Abraham Lincoln

A young Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln (1809 – 1865) was the 16th president of the United States, serving from March 1861 to April 1865. He was a complex character. Many have argued that he was the greatest US president.  I greatly respect and admire him, though I don’t agree with a couple of his major decisions.

He was a physical giant: 6 foot 4 inches tall. (Remember, at that time the average American male was probably 5 foot 7 inches.) And he was a mental giant. I was deeply moved by his Gettysburg Address.

The Gettysburg Address is a speech that U.S. President Abraham Lincoln delivered during the American Civil War at the dedication of the Soldiers’ National Cemetery … in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania on the afternoon of November 19, 1863, four and a half months after the Union armies defeated Confederate forces in the Battle of Gettysburg, the Civil War’s deadliest battle. It remains one of the best known speeches in American history

Here’s a bit about Lincoln’s speech in The Civil War documentary by Ken Burns. Continue reading “Abraham Lincoln”

Gandhi Matters – 1

Gandhi matters enormously and he is rightly considered the “Father of the Nation.” That of course means that Gandhi is to a very large degree responsible for what India became (or failed to become) after India’s independence from the British raj.

I haven’t always been a critic of Gandhi. Like the overwhelmingly large percentage of Indians, I uncritically accepted the idea that he was a “a great soul”, a mahatma. Mind you, Mahatma became his de facto first name, not the middle name. I was taught in school that he gave freedom to India, and I believed that to be true. Indians owed their freedom to him, and therefore he should be venerated, if not worshiped by all, and not just Indians. Continue reading “Gandhi Matters – 1”

Weather Report

Weather reports a few days ago predicted severe rainfall and flooding in Northern and Central California but it turned out to be a storm in a teacup.

After a few weeks in San Jose CA at a friend’s home, I was in Palo Alto CA at another friend’s home for a few days. Being in Palo Alto was interesting for two unrelated events. First, the mega-fraudster Sam Bankman-Fried of the FTX and Alameda Research fame was/is confined at his parents’ home in Palo Alto. So “SBF” was a neighbor of sorts for a bit.

As it happens, SBF was at a New York court on Jan 3rd for his arraignment and pleaded not guilty to all the charges. We’re sure to hear more about his embezzlement in the coming months. Continue reading “Weather Report”

Freeman Dyson on Climate

Freeman Dyson (1923 – 2020), was one of the greatest minds of the 20th century. He delighted in being a self-professed heretic. One of his heretical positions was on climate change. It’s a pity that more people are familiar with a hysterical Swedish teenager’s views on climate change than with Prof Dyson’s.

This is so because the teenager is photogenic and her claims, though utterly devoid of any rational support, makes for sensational headlines that the mainstream media relentlessly pushes on a public that is given to paranoia and panic.

Most of us, yours truly included, do not have the ability to do primary research and reach our own conclusions on matters that are of interest to us. We have to rely on others. It is up to us, then, to choose which domain expert we trust. Climate change: should we trust an emotion-driven teenager who couldn’t possibly know much about anything; or should we rely on a sober, super-intelligent scientific researcher and mathematician who has spent decades studying important matters, including climate change? Greta or Freeman? The choice isn’t that hard. Continue reading “Freeman Dyson on Climate”

Yeha Noha (Wishes Of Happiness And Prosperity)

I like the rhythms of Native American music. I have a collection of songs that are based on them. I say based on them because they essentially are “covers”, not the originals. Here’s one — Gesso’s Guitar Song by Mystic Rhythms Band.

A couple of decades ago, I had rescued a CD from a pile of stuff my friend Courtenay was about to trash. It was titled “Sacred Spirit.” The songs grow on you. I find them soothing. Here’s a song from that CD: Yeha Noha (Wishes Of Happiness And Prosperity).

Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

Climate Change

Of the many challenges that the world is facing, climate change is the biggest and the baddest in my opinion. It has the potential to cause tremendous long-term damage and affect the most number of people.

It could be several orders of magnitude worse than the Chinese Covid19 pandemic, although they have one thing in common: the policy response to the Chinese virus imposed the terrible cost, not the disease itself. The policy response to the climate hysteria could end up destroying billions of lives. This is not hyperbole. Continue reading “Climate Change”

Doing Arithmetic

Humans are amazing in their variety. A dear friend of mine would sometimes call me for help figuring out some bit of arithmetic. “Hey Nu,” she’d say, “what’s 17 percent of 200?” That’s one end of the spectrum; at the other end is this Chinese kid. Prepare to be amazed.

I am sure that it would take me over an hour to do what the kid does in two minutes. What are those weird finger movements he does while doing the additions? Continue reading “Doing Arithmetic”

Game of Life

The great big game of life has a surprising counterpart in a cellular automata developed by John Conway in the 1960’s. It’s called “Game of Life.”

The gif on the left is an instance of the game. It’s called Gosper’s glider gun. Lucky for us, we can download Conway’s game from the google store.

John Conway was a mathematical genius. Born in England, he did most of work in Princeton University. I first came across Conway’s Game of Life during my graduate studies in computer science.  It was featured in Martin Gardner’s Scientific American column “Mathematical Games.”[1] Continue reading “Game of Life”

Laws of Motion

If you are trained in elementary physics and in basic calculus, you’d recognize the image above as summarizing Newton’s laws of motion in simple mathematical equations. The wiki explains:

Newton’s laws of motion are three basic laws of classical mechanics that describe the relationship between the motion of an object and the forces acting on it. These laws can be paraphrased as follows: Continue reading “Laws of Motion”

Liberty

Samuel Adams, bronze and granite statue, 1880. Anne Whitney.

“If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen.” Continue reading “Liberty”

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