‘Desiderata’ enters common lexicon?

As I was reading the latest archive of datascienceweekly, stumbled on this word ‘Desiderata’ listed on an article and intuited me that it may enter the general lexicon given its way of usage. This also piqued and kindled my know-word-history-lust and led me to this site. The word itself is in Latin which means ‘desired things or essential things’ that you yearn for. There’s an official site that hosts the poem – which to me seems too prose. Whatever the history of Desiderata, the Ehrmann’s prose is inspirational, and offers a simple positive credo for life. And I’ve decided to carry this poem verbatim.


Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.

As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant, they too have their story. Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit.

If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism. Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love, for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is perennial as the grass.

Take kindly to the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.

Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

Max Ehrmann c.1920


Self-Education Book List

Self-education is life long and is neither standardized nor cast in stone and requires no evaluation for certification. You are free the pursue it at any time and space. Ultimately we would want to see an “new & refined you” – sane, well read, critical yet reasonable, cultured, rational, knowledgeable and loving human. In tandem to my earlier post, here is the list of books (As suggested by Susan Wise Bower in her The Well-Educated Mind) and selected by me for your reading pleasure and wisdom. The Author (refer to my earlier post) has given best translations and Abridged versions, please get her book for the full list


Author Book Year
Miguel de Cervantes Don Quixote 1605
Jonathan Swift Gulliver’s Travels 1726
Jane Austen Pride and Prejudice 1815
Charles Dickens Oliver Twist 1838
Herman Melville Moby Dick 1851
Leo Tolstoy Anna Karenina 1877
Mark Twain Adventures of Huckleberry Finn 1884
Scott Fitzgerald The Great Gatsby 1925


Author Book Year
Augustine The Confessions 400 BC
Michel De Montaigne Essays 1580
Rene Descartes Meditations 1641
Benjamin Franklin The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin 1791
Henry David Thoreau Walden 1834
Harriet Jacobs Incidents in the Life if a Slave Girl, Written by herself 1861
Friedrich Nietzsche Ecce Homo: How one Becomes What One IS 1908
Mohandas Gandhi An Autobiography: The story of My experiments with truth 1929


Author Book Year
Herodotus The Histories 441 BC
Thucydides The Peloponnesian War 400 BC
Plato The Republic 375 BC
Plutarch Lives AD 100 – 125
Nicole Machiavelli The Prince 1513
John Locke The True end of Civil Governments 1690
David Hume The History of England: Volume V 1754
Thomas Paine Common Sense 1776
Edward Gibbon The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire 1776-88
Mary Wollstonecraft A Vindication of the Rights of Women 1792
Alex De Tocqueville Democracy in America 1835
Max Weber The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism 1904
Lytton Strachey Queen Victoria 1921


Author Book Year
Aeschylus Agamemnon 458 BC
Sophocles Oedipus The King 450 BC
Euripides Medea 431 BC
Aristophanes The Birds 400 BC
Aristotle Poetics 330 BC
William Shakespeare Richard III, A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream, Hamlet 1592-1600
Moliere Tartuffe 1669
George Bernard Shaw Saint Joan 1924


Author Book Year
The Epic of Gilgamesh 2000 BC
Homer The Iliad and The Odyssey 800 BC
Horace Odes 65-8 BC
Beowulf 1000
Dante Alighieri Inferno 1265-1321
Geoffrey Chaucer The Canterbury Tales 1343-1400
William Shakespeare Sonnets 1564-1616
John Milton The Paradise Lost 1608-1674
William Blake Songs of Innocence and of Experience 1757-1827
William Wordsworth 1770-1850
Samuel Taylor Coleridge 1772-1834
John Keats 1795-1821
Henry Wadsworth 1807-1882
Alfred Tennyson 1809-1883

The Well-Educated Mind

The modus operandi of today’s education is standardized evaluation at all levels and crams all students to a rote learning. This is partly relevant to their nascent young adult life than to their more mature old life and by then experience teaches and takes over. This formal education in schools and universities may sound effective but never creates a well-educated mind that’s rational, creative, adaptable, prodigious, self-regulating and scientific. Even though current education aims to achieve some, it never comes close to self-education – that’s done on our own pace with hunger to tame the gap and master.  Self education through books provide a clear, succinct path to knowledge that can be applied in real life which has been time tested.

A Well-Educated mind is our responsibility to aspire with a repertoire of books and maintain and sustain it forever rereading them and adding new ones worth that time unfolds relentlessly. Thomas Jefferson, second President of U.S. opines that university lectures are unnecessary for serious pursuit of historical reading. He advised his nephew Thomas Mann Randolph Jr. though a letter whose common understanding of times: any literary man can rely on self-education to train and fill the mind and all you need is a shelf of books. a congenial friend or two who can talk to you about your reading, and a few “chasms of times not otherwise appropriated”.

Isaac Watts in his self-education treatise Improvement of Mind (originally published in 1741) observes: “A well trained mind is the result of application, not inborn genius. Deep thinkers are not born with “bright genius, a ready wit and good parts”. No matter how ignorant and low a mind might be, “studios thought…the exercise of your own reason and judgement upon all you read…gives good sense..and affords your understanding the truest improvement. Sustained, serious reading is at the center of this self-improvement project.

Observation, reading , conversation and attendance at lectures are all ways  of self-teaching, as Isaac Watts goes on to tell us. But he concludes that reading is the most important method of self-improvement. Observation limits our learning to our immediate surroundings; conversation and attendance at lectures are valuable, but expose us only to the views of a few nearby persons. reading alone allows us to reach out beyond the restrictions of time and space, to take part in what Mortimer Adler has called the “Great Conversation” of ideas that began in ancient times and has continued unbroken to the present. Reading makes us part of this conversation, no matter where and when we pursue it.

We read newspapers and slapstick fiction but find great books tough but it requires different skill than reading for pleasure. This doesn’t demonstrate mental inadequacy built lack of preparation. The first task in self-education is not to dive in straight but to find time to read and steps are here

  1. schedule regular reading and self-study time – in my case I leverage commute time of 1 hour and 30 minutes of my to & fro to work in Mass Rapid Transit (MRT)
  2. practice the mechanics of reading – assess your speed, understating and familiarity of words (Wordly Wise 3000: Systematic Academic Vocabulary Development, Vocabulary from Classical Roots can help)
  3. keeping a journal: a written record of new ideas – practice taking notes as you write and then summarizing. Classical self-education demands that you understand, evaluate and react to ideas. In your journal, you will keep your summaries of your reading: this is your tool of understanding the idea you read – the mastery of facts – in my case is blogging what you read effectively summarizing what you read for posterity
  4. practice extensive reading and journal taking – akin to what Benjamin Franklin used to master his language through reading – this is governed by 3 stages of reading/enquiry:
    1. Grammar-Stage of reading
    2. Logic-Stage Reading
    3. Rhetoric-Stage Reading

Grammar-Stage reading being common for all genres whereas other two steps have some differences. These questions an observations become useful not only reading each of the genres but when you attempt to write your own book as well. Susan Wise Bauer has condensed and given clean explanations under each of the points. I suggest you read her book (The Well-Educated Mind – A Guide To The Classical Education You Never Had) to get the full details and here is the excerpts that summarizes these 3 stage readings on each genre. I’ll list all the books suggested for reading by this Author under each genre that are important

Grammar-Stage Reading on all Genres

  1. Plan to returning to each book more than once to reread sections and chapters
  2. Underline or mark passages that you find interesting or confusing
  3. Before you begin, read the title page, the copy on the back, and the table of contents
  4. At the end of each chapter or section, write down a sentences or two that summarizes the content. Remember not to include details
  5. As you read, use your journal to jot down questions that come to your mind
  6. Assemble your summary sentences into an informal outline, and then give the book a brief title and an extensive sub-title

The story of People: Reading through History with the  Novel

Logic-Stage Reading

  1. is this novel a “fable” or a “chronicle”?
  2. what does the central character (or characters) want? What is standing in his (or her) way? And what he (or she) pursues in order to overcome this bklock?
  3. who sis telling the story? First person point of view or Second Person or Third person limited or third person objective or the omniscient point of view?
  4. where is the story is set?
  5. What style the writer employ?
  6. Images & Metaphors, Beginnings and endings

Rhetoric-Stage Reading

  1. Do you sympathize with the characters? which ones and why?
  2. Does the writer’s technique give you a clue as to her “argument” – her take on teh unknown condition?
  3. Did the writer’s time affects him?
  4. Is there an argument in this book?
  5. Do you agree?

The story of Me: Autobiography or Memoir

Logic-Stage Reading

  1. what is the theme that ties the narrative together?
  2. where is the life’s turning point? Is there a conversion?
  3. For what does the writer apologize? how dos the writer justify?
  4. what is the model – the ideal – for this person’s life?
  5. what is the end of life: the place where the writer has arrived, found closure, discovered rest?
  6. Revisit the theme of this writer’s life

Rhetoric-Stage Reading

  1. IS the writer writing for himself, or for a group?
  2. what are the three moments, or time frames, of the autobiography?
  3. where does the writer’s judgement lie?
  4. Do you reach a different conclusion from the writer about the pattern of his life?
  5. what have you brought away from this story?

The Story of the Past: The tales of Historians (an Politicians)

Logic-Stage Reading

  1. what are the major events, challenges, causes of challenges to the historical her/line? where does it take place?
  2. What are the major assertions of the historian?
  3. what questions is the historian asking?
  4. what sources does the historian use to answer them?
  5. Does the evidence support the connection between questions and answers?
  6. Can you identify the history’s genre? diplomatic, military, international, etc. Also history spans across: Ancient, Medieval, Renaissance (Positivism, Progress-ism & Multicultural-ism / Romanticism, Relativism, Skepticism) and Postmodernism.
  7. Does the historian list his or her qualifications?

Rhetoric-Stage Reading

  1. What is the purpose of history?
  2. does the story have forward motion?
  3. what does it mean to be humans?
  4. why do things go wrong?
  5. what places does free will have?
  6. what relationship does this history have to social problems?
  7. what is the end of history?
  8. Hos is this history the same as – or different than – the stories of other historians who have come before?
  9. Given the same facts, would you come to a similar conclusion?

The World Stage: Reading through History with Drama

Logic-Stage Reading

  1. Id the play is given unity by plot? or by character? or by an idea?
  2. Do any characters stand in opposition to each other?
  3. How do the characters speak?
  4. Is there any confusion of identity?
  5. ids there a climax, or is the play open ended?
  6. what is the play’s theme?

Rhetoric-Stage Reading

  1. How would you direct and stage this play?

History Refracted: The Poets and Their Poems

Logic-Stage Reading

  1. Look back at the poem; identify the basic narrative strategy?
  2. Identify the poem’s basic form: Ballad, Epic, Elegy, Haiku, Ode, Sonnet (Petrarchan, Shakespearean, Spenserian), Villanelle
  3. Examine the poem’s syntax
  4. Try to identify the poem’s meter
  5. Examine the lines and stanzas
  6. Examine the rhyme patterns
  7. Examine the diction and vocabulary
  8. Look for monologue and dialogue

Rhetoric-Stage Reading

  1. Is there a moment of choice or of change in the poem?
  2. is there cause and effect/
  3. what is the tension between the physical and psychological, the earthly and the spiritual, the mind and body?
  4. what is the poem’s subject?
  5. where is the self?
  6. Do you feel sympathy?
  7. How does the poet relate to these, who came before?

The Cosmic Story: Understanding the Earth, the skies and Ourselves

Logic-Stage Reading

  1. Define the filed of Enquiry
  2. What sort of evidence does the writer cite?
  3. Identify the paces in which the work is inductive, and areas where it is deductive?
  4. Flag  anything that sounds like a statement of conclusion

Rhetoric-Stage Reading

  1. What are the metaphors, analogies, stories, and other literary techniques appear, and why are they there?
  2. Are there broad conclusions?

Math and Mona Lisa

This book captured my attention partly to learn the scientific basis of attraction in people. Why are we attracted to handsome and beautiful persons – apart from aural, karmic and other esoteric connections, what is true scientific basis that nature imposes for such benign or fatal attraction? Apart from being fair which need not be an ingredient for being pretty – what else is in play to capture our visual cue relentlessly? Have you ever watched certain movie or photograph unconsciously spellbound by the beauty, charm, charisma and spontaneity and all combined just hooks us on that heroine or hero appearing on screen?! Such is the captivating sense of beauty – they very innate characteristic makes us swoon and invokes our artistic expression partly as we can never possess them physically but alas artistically to chisel them in our imagination and give a structure, beauty and everything possible to make it a masterpiece and perhaps impose fate and enjoy the journey being a master!

Understanding beauty requires introspection into ‘nature of science’, and ‘nature of art’, then followed by ‘art of nature’ and ‘science of art’ to understand this whole edifice – first understanding what science and art stands for and how they are expressed and then how art is exposed in nature and deduce the science behind to further understand art itself through this scientific perspective. A grand theme dealt by Bulent Atalay with an art and science backdrop of famous Italian renaissance artists and scientists. This book goes by two headings in one : Math and the Mona Lisa – The Art and Science of Leonardo da Vinci.

Understanding Numbers – numbers in the game and a bit of history
Since antiquity apart from Indian and Chinese mathematical contributions, mathematics grew significantly under Islamic mathematicians and scientists. Al-khawrazmi succeeded in formulating a self-consistent al-jabr or algebra which was instrumental to 17th century analytic geometry and calculus. Al-Haytham’s study of optics and vision compares favorably with the work performed by Leonardo da Vinci five centuries later. Persian scholar Omar Khayyam published algebra up through 3rd degree and showed how geometric solutions to the equations could be obtained. As Islamic contributions declined, possibly as new intellectual movement then favored dogma and faith over reason and direct evidence signaling the ascendance of pre-medieval radicalism and then slowly science and mathematics took root in Europe to gain traction by itself trampled by Christian dogma for certain period until Galileo and Kepler came in to picture. Leonardo Fibonacci, during this period of tumultuous ascendance of science in Christian minds, published his ‘Liber Abaci’ (the book of Abacus) wherein he proposed a numbering system heavily borrowed from Arabs with some difference in notation (hence we have the symbols 0 to 9) and he also introduced the place-value concept where each position represents a value multiplied by 10 to the power of that place. Fibonacci’s rabbit problem ultimately gave rise to famous Fibonacci Series – a school problem we all solved which is also fundamental to all beauty in nature by which we are inspired but never knew it has Fibonacci to vouch for it. Here second column is nothing but the Fibonacci series – you arrive at it by adding the preceding row value! Rabbit problem has it own restrictions and bylaws leading to rule we deduced in the previous sentence.

Months Number of Pairs Ratios (later/former)
first 1 1
second 1 2
third 2 1.5
fourth 3 1.666
fifth 5 1.60
sixth 8 1.625
seventh 13 1.615
eighth 21 1.619

Here as you notice the ‘Number of Pairs’ column, adding 1st and 2nd term yields 3rd, 2nd and 3rd yields 4th and so forth. The ratios of pairs oscillate up and down around approximately 1.62. By 17th and 18th terms, it has a value 2584/1597 ~= 1.618 rounded to 3 places and is denoted by phi and variously known as the “golden mean”, the “golden ratio”, the “divine proportion”. Geometric constructions associated with Golden Triangle, Golden Rectangle, Golden Point, Golden Pyramid and the logarithmic spiral.


Nature of Science

In prehistoric times when ceramics and metallurgy were in vogue, it was kind of technology sans science. in contrast to technology, science is a system of knowledge – the orderly and systematic comprehension. description and explanation of natural phenomena, constrained by logic and mathematics. Science unlike technology , has progressed fits and starts, its course sometimes entirely retrograde in direction. From fall of Rome to renaissance, it regressed and at times evolved independently. In renaissance science we reinvented and industrial revolution took it to the next level. The real beginning of scientific revolution could be attributed the historic publication of monumental book ‘De revolutionibus’ by Copernicus in mid-sixteenth century and culminated with Newton to connect mathematics and natural law that was preceded by Galileo and Kepler. The present understanding of science is through a journey of 2 millennia and still ongoing and Leonardo’s significance in this scheme of science is he developed some scientific principles that were done by ancients and subsequently forgotten and some fields of science and technology that would never be reinvented for centuries. With this  backdrop of science’s progression, let’s look at nature of art.

Nature of Art
throughout history and antiquity, certain numbers and ratios have been used consistently in creations and architectures. This divine proportion is approximated in prosaic every objects including credit cards, playin cards, index cards and of course monumental pieces that include ancient and renaissance masterpieces. In  most cases these numbers & ratios were used subconsciously and inadvertently whereas in Leonardo’s case they were thoroughly experimented and applied with full premeditation. Pyramids and the Parthenon, creations two millennia apart, employ divine proportions in them. ‘Pyramid Power’ attributing special properties to the pyramid shape for preserving food, retarding ageing and maintaining the sharp edge of the razor – has gained legitimacy as part of popular culture but there’s neither scientific evidence nor physical principle that can prove these powers. Nonetheless, a number of remarkable mathematical relations exist in pyramids that can be supported by science. Egyptian pyramids exhibit golden triangle and golden ratio.  For the one in Khufu, height to base length of one edge is 1.57 nearly 1.62, the ratio of altitude of a face to one half its base length is 1.62, ratio of combined area of faces to base area is 1.62. A similar calculations on Khafre ends up same and they 2 are golden pyramids. Whereas east and west façade of Parthenon show golden rectangle, their length-to-width ration is 1.62. Even Greek and roman sculpture exhibit phi wherein the ratio of height o height-to-navel is close to 1.62.



Art of Nature
It is the nature of art that these mathematical shapes and figures in 2 and 3 dimensions find their way inexorably in works of art, and conversely it is the art of nature that these shapes and figures are displayed by nature’s own creations.the key to patterns and regularities in nature lies in space filling, as well as in biological and physical dynamics. Ultimately, it is the physical forces that give the creations of nature – both animate and inanimate, and both at microscopic and macroscopic level – their symmetries and shapes. Logarithmic spirals are commonplace and can be found in shavings from wood plane, claws of cat, the cochlea of inner ear and the human lip curved gently outward. Human anatomy and face also exhibit phi.



Science of Art
The theory of linear perspective is of central importance as a tool for the painter to create an illusion of depth – the appearance of three dimensions on a two dimensional canvas. Euclid formalized geometry, but the use of perspective in ancient art was based on artist’s intuition rather than on any mathematical authority. But modern day image and drafting software can seamlessly do perspectives. Perhaps an understanding of 1-point, 2-point and 3-point perspectives is crucial to science of art. In 1-point, typically a painting has a rectangle or square façade and slopes to center (vanishing point) to create an illusion of 3d. In 2-point, the onlooker is looking sideways at the painting- hence there are 2 vanishing points on the horizon line of  viewer’s eyesight. In 3-point, there’s vertical elevation being displayed to onlooker.


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Mona Lisa
Maths behind Mona Lisa is clear in the figure below



I hope you have enjoyed the Math behind Mona Lisa – summarized and excerpted from the book and appreciate nature’s beauty from a scientific point of view and perhaps apply these principles in your own design – be it UI, decorations or even home building.

Words you should know to sound smart

For those aspiring to be leaders, writers and nouveau communicators, words bring power, persuasion and precocity. They also lend eloquence, expression and effrontery with frons (head). This book (the blog title is the book’s) by Robert W. Bly serves as a guide for aspiring intellectuals. Pronouncing words correctly levels up your oratory to new heights and if your blessed with that deep sonorous voice, you’re bound to be on the pedestal to entertain, charm and claim the audience and hence give words to thoughts.

Some words that caught my attention from this tome and I think these could perhaps make you (seem) intellectual:

  1. ad nauseam (ad-NAW-see-um) adverb – something dome over and over again to a sickening degree (to level of creating nausea)
  2. akimbo (adverb) – hands on hips and elbows turned outward
  3. antecedent (noun) – ancestor of existing product or idea, etc.
  4. apostasy (noun) – The act of abandoning, ignoring, or openly flaunting an accepted principle or belief
  5. autodidact (noun) – a self educated person
  6. beleaguer (verb) – To persistently surround, harass, or pester until you get what you want
  7. bespoke (adjective) – custom made for a particular client
  8. bête noire (noun_ – a thing for which one has intense dislike or great fear; a dread enemy or foe
  9. bonhomie (noun) – a good natured, genial manner
  10. byzantine (adjective) – a convoluted plan; a scheme that is overly complicated, a puzzle or task that’s difficult
  11. cabal (nou8n) – a underground society, secret religious sect or other private group assembled for a purpose hidden from those around them
  12. carouse (verb) – to engage in boisterous social activity
  13. catharsis (noun) – The purging of senses through tragic drama or through music; or in general a discharge of negative emotions
  14. cogent (adjective) – a case of argument present in a reasoned, well thought out, logical, compelling and persuasive argument
  15. coquette (noun) – a woman dresses promiscuously or flirts to make men think she is sexually available when in fact she has no intention of sleeping with them
  16. defunct (adj) – an institution or object that has ceased to exist
  17. denouement (noun) – the conclusion of a complex series of events
  18. de riqueur (adj) – conforming to current standards of behavior, fashion, style and etiquette
  19. deus ex machine (noun) – a stroke of good luck, an unexpected and fortunate event solving a problem or saving someone from disaster
  20. diffident (adj) – To be uncertain or unsure about making a decision or taking an action; to lack confidence and boldness
  21. echelon (noun) – a level of command or authority
  22. elephantine (adj) – large and clumsy; similar to elephant
  23. entropy (noun) – the tendency of any system to run down and revert to total chaos
  24. epiphany (noun)  – a sudden and unexpected insight that seems to come from nowhere and throws great illumination on a subject previously not well understood
  25. eponymous (adj) – To be named after something
  26. factotum (noun) – a person who does many different types of work or activities
  27. fastidious (adj) – to place great importance in even the smallest of details
  28. faux pas (noun) – a serious breach of social protocol or etiquette
  29. fillibuster (noun) – making a prolonged speech or using other tactics to delay legislative actions or other important decisions
  30. fungible (adj) – freely exchangeable for another of like nature; interchangeable
  31. gambit (noun) – a remark used to redirect a conversation; or , a maneuver used to seek advantage
  32. gamine (noun) – a girl with boyish demeanor and mischievous nature who is somehow still appealing
  33. genteel (adj) – well-bred and possessing a refined temperament
  34. gestalt (noun) – a unified whole
  35. guile (noun) – deceitful cunning; trickery
  36. habeas corpus (noun) – challenge before a judge whether a confinement is lawful or proper
  37. halcyon (adj) – calm, peaceful, carefree and prosperous
  38. hapless (adj) – unlucky and unfortunate
  39. harangue (noun) – verbally accost; yell at; berate
  40. hubris (noun) – to possess pride, arrogance, or conceit not justified by reality
  41. imbroglio (noun) – colloquially referred to as a ‘sticky situation’
  42. impleach (verb) – entwine
  43. impugn (verb) – to attack as false or wrong
  44. inchoate (adj) – not fully developed
  45. inimical (adj) – something working in opposition to your goal; having an harmful effect, particularly on an enterprise or endeavor
  46. innocuous (adj) – not harmful or offensive; innocent, incidental and hardly noticeable
  47. invious (adj) – pristine
  48. jocund (adj) – having a jest for life; possessing a positive attitude and desire to enjoy life
  49. kowtow (verb) – to give in to someone’s every wish
  50. knell (noun) – The sound of a bell when rung solemnly
  51. labrose (noun) – having thick or large lips
  52. lachrymose (adj) – describes someone who cries at the drop of a hat
  53. lascivious (adj) – interested in and eager to engage in sexual activity
  54. litany (noun) – a prolonged or boring account
  55. lupine (noun) – having a characteristics of a wolf
  56. macrobian (adj) – long-lived
  57. magna carta (noun) – any constitution that guarantees rights and liberties
  58. mercurial (adj) – volatile, fickle and erratic
  59. milieu (noun) – surroundings, especially surroundings of a social or cultural nature
  60. misogyny (noun) – an intense hatred of women
  61. nemesis (noun) – an opponent one is unable o defeat
  62. neophyte (noun) – a beginner or novice
  63. nimbus (noun) – a halo surrounding the head of a saint or other holy person
  64. nonplussed (adj) – not being bothered by commotion
  65. nubile (adj) – Of sexually developed and attractive youth
  66. obsequious (adj) – subservient; eager to listen and please others to an excessive degree
  67. obvert  (verb) – turn something to show a different surface
  68. ogle (verb) – to look at in an amorous or impertinent way
  69. opus (noun) a major work of music written by a composer – magnum opus
  70. ostensibly (adj) – something has been done for what would seem an obvious reason
  71. palpable (adj) – presence is impossible to ignore
  72. pantheon (n oun) – a group of gods or a group of important people in a particular field or region
  73. penitent (adj) – feeling sorry or regretful that you have done something wrong
  74. poultice (noun) – a home remedy for physical injuries
  75. puerile (adj) – immature, babyish, infantile
  76. quaff (verb) – to drink with gusto and in large volume
  77. quixotic (noun) – idealist or impractical or both, seemingly unreachable or extremely ambitious
  78. quotidian (adj) – familiar; commonplace; nothing out of ordinary
  79. quid pro quo – a favor given in return for something in equal value
  80. quiver (verb) – tremble and shake from fear
  81. raison d’etre (noun) – the core reason why something exists
  82. raconteur (noun) – someone who enjoys telling stories, does so frequently and is good at it
  83. rapacity (noun) – greed for wealth, fame and success even at the expense of others
  84. reticent (adj) – reluctance to openly express one’s thoughts, feelings and opinions
  85. rue (verb) – to repent of and regret bitterly
  86. sapient (adj) – wise, sagacious
  87. savoir faire (noun) – an evident sense of confidence, optimism and proficiency in the task at hand
  88. sentient (adj) – possessing enough intelligence to be self-aware
  89. sinecure (noun) – a job or office without regular duties but with regular pay; a position requiring labor but conveying prestige or status to one who holds it
  90. suffrage (adj) – the right to vote in political elections
  91. taciturn (adj) – reserved, a person with few words
  92. tantamount (adj) – equivalent in value or effect
  93. tincture (noun) – a trace amount or slight tinge
  94. totem (noun) – anything that serves as a venerated symbol
  95. tryst (noun) – an appointment made by lovers to meet at a certain place and time
  96. uberty (noun) – abundance
  97. unbosom – to reveal feelings or what one knows
  98. unctuous (adj) – possessing an untrustworthy or dubious nature, characterized by insincere manner
  99. upbraid (verb) – to censure or find fault with
  100. uxorious (adj) – dotting on one’s wife to an excessive degree
  101. vapid (adj) – dull, void of intellectual curiosity
  102. vers libre (noun) – free verse, a style of poetry requiring no rhyme or meter
  103. visage (noun) – face or overall appearance
  104. visceral (adj) – an immediate and strong gut reaction, a quickly formed opinion, based mainly on instinct and usually negative in nature
  105. vox populi (noun) – expression of prevailing mood, concerns and opinions in a country
  106. waggish (adj) – joking, witty and mischievous
  107. wanton (adj) – lose, lascivious and lewd
  108. wangle (verb) – to accomplish by underhand methods
  109. wistful (adj) – yearning, pensive, having unfulfilled desire
  110. wuthering (adj) – moving with force or impetus
  111. xenophile (noun) – someone attracted to foreign styles, customs, manners, etc.
  112. yammer (verb) – to whine or complain loudly and at length
  113. yare (adj) – quick and agile and lively
  114. yawp (verb) – a raucous, clamorous noise, or to make such a noise
  115. yob (noun) – a cruel and loutish young man: a bully
  116. zealot (noun) – a rabid follower, a fanatical advocate
  117. zeitgeist (ZITE-gahyst) noun – The prevailing viewpoints, attitudes and beliefs of a given generation or period in history
  118. zelig (noun) – a chameleon-like person who seems omnipresent
  119. zest (noun) – extreme enjoyment, a lust for life
  120. zonk (verb) – to stun or stupefy

I Ching

The great oracle which Chinese refer and ask for guidance. I happened to pick a translation by John Minford, I think this is a best translation and very original one available. This is the essential translation of the ancient Chinese oracle and book of wisdom. I did consult it but the result was vague but time may give more answers to vouch for its authority and guidance. I got 25 and 17 and let’s see how things proceed. This book has suggestions for further reading and some that caught my attention which I want to read too, they are:

  • Art, Myth & Ritual: The Path to Political Authority in Ancient China – Chang K.C., Harvard University Press
  • The five Confucian Classics – Michael Nylan, Yale University Press
  • Mysteries of Ancient China – Jessica Rowson, British Museum
  • The Soul Of China – Translated by John Holroyd Reece and Arthur Waley, Butler & Tanner
  • The secret of Golden Flower: A Chinese book of Life – Translated by Cary F. Baynes, Kegan Paul

8000 Years of Wisdom–Conversations with Hua-Ching Ni

This book is full of wisdom indeed. Talks about TAO and the yin and Yang. As long these principles are not violated in any physical or metal activity all are good and life improving. The most striking chapter was ‘Practical Application of Tao’ where in two examples of life events suggest an unsolvable problems vexing family spouses – one is a mental issue and other is anxiety induced issues – for which the spouses go at length to solve it from western doctors, therapy, yoga, massage, retreat, metal hospital, etc. and can’t find any cure even after a decade of trying diligently and earnestly but only in vain.
If Tao has to be practical, we must apply it. One way is the everyday way. If there’s a problem and you look for all kinds of help and something is simple and it works. It is Tao. But in many cases there is nothing you can do, and in these instances the most helpful thing is Tao. It means don’t do anything. Don’t make any disturbance; things are on the way. Put into simple language , Tao is in the process if restoration, that is to say, subtle restoration, subtle recovery, and subtle regeneration. It is most gentle force, and it comes form nature. If nature fails, I tell you there is no humanly created that can help. So you should do your best in life, but never mind worrying over the results, or setting up expectations of what kind of flower you would like to see bloom. Sure, you can wish for certain achievement in your general business or such, but don’t put your mind in control of it. It will just become poison. The flower will wither. Life is an accumulation of time, one minute and then next. In specific circumstances, don’t worry because many things are not under your management. Things will self-regulate and regenerate through natural energy, there is no need to make a disturbance. But it is our habit to interfere. This naturalness doesn’t mean random irresponsibility, or avoidance of the responsibility of everyday life. This calls for a spiritual practice for a high level of concentration and innermost purity.

Collected western and Chinese reflections on marriage was interesting:


  • Marriage is a community consisting of a master, a mistress and two slaves, all within two bodies
  • Marriage is a good deal like taking a bath; it’s not so hot once you get accustomed to it
  • A man may be a fool and not know it, but not if he is married
  • Why does a woman work ten years to change a man’s habits and then complain he’s not the man she married
  • Marriage us a romance novel in which the hero dies in the first chapter
  • When a girl marries, she exchanges the attentions of many men for the inattention of one
  • The great secret of successful marriage is to treat all disasters as minor incidents and none of teh incidents as disasters
  • Of course the is such a thing as love or there wouldn’t;t be so many divorces
  • Marriage is the feast where the grace is sometimes better than the dinner
  • Marriage is a mistake every man should make
  • A man is in love is incomplete until he has married, Then he is finished
  • Marriage always demands the greatest understanding of the act of insincerity possible between two human beings


  • On the subject of marriage, no one is wise
  • Marriage is two people captured by an unreasonable monster
  • Marriage is not like other games; it has only losers
  • A wise man is the one who has a positive attitude toward marriage before he is married
  • Marriage is an ingenious trap which few people can escape
  • Marriage is not an awkward situation until after it happens
  • Mankind does not truly understand the happiness of two birds until they understand that the pair is not married
  • Marriage consists of two people who were enemies in a past life who are taking the opportunity of revenge in this life
  • Marriage is the tomb of true love. A happy marriage can only exist foe those who willingly decide to stay in the tomb
  • What is the reason women have more interest in getting married than men? Because they are testing their courage with no true reason
  • Everyone should look for growth, but the growth attained in marriage is not the kind one truly needs

Talks in detail about Taoist view of marriage, sex and pregnancy. Some pointers:

  • It’s too early in life to worn out your body by having early teenage sex than when it flowers naturally. Chinese tradition has it that men are wolves in their thirties and tigers in forties and can’t become dead wolves and paper tigers due to indeterminate use. Hence root cannot be damaged for it to support rest of the life
  • Masturbation can also damages the physical  root, Boys and girls should be very careful about their psychological heath when they are young, keep away from temptations, keep strong and prepare for the long span of life.
  • Sex is but Chi performance and it has 2 categories, one is natural fulfillment, and the other is mechanical performance
  • Following the natural cycle devoid of external stimulation is the best course to keep it natural and shouldn’t be habitual
  • In Taoist view, you should achieve internal and extremal harmony, that is the purpose of it and moreover once you have completed your big task, you withdraw i.e. once you have children nd grown, withdraw and focus on spiritual upliftment
  • As to choosing right partner, there must be love then there’s true energy communication. If the other party is not physically and mentally responsive, it’s not good to continue the act
  • As per Tao Te Ching, woman should be the man, and man should be woman in sexual matters
  • If you have sex not according to your own physical cycle, you will get older faster
  • A bad energy days is when there’s a huge wind, big thunder or a storm or mentally disturbed or gravely ill and these times avoid it

As most children are born out of blind desire and ignorance, and then any unhealthy baby is a burden to everyone – hence some pointers to follow on and before getting pregnant:

  • If you want to attract a virtuous being, then you must be virtuous. The responsibility is yours
  • Expend more effort into purifying yourself before get pregnant. Once pregnant and a certain soul has come, the your influence is limited
  • Purify your blood and body with good, natural, pure and clean food
  • Purify your mind with spiritual books; allow natural spirit to re-merge through a simple and and quite lifestyle.
  • Above will create a environment that’ll naturally attract a high being to you.
  • Both the partners have to prepare physically, mentally, spiritually and practically i.e. financially

The basic spiritual self-protections listed in the book are worth following.

His other books might of interest to you:

  • The Path of Constructive Life: Embracing Heaven’s Heart
  • The Power of Feminine
  • The Key to Good Fortune: Refining Your Spirit
  • The Complete Works of Lao Tzu
  • Enrich Your Life with Virtue
  • Entering Tao
  • The Power of Natural healing

Theodore Roosevelt & Howard Taft in The Bully Pulpit

Doris Kearns Goodwin has given another marvellous historical non-fiction, copiously researched and gripping account of what happened in the political, personal and national level during tenure of Theodore and Taft, presidents of America during the great depression. How they singlehandedly and as a team made it happen – to make America more prosperous and with government regulation and ruthlessly regulating unscrupulous American corporations from using bribery and other tactics to control and manipulate market. In this tapestry of intertwining tales, we have the journalistic tales that transformed America along with the presidents informing and cajoling public to force congress and senate into action. Her skill is displayed when she probes each of the protagonists’ childhood, schooling, tradition, habits that shape their adulthood and how society and education had an impact on future presidents and how overall journalism in the heydays without television shaped a progressive society to become world’s first nation is simply spellbinding. I’ve become a fan of her storey telling. But ‘Team of Rivals’ is one notch above than this and I’m expecting even a better one but it depends on the main character of the story and I believe why Team of Rivals takes that notch is because of Abraham Lincoln. Rivalry lends itself to natural storytelling but has to be handled with care and has to be made more attractive, riveting and yearning for more. So waiting for her next masterpiece…..meanwhile some observations from ‘The Bully Pulpit’:

  • Clearly portrays how destiny draws two individuals – one with restless and unceasing energy (Theodore) to a one with a judicial, temperate and amiable predisposition (Taft) to make them rule US of A – during its ascension to world power
  • How each gasps at opportunity not forthcoming and how destiny rewards them in due course is vividly pictured
  • It captures the early 20th century America full of corruption, money laundering, covert and behind the scene activities, collusion among the money spinners in the name of corporations and individuals benefitting from the corrupt government officials – precisely where the current Asian nations are reeling under same problems and hope they get their benediction to raise their standards and achieve super power status in providing basic amenities and rights to citizens
  • I remember reading this: Taft when being president lost one of his personal bodyguards in Titanic mishap
  • How genuine journalists can bring about a change in the corrupt democracies is great and this needs to happen in every society
  • Every citizen deserves a service oriented corrupt free benevolent peaceful and abundant life – to be made sure by their elected statesmen – and to achieve this in emerging democracies, journalists and magazines have to play their surefire part like what McClure and its journalists played – Baker et al.
  • How once in friendlier in terms, both presidents became bitter enemies and reconciled later – is a great story – destiny weaves itself to make changes after changes – ever evolving story line though.

Universe’s Timeline–how long it took from nothing to something?

Computing with Quantum CatsFrom Colossus to Qubits by John Gribbin was scientific page turner. It provided a nice scientific retreat after my school days physics as engineering didn’t cover physics much deeper. There was an interesting bit on big bang timeline and quantum stuff. It traces the computing history from Turing to ENIAC, EDVAC and other  versions and plunges into Quantum Physics briefly. The Schrodinger’s Cat and double slit experiment gets a fair bit of treatment as a precursor to quantum computing introduction. Computing with Quanta starts with Deutsch and the Multiverse. Quotes from ‘The Beginning of Infinity’ book by Deutsh offers a simpler proof of reality of parallel worlds with half-silvered mirror experiment and provides a conceptual basis for quantum computing and a possibility for a quantum computer in turn. Josephson junction discovery is also pivotal in the quantum push. For any quantum computer to work, DiVincenzo’s 5 criteria need to be satisfied. Perhaps we are at at a stage when classical computer era started at 1960’s and in about 20 years around 2035, a workable desktop quantum computer (2048 qubits) is feasible and could revolutionize computing & cloud industry. The impact of quantum on classical computers may be something like what versioning is older software, perhaps when quantum computers reach 3.0, classical may be bygone only to be displayed in a computer museum.

Interesting bit that captured my attention was in ‘Quantum Limits’ provided verbatim here: The scale on which quantization, or graininess, of space would become noticeable is known as Plank’ Length, in honour of Max Plank, the German Physicist who, at the end of 19th century, made a breakthrough which led to the realization that the behaviour of light could be explained in terms of photons. The size of the Planck length is worked out from the relative sizes of the constant of gravity, the speed of light, and a number known as Plank’s constant, which appears at the heart of quantum mechanics-fir example, the energy of photon corresponding to a certain frequency (or colour) of light is equal to that frequency multiplied by Plank’s Constant. The Planck Length is  0.0000000000000000000000000000000001 cm or 10^-33 cm in mathematical notation. A single proton is roughly 10^20 Planck length across, and it is no surprise that the effects of this graininess do not show up even in our most subtle experiments.
The smallest possible interval of time (the quantum of time) is simply the time it would take light to cross the Planck length, and is equal to 10^-43 seconds. One intriguing consequence of this is that as there could not be any shorter time, or smaller time interval, then within the framework of the laws of physics as understood today we have to say that the Universe came into existence (was “born”, if you like) with an age of 10^-43 seconds.

French Literature Reads

Literary works I’m noting here to read in future from ‘French Literature’ – a very short introduction by John D. Lyons

  1. The Life of Saint Alexis (c. 1050) – married in his adolescence, fled the night of marriage, telling his bride that in life there’s no perfect love. He travelled across seas to reach Syria and lives there anonymously for 17 years in ascetic spirituality. As he becomes honored, fled and returns Rome where lives for another 17 years at the doorstep of his father. He’s recognized only during his death
  2. Montaigne’s The Essays
  3. Rabelais’s Mysterious giants – Gargantua and its prequel – Pantagruel
  4. Moliere’s The Misanthrope
  5. La Fontaine’s Fable
  6. Maria-Madeleine de Lafayette’s La Princess de Cleves
  7. Jean Jacques Rousseau’s Discourses on the Origins of Inequality
  8. Voltaire’s Candidae