I. The Law and Lawyers

When a pizzaiolo puts a 3 meter pizza on the table and says: “help yourselves but only to half of it”, there always appear the malcontents who ask: “why a half only?” “a half of 3 is more than 2?”, “and what will you do if I eat a half plus one fifth?” The best illustration of the phenomenon is the repetitive and inevitable Internet discussion on what could possibly have been Knuth's intentions when he wrote: \errmessage{This manual is copyrighted and should not be TeXed}\repeat – could it be that deep inside of him he wanted something totally opposite? Or could it be a joke? And how to beat this errmessage?

One can frequently meet ad hoc theories on the natural right to 2 meters of pizza, on Robin Hood and other nonsense. Usually the transgressors want the best of both worlds: the security for the electronic transmission of their own data and the right to put on one's plate anything caught in the Net.

When authors put their materials on their home pages, which are the most common attitudes? And how have I reacted? I don't know how to take arithmetical mean of plus and minus infinity, so I consider it necessary to comment some types of positions that tend to repeat.

I recall a one-semester course called “Encyclopedia of the Law” which made an impressive track through the theories of origins and origins of theories of the Law. I find it very exciting and promising for the future but these days, instead of developing one more (convenient) theory of the law I would rather talk about the lawyers. The reason is that in social life the value of a religion is delimited by the value of its priests. (Sure, the rule stands for the mathematics as well – the social decadence in applying mathematical reasoning is a reflex of the professional maladies of the majority of mathematicians: calculus tenonitis, rigoris nauseatis and applicational blindness.)

There is as much rage and bile in me as in any other madman of this world and I consider it important to put in written form my session of paranoiac accusations for the use of psychiatrists. I do it as an adult and sober educator because (as any other mature madman) I believe that it is the world and not me who is completely unbalanced – and I want to prevent the ones I educate from slipping into compliance, complacency and precocious conventionality.

Mathematicians and lawyers are very close cousins, though the former are frequently poor, the latter not infrequently rich. But the instruction that they receive is similar – for a long time it was only they who studied logic (well, plus the philosophers, other cousins, who are undecided whether they'd rather be rich or theo-rich). The examples of great lawyers-mathematicians (Fermat, Sylvester, Cayley) are famous but rare and do not make too visible the fact that in both professions the essence of labor consists in looking for tiny faults, quite unpretentious for a layman. But once the faulty data or reasoning is identified, for a mathematician it constitutes an enormous frustration and for a lawyer an enormous sum.

There are so many things that might be said on this subject that a selection is necessary. So now I will mention only that they disdain us quite a lot (in my professional class only the women display some elegance. Half of men seem to be coming back from a trip in the marshes and the others seem to be leaving for a barbecue party) and at the same time they envy us (as they know that one day we stand better chance to avoid hell's gates). And frequently they are profoundly grateful to their maths professors, as it was in their flight from mathematics that they landed in one of the courses of the Law.

In order to tell other things the style of “Blue Book” is necessary. So I begin following lessons of Master Zoshchenko: I have no general complaints about lawyers, I consider them just a marvel but. I've just recalled some isolated facts.

So, do whatever you want because the law is a joke? I think that I am talking about something different. If you get to the last part of my monologue you will see a confession of faith of someone who believes that ethics is inseparable from professional successes.
I'm talking about a sad aspect of our world. When I was young I was shown ten Laws, supposed to express moral rules that came from other worlds. Later I saw some beautiful proposals formulated in a legal language; they were said to be Laws emanating from the People. Nowadays the laws are numbered by many digits but I find it difficult to understand their connections to any ethics, other worlds or Peoples. The laws are pouring out of city mayors and presidents, policemen and directors, from town councilors meetings and the conferences of lawyers of multinationals. The identification of moral indications with the description of sales techniques of cosmetics is so advanced that one can expect new “Small Legislator” software, coming soon to your department store.