31 March 2023
30 March 2023
29 March 2023
Courage, then, my countrymen! Our contest is not only whether we ourselves shall be free, but whether there shall be left to mankind an asylum on earth, for civil and religious liberty? ...Other nations have received their laws from conquerors; some are indebted for a constitution to the suffering of their ancestors through revolving centuries. The people of this country, alone, have formally and deliberately chosen a government for themselves, and with open and uninfluenced consent bound themselves into a social compact. Here no man proclaims his birth or wealth as a title to honorable distinction, or to sanctify ignorance and vice with the name of hereditary authority. He who has most zeal and ability to promote public felicity, let him be the servant of the public. This is the only line of distinction drawn by nature. Leave the bird of night to the obscurity for which nature intended him, and expect only from the eagle to brush the clouds with his wings and look boldly in the face of the sun.
28 March 2023
From a 1993 French documentary on Jim Harrison ...
[T]he portrait of an author who draws a region and vice versa. Simultaneously, in small touches through the landscapes and people met over time and the seasons, is portrayed a portrait of a man who constantly questions the meaning of things and disengages the face of a country, its great spaces, its myths and its roots. The look illuminates the country and makes the "inventory of places" ...
27 March 2023
As soon as I learned from my mother that there was a place called school that I must attend willy-nilly --- a place where you were obliged to think about matters prescribed by a "teacher," not about matters decided by yourself---I was appalled.
When problems are so far off the map that mathematicians can’t even imagine how to reach them, the challenge is more than coming up with a better boat — it’s coming up with a better map. If you don’t know where an island is located, no amount of ingenuity will get you there. But once you’ve located it, you might find a surprising route that will bring you to its shores.This was the case with the most celebrated mathematical result of the 21st century — Grigori Perelman’s 2003 proof of the Poincaré conjecture, a problem about determining when a three-dimensional shape is equivalent to the three-dimensional sphere. The problem had stymied mathematicians for a century. Then in the early 1980s, William Thurston placed the Poincaré conjecture in a broader theoretical landscape — and from there, mathematicians began to discover new ways to approach it.“I think one of the reasons we were stonewalled was not because we didn’t have the right techniques, but because the problem wasn’t put in the right conceptual framework,” McMullen said. “The changed question suggested the changed techniques.”In other words, if a new map reveals a surprising sea route to your destination, it might occur to you to build a ship.Yet there’s also no guarantee that a problem can be solved at all. For example, a certain conjecture suggests that the digits of pi are uniformly distributed, so the numbers 0-9 each appear with the same frequency overall. Experimental computations back up the conjecture, but mathematicians have no idea how to prove it — and they may never.“There’s a very high probability that the conjecture is true, but its truth might be an accident that’s very hard to access by pure logic,” McMullen said.
One of the people who mattered was a man by the name of Ashok Patel. Ashok died recently at the age of 85. I haven’t seen Ashok in ages—he bussed tables at the Deli in the 80s and into the early 90s—but I cried when I read his obituary last week. It lists working at Zingerman’s as one of the key points of life. Being included there, to be honest, means as much to me as a James Beard Award. I will never forget Ashok. Not because he was the greatest busser, but simply because he was himself, he worked hard, he cared, and was probably one of the kindest people I’ve ever met. Ashok Patel will not show up in the New York Times or make the network news. But here at Zingerman’s, he mattered. And Ashok believing that he mattered is, I believe, a big part of what makes the poetry of Zingerman’s what it is.Donald Hall wrote that “One day, of course, no one will remember what I remember.” Which is most certainly true. We can, though, at least optimistically imagine what we would like others to recall long after we ourselves are gone. Hall, who graced the planet with his creative presence for 88 years, wrote this piece later in his life that I hope will be true for the ZCoB:Here, among the thirty thousand days of a long life, a single day stands still: The sun shines, it is raining; we sleep, we make love, we plant a tree, we walk up and down eating lunch.
Through a common employer, I had the honor to meet and learn from Ari many times in my former life in food service. He's the most positive person I've ever met, which, I'm certain, is the biggest reason for his success.
26 March 2023
The map of reality is not reality. Even the best maps are imperfect. That’s because they are reductions of what they represent. If a map were to represent the territory with perfect fidelity, it would no longer be a reduction and thus would no longer be useful to us. A map can also be a snapshot of a point in time, representing something that no longer exists. This is important to keep in mind as we think through problems and make better decisions.
- Know your students. Go the extra mile to understand them (you'll get older; they'll stay the same age).
- Understand your craft (it's not a science).
- Understand your subject (this never ends).
- Understand the stories (be a master storyteller).
- Don't lecture; it's not about you (ever).
- Provide means of inspiration (see number 1).
- Nurture investigation (control is an illusion; the best lessons are the unplanned ones)
- Ask more questions (of everything and everyone).
- Declare less (see number 5).
- Be transparent.
When we treat knowledge as a verb, it creates a process that separates what we know from the ever-changing quality of how we know it ...The sharp division in our political systems, the inability to determine what is truthful in our news cycles, the animus toward dialogue amongst opposing viewpoints, the failure in aligning our ethical norms — these are all the illegitimate children of misplaced certainty. Our obsession with knowledge has gotten us here, but we’ve discarded the quality of its pursuit in the process.
This is what education is all about. When you take the time to spread your findings to people, you simultaneously create the opportunity for a revision in your thought process as well. This is the root behind the adage of “teaching being the best form of learning.”
25 March 2023
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