Archive for March, 2007

Shakespeare reading Shakespeare to us!

March 31, 2007

Pradeep Sebastian has discovered the fount of Shakepearean manna (that he was hoping to find all these days):

I’VE always hoped for a book on Shakespeare that wasn’t by some seminal Shakespeare scholar or literary critic. I wanted a book by a passionate, brilliant reader steeped in her own reading of the Bard and in the debates by contemporary scholars over his (her?) work. But even I couldn’t have anticipated how lucky I would get.

To have Ron Rosenbaum, the most original and interesting cultural journalist working today, wade through the depths and heights of Shakespeare is more than an embarrassment of riches. It is the very thing itself: like Shakespeare reading Shakespeare to us.

Sebastian waxes gloriously on the writing style of Rosenbaum thus:

The writing is opinionated, brilliant, intensely (almost diabolically) researched, witty, deeply intelligent, and restlessly probing. His essays (always satisfyingly lengthy and intriguing) read like beautifully written spy stories.

and, that makes it too tempting for me not to read the book! And, what is more, the best praise that Sebastian reserves for the book is in the last paragraph, where he talks about the “bloggish” quality of the book that makes it appealing and inviting–I see his point!

PS:- While we are on the topic of blogs, take a look at the Geoffrey Chaucer hath a blog, at which blog I landed via LII. To give a sample, here is Chaucer on the Feest of MLA 🙂

Gentil rederes, ayen ich crave yower pardoun. Of late, ich haue ben busier than Britney Spearses PR agentes. Many dayes haue passed sithen ich haue last y-blogged. But for to yiven yow sum mattir for redyng, ich haue a text of gret sentence to share, thogh nat by me ywrit. Ich haue many freendes across thys gret erthe and oftimes thei sende me their werkes and such. Oon of hem ys a ladye of much spirituale knowledge who oft writeth of her aventures. She hath sent me thys her latest tretys, the which speketh of a straunge festival ycleped MLA, be it of fayerye or of devilrye ich knowe nat. Ich nam nat no theologien, nor nam ich a mystique lyk my freend Margery. Ich shal poost her boke heere and ye maye maken yower owen interpretaciouns.

Time for a bit of Indian history

March 31, 2007
  1. This essay in the Hindu by Babu K Verghese on the history of printing press in India is a must-read. Reaching India by accident, and promoted by missionaries ardently to spread the word of God, the printing press had (and continues to have) a very strong impact on all aspects of Indian national life.
  2. Last week, S Muthaiah talked about the mutiny at Vellore in 1806 that preceded the 1857 one (and several others too); this week, Moushumi Basu talks about yet another that took place in Bombay in 1683 — however, as she notes in her piece, it was a ‘white’ mutiny against the company, unlike the ‘native’ ones that followed.
  3. Navtej Varna is ecstatic about a Gazetteer of the Delhi district 1813-1884. Nor does the Gazetteer seem to be immune to the Indian way of telling history or describing geography:

    The Gazetteer notes that the “hills of Delhi, which though not attractive in themselves, give a pleasant view across the Jamna, and in clear weather allow, it is said, even a glimpse of the Himalayas.”

    I guess Raja Rao would have been happy to see the puranic style rendering of such geographical information.

  4. Malavika Karlekar writes about the southern sojourn of Sarala Debi at Maharani Girls College, Mysore and her brahminical (learning veena) and un-Brahminical  (reciting Upanishads) forays during the stay.

The true heir of Adam Smith

March 31, 2007

Here is an essay (pdf) on the contributions to Milton Friedman to economics; via PTDR. From the conclusions section of the article:

Milton Friedman became one of the most influent intellectuals in the 20th century because of the impact of his ideas in redefining views of the Depression and in shaping contemporary views on the Great Inflation from the mid-1960s through the early 1980s.

A major reason for Friedman’s success as an economist was that he combined the intellectual traits of the theoretician and the empiricist.

Friedman applied the analytical apparatus of neoclassical economics indefatigably to understand the world. He was one of the great intellectuals of the 20th century in that he used ideas and evidence to change the way an informed public understood the world. In his understanding of how competitive markets combine with individual freedom to better individual well-being and the prosperity of society, Friedman was a true heir of Adam Smith.

Take a look!

Why and how-to: Read novels

March 31, 2007

Alberto Manguel, The Library at Night (Knopf Canada, 2006)
John Sutherland, How to Read a Novel (St. Martin’s, 2006)
Francine Prose, Reading Like a Writer (HarperCollins, 2006)Here are three recent books about how and why we bother reading novels. But before saying a word about them, let me dispense with the verdict: John Sutherland’s How to Read a Novel and Francine Prose’s Reading Like a Writer are mildly entertaining, more or less harmless bits of fluff, ideal for winter beach reading (You don’t go to the beach in winter? Exactly.), while Alberto Manguel’s The Library at Night is a real book, masterfully written and actually about something.

From this book review; via PTDR.

Purpose of studying economics

March 31, 2007

The purpose of studying economics is not to acquire a set of of ready-made answers to economic questions, but to avoid being deceived by economists.– Joan Robinson, Cambridge University

From here; via PTDR.

Needed: feminist archaeology

March 31, 2007

Philobiblon tells why we need feminist archaeologists:

Because it is not what you find, but the questions you ask about that determine the conclusions you’ll reach.

Saturday morning science-y links!

March 31, 2007
  1. Good math, bad math introduces surreal numbers;
  2. Cognitive Daily wagers that most of its readers do not understand error bars (and wins the wager too);
  3. On a compilation of bad editorial decisions (of rejection of  groundbreaking work that would later lead to Nobel prizes);
  4. Chronology and stratigraphy — some fundamentals of geology explained rather nicely; and,
  5. The discussion on the necessity of lab courses in undergrad curriculum continues.

Aurora Borealis videos

March 31, 2007

Here are some amazing videos of Aurora Borealis at YouTube; via John Baez.

Mathematics awareness month

March 31, 2007

MAM April is the mathematics awareness month (pdf); and the theme for 2007 is Mathematics and the brain. Don’t miss the theme essays page. Here is a list of the earlier themes. Have fun!

Programming history

March 30, 2007

A brief history of programming; via LII.