So one day I'm in grad school, working on my dissertation stuff, when suddenly I have an uncontrollable urge to beat the Kevin Bacon Game by coming up with an actor that is seven steps or more away from KB.
No luck, even though I spent half a day neglecting my dissertation and caused the IMDB to crash because of the huge number of hits that I kept sending its way.
The mystical forces of KB, grad school, and procrastination, however, inspired me to look more carefully at the mathematical properties of the KB game.
Now, I absolutely, with all my heart, hate topology. However, the KB game had some topological properties that I could understand. You can think of KB as a black hole that sucks all other actor/actresses into his singularity. What I wanted to prove is that KB, just because of his Kevin-Baconness, forms sets that have some properties that are more interesting than sets derived from your average game of Chutes And Ladders, for example.
Now here's the amusing part: I spent a day and a half figuring out this silly stuff and writing up my results into a real, formal, suitable-for-publication-in-the-math-literature, research paper. The next step was to find a journal stupid enough to publish it. Well, that didn't take very long, because my brilliant work was too good for the run-of-the-mill, snooty, ergodicity-beats-KB-any-day math journal. After all, I have standards, and I don't publish my brilliant research just anywhere. So until I found the perfect journal, I snuck my KB paper into the Colorado State Univ. Stats Dept's Technical Reports. The secretary who handled the CSU Stats Tech Reports didn't know whom KB was and didn't care, and she assigned it a TR number and it made it into the university-wide tech report distribution list-thing. There was KB, in the annual reports and on the tech report web site, right up beside "Exponential Convergence of Langevin Diffusions and Their Discrete Approximations." Scientist-types stopped by the CSU Stat Tech Reports, looking for cutting-edge statistical research, but apparently some of them had a sense of humor because my KB paper got lots of downloads.
Unfortunately the CSU Tech Report editor eventually saw KB staring back at him while he was looking for Markov chain stuff. He wrote me the absolutely nicest letter, telling me that although he appreciated my efforts, he didn't think that the Tech Report pages were the "optimal forum for this type of research" and he took it down. His lovely letter must have taken him hours to write, because it was so phrased as not to squish my research interests, but to convey he also had standards for his tech reports and KB wasn't as interesting as modeling whale migration.
For a brief shining moment in time, KB was up there with the finest mathematical and statistical reasoning that mankind had to offer. And I didn't get thrown out of grad school.
By the way, the urge to beat the KB game hit me again in March '98. This time, I came up with SIX actors/actresses that each had at least seven steps away from KB. That put me into the Hall Of Fame at the KB Oracle of Virginia. Check me out (David Smith) under March 1998.
Since then, I've been trying to fill the huge void that KB has left in my life, mostly with heroin.
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