Monthly Archives: November 2010

Stimulating the Economy

If you are an American Express cardholder, you can sign up for Small Business Saturday and get a free $25 credit to spend at any small business this very Saturday. Since I will be in Skokie this Thanksgiving weekend, I will check out this store:

http://www.uspystore.com/

There’s nothing more amazing than checking out semen detection gear and sonic nausea generators.

Not taking this blog very seriously,

Mike M

Euler’s Identity

Due to a math problem set, I have absolutely no time to write a lengthy post today. But I’ll share what really rattled my mind in high school:

e^{i \pi} + 1 = 0\,\!

My first thought was that this identity doesn’t make sense. How can you take e to an imaginary power?

Anyways, the fun part is staring at it and appreciating all the elements involved here in their elegant simplicity:

i – an imaginary number

1 – the identity in multiplication

0 – the identity in addition

pi – the commonly used irrational number

e – the commonly used transcendental number

Now the not-so-fun part is proving it (from the power series definition of e^x). Good luck with that.

 

P.S. Actually both pi and e are transcendental.

 

Hitchens – Dembski Debate

Now this would be a very uninspiring debate had it not been for Hitchens’ closing statement. Basically much of the debate involved back and forth between the two speakers over evolution, where Dembski (embarrassingly a UChicago alumni, I must admit) kept insisting on the conspiracy that atheists were emotionally attached to their position and were therefore making up models and explanations to support evolution. I cannot believe in this day and age that the overwhelming evidence for the truth of evolution is still a worthy topic of debate, but I guess I just don’t visit the Creation Museum often enough.

Hitchens talks about Shakespeare because Dembski brought up the idea of how wonderful it must be to meet Shakespeare in heaven. The reference to children being taught that they are “dead” was another response to Dembski, who said earlier in response to Hitchen’s criticism of the concept of hell, that in fact Hitchens misunderstands: Christianity doesn’t say “believe or die and go to hell”; instead, Scripture says that we are already dead, and that only Christ can make us live.

Well I guess his life story is inspiring in and of itself. After all, Hitchens is fighting cancer right now, and we all hope he will make it through this difficult period of his life with joy and comfort.

But I found it most fitting that Hitchens mentioned how authors are “immortal in the works they leave behind.” For me personally, Hitchens’ writings are the Shakespeare of the modern era, albeit mostly in nonfiction form. I agree with fifty percent of what he writes, and I love every little thing about all his writing: the structure, the vocabulary, the tone. There’s something dynamic about his prose; there’s nothing I like more than elegant ways to say simple things. He’s one of the few people who have made me want to read Slate and Vanity Fair Magazine.

If he leaves us anytime soon, I’m sure he’ll never really die.

Welcome to my new blog.

Hello! I will be regularly writing about all the incredible, awe-inspiring, and inspirational things that I encounter in this world. These things may be in forms ranging from Youtube videos to articles to random encounters with strangers on an airplane. Basically, I want to show you how wonderful this world really is and why we should be thankful for what we have.

I’d like to begin by talking about what many regard as a not-so-wonderful topic. I’m only twenty-one years old, but occasionally think about death, both my own and the eventual deaths of loved ones.

I remember reading this during my freshman year of high school, and I was really inspired by this poem. Yes, it is a poem about death, but I was taken back by the poet’s peaceful handling of the subject and the incredible imagery that he uses to describe this natural process. The romanticness of it all (alluding to the literary movement, of course), combined with a deep sense of rhythm, takes us to a new place of wonder and mystery–yet the paradox is that this place is just here, on our very Earth, in the very place where we will live out our entire lives. One can only feel the connectedness that we all have with each other, no matter who we are and what we do.¬†After all, “Thou shalt lie down \ With patriarchs of the infant world — with kings, \ The powerful of the earth — the wise, the good, \ Fair forms, and hoary seers of ages past, \ All in one mighty sepulchre.” The fate which we all share is an equalizing force.

Most important of all, I think Bryant’s poem tells us how to live, if we are to really understand the idea of death. The last stanza begins with exactly that: “So live…”, he says quite simply and bluntly. I take this to mean that we should really enjoy and cherish the limited time we have. Work hard, have lots of fun, be kind to others, be brave in difficult times, and prosper.


THANATOPSIS

William Cullen Bryant


To him who in the love of nature holds
Communion with her visible forms, she speaks
A various language; for his gayer hours
She has a voice of gladness, and a smile
And eloquence of beauty; and she glides
Into his darker musings, with a mild
And healing sympathy that steals away
Their sharpness ere he is aware. When thoughts
Of the last bitter hour come like a blight
Over thy spirit, and sad images
Of the stern agony, and shroud, and pall,
And breathless darkness, and the narrow house,
Make thee to shudder, and grow sick at heart;–
Go forth, under the open sky, and list
To Nature’s teachings, while from all around–
Earth and her waters, and the depths of air–
Comes a still voice. Yet a few days, and thee
The all-beholding sun shall see no more
In all his course; nor yet in the cold ground,
Where thy pale form was laid, with many tears,
Nor in the embrace of ocean, shall exist
Thy image. Earth, that nourished thee, shall claim
Thy growth, to be resolved to earth again,
And, lost each human trace, surrendering up
Thine individual being, shalt thou go
To mix forever with the elements,
To be a brother to the insensible rock
And to the sluggish clod, which the rude swain
Turns with his share, and treads upon. The oak
Shall send his roots abroad, and pierce thy mold.

Yet not to thine eternal resting-place
Shalt thou retire alone, nor couldst thou wish
Couch more magnificent. Thou shalt lie down
With patriarchs of the infant world — with kings,
The powerful of the earth — the wise, the good,
Fair forms, and hoary seers of ages past,
All in one mighty sepulchre. The hills
Rock-ribbed and ancient as the sun, — the vales
Stretching in pensive quietness between;
The venerable woods — rivers that move
In majesty, and the complaining brooks
That make the meadows green; and, poured round all,
Old Ocean’s gray and melancholy waste,–
Are but the solemn decorations all
Of the great tomb of man. The golden sun,
The planets, all the infinite host of heaven,
Are shining on the sad abodes of death
Through the still lapse of ages. All that tread
The globe are but a handful to the tribes
That slumber in its bosom. — Take the wings
Of morning, pierce the Barcan wilderness,
Or lose thyself in the continuous woods
Where rolls the Oregon, and hears no sound,
Save his own dashings — yet the dead are there:
And millions in those solitudes, since first
The flight of years began, have laid them down
In their last sleep — the dead reign there alone.

So shalt thou rest — and what if thou withdraw
In silence from the living, and no friend
Take note of thy departure? All that breathe
Will share thy destiny. The gay will laugh
When thou art gone, the solemn brood of care
Plod on, and each one as before will chase
His favorite phantom; yet all these shall leave
Their mirth and their employments, and shall come
And make their bed with thee. As the long train
Of ages glides away, the sons of men–
The youth in life’s fresh spring, and he who goes
In the full strength of years, matron and maid,
The speechless babe, and the gray-headed man–
Shall one by one be gathered to thy side,
By those, who in their turn, shall follow them.

So live, that when thy summons comes to join
The innumerable caravan, which moves
To that mysterious realm, where each shall take
His chamber in the silent halls of death,
Thou go not, like the quarry-slave at night,
Scourged to his dungeon, but, sustained and soothed
By an unfaltering trust, approach thy grave
Like one who wraps the drapery of his couch
About him, and lies down to pleasant dreams.