820 words on Uni
Third day of our short course today. The lecture in the series that went out of hand yesterday, featured new and almost understandable topic today. Putting a little work into it should make that a good thing. One of the other lecture courses went a bit lateral in exchange, going essentially into number theory – which seeing that I only know littel about number fields and their extensions seemed a bit obscure.
The afternoon was free and featured a visit to the Roman Baths. Having been in Bath twice before and not gone to the Baths (mainly because of the hefty price, iirc), I wanted to go this time. Being a group of twenty in the end and managing to actually collect the money precisely and correctly from everyone despite being mathematicians, we even got a reduced rate for the entrance fee.
I am not really enthusiastic about old buildings, so I wasn't too enthusiastic about the Roman Baths. As my parents took me to so many places, cathedrals, ruins &c when I was little. I find it hard to tell things apart these days – and to be genuinely thrilled. What I found most amazing was that they actually managed to run those baths including heated floors and everything almost two millennia ago. Quite a feat.
Instead of a tour, 'audio guides' were handed out. I like the idea partly as it allows you to visit the site at your own pace, choosing yourself what you'd like to know details on. On the other hand the idea is probably bad because you only get recordings which tend to be less lively than a good tour guide at least and they make the visit harder as you actually have to choose yourself what you're interested in instead of letting an expert decide.
In practice, however, I mostly find those guides rather annoying as they seem to be aimed at children, featuring little play-like scenes, funny background noises and role-play style elements instead of going straight to the facts. I tend to feel dumbed down by these kind of things and don't really think that 'dialogues' between potential characters from many centuries ago, in Latin, spoken in an English accent, improve my experience of the site in any way.
Afterwards I strolled around the town for a while and went to the Royal Crescent. Ever since I've been to Bath for the first time, I've considered this the best bit. It simply is extremely nice. A cool architectural concept, with a nice park in front. I read my paper in the park. There had been an absence of news in my life since the weekend. No knowledge about failures for the Euro in Sweden and the negotiations in Cancún. Not that I didn't feel busy enough in the past days – but it leaves the impression of losing touch with the real world™. One photo in The Guardian's business section actually featured Steve Jobs and some devices that suggest that my Powerbook is officially of-of-date now, if it wasn't before. But that's no news for you, I guess. I can't remember the last time that I learned about such 'news' from a regular paper, amusingly.
After that I went back into town where, I bumped into several mathematicians wandering around cluelessly and bored – with not enough time to make going back to University worthwhile before the conference dinner. So a couple of us went to a pub to kill time – me not managing to write the postcards I bought earlier then.
The dinner was at an Italian restaurant and the food was fine. Seating was a bit crammed, perhaps, as they tried to fit the whole party into a single room. Conversation started around vegetarianism and revolved around that topic and the causes for it for a time. Later it drifted to moral judgements. Quite odd.
Personally I tend to consider those topics rather pointless to discuss. Just let everyone (not) eat what they like and people will be mostly fine. To me these things just appear as deliberate choices to be made by every single person that can't really be justified properly. If you think that you can't eat meat because it's immoral, don't eat any. If you think that you can't eat lasagne because it's not kosher, don't. If you don't want to eat any beef because... – you get the idea. Just don't pretend that this gives you moral high ground over people who eat beef, pork, any meat, no meat but fish, lentils but no peas or whatever. My personal whim is to not like potatoes. So I try to avoid them. Easy.
Unfortunately the evening was over soon after. With pubs closing at 11. I thought this law was finally to be revised. But probably what I heard were just those rumors they have every year... Anyway, it's getting up early tomorrow again.
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