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News from Year Seven

9nov04: The presidential election was settled rather quickly, without overt shenanigans. Hijinx did not ensue. I am, frankly, disappointed.

[Christy] 13nov2004: Chris Mag Uidhir was in town yesterday to give a talk to the philosophy department. Here he is pictured with our first snow of the year. Enough of it stuck to allow for snowball fights.

I have known him since 1990, which seems almost inconceivable. The fact makes me feel old, and the fact that I still find it inconceivable makes me feel young.

25nov2004: Cristyn is here, and we're spending the holiday together just the two of us. We have a duck for roasting, potatoes for mashing, and a head of broccoli for steaming. Last night we made cranberry chutney. I am thankful for all these things. Life is good.


8dec2004: On Monday we had snow. Slow, giant, hypnotizing flakes. The kind of snow that makes the world quiet and magical. It warmed up enough so that Tuesday we had bitterly cold rain, and by today we have returned to our regularly scheduled Albany.

To celebrate the upcoming holidays, I've polished an experiment in minimalist flash movies that I did a couple of years ago. For your December delectation: Poinsettia-A, Poinsettia-B, and Poinsettia-C.

15dec2004: A technical update. I have retooled the way that this news box, the news archive, and the RSS feed are assembled. If you consult the RSS feed, please note that the URL has changed. If you do not use the feed, then everything should continue as it always has. Move along.

19dec2004: Christmas draws near, which for an academic means getting work done without the distraction of teaching. There is also the odd moment for silly distractions, whence this holiday comic:

Ninja Verses

5jan2005: Cristyn and I recently purchased a couple of new domains. cmagnus.com is the future home of her homepage. ninjaverses.com is a sign of silliness to come.

As for news here at fecundity: I've updated the links page to include some adventure serial comics that I've started reading.

9jan2005: Thanks to Tom and Tildy, I've added two faux Yiddishisms to the Obfuxicon: fnadnikt and gevlemdeschlicht. The latter is rather hard to pronounce, especially after a glass or two of montepulciano.

21jan2005: Ninja Verses has returned! New comics are hosted at keenspace, with some content also at ninjaverses.com.

14feb2005: Yesterday I was violently ill, flowing at both ends, and cursing the fact that I have a digestive tract. After a regimen of peptobismol, goldfish crackers, and time, I have recovered. There is a puzzle about causal inference here, but I am willing to apportion responsibility equally between the three. The anti-emetic properties of goldfish crackers are quite remarkable.

Today, I posted new versions of my four-dimensionalism and distributed-cognition papers.

1mar2005: We had a blizzard, dumping enough snow on us that morning classes were cancelled. The dreary city was swallowed by the magic silence of fresh white. None of this has phased the ducks, who have returned from their Southern abode and are sitting on the frozen pond as if it were Springtime already.

Today I posted the new version of the philosophy department website. This has been in the works for some time. My first draft was deemed too cheeky by some of my colleagues, so it got sobered up a bit. Among the things that were cut was this parody of Rembrandt's Aristotle contemplating the bust of Homer.

17mar2005: I proctored two exams today. This was my last instructional responsibility before Spring Break, so I am now free to do my work without interruptions from students. I need to put the finishing touches on the Reid paper that I'm presenting in Waco next month, plus other things too nascent to mention. Cristyn is in town, so there will be plenty of interruptions. Good ones, though.

26mar2005: We had a freakish snow storm a few days ago. This gave Cristyn and I the chance to make some snowmen and play some snow bocce. Today, temperatures were in the fifties, and only white patches and twigs remain of the snowmen. So Cristyn and I collaborated on a font. She drew all the glyphs for kipferln, with scripty swoops and a bevy of umlauts.

[Common Grounds] 14apr2005: I am in Waco, Texas this week for a conference on the Scottish Enlightenment. The conference does not begin until this evening, so I have had most of the day to fritter around. I am presently set in at Common Grounds, an old house turned coffee house at the edge of the Baylor campus. Since I am hooked into the wireless internet and procrastinating on grading, I decided this update was in order.

20apr2005: This week in class we were discussing Naomi Oreske's Objectivity or heroism? On the invisibility of women in science. I warmed them up by asking them to think of a hero. Of the 25 students, 19 first thought of Superman. I was somewhat surprised by this, because it was not a multiple choice question. I expected an assortment of superheroes, a smattering of sports stars, and maybe a military man or two. Regardless, it provided a good segue into discussing the extent to which 'heroism' is a gendered concept. He is Superman, after all.

In the course of the article, Oreskes discusses self-experimentation in medicine. Male doctors have often been lionized for willingness to perform tests on themselves, but women in comparable situations would be chastised for taking unnecessary risks. One student suggested that this was because humans are naturally protective of females. He proposed this case: Imagine that you are in a burning building, and that there are several men and a woman there who will not be able to save themselves. You will only be able to save one of them. Do you instinctively feel that you should save the woman?

Curious, I asked for a show of hands. 17 of 25 students said that they would preferentially save the woman. I was surprised, because I feel no such impulse. It is obviously not a morally salient difference, and the choice amounts to a decision of who lives and who dies. More than that, I was surprised that so many students would vote 'yes' after an hour of discussing the ways in which heroism is a gendered, social category.

18may2005: I have had the domain fontmonkey.com pointing to a directory here at fecundity for over three years. Yesterday, I did away with the redirect and put the fonts over there. This does not really amount to much, since both domains are on the same server. Mostly, it was an excuse to revamp the fontmonkey site, make use of some different monkey doodles, and so on.

I let it pass without comment, but I updated the God-Man Fan Page last week so as to reflect several new adventures.

20may2005: As I have said before, I self-consciously do not want to have a blog. Nevertheless, this space on my homepage veers in that direction now and again-- my colleague Ron recently referred to it as my "blah...er...webpage." This week I was prepared to to eliminate the pretense and rant about politics. However, this cartoon says what I had on my mind more succinctly than I would have.

Of course, in addition to rants, blogs seem to be all about anecdotes and links that the blogger thinks you should follow. I used to only link to pages on my own site in this space. So even this post probably raises the general blog-likeness of my webpage. What terrible irony!

3jun2005: My computer desktop has become so full of files that when I download things they appear piled up in one corner. Many of the files are papers that I meant to read, others are notes that I left for myself. Evidently, sometime around May 21, I thought that I should jot this down: "A terrorist is someone apt to start a blog and complain about their boss."

Now it is on my website, so I can safely delete the text file.

15jun2005: The month of June is half-done, and I feel as if I've lost the time to some kind of temporal three-card monty. The hand was quicker than the eye-- as they say-- and procrastination has resulted in updates over at fontmonkey: I've drawn a new font, tweaked the kerning on another, and finally wrapped up one that has been sitting on my hard drive for over a year.

23jun2005: Prompted by Luke Robinson's biweekly philosophers' poker night, I have been playing a lot of poker lately. Several new variants have arisen, which I describe here for your delectation.

14jul2005: I have spent the last several weeks writing a logic textbook. It is now done, more or less. I wanted to title it If P, then Q, but that title was used for a recent collection of essays. Instead, it is called forall x: an introduction to formal logic, which I think is a spiffier title anyway.

Cristyn and I have been watching a lot of Iron Chef, playing a lot of the Sims, and simmering in the Summer malaise of San Diego. And a note about the website: For many months leading up to and following the release of Episode III, the largest attraction on the site here was Chad Meserve's rant about Greedo. Greedo/Han traffic has now abated somewhat. The most common query leading people to this site recently: 'Fabio.'

16aug2005: Thanks to the internet and the science fiction fandom tradition of piracy, Cristyn and I have now watched the new Doctor Who series. Good stuff, by and large.

I recently posted a recipe for marzipan, as a way of procrastinating on half a dozen things. Today I added the almost trivial recipe for false pie.

1oct2005: Although it seems like it just started, the term is about one-third done. We get a long weekend here in SUNYland, and I am trying to sort through the plethora of things I need to do. No real news to report besides the obvious.

Here is a picture that I prepared to post at the beginning of September, but didn't because it made me melancholy. I it in New Orleans two years ago, in the French Quarter at the intersection of Bourbon St and St Philip. In the left hand foreground a woman paints a picture of the building across the corner.

4oct2005: After ruminations galore, I have decided to start a blog. Several factors are involved, but I will spare you the long back-and-forth between me and my don't-want-a-blog inner voice. Footnotes on Epicycles will be an academic blog, giving me somewhere to put small points which would merit a footnote but which do not justify a paper in which to put that footnote. It also replaces my academic papers RSS feed.

Although anyone can move between my academic and personal web-sites with a click or two, it helps me to treat them as separate projects. So this news box and its associated feed will go on. If you have no interest in the academic bits, you can file this all under H for Huh? Somebody's actually using a dot-info domain name? Can the dot-biz bubble be far behind?

3nov2005: "The weather has become decidedly autumnal, with the crisp promise of winter. The trees are well along in their transformation from verdant to vibrant to desolate." I wrote this after a period of sleet and cutting wind, but things have warmed up in the last few days. The weather is just waiting for me to let my guard down again.