What am I mad about? Oh, God.
I’m mad about Bush receiving Michael Crichton in the White House, to be reassured that climate change is a hoax even as the Northwest Passage opens up for the first time in a few million years. I’m mad about the Democrats’ failure to capitalize on the Enron scandal, and particularly the infamous “Grandma Millie” tapes (having just watched the film Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room). I’m mad about Pius XII, the man who arm-twisted Germany’s 23 million Catholics into cooperating with the Nazis despite their initial opposition, being considered for sainthood (I’m in the middle of a book about it, Hitler’s Pope by John Cornwell). I’m mad about my own procrastination in writing a popular article for Scientific American about the limits of quantum computing. I’m mad about a public school system that condemns any math or science tracking as “elitist,” while the football and basketball programs aren’t similarly condemned. I’m mad about people who declare that “a proof of P!=NP would be worthless, since what if there were an algorithm for SAT that took 1.0000001n steps?,” as if no one had ever had such a perceptive insight in the 50-year history of complexity theory.
But, as for the “not gonna take it anymore” part, one does have to restrict one’s focus a bit. So recently I decided to concentrate my anger on overpriced journal subscriptions — and in particular, on the gouging of university libraries by companies like Kluwer and Elsevier. I’ve just written a three-page polemic about this issue (technically a book review), which is going to appear in SIGACT News, possibly with a rebuttal and counter-rebuttal. I’d be grateful for comments. Note that what I write about scientists’ “peculiar anger deficiency” applies to many other issues, global warming being one obvious example. There comes a time when it’s no longer enough to be correct: you also have to be angry!
Thanks to Bill Gasarch, both for commissioning the review and for suggesting the title of this post.