Blogs > Cliopatria > Noted Here and There ...

Jan 1, 2005 1:31 am


Noted Here and There ...



Cliopatria welcomes Mark A. LeVine to the community of HNN bloggers. LeVine is an associate professor of modern middle eastern history at the University of California, Irvine. He has published prolifically and continues his career as a musician. From the look of his webpages here and here, he is also immodest. There's something to be said for subtle self-promotion. Welcome to HNN, Mark.

On Tuesday, Jeff Ooi at Screenshots, Ethan Zuckerman at WorldChanging and I all had the same thought. We did not believe the low death toll figures being reported in Myanmar. It seems unlikely that, with the reports on death and destruction all around it, Burma could have escaped so lightly. It is possible that its military dictators do not want to admit its desperation. Amardeep Singh has astonishing before and after satellite photographs of Trinkat (scroll down), an island in the Andaman chain, which is a part of India but just off Myanmar's coast. See also: blog.rajanr.com, Instapundit, IrelandOn-line, and Oxblog

Blogging creates remarkable virtual communities. In today's mail, I got an off-print of Michael Meo's"The Mathematical Life of Cauchy's Group Theorem," Historia Mathematica, 31 (2004): 196-221. Historia Mathematica is published by the International Commission on the History of Mathematics. This is the abstract of Michael's article:

Cauchy's theorem on the order of finite groups is a fixture of elementary course work in abstract algebra today: its proof is a straightforward exercise in the application of general mathematical tools. The initial proof by Cauchy, however, was unprecedented in its complex computations involving permutational group theory and contained an egregious error. A direct inspiration to Sylow's theorem, Cauchy's theorem was reworked by R. Dedekind, G. F. Frobenius, C. Jordan, and J. H. McKay in ever more natural, concise terms. Its most succinct form employs just the structure lacking in Cauchy's original proof – the weath product.
Some readers at Cliopatria will understand the abstract of Michael's article. Not having had a mathematics course since high school, I am intimidated both by Michael's abstract and his equation-riddled text. It certainly looks learned enough. The publishers of Historia Mathematica have told Michael that his article is"one of the five most frequently downoloaded articles published during the course of 2004. Readers paid for each download!" Michael teaches at Benson Polytechnic High School in Portland, Oregon. It's great to see a teacher at a public secondary school, where there's probably no reward system for it, doing serious scholarship. Best of all, my copy of it is signed:"To good-natured Ralph Luker, from one of his critics. M. Meo." Thanks and congratulations, Michael. [Ed:"good natured," eh? See item #1 above.]

I recommend Richard Jenkyns's"Mother Tongue" in Prospect. The abuse of words like"literally" and"precisely" has nearly rendered them useless among us. Where is Orwell when we really need him?

I also recommend"Meritocracy in America: Ever Higher Society, Ever Harder to Ascend," in the Economist. The report doubts that the engines of social mobility, including our colleges and universities, are playing that role any longer and argues that the United States has become increasingly and rigidly stratified. Thanks to Michael Schaeffer at The Weblog for the tip.

Finally, read Scott McLemee's initial sense of loss over the death of Susan Sontag. It has a different tone than Patrick Belton's memory at Oxblog."For my part," Belton writes,"I will simply note her astounding quality of presence: when she appeared at Oxford in connection with the annual Amnesty lectures, and briefly caught my eye sitting in the front row before her lecture, she remains the only Social Security recipient to have ever made me blush." We'll hear more from McLemee about Sontag.

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Elspeth Saddlethwaite - 5/25/2007

The photos of Trinkat were dramatic but hardly surprising. The low-lying ground in the top satellite photo is flooded in the bottom one, while the high ground remains untouched - pretty much what one would expect. Indeed, the fact that the island seemed to have been broken up by the tsunami has an interesting historical precedent. In "Krakatau en de Straat Soenda" (published in 1886 as part of "De Aarde en haar volken"), one can read:

Voor ons uit bespeuren wij het zonderlinge eiland Poelo-Renjang, door de Hollanders Dwars-in-den-weg genoemd. Op dezen afstand gezien, schijnt dit eiland in vier op zich zelf staande stukken verdeeld: het is dus niet zoo vreemd, dat men aanvankelijk heeft gemeend dat Poelo-Renjang door de uitbarsting in vieren was gescheurd. Inderdaad bestaat het eiland uit vier vrij hooge bergen, die onderling door drie lage landtongen verbonden zijn. Vroeger was
het geheele eiland met dicht bosch bedekt, en daardoor als samenhangend
geheel kenbaar; maar nadat de inbrekende golven letterlijk alle boomen op de lagere gedeelten van het eiland hadden vernield, scheen het
eensklaps alsof Poelo-Renjang zelf in stukken was gescheurd.

However, in the case of Poelo-Penjang, the impression of a fractured island was more visual than real (i.e. a "horizon effect" for those seeing the recently deforested island from some distance offshore).

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