Archive for the 'Writing' Category

An academic genealogy

September 5th, 2020

Some years ago I came across the Mathematics Genealogy Project – the idea is to create a family tree, but based on your academic supervisor rather than your parents. At the time I couldn’t trace myself back very far, but looking again recently I found that I can now get back pretty far…

(One note – in several places there are two supervisors – I have put my thumb on the scale and chosen the more interesting path).

So, my supervisor (for honours at ANU) was supervised by:

Andreu Mas-Colell – anyone who has studied graduate level Microeconomics has just curled into a ball in the floor thinking of their textbook for that course. He was supervised by:

Marcel Richter. Still in Economics at this point. He was supervised by:

Edgar Cary Brown. Another economist. He was supervised by:

Alvin Hansen. Who wrote about cycles of economic depression in 1918 – suspect he had an interesting 1930s. looks at Wikipedia. Yep, he very much did. The “American Keynes”. He was supervised by:

Richard Ely. Founder of the American Economic Association, and a significant early figure in the economics around inequality and the excesses of capitalism. He studied at the University of Heidelberg, where we was supervised by:

Johann Kasper Blutschli. A Swiss politician, lawyer and philosopher, part of the development of economics out of political philosophy. He was supervised by:

Johann Hasse. German professor of law. He was supervised by:

Anton Friedrich Justus Thibaut. German jurist and musician, and (according to Wiki) an important influence on the code of laws of Germany when it was established. He was supervised by:

Immanuel Kant. One of the greatest philosophers of all time, it is nearly impossible to understate Kant’s influence on the world, both for good and for ill. The wikipedia page runs to 212 references. He was supervised by:

Martin Knutzen. Principally famous for being the teacher of Immanuel Kant. He was supervised by:

Christian Wolff. German philosopher, who developed the thinking of his supervisor:

Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz. Very nearly as important a figure to the history of ideas as Kant (179 references on Wiki). Probably today most famous for the Priority Dispute with Newton over the development of calculus, but a towering figure across mathematics and philosophy. He developed much of the early thinking that led to computers. He was supervised by (in part):

Christiaan Huygens. ‘Only’ 139 references this time. Scientist philosopher, most famous for his work with clocks and telescopes. Discovered the rings of Saturn. He was supervised by:

Frans van Schooten. Dutch mathematician, painted by Rembrandt and helped to popularise Descartes’ mathematics. Has his own theorem. He was supervised by:

Jacobus Golius. Dutch mathematician and orientalist. Taught Descartes mathematics, and translated many texts from Arabic to Latin. He was supervised by:

Willebrord Snellius. Another Dutch mathematician. Has his own law in optics. He was supervised by:

Rudolph Snellius. Willeborod’s father, a Dutch mathematician who also influenced Arminius in the development of his brand of protestantism. He was supervised by:

Immanuel Tremellius. An Italian Jew who converted to Christianity, and fled to England to avoid a war. While there, he studied under:

Thomas Cranmer. Archbishop of Canterbury, leader of the English Reformation. Principal author of the Book of Common Prayer. Imprisoned for heresy, and ultimately burnt at the stake under Queen Mary. He received his Doctorate of Divinity from Cambridge (Jesus College) in 1526, but unfortunately records of who supervised are not available, and so the trail stops here.

(There is another chain, via a different supervisor of Rudolph Snellius, that traces its way into Persian universities in the 1200s).


Story: The Day I Created a New Nation

February 17th, 2008

Well, the first annual IntShoStoWriWe was a success, with 100% of participants completing a short story of at least 2,500 words.

OK, so it was just me this year. But I actually finished a story for a change. It’s a little rough around the edges, but I think it works as a complete piece.

The whole thing is posted in the rest of this post. I hope you enjoy it – if you have any comments, you can find my email address on the contact page.

Read the rest of this entry »


NaNoWriMo for short attention spans

February 14th, 2008

Last year I tried to complete NaNoWriMo, the National Novel Writing Month. I did better than the year before, but still fell well short of the goal of 50,000 words written in the month.

It’s hard to commit to something for as long as a month – life tends to intervene, and once it does it’s easy to find that you’ve lost the energy to finish it.

What people need is an easier on ramp, a task that lets them feel like they’ve achieved some good writing, and hopefully serves as a stepping stone to bigger things.

And so I give you:

The 2008 inaugural International Short Story Writing Weekend, February 15-17

Hereafter to be known as IntShoStoWriWe.

The basic concept is simple – between Friday evening and Sunday evening, write a complete story at least 2,500 words long. It has to be complete, not just the opening section to some bigger novel. It should be a story, with beginning, middle and end. Any genre, any setting. And must be shorter than 10,000 words.

Total participation for year one is expected to be low – that is, just me. Unless someone reading this decides to join in, in which case – email me! And if you need a bit of help with your plot, try the random plot generator.

I’ve queued up posts for this weekend, but I’ll be writing. And unless I’m too ashamed of the result I’ll try and post it Sunday evening.


First 500 words

November 27th, 2006

I made an attempt in November to try and write a novel, but it was pretty farcical: I only managed to make time for it on the first day, and after that it was all downhill… The next four or five days I couldn’t find the spare hour, and then I was so far behind it wasn’t worth continuing. Oh well, I’ll get back to this one sooner or later.

Anyway, rather than waste all the effort I went to, the first 500 words (or so) are included in the remainder of this post. Bear in mind that this is very, very raw, I haven’t done any editing at all.

Read the rest of this entry »


Can you tell a story in six words?

October 26th, 2006

Via Boing Boing (and many others) is this brilliant project from Wired magazine. Ask a bunch of famous writers to tell a story in six words:

  • Gown removed carelessly. Head, less so. (Joss Wheedon)
  • Machine. Unexpectedly, I’d invented a time (Alan Moore)
  • Kirby had never eaten toes before (Kevin Smith)

Awesome stuff! (Although that last one is more like the first sentence of a short story I’d really like to read…)