What’s going down in AarTown

Taking a cue from the Pontiff, I thought I’d provide three quick updates on my personal life (no, not my personal personal life; that’s none of your business).

  1. Last week I bought and moved into a condo in East Cambridge, a 10-minute walk from campus, with lovely views of Boston, the Charles River, and the Red Line T going over the bridge:

    (That’s mom on the sofa.) I can’t stress enough how fundamentally my life has changed now that I’m a homeowner. For example, instead of paying rent each month, I now pay something called a “mortgage,” and instead of going to a landlord, it goes to a bank. Also I get a massive tax break for some reason.
  2. The students showed up this week, and the semester is here. No, I’m not teaching this fall, but there’s still plenty to do, from organizing a theory lunch to deciding what kind of whiteboard should go in my office. (With a border or without? How big a tray for pens? These are serious decisions.) On Wednesday I went to an orientation for new MIT faculty, at which I got to tell President Susan Hockfield about quantum lower bounds, the prospects for practical quantum computers, and how her fine institution rejected me twice. Along with the usual pleasantries, Hockfield said one thing that deeply impressed me: “I know it’s gone out of fashion in many places, but you’re still allowed to use the word ‘truth’ here.”
  3. Besides moving, besides getting oriented, I’ve also been distracted from my blogging career by involvement with some … what’s it called? … actual research. Sorry about that; I assure you it’s just a temporary aberration.

11 Responses to “What’s going down in AarTown”

  1. Morgan Says:

    A. What’s in the pill bottle?

    B. I met Susan about a month ago in my hometown after a “give money to MIT!!!” speech. It’s always pleasantly peculiar to see somebody you know (well, sort of) mentioned online.
    I’ve touched a hand that you’ve touched *swoon*.

    Speaking of coincidences and this blog, prior to your criticizing the Bostrom NYTimes articles, a new acquaintance had shown me the article and I’d mistaken Bostrom for you. I pointed out that Bostrom (you) wasn’t at Oxford, but MIT (I even went so far as to cross-out “Oxford” and write “MIT” above it). I then puzzled over why you’d written about an idea that I’d come up with and rejected in high-school. You can fill in the blanks.

    Oh, and, sorry… computers? check. philosophy? check. That shtelt guy!

  2. Scott Says:

    What’s in the pill bottle?

    Crystal meth.

  3. HN Says:

    As of an hour ago, sources confirmed that Scott is secretly taking on the mission of writing a Koblitz fan letter to the Notices.

  4. Scott Says:

    HN: No, I read the article and also attended a talk where Koblitz expressed similar views, and I think that his argument, while entertainingly expressed, is basically silly. (See Luca’s post for a view not far from mine.)

    On the other hand, he does have as much right to a hearing as Goldreich or any other highly-opinionated theorist — so rather than express “outrage” that the Notices published his piece, I’d much rather see the crypto community take up the challenge of demolishing it point by point.

  5. Jonathan Vos Post Says:

    “I know it’s gone out of fashion in many places, but you’re still allowed to use the word ‘truth’ here.”

    Meanwhile, in English Literature departments across the land, the professors quote:

    Lines 49 and 50 of “Ode on a Grecian Urn” by John Keats [1795–1821]:

    “‘Beauty is truth, truth beauty,—that is all
    Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.'”

    and proceed to explain that there is, to we modern intellects, no such thing as TRUTH, but only power exewrted in the context of political, sexual, and semiotic forces, so here’s how we deconstruct this phallocentric siumulacrum by a dead white poet…

  6. different anon Says:

    >>What’s in the pill bottle?

    >Crystal meth.

    Really? I was expecting PCP.


  7. another anon Says:

    Research? I didn’t know that you had to do research to get tenure at MIT. I thought that blogging was sufficient.

  8. Cheshire Cat Says:

    I’m disappointed that you’re being so coy about your personal personal life.

    I mean, of course, your research.

  9. Scott Says:


  10. Deja vu Says:

    “I know it’s gone out of fashion in many places, but you’re still allowed to use the word ‘truth’ here.”

    Social “scientists” discovered not long ago that certain values and moral truths are not as absolute as they once thought (duh!). How do they express this observation? “there is no truth, everything is relative”. As Feynman used to say “stand in front of a moving train and test that hypothesis”.

  11. nic Says:

    Fair enough, everyone needs to make a living 🙂 But ads suck full stop, and that is a LOT of ads.