Angels and Demons … and 1st sofa after coming to US

An email originally written in the night of May 16, 2009:


This afternoon, I’ve watched Angels and Demons.  Though CERN has appeared for only a few minutes at the beginning of the movie,  I was not disappointed at all and in fact I’ve enjoyed it enough to write this email. Anti-matter storage in a tube and calling anti-matter God particle (which is reserved for the Higgs particle … by Leon Lederman) would probably incompatible with physicists I believe. In today’s safety standard (which is an international trend which deems human lives too importantly, in my eccentric opinion Baring teeth … the value of human lives should decrease with the population not the other way around) nobody can really sit in the beam-line like Dr. Vetra did in the movie …etc.  But I saw a comment months earlier that the movie has already corrected quite a lot of scientific mistakes in the original novel.

But the political struggle inside the Vatican is great (to watch) ! At the beginning, you don’t suspect any misdeed and just the clear enemy is the conspiratorial "Illuminati" (which in this movie somehow was related to Galileo persecution … and wanted revenge now).  There are a few interesting twists. This movie has applied the usual tactics to mislead you to think who would gain the most from all the mischieves done to the Church. I had a suspicion at one point but I didn’t keep at that suspicion and was surprised at the end. It’s politics after all !  Dirty and nothing else !! God or political persecution/revenge (or even CERN) are all some kind of tools / weapons or means to achieve your ends.

This movie is probably more tense than the other Dan Brown-adapted movie "The Da Vinci Code" though it didn’t have a sort of ultimate truth hanging around your mind during the course of the movie, but just a mystery to be solved. It’s better than most of the books in the "mystery" section (such as Patricia Cornwell’s).  I like the actress who plays a female Italian physicist —who turned out to be an Israeli — and she really reminded me of an Argentinian colleague at Fermilab … Yeah … in restrospect, there have been some pretty women wondering around in front of me but just I was not aware at the time … Tom Hanks is good as usual but how can his Dr. Robert Langdon character be not good in Latin as he’s a symbolist in Harvard … the American academic standard in classics is really not that good ?!  { In Oxford, I feel like every (or maybe every other) arts graduate student knows Latin (or even Greek).  When a science fellow narrated his not very good Latin in a high-table dinner, the arts student would usually look at each other with a sneering smile. } But I don’t enjoy thinking about the flaws of movies when I tried to enjoy after I bought the ticket.  Putting too much attention to the fact that we can’t really hand-hold an anti-matter tube today  would not help me be entertained.
Another minor excitement is the delivery of my new sofa from IKEA.   After years of fixing the wooden joints of my futon by glues and tapes, I’ve finally got fed up with it (as I’ve obviously suffered from the increasing frequency of having to do so).  Of course, my craftsmanship is not the best … This also coincides with the fact that my Mom’s annual multi-month visit starting from tomorrow (Sunday) night.  This is actually my 1st real sofa after coming to US in 1997 as I’ve been using a futon that I bought from a Belgian colleague at Fermilab in 1997.  I don’t like most of sofas that I’ve seen in many furniture shops as they’re all too traditional … I’ve liked to buy a couple green and orange sofas in IKEA ( European style … more modern … is preferred by me)… But somehow after sitting and crouching over those sofas for many hours in a few days in IKEA, I’ve bought the cheapest genuine leather sofa in IKEA as it seems more comfortable though the downside is that the is just brown in color not those more modern-looking green or orange.  But it doesn’t have those problems of looking like antique or something …
I’ve tried to be analytical in making decision in purchasing … But one just can’t really too mathematical or too scientific with it.  How much is beauty worth ?  How much is comfort worth ?  Actually, I can easily buy any expensive sofas (like some thousands of dollars) that I’ve seen … ( I told you that I had finished the mortgage. )  I don’t have a real budget (or the upper limit is high enough ).  So, it’s a matter of how much I’m willing to pay — which is only philosophical.  I try to "monte-carlo" the price, desire, comfort  …at the end, it all doesn’t work because there isn’t any fundamental theory derived from something like the meaning of life to allow me to fathom or "calculate"   value ~ f(price, desire, comfort … ). There are people who would sacrifice their lives to save people and there are people who would also sacrifice their lives to kill (innocent) people, the meaning of life is like from -1 to 1 … all over the place.  You can only do some pseudo-realistic "calibration" — such as how much your friends or your colleagues pay for their furniture…. but of course the choice of "people" can’t be derived from the 1st principle either …
At the end, I resort to my "emotion" (to a large extent) to make decision which is something I’ve often done anyway even though I pretend to be analytical … I’m an emotional human being … At the end it’s like $699 + $99 for delivery  + tax (8.625%) … When I was in Flushing (the place in Queens where many Chinese or Asians gather/live), I’ve seen a couple alternatives.  When I asked them for the delivery fees, they somehow kind of assumed that if I were to pay for the shipping, I’d not buy from them, which is just not true (and their fees were all lower than IKEA’s).  I’d not want to bother my friends (for their SUV or their labor) just to save "a few" dollars … but I need another person to lift the sofa  … I don’t feel like renting a U-Hall truck either… So delivery is kind of unavoidable for me.  
Here, it’s also another interesting "value" calculation … I know, say, if I either need to pay for $1 million or ask a friend for help in achieving something, I’d not hesitate to ask for help from a friend (as I don’t really have $1 million).  But then between $1 and $1 million, where I should draw a line is another painstaking calculation ……..
OK .. enough bull-shit for today … probably time for 村上春樹 and/or 張小嫻 …



About kinyip

An experimental particle physicist ...
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