The Archive

Here you will find everything from the "latest news" section which is no longer the latest news

1st January 2007 - 30th June 2007

  • 30th DecemberMany Things

    Many apologies for not updating in such a long time, but it has been a superlatively busy month (and considering some of the months I've had in the past, that is really saying something). I promise a more full-bodied account of all things December early next year. I am also thinking of changing the look of to reflect the change in Australian government (this isn't as strange as it sounds, the current look is a mocking mimic of former Australian Prime Minister John Howard's website)... I may also get around to changing the slightly mopey cover image (above).

    So what have we for you today? Some photos from basketball!

    Those who have been following my literary exploits will no doubt be missing my poetry... maybe. This first one is a poem written the night before the "EESC-W4400 Dynamics of Climate Systems and Climate Change" exam because I was quite sick of studying and was in a whimsical mood.

    This next one was written after finals for my friends at the Columbia University and Melbourne University Amnesty Groups as a bit of a silly and slightly different christmas card. I didn't realise at the time, but I actually used the same format for both poems... hmm... been reading a bit of Robert Frost lately, maybe that's it (the structure loosely resembles Frost's "The Road Not Taken" which is one of my favourite poems).

    ...and finally, my more mischievous side... this is what happens when the webmaster (that's me btw) of the Columbia University Amnesty group has too much time on his hands...

  • 1st DecemberBig Apple Dance

    Quite by chance, I stumbled upon a dance sport competition at Columbia University. Photos

  • 24th NovemberCelebration

    Beer for breakfast? Whatever would possess Nick and I to indulge in such a thing? It may be a few days after thanksgiving here, but we would just like to give thanks to the voters of Australia for giving Mr John Howard the boot (lost something Johnny? the election? how about your seat? haha). The long dark night of conservative rule in Australia has come to an end... we hope... and this morning was a very bright and sunny one (even though it was still a touch below freezing).

    In somewhat related news... Nick brought this very amusing piece by the Chaser to my attention and I thought I would share it with you. Things we have learned from history (or not).

    Hahahahaha! Here's another one...

  • 9th NovemberThe Simulation

    The midterm hell is finally drawing to a close. We are now into the home stretch with four weeks until the end of semester.

    Earlier this week, my Contemporary Diplomacy class (I cannot overstate how over-the-moon I am for being able to take a subject like this) held its "Darfur Simulation". This is where we each pick a player in the Darfur peace process and basically get to role play that position in a real-time negotiation setting. My role was Salim Ahmed Salim, the African Union special envoy to the Darfur conflict. It was my job to work with Jan Eliasson, the UN special envoy, to oversee the negotiations in Libya.

    The night went well, and I was pleased. We managed to negotiate a ceasefire and build something of a roadmap towards disarmament (now we just need to get everyone to agree to it). Of course... there were a few hiccups and not everything went according to plan. In real life, however, these talks have recently broken down and the rebel groups didn't really show up to them which undermines their legitimacy. Bugger.

    I took my camera but, since I was busy trying to negotiate some kind of solution, I was not able to take very many pictures. Here are the few that I did take. I also delivered a rather corny speech in my opening remarks which can be viewed here. (those who have followed my writings very closely over the years will recognise the poem which begins these remarks... is it still plagiarism if you borrow stuff that you wrote yourself?)

  • 4th NovemberSign here please

    You just have to CLICK THIS

  • 3rd NovemberOne Year


    "Remember remember the third of November,
    My Thompson's Group Thesis was due;
    I look a the pieces of my Thompsons Group Thesis,
    And still haven't got a clue"

    I can't believe it has been only one year. It seems like an age ago. 1 year ago, I was living and breathing mathematics. Now I am... not. It is difficult to believe sometimes, how much can change in one year (especially when that year includes a lap of South America). I often look back on various sections of my life and wonder to myself "how will I ever top this?", often with a genuine fear that I won't be able to. So far, I always have been able to... quite to my surprise. Maybe there is hope for the world after all.

  • 29th OctoberAnother Amnesty Creation

    yet another photo essay...

  • 24th OctoberA week in the life

    The Week...

  • 20th OctoberSome Links

    Oh boy... I really do like having a good camera. Here are two links to some of my more recent work, to keep you occupied.

    link1, link2

  • 12th OctoberUN Conference

    Yes... there was another reason I came to Columbia University - because it is in New York. The United Nations also happens to be in New York. What a happy coincidence! Two days ago, I attended a conference on international crisis situations (think Rwanda, Bosnia Burma). It went for the whole day but it was pretty cool. I got to meet Gareth Evans. I also took my camera so I can bring you photos. Click here for the page about the event.

  • 10th OctoberColumbia Campus

    Low LibraryButler Library

    (click the photos)
    Now the big question, of course... is to choose which one of the above buildings is the Universitiy's main library.

    Circular PanoramaPanorama of the Campus

    Hmmm... it seems I wasn't standing *right* in the middle of main campus (look at the circular panorama shot).

  • 6th OctoberThe Webmaster

    In the interests of actually passing university this year, I have decided to scale back my extra curricular committments. This means that I am going to try really really hard to resist the urge to sign up for anything and everything that intereststs me (which could be dangerous in an environment such as the one at Columbia University). This has one or two pleasant side-effects though. For example, in the Columbia University Amnesty International (CUAI) group, instead of going for a position of any great responsibility, I have stepped up to the less-than-demanding job of being the group's webmaster. Here is my magnum opus... well, it's not quite complete, but you get the idea.

  • 3rd OctoberThe Quest for World Peace Reading List

    I have decided to share my reading habits with all my loyal fans... this list is not a complete list of the books I have read, even recently. It is not even a complete list of the books you may need to read in your quest for world peace. It is a work in progress. I'm not even sure where to put this on my site... here's the link... have a read.

    The List

    This is only the tip of the iceberg of books that they expect you to read around here. Yes dad, this is why there are so many credit card charges to

  • 30th SeptemberThis is important

    Michael Stipe puts it much better than I do

    Some background information on Burma and Aung San Suu Kyi

  • 21st SeptemberHappy Equinox!

    Easily the quietest equinox I've had in a while. I've also modified the travel section to include some older travels... fewer photos, no comments and less commentary than the loyal readers of are used to, but they bring back some nice memories (for me... and perhaps a few of you as well) nonetheless.arrow

  • 17th SeptemberA link...

    I've been procrastinating a little, as any good student does from time to time, and which I do with great frequency and I stumbled across the website of the Earth Institue here at Columbia University. There is a great deal of material on this site and most of it is very interesting. I encourage readers of this site to take a look at it. For those lazy peope out there here is a link to a wonderful little video in the video archive which features one of my favourite authors - Jared Diamond

    Click here for video... (it's about 75 minutes long)
  • 11th SeptemberLong-Awaited Update

    I finally have some time to update all of my beloved fans of my progress. Actually, I'm siting in class right now and I'm very bored. The class is on probability. It makes sense to educate climate science grad students on probability, however, owing to our diverse backgrounds, it is also necessary to begin at the very beginning as not everyone is into maths in quite the way that I am. Right now, we are learning about calculating the probability of getting a sum total of 7 from rolling two 6-sided dice

    I went to world championships in Cali, Colombia. This did not go well. It began rather ominously with the missing of a flight due to some rather incompetant miscommunication on the part of the early morning virgin blue domestic staff. I eventually... after a great deal of struggle... managed to get myself to Cali. I didn't skate particularly well, but that was no surprise considering the amount of training that I had done (6 weeks). I had my camera, laptop and ipod stolen from my locked hotel room (which was, miraulously, still locked on my return) during the 30 minutes that it took for us to eat dinner. Various other things went badly in the running of the competition which will be outlined in more detailed in a strongly-worded letter/petition which I will be writing to the organisers. On a slightly more upbeat note, I did finish the marathon... all 42km of it without being lapped by the main peleton. No small achievement for a time trial specialist such as myself.

    New York is a pretty crazy place, and for at least the next twelve months, I will call it home. I touched down at about 1am on Monday the 27th of August. By sunset on Monday, I had brought a new Laptop, registered my existence at the international students and scholars office, applied for a social security number, obtained a Columbia (the university, not the country) ID card and eaten at least one meal. There are few places in the world where so many things can be done in one day. Getting an apartment was another story altogether and I was without a home until only last Tuesday. This was a little tricky because I didn't have any furniture until the following Friday. Lucky for my friend Peter McNamara who was coming down to watch some football who would arrive on Saturday.

    My academic life is certainly a highlight of recent events. My electives are "Introduction to International Development", "Contemporary Diplomacy" and "Human Rights and Development Policy". Those with whom I have spoken recently will note that I was supposed to choose two electives and above are listed three. Despite being swamped with reading, I have decided to overload (I may un-decide soon...) mostly due to the fact that my climate science core subjects (like my probability class) are, for mathematically trained people such as myself, extremely straightforward.

    Unfortunately, I haven't yet found a means to connect my "spare" point-and-shoot camera to my computer, so those of you who have been waiting eagerly for photos will have to wait a little longer. I will probably not replace my DSLR arrangement for quite some time, at least until I can get some of the insurance money back from the theft in Colombia (the country).

  • 14th AugustTravel Journal has been moved from the "headline" position to the left naviagtion bararrow

  • 4th AugustFarewell Party

    Check out some of the photos from my "quiet" little farewell gathering

  • 4th AugustThe Footy

    I finally decided to go watch some footy at the MCG. Collingwood won! Yay! Here are some photos

  • 24th July A book review

    This is a book that a friend of mine wrote. I read it and really enjoyed it so I thought I'd write a little book review. It doesn't really do the book justice (the book is very well-written, the review is not). If you can't be arsed reading the review, (and frankly, I don't blame you), the bottom line is basically that the book is good and that you all should read it and I'm really not just saying that because she's a friend.

  • 22nd JulyAnnoying articles

    Yesterday I caught up with some of my old Amnesty friends from my days at the helm of the Melbourne Uni group. Many things were discussed and much good food was consumed. Among the topics discussed, it was raised that the standard of writing has declined, and that this decline has even seeped into newspapers. Today I read a rather poorly written article about the Tour de France where the writer thought it would be a good idea to throw in a bit of Shakespeare (that way, there is at least SOME good writing in the article). I did, however, fly into a rage when I got to the bottom of the article. Have a read of it. I think this guy should get the sack, these things are not difficult to check and for a professional writer to make a mistake like that should be punishable by a lengthy jail term. "fair is foul and foul is fair" is from MacBeth, not Hamlet.

  • 18th JulyThe 5th Melbourne International Chamber Music Competition

    I've been listening this on the radio for a little while, so I thought it would be good to go along. So over the last weekend, I attended some of the aforementioned Chamber Music Competition. It was good. It was won by the Atos Trio and the Badke Quartet, which I was thrilled about and not just because of a very fine 1st Violin (a Stradivarius, on loan from the Royal Academy of Music). I have taken some photos.

  • 7th JulyA day of parties...

    Today was a very hectic day, even by my standards. Luckily, I am now into the habit of taking my camera wherever I go so you can see the pictures from my adventures.

  • 1st JulyThat Party

    Ok, I'm a lazy bugger... but I've finally decided to put some pictures up from last week's welcome back party. (click on the photos)



  • 18th JuneSpace travel...

    While reading slashdot I found an interesting article about the possibilities of interstellar space travel. Sci Fi writer Charles Stross makes a fairly compelling case that colonising other planets is nothing more than a dream. While the arguments are fairly good, he often says thing along the lines of "in the absence of technology indistinguishable from magic...human interstellar space travel is impossible" (I'm paraphrasing). This reminded me of a quote from Arthur C. Clarke ~ "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic" and made me wonder about what people from as recently as 50 to 100 years ago would make of some of our current technology.

  • 12th JuneAirport security rant

    I'm sitting in transit in Auckland International Airport (can anyone think of another city that ends in "land"?). I just had my toothpaste confiscated. Now, I'm not that annoyed that my toothpaste got confiscated, it was nearly empty and I'm sure my teeth will survive the 4 hour flight to Melbourne. What annoys me is that this whole new airport security thing is just about the most utterly useless, unecessary and annoying product of bureaucracy that I can think of (and I can think of a few). The regulation goes something like this: All containers of liquids or gels of over 100ml are not permitted and any which are under 100ml must be placed in a clear plastic bag whose capacity must not exceed 1 litre.

    Now, I have no formal qualifications in the field of security, but I fail to see what this could possibly achieve. The introduction of tighter measures such as removal of shoes (which is still niether widely carried out nor strictly enforced) makes sense as it is a well-known fact that it is easy to hide a bladed weapon in the soles of one's shoes where it won't get picked up by the metal detectors. The liquids thing is really very daft. I imagine that the concern is that people may be able to take the seperate ingredients of an explosive device onto a plane in liquid containers and then manufacture their bomb while onboard. This is a legitimate concern. The regulations, however, do nothing to stop this possibility from happening. Liquids, being liquid, can easily be divided into many small containers (each smaller than 100ml) and therefore the new regulation does little more than cause inconvenience to the vast majority of passengers who are not terrorists.

    If all of this is a response to the 9/11 attacks, then this is all even stupider. The terrorists who carried out the 9/11 attacks were armed with small knives, not bombs. I believe that they also told passengers that there was a bomb on the plane (which was a half-lie - the bomb was the plane itself) and thus gained control of the aircraft. Now, I think that tighter security on flights is a good thing. The fact that it has resulted as an inaccurate response to the 9/11 attacks doesn't really bother me. Tighter security needs to be effective though, and this is not. At best, it is a minor inconvenience to everyone who is not a terrorist and, at worst, it is a minor victory for "enemies of freedom" as we so like to call these terrorists.

  • 1st JuneParty Invite - Yes, you are invited! (click me)

  • 28th MayHappy Birthday Amnesty International!

  • 12th MayHappy Birthday Liliana!

  • 4th MayApples!

    Do you like apples? Well... I'm going to one, a big one! How do you like them apples?

    Fine print: After a long and nail-biting wait, I have been admitted to the M.A. in Climate and Society at Columbia University in the City of New York. I still can't quite believe it. Some fans have asked me when I begin. Orientation is on the 28th of August and classes start on the 4th of September. I am superlitavely excited about it.

  • 2nd May A thought

    I'm seriously thinking about getting myself a digital SLR camera. Why? After seeing all the sights I've seen and looking over all the photos I've taken of them, I'm realising the shortcomings of my simple point-and-shoot camera. In particular with regard to light-gathering capacity, noise at high ISO settings and the ability to control things like aperture, exposure and other such things that I used to play with back in the day when I used to use my Dad's old Minolta (film!) SLR.

    The two cameras I'm looking at are the Sony α 100 and the Canon digital rebel XTi (also known as the 400D, I think). They are both priced at the entry-level. The Sony has the advantage of having an anti-shake built into the body. Sony bought out Minolta, so old Minolta lenses will also fit on the body although that isn't a concern as I am eyeing the very shiny Carl Zeiss lenses which are built for the Sony. The Canon has the advantage of being a Canon, one of the leaders in digital SLRs for a long time and consequently having the greatest range of lenses and accessories to choose from. Both have been reviewed well by many many publications dealing with both photography and digital imaging from a computers perspective (computer magazines).

    Anyway, I know that many readers of this site know a thing or two about photography and some of you own digital SLR cameras. I'd like to have some thoughts and advice on this. Leave a comment or email me (click "contact me" in the left navigation bar). I'd really appreciate it.

  • 7th April New look for - tell me what you think

  • 3rd AprilFYI, Harvard have said "No" but I may still yet end up in the US of A this September...

  • 1st April A book you all should read (if you haven't done so already)...

    Many of my friends have read this book and many of them say that Sachs is far too optimistic and idealistic. I disagree. In my view, it is exactly those sorts of people who are constantly accused by their contemporaries as being too optimistic and idealistic, when combined with a real passion for their cause, who actually bring about a change for the better. Now I ask you, do you dare to believe that a better world is possible? I challenge you all to join me (and many others) in doing so.

  • 29th March Milestone : One Year

    Afraid of success
    Moreso than to fail because
    Who knows what may come...

  • 27th March What a coup: Per Se on the 27th, Jean Georges on the 28th, and Daniel on the 29th...

  • 26th March If you google "quest for world peace" (with or without the ") this page is second!

  • 26th March Hans Blix Says...

    "A woman once wrote to me, saying that she was a big fan of my work and that she had a new cat and that she wanted to name it Blix, after me, and did I mind at all. Me and my wife, being cat-lovers didn't mind at all and were, in fact quite honoured so I wrote back saying that I did not mind but to make sure that the cat also did not mind. Later she wrote back to me saying that the cat has taken very well to its new name, and is now a very effective weapon of mouse destruction"

    "Trying to use nuclear weapons against terrorism is like shooting cannonballs at mosquitoes"

  • 21st March Happy Spring/Autumn Equinox

  • 7th March Disappointment

    No from Yale, No from Columbia. (See Jan 2nd entry for details). Fingers crossed for Harvard... but don't hold your breath.

  • 17th February Divided the travel blog page into smaller pages.

  • 8th February Stories...

    I've added another story to the stories section... it is a story from a long long time ago. For a more recent story, click on the link to the travel blog (above).

  • 8th January Rockpool

    Rockpool bar and grill at Crown. Go there. Order the Wagyu Rib Eye and ask for it rare. Best steak I have ever had.

  • 2nd January Life Update

    I have completed a BA/BSc double degree and now have a Postgraduate Diploma in Science (which, the way I did it, is basically the equivalent of an honours year for my BSc). Where to next? I have applied for the following three courses:

    1. PhD in Sustainable Development at Columbia University
    2. Master in Public Administration and International Development at Harvard University
    3. Master in International Relations at Yale University

    The chances that I will get into these courses is very slim indeed. They require an outstanding academic record (mine is, but for all the wrong reasons), professional experience in the field (my work with Amnesty might just get me past the post on this one) and strong GRE maths scores (I got a perfect 800 on my quantative section, score!). In the meantime, I will travel Latin America with my friend Nick for almost exactly 5 months beginning on the 11th of January. I will probably begin a seperate page dedicated to logging my many marvelous misadventures while overseas.

    It is also entirely likely that my internet access will be very limited while I'm travelling and I could be restricted to simply sending emails to all who are interested. So... if you are interested, email me and let me know and I will add you to the "yeowie travelspam" mailing list. My email is, of course:

    Oh... and I've finally added some very primitive comments functionality to my webpages. (Click on the titles of the entries to leave a comment).