Archive for the 'General' Category

In which John awaits the questions to which he has prepared answers.

March 9, 2009

This is John Hawksley talking. There will now be a slight pause while everyone says, “Who cares?

It’s no use attempting any kind of originality, so I’ve stolen the opening line of Jack Benny‘s first radio broadcast in 1932. In principle one should address the italicized question, but it would be hard (and require some sort of averaging argument as the value of this blog is purely hypothetical). My rule is not to exert too much effort artificially, as it would set a quality threshold to which I have no desire to commit. I will therefore indicate only two small comments: (1) that “Who cares?” is not really a question for me, but rather something the audience itself should report, i.e. “Who among you is a member of the subset of people that care?“, and (2) that it’s still a difficult concern, as I’m not sure if I belong to the subset myself.

Here’s an ongoing list of celebrities I like who are invited to my upcoming secret conference:

  • Jeff Probst
  • Darren Brown
  • Joe Biden
  • Timothy Gowers
  • Jeff Van Gundy
  • Norm MacDonald

There’s explanation behind that (I like each for the identical reason), but for now let me mention that I’ve been highly inspired recently by Professor Gowers. I’ve been trying to follow his so-called polymath1 project, but lacking any relevant background I saw only a cursory view of the problem and how it was being approached. His beautiful rewording of the proof of the corners theorem snapped many understandings into place at once, and I credit that invigoration for the mathematical bent of this post.

I apologize in advance if I never blog again.