To briefly summarize

So Peter Woit got rightly incensed by a YouTube video organized by Brian Greene. The video included three other actors – including Ed Witten – none of whom were likely to speak out against string theory. I mean, all of them by this point are getting long in the tooth, so there was unlikely to be anything cutting edge coming out of this confab, and since they’d shared a very bright limelight and much acclaim during the 40 some odd years working in that field, there would be no wailing and gnashing of teeth that they’d spent those 40 some years wasting their time, were they capable of admitting that they had. Peter, of course, had spent most of that time critiquing the theoretical underpinnings of the whole endeavor, but those involved with the work were no more discommoded by his efforts than you or I would be by a gnat as we lounged on a tropical beach somewhere (Uruguay is quite nice, I hear).

Peripatetic physicist and internet personage, Eric Weinstein, commenting in a subsequent Peter blog post, cogently suggested that those people at the top were immune to criticism as they were playing a game in which they were both players and referees. Ergo, his and Peter’s alternative ideas had little chance of gaining any traction. At which point it occurred to me that Peter and Eric, being both influential and well-connected (albeit not enough to play with the big boys (well, if they were less obstreperous, perhaps)), are also players and referees, but in a slightly lower league than Witten, et al.

But these major and minor league theorists are the ultimate arbiters of good taste, and they have zero interest in any work – like my 40 years of hep-th work – that arises from poorly connected gnomes who play only in a league of their own.

So, in 2014 I managed to get my final and most important physics paper into the arXiv, although its inclusion was vehemently resisted by some guy (gatekeeper = referee) at Cornell (see pic below).

In 2018 my last paper – pure mathematics – was published, but it had been sitting around for a while, and when I was requested to submit a paper to some journal, and as the subject matter of that paper was perfect, well, there you have it. It is now early 2024, and I am now solely a spectator. Hep-th is dying, and its death throes include much entertaining thrashing about. But so many things seem to be aiming towards a more general dystopian landscape – and not the good kind. I mean, I used to hike all over the place, but no more. Too many disease bearing ticks and other creepy-crawlies. I’ve had Lyme disease. It was unpleasant.

And then there’s angry Middle Eastern terrorism. The same year I got Lyme disease some angry guys were planning on blowing up 3 planes heading from London to Boston. Francesca, her mother, and I, were ticketed for one of those flights. MI6, or some other British secret service, put the kibosh on their dastardly plans, and so here I am, sitting in my den, instead of wafting about the Atlantic Ocean as a collection of mostly organic molecules. Good looking molecules, sure – that goes without saying – but no longer cohering into the brilliant bundle of weirdness I started out as.

Yeah, so …

“The fast drivers I don’t mind. I get out of their way and let them go. It’s the slow ones who are the irritants, those who do 55 in the fast lane. And sometimes you can get boxed in. And you see enough of the head and the neck of the driver ahead of you to take a reading. The reading is that this person is asleep at the soul and at the same time embittered, gross, cruel and stupid.”

~ Bukowski

And the fast drivers will clear the road ahead of speed traps. But on a 2 lane road there is little more frustrating than what happened to me recently. A boring smallish sedan was in front of me (another driver was lucky enough to find an opening for an illegal pass, leaving me to be next in line). Its speed hovered close to the speed limit, without actually reaching it. (I hope those cars behind me don’t think this is my fault; I just nudged into the breakdown lane briefly to clarify the situation, and proclaim my innocence.) But the most curious part of this whole situation was this: as small as the offending vehicle was, there was no part of the head of the driver appearing above the driver’s side head rest. So, either (I theorized) this was a female osteoporotic nonagenarian – in which case patience was called for – or a 10 year old kid. In either case, the situation required finesse in its handling – and simmering patience.

Ma vie

The clamor to share a smattering of snippets of my personal life having reached a fever pitch, herewith I present Lofi Girl. (What?)

So 3.5 years ago I was told I might die in 2.5 years. In hopes of forestalling my demise, I began a daily regimen of pills: one during breakfast; and two hours later, another 4 pills. It wasn’t guaranteed to work, but I responded well, and here I am. And here I want wholeheartedly to stay. To that end each morning between pill #1 and pills #2, Francesca and I remain in bed, occasionally watching YouTube videos. Once we have watched a couple short educational/entertaining videos I frequently switch to the Lofi Girl channel to provide calming background music as we turn our attention to our iPads and such.

So, each Lofi Girl video streams an hour or two of relaxing music, all the while providing a short repeating animation of Lofi Girl in her apartment, working, napping, or watching the world go by outside a window. With her there is an orange cat with black stripes. She is never without it. Other players appearing in most videos are her backpack, and a stuffed animal I hesitate to identify the type of. She also often has a laptop.

Ok, so I mentioned there are windows, and from these one can see buildings of a city. Francesca and I thought they looked French, but not Parisian. We assumed they were just generic French buildings, but we think that no longer. There is a new Lofi Girl video, and she is for the first time outside.

Hey, wait a minute … You see, Francesca and I have been to Lyon, France, several times, and this looked a lot like that. To be sure, I googled.

Well, golly, it didn’t just look like Lyon, it was an exact photograph turned into an animation. I did another search and discovered that Redditors are in general agreement that Lofi Girl resides in Lyon, and some thought they knew the exact address. Is Lofi Girl real? I’d prefer to leave that a mystery. But I just think it is mondo cool that this probably fictional young lady lives in an actual French city, and one I am familiar with.