Friday, June 27

Peloponnesian War

This ancient war son, has had a hold on human history and still has lessons for us. Not just because Thucydides wrote about this war, we've got a copy of the book so do read it when you get a chance, but because it had implications on democracy, ethics etc. 

We praise democracy but democratic Athens became a hegemonistic state. Athens protected against the Persian imperial power but it itself became imperial and setup an empire. If you get a chance son, read Kennedy's rise and fall of the great powers. 

Sparta, a fascist state which relied on slavery and was heavily militaristic won this war. So the bad guys own and the good guys lost? Turns the usual story of good versus evil on its head no? 

But you don't hear about this son. People don't like to hear about facts that don't fit into a narrative. Like the joke I read today. God's good but he allows evil so that you can recognise goodness. Well if that's the case, logically god can be evil who allows good to happen so that you can recognise evil. 




Peloponnesian War - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


The Peloponnesian War (431-404 BC) was an ancient Greek war fought byAthens and itsempire against thePeloponnesian League led bySparta. Historians have traditionally divided the war into three phases. In the first phase, the Archidamian War, Sparta launched repeated invasions ofAttica, while Athens took advantage of its naval supremacy to raid the coast of thePeloponneseattempting to suppress signs of unrest in its empire. This period of the war was concluded in 421 BC, with the signing of the Peace of Nicias. That treaty, however, was soon undermined by renewed fighting in the Peloponnese. In 415 BC, Athens dispatched amassive expeditionary force to attack Syracuse in Sicily; the attack failed disastrously, with the destruction of the entire force, in 413 BC. This ushered in the final phase of the war, generally referred to either as the Decelean War, or the Ionian War. In this phase, Sparta, now receiving support from Persia, supported rebellions in Athens' subject states in the Aegean Sea and Ionia, undermining Athens' empire, and, eventually, depriving the city of naval supremacy. The destruction of Athens' fleet at Aegospotami effectively ended the war, and Athens surrendered in the following year.

Thursday, June 26

“Do not ask your children to strive for extraordinary lives.

I read this quote or rather poem. Before I talk about what I think, read this first. 

“Do not ask your children
to strive for extraordinary lives.
Such striving may seem admirable,
but it is the way of foolishness.
Help them instead to find the wonder
and the marvel of an ordinary life.
Show them the joy of tasting
tomatoes, apples and pears.
Show them how to cry
when pets and people die.
Show them the infinite pleasure
in the touch of a hand.
And make the ordinary come alive for them.
The extraordinary will take care of itself.”

William Martin

Small ordinary things are indeed important. Like cooking together. We have fun. Like how we cook the 10-12 course meal during Christmas. Small thing no? All 3 of us in the kitchen. Singing sometimes. Talking all the time. Teasing and laughing. Working our way through the menu. And that's an ordinary thing. And that's what makes it fun. Ordinary things. 

We've got to admire small things. I've noticed that since I've started photography, my eye for detail has changed. I look for interesting things in the simple aspects of life. On Thursday morning, was walking to the tube station and saw this little branch sticking out with little droplets along the branch. And it really brightened up my day. Take a look at the picture on Instagram. So yes. Do enjoy the little things in life. 

But I disagree about the extraordinary things kids. Totally. One can do both. One can aim at the stars. One can aim to do massive things. One can aim to live 5 lives in one life. One can aim to do things which others can't or wouldn't do. Teach. Do charity. Look after sick animals. Read up a storm. Make a difference to the world. Passion. Kids. Passion. Have a passion for life. Huge huge passion. So much that you feel like you will explode from the pressure inside you. You have to feel frustrated with your limitations and only then will you exceed them. 

The counterpart to the above quote is 'the heights of great men reached and kept were not attained by sudden flight. But they while their compatriots slept, were toiling upwards in the night'. Extraordinary things don't happen just like that. You've got to work bloody hard and have extraordinary passion and dedication for it. 

I'm proud of both of you. How kannu studies hard and is a good friend and how he reads and listens and saves and invests and and and. He's doing well. So is Diya. Your attention to detail, your intelligence, your artistic abilities, your math skills, your reading and your cuddling. All are perfect conditions for you to love the small ordinary things but also to achieve extraordinary things. 



Tuesday, June 24

The effect of education on religion: Evidence from compulsory schooling laws

Hmmm, very curious set of findings..

For over a century, social scientists have debated how educational attainment impacts religious belief. In this paper, I use Canadian compulsory schooling laws to identify the relationship between completed schooling and later religiosity. I find that higher levels of education lead to lower levels of religious affiliation later in life. An additional year of education leads to a 4-percentage-point decline in the likelihood that an individual identifies with any religious tradition. This is a reasonably large effect: extrapolating the results to the broader population would suggest that increases in schooling could explain most of the large rise in non-affiliation in Canada in recent decades.

but I am wondering if this holds for all religions….outliers are of course people who are all smarty pants (the Islamists and Internet Hindus…) but are frankly crashing bores at best and totally idiotic at best. I am reminded of Churchill’s point, “a fanatic is a person who wouldn't change his mind and wouldn't change the subject” :)

but interesting..more education indeed is required.

Monday, June 23

Little book of magic

What a wonderful little book.

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this is the little book of magic, a 17th century Icelandic manuscript written on animal skin and contains magical spells and stuff.

the full book is available here.