Thursday, May 30, 2002


I wasn't writing this weblog in 1999 when I went to Winnipeg for a conference. But I was going through some old files and came across some notes I made on the city. I thought I'd share them here.

Winnipeg is a fairly dull city compared to, say, Toronto, but on the other hand it's exciting when compared to...Minneapolis. Their primary attraction seems to be "The Forks" which is an Inner Harbor-style tourist trap. It can probably be skipped unless you like overpriced, mediocre food.

For something better, get in your car and drive to Alycia's for some really good Ukranian food. Winnipeg is apparently a hotbed of Ukranian food, and this was an excellent place to sample some.

As far as tourist attractions go, the Canadian Mint was pretty interesting. The most interesting thing I learned is that they make coins for other countries under contract. I suppose it makes sense...and if the US ever offered to do that, the countries would probably worry that every time someone in Congress got upset, we'd cut off their coins.

The biggest complaint I have about Winnpeg is how much everybody smoked. As a Marylander, I almost fainted when I saw people smoking in the hotel lobby. Also, the non-smoking section in restaurants is about 4 tables shoved at the end.


Wednesday, May 29, 2002

Contraction Tour, Part One

Last week in Montreal several of us number theorists went to Olympic Stadium to watch the Expos play the Braves. The Expos won in extra innings. I don't know if I've ever been to an extra-inning game before. I went to an overtime Canadian Football League game once...

The stadium was nice enough, but they spent over $1 billion on it. (Even Canadian, that's big money.) They should have gotten more for that. The announcements were all in French, which was sort of a waste, since I think most of the people there were the few remaining Anglophones in Montreal. Actually, that and people who had come up to root for the Braves. I saw plenty of signs from people wanting to get on TBS, but of course none from people wanting on Montreal TV -- the Expos don't have a TV contract. I considered a sign that said "DC Loves the Expos" -- but then realized I might run afoul of the language laws. So I considered "DC L'Expos". But then I didn't want to get thrown out of the stadium -- well, to tell you the truth, I was just too lazy.

Anyway, it was fun. The Metro went right to the stadium -- we didn't even have to go outside. We gathered our meal at "Monsieur Smoked Meat" and headed to our seats -- around $26 Canadian, which weren't bad for lower deck seats between home and third. The game, as often happens with MLB these days, went on too long -- by the end even some of the Braves partisans were hoping the Expos would score and get the game over with. And the attendance was, of course, pitifully low -- in the 5,000 range. Here's hoping I see the Expos again soon -- in DC.

Tuesday, May 28, 2002

A Concise History of Australia

During my trip to Montreal, I finished reading Stuart MacIntyre's A Concise History of Australia. I had earlier read The Fatal Shore, and Christina is currently reading Syndey: The Story of a City, in preparation for our upcoming trip.

A Concise History of Australia is exactly what the title advertises, and exactly what I was looking for. It seems to be a very modern telling of the country's history. It acknowledges that the continent's human history goes back tens of thousands of years, not hundreds. But at the same time it recognizes that non-Aboriginal history is all we've got records of and concentrates on that. In general, where there's an attempt to dip into revisionist history, it mentions the new interpretations while recognizing the traditional view. One thing that I found interesting was the idea that as Australia becomes more diverse through immigration, its people are turning to Aboriginal history as a unifying factor to replace the Imperial history that is meaningful mostly just to the shrinking Anglo-Australian portion of the population. I recommend the book for anybody wanting a historical background before traveling to Australia (or for those who are just curious about the land Down Under).

It even finds time to mention the "dingo ate my baby" story.