The Erdős FBI file

A cute little article here about Paul Erdős’s FBI file.  The short version is … that it’s not very interesting; the FBI routinely (and correctly) determined that he was just interested in doing mathematics.  In a Minnesota-centric note, it was Hubert Humphrey who helped him get a visa after several years of being blacklisted by the INS.  The writer of the linked article does get in a good punch-line.

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“Therapy” by David Lodge

I enjoyed Paradise News, so I thought I’d try another. Basically, I think Therapy is the same novel as Paradise News, but not quite as good. I have been promised that some of his others are better, and am planning on trying one or two of them out later this summer.

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Back-of-the-envelope calculation


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4/15 for $15

I spoke at our local solidarity rally:

I’m here today because I believe all workers at the University of Minnesota deserve a fair shake —
whether they’re the maintenance or clerical workers who keep the U running every day,
or whether they’re our students, many of whom work at low-wage fast food jobs trying to pay their high tuition and stay out of debt,
or whether they’re the teachers and researchers like me whose work gives this university its academic strength —

all of us deserve fair treatment, decent working conditions, and a living wage.

For those of us who research, that means a reasonable path for career development and advancement;
for those of us who teach, it means job security, so that we can improve a course without worrying about being hired again next year;
for fast food workers, it means $15 and a union.

Seventy years ago, Albert Einstein wrote,
“[I]ntellectual workers should unite, not only in their own interest but also and no less importantly in the interest of society as a whole.”

That is no less true today.

That’s why UM Academics United are joining together to fight for a strong, democratic university.

And that’s why we stand here today in solidarity
with the students and employees of the University of Minnesota,
and with fast food workers in their fight for $15 and a union.

Thank you.

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Sequences and series

Me: “Calculus is basically just a sequence of lies.”

JY: “Or a series of lies. [pause] Which is really just a sequence of partial lies.”

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“Paradise News” by David Lodge

D and I went to Hawaii in January as a delayed honeymoon. This caused my mom to suggest reading David Lodge’s Paradise News. It was a lot of fun — amusing, easy to read, but not utterly fluff. I thought the level of cynicism about vacationing was just right, and the running theme juxtaposing discussions of “Hawaii as paradise” with theological stuff was good fun. All in all a good read, particularly for a hotel balcony in 75 degree weather in January.

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Proverbs for scientists

“You can’t bargain with a dead mouse.”

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