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Thursday, October 30, 2008


I was recently told that I should lower my standards. That I take too long to get things done because I want perfection. There's some truth to this, but I think really I need to aim lower. Shoot for smaller things. If the project is too big then if you fail, you fail spectacularly. It is just totally useless, the work you put into it. There's a point when something is clearly pretty good: most of the pieces are in place and it basically is what it claims to be. Now, by lowering my standards, I certainly don't want to not achieve that level. Standards should come in at the final stage: how well to polish.

The problem is that I tend to end up with lots of partial results that each require a lot of work to even get to the "pretty good" stage. Its confusing because I look and see lots of work that I've done, but none of it seems to amount to much. There's a temptation when the time comes to account for what you've done, to paste together all these partial results and try to pretend that its one grand whole. Doing this would indeed be lowering my standards, but I don't think that this is the right thing to do. It doesn't leave you with much, unless you spend half your time tricking people and confusing them and convincing them that any holes in your argument are due to their lack of reasoning ability.

Sunday, October 26, 2008


I've been finding audio lately.
Here's chapter 3 of George Santayana's "Some Turns of Thought in Modern Philosophy".
I haven't absorbed it all yet, but the first part on separation of duties between experts and scientists (thinkers?) is right along the lines of what I have been thinking about and dealing with.
Later he concludes that relativity is a welcome, acceptable revolution in science, but with it must come humility. I'd like to understand better what he's saying here.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


I'm always drawn to traumatic history.
The topic I'm involved in is one part physics, three parts scattered remnants of trauma. The question is whether there is anything left of me before this knot dissolves. The poison infects everything eventually. Now my current collaboration is getting sucked into the old mess. The same issues of credit, hurt egos, unfulfilled dreams rear their heads. But perhaps this time they occur in a vacuum where they don't actually have effects. And after playing themselves out, sadness can be felt and people can move on. But again, this really doesn't seem to be the normal role for people in physics, and I wonder how much reality there is to this crazy quest.