Archives for April, 2013

This is Forty

Since I always have time to let you know about developments in my life, I feel compelled to mention that today is my fortieth birthday. I’m even happier, though, that today is the last day of classes (not counting finals, of course).

Good Theology?

Here’s an interesting interview with Susan Jacoby on the subject of atheism. I don’t agree with all of her points, but it’s worth reading the whole thing. Here’s an interesting excerpt: Certainly one of the first things I thought about as a maturing child was “Why is there polio? Why are there diseases?” If there…

It Has Always Been Thus…

Today’s reading is from Ayn Rand’s novel The Fountainhead, published in 1943. Okay, just calm down. Yes, I know, she was crazy. She took some good ideas about freedom and indviduality and took them to absurd degrees. In her novels, characters say things to each other that no human beings have ever said to one…

Brief Blog Break

I’ll be disappearing into my little hidey hole for the next week or so, as I try to get past a few deadlines. One of those deadlines is coming this Friday, when I will be giving the banquet talk at the MAA Section Meeting, at Salisbury University in Salisbury, MD. Goodness! That’s a long drive.…

The Evolution of the the Chess Set

I had not intended for this to be such a chess heavy week, but here’s a brief, but informative, essay on the history of the design of chess pieces: Prior to 1849, there was no such thing as a “normal chess set.” At least not like we think of it today. Over the centuries that…

Chess in the Schools?

Just a quick post today, so have a look at this essay by Alex Beresow, over at Real Clear Science. He is advocating for chess to be a required subject in schools: In the above video, the math/chess teacher says, “Chess trains logical thinking. It teaches how to make decisions, trains memory, strengthens will power,…

It would be a serious dereliction of my bloggily duties if I did not comment on the big Candidates Tournament, recently concluded in London. My comment is this: Wowee wow wow! What a great tournament! This was the tournament meant to determine the next challenger for the current World Chess Champion, Viswanathan Anand of India.…

Gutting on Catholicism

Via Massimo Pigliucci, I just read Gary Gutting’s defense of his Catholic faith. Here’s the opening: An old friend and mentor of mine, Ernan McMullin, was a philosopher of science widely respected in his discipline. He was also a Catholic priest. I don’t know how many times fellow philosophers at professional meetings drew me aside…

Counterintuitive Math Problems

Looks like I’ve just added Ian McEwan’s new novel to my reading list: During one of their Brighton rendezvouses, after a round of oysters and a second bottle of champagne, Tom Haley asks Serena Frome the question every mathematician longs for her lover to utter: I want you to tell me something…something interesting, no, counterintuitive,…