Tuesday, December 20, 2005

About the Name of This Blog

A couple of weeks back Ann Althouse wrote about placing television cameras in the United States Supreme Court during oral arguments:

But the cameras would expose the Justices who cling to their seats despite declining ability. It is true that the journalists in the courtroom might tell us if a Justice no longer manages to sit upright and look alert. But the regular gaze of the television cameras would create a permanent but subtle pressure on the Justices to think realistically about whether they still belong on the Court.

This reminded me of a story I read long ago. Thinking it was a Richard Feynman story, I started sifting through Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman! looking for the story.

I never did find what I was looking for, but I did find this passage:
Another time somebody gave a talk about poetry. He talked about the structure of the poem and the emotions that come with it; he divided everything up into certain kinds of classes. In the discussion that came afterwards, he said, "Isn't that the same as in mathematics, Dr. Eisenhart?"

Dr. Eisenhart was the dean of the graduate school and a great professor of mathematics. He was also very clever. He said, "I'd like to know what Dick Feynman thinks about it in reference to theoretical physics." He was always putting me on in this kind of situation.

I got up and said, "Yes, it's very closely related. In theoretical physics, the analog of the word is the mathematical formula, the analog of the structure of the poem is the interrelationship of the theoretical bling-bling with the so-and-so"--and I went through the whole thing, making a perfect analogy. The speakers eyes were beaming with happiness.

Then I said, It seems to me that no matter what you say about poetry, I could find a way of making up an analog with any subject, just as I did for theoretical physics. I don't consider such analogs meaningful."
Besides establishing that Dick Feynman was indeed a Dick, the phrase Theoretical Bling-Bling sounded like the perfect title for a blog.

I'm already involved in a small group blog elsewhere, but we don't seem to know what we want to do with it, and at this point in time I'm not sure I should be pimping it. However, given the distinct possibility that I may want to branch out on my own, I wanted to nail down my title. I can figure out what the hell to do with this thing later.

Update: Okay, so now I've changed the name. Nothing in life is permanent.

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