HoodedHawk

April 2009



Tonight I (Ok, I dragged Dylan along too) went to see Arthur Phillips read from and discuss his new book,”The Song is You” at Politics and Prose in Washington, DC. At one point Mr. Phillips was asking the audience if anyone did Billie Holiday impressions: “…anyone? How about you, young man?” as he pointed at Dylan. Dylan just shook his head and then leaned over to me and asked “Who’s Billie Holiday?”. Ah, youth.

Another humorous section was when the author was reading in the book and came to the bit where the character was talking about getting a couple of college girls to go back to his room to play “strip Trivial Pursuit”. “That, by the way, is the only autobiographical bit in the book”, said Mr. Phillips. :)


Arthur Phillips at Politics and Prose, Reading of "The Song is You"

Arthur Phillips at Politics and Prose, Reading of "The Song is You"

Arthur Phillips at Politics and Prose, Reading of "The Song is You"

Arthur Phillips at Politics and Prose, Reading of "The Song is You"


Arthur Phillips at Politics and Prose, Reading of "The Song is You"

Arthur Phillips at Politics and Prose, Reading of "The Song is You"




Lisa Randall at Smithsonian

Lisa Randall at Smithsonian



On Friday (April 24, 2009) I went to see Physicist Lisa Randall receive the Benjamin Franklin Creativity Laureate Award from The Smithsonian Associates and the Creativity Foundation. Professor Randall discussed the role of creativity in her life and work with University of Chicago professor Michael Turner. The talk was in the Baird Auditorium of the National Museum of Natural History – nice venue!

After the talk I was able to get Prof. Randall to sign my copy of her book, “Warped Passages: Unraveling the Mysteries of the Universe’s Hidden Dimensions“. Great book!

From the press release:

Randall is best known for her work involving extra dimensions of space, or “warped” geometries, and her suggestion that could explain the relative weakness of gravity and that we may live in a world with an infinite extra dimension—possibly even in a three-dimensional sinkhole in a higher-dimensional universe. This has resulted in her being one of the most-cited theoretical physicists in the world. Time magazine included her in its 2007 list of the 100 most influential people, and Newsweek cited Randall as “one of the most promising theoretical physicists of her generation.” Her book “Warped Passages” was included in the New York Times’ list of the 100 most notable books of 2005.

Randall is a professor of physics at Harvard University and is tenured at Princeton and MIT. She has served on the editorial boards of several major journals and is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Lisa Randall at Smithsonian[/caption]
Lisa Randall at Smithsonian

Lisa Randall at Smithsonian


At today’s Mass during his homily Fr. Jim quoted a poem by John Updike (1932-2009) that I had not heard before but found quite moving:

Seven Stanzas at Easter

Make no mistake: if He rose at all
it was as His body;
if the cells’ dissolution did not reverse, the molecules
reknit, the amino acids rekindle,
the Church will fall.

It was not as the flowers,
each soft Spring recurrent;
it was not as His Spirit in the mouths and fuddled
eyes of the eleven apostles;
it was as His flesh: ours.

The same hinged thumbs and toes,
the same valved heart
that–pierced–died, withered, paused, and then
regathered out of enduring Might
new strength to enclose.

Let us not mock God with metaphor,
analogy, sidestepping, transcendence;
making of the event a parable, a sign painted in the
faded credulity of earlier ages:
let us walk through the door.

The stone is rolled back, not papier-mâché,
not a stone in a story,
but the vast rock of materiality that in the slow
grinding of time will eclipse for each of us
the wide light of day.

And if we will have an angel at the tomb,
make it a real angel,
weighty with Max Planck’s quanta, vivid with hair,
opaque in the dawn light, robed in real linen
spun on a definite loom.

Let us not seek to make it less monstrous,
for our own convenience, our own sense of beauty,
lest, awakened in one unthinkable hour, we are
embarrassed by the miracle,
and crushed by remonstrance.

We had some portraits of the kids done today. Preston wasn’t very cooperative until we included his little sister Olivia, and then he was all smiles (and kisses). I’ll post more later [update: the whole set is on the photography page] but here’s a favorite (click image for slideshow):


Preston and Olivia

Preston and Olivia


Preston

Preston


Olivia

Olivia















The US Postal Service will be releasing a set of “The Simpsons” postage stamps on May 7, 2009. Many years ago (as a kid) I used to collect stamps. None were as cool as these! The Simpsons has been on TVfor 20 years now; longest running comedy ever…

The USPS is even hosting a survey where you can vote on your favorite character -guess which one I voted for? Duh!

Simpsons Stamps

Simpsons Stamps

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SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome
   by Mary Beard