Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Instead of working on Slice & Dice draft with Stefan

anti-dote, to help you recover from the Xmass drivel:
Pretty Girls Make Graves
Soophie Nun Squad
Waxahatchee - Sister Saint
Sara Cilantro
I Monster
Why this despair? Let us summarize where we are on the Dreams of Grand Scheme timeline:
Erik's thesis topic was to use periodic orbits to describe turbulence. Believes he is Feigenbaum's student, is baffled that his paper with Roberto and me is still his most cited paper. Erik knows weirdest things, like details of Polish history, but on turbulence he failed utterly. Freddy, Vaktang, Yuheng and Evangelos finally did the essential preliminary steps, on a 1-dimensional model of a 'turbulent' flame. Jonathan was the first, with fellow Zappatista John, to really work on fluid turbulence. I still have to find someone willing to understand and so we can quotient symmetries, cut Poincare sections and finally recycle fluid turbulence.
That would be a warm up step to applying the Grand Scheme to Yang-Mills and general relativity.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Brian Dykstra - Break The Bank S.W.A.P 08

Bail THEM out

The decline and fall of baby boomers

Prairie Home Companion: "Today I broke my previous record for number of consecutive days being alive"
If you are thinking of retirement near an ivory tower...

Baby boomers cannot not be the center of attention, even when they cannot remember why.

Now, if you think you have had a senior moment too many, take comfort in the anecdotes about Norbert Wiener’s absentmindedness: the time he reported the theft of his car to the police, only to discover that he had driven it to Providence for a talk and taken the train back to Boston; the conversation in an MIT hallway he concluded by asking his interlocutor which way he had been heading when he stopped to chat, greeting the answer by saying, “Good! That means I’ve already had lunch.”

And here, a bleaker view, lucidly laid out.. And why doing a PhD is often a waste of time.

Do doctors improve with age, while physicists and mathematicians are dead meat past 30?

On the cheerful side, Mimi (no spring chicken herself) notes: You know what Oliver Wendell Holmes said when he was 96 and saw a pretty girl walking down the street. He said,"Oh to be 90 again".
Jim Morrison: "No one here gets out alive"
Nevertheless, I do solemnly promise to stretch out mu dotage at least until my quasi-godchild Oscar's luminous being materializes by my side. This is contingent upon a black lady with a tinted-glass SUV blabbing into her cell phone while checking her Gucci bag on the back seat not running me over before then. (February 1 2011 such lady from Turner Broadcasting ran me over while I was crossing a pedestrian crossing, and she was stationary. When I got over 2/3 of the crossing, she started the car and run me into the ground - there was no way of jumping of the bike, her front-left end of the bumper got my legs entangled. I was bleeding, the left leg turned purple, I hurt all over for weeks, the front wheel got bent out of shape, but she did not get me. She's lurking out there for the next chance.)

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Whuz y'r name?

Margy requests: "I am publishing the audio edition of The Cosmic Blueprint by Paul Davies. You are mentioned in the book
"The new paradigm amounts to turning 300 years of entrenched philosophy on its head. To use the words of physicist Predag Cvitanovic [relative of Predrag Cvitanović?] 'Junk your old equations and look for guidance in the repeating patterns of clouds'. It is in short nothing less than a brand new start in the description of nature"
and I would greatly appreciate it if you could please email me the correct pronunciation of your full name."

Here is how I pronounce it: 

and here is how Google transcribes this:
Tony, My mother just don't know. Hope to pronounce my name. Hey, what's up. Bye, but she's down, so I will try my best. The problem is that my first name has to wall and ceiling and I can't pronounce it myself. Yes, I guess. Talk to the claim deed from my biological clock. I'd like to give me a call. Yes, glad, that sweet. Tom credit check, see passage.
I love Google voice, it's better than having a cell phone - it emails me voice messages. The best thing is the transcription. For my future merry widow it transcribes things like (excuse the formatting errors)
Sara:      "I'll have a busy day"   gvoice: "I wish you would die" Predrag: "Hi Predrag"               "Hi pathetic" Predrag: "Will you?"               "Love you" Gene:     "Hey Predrag, it's Gene"               "hey Babe, it's Jean" Katrin:    "Hi Predrag, it's Katrin"               "Hi gets cobson" Ed:         "Predrag!"               "Hey brother" Sara:      "Hi, Predrag Cvitanovic"               "Hi, but in the back see if you haven't reached" Sara:      "Hi, Predrag Cvitanovic, this is your wife"               "Hi today that state that it's DC's, Joe Weiss" Gunilla:   "Hi Predrag, it's your long lost friend Gunilla"               "Hi, padzo H, this issue as long as I said, I'm going to know" A nurse: "Hello Mr. Cvitanovic, this is Rosalyn"               "Hello Missus. It's on a. This is Robert"  A sales person: "Good morning Mr. Cvitanovic"               "Good morning Mrs. Print out of reach" Diego:    "Hi Predrag"               "Hey Derek" Ed:         "the ophthalmologist"               "the office for malicious" Sara:       "transferred to oncology"               "it doesn't hurt to apologies" Sara:      "driving me crazy"               "hey Casey"
Sara:      "because I miss you"               "because Denise you" Sara:      "sleepiness"               "sweet business" Sara:      "kisses"               "He's Just" Sara:      "it's a mess"               "eat a massage" Sara:      "it's Ellen's birthday"               "A status birds" Sara:      "recovering from the dinner"               "recovering from the died" Sara:      "I'm back home"              "I have dot com" Sara:      "as soon as you can"               "that's nasty and" Sara:      "welcome back, kiss kiss"              "comes back. Thank you. Steve" Mitchell: "if I exist"               "the fight process" Barbara: "Itamar's coming"               "Hey. Mars coming" Gene: "would be just Clara"               "could be a stickler"  Katrin:   "how grown up Clara and Alexander have become"               "how the drawn up by mix up, but if not I have to come" Katrin:    "got back on Monday evening from our travels"               "got back on Monday evening from Allah. Travet..." Gunilla:   "Hi Predrag, it's your long lost friend Gunilla"               "Hi, padzo H, this issue as long as I said, I'm going to know" Siri:        "Happy birthday to you"              "Hi he has been you know" Sara:      "took the candidate out for dinner"               "took the copy that that 50" Sara:      "I'm on my way downtown. Hugs and kisses"               "I would be dot doctor Kai. Thank you sir bye bye" Dusko:    "it's 9 o'clock in Chicago"               "Center call think" Predrag:  "Hi Evans nothing of any urgency It's Predrag  I'm just calling to find out how                 Charity's doing.  Whenever. "                 "HI. I'm on the nothing. Overmilitarization brother I'm just calling to find out what                  services and Linda"
         Predrag: "Google Voice"                        "global lawyers"
Predrag: "working like it should?"               "black and black shirt"
Pretty sharp, nein? I do miss Denise very much. While I am at it, on a totally unrelated topic, my prayers are answered. I just have to fall on my head, and when and if I come back, I'll be speaking fluent German: Croatian teen wakes from coma speaking fluent German. You can write anything you want about me, just spell my name right.

Wikipedia criticism, and why it fails to matter - What Is Research?

Wikipedia criticism, and why it fails to matter - What Is Research?

Extreme Ice Survey - time lapse photography of glaciers melting

Extreme Ice Survey :: Home Page

Friday, October 01, 2010

This surfer is no Einstein

Hasten Jason, El Naschie Watch
[8 Mar 2010]
"The magic square did it! His colleague Prof. P. Cvitanović, a student of another extragalactic like El Naschie is saying the same."

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Shirin Neshrat "Passage."

Lolo writes: Blott spent a couple of days up here in the city with me. We went to the SFMOMA and saw the "Fisher Exhibit." There was a film piece by an Iranian woman, Shirin Neshrat. It was called "Passage."  Blott couldn't take it. She left and I stayed to see the entire piece. It was incredibly moving. It had a Philip Glass score and was approximately 15 minutes long. If there is any way that you can view it online, I suggest you do it. It was so powerful that I started to cry uncontrollably. The film was of a funereal procession in a very stark and foreboding environment, where the desert meets the sea. There were 150 men dressed in black carrying a shrouded body on a stretcher in a highly choreographed manner all around the dessert. In the distance, a circle of women in chadors dig through the rough sand and rock with their bare hands creating a burial mound in which to put the corpse. A young girl sits  in the foreground mimicking the circle of women building a miniature rock mound with small stones, then a wall of fire is ignited and unites the entire piece.

It sure is hard. Death is always hard. The inevitable. No escape. 

Greetings from atop Mount Davidson/self portrait with skull head /HALLOWEEN my favorite time of year/.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury

These are not good times for some of our dearest friends. The title of Blot's email "told by an idiot, full of sound and fury" says it all:


The queen, my lord, is dead.


She should have died hereafter;
There would have been a time for such a word.
To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day
To the last syllable of recorded time,
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

A bit of Atlanta economics in numbers

In "NY hedge fund partner trying to convert Atlanta ‘red' land into green space |" Michael Messner, a 1976 Georgia Tech civil engineering graduate, says:

Over the past 10 years, government policies pushed vast over-investment in useless, unproductive commercial and residential development. Total real estate values reached $45 trillion, then fell by $15 trillion; the whole U.S. stock market is worth $14 trillion.

Atlanta’s retail vacancy rate is 13 percent, one of the highest in the nation. The Atlanta region has vacant office space equivalent to 24 empty Bank of America towers, the largest office building in the Southeast. Over 30 percent of homes with mortgages were in negative equity at the end of 2009, leading to one of the highest foreclosure rates in the country.

Because of this, Georgia leads the nation in bank failures. The city has lost over 30,000 construction jobs in the last three years. Atlanta has vacant lots selling for 25 cents on the dollar. Commercial real estate transactions are down 90 percent from 2006, so there is no liquidity in the market.

And Atlanta is park-poor. Less than 5 percent of its area is parkland; it is among the lowest metros in green space per resident.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Brainless Fish in Topless Bar

One of persistent urban legends eating brains of MBAs is the story of critters that allegedly eat their own brains out, in a manner of high academic administrators. Debunked here:
Brainless Fish in Topless Bar | Fast Company

Thursday, August 26, 2010

This blog is above average

Estimated percentage of all existing blogs that have not been updated in four months: 94%

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Asperger's out

To my personal playwright, of K. und K. fame:

Got a gifted undergraduate - mathematically inclined (ie, what they diagnose as autistic spectral disorder nowadays). We look at each other in silence, mostly. Man to man kinda thing, no wonder no woman wants to do theoretical physics.

Is the more fashionable label Asperger's Syndrome? I've heard it has a certain cache among autistics. I wish there were a way to tell if someone actually had autism or simply doesn't know how to talk to live people. Maybe he was raised on a lonely, isolated farm in Kansas with emotionally remote, deaf-mute parents, and the only one who truly loved him was a cow. Just a theory.
sorry K, Asperger's out - it had a cachet, and we were all trying to get it as a diagnosis, but the threshold is high - gotta be Dirac or Grothendick. Now it exists no more as a diagnosis, it's subsumed in the autistic spectrum. The magic is gone, bit like the magic is gone out of what used to be PanAm, but is now the Delta business class.

In March or so blah-blah K had an idea he was going to tell me about. I've taken a number in the queue with K so he can talk at me in a long uninterrupted stream. I'm married so I am trained, just gotta say yes o yes at regular intervals to indicate I'm still awake.

Jokes don't travel well on email (or Facebook, as I've learned to my chagrin more than once). Besides, you can never expect a man to joke about his cow.
all of the contents of all my blogs are strictly confidential, and can be only used as a fodder for scientist characters in plays, mercilessly dissected.

Anyway, report form the trenches: HE is just sitting there bent over His desk, not torturing any Japanese. Depressed? Hard to know, we men do not get into emotions.

But today is an exceptional day, as I have - for reasons that fill my chest with pride - 4-wheels unpacked and ready to roll. Do you want me to pick up some pizzas to feed the brood, or they all have prior violin / soccer/ kung-fu / German literature club / Eminem support group/ ... appointments tonight?

Doublet inspection day? Pizza would be a good thing, and well appreciated, especially by the Sophia doublet. This weekend?
Looking at my weekend schedule I only see vasty deep of existential angst - yet another weekend where instead of catching up I have sunk even deeper into impossibility of dealing with but an ever shrinking fraction of things that must be taken care off. Issue orders. Doublets have very firm opinions about such things, so to be specific:

You call the pizzeria of Ἁγία Σοφία's desire and order those and only ingredients that Doublet will consume, and I will unpack the four-wheeler (two wheels good, four wheels bad) and pick up the consumables on the way. The usual rules apply: adults converse about any fascinating thing in the universe, except for the small mammals at hand. They are hard not to notice even in the best of families. No dipping to 10 year olds IQs, OK?

I would love to increase eternal interaction with my mother. Unfortunately I don't know how to contact her. But, speaking of the living nonAsperger's folk, I'll order from Athens pizza, if you want, though we're closer to a Mellow Mushroom.

Hey, speaking of plays, I'm tentatively starting a play about a humanoid-appearing robot head. Yeah, I know, sounds like fun, but it will be I think a play about how we form attachments, how we anthropomorphize, and how we grieve. And a comedy, of course.
Isn't this what we mean by "Talking Head?" Whatever. I'll drive from Virginia Highlands and pick up the pizza, say when and where. Should we take the Doublets to National Coming Out Day on Saturday October 10?

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Correct attribution is hard, especially for the past

As mathematician and golfing visionary Doug Arnold wrote 3:33AM on Jun 10, 2010 (and I have archived the exact email, for the future historians of Google urban myths)
"Correct attribution is hard, especially for the past."

Doug does not do pro sports, I threw in the golfing reference as in US you have to be a sports celeb to gain street cred as a source of quotes. But he is a pro, and we are grateful for him for much other than golfing, see for example this.

Often one reads that Niels Bohr (or even Yogi Berra AKA "I never said the most of the things I said") said that
"It's hard to make predictions, especially about the future."

Anglo-centered webpages (see, for example, and ascribe the quote to everyone and her Anglo-Saxon mother.

W. J. Moore, in Schrödinger, Life and Thought (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 1989), p. 320 refers to this as an “old Danish proverb” that Bohr was fond of quoting. All Danes, however, know that it was the cartoonist Storm P. who said it first:
»Det er svært at spå, især om fremtiden«.

Well, not so. The gist of what follow (to you ignorant of Danish - much is lost here in translation) is that it goes back to 1930's and 1918, and presumably earlier than that. In old fashioned way, a source for the claim is provided: MP in the Danish Parliament during late 1930's. Steincke, K.K., "Farvel og Tak", p. 227. 1948 / Vogel-Jørgensen, T., "Bevingede ord" p. 124 (Gad 1990).

So it was not Storm P. Then it is attributed to Markus M. Ronner, where the track -for the moment- is lost in the fog of Germanic citations.

Which brings us to the general problem of correct attribution. Sir Michael Berry puts it this way:

But one ought to get things in perspective, and so I offer (not entirely seriously) three laws. First, there is the fact that it is hard to achieve justice in the attribution of scientific ideas, and this leads to

Arnold's Law (after the famous Russian mathematician): No discovery is credited to the right person. (Of course this applies to Arnold's Law too.)

The second law says that it is not only hard but impossible to achieve justice, because it seems that one can always find a precursor to any thought. So we have

Berry's Law: Nothing is ever discovered for the first time. (This too is self-referential.)

Here now is the third law, which I offer not because it applies to us (nor do the others, really) but because it is deep. It is a quotation from a philosopher:

Whitehead's Law: To come close to a true theory and to realise its precise application are two very different things, as the history of science teaches us. Everything of importance has been said before by someone who did not discover it.

Danish sources:
LUNDSKOV.DK :: Citater

Ifølge Politiken, Storm P. sagde ikke: »Det er svært at spaa, især naar det gælder Fremtiden«, det er et af de citater, man ikke kender ophavsmanden til.
• Ifølge K.K.Steinckes erindringsbog ”Farvel og Tak”,(s.227, 1948) var det en sprogblomst som faldt i Folketinget 1935-39.
• I T.Vogel-Jørgensens ”Bevingede ord” (Gad, 1990, side 124) oplyses bl.a., at Steincke på forespørgsel har oplyst, at han ikke huskede hvem der havde sagt det.
• Ordsproget omtales også i en den norske ”Bevingede ord”. Her skriver man: ” Det er vanskelig å spå - især om fremtiden, setning som har vært tillagt den da. forf. R. Storm Petersen. Dette er ikke riktig, og opphavet er usikkert. Ifølge den da. politiker K. K. Steincke (1880-1963) i Farvel og Tak, 227 (1948) er den falt i det da. Folketinget i tiden 1935-39, men verken Steincke eller andre har kunnet angi opphavsmannen. ”
• I art. ”9250”, i det norske tidsskrift Samtiden 1918, siger prof. Fredrik Paasche: ”Det er en vanskelig sak å spå om fremtiden.” At Paasche ikke bruker den vanligste formen, eller føyer til ”som bekjent” el.l., tyder på at sentensen er yngre enn 1918.”
• I ”Den store citatbog” af J.B. Holmgård (Reitzels forlag, 2.oplag 1993, s.118), er citatet ”Det er svært at spå, især om fremtiden” tilegnet Markus M.Ronner m.fl.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Fight jetlag by not sleeping says:

Fight jetlag by not sleeping. The secret to fighting jetlag has been discussed by lots of travel experts, but we found the common advice—to stay awake until night falls in your new destination—to be unhelpful. “We have found that a shower and a short nap (no more than 2 hours) after landing is just the trick. Then we head out, enjoy the afternoon and evening, have a good night's sleep and are good-to-go! Check when booking hotels about early check-in, or even pay for the night before, so the room is available as soon as you land. Money well spent!” I’ve tried both methods, and for me, the mythbusters are absolutely right: A short nap and a shower is the perfect remedy to a long, sleepless flight.

Saturday, April 03, 2010


The Facebook, my Gawd? I've never had so many people remember my birthday. Three screenfulls of gmail inbox scrolling continuously like a screen saver.

Windbag Senior says: "Wait till the senior moments start. (I've been having them for years:2^5.)"

I agree - 32 is such wonderful age. Talkin' bout my generation? As to the symptoms... Constantly running to pee, having bowel movements at oddest times, beautiful girls looking through you as one would look through a train window - you have to admire my courage, [this to Rock'n'roll Dreams, who could not understand why I bother to carry on, already in 1978] to survive all that for so long.

2^6 is a good number, in base 64 it is 10, so I got to blow out one lit candle, and blow out one imagined candle standing for zero. Half of the Indians at the dinner were Jewish, so the cake was Passover cake, made of matzo flour. Really good.

Next day I windbagged my way through two lectures at Tufts. Under the portrait of Norbert Wiener as a 13 year old graduate.

We count our blessings.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Grothendieck has spoken: what now?

This declaration by Alexandre Grothendieck, has been placed on the homepages of the Grothendieck Circle (in French), and Ferment Magazine (in English):

Declaration of my intention to refuse permission to allow my works to be published

I have no intention of publishing, or republishing, any work or text of which I am the author, in any form whatsoever, in electronic or print media, whether it be in the form of entire works or extracts, whether or not they be texts of a scientific or personal character, or any other kind, or in the form of personal letters addressed to others - as well as all translations of texts of which I am the author.

All editions or transmission of such texts which have been produced in the past without my express permission, or shall be made in the future as long as I am alive, which will or has been done in opposition to my will, as it is precisely expressed herein, will be deemed illegitimate in my eyes.

To the degree that I become aware of them, I will insist to the makers of these pirate editions, or any other publications including, without my express permission, texts from my own hand (apart from possible citations of a few lines at most), that they immediately withdraw these works from the marketplace; that the directors of libraries holding copies of my works, that these works be removed at once.

If my intentions as an author, as clearly expressed here, are treated as dead-letter, then let the shame of their contempt for me fall upon the heads of those responsible for those illegitimate editions, and on the directors of the libraries that harbor them. (From the moment that one or the other be informed of my intentions)

Made at my residence January 3, 2010 AG

Tuesday, February 23, 2010 404 IT STINX

OK, I admit it: I never liked phones. I tried to live without one but having a wife and no phone is not possible. Actually, even before that - I moved into Livjaegergade without phone, but one day Carsten got so annoyed that he ordered one for me. As one fifth of Danes share the same name, and rest the remaining dozen names, they use their profession to distinguish themselves in the phone book. I got "fa." as a suffix, and an irate call from a ladyfrom the phone company to complain that I was misrepresenting myself, as I was no "fabrikant" (factory owner). Took me a while to get her to accept that I was a "fremmed arbejder" (foreigner worker), but she eventually gave up, and "fa." I stayed for next twenty years, with phone numbers everywhere: Copenhagen, New York, Chicago, Atlanta. Urrrgh. But at least I have no cell phone. Yet.

If one calls my number 404 487 8469, any number of phones in US that I set as active ring: home, office, Chicago home, a cell phone, or wherever I happen to be. If none of them answer, records callers message, and sends it to me by email. For example, one can try to pronounce my name, and it shows up in my email:


It also transcripts it - and that is hilarious, it does not like any immigrant accents, so far only a lady from GaTech Human Resources got transcripted sensibly. Typical result is more like this:


If any phone picks up before google voicemail kicks in, then I do not get
a message - that's why I am trying to disable voicemail on all phones.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Inhuman Resources

I did my best to fill in my p-card (work purchasing credit card) and sign 7000 places, but not once since 2001 has this thing just gone in - always comes back to me multiple times. For example, there is some person in Inhuman Resources who does not like the way I sign these things. So I feel it less traumatic I put these forms in a cubbyhole of one of our administrators who actually does not do these things, but has gentle hands. It will be passed on, and come back to me in a few days.

It's also an occasion for celebration, because I refused to authorize Inhuman Resources to do a criminal check on me, so this is my last p-card, and from now on my attempts to get purchases refunded will take on a still more voluminous paperwork form. I was hoping for something more in the tradition of Anglo-Saxon jurisprudence (Magna Carta, presumption of innocence, stuff like that) when I immigrated to these shores from "them" (the comrades of former communist Yugoslavia).

Gowd, I must be turning Libertarian? It's something they are adding to Virginia-Highlands water.

But having all administration (financial offices, grant office, computer people) turn from supporting us in our work to running interference and policing us is getting increasingly tedious, so I'm getting edgy. This is what happened. First a secretary somewhere embezzled tens of thousands of dollars (our annual budget is 1.2 billion dollars). Then another secretary posted naked pictures of herself using work computer. The level of wrongdoing remains the same. To cite Patrick Jenkins, senior Information Systems Auditor (Whistle, April 2010):

It's important to remember that it's a very small minority involved in questionable activity. [...] The problems we run across are easily 0.01 percent or less of what we look at, overall.
Total 2010 GaTech budget is $1.2B, so we are talking about $120K in questionable spending. School of physics alone has about 4 people using most of their time generating paperwork related to faculty purchases. My wild guess is that we are spending between $1M and $10M to prevent faculty from initiating potentially questionable spending in $100K range. Would it not be much cheaper to assume that the faculty and staff consists of upright citizens, and criminally prosecute the few that stray from the straight path?

Nevertheless - transition took only couple of years - we have been kidnapped by a locust cloud of liability lawyers, who construe the purpose of the Flagship of Technology and Science of Southeast to be preventing people who work here from doing anything that could become a criminal liability for the institution.

In the old time my computer would greet me like this:

--- welcome to "zero", the CNS linux network server ---
--- ubuntu/dapper linux 2.6 2 amd86x64 ---

Now that KBG has taken over, it greets us like this:
This system is for the use of authorized users only. Individuals using this computer system without authority, or in excess of their authority, are subject to having their activities on this system monitored and recorded. Be advised that if such monitoring reveals possible evidence of criminal activity, system personnel may provide the evidence to law enforcement officials.
Well thank you so much. In my innate state of moral turpitude the thought that criminal activity might lead me to law enforcement officials never crossed my mind. Now I'll be doubly vigilant while engaging in it. And while we are at it, can you please hang a sign around the neck of every child entering the campus saying:

Georgia Civil Code Secs. 19-7-5/19-15- 1/49-5-180 and Georgia Criminal Code Secs. § 16-3-20. Parent or person in loco parentis reasonably disciplining of a minor has a justification for a criminal prosecution based on that conduct.
plus rest of the penal code, lest we forget. So now we are recruiting top talent by whispering sweet nothings in their ears while a job offer that reads like incarceration papers is in the mail.

As an added security measure, an unattended computer on my desk locks up every 15 (fifteen) minutes and pops up the above winged greeting. Then you press [ctrl][alt][del] and type in your user ID and your password, and voila! you can continue your criminal activities. Really improves your productivity while keeping you out of the jail. So everybody is lugging their laptops to work, and waiting for the day when a G4 wireless connection will liberate us. Part of our research is already running on John's off-campus server, and I'll have to move the rest as well.

The stupidities our IT Security Organs impose in their very effective work on preventing us from working... For example, CNS network Tzar and I could not [shut down] the Center communal W7 PC, so we had to request the KGB administrator to come, log in as administrator. What goes through IT people's heads I cannot fathom. My instinct is that if you give people a chance, they'll do the right thing. Why would they be doing science otherwise?

I'm writing pointless letters of protest, like to our telephone police. "They" just informed us that from now on they will erase any voice mail older than 30 days. So I'm trying to figure how to move all my voice mail to They are not technology powerhouse, like us, but they seem to be able to keep voicemail for more than 30 days. If the locust cloud of liability lawyers does this to our emails - and - for added computer security - to all our computer files, the life will become so much simpler again. As secure as the death itself.

Followup: What I wrote above was in the morning. Since then I got this email: "You have turned in your January p-card statement. However, you have not signed it on the cardholder signature line. Please come by the Finance Office as soon as possible to sign your statement."

I'm fairly sure I signed that piece of paper, but not on the right dotted line. The world will collapse and both our departmental Financial Officers and I will be taken away in ball and chains if I do not "come by the Finance Office as soon as possible to sign". But I feel too fragile to attempt such a thing in my present condition.

Nobody said that life here would be a bed of roses.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

In the real world such defects could have consequences

My personal playwright, of K. und K. fame:

"The liberation of the laptop. We can work anywhere, any time, so we drift away from our offices, retreating into our own little cyberworlds, while the floors grow quiet as the prairie and the nexus of activity spins apart... Know what I have? A writing board, coffee shops, and a consortium of bastards. Go cry on someone else's shoulder."

"While a physicist's gotta hide, dramatista needs to feel the pulse of humanity and lots of bastards to get adrenaline flowing. Go get them!"

"Oh, I don't have to go get them, it's the theater community, I can't avoid them. On the other hand, knowing so many actors, directors, and, yes, playwrights, has given me an invaluable understanding of narcissism, callowness, superficiality, cravenness, hypocrisy, selfishness, and self-delusion. Fortunately, most of these people don't live in the real world, where such defects could have serious consequences. We are so much more comfortable in the black box than Out There, where the others don't realize how special we are."

"I've had some interest in [my own story] over the years, but that's never led to production. 2010 might be the year, though; I've submitted it to Essential Theater and to Stage Door. However, I've given up trying to figure out how ADs make their decisions. I've moved on."

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Do no count citations, impact numbers

This from D. N. Arnold, SIAM NEWS, December 4, 2009 (via my friend Gregor)
Integrity Under Attack: The State of Scholarly Publishing

Pay no heed to silly numbers - just check what journal the good publications that you have read are, publish there. Even that can be gamed and is, in good journals like Physical Review Letters; once you establish a little subfield, with a group of friends citing and refereeing each other, it can have a good run with not very good articles. There is no defense other than common sense.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Incurrable schmaltz

I cannot help it. Instead of doing anything sensible, I fell for this. And this. OK, here are a few movies that I love. They might be pure schmaltz, but I cannot help it - I'm an incurable romantic:

Off the Map
Genghis Blues (a wonderful documentary by my two nephews)
Everything is Illuminated (with lead singer of Punk Bordello as interpreter)
Across the Universe (the baby boomer relapse)
Run Lola, Run (a movie about sensitivity to initial conditions)

For adult couple viewing I recommend any of Sid Nagel's 10 best movies.