I take photos; see here and here. (To see what I look like click here.)
I have opinions.
Travel and languages
I like to travel. Thanks to the academics, friends, and family, who made it happen.
- When I travel I often give talks.
- Here is a guide to treatment of invited speaker. I hope you find it useful.
- Once, a sound knowledge of the Linux operating system saved me from getting arrested as a terrorist or an assassin. Check it out.
I speak five languages fluently: English, French, German, Hebrew, and Italian.
I learnt the first as a child, the next two thanks to language courses, and the last two on my own, mostly through reading. I do my best to keep them all active.
- The perfect antidote to sitting hunched at a computer all day writing maths papers. I have been dancing for 8 years (and still waiting for the band to show up).
- I love it; it takes me out of myself in what I suppose one could call a Zen state of some kind. I use Assos cycling tights. The quality of the chamois is a revelation but watch out, because they are not durable so you do have to be careful. Cycling in the UK is interesting because the weather is so variable. You really have to be prepared for at least the possibility of hail, snow, and sunshine all in one trip.
- I’ve been walking for around 35 years, so I’m told. I’m sure it was fun when I started, and it’s still fun now.
- I took up rollerblading in Paris and practiced a lot in Eindhoven to keep fit. In London rollerblading is a different proposition. Wherever you are, rollerblading is a great way to dislocate your knee and your arm — and I consider myself to have got off lightly so far. Protection stops breakages but not dislocations, but wear it anyway and get the best there is.
I use Linux. I used a Sony Vaio PCG-Z1R/P, a Panasonic Toughbook CF-T2, and then a Panasonic Toughbook CF-W8.
The first two were groundbreaking, the third was poor (poor screen by modern standards, big and bulky for what it was). To my regret the Panasonic Toughbook range has lost its way; I’d buy a Mac nowadays, and nowadays a lot of people do.
I once bought an OQO01+ which broke within 48 hours of use. I got a replacement and the replacement also broke within 48 hours of use. If you hate yourself buy an OQO.
I like installing operating systems. I have used: Gentoo Linux; a combination of Kanotix and Debian Sarge; now I’m using Ubuntu and Linux Mint.
I keep a hall of fame for programs which changed my life.
I like to cook;
- I specialise in Indian and middle-eastern food.
- For fast food I like beer, goat’s cheese, and heavy dark breads.
- I like Whisky.
- I have found this site useful; there is a good correlation between their recommendations and what I seem to like. I buy (in airports and) from royal mile whiskies; the staff are excellent.
Here are some tasting notes.
I have a food intolerance!
I can’t eat wheat. I am intolerant which means that I can’t digest it.
- I can’t eat pizza, pasta, baguettes, sandwiches, cous-cous, or most biscuits and cakes. I don’t get on terribly well with spelt either.
- I can eat potatoes, rye, oats, rice, barley, and corn; including porridge, barley cous-cous, polenta, gnocchi, pumpernickel, and so on.
- I can also eat meat, fruit, vegetables, nuts, and so on.
- I can eat gnocchi even if they are bound with wheat flour, so long as they are not made out of wheat flour. Likewise I can eat a gravy thickened with wheat flour since again, the amount of wheat is small. (But why bother? a mixture or rye and barley flour does not stick as easily, and has more character.)
- Funnily enough, I’m OK with chocolate cake providing it’s really sinful. That’s all fat and sugar; no problems there.
- I am not allergic. I am not coeliac; I can eat gluten. An allergic reaction is when the body’s immune system mounts a defensive reaction, as if it were being invaded. I do not have that. I just can’t digest wheat flour very well.
I like alcohol, especially strong beers and malt whisky. I keep some tasting notes online.
- My favourite joke:
- “Which is worse: ignorance or apathy? … Who knows? Who cares?”
- My second-favourite joke:
- “If you learn one useless thing every day, in a week you’ll learn 7 useless things.”
- My brother Michael Gabbay is very funny. Here are three of his creations:
- The c-r-a-p generator (also pdf); a useful recipe for formulating philosophical positions.
A nigerian scam (also pdf); I’ll have a commission please.
The Oxford philosopher.
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
I keep a miscellanea of things I approve of, disapprove of, or am shocked by.