Christmas break allows one to read books that are fairly unrelated to my PhD program. So I am currently enjoying Walter Isaacson's Einstein - His Life and Universe. It is wonderfully written and very lucid; it explains continuity in Einstein's thinking and traits a lot better than the changes, however.
I want to share two tiny passages. On page 295, Isaacson tells how U.S. Congress in 1921 debated Einstein's general theory of relativity.
For reasons fathomable only by those whi live in that capital [Washington, DC - TH], the Senate decided to debate the theory of relativity. [...] On the House side of the Capitl, Representative J.J. Kindred of New York proposed placing an explanation of Einstein's theories in the Congressional Record. David Walsh of Massachussetts rose to object. Did Kindred understand the theory? "I have been earnestly busy with this theory for three weeks," he replied, "and am beginning to see some light." But what relevance, he asked, did it have to the business of Congress? "It may bear upon the legisaltion of the future as to the general relations with the cosmos.
As much as politicians' and politics' stupidity and hubris deserves to be pointed out, Einstein also performed poorly in realm outside his genius (original HT to Greg Mankiw). Debating John D. Rockefeller in 1930,
Einstein suggested that working hours to be shortened so that, at least in his understanding of economics, more people would have a chance to be employed.
By the way: The picture accompanying this post is the Albert Einstein Memorial in Washington, DC; I am baffled that I have not seen it despite its prominent location and my numerous trips to DC.