First, I had the wonderful experience of getting to see (through a special deal set up by Harvard's faculty development office) All the Way at the American Repertory Theater. It's a new play following the history of Lyndon Johnson (and Martin Luther King) from the November 1963- November 1964 time period (from when Kennedy was assassinated to when Johnson won the presidential election). I was silly enough to not realize when I got the tickets that Bryan Cranston, of
[Note -- sadly, the show is already sold out... at least for this run.]
Ah, then the bad news. After being on the executive PC for STOC 2013, I heard from multiple colleagues afterwards who had their papers rejected about what they felt was the low quality of reviewing. (In my defense, I commiserated with several of them at the time.) So, after getting the reviews from the SODA PC (for my rejected papers), I feel obliged to comment. Quality-wise, they're terrible. (Not universally so... but some of them....) I was going to put in specific examples, but after the heat of the moment died down, my cooler head prevailed and determined that was inappropriate. But suffice to say that beyond the usual we don't understand the motivation type stuff, there are comments that are factually wrong that betray fundamental misunderstandings, and opinions regarding "what's important" in the paper that are -- in my experience -- just off the mark. I've been through it before -- you suck it up, find the useful comments, rewrite, and re-submit. But it is disturbing (from both sides, as the receiver of reviews and as one helping manage the reviewing process), and worrisome if it's an increasing problem for many submitters.