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There exists an uneasy alliance between science and politics. When governments adopt certain policies they seek an ideological basis and it has its uses to give them an air of credibility and convince the world that they are the vehicles for progress whichever way you may interpret the term. On looking back however we find such mixture without exception tends to create monsters instead. Firstly ideology of politics adopting latest advances in technology is from above. There may be several scientific advisors in the panel the government inducts in order to formulate a policy but politics shall in the end determine the course. Look at the ideology of “eugenics” to describe the modern concept of improving the quality of human beings born into the world, It was Francis Galton’s brain child who however borrowed his half-cousin Charles Darwin‘s theory of evolution, which sought to explain the development of plant and animal species, and desired to apply it to humans. Galton believed that desirable traits were hereditary based on biographical studies; Darwin strongly disagreed with his interpretation of the book. In 1883, one year after Darwin’s death, Galton gave his research a name: eugenics. Throughout its recent history, eugenics has remained a controversial concept. Eugenic policies were first implemented in the early 1900s in the United States. It has roots in France, Germany, Great Britain, and the United States. Later, in the 1920s and 30s, the eugenic policy of sterilizing certain mental patients was implemented in other countries, including Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Japan and Sweden.

The scientific reputation of eugenics started to decline in the 1930s, a time when Ernst Rüdin used eugenics as a justification for the racial policies of Nazi Germany. I shall cite another:

In the mid-19th Century, it was common economic wisdom that government intervention in famines was unnecessary and even harmful. The market would restore a proper balance. Any excess deaths, according to Malthusian principles, were nature’s way of responding to overpopulation.

This logic had been used with devastating effect two decades beforehand in Ireland, where the government in Britain had, for the most part, decided that no relief was the best relief.

 

The Great Famine in Ireland began as a natural catastrophe of extraordinary magnitude, but its effects were severely worsened by the actions and inactions of the Whig government, headed by Lord John Russell in the crucial years from 1846 to 1852.

Altogether, about a million people in Ireland are reliably estimated to have died of starvation and epidemic disease between 1846 and 1851, and some two million emigrated in a period of a little more than a decade (1845-55). Comparison with other modern and contemporary famines establishes beyond any doubt that the Irish famine of the late 1840s, which killed nearly one-eighth of the entire population, was proportionally much more destructive of human life than the vast majority of famines in modern times.

The government might have prohibited the export of grain from Ireland, especially during the winter of 1846-47 and early in the following spring, when there was little food in the country and before large supplies of foreign grain began to arrive. Once there was sufficient food in the country (imported Indian corn or maize), from perhaps the beginning of 1848, the government could have taken steps to ensure that this imported food was distributed to those in greatest need. Second, the government could have continued its so-called soup-kitchen scheme for a much longer time. It was in effect for only about six months, from March to September 1847. As many as three million people were fed daily at the peak of this scheme in July 1847. The scheme was remarkably inexpensive and effective. It should not have been dismantled after only six months and in spite of the enormous harvest deficiency of 1847.

Third, the wages that the government paid on its vast but short-lived public works in the winter of 1846-47 needed to be much higher if those toiling on the public works were going to be able to afford the greatly inflated price of food. Fourth, the poor-law system of providing relief, either within workhouses or outside them, a system that served as virtually the only form of public assistance from the autumn of 1847 onwards, needed to be much less restrictive. All sorts of obstacles were placed in the way, or allowed to stand in the way, of generous relief to those in need of food. This was done in a horribly misguided effort to keep expenses down and to promote greater self-reliance and self-exertion among the Irish poor. (The Irish Famine- By Jim Donnelly/BBC history)

Despite of being aware of consequences the British government 150 years ago let Orissa suffer a similar catastrophe. Famine, while no stranger to the subcontinent, increased in frequency and deadliness with the advent of British colonial rule. As a background to this we need to understand how the East India Company helped kill off India’s once-robust textile industries, pushing more and more people into agriculture. This, in turn, made the Indian economy much more dependent on the whims of seasonal monsoons.

One hundred and fifty years ago, as is the case with today’s drought, a weak monsoon appeared as the first ill omen.

In modern-day Orissa state, the worst hit region, one out of every three people perished, a mortality rate far more staggering than that caused by the Irish Potato Famine. Yet the Orissa famine killed over a million people in eastern India.

On a flying visit to Orissa in February 1866, Cecil Beadon, the colonial governor of Bengal (which then included Orissa), staked out a similar position. “Such visitations of providence as these no government can do much either to prevent or alleviate,” he pronounced.

‘Too late, too rotten’

Regulating the skyrocketing grain prices would risk tampering with the natural laws of economics. “If I were to attempt to do this,” the governor said, “I should consider myself no better than a dacoit or thief.” With that, Mr Beadon deserted his emaciated subjects in Orissa and returned to Kolkata (Calcutta) and busied himself with quashing privately funded relief efforts.

In May 1866, it was no longer easy to ignore the mounting catastrophe in Orissa. British administrators in Cuttack found their troops and police officers starving. The remaining inhabitants of Puri were carving out trenches in which to pile the dead. “For miles round you heard their yell for food,” commented one observer. The Orissa famine also became an important turning point in India’s political development, stimulating nationalist discussions on Indian poverty. Faint echoes of these debates still resonate today amid drought-relief efforts.

 

Malthusian principle dictates war as a necessary means to control all unequal demands of population explosion in the face of dwindling food reserves. Nature must have had her last laugh at the British Imperial pretensions by leading them down the primrose path of colonialism and two great wars gave their comeuppance at last.

Ack: (Viewpoint: How British let one million Indians die in famine By Dinyar Patel

/11 June,2016; wikipedia-eugenics)

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Man for whom abstract thinking is natural can always latch onto an idea, however impractical it may turn out in the end. Like the hero of Cervantes ideas turn always, blades one blowing this way and another in that way. History is such ideas creating a blur that only a fool would want to claim his idea is the best.

There is nothing heroic about taking on impossible if it is going to end in wholesale bloodshed. See the savage butchery recently perpetrated by the so called Daesh. They imagine they would thereby revive a Caliphate. Earlier  Joseph Stalin sent some millions to gulags and to death for creating a Worker’s paradise. How did it fare?

We only need consider Lenin’s idea of a Worker’s paradise when the Bolsheviks violently over threw the Tsarist regime. It was similar to a theocratic state John Calvin ushered in Geneva several centuries before. It did not work in Europe then; neither did it in Soviet Russia. Ideas are fine but man cannot stick to it all the way through. Did not the Allies set about ridding the post-war world of Totalitarian ideology? Nuremberg, the German city associated with the pageantry which the Nazi regime staged as they climbed to power was a potent symbol for the German nation. The Allies was sending a message loud and clear to the world. Nuremburg Trials was to be a show trial but as the legal process went about its rounds there was a perception among the Western powers that Soviet Union was the Threat that they needed to thwart. After all did not they dismantle the Nazi apparatus root and all? The US saw to that scientists who had helped Hitler’s war efforts were smuggled out to their country under Operation Paperclip*. V2 rocket program soon would provide the nucleus for the space war that came in play in the 60s. It was not surprising that the Trial of the century evaporated in the hustle and bustle of meeting the Cold War in offing.

Man has capacity to develop an idea like a Nuclear bomb to bring the WWII quickly to a halt. Neither his foresight and hindsight do match evenly. Of this we see even now. The Allies are at presented seized of the fact the Jihadi elements may lay hands on a dirty nuclear bomb. It has been thus progress that man cobbled up in the many innovations, has fared. Progress without exception has proved false.

Man is loath to turn 180 degrees from an idea, to which he has sold himself as well in which his experience also gives him certain pointers. Though failed in practice he trusts in his own power to pull it off. After the demise of the Imperial Rome, under Constantine the Great and Charlemagne (the Holy Roman Empire) the idea has been tried; Under Mussolini it was revived to no avail. Each idea and those who stake their legitimacy on its basis must cope with changed circumstances. In France the Second Empire under Napoleon III was a fiasco. He did not anticipate the revolutionary spirit of Europe and emergence of Germany under Bismarck. The events across the globe never stand still but like group waves negotiate with new ones where energy is passed around. Who shall cash in on these transactions by means of war, religion and cultural trade off remains to be seen. Pagan Rome under Constantine underwent a sea-change. Christianity became the state religion. The split between Rome and Constantinople as a result of political upheavals, became further weakened: The Church of Rome and the Greek Orthodox Church of the East would no longer come as one due to the  doctrinal differences. At present the idea of Caliphate like the idea of Imperial idea of Rome is doomed if lessons of history are of any guide. Cashing in on the demise of an old order of Byzantine Empire the hordes of Saracens, Moors and Arabs created a Caliphate that died its natural death. Those who are beating the dead donkey shall soon know what it is to stop the tide engulfing them from all across the globe.

benny

* Operation Paperclip (1949–1990) was the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) program in which more than 1,500 German scientists, engineers, and technicians were brought to the United States from Nazi Germany and other countries for employment in the aftermath of World War II. It was conducted by the Joint Intelligence Objectives Agency (JIOA) and in the context of the burgeoning Cold War. One purpose of Operation Paperclip was to deny German scientific expertise and knowledge to the Soviet Union and the United Kingdom, as well as to inhibit post-war Germany from redeveloping its military research capabilities. The Soviet Union had competing extraction programs known as “trophy brigades” and Operation Osoaviakhim. (ack:wikipedia)

 

 

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Let me first take up the Euler’s theorem or Euler’s Identity. It is an equation as neat as Einstein’s e=mc2 and in the words of Prof. David Percy of the Institute of Mathematics and its Applications, it was “a real classic and you can do no better than that … It is simple to look at and yet incredibly profound, it comprises the five most important mathematical constants.”

Euler’s Identity is written simply as: e + 1 = 0

The five constants are:

  • The number 0.
  • The number 1.
  • The number π, an irrational number (with unending digits) that is the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter. It is approximately 3.14159…
  • The number e, also an irrational number as π . It is approximately 2.71828….

But the weirdest thing about Euler’s formula—given that it relies on imaginary numbers—is that it’s so immensely useful in the real world. By translating one type of motion into another this equation has application in real world. π and e are deeply related, but in a very weird way, as adventures of Alice after falling through the rabbit hole.

Such irrational events that Alice experienced are in a dimension perpendicular to the world of real things—a place measured in units of i. The square root of –1, which of course doesn’t exist. Mathematicians call it an imaginary number.

Because Alice shows effects from obeying instructions ‘Drink me or Eat me’ down there is in literal sense while in real world what one faces is no less embarrassing as losing face or feeling small. In short our existence is the axis around which both irrational and real world make their claims on us, even if it is only limited to a nightmare. This equation is all pervasive in human affairs where an element of irrationality is in-built.

We cannot multiply a number by itself to produce a negative number anymore than we can repeat a dream by our will, The letter i is therefore used as a sort of stand-in to mark places where this was done.

The Queen of Hearts in the Lewis Carroll’s story might order about but Alice holds the ultimate authority and when she asserts it shows what is wrong with the authority of the Queen. She is only a number in the deck of playing cards.

e + 1 = 0

In the Euler’s Identity Alice is the constant 1. As seen earlier her place in the equation makes the pother and the strange procedure of the trial of the Knave of Hearts as zero another constant!

The beauty of the Euler’s theorem is that it has a transcendental quality of human existence where a person or an event (represented by the number 1) can undo all the carefully orchestrated Power Games of nations to mean nothing. Even while Austro-Hungarian monarchy or Dual Monarchy was lording over the ethnic minorities of the Balkans little did it realize a single event like assassination of the Archduke of Austria (1914) would bring down the empire like a pack of cards!

Similarly all that the Great Britain had amassed as a maritime nation, with colonies stretched into far corners of the globe (The Sun will never set on their empire’) shall with two Great Wars evaporate.(the constant 1 can represent both Great Wars as one set)

Benny

 

 

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Pi can be used to describe the geometry of the world.” says Chris Budd of the University of Bath in the UK, “We have to calculate it to very high precision for modern technology such as GPS to work at all.  He also has to add this,”I tell my students that if this formula doesn’t completely blow them away then they simply have no soul,”

The number π is a mathematical constant, the ratio of a circle‘s circumference to its diameter, commonly approximated as 3.14159. It has been represented by the Greek letter “π” since the mid-18th century. . It simply describes how the circumference of a circle varies with its diameter. The ratio of the two is a number called pi.

The mystery of Pi is the relationship an integral part on a two dimension can have with the whole. For example  Area of a circle can be calculated in which we know PI is a constant :A=πr2. This constant does not lose its power a whit even while we need think of the circle in another dimension. For example a sphere: Area of a sphere A=4πr2

This being the case doesn’t this constant speak of its mysterious hold past the dimensions in which we consider the circle? Suppose we introduce Man into this circle does it not define his position in terms of the circle as a shape? The Vitruvian Man with which we associate da Vinci, has Man with outstretched arms inscribed in a circle. Human activities thus are within circumscribed circles where the constant PI holds true.

Pi is roughly 3.14, but not exactly: pi is an irrational number, meaning the digits go on forever without repeating and never repeating itself. This continuity is the flux that has a relevance to the whole. Let us look at history itself. Julius Caesar in his Gallic Wars  writes about the people of Helvetii. These tribes finding they were constrained geographically and ever in a conflict with their Eastern neighbours had to do something. They decided to search for better territories to settle down. They burnt down their villages and fanned out. This diaspora put all the European tribes agog. Each tribe wanted a piece of the action. It is thus man is seized by a constant that has been built in,- and must explain the stuff history is made of. We consider history is made by man but there is a constant which never repeats itself since all the nations are all drawn into the pull and push of the general equation. Pax Romana thus will never repeat as was before neither will caliphate as was in the middle ages.

Background:

The first six digits of pi are 3.14159. It is called pi because π is the first letter of the Greek word “perimetros” or perimeter. But it was not the ancient Greeks who first discussed the value of pi. About 2000BC Mathematicians in the Babylonian Empire, had already figured out that pi was about 25/8, or 3.125. By about 1700 BC, in the Middle Kingdom, Egyptian mathematicians calculated pi to be about 3.16. Archimedes calculated that π was a little bigger than 3.1408 while the Chinese mathematician Liu Hui had calculated that pi was 3.141 (Ack: Wikipedia, quart.us/ BBC-earth/Melissa Hogenboom-20 January 2016)

benny

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Paris, in Balzac’s words ‘is a sentient being’. If you need understand its sense of being one need only have entered into one of its houses in the early nineteenth- century Paris. Different classes and degrees of affluence might well be housed in the same building; only a subtle hint clued you in: higher you climbed you were entering a world of its own something out of Dante’s inferno. For every casual visitor again to quote Balzac, ‘Paris is still the same monstrous miracle, as astounding assemblage of movements, machines and ideas, the city of thousand different romances, the world’s thinking voice.’

Paris in the fin de siècle for all the restless movements must not have imagined it was standing on the rim of a crater and the beguiling way of living was merely a mood; despite swirling in a whirligig of ideas and fads the city would soon be swallowed up by the events of 1914. As such the good old days of Paris mark socially as well as culturally  a distinct social phenomenon called La Belle Époque.

France had much to be proud about. The nations industrial, scientific and cultural advances would be showcased by the International Exposition of 1900 and the Eifel Tower was its jewel in the crown. A million visitors ascended the Tower, which was completed 11 years before, all blissfully forgotten of its scathing reception during its erection (‘A ghastly dream’ it was called in 1887; Guy de Maupassant supposedly ate lunch in the tower’s restaurant every day because it was the one place in Paris where the tower was not visible.)

On April, 14,1900 at four in the afternoon a balloon rose from the Tuileries Garden while 15,000 Parisians watched the cameraman who filmed the city for the coming Cinéorama, to be screened at the Exhibition that was due to open on the Left Bank.

The city was remodeled in the 1850s during the Empire Days by Baron Haussmann and had survived great many upheavals since then( the Commune of 1871 and Metro, whose first line opened to coincide with the Exhibition) and was the pleasure ground for two and a half million people. Symptomatic of the grand vision of the city everything was gigantic: the Ferris wheel 350 feet high, could carry 1,600 people at a time; The President of the Third Republic threw a party for 20,000 of mayors who were served by waiters on roller skates. The guide to the Exposition called the century ending ‘the most fertile in discoveries, the most prodigious in sciences’, that the world had had known and it spoke of a revolution in the economic order of the universe.’

In summer 1913, a party of San Francisco boy scouts passed through the city, and Le Figaro newspaper ran a survey – what had struck them the most?

Apart from the monuments and the gardens, they loved the trees lining the streets, and the general cleanliness. They thought the red trousers worn by soldiers most impressive, but it was odd how many young men wore moustaches and how many women smoked.

They loved the way policemen still wore swords, the dog barbers by the Seine, the glorious outdoor cafes. At the opera, one young American stared at the women “pivoting on their high heels, offering a fine view of their resplendent gowns and jewels”. This was Paris on the eve of war. Just doing what it did. Typical of the city, a thinking box, merely skirted the past, living for the moment. (Balzac quote is from his novel-Ferragus)( To be continued)

 

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I shudder when I think of the calamities of our time. For twenty years the blood of Romans have been shed daily between Constantinople and the Alps, Scythia,Thrace, Macedon, Thessaly, Dacia, Achaea, Epirus- all these places has been sacked and pillaged by Goths and Alans, Huns and Vandals. How many noble and virtuous women have been made the sport of these beasts! Churches have been overthrown, horses stalled in the holy places , the bones of the saints dug up and scattered.

Indeed the Roman world is falling: yet we still hold up our heads instead of bowing them. The East, indeed, seemed to be free from these perils; but now, in the year just past, the wolves of the North have been let loose from their remotest fastnesses, and have overrun great provinces, they have laid siege to Antioch, and have invested cities that were once the capitals of no mean cities.

‘Had I a hundred tongues, a hundred mouths, a voice of iron, I could not compass all/Their crimes, nor tell their penalties by name(Virgil: Aeneid VI)’

Well may we be unhappy, for it is our sins that have made the barbarians strong: as in the days of Hezekiah, so today God is using the barbarians to execute His fierce anger,  Rome’s army, once the lord of the world, trembles today at the sight of the foe.

Who will hereafter believe that Rome has to fight within her own borders, not for glory but for life? And as the poet Lucan says, ‘If Rome be weak where shall strength be found?’

Now a dreadful rumour has come to hand. Rome has been besieged, and its citizens have been forced to buy off their lives with gold. My voice cleaves to my throat, sobs choke my utterance. The city which had taken whole world captive is itself taken. Famine too has done its awful work.

The world sinks into ruin: all things are perishing save our sins; these alone flourish. The great city is swallowed up in one conflagration; everywhere Romans are in exile.

Who could believe it?who could believe that Rome, built up through the ages by the conquest of the world, had fallen; that the mother of nations had become their tomb? who could imagine that the proud city, with its careless security and its boundless wealth, is brought so low that the children are outcasts and beggars? We cannot indeed help them; all we can do is sympathize with them, and mingle our tears with theirs.

History teaches how events repeat themselves, like a lecher who changes his dresses each day to set out for his conquest. His dress everytime is different but inside holds every conceivable error: it is  nevertheless a body, that is set out to take pleasure as if were, his privileges without responsibilities is heir to. History is such impersonal body whose sins are collective lapses and omissions of man.  Instead of Goths one may in the modern context name any of the Jihadi elements and USA for Rome. In some aspects it would still make sense. It is valid since man makes history  and Rome, Ottomans are dresses he put on– b).

(Ack: Treasury of World’s Great Letters.)

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1. “See in what peace a Christian can die.”
~~ Joseph Addison, writer, d. June 17, 1719

2.“Waiting are they? Waiting are they? Well–let ’em wait.”
In response to an attending doctor who attempted to comfort him by saying, “General, I fear the angels are waiting for you.”
~~ Ethan Allen, American Revolutionary general, d. 1789

3.“Am I dying or is this my birthday?”
When she woke briefly during her last illness and found all her family around her bedside.
~~ Lady Nancy Astor, d. 1964

4.“Nothing, but death”.
When asked by her sister, Cassandra, if there was anything she wanted.
~~ Jane Austen, writer, d. July 18, 1817

5.“Codeine . . . bourbon.”
~~ Tallulah Bankhead, actress, d. December 12, 1968

6.“How were the receipts today at Madison Square Garden?”
~~ P. T. Barnum, entrepreneur, d. 1891

7.“Is everybody happy? I want everybody to be happy. I know I’m happy.
”~~ Ethel Barrymore, actress, d. June 18, 1959

8.“Die? I should say not, dear fellow. No Barrymore would allow such a conventional thing to happen to him.”
~~ John Barrymore, actor, d. May 29, 1942

9.“I am ready to die for my Lord, that in my blood the Church may obtain liberty and peace.”
~~ Thomas à Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury, d.1170

10. “Now comes the mystery.”
~~ Henry Ward Beecher, evangelist, d. March 8, 1887

In her new book The Most Famous Man in America, author Debby Applegate writes on page 466 that Beecher’s last words in fact were, “You were saying that I could not recover.” Ms. Applegate has not been able to confirm the traditional version of Beecher’s last words.

11.“Friends applaud, the comedy is finished.”
~~ Ludwig van Beethoven, composer, d. March 26, 1827

12. “Josephine…”
~~ Napoleon Bonaparte, French Emperor, May 5, 1821

13.“Ah, that tastes nice. Thank you.”
~~ Johannes Brahms, composer, d. April 3, 1897

14. “Oh, I am not going to die, am I? He will not separate us, we have been so happy.”
Spoken to her husband of 9 months, Rev. Arthur Nicholls.
~~ Charlotte Bronte, writer, d. March 31, 1855

15.“Beautiful.”
In reply to her husband who had asked how she felt.
~~ Elizabeth Barrett Browning, writer, d. June 28, 1861

16.“Now I shall go to sleep. Goodnight.
”~~ Lord George Byron, writer, d. 1824

17. “Et tu, Brute?”
Assassinated.
~~ Gaius Julius Caesar, Roman Emperor, d. 44 BC

18. “Don’t let poor Nelly (his mistress, Nell Gwynne) starve.”
~~ Charles II, King of England and Scotland, d. 1685

19.“Ay Jesus.”
~~ Charles V, King of France, d. 1380

20. “I am dying. I haven’t drunk champagne for a long time.”
~~ Anton Pavlovich Chekhov, writer, d. July 1, 1904

21.“The earth is suffocating . . . Swear to make them cut me open, so that I won’t be buried alive.”
Dying of tuberculosis.
~~ Frederic Chopin, composer, d. October 16, 1849

22.“I’m bored with it all.”
Before slipping into a coma. He died 9 days later.
~~ Winston Churchill, statesman, d. January 24, 1965

23. “This time it will be a long one.”
~~ Georges Clemenceau, French premier, d. 1929

24. “I have tried so hard to do the right.
”~~ Grover Cleveland, US President, d. 1908

25.“That was the best ice-cream soda I ever tasted.”
~~ Lou Costello, comedian, d. March 3, 1959

compiler:benny

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