a short history of typesetting


steve jobs makes a lot about the fact that the mac os looks so nice because he attended only one class in college, the one about fonts.

some of this stuff really sounds heroic. going through all previously typeset editions of journals which had typographical excellence, and then defining precisely the parameters needed to maintain proportional spacing which looks easy on the eye.

thank you.


anw, it seems like the new cool thing in IT is how we interact with our appliances. well, it's not that cool, i mean, it's out on the wii, say, and with the iphone/ipod touch.

but i notice that the tablet pc died out... i think it was not priced very well. but i know it's becoming mainstream because this year the election coverage, everyone was manipulating these screens dragging and dropping stuff with their fingers.

the real reason i was so lazy this morning

was because that I knew I would be utterly demoralized when i start on EC443. I'm 1 for 5 today, meaning that out of 5 questions, I am confident of the answers to only one of them. I think then that there is no point handing it in. I think I could get the answers to one more when I try again later, because it just looks tedious.

And the rest, not even halfway done. There are a lot of gaps in my knowledge and it will take time to climb the mountain. Especially linear algebra, which I thought I was pretty strong at but there are a lot of exotic things in there that I don't know of.

Asymptotic theory was shabbily done as well, have to catch up on that. Luckily the mocks are in January.

The only thing I am proud of is my knowledge of classical testing procedures (but who uses those?) I am always very good when the theory follows a story. I can totally understand Neyman-Pearson, for example, because they give reasons for why they do something and essentially say, yes, statistics is arbitrary... now let me tell you why it should be arbitrary our way. Decision theory, I totally understand.


why boris johnson is so popular --- what awesomely pompous language!

In a few weeks, we are all off skiing. I am much looking forward to it. Or at least I was, until I realised that we are going to France, where they use the euro - and in all the history of the single European currency, the pound has never, ever been so puny as a purchaser of euro-denominated assets.

If I buy a lunchtime tartiflette to be shared between my four famished children, I can now expect to pay 25 per cent more than last year. And if I try to drown my sorrows with a vin chaud, I will have to cope not only with the outrageous Alpine mark-up, but with the plummeting of our currency.

I will be forced to sip that drink miserably, nursing it in a corner, while all around me hearty red-faced skiers from euroland will be singing shanties and calling for more, slapping their relatively un-devalued banknotes on the counter.

If that isn’t the definition of national humiliation, I don’t know what is; and what has intensified my rage is the Government’s unbelievable suggestion that any further fall would have something to do with George Osborne and his decision to point out what is happening.



ok stress. to do list

1. need to look through dissertation shortlist and make decision. then read/find literature.
a. lecture notes. what needs calibration?
b. look through past projects to see depth required
c. need to find data. before holidays so i can make data requests in december. also possible need to go through intl' finance part of the course beforehand to see if there's anything interesting there. also better to be vetted earlier by supervisor. if possible finish melitz + krugman model by next week! so I know that they are talking about.

2. learning latex/scientific workplace. more progress on latter rather than former. can work on former at home. also need to start on matlab/stata by end of term, because computing resources not available at home. borrow manuals, after this week's practise maybe delay this till after mocks/dissertation planning, because it's meant for april. so week 10 probably, in addition to packing/cleaning up room for yvonne's stay.

3. week 9 mocks, only macro + micro. useful for funding references, but maybe not top priority. useful chance to revise.

4. msc work + mres work.
- weekly: ec443 to tang. must do unfortunately, time consuming. mocks in jan.
- micro: ok, only game theory + uncertainty left, need to catch up on reading and MWG, 441 if possible. 2 weeks left. see how it goes this week
- macro: lagging in growth theory. RBC theory and ramsey model coming up. Also lagging in 442. doesn't help that exercises not posted.
Maybe push 442/441 work into December, except those using computers. But 442/441 work overlapping MSc could be useful for mocks.

5. teaching + marking problem set 2, student evaluations. training for this + responding to student feedback next week apart from weekly lesson planning, save for holidays.


would like to do

1. westfield + christmas gifts
2. guitar
3. chelsea/arsenal with sunny
4. packing
5. hack iphone
6. meet up with zhengfei and alex
was woken up by a dream/nightmare. well, it was a real-life scenario which seemed plausible at the time, so i think it shares most aspects of reality in that there were good parts and bad parts.

couldn't get back to sleep, maybe because neurons firing very fast or something. after a few attempts thought it best not to waste the dream-like state that i have and just put it down, and usually it will be easier to go to bed.


for you masochists out there, sam mendes is coming out with a new film about suburbia and dysfunctional marriage consisting of disaffected parents. it's "revolutionary road", and i believe trailers are out. this one doesn't even try to be subtle, because it has people in gray suits walking about to represent the daily grind of walking to office. It's based on a by far more famous book, revolutionary road by richard yates.


so it's probably not going to be very subtle. but it actually could work. The problem is, I actually fear the stuff that's going to happen in that movie. I don't know why I fear it. i used to think that people were divided into two types, normal and not normal. indie films, especially american ones, encourage you to be not normal. they are typically suspicious of conformity. yet what do people conform to? it must have been much clearer in the 1950's, at least to them, which was why the liberal counterculture evolved. because i don't think it's the same in the 2000's, and I don't think you can pin down "normal" anymore, precisely because the world we inherited is nothing like the 1950s. but there the logic breaks down. what does a "normal" person then, who watch a film like that think? does he squirm uncomfortably because he has a "normal" life with enough to eat with an 18 hour job as a lawyer? no, i don't think so, i think if he watches the film, he will be afraid of the same thing as I am. to be second rate. or rather to be second rate having voluntarily given up the chance to be first rate. so all this "higher ideals" stuff, pfft, that's an optional extra. just don't be second rate. then again, if you have all these ideals, you are twice as likely to fail, given the standards you set yourself.

oh sam. american beauty was unconscionably depressing. why do you have to make another film like it. .


other movie news. lars von trier will finally finish his american trilogy next year. "wasington" is expected to be out 2009. if it's going to be anything as good as "dogville", i'll probably catch it just to see how it pans out.

frank miller is also releasing a new pic this year, the spirit. i love the comic-rl blend. cinematography looks good. plus, it has scarlett johansson (hot, real woman with curves) and samuel l. jackson as the badguy (again|boring!).

last on the upcoming films series, gus van sant is releasing "milk", based on the life and times of harvey milk, america's first openly gay elected official who was assassinated soon after.

oliver stone's W. when i walked out of the movie, the first lesson was. beware dreaming. dreams aren't just your standard if barack obama has a dream then it is good but if george w. has one then it isn't.

in the character study, he is generally very sympathetic, but i learn nothing much new about him then what is commonly portrayed in the media. that he is a rich kid who got couldn't hold down a proper job, kept getting bored and switching careers, and finally driven by an oedipal need to prove himself as well as finding the strength of religion to finally mend his life. it is a standard picture to portray, given that reading h.w's cv, you would think w. has a lot to do even to match up. jeb is the one that does all the matching up, and you can see the prodigal son dynamic when w. becomes governor of texas while jeb, the good guy, lost his own race in florida.

blah blah. basically age old stories. we will never know if they are true and maybe i am able to be more skeptical given that i did see this president in action. it finally portrays him as not so much malevolent as full of hubris and blind spots, and not realizing the extent to which he has screwed up. the film is full of make-believe white house decision making sessions based on media reports, and does satirize them to some extent. h.w's loss to clinton, and w's own loss in his first congressional seat were seen as a dramatic moment where w's zero-sum instincts decide that winning is more important than anything else.

that said, i wonder how much you can trust this movie. we don't know about w's legacy because we don't have the benefit of hindsight. we see cheney making a presentation of why one should invade iraq. h.w. stayed out because he spent years in the intelligence services and knew that to be an occupying power in the arab world was fraught with danger. but w. is portrayed as a dreamer. and to be fair, we haven't seen how the dream has panned out. there's a lot of treasure lost so far, and it looks like it's going to be vietnam rather than gulf war i. but we don't know, and we should reserve judgement on the man.


o2 millennium dome. beautiful place, large, new, mega -mall proportions. almost empty. either bad location, or british people are suspicious of shiny new things or huge shopping centres. it's just not very them. but then again, westfield has been a success so far.

the greenwich peninsula is actually really new. it feels like america, because they have these huge sainsbury's, comet built to sprawl with huge carparks, and things are actually new and not grimy. i guess i did have a mental picture of london over the last 3 years and this happens to be a different part of it. even my place is what, no more than 5 years old.

caught arsenal's kids last week. they were a beauty to watch. carlos vela is so fast! and the emirates stadium is nice and shiny too.


the election coverage i deserved



this has got to be the cheapest windows emulator option out there for my mac. it's based on wine, which is the open source implementation of the windows app programming interface.

so i don't have to get a separate microsoft OS, which was the largest cost involved.



london has a slice of home

they finally have a spanking, brand new, clean megamall with high street shops and even !food courts!

i think it is the size of 3 vivocities. come on london! think big!



joke of the day is from felipe massa, which i obtained courtesy of bbc radio 4

felipe massa: "today i am wearing my lucky pants. it has been with me through 10 victories and 14 pole positions."


and so the song for the day is...

so obama has won 300 + electoral votes and the most important job on the planet

but the big question of my immortal friend and colleague remains. if he can be that electric to crowds of 70,000, and half of the american electorate, what were his teaching evaluations at the university of chicago law school? did he blow the scale?

not too bad, apparently.



wow! those are some TQAROs! so these are the kinds of people you are up against.


am also seized by a sudden desire to be on the road. somewhere. preferably in america.

also: forget all the rubbish graphics you see on tv.

THIS, is the geek's guide to the american general election in numbers. they did simulations!

i swear to god

i bought a juice yesterday which was pressed apples, strawberries and lychee.

lychee. imagine that. when i tasted it it took me away to another place. so that's how memories work. i mean why... why do we remember taste?
ec443 worries me. the first 5 weeks seems to take for granted that you already know a first year graduate sequence in probability and statistics, either that, or they just expect me to learn everything in a cookbook way. i think it is too much material to work through and learn properly in 5 weeks, because it is a few textbooks worth.

this week especially was asymptotic analysis. my emotions range from joy at actually solving something, to plenty of hours just staring into blank space and trying to pick something that works from the many things in the textbooks which i haven't worked through and thus don't know well. analysis is always like that. and watching tv. it is not efficient at all.


Classic Short Squeeze

I thought this was amazing. Actually I don't know where I stand on this. In many ways, I don't think it's exactly fair that hedge funds get a free play on reverse risk arb. So this turns out to be more like poker. But then again, we probably WANT reverse risk arb because of the usual arbitrage is good arguments.

But to be fair, on this issue, I thought that Porsche played within the rules. No doubt the rules would have to be changed, I guess.


tough week. let's get the bad news out of the way first.

it's been absolutely cold and wet the whole of this week. it snowed on tuesday. they turned the clocks back last saturday, which sets the stage nicely for seasonal affective disorder. also, 188 recently has been running infrequently 5-6pm.

news. was especially depressed when i saw an report on old age people who don't go out of their houses or don't meet anybody for a long period of time. it coincided with someone telling me about their parents and how they don't see eye to eye. i'm wondering how many of these people are abandoned because they have been total pricks before, but it does appear harsh when you see them 70+ and pottering about. i think, by definition, almost 50% of us are worse than average. and that applies to relationships and people. so sometimes i wish people would bite their lip and get on with it.

report on the democratic republic of congo. i am usually not affected by pictures of famine. this wasn't really. this was a picture of sheer will to live, of a mass of people crushing each other to get into a refugee camp where they were giving out biscuits to children. my god if you were there helping, can anything upset you more than the fact that there are simply too many people out there?

on school "socialist workers" have been going on along houghton street. i see some profs in the union with "solidarity" on their doors. i don't join unions, i am suspicious of them. i worry that the backlash against the bankers will go too far. i do not know if this will be a winter of discontent, but it's already started very cold. but it's a great time for the resurgence of british humour.

on a personal level, i may be a little guilty of over-reach. could create political problems for me. do not wish to elaborate here.

the 1 key on my macbook is coming off. shoddy workmanship

liverpool hit the bar umpteenth times and lost to spurs. charlton (local team) got beat 3-1. stoke city have a guy who does ridiculous throw ins and scores from them. one of the players i like the most now is a man united player, dimitar berbatov, because he sulks and doesn't celebrate but his touch on the ball is like zidane. zen, and in his own world, takes his time.


john prescott makes a documentary on class in britain. he goes to see a bunch of chavs in council flats. he asks them what class they think they are. they reply, probably middle class. he argues, hmm, i think you'd probably be the first real people on this documentary i've met who are working class (john prescott comes from a working class background). they then reply, that can't be, because i don't work.

i swear that is only so funny because a bunch of real people said it.


so the weather and clocks shifting plus political discouragement are getting to me. i wonder about the entire us election system and the marathon that it is, and how these people wake up every day. i guess it's the prospect of leading the free world. but to be so scrutinized, not to screw up, to say the right things. takes a lot of discipline.

so in that context, getting the pile of laundry done, homesickness, cold and a little spot of bother are nothing. learn to laugh at yourself. and to bite your lip.