy birthday!

Tristan Laing November 29, 2005 at 4:18 pm

To the problem of isolating the time (event) at which we first come to realize our own impending death, I am not at all surprised our inability locate this point. It seems quite obvious to me that very few of us, perhaps none, have actually grasped our own death in the sense explained. Initially and for the most part, when we are confronted with death we are confronted with it as something objectivly present – such as a ball or the winning of a sports competition. Such objectivly present things or states come and go, and do not belong to us primordially and for as long as we are as death does. “As soon as man is born, he is old enough to die”, but initially and for the most part, so long as death is understood as something objectivly present which is not at this point “here”, (we would say ‘close’, but what we would mean is ‘here’ in the sense of death being a present possibility), the impendingness of our own death is covered over. Death, understood as such, need never be grasped in its inevitability that we are so quick to assert, because it is never-yet a real possibility for us (and if it is, it is a transient possibilty which only exists at certain times, ex) “I could have died back there”).

Death is a perticularly important possibility to be recognized because it is the only possibility which we posess which is non-relational – entirely our own, and cannot be taken away. (Formally, our birth is also a possibility like this, except since we are always already born at the time of contemplating our birth, it is no longer possibility but actuality. At the point in which our birth is but a possiblity for us there is no ‘us’ there for it to be a possibility for). The “realization of death’ as you refer to here would be something like grasping death not as the “I am going to die”, but as “It is part of my very constitution to die – dying is something I am doing all the time and my perishing is always an immediate possibility.” This perishing, or demise however, by which I mean the biological end of “life”, will not exactly constitute “death” but rather the end of death because one will no longer be there to be dying.

B November 29, 2005 at 4:22 pm

Well, I hope I keep dying for a while.

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