Wednesday, March 17, 2021

I read the news today oh boy

I'm absolutely elated that Lázló Lovász and Avi Wigderson won the Abel Prize. More from the New York Times, Quanta Magazine and Gil Kalai. Another example of how complexity theory and theoretical computer science has reached the upper echelons of mathematics.

I'm horrified of the spa shootings in Atlanta. I've driven by those spas many times when I lived there. 

I'm saddened by the closing of Mills College in Oakland, California. I lived in a dorm Berkeley rented at Mills College during my crazy year there.

I've got mixed emotions about the death of James Levine. What he did musically with the Metropolitan opera and orchestra was nothing short of incredible. What he did to the young people he abused is inexcusable. I remember watching a Met taped videocast of Die Walküre with my daughter, enjoying the production but telling her "Do you realize we are watching an opera composed by an anti-Semite and conducted by a child molester?"  Can you separate art from artist?


  1. Careful you don't get hit with a defamation lawsuit like the one The Met lost.

  2. Can you separate art from artist?

    Absolutely. The very highest echelons of Artistic excellence (as well as every single other endeavour) springs from scrupulous moral and ethical behaviour. I've never heard of "James Levine", but when it comes to comparing him with true genius, I suspect he falls far short. Lesser minds will forever taint the works of true genius with their own mediocrity and tepidity. Would he be in the same company as Schubert or Rachmaninoff, or countless other geniuses? Unlikely. Not only do we live in the best possible universe, it's entire raison d'etre is a moral one, therefore it's "fair" in a moral sense. The biggest clue is timelessness - time is such a brutal master, that works of genius are the only things that survive. And even then, not all of them. But "genius" is none other than fulfilling one's potential - there isn't much mystical or arcane about it. I wager every work of genius is created by a moral obsessive. Why? Because we live in a moral universe, therefore morality - and accordingly ethics, is the yardstick by which everything is judged and all great works of creation must necessarily be wrought and tempered in the moral furnace. We can kid ourselves all we want, but greatness can never result from immorality - as human beings we understand this implicitly, typically on a subconscious level - which is why great works of art inspire awe, because they in some way reflect, express and channel divinity.

  3. That's very educational -- the remark you made to your daughter, along with ending question.
    Sadly, to 'superficially' enjoy a piece of art
    sometimes you don't want to know too much about
    its origin or make.

  4. Almost all the public discussion on the Atlanta spa shootings has been phrased in terms of racism. But the killer has explained his motivations, and they’re not about race. Everything he says must not necessarily be taken at face value, but shouldn’t his declarations been taken seriously into account in the discussion?
    It seems that there is a widespread reluctance in the U.S. to criticize any kind of religious belief. Now, if you allow me to step like an elephant into your china shop: (*)
    These murders are perhaps not so much about racism than about the damage done to some individuals and to society as a whole by certain unhealthy religious beliefs about sexuality.
    (*) No offense intended toward the Chinese, of course.

    1. Why is the UK variant of the China virus allowed to be refereed to as the UK variant when the original is not allowed to be referred to as the China virus? Perhaps there is a political leaning controlling the media and the messages and a message of racist actions will lead to the political outcomes they want.

  5. Update: the sexual and religious connection is explored today in the New York Times. Excerpt: "For some with experience in evangelical youth culture, Mr. Long’s fixation on sexual temptation was a reminder of a damaging approach to teaching young people how to address sexuality."