Almost but not quite reducible to tweet size

There’s a Finnish beer called Lapin Kulta, or “The Gold of Lapland”. Lapland being, as you know, that northernmost half of Finland where the forests end and nothing but rolling cold hills and some reindeer remain, and even Finns feel this subarctic thing is being taken too far.

I hear there’s a Swedish beer called “The Gold of Norrland”, Norrland being the northernmost half of Sweden where rolling cold hills yada yada.

Finally, there is a Russian beer called “The Gold of Siberia”, and, well, you get the picture.

Clearly here’s a pattern, but I’m not seeing the reason for it.

* * *

I’m almost tempted to take a severe black-and-white photograph of the back of my head, and to clip that to a passport application. (Possibly with “A BAD HAIR DAY” scrawled on the back.) I just fear the police sergeant processing is inattentive or humoristic, and then I won’t travel without turning my shirt front to back.

* * *

Hypothesis: Passport photos (at least Finnish ones) all make one look like a druggie thuggee of some description. Maybe this is an intentional security feature — if the photo looks good, it’s a fake passport.

* * *

Seems to me the worst thing that can happen to a city should be being the setting of a wildly successful police drama procedural series. All those show is an unending parade of drug sellers, racists, wife beaters, child abusers, thrill killers and the like, each more wretched and retch-worthy than the previous, and most with a subtext of this is a system that has failed.

That should be bad PR for a place — but no, apparently isn’t.

Also, if TV is to be believed, all cops have ulcers and divorces, and spend their free time brooding. Apparently this is not a major recruiting hurdle; myself I’m just happy there’s no TV show about mathematicians.

* * *

Scrap the previous; I’m bitterly angry there’s no TV show about mathematicians or other academicians (all below goes for your favorite specialty as well), but so many about policemen and doctors and other professionals of ick. Real police work is tedious and arcane; real medical work likewise, or so I assume; why won’t someone put some charm on the ur-pursuit of patterns?

“Tonight, on The Slaves of the Lemma — the Conjecture of Doom! Professor Doomsnarl and her team rely on an elusive result, rumored to be in the notebooks of Euler Himself, only to find themselves with a conjecture and no working proof — and three days to go before the plenary talk! It’s a red time for disasters and despair, but while there is coffee there is still hope, for Bobby the Forever Grad Student has hustled up stranger things before! For excitement, caffeine and integration as you’ve never seen it before, turn on for… the Slaves of the Lemma!”

No, no. To be done properly, as a genre, a mathematics-drama (or a mathematicians-drama rather) should not be a slice-of-life piece. Police series are not primarily about the lives of policemen, but about the policing work; the case and not the caseworkers; hospital series are… an example best bypassed here.

But if policing work is “be notified of a crime; solve the crime”, what is mathematicianning work then? “Notice a problem; solve it”?

If a fuller idea of policing work (on TV) is “be notified of a crime; find whodunnit, whydunnit, and how-it-was-dun”, then a fuller idea of a mathematician show would maybe be “notice there’s a mathematical problem that needs a solution or some exploration; do, explore, prove; see what happens and how far you can go; see what others think, and publish if you can; then deal with the confusion, bureaucracy and aftermath.”

When a policeman interviews, and consults the mortuary and the CSI unit and the archives, a mathematician has a bit of a Socratic seminar, and calls colleagues and graduate students and the library; when the TV policeman gets a clue by showy risks and devil-may-care, the TV mathematician could likewise do a bit less of sitting and thinking and scribbling; and when a policeman is for added drama bothered by his officious superiors and the crass press, a mathematician deals with the administrators and… uh, the students?

* * *

Cynical policeman: “Well, it’s supposed to be an idealistic pursuit of Justice, but sometimes it’s just a job. And maybe you finagle the evidence to look better cause the perp sure is guilty, and maybe you do something just to keep your idiot boss happy, and maybe you try to not get too ambitious… but that is life.”

Cynical mathematician: “Well, it’s supposed to be an idealistic pursuit of Truth, but sometimes it’s just a job. And maybe you write the introduction to sound better than the paper is, and maybe you throw the dean a few lies as a report on the PowerPoints PressureVision ExpertiseAreas, and maybe you prod at the same subject as long as it gives… but that too is life.”

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