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Posts Tagged ‘Jonathan Swift

What not to do…

In 1699,  satirist, essayist, political pamphleteer , poet, and cleric Jonathan Swift — author, most notably, of Gulliver’s Travels — penned this list of resolutions, titled, “When I come to be old.”  At the time of writing, he was 32 years of age… and it must have worked, at least up to a point: Swift became Dean of St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin.


When I come to be old. 1699.

Not to marry a young Woman.
Not to keep young Company unless they reely desire it.
Not to be peevish or morose, or suspicious.
Not to scorn present Ways, or Wits, or Fashions, or Men, or War, &c.
Not to be fond of Children, or let them come near me hardly.
Not to tell the same story over and over to the same People.
Not to be covetous.
Not to neglect decency, or cleenlyness, for fear of falling into Nastyness.
Not to be over severe with young People, but give Allowances for their youthfull follyes and weaknesses.
Not to be influenced by, or give ear to knavish tatling servants, or others.
Not to be too free of advise, nor trouble any but those that desire it.
To desire some good Friends to inform me wch of these Resolutions I break, or neglect, and wherein; and reform accordingly.
Not to talk much, nor of my self.
Not to boast of my former beauty, or strength, or favor with Ladyes, &c.
Not to hearken to Flatteryes, nor conceive I can be beloved by a young woman, et eos qui hereditatem captant, odisse ac vitare.
Not to be positive or opiniative.
Not to sett up for observing all these Rules; for fear I should observe none.

[TotH to our old friend Lists of Note]


As we reconsider our own resolutions, we might send wry birthday greetings to Saul Bellow; he was born (Solomon Bellow) on this date in 1915.  Bellow’s fiction earned him the Nobel Prize for Literature, the Pulitzer Prize, the National Medal of Arts, and the National Book Award for Fiction (he’s the only three-time winner)–and the affection of countless fans.


Written by LW

June 10, 2012 at 1:01 am

From the Department of Stating the Obvious…


From AAAS’ Science, “It’s Official: Physics is Hard“:

Students and researchers alike have long understood that physics is challenging. But only now have scientists managed to prove it. It turns out that one of the most common goals in physics—finding an equation that describes how a system changes over time—is defined as “hard” by computer theory. That’s bad news for physics students who hope that a machine can solve all their homework problems, but at least their future jobs in the field are safe from automation.

Physicists are often interested in mathematically describing how a system behaves: for instance, a formula tracks the motions of the planets and their moons in their complicated dance around the sun. Researchers work out these equations by measuring the objects at various points in time and then developing a formula that links all of those points together, such as filling in a video from a set of snapshots.

With each new variable, however, it becomes tougher to find the right equation. Computers can speed things up by sifting through potential solutions at breakneck speed, but even the world’s top supercomputers meet their match with a certain class of problems, known as “hard” problems. These problems take exponentially more time to solve with every additional variable that is thrown into the mix—an extra planet’s motion, for instance…

[Full article here]

Problems like these, known in complexity theory as NP-hard, may be discouraging of the prospect of quick solutions; but at least they seem to offer physicists some measure of job security.  Still, if a bankable short-cut could be found, it would have profound implications for math and it applications.  So the Clay Mathematics Institute has chosen the challenge as one of its Millennium Problems:  the scientist who comes up with a universal “problem tenderizer” wins $1 million.


As we remember that pie are square, we might spare a memorial thought for the polymathic John Arbuthnot; he died on this date in 1735.  The mathematician, essayist, and physician published his translation of Huygens’ Of the Laws of Chance (1692), to which Arbuthnot added further games of chance– the first work on probability published in English.  He wrote a series of satirical pamphlets introducing “john Bull” (the now-iconic “Englishman”), and co-founded Scriblerus Club, where he inspired co-founders Jonathan Swift (Gulliver’s Travels book III) and Alexander Pope (Peri Bathous, Or the Art of Sinking in PoetryMemoirs of Martin Scriblerus, and The Dunciad).  And from 1705, he was physician to Queen Anne until her death in 1714.


Written by LW

February 27, 2012 at 1:01 am

Gabba Gabba Hey meets Yabba Dabba Do…


The late Seventies re-imagined: from artist Dave Perillo (AKA montygog), a look at what might have happened if two paragons of Punk had instead gone the Hanna Barbera route…

[TotH to the always-amazing Dangerous Minds and to the ever-bodacious Boing Boing]


As we contemplate the consolations of a cel out, we might send trenchant birthday wishes to two of history’s most acute observers of the human condition:  Jonathan Swift, the satirist, essayist, political pamphleteer, poet, and cleric who’s probably best remembered for Gulliver’s Travels and A Modest Proposal, was born on this date in 1667.


And Samuel Langhorne Clemens– Mark Twain– the author of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, and its sequel, “The Great American Novel” Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, was born on this date in 1835.


Swift ultimately rose to high church office, serving as Dean of St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin.  Clemens did not.

Special “The Irony of It All” Edition…


Yesterday, in the midst of a wholesale effort to squelch Wiikileaks (e.g., here), The U.S. government announced that it will be hosting World Press Freedom Day in 2011.

Meantime, one can perfectly easily use a Mastercard (or Paypal or Visa) to buy counterfeit products, download porn, purchase guns… but not to donate to Wikileaks…

“Jonathan Swift!  Calling Dr. Jonathan Swift!…”


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