EppsNet Archive: Nobel Prize

Gabriel García Márquez, 1927-2014

19 Apr 2014 /
Gabriel García Márquez

Gabriel García Márquez, the influential, Nobel Prize-winning author of “One Hundred Years of Solitude” and “Love in the Time of Cholera,” has died, his family and officials said.

He was 87.

CNN reported the death of García Márquez with more or less equal weightiness as the following “top stories”:

I didn’t cherry-pick those stories, by the way. They were all listed as Top Stories on CNN.com.

CNN is a “serious” news outlet. García Márquez’s death was also reported in the “popular” media, amongst reality show updates, celebrity pregnancies and Kardashians.

Orwell wrote about a society in which books are banned. As it turns out, there’s no need to ban books because no one has any interest in reading one. We’re drowning in a sea of trivia.

RIP Gabriel García Márquez


We’re Still Smarter Than You Are

7 Dec 2013 /

Teens from Asian nations dominated a global exam given to 15-year-olds, while U.S. students showed little improvement and failed to reach the top 20 in math, science or reading, according to test results released Tuesday.

Harvard emblem

Why am I not shocked by that?

Because Americans on the whole are dumb and lazy. We have lots of dumb, lazy parents raising dumb, lazy kids. The average American kid doesn’t compare well academically to the average kid in an Asian country where academics and hard work are valued, or to the average kid from a small, homogenous European country where it’s easier to get everyone pulling in the same educational direction.

The U.S. is a big, diverse country and the average academic results are pulled down by a lot of dummkopfs.

But still, the smartest people in the world are Americans. Our smartest people are smarter than the smartest people in other lands.

You don’t think so? I’m looking at the list of winners of the 2013 Nobel Prizes . . . out of 11 recipients (I’m omitting the winners of the literature and peace prizes because those aren’t academic awards), eight are from the U.S. The other three are from Belgium, the UK and France, and the Frenchman is affiliated with Harvard University.

No one in Asian countries is winning any Nobel Prizes. Q.E.D.


Seamus Heaney, 1939-2013

31 Aug 2013 /
Seamus Heaney

The way we are living,
timorous or bold,
will have been our life.

— Seamus Heaney, “Elegy”

Related articles


The World’s Greatest University

19 Aug 2012 /
English: Campus of the UC Berkeley in Berkeley...

It’s move-in weekend at UC Berkeley, the world’s greatest university . . .

Saul Perlmutter, who just won the Nobel Prize in Physics, is teaching an undergraduate seminar on physics and music this year.

How many schools even have Nobel Laureates on the faculty? Of those that do, how many of them teach small classes for freshmen and sophomores?

Ivy League schools, with the exception of Harvard, are coasting on their reputations. When’s the last time you heard of an enterpreneur from Dartmouth or Brown or Yale?

Stanford is great in engineering and business but limited in other areas. Also, top professors at private schools would rather piss on a spark plug than traffic with undergrads.

That said, the University of Southern California football season starts Sept. 1 against Hawaii. The Men of Troy!

FIGHT ON FOR OLD ‘SC! OUR MEN FIGHT ON TO VICTORY!


“Keep it Simple,” Nobel Prize Winner Advises

22 Jan 2012 /
English: Nobel laureate Dr. James D. Watson, C...

Image via Wikipedia

I soon was taught that [Linus] Pauling’s accomplishment was a product of common sense, not the result of complicated mathematical reasoning. Equations occasionally crept into his argument, but in most cases words would have sufficed. The key to Linus’ success was his reliance on the simple laws of structural chemistry. The \alpha-helix had not been found by only staring at X-ray pictures; the essential trick, instead, was to ask which atoms like to sit next to each other. In place of pencil and paper, the main working tools were a set of molecular models superficially resembling the toys of preschool children.

We could thus see no reason why we should not solve DNA in the same way. All we had to do was to construct a set of molecular models and begin to play — with luck, the structure would be a helix. Any other type of configuration would be much more complicated. Worrying about complications before ruling out the possibility that the answer was simple would have been damned foolishness. Pauling never got anywhere by seeking out messes.


How to Be Liked by a Lot of People

28 May 2011 /

Find a group of people who challenge and inspire you; spend a lot of time with them and it will change your life.

— Amy Poehler, Harvard commencement 2011
Watson and SpongeBob

Great advice from Amy Poehler, whoever she is. (A little research turns up the fact that she’s been in TV shows and movies with Tina Fey.)

Thank god my kid isn’t going to Harvard! Do you have any idea what it costs to send a kid to an Ivy League university?! After which you get as a commencement speaker, not Tina Fey — which would be merely terrible, because at least people have heard of her — but Tina Fey’s sidekick.

I’m reminded of the story of the SpongeBob and James D. Watson bobbleheads. SpongeBob has almost 23 million Likes on Facebook. Amy Poehler is giving commencement speeches at Harvard. James D. Watson is alive but unknown, not invited to commencements, and hardly anyone likes him on Facebook.

Lesson learned: If you want to be liked by a lot of people, provide them with juvenile escapism. Don’t bother accomplishing something like, say, winning a Nobel Prize for unlocking the secret of life itself, because — who cares?


Twitter: 2009-10-12

12 Oct 2009 /

Obama Fails to Win Nobel Prize in Economics

12 Oct 2009 /

LONDON (MarketWatch) — In a decision as shocking as Friday’s surprise peace prize win, President Obama failed to win the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences Monday.

While few observers think Obama has done anything for world peace in the nearly nine months he’s been in office, the same clearly can’t be said for economics.

The president has worked tirelessly since even before his inauguration to wrest control of the U.S. economy from failed free markets, and the evil CEOs who profit from them, and to turn it over to wise, fair and benevolent bureaucrats.

From his $787 billion stimulus package, to the cap-and-trade bill, to the seizures of General Motors and Chrysler, to the undead health-care “reform” act, Obama has dominated the U.S., and therefore the global, economy as few figures have in recent years.

Yet the Nobel panel chose instead to award the prize to two obscure academics . . .


We Don’t Have the Money, So We Have to Think

27 Jun 2005 /
We don’t have the money, so we have to think.
— Ernest Rutherford

Ernest Rutherford was an illustrious scientist — the 1908 Nobel Laureate in Chemistry, and the father of nuclear physics.

Money out the window

His humble upbringing as the fourth in a family of 12 children in rural New Zealand influenced his approach to science, as summarized in the above quote.

A recruiter called me today about a job managing an $80 million IT project.

How in the world can you spend $80 million on an IT project?! I could put your company logo on Mars for $80 million.

Most of the big, expensive IT projects that I’m familiar with, there really was no reason for them to take so long or cost so much. A lot of time and money could have been saved with some upfront thinking.

I get a lot of this now — recruiters asking me if I have experience managing multi-year, multi-million dollar projects, as if there’s some competitive advantage to be had from spending huge sums of money over long periods of time.

A modern variation on Rutherford’s famous saying might be: “We’ve got 80 million dollars! Why should we have to think?!”

Thus spoke The Programmer.