Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Society, in general

You know how I am, always making fun of my and other peoples' understanding or pronunciation of words. My latest kick is hearing American and British media announcers struggle with Société Générale, much in the news lately. Now, granted, I don't speak a whole lotta French myself, but I do know it is not supposed to be pronounced: "sosee-eh-TAY generALie" or anything very close to that ;-)

Monday, January 21, 2008

Year in year out

Just about a year ago I was doing what I am doing today, preparing a very large (more or less 600-page) and complex application for grant funding from the National Institutes of Health. I'm still coming up for air as I did last year by peering periodically at Web cams pointed at my favorite landmarks in and around Yellowstone National Park. I've frequently captured shots from Coolworks' offices at Corwin Springs, Montana, pointed magnificent Electric Peak inside the borders of Yellowstone National Park. Here it is today in all its exquisite beauty. It's been a truly proper winter - appropriately cold and snowy - the first in years in the region. The thermometer on Coolworks' page says it's -17o F. LET IT SNOW!!!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Ize on the Prize for Worst Dressed

Wealth does not endow good taste or even a cheery face. Here's proof-positive. 'Nuf said.

Photo from today's e-Daily Mail, thank you very much.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

The Universe, and everything

It was gratifying to listen to Janna Levin speak about her interpretation of the universe today on Chicago Public Radio. She and I share a belief system, although she expresses the ideas more beautifully and convincingly than I. For me, the miracle of the cosmos is that it can be described precisely in mathematical terms, and every day more of it is measured and understood in this way. The mystery and joy is in the why, especially if one is not inclined to attribute it to god.
Thinking back on it, this is how I have always felt, though I couldn't articulate my thoughts until I got the vocabulary by being married to a (non-religious) physicist. In spite of my interest in his work, I don't think I ever heard him talk about, maybe because he never actually felt, the beauty of mathematics in this particular way.
My parents were avowed atheists. My mother was mostly benign about it, and had not a spiritual bone in her body. My father was assertively anti-religion. He considered any kind of spirituality a symptom of religiosity and a serious character flaw. Perhaps if they had a greater understanding of mathematics (though unusually accomplished people, both were nincompoops even at arithmetic), their lives, and so also mine, would have been very different.