Quora: Why Are Physicists So Smart?

My favorite answer:
Physicists are ungainly, untalented, unattractive, unpopular, and predominately undesirable people, who weren’t good at sports and couldn’t get dates in high school. This freed up their time for math and/or science, which they happened to be good at/interested in. Physicists, therefore, spend their whole lives in their niche, using their one ability trying to achieve fame and acceptance in an academic context. Also, they can’t dance. Frankly, I got to say the "can't dance" part stung a bit.

Just Like a Virgin...

...coding for the very first time.

I'm taking a class in Astro which requires computer problems in the form of Python notebooks.  I actually took a course in Python once, but I have no clue anymore as to how the hell to program in it much less store the result in notebooks.  OK, that's a slight exaggeration.  Hello World only took me two tries, but a more serious problem is that it is so long since I actually did programming for a living that I really don't get the technology of packages, etc.

There is also a lot of syntax I need to learn or relearn.

I'm thinking of asking Joe Biden if he has a spare record player on which I can listen to some tutorials.

Is Out of India Dead?

The origins of the peoples of India has long been a contentious issue.  India has a population that looks, and is, racially diverse.  Several major language groups are represented in the hundreds of languages and dialects of India.  Notably, several of them are closely related the languages of Europe and Iran - the Indo-European languages, which are not only global in extent but probably spoken by more people than any other, with the possible exception of Chinese.

These IE languages in India are clearly descended from Sanskrit, the language of the founding documents of Hinduism and Indian culture.  So a central question is who were these people who spoke something like Sanskrit, called themselves Aryans, and occupy a central role in all of Indian culture since.  German linguists appropriated the name and claimed that the Aryans were in fact Germans who had invaded India.

Anthropology and especially modern genomics tells a different story.  The IE languages were brought to Europe (incl…

Old Folks Home

All four of the leading candidates for President are well past retirement age and eligible for Medicare.  Trump, the current occupant, shows definite signs of early dementia.  I would say the same about Biden except that he has always been a bit like that.  Sanders is a cranky old man, and I can picture him yelling at Congress to get off his lawn.

Warren, the youngest, is 70, so they are all in their eighth decade.  Of course she is also the smartest, so that should count for something.

Ronald Reagan, the only President of comparable age before Trump, and whose Alzheimer's became severe during his second term, was younger than any of them when first elected.

The others on the debate stage next go-around, AKA the Seven Dwarfs, don't look especially promising either, but maybe one of them can make a move.

US Roots of Nazi Racism

The extent to which Nazi racial theories derived from US law and literature was not mentioned in my high school history courses, nor does it come up much in polite conversation.  Hitler, though, was quite open about the extent to which his racial laws and practice were borrowed from Jim Crow laws in the US.  There are clear parallels between the so-called Nuremberg Laws and the laws that were systematically used to restrict Negro voting, property ownership, employment and education.  He also liked US immigration laws designed to restrict non-Nordics from entering the US, sterilization laws for those deemed unfit, and the US genocide of the American Indians.

It wasn't just laws.  The first half of the Twentieth Century was the high water mark of so-called scientific racism, and the US was its epicenter.  Two books in particular got a special place on Hitler's bookshelf: Madison Grant's The Passing of the Great Race, and Henry H. Goddard's The Kallikaks.

The first attemp…

The Worst

So who is really the worst President of the last 75 years or so?  Three major contenders have to be Nixon, W. Bush, and Trump.  Nixon was the only one driven out of office for his criminal conduct, but the fact is, he did some good stuff too, so let's drop him as a contender.  Trump is a terrible president, a rotten human being, and quite likely far gone into senility.  He is also likely a traitor. 

By contrast, Bush seems to be a decent and personable human being, but I still have to give him the ribbon.  Evidence:

1) He was warned that bin Laden was planning a big attack on the US, but instead of acting, he mocked his briefer and did nothing - thousands of Americans died.

2) After the attack, he rushed to spirit the bin Laden family out of the country, shielding them from interrogation.  He also actively covered up the heavy involvement of Saudis in the attack.

3) He made only a half-hearted attempt to capture bin Laden, and let him escape in order to pursue a war against a comp…