To cheer you up even further a new story that breaks new ground about Avi Wigderson and me (and Laci Lovasz) and a couple more famous Isrealis. For another story about Avi and me see Layish. (I told both stories last Friday in a party for Avi.)
It was a good time to have dinner together with Avi. Avi and I came back to Israel after Laci Lovasz’s birthday conference, “LL70 Building Bridges II”. While there, I gave a talk titled “Demolishing bridges and building new ones” and a provocative remark I made on TCS and computational reality led to an exchange of remarks, first during the lecture itself, later at our Budapest hotel, and in the following couple of weeks it developed into an untypical heated email discussion between us. It was good to put this debate behind us, and the Suzanna restaurant in Neve Tzedek was the perfect place to relax. It is a lovely place and as we were chatting about all sorts of things, Avi noticed and drew our attention to a very famous Israeli in one of the nearby tables.
After decades of collaboration between Avi and me (on silly things) we did not need to talk much and acted like a well-oiled machine. “There is a problem” I told the waiter and Avi continued: “Having Uri Geller sitting here is dangerous, if some forks bend this may cause injuries to the tongues and upper palates of of the diners.” and I added “You better find a separate room for Uri Geller and his party,” and Avi continued “fully covered with lead might be an advantage”. The waiter did not know what to say and called a colleague and we continued to discuss this matter with them.
Uri Geller, who overheard the discussion, came over to the table and asked what all the fuss was about. We explained slowly and carefully the dangers of having him sit in the next table. “You might be joking,” said Uri, “but, seriously, if there is one thing I lose sleep over is making sure that my powers are not misused or cause any harm. Rest assured that there is no way that my powers for bending spoons and forks could be harmful or dangerous.”
We were somewhat relieved.
“You are scientists aren’t you?” asked/sayed Geller. We confirmed: “mathematics and computer science”. “I love scientists and science,” said Geller, “I worked a lot with scientists all over the world, and like scientists I also try to expand human knowledge and human abilities in a similar way to what they do for the benefit of mankind.” Geller paused for a while and continued “I can even say that I am a scientist!” Then Geller paused again and said: “But there is one small group of scientists that I don’t like,” Uri Geller’s smile turned into a sad and angry expression, “skeptics, they have a destructive way of thinking. I hope you two are not skeptics.” “Well,” Avi said, “Gili is a skeptic, but don’t worry, Uri, he is a very nice skeptic.”
And here is our prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s testimony about Uri Geller. (We learned about it only after that dinner at Suzanna restaurant. It largely supports our worries.)
.. everybody came and all wanted to see Uri who is very famous, a very famous Israeli,…, so they all came to see him and they all wanted him to bend spoons, and he said I cannot do it right now, but they asked him could you bend our spoons, could you bend our spoons? So Uri said “all right” he stood in one corner of the restaurant and he simultaneously bent the spoons of all the people who were there! All right? Now, tell me, do you have an explanation how he worked it as a trick? If you give me a convincing explanation how he did it as a trick I would say, wow, he is a great magician! But he did it! I saw it! And I have seen it time and time again. So I think he has these special powers…
Netanyahu testifies about Geller.
Avi gave a great CS colloquium two days ago. Here with Noam Nisan and Orit Raz just before the lecture. (I will mention it in the next post.)