Fairly Symmetrical

April 2002 Archives

11:41 AM by Eric: This is, I think, the Politics

This is, I think, the first thing I have ever read that gives me any kind of hope for the Middle East. I have a lot of respect for these people.

11:49 PM by Eric: Ah, irony -- my favorite Misc

Ah, irony -- my favorite form of humor (scroll down to the two paragraphs about Josh Peyton. The ironic bit should be obvious if you have a decent grasp of grammar).

05:50 PM by Eric: Yeah, baby: it's back. For Misc

Yeah, baby: it's back. For a cool $4,990, no less. ;)

03:10 PM by Eric: In other incredibly bone-headed moves: Misc

In other incredibly bone-headed moves: Best Buy has comparison shopper arrested. Yeah, okay. I mean, there's two courses of action here:

  1. Throw out comparison shoppers. In this case, you have zero chance of selling to the shopper, since they're not even in your store any more.
  2. Don't throw out comparison shoppers. In this case, there's a chance the shopper will discover a lower price elsewhere, and a chance they will not. Which means there's a chance you'll sell to the shopper.

Call me crazy, but if I'm a retailer I'd at least like a chance to sell to the shopper.

Credit to Jenny for alerting me to this particular ridiculousness.

02:58 PM by Eric: It's a sad, sad state Politics

It's a sad, sad state of affairs when the leaders of the Catholic religion are discussing whether or not they should ignore child molestation by their priests as long as it's not a "serial" offense. I mean, cause you know, just molesting two or three kids, that's no big deal, right? No harm no foul, you know?

Yahoo! news article

10:21 PM by Eric: I actually had something to Personal

I actually had something to post, but by the time I went to post it, I forgot what it was. :-P

So instead I'll just say: I'm glad I'm me. :)

08:43 AM by Eric: One of the most annoying Personal

One of the most annoying things about working for a company with 200,000 employees is that it's quite common to get someone else's e-mail. I've spent the last few days replying several times to various e-mails with a form letter that says, "I'm pretty sure you meant to send this to Eric C. Means, not Eric D. Means."

01:59 PM by Eric: Screwy weather this weekend. It Personal

Screwy weather this weekend. It went from sunny and nearly 90 on Thursday to 50 and raining cats and dogs on Friday, and then back to mid-70s the rest of the weekend.

In other news, something has seriously irritated my immune system. I don't know if the rapid weather changes made me sick, or caused the mold/tree pollen counts to shoot through the roof, or I just got "lucky", but Saturday afternoon I went from perfectly healthy to sore throat, congested, headachy, bleah. I still don't feel entirely well, though spending nearly all of Sunday asleep helped. We did go to Christina's for dinner and a movie (How to Kill Your Neighbor's Dog, starring Kenneth Branagh and some other people -- odd, but pretty good).

01:49 PM by Eric: Wow, what a gorgeous day. Personal

Wow, what a gorgeous day. It's about 80 degrees outside, sunny, not a cloud in the sky. I do not want to be inside today. Ah well, at least I don't work Fridays.

04:35 PM by Eric: I want to take a Personal

I want to take a course on Game Theory, but it does not appear that Wash U offers such. That's not cool. I wonder if SLU has one…

04:32 PM by Eric: Copenhagen and Dar Culture | Music | Reviews | Theatre

Okay, this last week and a half has been insane. I'm going hermit tonight.

So here's a big chunk of an update, because I've been too busy to post any for a while.

Anyway, Jenny and I ushered at a play called Copenhagen Monday night. There's no action in the play at all; it's nearly pure dialogue. I mean, obviously, the characters move around, gesture, and whatnot, but everything interesting happens vocally. The basic plot of the play is that Werner Heisenberg (of Uncertainty Principle fame) is visiting his old friend and mentor, Niels Bohr, and Bohr's wife, in their home in Copenhagen.

Actually the play relays multiple visits, from as early (IIRC) as about 1924? to as late as post-World War II. The whole plot, however, centers on one specific visit Heisenberg made in 1941, the motives for which had been shrouded in mystery. (Yes, this play is all about theoretical physics. Well, sort of.)

Heisenberg, Bohr, and Bohr's wife are all dead, and Heisenberg (in some sort of unexplained afterlife sort of thing) is trying to explain his actual motives for that 1941 visit. The crux of the dilemma is that 1941 was, of course, the height of German power during WWII in Europe, and Heisenberg was the head of the German nuclear program. Bohr lived in Copenhagen, and Denmark was at that time a "conquered" nation.

If you really want all the details of the plot, I'm sure you can find a review or a plot summary somewhere; the play apparently won a Tony. What I wanted to say about the play is that a) it was quite good—much better than you might expect a nearly purely dialogue-driven play about theoretical physicists to be, and b) I was both torn and interested by the discussions of actual physics in the play. As you might expect in any work which is intended for mass consumption, the discussions of Uncertainty and quantum and nuclear physics were heavily simplified. This is a good thing, and a bad thing.

It's a good thing because it allows the play to make a point about the human condition—that is, the play drew an interesting metaphor between human perception, memory, and introspection, and the difficulties (better, impossibilities) inherent in the scientific ideal of pure, objective measurement independent of subjectivity or observational effects. It's a bad thing because the metaphor has limits. I rather enjoyed the discussion of "the unobservable observer", for instance, but the play did bring to mind my Art History class in college. In that class, the professor brought up Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle in relation to art. I don't remember the precise way in which he used the HUP, but suffice to say that it was based on a hugely erroneous "understanding" of the HUP specifically and quantum physics in general. The four or five of us in the class who were engineers were pretty uniformly horrified by the usage, but several of the other students in the class seemed to take it as an excellent point.

Now, my point here is very definitely not to say that art students are idiots, or even that art students don't understand physics. As a matter of fact, I told Jenny about what the prof had said, and she was of the same opinion as I was—in fact, she more or less condemned even the art history the prof was teaching as well. My point, rather, is to say that there are (admittedly indistinct and wavering) limits as to how far a metaphor may be pushed, and in some cases I felt this play flirted with those limits. I still liked it, though. :)

The Dar concert last week was, as expected, fantastic. The opening act was Kris Delmhorst, who I had never heard of before. Jenny's assessment was that she had a gorgeous voice, but could use some help in the songwriting department. Personally, I strongly regret that I did not have some sort of recording device, because Kris came back out to sing harmony on both Iowa and If I Wrote You, and as much as I already love both songs, she added a whole new dimension to them. Especially to Iowa; her harmony was this sweeping, rolling sound, indescribable but wonderful. I wish I had a copy of those two songs.

03:49 PM by Eric: Yay! Dar Williams tomorrow! Culture

Yay! Dar Williams tomorrow!

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This page was last updated Sun 23 September 2007 at 08:46 AM CDT