30 September 2009
23 September 2009
In commemoration of today's end of Infinite Summer, celebrations abound. In Austin, there's And But So this Saturday the 26th. Attendees bring their favorite Foster Wallace passages to read aloud. I will sadly miss it. If I could attend And But So, I would read this passage from "Lyndon" in David Foster Wallace's short story collection Girl With Curious Hair:
"The truth made the truth's usual quick circuit around the offices, the Building, the Hill. I was a homosexual. I had been a homosexual at Yale. In my last year before matriculating to the Business College, I met and became intimate with a Yale undergraduate, Jeffrey, a wealthy boy from Houston, Texas, who was beautiful, often considerate, wistful, but passionate, possessive, and a sufferer from periodic bouts of clinical depression so severe he had to be medicated. It was the medication, I discovered, that made him wistful.
"My lover Jeffrey ran with a group of synthetic but pleasant Texas socialites, one of whom was Margaret Childs, a tall, squarely built girl who eventually claimed, from unknown motive, to be in love with me. Margaret pursued me. I declined her in every sensitive way I knew. But Jeffrey grew inflamed. He revealed that his friends did not and must not know he was a homosexual. He pushed me to avoid Margaret altogether, which was hard: Margaret, gritty, bright enough to be chronically bored, had become puzzled, suspicious, of Jeffrey's (quite unsubtle) attempts to shield me from her. She smelled potential drama, and kept up the pursuit. Jeffrey become jealous as only the manic can. In my first year in Business, while I was shopping for my father's annual Christmas golf balls, Jeffrey and Margaret had it out, publicly, dramatically, in a Beat New Haven coffeehouse. Jeffrey put his foot through a doughnut counter. Certain information became public. Bits of this public information got back to my parents, who were close to the parents of two of my housemates. My parents came to me, personally, at Yale, on campus. It was snowing. At dinner with my parents and housemates, at Morty's, Jeffrey became so upset that he had to be taken to the men's room and calmed. My father swabbed Jeffrey's forehead with moist paper towels in a cold stall. Jeffrey kept telling my father what a kind man he was.
"Before my parents left—their hands literally on the handles of the station wagon's doors—my father, in the snow, asked me whether my sexual preferences were outside my own control. He asked me whether, were I to meet the right woman, I might be capable of heterosexual love, of marriage and a family and a pillar-type position in the community of my choice. These, my father explained, were his and my mother's great and only wishes for me, their one child, whom they loved without judgment. My mother did not speak. I remember a distanced interest in the steam of my own breath as I explained why I thought I could not and so would not do as my father wished, invoking Fifties' wisdom about deviancy, invoking a sort of god of glands as a shaman might blame vegetable spirits for a lost harvest. My father nodded continually throughout this whole very serious and civil conversation while my mother checked maps in the glove compartment. When I failed to present for next week's holiday, my father send me a card, my mother a check and leftovers in foil.
"I saw them only once more before my father dropped dead of something unexpected. I had left Jeffrey's company, and had been befriended in my upset by a still grimly determined Margaret Childs. Jeffrey unfortunately saw, in all this, cause to take his own life, which he did in an especially nasty way; and he left, on the table beneath the heating pipes from which he was found suspended, a note—a document—neatly typed, full enough of absolute truth concatenated with utter fiction that I was asked by the administration of the Business College to leave Yale University. Weeks after my father's wake I married Margaret Childs, under a mesquite tree, the blue stares of my mother and a Houston sky, and a system of vows, promises of strength, denial, trial, and compassion far beyond the Childs' Baptist minister's ritual prescriptions.
"The truth, to which there was really no more than that, and which made its way through the Senator's staff, the Dirksen, and Owen Buildings, and the Little Congress of the Hill's three-piece-suited infantry remarkably focused and unexaggerated, concluded with the fact that Margaret's father, Mr. Childs, less wealthy than outright powerful by the standards of 1958's Texas, had lines of political influence that projected all the way into the U.S. Senate, and that he, Mr. Childs, in a gesture that was both carrot and stick, slung his son-in-law on one line of that influence and had me hand-over-hand it into the offices of a risen and rising, uncouth and ingenious senior Senator, a possible Democratic candidate in the next Presidential election. Lyndon."
14 September 2009
Many CFD papers talk about using the skew-symmetric form of the convector operator in the Navier-Stokes equations. The math behind this terminology has confused me for some time (e.g. the operator's nonlinear in the Navier-Stokes equations), so finally I dug through the algebra to show why and when the linear operator is skew-Hermitian and/or skew-adjoint.The skew-adjoint (skew-symmetric) form of the convective derivative