Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Wordy Wednesday

Sigh. How did it get to Wednesday already?

So far this week has just been about my thesis. I've gone home two nights on the run just thinking about it, which is either really good or pretty bad, I've not decided which. In any case, yesterday I gave my fourth drafted chapter to my supervisor for him to look over. That officially puts me over the halfway mark in my book, and the good news is that the three remaining chapters have been worked on to some extent so I am not starting any of them "cold" so to speak.

Meeting with my supervisor tomorrow morning to talk about corrections to the three latest chapters I've handed him, and rather than start on work for the final three I decided to spend a few days working on my appendices. A large part of the work for two of my chapters was in developing algorithms for calculating knot polynomials, and so as well as theoretically come up with the methods I had to implement them in a computing language.

My task for the last few days has been commenting and annotating the code for some of these procedures: it's quite satisfying to recline in my office chair knowing that my thesis has increased by 57 pages in three days! Less satisfying when I see that 50 of those are for the appendices, but still, it's all important stuff and had to be done at some point.

I look through my blog fodder folder and see that there are a few BBC News stories that I have been meaning to share for a while now, and then there have been three this week that have set me thinking in one way or another.

Today's story of a Marilyn Monroe expert mistaking a poster of Madonna for Marilyn is quite astounding; I can sort of get how the guy who initially found it might make the mistake, an initial excitement and then a strong willingness for it to be something valuable could blind one to the truth. I don't get how the expert on Monroe could not notice it though, but then suddenly go, "My word, you're right!" when journalists said, "Isn't that Madonna?" Weird world.

Not as weird as the natural world; this picture of a prehistoric "frog from hell" made me long for a time machine to go back and see all of the amazing creatures that are no longer here.

In my travels through time I would, however, avoid the giant prehistoric scorpion from this article...

This story confirms something that I have long suspected about tattoos of Chinese words. My big question for this is why the artist used the word for "supermarket" - there are much more humourous things that that one could do with the situation.

The news story that has really got me thinking today is the British government's proposals for "British citizenship tests" which has been the main story on BBC News online all day. I don't object to making some kind of requirement of language exams, or even the idea of some kind of fund (with money coming from increased visa fees) which offsets some of the impact of large groups of people moving into an area.

The phrase which concerns me is "...future migrants would need to 'earn' citizenship..." I can understand a minimum set of requirements (language, finances, ability to earn and contribute to economy etc), but there is something else implied by earn citizenship that I find a bit unsettling, something that I can't quite express.

Perhaps it was reading on and seeing that the process would be easier for migrants (and have "full access" to benefits) if they could show that they were "active" citizens, by participating in charity work or being involved in the local community. My worry is that I might be deported because I am involved in neither! How can you make these almost requirements for citizenship of people who want to live in the UK when they are not requirements for people who are citizens of the country by birth? It doesn't quite seem fair.

Ugh, and the phrase "earn citizenship"... There's something incredibly dystopian about that phrase...

David Bowie's "Life on Mars?" has been running through my head all week (and coming out of my speakers thanks to Youtube); I really like it a lot. I've finally got into reading the webcomic xkcd as well; today's strip, was just a blinder.

More soon.

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