The LIGO
Web Newsletter
Front Page Hanford Livingston Caltech MIT

       The Editor's Page


     In Praise of the Unconventional

          by Dave Beckett

     beckett@ligo.caltech.edu


Veteran readers of the LIGO Web Newsletter (all six of you) will recognize this as a somewhat unconventional issue. To begin with, it's a month late. ("All too conventional, if you ask us," some unkind readers are no doubt muttering.) The Washington column, typically written by Hanford chief Fred Raab, is being penned this month by our special guest columnist, LIGO Deputy Director Gary Sanders. We are proud to include among the Louisiana offerings an in-depth study of angular momentum in general relativity by LIGO staff scientist Anthony Rizzi. Our Caltech space this edition has been cleared out to make room for an autobiographical sketch by sociologist Harry Collins, a man who has been studying the gravitational-wave community for years. And finally, the article for MIT this month is a reprint--a good reprint, but a reprint nonetheless.

Do all these anomalies require an explanation? Probably. Let's zip over to the LIGO Web Newsletter FAQ and see if we can find some answers there.

-- The LIGO Web Newsletter FAQ --

Q: What is the LIGO Web Newsletter?

A: The LIGO Web Newsletter is a mammoth journalistic enterprise with bureaus in New York, Rome, London, San Francisco, Brazil, and with an annual operating budget of over ten billion dollars. Staffed by a dedicated army of over 25,000 hard-working men and women, it makes CNN look like a kindergarten by comparison. Day and night our reporters roam the planet, like bloodhounds sniffing out a jail-house fugitive, relentlessly pursuing any lead, any scoop, any trace of news that might be of value to you, our loyal LIGO readers!

Q: Is this true?

A: No.  Of course not.  Idiot!  Don't be so naive.

Q: I've never been insulted by a website's FAQ before. Is this customary?

A: Statistics on this subject are rare, but a team of number-crunchers working out of Harvard has adduced ample evidence to suggest that online incidents of derision, derogation, vituperation and pejorification are increasing. Experts cite the growing incivility in all facets of everyday life to account for this.

Q: I know, it's true! People are so rude, especially in their cars!

A: Please phrase your comments in the form of a question.

Q: Sorry.

A: This is a FAQ after all.

Q: Sorry.

A: Moron.

Q: Sorry. So anyway, what's the deal with the LIGO Web Newsletter? Why all the unconventionality this month?

A: Unconventionality can be a strength. It signals power, vitality, independence of mind, and conviction in purpose.

Q: And this is your newsletter's goal?

A: It is our covenant! Our mission! It is the food on which we grow and from it we feast deeply! The LIGO Web Newsletter stands as a towering beacon of haughty defiance against the forces of conformity! It never kowtows, never genuflects, never bows down on bended knee! It refuses to be shackled by the moldy bonds of bourgeois orthodoxy! Let those of faint hearts and pale blood tremble before the face of the unknown! But not LIGO! Always will we be out in the forefront of progress, ready to brave any peril in our trek, scornful of both dangers and temptations alike, fearless champions on a heroic quest!

Q: Well, whatever.  Hey, whatever happened with that tumbleweed problem up there at Hanford? Did you guys get that sorted out?

A: It's under control.

Q: Good thing. So, what else is going on?

A: Read the issue.

Q: Right.