I write about all sorts of topics when I feel the need or the urge. Other than mathematics: philosophy, politics, law, human rights, anthropology, economics, and more.
- The “Australia day” category error
(17/1/19) I don’t believe in any patriotic holidays. But a patriotic holiday on such a terrible date needs to be moved, rebuilt, or abolished.
- Abstract algebra nursery rhyme
(14/1/19) In the spirit of hilariously advanced baby books like Chris Ferrie’s Quantum Physics for Babies, I have taken to incorporating absurdly sophisticated concepts into nursery rhymes.
- The last resort of scoundrels
(14/1/19) Patriotism, at least in its usual sense of love of one’s country over others, veneration of the virtue of its people over others, and adoration of its flag, is awful, irrational nonsense.
- Limitless as that space too narrow for its inspirations
(03/1/19) In which I recall, via neurologist Oliver Sacks, some musings of Sylvester from 1877 on the limitlessness of mathematics.
- The Doors of Crime Perception
(02/1/19) Crime is uniquely susceptible to the manipulation of perceptions.
- The disempowerment of positive thinking
(12/5/18) I’m quite skeptical of the “positive psychology” movement, as it encourages the individualisation of some problems that are really social.
- What is to be done, and the Paradox of Choice
(11/11/17) The real problem is not that we are overloaded with too many ideas about what to do. The real problem is that we do not have enough ideas about where we want to go.
- Adani: icon of Australian climate infamy
(26/8/17) Here we are, in the year 2017. With now 25 years of climate-change international agreements behind us, here we are still trying to build oil pipelines and coal mines.
- An Off-the-Record Genocide: Global Resource Extraction Economy Provides Incentives to Destroy DR Congo Indigenous Groups
(24/8/17) By Deborah S. Rogers of Initiative for Equality (IfE).
- At least mathematics is commendable
(14/7/17) The Australian government announced a proposal to force tech companies to provide government agencies with the contents of encrypted communications.
- Eighty years ago, Spanish people responded to the far right with social revolution
(04/1/17) Eighty years ago to the day, the far right was in its ascendancy, and still rising. Hitler was in complete control of Germany, Mussolini had been in charge of a police state in Italy for a decade. But a little to the southwest, in Spain, war had already broken out.
- What to do while Rome burns
(01/12/16) From Russell’s Principles of Social Reconstruction (1916)
- The Eighteenth Brumaire of Donald Trump
(09/11/16) On the Eighteenth Brumaire (9 November) 1799, Napoleon Bonaparte seized power in France. Louis Napoleon did the same in 1851. First as tragedy, then as farce. Tragedy and farce and much more — with vastly greater consequences — have taken place on the Eighteenth Brumaire 2016.
- On the end of the world
(23/9/16) One can take several possible attitudes to the bleakest of certainties about the future.
- The story of a paradox
(10/9/16) My story of Bertrand Russell, given at The Laborastory, a monthly science storytelling event in Melbourne.
- Throughput the Wringer
(12/8/16) For those who care about the long term prospects of civilization, the only way out is a radically different system.
- Of all the things
(21/6/16) Of all the things, what does Australian electoral politics concerns itself with?
- Elections — or, how not to gnaw your arm off
(15/6/16) Electoral politics in Australia. The mere thought of it makes me want to gnaw my arm off.
- The Impact of Impact
(29/4/16) On some aspects of the research funding system in the UK and Australia.
- Love, the Answer to the Problem of Human Existence
(28/1/16) A paean to, and exposition of, love, extracted as an extended set of quotations from Erich Fromm’s The Art of Loving.
- More excrement
(27/1/16) Poem about the material economy.
- Force and restraint
(28/12/15) Simone Weil wrote about the Iliad, how it dealt so beautifully with notions of force.
- Forty years on
(11/11/15) It is forty years on from the Dismissal, or coup, that ended the Whitlam government.
- Why your calculator is a weapon
(01/8/15) I gave a talk about the Defence Trade Cooperation Act, encryption, and number theory, as part of the Monash University LunchMaths seminar series, in August 2015. Slides are available.
- Paranoid defence controls could criminalise teaching encryption
(19/5/15) You might not think that an academic computer science course could be classified as an export of military technology. But under the Defence Trade Controls Act – which passed into law in April, and will come into force next year – there is a real possibility that even seemingly innocuous educational and research activities could ...
- Paranoid defence controls could criminalise teaching encryption
(09/5/15) You wouldn’t think that academic computer science courses could be classified as an export of military technology. But unfortunately, under recently passed laws, there is a real possibility that innocuous educational and research activities could fall foul of Australian defence export control laws.
- The CIA 119
(02/5/15) Years and years on, abuses continue. Only in December 2014 did the US Senate Intelligence Committee release its summary of its report into the The CIA’s kidnapping (“rendition”) and torture programme. It took nearly ten years after the fact for an official report to arrive.
- The lower classes of things
(20/4/15) Everything is free to move across borders, except… some lesser things, like human beings.
- Why your calculator (and computer, and phone…) is a weapon
(19/4/15) The Australian government may have classified your calculator — and phone, and computer, and every electronic device you own — as military weapons.
- Is the Victoria Police Act a step forward?
(12/12/14) If you suffer an assault or other wrongdoing at the hands of police, who can you sue? Who is liable? Is it the individual officers? Or is it the State, on whose behalf they act?
- The G20 and the Sanity Deficit
(14/11/14) There is an important summit being held in Brisbane this week. There is also a G20 summit.
- Climate Tragedy and the Three World Budget
(19/5/14) There was a hashtag on twitter lampooning the budget with Abbott-style three word slogans, #ThreeWordBudget. But this budget commits us to non-renewable energy, fossil fuels, and an acceleration of climate disasters. At this rate we will need at least two more planets. This is a Three World Budget.
- The new anti-abortion hero and the abortion death penalty
(08/11/13) The anti-abortion movement has sharpened in Australia, claiming that the human rights of doctors have been violated. But there have been some crucial omissions. I can assist in remedying some of these omissions, from my own unfortunate personal experience. Sometimes you have to name names.
- Statement of Resignation from Wikileaks Party National Council
(21/8/13) Resigning my position on the National Council of the Wikileaks Party.
- Manning in Gethsemane
(30/7/13) The night before PFC Manning’s sentencing, a reading from Bartolomeo Vanzetti.
- The corporate protection racket
(05/4/13) At the protest outside the Institute of Public Affairs’ 70th anniversary dinner, events rapidly overtook the planned activities, but I meant to say something.
- Bradley Manning, John Kiriakou, and the shaman’s wrath
(05/2/13) Anthropology, inequality, and justice, from prehistory to the present day.
- The Future Latent In the People
(30/1/13) From Victor Hugo.
- On the barrels of guns
(16/10/12) Jill Meagher, terror, and drone warfare.
- No Godwins, Left or Right
(30/7/12) On the Soviet Union.
- A Dialectic of Mathematics in Culture
(30/7/12) Three links that form a lovely trilogy.
- Words better than what they say
(11/7/12) A note on Hedges.
- Wikileaks and History
(01/7/12) What I said at a rally.
- Remarks at Rally for Julian Assange
(31/5/12) Another thing I said at a rally. We are not mushrooms.
- Occupy: US and Australia
(29/11/11) The whole movement of occupations is a massive global phenomenon.
- To gaily marry
(04/3/11) Response to an anti-gay-marriage argument.
- The limits of tyrants
(23/2/11) From Frederick Douglass.
(21/2/11) From Jeff Schmidt.
- The rationalist fall of man
(27/1/11) Two twin primordial catastrophes — your imminent oncoming death, and the nothingness at the end of the universe — are the rationalist version of the fall of man.
- The killing train rolls on
(27/1/11) Allegory on militarism and culture.
- Post-reform strategy
(22/1/11) On the repeal of the “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy by the US congress, an argument as to the approach to take.
- Wikileaks and the International Order
(08/12/10) The drama of cable publications.
- Stanford and ROTC
(30/11/10) My submission to the Stanford committee on ROTC.
- Heroism in War
(05/11/10) What makes some actions heroic?
- Libertarian socialist reading
(05/11/10) Is there a standard set of libertarian literature?
- What do “liberal” and “conservative” actually mean?
(25/10/10) Pretty much anything. Left and right change over time.
- Antiwar and queer liberation politics
(23/10/10) The antiwar and queer liberation movements are natural allies. Yet the focus on “don’t ask don’t tell” threatens to turn the queer liberation movement pro-militarism.
- Easiest Election Ever
(17/8/10) Most Australians must be glad the farce is almost over. The federal election is only a few days away.
- Why international law?
(30/4/10) What to say to convince people of the legitimacy of international law?
- ANZAC Day
(25/4/10) By jingo!
- On militarism
(16/3/10) An argument against militarism.
- Savaging the Tapestry of the Law
(10/3/10) First-hand account of a protest against John Yoo at Berkeley.
- Jules Verne
(12/2/10) Where is a Jules Verne of today?
- The slipperiness of language
(23/11/09) Living with a foreign language.
- An appropriate orientation
(01/11/09) From William James.
- Remarks at dinner
(28/4/09) As Condoleezza Rice dined with students at Roble Hall, a Stanford undergraduate dormitory, I delivered this speech outside. Some students who heard it subsequently confronted Condoleezza Rice about torture. This confrontation was filmed and received widespread press coverage in the national media.
- Ideology survey
(20/4/09) Extremely interesting statistics.
- On dinner parties and war criminals
(16/4/09) From Bertha von Suttner
- Favourite political axiom ever
(29/3/09) From Cynthia Peters.
- Exiles on an inhospitable shore
(25/3/09) From Bertrand Russell.
- Recent poll agrees with international law
(14/2/09) Most want an inquiry into anti-terror tactics.
- Prosecuting Condoleezza Rice
(25/1/09) The legal possibilities. A shorter version of this article appears in the January 2009 issue of the Stanford progressive.
- One of my prisoners
(10/9/08) An extraordinary moment, from Benjamin Thompson, a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War.
- Guantanamo Rally Remarks
(06/3/08) Speech at a rally organised by the Muslim Students Awareness Network at Stanford, March 6, 2008.
- No WMDs, but plenty of MWDs at Gitmo in 2004
(03/12/07) More outrageous Camp Delta details: dogs.
- A Cat May Look Upon a King, but Not at Gitmo
(03/12/07) More outrageous Camp Delta details: no looking at VIPs.
- Chaplain, Red Cross Muzzled at Gitmo in 2004
(03/12/07) From the wikileaks.org leak of the 2004 Guantanamo Bay Camp Delta operating manual.
- Carbon Offsets for Travellers: Effective CO2 Reduction or just Guilt Relief?
(25/10/07) Remarks presented at a panel discussion at SFSU.
- APEC, Sydney and the Australian Corporate Dystopia
(04/9/07) The situation as world leaders descend.
- A sad day for Australia
(08/8/07) Analysis and criticism of the atrocious decision of the High Court of Australia in Thomas v Mowbray.
- Carbon Offsetting and the Commodification of Guilt
(26/2/07) Some non-technical criticisms.
- Terry Tao for Australian of the Year
(24/8/06) Why you should have nominated him.
- The Tao Nomination: Additional Considerations – Effort and Sacrifice vs. Genetic Predisposition
(24/8/06) Further thoughts about nominating him.
- The Battle of Stanford
(23/4/06) My account of an extraordinary day on campus.
- Australia Day 2007: I have a dream
(29/1/06) The obvious choice for Australian of the Year 2007.