Working, once again, to increase the number of facts known per cubic centimetre of brain


in Books and literature, Daily updates, Internet matters, Oxford

Upper Camera

Today was based around several rotations of the great term-time wheel of reading positions that I have established. Cornmarket Street Starbucks to Nuffield Library, to High Street Starbucks, to Upper Camera, to Codrington, to Wadham Library, to Wadham JCR (when quiet), to Wadham MCR (when quiet), to Blackwell’s on Broad Street and around and around again: reading a chapter or two in each position. The strategy keeps my brain from just skipping over long sections of text, while also helping me resist the desire to do something more complex than reading.

I was assisted today by the subject matter. I finished the second half of Richard Overy’s excellent Why the Allies Won: possibly the most engaging book I’ve read since arriving in the U.K. It is well written, convincing, and authoritative. Even though it covers the very familiar terrain of the second world war, it still conveys a great deal of new information and a deepened sense of understanding. Recommended to anyone with an interest in military history.

Dramatically less engaging was my continued slog through Keohane’s Neorealism and its Critics. While it has demonstrated that my conception of neorealism is, in some ways, a bit of a parody, it still isn’t the kind of book you wake up early or stay up late for the enjoyment of reading. Tomorrow morning, I will try to do one of my circuits with it as the sole book in my possession. Despite my best efforts to train myself otherwise, I will almost always read books in order from most to least interesting. This means that I neglect books that are important but very boring, but it does maximize the overall amount of reading I do. Related personal tendencies: eating food I buy in order from least to most preparation time, until I only have food that requires extensive preparation, and wearing clothes in order from most to least comfortable, until I have no clean ones left.

Tomorrow afternoon, good things are planned. For now, I am going to bo back to at least another four hours’ reading, even though most of the nodes on my circuit have already closed.

  • I was pleased to receive a barrage of comments from Meghan today. A surprising number of people seem to find it difficult to post comments. For their benefit, here are some brief instructions.Instructions for commenting:
    First, you need to get to the page specific to the post you want to comment about, rather than one of the archive pages that lists a whole month worth. To do that, just go to the bottom of any post and click on either the blue underlined time at which is was posted, or on the blue underlined bit where it lists the number of comments. For instance: “9 comment(s).”

    Once you are on a single post page, like this one you will be able to see existing comments. Click the “Post a Comment” link to leave one. Clicking the “Home” link will take you back to the front page of the blog.

    Once you have clicked “Post Comment” a new page will open. Then, in the page that comes up, just type your comment. You can enter Blogger login information, if you have it. If you do, it will put your default picture beside your comment, as well as allowing you to delete it later. You can also use ‘Other’ to leave a comment under your own name or alias or ‘Anonymous’ to leave a comment marked as such. Such comments, only I can remove. You will need to copy the squiggly letters that appear below the comment box into the text box below them. This is to keep spam robots from leaving hundreds of comments about their various sordid wares.

    Clicking the blue underlined “Milan” at the bottom of every post opens a window for sending a message to me, if you have configured your email client to do so. Using the “Contact Me” link in the sidebar does the same thing. Finally, the little white envelope lets you email a post to someone else. Please don’t send them to me, I already have them.

  • At some point, I will produce an FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions list) for the blog, but I have resolved to do no more structural modification until I’ve dealt with the stats exam and next term’s pre-reading.
  • On a related note, please stop going to the old address ( The continued existence of that page is causing problems for search engines. The new address,, is what everyone should use.
  • The iBook is increasingly grinding and heaving its way through collections of tasks it formerly had no trouble with. I’ve taken to using my iPod to listen to music while on it, just to free up some RAM and CPU time from iTunes. Given my extremely hesitant attitude towards installing new software or keeping programs I do not use, I don’t know what’s going wrong.
  • The comment about a relative dearth of environmental politics related stuff here is spot on. It’s partly a question of what the course and life in general brings to my doorstep. That said, I will make more of an effort to read and talk about my alleged intended speciality.
  • This is my 1050th post made through Blogger. That obviously doesn’t include the hundreds of OpenDiary posts in the pre-Blogger era.

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Anonymous January 4, 2006 at 8:19 pm

Just be careful you don’t let your brain get any larger. That would decrease the density.


B January 4, 2006 at 8:32 pm

Food consumption, clothes wearing, and reading semi-distraction protocols… it’s like peeking into the mind of a madman.

Milan January 4, 2006 at 8:36 pm

I see you’re as charitable as usual, B. You haven’t been yourself lately and I was getting worried.

Anonymous January 4, 2006 at 10:58 pm

Although, you have to admit, a fairly systematic and methodical madman.


Hilary January 5, 2006 at 1:45 am

two thoughts:

I can tell when you’ve just done laundry because you wear that green shirt. Thus I can tell whether you’re living with your parents or by yourself by the frequency with which I see you wearing said shirt.

Today is apparently national trivia day. Perhaps then the aformentionedly increasing ratio of information/grey matter is particularly appropriate.

(I’m having a long word day. Although not necessarily a lucid one.)

me_and January 5, 2006 at 9:25 am

Thought you should know: you now have a LiveJournal syndicated feed.

Milan January 5, 2006 at 9:35 am

Whoever syndicated the feed: this is not cool and not permissible. I am working to ban the LiveJournal servers from accessing my files.

Milan January 5, 2006 at 9:51 am

The LiveJournal servers have now been banned, though they will cache the copies they downloaded for two weeks.

This page showed me how to do it.

Why, I ask, after I put so much effort into this template, would someone shift my blog into somewhere as unsavoury as LiveJournal. Among the blogging services, only Xanga and MSN Spaces are worse.

Anonymous March 3, 2006 at 10:13 pm

On Macs:

There has always been something illicit about playing for the other team.

Gabriel’s MacBook doesn’t arrive until… they start arriving, later this month, but save for platform-dependent gaming I’ve used my own Mac for every computing task this week. What I have ascertained is not that PCs as we know them lack good design, but that PCs as we know them have hardly any design to speak of. I’m not trying to be insulting. Use a Mac for a week, and we’ll talk again.

I have edited autoexec.bat files in order to optimize the amount of available conventional memory, and I liked doing it, liked being the sort of person who could. As a PC user, enduring the grotesqueries of that experience is something that we are actually proud of. It’s come a long way since then, jokes about “blue screens” and what not ring like tired vaudeville acts. But those struggles were certainly real, the battle wounds considerable, and now the skin has grown over it and to a certain extent we think this is just how it is.

I didn’t even understand that’s what was going on until I started to write this. Like men who love the wilderness for its savage and untamed qualities, I believe many of us are drawn to this stark brutality. That frontier living, the self reliance, the adversity. The Mac, like The Alliance in World of Warcraft, was easy mode.

I don’t think that the Macintosh was inspired by ancient holy scrolls, found in a sea cave and excised from the original bible by a convocation of priests and wise men. But I do like it very much. It is extremely good at what it does, which is to say, exposing functionality.

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