Category Archives: Diversions

Book Review: “A Decent Life” by Todd May

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Ever since Aristotle tried to simplify the complexity of ethical reasoning down to his one-word concept of virtue, successive theologians and philosophers have been throwing out words or short phrases for labeling their life’s work formulations. Immanuel Kant (1724 – 1804) came up with his duty-based categorical imperative. My own study of this field in the 1990s was heavily influenced… Read more »

Schlemiels, schlimazels, probability and free will

Laverne & Shirley

“The brain is a machine that remembers the past in order to predict the future.” — Dean Buonomano [1] Schlemiel and schlimazel are two Yiddish words known to many only by their mention in the theme song to the old television show Laverne and Shirley. In the classic definition, the schlemiel is the bungler who is always spilling soup on… Read more »

More than you wanted to know about e – part 2

Part One of this post looked at the mysterious number called e, also called Euler’s number, a transcendental number (never resolving in our decimal numbering system) with a value of approximately 2.71828. That prior post showed examples of this value occurring repeatedly in nature and in the world of finance. This post gets a bit more technical to present perspectives… Read more »

More than you wanted to know about e – part 1

Chambered nautilus

If you ever owned a scientific calculator or used one on your computer, it is still likely that you have never used the button that reads ex. One of the most interesting secrets of the universe is evoked by pressing that button, but I have never heard it explained well. This post will likely add little to help that situation…. Read more »

Book review: Infinite Powers by Steven Strogatz

“At their deepest level, the laws of nature are expressed in terms of derivatives. It’s as if the universe knew about rates of change before we did.” – Steven Strogatz, Infinite Powers It is very hard to get non-math-inclined people to read a book about math. But I will try, because this is a really good one, accessible to even… Read more »

In an instant – the probability of February 29

If your birthday or wedding anniversary is February 29, your special day will pass this year in an infinitesimal moment at midnight. [1] The year 2019, when this is posted, is not a leap year, but given any random year, we usually think that the probability of it being a leap year, with a February 29, is one in four,… Read more »