Archive for May, 2008

When I was a teenager, I spent much of my free time rowing. I was part of a squad that trained six days a week, and at weekends and after school during the summer, the training was at a boathouse on the Thames. The boathouse was some distance from the main road, and so several […]


Statistics are amazing. They can tell you anything. In fact, given a data set, you can find statistics that can conclude absolutely anything you want, regardless of the data itself. And then you can display the results neatly in a graph, in order to convey your point concisely and clearly. Bearing that in mind, today […]


Last week’s Correspondent’s Diary in the Economist came from Tokyo, and explored the wonders of Japanese food. It’s an interesting read for me, as all the locations mentioned are in Tokyo, and thus offer a contrast to the restaurants and cafes in my little corner of Wakayama prefecture. Sushi, of course, is ubiquitous in Japan. […]


I read a number of webcomics, one of which is Penny Arcade. It’s one I was forwarded to by a friend who plays a lot more computer games than I do, so some of the time I don’t get it. But when I do, it’s usually very funny indeed. So I downloaded the free demo […]


When I was eleven, I learned how to solve a Rubik’s cube. I’d like to claim that this was a result of precocious mathematical ability and an innate sense of algorithms, patterns and parity. In actual fact, it was the result of a summer spent in the Lake District, where it rained almost every day. […]


An article by Laurie Penny over at Liberal Conspiracy considers the recently-passed Human Fertilisation and Embryo Bill. Specifically, the impact that it will have on women’s rights. Two of the key issues in the Bill were proposals to reduce the limit on abortions from 24 weeks, and the proposed removal of the law requiring IVF […]


One can almost feel sorry for Gordon Brown. He waited ten years to be Prime Minister, but his first year in power has been dogged by bad decisions, bad publicity, and bad elections results. Today the Guardian reports that key Labour figures are murmuring that he needs to go. None will yet identify themselves, but […]


The town I live in has a population of around 20,000, of whom approximately 19,990 are Japanese. By now, therefore, most people who live around here know me by sight. But visitors to this little corner of rural Japan are sometimes surprised to see a tall blonde girl in the supermarket. Today’s surprised visitor was […]


Recent research suggests that mathematics is an unpopular subject because it has an image problem. Many students and undergraduates seem to think of mathematicians as old, white, middle-class men who are obsessed with their subject, lack social skills and have no personal life outside maths. The student’s views of maths itself included narrow and inaccurate […]