Good news - I won my first Ebay auction on Friday, for a copy of Biggles. It's a great film, and I've been looking for a copy for ages - it's now been deleted in the UK, and the DVD release got cancelled, so it was hard to find. Anyway, that arrived yesterday, so I watched it last night. It's very much an 80s film, with all that entails, e.g. the funky soundtrack. The guy who played Biggles was great - quite like the way Dan Dare is done in the Saturday morning series. Cut-glass accent, and completely unflappable. Anyway, enough raving - you should all go and watch it!
On the downside, there's been a bit of friction within ICSF lately, but hopefully that will resolve itself soon.
Had an interesting lecture this afternoon. This is the weekly research seminar, which basically involves a guest speaker, and an audience of about 50 people - staff, PhD people, and a couple of MSc students. In fact, I think I may have been the youngest person there today, which makes a change from normal classes :) Ah well, at least it's a good way of making myself known to lecturers, if they keep seeing my face popping up. I haven't got to the point of asking questions yet, as I'm not quite at the same level as the other people there. E.g. a couple of weeks ago, the speaker said at the start "Well, I was going to give an overview of the subject, but I see that about half of you are people that I've worked with, so I'll skip the overview and go for details instead". Erm, hang on! One thing I've noticed is that the average question (at the end of the talk) goes on for about 2 minutes, and tends to involve a summary of the questioner's recent research...
Anyway, today's talk. He was giving a Powerpoint presentation, so each slide had a picture in the corner, e.g. a photo of a bust of Plato. At one point he was discussing Dung's work (pronounced "Doong"), and he had a photo of a Chinese guy. He then said "Some of you may have worked with Dung when he was in London a few years ago, in which case you'll know that this isn't actually him. But I couldn't find a picture of him, so this is a photo of someone else with the same name." The actual subject of the talk was about "value argument frameworks" - basically solving problems like "Is it right for a starving man to steal a loaf of bread to feed his family", by associating value systems with arguments.
What's significant is that the speaker comes from a background in law. So, he mentioned an ethical dilemma from Hendon Police Academy (a diabetic breaking into someone's house to get insulin), and the idea of judges making decisions to build their own framework (this action is justifiable under these circumstances). That reminded me of when I wanted to be a barrister (when I was at school), and applied to various universities to study Law. In my UCCA form, I said "My eventual aim, through establishing a series of precedents, is to achieve the synonimity of law, justice, and morality." Which I know sounds slightly pretentious in retrospect :) I was rejected everywhere without even an interview, and the general concensus amongst my Durham friends is that I sounded too idealistic. Anyway, the point is that what the guy today was talking about sounds like much the same thing - you plug in the arguments and counter-arguments, and define which values take precedence over which others, then it spits out the answer at the other end. So, I quite like the idea that I could wind up achieving my old ambition after all, just via technology instead of oratory.