The day itself was uneventful. My office-mate's Russian collaborator suggested I look at my data in a new way, and it may actually be showing something I hadn't expected. I'm revising a paper I submitted to the Astrophysical Journal. The "referee" (a scientific peer chosen by the journal to accept or reject my paper) had some minor comments; once I fix those I'll get the paper published.
But I don't want to talk only about my research at work; I deal with that at my office. I like to think about broader issues too. I had a lot of fun a few weeks ago, in fact, responding to scientific questions from the public through the "Ask a High Energy Astronomer" program available through NASA's
Imagine the Universe web site. That was great because I got to answer questions about relativity and cosmology. I'd eventually like to have about half of this journal be scientific musings along the line of those in John Baez's Finds in Mathematical Physics (yes, he is the cousin of Joan Baez)--although Baez is very good at what he does! There is a lot to be said for no-nonsense, stick-to-the-facts science (in fact that is most of science) but I can't help musing about philosophy and the foundations, too.
Today I also played my digital piano (Bach preludes in C, c, and f and fugues in c and f from the Well-Tempered Clavier)--that's a usual for me. And I went to my gym and lifted weights. I'm benching 70 pound dumbells in each hand, two sets of six reps. Not bad for a dabbler, though for a real weight-lifter it wouldn't be much.
Today I read a Camille Paglia column on salon that got me kind of steamed. She dismissed the million mom march mainly because it was made up of white women. Well, isn't that what she is? I don't know, it seemed to me she was discounting a major demographic portion of the nation (actually THE largest combination of gender and ethnicity)! And she didn't even show evidence that the march was disproportionately white, or that women in other ethnic groups have a different agenda on gun control (as opposed to simply being less able to get to the march). The essay just seemed agressively stupid. She thought it particularly embarassing that Rosie O'Donnel talked at the march. Well, doesn't the other side also have a Hollywood spokesperson (Charlton Heston)? I say, fight glitter with glitter!
After working out at the gym, I stopped by Kramerbooks--yes, that is the bookstore that was subpoenaed by Ken Starr to provide evidence that Monica bought Bill a book about phone sex! One book caught my eye; I forget the title, but it was one of those "this country is going to hell in a handbasket" books that is always fun to read. Side note: the author mentioned the novel "White Noise" by Don DeLeio (sp?) and called it a "masterpiece." I will try to get ahold of that now. Anyway, the book's thesis was that due to historical, structural forces, global capitalism is destroying culture. It's got a kind of vitality, but it's an emtpy vitality that stands for nothing other than the propagation of consumerism. Thesis: not new, not surprising. But the author's remedy seemed surprising; he called for a kind of "monasticism", not people really becoming monks, but that people adopt a critical view of the culture of perpetual getting and spending, of infotainment, and try to keep a love of the arts alive even if it is considered elitist. Of course I haven't read the whole book, I've just skimmed in the infamous bookstore. While I often feel as the author does, I wonder if it hasn't always been like this, maybe not in terms of the efficiency with which corporations can bring their "cultural" wares to the marketplace, but that what becomes popular in the short-term is often just what has been made, in a calculating way, with popularity in mind. Come to think of it, the author did compare the US now with the Roman Empire, and now that Gladiator is such a big hit, comparisons like that are sure to be pretty popular (today Maureen Dowd's NY Times column imagines Al Gore thinking of himself as a Gladiator.) So at least it is not a problem unique to us now.
Well, that's a good enough journal entry for tonight. Maybe tommorow's entry will have some musings about scientific philosophy or maybe relationships and life in DC...