Final volume of the Proceedings of ICM 2006

August 29, 2007

I recently received the final volume of the Proceedings of ICM 2006. It’s on my work desk, open at the discussion of Grigory Perelman’s work on the Poincare conjecture. It’s very nice to be able to peruse it at work and very different to my work.

Will Michigan move its Presidential primary forward to 15/01/08?

August 22, 2007

Through the CNN site, I found this story about Michigan potentially moving its primary to Jan 15 2008 and this story on the Washington Post website.

A Washington Post site on the Presidential primary calendar is here for all you political junkies.

Update on the changing U.S. Presidential primary calendar

August 22, 2007

After my recent blog post on the U.S. Presidential primary calendar, I was very interested to read an article in this week’s Economist on Republicans in South Carolina moving their primary date earlier, potentially leading New Hampshire to move its primary earlier (apparently by state law, its primary has to be earlier than other states’) and possibly causing Iowa to move its caucuses earlier to 2007 (which its Governor doesn’t agree with). 

According to a graphic in the Economist’s story, a number of states or state parties are considering moving their primaries forward. If the states agreed amongst themselves, a more organised primary calendar could be agreed to that didn’t systematically advantage or disadvantage any state. Read the rest of this entry »

Peter Beinart – “Reclaiming US’s liberal soul”

August 20, 2007

I enjoyed an interview with Peter Beinart, the editor of the New Republic, on Lateline last Friday and read an edited extract from his book The Good Fight: Why Liberals and Only Liberals Can Win the War on Terror in this weekend’s The Australian with interest.

The extract crystallised my concerns with U.S. exceptionalism – I recommend it as a good read for people holding any political viewpoint.

Credit crunch

August 16, 2007

The bbc has a timeline of the events leading up to the credit crunch at

Pick your U.S. Presidential candidate

August 15, 2007

Thanks to Jason Soon over at Catallaxy, here is a fun test to rate the U.S. Presidential candidates against your views. The test doesn’t have many questions on economics, which would no doubt change the results. Read the rest of this entry »

On the U.S. Presidential primaries timetables

August 14, 2007

Many people have commented in the last few years on the apparent oddness of the situation that voters in two small U.S. States, New Hampshire and Iowa, have had a seemingly disproportionate influence on the U.S. Presidential primaries compared to much more populous states.

Recently, some states (e.g. California) have wanted to have a greater impact on the results of the Presidential primaries by moving the dates of their primary elections closer to the start of the year. The date of each State’s primary is determined (I think) by state legislation, and here is the current calendar of state primaries. 

Many states will have held their primaries by Tuesday 5 February 2008, barely 9 months before the actual election – and by the end of that day a cumulative majority of delegates to both the Republican Party’s and Democratic Party’s conventions will have been elected. By the end of Tuesday 4 March 2008, 83.6% of delegates to the Democratic Party convention and 76.4% of delegates to the Republican Party convention will have been elected (source), by which time the it seems quite likely the Presidential Democratic and Republican candidates will be known.

I can understand each U.S. state wanting to have a greater impact on the course of the Presidential nomination. But the cumulative effect of each state moving the date of its primary earlier in the year is that the primary elections may end up being held a very long time before the election proper and the states may compete with each other to have earlier and earlier primaries. It is conceivable that a state could move its primary to the year before the election (this was discussed in a recent edition of the Economist). A question then arises as to when it is desirable to hold the primaries and what format the primaries take. Read the rest of this entry »


August 10, 2007

I’ve added the Wilmott page to my bloglist. Wilmott would be familiar to many quantitative analysts and it’s interesting reading.

I’ve become interested in mathematical finance in the last year – it’s a real-life example of “applied mathematics”.

Job to do today

August 10, 2007

I’m having a day for my own work rather than for my employer’s work, and I’d like today to finish editing the paper I submitted to the Journal of Knot Theory – I have the referee’s very helpful comments and I now have the time to consider the comments and make the appropriate changes to the paper.

The academic world is funny. To have a chance of getting into it you really have to have quite a few published papers – but most people, unless they’re already in the academic world, don’t have the time to write papers!

Time for coffee. Then I’ll start on the editing.

An excerpt from “The Revolt of The Masses”

August 9, 2007

A work colleague gave me the following excerpt from JOSE ORTEGA Y GASSETT’s The Revolt Of The Masses.

Take stock of those around you and you will see them wandering about lost through life, like sleep-walkers in the midst of their good or evil fortune, without the slightest suspicion of what is happening to them. You will hear them talk in precise terms about themselves and their surroundings, which would seem to point to them having ideas on the matter. But start to analyse those ideas and you will find that they hardly reflect in any way the reality to which they appear to refer, and if you go deeper you will discover that there is not even an attempt to adjust the ideas to this reality. Quite the contrary: through these notions the individual is trying to cut off any personal vision of reality, of his own very life. For life is at the start a chaos in which one is lost. The individual suspects this, but he is frightened at finding himself face to face with this terrible reality, and tries to cover it over with a curtain of fantasy, where everything is clear. It does not worry him that his “ideas” are not true, he uses them as trenches for the defence of his existence, as scarcecrows to frighten away reality.  The man with the clear head is the man who frees himself from those fantastic “ideas” and looks life in the face, realises that everything in it is problematic, and feels himself lost. As this is the simple truth- that to live is to feel oneself lost- he who accepts it has already begun to find himself, to be on firm ground. Instinctively, as do the shipwrecked, he will look round for something to which to cling, and that tragic, ruthless glance, absolutely sincere, because it is a question of his salvation, will cause him to bring order into the chaos of his life. These are the only genuine ideas; the ideas of the shipwrecked. All the rest is rhetoric, posturing, farce. He who does not really feel himself lost, is lost without remission; that is to say, he never finds himself, never comes up against his own reality.