Tag Archives: Restaurants

A Little Light Relief

My last two posts have been quite heavy, so here’s a little light relief:

I went to see Joan Armatrading with TractorGirl at the Sage on Thursday. I enjoyed what I can remember of the concert, but she was going for the stadium effect and so there was a screen with Media Player-style visuals as well as very bright lights and especially loud music, so it all got a bit much for my synaesthesia and apparently I fainted! TractorGirl’s blog tells of how I mistook Joan Armatrading for Joan Armitage for Simon Armitage, a middle-aged male poet. I’m special!

Earlier in the day, I had been to the Baltic to pass a few hours. While there, I bumped into a friend from undergraduate days who was there on a works do, which was random but lovely. In terms of the art, on the ground floor there was a series of three videos by Jordan Baseman about a woman who likes nature and flowers and all that, a man talking about his life of crime and a gay man discussing his first sexual experience in the days when homosexuality was illegal in the UK. I found the latter very moving but didn’t really rate the other two. The rest of the art was bizarre; some bright flashy lights and texts from Iraq war files by Jenny Holzerand something completely random and unintelligible by Raqs Media Collective, which I think was meant to be about falling in love, but just seemed unfinished.

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Gordon Brown has had an unfairly hard time in my opinion for calling Gillian Duffy a ‘bigoted woman’ when being driven away from a walkabout. I think her views on immigration and on Eastern Europeans were bigoted (where are they all coming from – Eastern Europe of course, silly old bat!) It has made me more inclined to support Brown; at least he said what he thought! After the hustings, I think my local Labour candidate is a good bet, so that settles the question 🙂

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‘The Cellar Door’ is one of the multitude of Italian restaurants spread throughout the centre of Durham. My previous visits there have been somewhat of a let-down. The service was slow, they never had the wine I wanted and the food was ridiculously greasy. Well, things have changed! I went there with Stewpot yesterday for dinner and it was much better. The food was edible and I didn’t feel I was about to lose ten years off my life. Service was better as the man who always wears a shirt that is too small wasn’t there and the wine was ok. I would now recommend it.

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Finally, life is a bit mad at the moment. I have two job interviews coming up in the next week that would see me doing something rather different to maths PhD work but would both be interesting in their own ways. Prayers for those (Thursday 6th and Tuesday 11th) would be appreciated 🙂 I am doing a science and theology talk on Thursday as well, it’s election day and at some point I have to write an essay on Mission-Shaped Church for my theology course. In addition to all the busy-ness of the next few days, I am absolutely sick of hearing stuff about homosexuality. These last two blog posts have opened a can of worms, and so if anyone talks about it to me, they are liable to get this kind of reaction:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w1Zl1stDsUI[/youtube]

Some science and a complicated night out

Couple of interesting articles in this week’s ‘New Scientist’.

The first is about quasars, which are galaxies that periodically emit pulses of light. The Big Bang theory predicts that the universe is expanding, something confirmed by Edwin Hubble’s observations of the red shift of galaxes back in the 1920s. As a result of this expansion, the light from distant objects is ‘stretched’ and the wavelength becomes longer, moving to the red end of the spectrum (this is what red shift means). Now, objects like supernovae (the last mega explosion of stars substantially larger than the Sun) display this behaviour, but Mike Hawkins from the Royal Observatory in Edinburgh has found that light from quasars does not behave like it should. Some have explained this by postulating black holes between earth and the quasars distorting the light and others have suggested that the dark matter that makes up most of the universe is causing it. It’s an interesting mystery.

The second is about something I nearly did my PhD on: random matrix theory. A matrix is a two-dimensional array of data. A football league table would be an example. Random matrix theory came from Eugene Wigner, a German physicist working on quantum theory in the 1950s, when he suggested just guessing some unknown values to do with quantum energy levels. His randomly chosen numbers bore an uncanny resemblance to reality and this approach has proved useful in a range of physical contexts, though no-one knows why this should be the case. Again for an as-yet-unknown reason, random matrices are connected to one of the great unsolved problems in pure maths, the Riemann hypothesis. I find the ‘strange effectiveness’, to quote Wigner, of maths and the interconnectedness of the world of maths and physical reality fascinating. If I ever did a second PhD, I’d love to look at this from a theological point of view. Sigh, one can dream….

On a more mundane note, last night I attempted to take my housemate, from hereon known as Stewpot, to a restaurant I tried with TractorGirl last week. They were fully booked, so we ended up, via a four-mile walk into Sunderland and a half-hour Metro ride, in La Tasca in Newcastle. They have an ‘all you can eat for a tenner’ menu which was great value. The only downer was the way the waitress insisted on calling us ‘guys’ at the end of every sentence – why? We ended up in one of our favourite cocktail bars and it was lovely to spend some time with a nice, relaxed Stewpot after a lovely day with TractorGirl. All in all, a grand day. Eeee!