WLOG: Feb 7 – Feb 13, 2021

Long Reads Links

The Secret History of the Shadow Campaign That Saved the 2020 Election | TIME Magazine
At the surface, a story about how activists, non-governmental organisations and such stepped up at a moment when almost everything about the 2020 general election was in doubt, thanks to the pandemic, disinformation about mail-in voting, and a refusal to acknowledge the elections. It took a lot, and this article makes a case that the US institutions didn’t just stand on their own strength. Another reading of the article lays out the level of involvement in the political process of organisations ranging from activists to technology companies. Make of it what you will.

WebMD, and the Tragedy of Legible Expertise | Astral Codex Ten (formerly Slate Star Codex)
Entertaining and thoughtful, as always. I don’t have anything intelligent to add; I’d just re-read the posts if I can to get to the bottom of what he writes.

History Reads Links

Read the stories written by Sai Priya Kodidala, founder of The Telugu Archive – an archive of (contemporary) history of the Telugu land and its people.
Read the articles on Firstpost
Instagram handle of The Telugu Archive

Podcast Links

Tadashi Tokieda on The Joy of X – Transcript here, audio available on all the podcast platforms

I first learnt about Prof Tokieda through Numberphile videos titled Tadashi’s Toys. Highlights and learnings for me from this conversation include:

  1. He was a philology lecturer before he taught himself calculus in his twenties. Don’t miss his description of the seasons as it relates to the concept of derivative. It uses nothing more than the definition that derivative means the rate of change of something! You get a glimpse into his wonderfully creative mind.
  2. The art of having conversations, as they were conducted in the French salons. A sign of intelligence is to “the ability to speak lightly about heavy things and heavily about light things”. Causerie. I quite like this idea. Do you have such conversations?
  3. A cruicial difference between what mathematicians and physicists mean by “if A, then B”. Spoiler alert: a mathematician means, “If A, then no matter what happens, I get at least B.” A physicist means, “If A, and if nothing else happens, then B.” He goes on to claim that mathematicians know their field better than physicists know theirs. I’d agree.
  4. The dreaded six word question: Does this have any practical applications? (Ans: Depends on what kind of applications one is interested in.) I quite like his answer: “When I show this to children, it makes them happy.”

I’ll say that even grown-ups like me feel happy when I watch his videos. Here’s the rabbit hole

Video Links

Why you should read Don Quioxte? | TED-Ed

A classic novel, and an extremely enjoyable one. I’ll have something more useful to say when I finish it. Beautiful animation from TED-Ed, as always. Check out their entire catalogue.

Week 3 links next Sunday!

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