Lizardmen of Berkeley

The title of this post, as far as I know, has no meaning. It sounds like “The Birdman of Alcatraz”, and evokes an idea of some peculiar local legend; but it has no meaning, as far as I know. It just came to me when I was showering; and as I turned it round in my head — because when in the shower, you have time — an idea rose up, an idea of how to make the Lizardmen of Berkeley (or any other spot) a reality.

Assume you are in Berkeley; I think I remember it is a university town. Take the appearance of a journalist; take a cameraman with you if you can. Wander round, preferably well away from the mathematics department, and ask passing students for an interview about the legend of the Lizardmen of Berkeley.

When they ask what those Lizardmen are, just vaguely, dismissively say that’s the name for those mathematics people, as you know. Given that the person being interviewed has no idea of what you speak, exclaim that you’re delighted to find someone for the other sample group, those not familiar with the legend: and then push on, asking if the person knows any mathematics students or faculty. If he or she doesn’t, swell; if he or she does, press on, ask for details, ask if there’s anyone else: and fairly soon you’ll be saying: “So you’d agree that Berkeley mathematics people are… well, withdrawn would be a word. Or secretive?”

When the other becomes slightly discomfited by this — “What, secretive? What secrets could they have?” — politely thank; move on; and repeat.

People being people, and “lizardmen”, “mathematics” and “secretiveness” having no obvious connection, in a few weeks there might be a few very interesting¬†spontaneously generated legends going round. Legends of.. the Lizardmen of Berkeley!

In other news, my shower really needs a radio.

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