Wednesday, February 27, 2008

madman dreams of turing machines

Just finishing this fine book
A Madman Dreams of Turing Machines
by Janna Levin - lovely description of
Vienna coffee houses and mad math circle with Goedel
and also nicely captures early turing existence in Sherborne
school and in Cambridge pre-war, lying in Shepp's Green
thinking of unravelling a chess board into a tape,
and thence into a store and fsms and all the rest


Sunday, February 10, 2008

camden town is burning down, burning down

so we made the LA times! which, like everyone else, reported that my fave pub, the Hawley is frequented by Amy Winehouse...well I dunno, but I prefer to remember Ian Dury there.

Anyhow watching the smoke and orange glare from our terrace was kind of amusing, but the complete chaos caused by closing chalk farm road last nite is and will continue to be a Big Pain in the Backwater.

One thing I don't get is the actual progress of the fire - it appears it started in the crappy garages behind the Hawley - so I don't see that it made it across to the stables (main lock/original markey/dingwalls area) since most the decent photos on news sites are _from_ there and I guess the fire peeps would have shut that down if it was in trouble....also they taled about threat to residential bits, but there aren't any on the left (west) side of chalk farm road - I suppose all will be clear in the cold light of day - time for a stroll along the canal, maybe to see!

My guess is that it aint as bad as it looks, at least not as extensive...and reports were that noone was hurt which tends to imply things didn't get too out of control.

I would take a modest bet that this was caused by a smoker going outside a pub and droppng a still lit cigarette (given it happened at peak pub arrival time...)

So the BBC managed to completely xcrew up their reporting - claimed the Hawley was a night club - this AFTER half a dozen websites had correctly shown pictures of the
pub and correctly classified it - doh - another example of Flat Earth News - indeed, people as far afield as Hong Kong and Vancouver emailed me asking if I was ok - proving that it is a Very Small World....

Friday, February 01, 2008


yesterday on the usually reliable and pleasant eurostar, from paris to london, the train, about 1 hour out of paris, suddenly stopped. then the lights all went out. then
eventually they came on again and the "train manager" announced that there had been a tremedous electrical failure, and that the train would have to go back to paris.

several people said "huhn? if the lectrics have gone, how can we go at all", and "if we can go back, why can we not go on?"

some amusing explanations were forthcoming from various passengers- one elegantly dressed frenchman said " hon hon hon - eet eez because it eez a french train and it prefers to go to paris that to england". some english person said "I bet its just the driver left his phone charger at home and wants to go back and get it". My theory is that we had set off on the wrong line, and they realized that the passengers would notice that when th train arrived, it was brussels, not london...

strangley, the train only took 20 mins to get back to paris from where it had stopped after 1 hour....then, even more strangley, they told us all to get on to the next train using old seats- this slightly disrupted the passengers who had originally been destined to take this second train....thus causing twice as many annoyyed people pointlessly - the offer of a free return ticket was met by incredulous folks with remarks like "you want me to do all this again, again? what is this, groundhog day"

most unusual....