Archive for Paris

métro static

Posted in pictures, Travel with tags , , on February 8, 2016 by xi'an

gare RER de Sceaux, May14, 2012[During a particularly painful métro trip, a man kept talking and talking in a very aggressive and somewhat incoherent manner. It is not until the end of the ride that I realised he was speaking on the phone to a relative… and not to an inexistent other self!]

“Vous voulez me faire jouer un rôle hein mais ca ne marche pas avec moi, vous jouez tous des rôles, la journée finie, vous rentrez chez vous, vous vous démaquillez, vous enlevez vos masques. Plutôt vous avez deux masques, un pour la journée et un pour le soir, le vrai et le faux, le faux c’est celui de la journée.”

exceptional measures for exceptional circumstances, not as a new normality

Posted in Kids with tags , , , , , , on February 7, 2016 by xi'an

Since the mass assassinations of November 13 in Paris, France is in a “legal” state of emergency (état d’urgence). Which has been once again re-conducted a few days by the Parliament and which could even become part of the Constitution if the planned vote succeeds in a few days! Emergency state that gives more and more emergency powers to the executive branch of the French State and thus to the police, with lesser controls from the judiciary and the parliamentary branches of the State. Beyond this arbitrary reduction of civil liberties and rights, from the prohibition of demonstrations to extra-judiciary house arrests, recently denounced by Amnesty International and the UN and many local organisations, the government is pushing for another change in the Constitution that would deprive binationals terrorists of their French nationality. Quite absurd (as if those terrorists cared!), discriminatory (what of Égalité?!), schizophrenic  (“de-naturalising” someone  does not turn him or her into an alien, nor erases the fact that she or he was born and raised in France), and anti-republican… Even though I remain sceptic of their real impact, there are several petitions around calling for the end of the emergency state and the dismissal of the de-naturalisation.

Sens’o risotto

Posted in Kids, pictures, Wines with tags , , , , , , on February 6, 2016 by xi'an

A chance dinner last Sunday led us to dine in Sens’o, an empty Italian restaurant on one of the Paris islands with a superlative scallops risotto and a chance encounter resulted from talking from the idle waitress who happened to be a free-lance journalist. We talked for quite a while on her previous trips to Haïti, Egypt, and field hospitals at the Syrian border in Turkey. (The restaurant was empty for a combination of reasons, from the drop in tourists after the November 13 killings to January being a low tide month, to a blistery Sunday night being unattractive for revellers. Not because of bad reviews…)

the Force awakens… some memories

Posted in Books, Kids, pictures, Travel with tags , , , , , , on January 10, 2016 by xi'an

In what may become a family tradition, I managed to accompany my daughter to the movies on the day off she takes just before her medical school finals. After last year catastrophic conclusion to the Hobbit trilogy, we went to watch the new Star Wars on the day it appeared in Paris. (Which involved me going directly to the movie theatre from the airport, on my way back from Warwick.) I am afraid I have to admit I enjoyed the movie a lot, despite my initial misgivings and the blatant shortcomings of this new instalment.

Indeed, it somewhat brought back [to me] the magic of watching the very first Star Wars, in the summer of 1977 and in a theatre located in down-town Birmingham, to make the connection complete! A new generation of (admittedly implausible) heroes takes over with very little help from the (equally implausible) old guys (so far). It is just brilliant to watch the scenario unfold towards the development of those characters and tant pis! if the battle scenes and the fighters and the whole Star Wars universe has not changed that much. While the new director has recovered the pace of the original film, he also builds the relations between most characters towards more depth and ambiguity. Once again, I like very much the way the original characters are treated, with just the right distance and irony, a position that would not have been possible with new actors. And again tant pis! if the new heroes share too much with the central characters of Hunger Games or The Maze Runner. This choice definitely appealed to my daughter, who did not complain in the least about the weaknesses in the scenario and about the very stretched ending. To the point of watching the movie a second time during the X’mas vacations.

on de Finetti’s instrumentalist philosophy of probability

Posted in Books, Statistics, Travel, University life with tags , , , , , , , , on January 5, 2016 by xi'an

Pont Alexandre III, Paris, May 8, 2012. On our way to the old-fashioned science museum, Palais de la Découverte, we had to cross the bridge on foot as the nearest métro station was closed, due to N. Sarkozy taking part in a war memorial ceremony there...On Wednesday January 6, there is a conference in Paris [10:30, IHPST, 13, rue du Four, Paris 6] by Joseph Berkovitz (University of Toronto) on the philosophy of probability of Bruno de Finetti. Too bad this is during MCMSkv!

De Finetti is one of the founding fathers of the modern theory of subjective probability, where probabilities are coherent degrees of belief. De Finetti held that probabilities are inherently subjective and he argued that none of the objective interpretations of probability makes sense. While his theory has been influential in science and philosophy, it has encountered various objections. In particular, it has been argued that de Finetti’s concept of probability is too permissive, licensing degrees of belief that we would normally call imprudent. Further, de Finetti is commonly conceived as giving an operational, behaviorist definition of degrees of belief and accordingly of probability. Thus, the theory is said to inherit the difficulties embodied in operationalism and behaviorism. We argue that these and some other objections to de Finetti’s theory are unfounded as they overlook various central aspects of de Finetti’s philosophy of probability. We then propose a new interpretation of de Finetti’s theory that highlights these central aspects and explains how they are an integral part of de Finetti’s instrumentalist philosophy of probability. Building on this interpretation of de Finetti’s theory, we draw some lessons for the realist-instrumentalist controversy about the nature of science.

view from my office, circa 1905

Posted in Books, pictures, Travel with tags , , , , , , , , on December 13, 2015 by xi'an

in memoriam

Posted in Kids, pictures, Travel, Wines with tags , , on November 27, 2015 by xi'an

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