Summer’16 full of books!

I read some books ! It might be better to write something about each of them. I wish I could write a long  form of a book review but time dictates otherwise.

A Mathematician’s Apology is one those rare books which makes you very uncomfortable and at the same time add so much more to your understanding, that you feel unfettered gratitude towards the author for offering that unique experience. It reads like a poetry. You will find an unlikely friend in an aging mathematician who in his own words had past his peak of mathematical powers.

Second Creation is for those who love history of science or just plain history. In this painstakingly detailed and accurate yet lucid account of modern physics (unification of three fundamental forces into a workable and mathematically consistent framework;  without gravity, of course), development of Standard Model of Particle Physics is the center of attention. I immensely enjoyed this book. It has a well carved out ‘afterword’  and ‘notes’ section and one would not go unrewarded for the effort to stroll through it.

For all those ardent DFW fans out there, Every Love Story Is a Ghost Story: A Life of David Foster Wallace is such a valuable addition to his readers and frankly, to everyone who loves behind the curtain stories and escapades of a creative writer. I am still in awe of his New York Times piece about US Open Tennis finals ! His ‘ Brief Interviews with Hideous Men’ and  ‘A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again’ are one of my favorites. DFW’s interview on Fresh Air about his book ‘Infinite Jest’ is quite telling about the very person he was. I really wish he was alive today! I wonder how he would have responded to the chaos ‘This‘ 2016 Election cycle is.

Thomas Nagel’s Mind and Cosmos made me absolutely furious. It is such a bad critique of Neo-Darwinian point of view that non-naturalists will be thrilled of this conclusion of Nagel’s. Way too disappointing, and  I am not even a mad dog naturalist to hold it against my own point of view!

Jerry Coyne’s Faith vs Fact is a good read. It is a very well researched and to the point polemic which covers many topics including an important yet ignored in popular discourse i.e. Critique of accomodationism in ‘Science vs Religion’ for non-academics.

Sean Carroll’s ‘The Big Picture’ is an extremely accessible and well-written book. It is presented in a manner which immerses you in an ordinary language philosophy of non boring kind without you noticing it, and at the same time it also satisfies your hunger for scientifically informed dialogue with an ignited mind of a leading scientist doing the research at the forefront of Physics. It is a book which stays with you long after you are done reading it. I follow Carroll’s writing on his blog, So I was waiting for this book to come out for a while now. I enjoyed every page of it. Caution for fellow ‘Naturalists’ who share similar point of view – refer Carroll’s account of ‘Naturalism’ in comparison with Paul Horwich’s Naturalism as opposed to Alexander Rosenberg’s ‘Mad Dog’ flavor of Naturalism. Non- naturalists also have plenty to enjoy in this delicious treat of a book.

A word on the “progress” made by “great” branches of learning – Philosophy and Science! Let’s revisit what Peter van Inwagen (Freedom to break the laws, 2004) is trying to allude to here.

Disagreement in philosophy is pervasive and irresoluble. There is almost no thesis in philosophy about which philosophers agree. If there is any philosophical thesis that all or most philosophers affirm, it is a negative thesis: that formalism is not the right philosophy of mathematics, for example, or that knowledge is not (simply) justified, true belief. That is not how things are in the physical sciences. I concede that the “cutting edge” of elementary-particle physics looks a lot like philosophy in point of pervasive and fundamental disagreement among its respected practitioners. But there is in physics a large body of settled, usable, uncontroversial theory and of measurements known to be accurate within limits that have been specified. The cutting edge of philosophy, however, is pretty much the whole of it.

David Chalmers’ argument about ‘glass half full view’ is less than convincing. I am pretty much with Peter van Inwagen when it comes to ‘glass half empty’ view of progress in Philosophy. I am currently reading his ‘The Problem of Evil: The Gifford Lectures’. Let’s see if next few months of reading some philosophical texts change my point of view or fortify it more.

I enjoyed Chalmers’ the Character of Consciousness. His writing on Philosophy of Mind is much more appealing for non-Philosophy majors like me than his contemporaries. I was not much drawn to Philosophy of Mind before, but Chalmers’ appearance on Sam Harris’ podcast changed that.

I found out that ending every post with an adage or a wise quote often makes that post worth much more. I also find it hard to disagree with myself.

As Camus would put it – ‘In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer.’

Happy Reading     \o/

….. sheer joy of watching Cricket

It’s not about arguing who is the best among many …. It’s just a sheer joy of watching the Cricket, especially Sachin !

Some things people had said about him that I absolutely love —–

“On a train from Shimla to Delhi, there was a halt in one of the stations. The train stopped by for few minutes as usual. Sachin was nearing century, batting on 98. The passengers, railway officials, everyone on the train waited for Sachin to complete the century. This Genius can stop time in India!!” —- Peter Roebuck

” I am fortunate that I’ve to bowl at him only in the nets. ”  — Anil Kumble

” You get him out and half the battle is won ” — Arjuna Rantunga

” First and foremost, Tendulkar is an entertainer and that for me is as important factor as any fact or figure. Too often boring players have been pushed forward as great by figures alone. For sheer entertainment, he will keep cricket alive.”  — Barry Richards

” He has been in form longer than some of our guys have been alive. ” — Daniel Vettori

“In terms of technique and compactness, He is the best.” — Desmond Haynes

“I saw him playing on television and was struck by his technique, so I asked my wife to come look at him. Now I never saw myself play, but I feel that this player is playing much the same as I used to play, and she looked at him on television and said yes, there is a similarity between the two… high compactness, technique, stroke production… It all seemed to gel!” —- Sir Donald Bradman

“He continues to give more than 100 per cent and his schoolboy-like enthusiasm for the game is something I envy and admire. For the team he is the best available coaching manual.” —- Mahendra Singh Dhoni

” This little prick’s going to get more runs than you, AB.” —- Merv Hughes to Allan Border after an 18-year-old scored a century in Perth

” The more I see him, the more I want to see him.” —– Mohammad Azharuddin

“I never get tired during umpiring whenever Sachin is on crease” —- Rudy Kortzen

“Sachin made 9 centuries in one year but many cricketer did not make 9 centuries in their whole career.” — Saurav Ganguly

 ” Cricketers like him come once in a lifetime, and I am privileged he played in my time.” — Wasim Akram

“It was one of the greatest innings I have ever seen. There is no shame being beaten by such a great player, Sachin is perhaps only next to the Don.” —- Steve Waugh

” When Tendulkar embarked on a glorious career taming Imran and company, Roger Federer was a name unheard of; Lionel Messi was in his nappies, Usain Bolt was an unknown kid in the Jamaican backwaters. The Berlin Wall was still intact, USSR was one big country, Dr Manmohan Singh was yet to “open” the Nehruvian economy. It seems while Time was having his toll on every individual on the face of this planet, he excused one man. Time stands frozen in front of Sachin Tendulkar. We have had champions, we have had legends, but we have never had another Sachin Tendulkar and we never will.”

—  Anonymous

” Cricket’s greatest-ever batsman (partisans for Don Bradman can cavill until the cows come home) is still reaching new highs: he recently became the first player to reach 100 scores of 100 in international play. The “ton of tons” came a full year after his 99th, leading some to wonder whether Tendulkar was slowing down. That’s nonsense, and now that the acknowledged pressure to reach 100 is off, he’s likely to cut loose — a terrifying prospect for opponents, but a terrific one for lovers of the sport. “

— Time Magazine

Many of us strive for that particular moment in life where we can achieve that pristine perfection at what we want to or love to do. Most of them never achieve it, some can contemplate, “Yes, this is the best I can do and I am satisfied”. Very few are given achieve something which can attain a status of a landmark achievement. But, then you see the punch through the covers or a straight drive to a fast/medium pacer from Sachin, and dark clouds of doubt go away and you have to scream from the heart, “This is just perfect! “

 —  Just another crazy fan of Sachin (me !)  who loves to see him bat on a cricket pitch and forget everything  about the world !!!