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Archive for July 18th, 2012

Today’s entry is about a book I read and a movie I watched a couple of weeks ago but haven’t gotten around to reviewing.  The book is: “A Mathematician’s Apology” by G. H. Hardy, 1940©.  The movie is: “Act of Valor“.
Hardy’s “Apology” is a quasi-autobiographic discussion of math, ideas and science.  Hardy has a self-deprecating style which almost reaches the point of false modesty.  During his lifetime, Hardy was considered one of the five most brilliant mathematicians in the world.  His love for his subject – math, not himself – is evident; as is his sense of loss when he realizes he is too old to continue productive work.  As difficult as this may be for some to believe (me for example), most cutting edge mathematics is done by those under 30 years of age.  In fact, it is almost parallel with the life of a world-class athlete – demonstrate early potential (pre-teens), exceed your peers at an early age (pre-20’s), make your mark (pre-30’s), then (if you’re lucky) find others you can mentor and teach (post-30’s).
But what happens when you don’t want to admit you don’t have it any move?  Does it make you bitter, or just sad?  Or maybe, a bit of both.  This seems to be the case with Hardy.  I found this book on the $2.00 rack at my local used-book store.  I opened it and read the last two paragraphs which have been previously quoted, see:  “Life’s Last Question” and “Something Of Value“.  As I don’t personally share Hardy’s value system for evaluating one’s life, it is difficult for me to appreciate the sadness his words seem to relate, but I have enough empathy for him to appreciate his sense of gradual dissolution and fade into the unknown (death).  And, it doesn’t hurt to be getting on in years myself.
The movie: “Act of Valor” is your basic heroic action flick.  It’s claim to fame is that it uses some real-life Navy SEALs in the actors roles.  It is very gung-ho and American patriotic.  If you are into that (and I am), it’s a good action movie with bad acting.  If you can’t get past the “Rah-Rah America”, you’ll have a hard time getting through the bad acting to wait for the next action.  The special effects are just okay.  I liked the movie, but I can easily see why a lot of folks will not.  I got the DVD on the cheap, but I’d say most will wait another couple of months for this to move to TV.  To be honest, I enjoyed “Battle: Los Angeles” a lot more.  Just as much “Rah-Rah”, but much better acting and special effects.  Of course, “B:LA” was SciFi, not “made-up” battling terrorists.  Like I said, wait for it (“AoV”) to come to TV.
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(Dear God: Now I understand about faith.  There are always some things that cannot be answered.)
  —  Audrey Grost (Mike’s mother)
from her book: “Genius In Residence
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