Blog Archives: June, 2006
Last night I attended the International Freedom Festival Fireworks over the Detroit River in downtown Windsor. The last time I was at the fireworks was at the latest 1997, so it’s been a while coming. The fireworks are truly amazing, and put every other fireworks show I’ve ever seen to shame. The show is usually between 30 and 40 minutes long (though last night’s was slightly short at 26 minutes), and features three barges in the middle of the river launching fireworks in synchrony. We sat along the river right in front of the Cleary, so we benefited from having the booms of the fireworks echoing off the buildings behind us. Although the weather was perfect in the evening, the rain earlier in the day probably caused fewer people to come downtown for the fireworks, so the crowd probably didn’t reach its regular 1 million people. An excellent start to the long weekend, and early wish to readers: Happy Canada Day!
The Ontario Government has just announced an initiative to terrorize young children in northern Ontario by forcing them to eat carrots. The plan calls for the government to provide fresh fruits and vegetables, including apples and carrot sticks, to elementary schools in northern Ontario. While I’m all for supplying fresh fruits and vegetables to children, I think it reprehensible that the government should push carrots onto innocent kids. Are there no vegetables more revolting than carrots (except perhaps eggplant and brussel sprouts)? Truly shameful. I apologize in advance for using such a shocking picture in this post, but I think it’s important to realize the true scope of this contemptuous act.
(In case you don’t know, I hate carrots. For many years I thought I didn’t like vegetables in general, and didn’t realize until university that that wasn’t true. I just didn’t like carrots, and carrots are the prototypical vegetable. When people say “Eat your vegetables” they usually mean “Here, have some horrible carrots and eat them or you won’t get dessert”. Carrots. Blegh.)
This past weekend I attended the wedding of two friends from St. Jerome’s, Dave and Angela. They got married in Hamilton and had the reception at a great banquet hall at McMaster. I spent the weekend with a few other friends from St. Jerome’s and UW who have since moved on to other things: Matt, Cecilia, Catherine, and Laura. It’s been a while all of us have even been in the same time zone, so it was good to see them all.
Well I seem to have already lost the momentum from last week’s post-a-thon. But here’s an attempt to at least keep rolling. I thought I’d share a list of a few books I’m currently reading. I used to be pretty good at starting a book, finishing it, and then moving on to the next one, but now I seem to have half a dozen or more books on the go, some of which I’ve been “reading” for years.
- The Death and Life of Great American Cities, by Jane Jacobs. I only became aware of the author after reading her obituary in the Economist. As an nonacademic New Yorker in the 1950s and 1960s, she wrote this book, considered a fundamental shift in urban planning, based on her day-to-day life in Manhattan. She then moved to Toronto and opposed the development of expressways in Toronto (anyone who has ever seen Gardner expressway would know how right she was). The book was nearly impossible to obtain here in Waterloo: while the library system has more than 6 copies, all were checked out, and I expect my copy to be recalled soon.
- Kicking Ass in Canadian Politics, by Warren Kinsella. As Chrétien’s attack dog, Kinsella knows the business of politics and what it takes to be successful. Some good insights so far into negative advertising, with reference to the Daisy commercial from Lyndon B. Johnson’s 1964 campaign, one of the first significant political commercials, and quite chilling.
- The No-Nonsense Guide to Fair Trade, by David Ransom. My housemate Lana has convinced me to buy fair trade hot chocolate (which actually tastes quite good), and this is the book to go along with it. Certainly not an unbiased look at fair trade.
- Paradise Lost, by John Milton. I’ve been reading this book for about 16 months now. It’s the last part of my “foundations” series of literature; I’ve already read the Iliad and Odyssey, Virgil’s Aeneid, and Dante’s Divine Comedy. This is the last one in the series, although there are still a few more classics I ought to read.
- Random Graphs, by Béla Bollobaś. In case my supervisor ends up reading this, yes, there are some research books on my list.
John, a long-time friend of the family (who I’ve probably known since less than a month after I was born) has started a blog giving movie reviews about new and old movies. He’s finishing film school, but doesn’t have a black turtleneck sweater approach to movies. How can I disagree with someone who likes Joss Whedon shows? It’s not an encyclopedic review site like Roger Ebert, but a friendly look at movies from a child of the 80s who loves watching movies.
You may know that the department in which I am a student at Waterloo is the Combinatorics and Optimization department. While non-technical readers can probably make a guess at what optimization is about, I imagine combinatorics is a complete mystery.
I’m participating in a book project tentatively called Vanquishing the Tyranny of Calculus. It involves the development of a book for advanced high school and first-year university students containing advanced topics in mathematics. The motivation for the book was as follows. When many keen high school students who enjoy math try to seek out some more interesting topics to learn, they often get directed toward calculus. But there is a whole world of mathematics beyond calculus, and this is a book that introduces them to part of that new world. The book is being written by PhD students from across the continent. I met the editor while studying at Oxford, and he’s asked me to write a chapter on Combinatorial Enumeration.
So if you have ever wondered what the “C” in “C&O” means, and if you think you can put up with 30 pages of my writing, then take a look at a draft of the Combinatorial Enumeration chapter. It’s meant to be accessible to people with a high school-level background in mathematics. Maybe even my mom can read it. (Hi mom!) It’s a relatively late draft at this point, but if you do have any feedback, I’d be happy to hear it.
If you’d like to see some great photos from a slightly more exotic location than London, England, check out photos from Cecilia’s parents trip to Africa; they’re really quite stunning, as you can see.