On My Friend Christian

“You know you’re the smartest person here, don’t you?”, his friend grumbled with his mouth glistening with milk, Frosted Flakes and a glint of a sinewy, brown baguette. “I hope you know what you’re doing, sitting around. Getting work is hard, man”, his friend continued emphatically and with conveyed finality, his mouth now agape clicking his tongue to accommodate the tough brushed wheat. He gave an imperceptible nod that stammered “Okay”. His friend walked to kitchen with a defeated air to restock on Frosted Flakes. It was just another Saturday morning.

Christian had never been a conversationalist.

Professors and peers never praised him for his “inimitable prose style” or “rich use of language”. They held postmodernism in high regard rather than logic and linearity- to him, postmodernism was just an umbrella term where “smart” writers nod soberly and uncompromisingly without understanding its definition. It was not like it mattered any way; how many people become truly great writers- or anything great really?

From the gaps of the black drapes, spidered light crept onto the glass table and reflected onto Christian’s coronal plane. He shifted the clutter of cardboard take out boxes and the blue double-stuffed Oreo box from the surface to make space for his laptop and he gave the black suede sofa covers a swift, perfunctory shake to remove its crumbs. Using his lithe frame, he fished for the TV remote under the folds of the unyielding sofa, finding crumpled homework assignments before weaving his arm through an array of watermelon Jolly Rancher wrappers to reach his prize. “My precious!”, he hissed to himself with a toothy smile. It was just a couple of minutes past one thirty; playoff basketball wasn’t on for another thirty minutes. He lived, breathed, the intensity of the game and its intricacies. He scurried through channels like a street pianist changing from Fur Elise to the Moonlight Sonata for coins, barely blinking or thinking. He settled on ESPN Classic as a consolation prize- Game 6 of the 1975 World Series, Bottom of the 12th Inning. “Couldn’t be bad, right?”, he thought to himself. After all, it was THAT scene in Good Will Hunting coming up, with the famous Pudge walkoff off Pesky Pole. In his mind, he remembers:

“Will- I can’t fuckin’ believe you had tickets to that fuckin’ game!
Sean- Yeah
Will- Did you rush the field?
Sean-No..I didn’t rush the fuckin’ field, I wasn’t there.
Will- What?
Sean-No..I was in a bar havin’ a drink with my future wife.
Will- …To have a fuckin’ drink with some lady you never met?… I don’t care if Helen of Troy walks in the room, that’s game six!

This isn’t one of those stories where our protagonist resolves his metaphysical, or very real, physical problems for that matter, with the sudden gusto of two pages of prose. He was just waiting for the game. Christian’s resume, to him, was nothing but a crumpled piece of homework; an impetus for the motions that he didn’t need to yield to yet. He wasn’t a paunchy, middle-aged man; he was still wearing his slim, faded blue and gold Andover Tennis track jacket. Sure, his tousled hair was receding to the trenches and his pallor did him no favors but… but he was still in the prime of his youth! Sure, who wouldn’t want to be on a Wheaties Box one day, but he wasn’t a superstar athlete- and he wasn’t Madeline Albright- so he’d have to bide his time by grabbing a bowl of Frosted Flakes for now.

The “job thing”, as he termed it, was a source of banal conversation amongst his friends. He typically responded, his eyebrows circumflex, with a slovenly ease that prompted digression, “I uhh…am amazing, remember guys?” His peers saw him as confused and misguided; his soft, dull azure eyes rarely showed any discernible intensity or direction while he whispered and he shuffled away from “important” conversation seamlessly.

Don’t get me wrong, Christian didn’t mind banal. In fact, he liked banal. He could sit hours and hours, chewing red Twizzlers, going through Gogurt packages and Fruit Punch Capri Sun pouches with a Kobayashi-like power while watching low-scoring baseball games- an embodiment of the American Dream. His favorite movies were often Lynchian – a surreal and uniquely inseparable pastiche of the macabre and mundane.

It was so rare to see his dreamy eyes sharp. We were always told in college that the degree was about “teaching us how to think”. In my frighteningly few serious conversations with him, Christian interpreted the graduate cliche takeaway uniquely. To him, it was about learning about what to focus on during these lazy Saturday mornings.
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This is an ode to our last eight years together, Christian. I’ve always been observing your self-effacing demeanor with my unremarkable, black pupils. I’m quite confident we goofed off more than any other two college freshmen ever; we languidly dealt with serious responsibility through Steely Dan and Pink Floyd, through weeks filled with ping pong (not of the mental variety) and Seinfeld and through unimaginable sleeping schedules. I’m looking forward to seeing you again soon. And yes, the Clippers did win that playoff game.

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On Edinburgh

I think I might curse once every few months. I’ll refrain from doing that here, but Edinburgh was ruddy brilliant in our very short time there. The cobblestone streets with their slightly darkened “gravy” (whiskey) glaze, personal kilt shops, bustling bagpipe buskers and literature pub crawls envelope you in a warmth that betrays the chills of the Scottish climate. There are obelisks and castles- it’s one of the few places where even friscalating dusklight could not make the setting more like a fairy tale. Even with the old-fashioned exterior, it was obvious that in the night, there is nothing more vibrant than Edinburgh. With signs out in the open such as “Whiskey is liquid sunshine” (George Bernard Shaw) beckoning locals to whiskey bars, there’s a sense of light-dependent camaraderie that’s unparalleled by American cities. While walking the Royal Mile, we met an American expatriate living in the city for 9 years. He had two dogs and sported a look reminiscent of Robin Williams from Good Will Hunting sans glasses with a look of satisfaction and peace with himself. Needless to say, I was transfixed.

We walked into a small, independent café called The Edinburgh Larder. We were guided by gods of Yelp and the beautiful artichoke lacquer façade. As we entered, everyone was engaged in conversation but turned briefly to welcome us. There were two people on a first date getting coffee; I could see the guy not knowing what to do with his hands and his napkins. In another corner, I saw four former college students meeting up for their usual morning breakfast and talking about the Scottish Cup. There were vignettes to be written about every table in the shop and a palpable warmth inside. The traditional countryside breakfast fare was delightful yet simple (porridge!), but meeting a native Scottish server was the true experience. He assured us of our choices with a heavenly accent but also a comforting charisma. With a simple “Aye, good choice” while ruffling his full auburn beard and flannel shirt, he turned the hipster café into a home. Somehow just by meeting him for the minute when he took our orders, I could envision him as the sort of guy that would sing ballads and recite poetry. He would be a person you’d like to have a kick about with during the day and get a pint with during the night.

Perhaps I’m romanticizing all of this because of the sheer beauty of the Royal Mile and because of my appreciation of the culture and history of Edinburgh. There’s something distinctly black about Edinburgh; I’m not sure whether it’s simply the charred streets or the dark lager that’s a tonic and a mainstay to many. Usually, we associate black with emptiness and despair, but there was something oddly comforting that I can’t quite put my finger on accurately. Maybe dimly lit night cafés and pubs straight from a Van Gogh painting and Edinburgh’s morning atmosphere just speaks to me. We were in the Edinburgh Larder for about half an hour but the ambiance was better than any café I’ve been to in Berkeley (I do love Berkeley though!).

Edinburgh. A place to find a man’s man. A place that dreams are made of where brilliant authors toil during the day and drink away their existential crises during the night.

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On Cartoons and Animation

One of my friends asked me two interesting questions over break. Why have you stopped writing your blog? Why is your writing always about serious topics when you’re usually joking around in real life? Here’s a resounding answer to both questions on an ironically serious tangent.

Cartoons and animation. They are an ever-present, light-hearted medium of expression that is rarely given its deserved credit, especially when looking at “the heavy stuff”. For example, as moviegoers and critics, we’ve all seen our fair share of war movies. The most recent one I know most of my friends have watched was Zero Dark Thirty. I remember reading a review where the critic’s succinct tagline was: “If you like World War II films, you’ll enjoy this.” This statement, while brilliantly effective in bringing people to the movie theaters, also boils down to some often unturned facts. The movie, like most World War II movies, will be a gut-wrenching, realistic visual overload of war that will air out our nation’s dirty laundry valiantly. The second mechanism, which is often overlooked is that it will provide a catharsis for victims of the tragedy while simultaneously justifying our actions. In a limited but possible perspective, Zero Dark Thirty could be seen as a justification of torture just as many World War II movies could be seen as a justification of detainment or using the atomic bomb. That being said, with the advent of websites like liveleaks.com, we can see exactly what is going on in wars in graphic and realistic detail. That’s the beauty of uncut film; it doesn’t necessarily inherit bias. Sure, war films can be superb and instill pride in your country, but aren’t they formulaic in nature?

In contrast, I watched the film Persepolis, which details the Iranian revolution through refreshing black and white animation. There is magic realism everywhere; for example, the main character has conversations with Karl Marx and god. The limited toleration of intellectual diversity is reflected in the limited black and white color palette. Social commentary is reflected not only in the artwork but also in the actions of the plucky, anti-establishment protagonist. There is bias against Islamic fundamentalism just like there would be in a similar war film, but without all of the necessary visual clutter. It’s clean, minimalistic, evocative and allows the audience to use their imagination and feel less pressured. A heated, complex situation is somewhat diffused by elegant yet unconventional simplicity; it allows viewers to develop their own opinions. In this particular instance, the contrast is striking. A free flowing cartoon compliments the perceived rigidity of Islamic fundamentalism perfectly. The beauty of cartoon and animation on “the heavy stuff” is also its downfall. If it’s thought to be intelligent and original, it will bring in viewers. Otherwise, it’ll bomb in the box office. That, unfortunately, can’t be said about war movies.

Romantic comedies are seen as formulaic by many viewers (and yes, there are exceptions such as Harold and Maude). It’s definitely a guilty pleasure for many though. I was looking through all of the romantic comedies in the past five years. I realized that my favorite by far was just the first sequence of UP. In a silent ten minutes, the film somehow managed to cover much of the essence of a romantic comedy with a bit of a whimsy, including some of the “heavy” stuff such as the death of a partner. There’s a sense of magic realism too in the premise of a house attached to balloons and traveling to Paradise Falls. Before I become completely redundant, I’d like to give a more recent example.

About two weeks ago, I watched “Is the Man who is Tall Happy?”, which is a documentary on linguist Noam Chomsky by director Michel Gondry (who directed one of my favorite romantic comedies, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind). It was an interview with Chomsky about his early life, his accomplishments in linguistics and its complexities (so interesting!), his philosophy and a variety of other interesting topics. Chomsky, arguably America’s most prominent intellectual since Dewey and a rather outspoken political activist, isn’t really easily digestible to the average viewer normally. With hand-drawn, colourful stick figure cartoons, Gondry creates an almost psychedelic vibe that makes an interview with a fast-talking intellectual into a relaxed conversation between two friends. In reality, isn’t this exactly what a moviegoer would want; the ability to connect with and understand complicated ideas and interesting people while enjoying yourself? Web cartoons like RSA Animate have gained millions of viewers on this premise.

So I guess I’ve somehow made a post about animation and cartoons completely serious. I promise, that’s not how I actually am! Here’s a Calvin and Hobbes strip showing how great cartoons can be (also so this post ends on a light-hearted note!):

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On American Beauty and Lost Summers

I was watching American Beauty for the third time (if you haven’t seen it, the film is brilliant and this post may contain some spoilers, so go watch it!). The times when I have watched the movie previously are interesting: the first time was a point in high school when I stopped doing homework, questioning its relevance. The second time was in the middle of college applications, when I felt like I was losing touch with the substance I should have in my writing and I had started to litter feel-good anecdotes in my application essays to appease both my parents and possibly, admissions people. The film is a startlingly accurate depiction of American suburbia and its hollow underpinnings, which contrasts greatly with the surreal, bucolic imagery that most of us see on a movie screen. Let’s shuffle back to part of my day yesterday to show how eerily familiar the movie becomes to even those of us not going through a midlife crisis like Lester Burnham.

Here’s part of a conversation with one of my closest friends, a really nice, smart guy (and yes, the first part mentions physics, but don’t fret, the post has nothing to do with physics!).

6:43 PM:

Him: “Ugh, I’m confused here- string fixed at x=0 and x=L, tension=T, density mu” [physics]

Me: “I’m sure there’s a formula in the book for that; I haven’t done standing waves for a long time. There is probably a generalized formula and you can take derivatives to see what happens to phi, delta, etc since the deflection will be zero.” [physics]

6:45 PM:

My friend calls me to ask more in detail about the physics question, but it’s clear he has something else on his mind.

Him: “So I’m going to dinner tomorrow night” and then hesitates and with subtle emphasis in his voice, “…with a girl”.
Me: “Oh awesome, is it the same beautiful girl as yesterday?”

Him: “Nope, a different girl than before! I’ve decided that I’m just going to go on as many dinners as possible with as many girls. I don’t even know with this one; she just reminds me so much of one at Berkeley. It’s thrilling, isn’t it?”

The conversation gradually goes to other things and it’s obvious that he thinks that I am silently judging him, as he shifts the conversation to my life. I tell him how I might go to England over spring break and I ask him if he wants to come, to which he says, “No, I’m a settle down kind of guy.” We both share a chuckle at the irony in this statement compared to what he said only two minutes before. We continue the conversation for a couple minutes but realize it is dinner time for both of us.

7:25 PM:
I think back after dinner and I sort of admire my friend. Maybe he’s not going about his interests the proper way, but he is at least displaying some sort of passion. Here I am, in front of a computer, doing nothing of the sort. Sure, I’ll make kind gestures to someone I think is amazing, or maybe even send a message to talk about a mutual interest and indirectly say that I miss them. While I certainly don’t have the option to ask them to dinner since they might be 3000 miles away, I have my doubts on whether I’d be so bold. Whether my friend has welled up with bravado or newfound confidence I don’t know, but when we both came into Berkeley as freshmen, we were both shy, quiet people bonded by similar interests- and now look how different we’ve become.

7:45 PM:

After twenty minutes of engaging in conversations with friends in which neither of us have anything to say in particular which results in half-hearted jokes and reminiscing, I decided that I should watch American Beauty. This time, I was watching the movie because it seemed more and more like my life was echoing the initial life of Lester Burnham. I was living suburban life, lulled by its sense of comfort and doing nothing important beyond the usual 8-5 grind. You could generalize a midlife crisis as a place where you either have no passion or do not seem to put in enough to follow your passions; even though I’m certainly different from Lester Burnham, was I much better?

8:20 PM:

After watching about thirty minutes of the movie, something dawned on me. The movie is quite the achievement because of the contrast between the quiet, peaceful music and cinematography in the background and the turbulence and vulgarity of the scenes. Even Lester, at some point, when there is elevator music playing at the dinner table, remarks how the music is unfitting of the family’s current state.  In most dramas, the music would be more filled with arpeggios and would reflect the turmoil in the household rather than the beauty behind suburban misery. Perhaps that’s why the film is so well-received by critics and viewers alike, but I digress from my point. The reason the movie is beautiful is because it is a fluid portrait of a society we live in, in motion. Now, if we strip the musical compositions and motion and instead just have individual shots of the film, is it remotely interesting? I would argue that the answer is certainly no, because it is hauntingly similar to the lives that we as college students live, away from college. Sure, some of us are working or doing internships, but what about after work hours?

8:30 PM:

I decide that while watching the movie, I’ll start learning dynamics. Perhaps the movie has made me question how I should live like it had previously, or it has made me concentrate on something that could be important.

9:30 PM:

In the middle of my learning session, my phone alarm goes off. I breathe a sigh of relief; the USA soccer game is on and now I can avoid working and putting in any effort. I can focus on my passion for watching soccer. I vowed to learn more dynamics by waking up early on Saturday morning.
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With all of this being said in a narration of a recent, recurring and dull Friday night, I guess an excellent question to ask yourself would be whether your life is worth watching on a piece of film. Sure, there will be dull moments, but they should lead to more exciting moments or important ones. Looking back, will the hour I spent learning physics while watching American Beauty be memorable? Probably not, but it could be the start of something good, for example, if I learned dynamics well enough, maybe I could be part of a research group that designs a robotic exoskeleton that could help people walk again. I think back to an exchange of dialogue in the movie which is simple yet powerful.

The girl and aspiring model that Lester is infatuated with (who is his daughter’s best friend) meets his daughter’s new boyfriend and questions him.  Lester’s daughter, Jane, says to the girl, “…And you’ll never be a freak because you’re just too perfect.”
Her friend retorts, “Yeah? Well, at least I’m not ugly!” The boyfriend, who appears stoic in this scene, then replies, “Yes, you are. And you’re boring, and you’re totally ordinary, and you know it.”

In reality, I think one of the biggest fears of any individual, whether through introspection or by someone rudely pointing it out, is the fear of being boring. I think we’ve arrived at the awkward junction where I have somehow made this post blend into the usual carpe diem, make the most of the moment, etc post, so I’ll leave it up to interpretation.  Also, I would like to state that I’m not saying I’m bored throughout the summer and in general; it’s just less action-packed than college. I still maintain many passions (in fact, often I feel I have too many), which tend to be the topics of different blog posts; I just have less of a chance to explore them back home.
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Next day, 10:30 AM:

After sleeping through three alarms placed 15 minutes apart and then deciding to just enjoy my morning by reading a book in bed, I officially get up to brush my teeth at 10:30. Has complacency reared its ugly head?

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On Inequalities

Readers, after a post on wealth inequality, I decided to write about something that truly captivates me- mathematical inequalities! All kidding aside, I have always had a passion for mathematics. Knowing this, various friends let me know that if I wrote a blog post about math that I’d never go back. They also told me that I would be completely incoherent. I’ll try to avoid both but there are no guarantees. To those of you who aren’t big fans of math, don’t fret, this post will not be littered with foreign mathematical concepts (but there is a lot of math) and [hopefully] will be interesting!

I guess I’ll start with a bit of background; math was my passion ever since I could read numbers. There were times when it definitely got the best of me: for example, I tried to play around with Newton polynomials in a notebook while biking up hills when I was little (did I mention that I’m terribly clumsy?). For the most part though, it was wonderful because it could accompany me anywhere and I saw it everywhere. My dad had taught me the operations (addition, subtraction, multiplication, division) by grouping coffee beans and now I saw it in food and in particular, breakfast. I actually remember switching from eating waffles to bagels so I could make this (http://georgehart.com/bagel/bagel.html) on the weekends. Really though, I did enjoy my childhood! A friend had once said that I had learned knot theory before learning to properly tie my shoes, which is more a testament to how late I actually learned how to correctly tie my shoes. All anecdotes aside, I’ve always loved the subject because of how most interesting problems have a crux move that changes your perspective completely. Moreover, the elegance of particular solutions based on simple concepts is awe-inspiring and powerful. That being said, I was deterred by math for much of high school because I realized that for math contests, which I thoroughly enjoyed, many people simply memorized formulas from a math book for glory. Still, I maintained an appreciation for math and one of my favorite topics was inequalities, which I thought was particularly elegant due to both its simplicity and power. I figured I would show a glimpse of its elegance (I apologize in advance for the lack of depth to math whizzes and if I use concepts that seem a bit bizarre to those of you that aren’t math lovers). Here’s a word document version of the post in the case that the formatting and haziness of math notation on wordpress makes you cringe: On Personality

My first experience with any notion of inequalities began with learning the arithmetic mean ( P1) and the geometric mean (P2 ).

From there, in a sidenote in an Indian textbook I had, it had said that since for any real number, y,
P3,
then:

P4

The result here seems simple but not that relevant at first glance but it is a delightful first step into inequalities. It is one case of a famous inequality known as the Arithmetic Geometric Mean Inequality (or AM-GM ). I’ve omitted the proof for this post because of its many cases, but I can provide pieces of it in the comments section if you’d like.

This inequality (AM-GM) states that as long as

P39 :
P40

This is definitely a cool result, but I’m sure you’re wondering how it could be applied. Here’s an example of another inequality that can be proven using our newfound inequality.
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Show that:

P41

for positive real numbers a, b and c (Nessbit’s Inequality)

How do we begin?

Well, we know from AM-GM inequality that for any positive real (x,y,z)

P6

since

P7

(cross multiplication and AM-GM)

Let’s write the inequality and similar components as variables:

P8

Initially, maybe this setup seems really arbitrary and just assigning variables rather than being interesting. But in this setup there lies the crux move.

What we can gather from these variable declarations is that:

P9

By adding the last two equations, we get

Since
P10

or
P11

Which is what we set to prove in the first place!
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Ok, so maybe that wasn’t super applicable, but here’s an elegant proof of Cauchy-Schwartz inequality (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cauchy%E2%80%93Schwarz_inequality) using AM-GM inequality, which was the basis in some sense for the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle and an inequality you’ve probably seen in a lot of Linear Algebra textbooks (oh, the horror!). If you’re not interested in a proof sort of question with a bit of summation notation, I’d recommend looking at the next example!

We know that based on the definition of AM-GM:

P12 (1)
and we know that if there is some random value, c, that

P13 (2)
since

P14

Another way of saying it would be that
P15

and we also know that

P16

if and only if
P17

Let’s say that:

P18

then
P19

which mirrors Cauchy Schwartz Inequality, which is:
P20

Would you not agree that the result is pretty amazing?
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I remember that when I learned AM-GM, I didn’t realize its power until I saw it used to solve International Math Olympiad problem (which all of you can solve now too!).

Here it is (1964 IMO, Problem #2):

Suppose  are the sides of a triangle. Prove that
P21

It certainly looks complicated at the start, but yet again, just assigning variables and the use of AM-GM makes this mathematical hodgepodge of letters and numbers more elegant.

If we set P22, P23, and P24,

Then the expression becomes:

P25

After the simplification of the messy expansion, we get:

P26

What does this simplified expression remind you of? AM-GM inequality of course! I really appreciate inequalities because you have to creatively use simple expressions to solve much more complex ones; memorization is virtually useless (credit to Art of Problem Solving for posting the solution and not making me write it out on the computer).

I guess I’d like to end on a somber note. The American education system, particularly in elementary school, middle school and high school, seems to be bent towards the regurgitation of formulas, plugging and chugging and repetition to teach mathematics. I definitely don’t have a particular way to resolve this issue, but I’d like to hope that our system will eventually embrace creativity. The question of whether it is possible to teach creativity is certainly a fascinating debate topic that I would love to look more into in the future. I definitely have no background on it, but if you have any insight on it, feel free to let me know. Additionally, if there are any interesting inequality ideas you’d like to point out or something you would like me to explain further than I did in this post, just leave a comment! I apologize to those of you in advance who found the post too long and didn’t see any elegance in my examples; I’ll write about something less absurd soon!
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BONUS!
In case you’re interested, I have posted another problem that is slightly harder than the ones preceding it; not in the number of steps but rather in how daunting it looks. It was on the shortlist for the International Mathematics Olympiad and looks like a problem a lot of people would not even choose to attempt (feel free to skip it if you’re not feeling mathy).

IMO 2010 SL, A3

Let P28 be nonnegative real numbers such that P27 for all P29 (we put P30 ). Find the maximum possible sum of

P31

The problem looks pretty difficult, right?

If we were to take a simple case, where P32  for  P33 ,

then, the expression above, P34 (if you don’t see this, just plug it into the summation and notice how the terms come to ¼ when odd and 0 when even)

Now, let’s consider the other cases for which P33

Then by rearranging the problem statement, we get that

P35and P36 .

By AM-GM Inequality, we see that

P37

(Ah, the Haziness!)

If we sum the inequalities from P33 , we get:

P38

Whee! We have successfully solved a very complicated looking summation problem using basic inequalities!

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On Donkeys and Elephants

No, unfortunately this is not actually directly about donkeys and elephants though I do love animals. I wish it was.

Readers, before I express my opinion; I’ll let you know that I’m a pretty strong liberal. Yes, I was one of THOSE people that loved sites such as romneytaxplan.com. That being said, I do appreciate learning all viewpoints on political issues.

I was talking to one of my close friends a couple of months back about a class he was taking, Robert Reich’s Wealth and Poverty.  The class was discussing how to reduce the income gap, when my friend (who is also a liberal) suggested some conservative ways to resolve the issue. Now, I know some of you might be thinking along the lines of “What, I thought that conservatives sidestepped that issue just like Romney avoided outlining a tax plan” and that conservatives falsely believe that upward mobility will resolve the issue magically. Coincidentally, the graduate student instructor thought along the same lines.

I cannot pretend to scratch the surface when it comes to conservative thought on resolving income inequality and poverty issues in America, though I can imagine that some ideas may involve supply-side economics and touch on the belief that government benefits decrease the productivity of people in poverty.  That being said, I think the issue is the fact that as an interested student, I don’t know much more and I always learn the side that, for example, the liberal graduate student instructor chooses to address.  This bias was illustrated beautifully by a poll taken during the presidential elections that cited that amongst faculty at various top institutions, at Harvard, a mere 7% were conservative, a similar 6% at Yale and much of the same at universities throughout the United States. Berkeley, being its liberal self, would certainly fit this rigid mold. In almost every major institution, diversity is a note of pride; we see professors of every race and orientation. Why is there limited diversity when it comes to political thought, which could be put under the umbrella of intellectual diversity? If every university continues to churn out well reasoned liberals due to a lack of exploration of conservative rhetoric, is there a possibility that each one of us has only a limited view in solving current issues?

I’ve always assumed that solving current issues would be reliant on looking at history, one of my favorite topics. My perspective on history is a little odd though, and somewhat applicable to my current rambling. I see history as an interesting and complicated form of mathematics (surprise surprise, if you know me).  Almost any relevant historical event could be generalized to a logic puzzle of information, where pieces are solved based on knowledge of particular elements of the puzzle. Different actors, or solvers of the puzzle, have different pieces of information and thus have different methods and solutions.  Of course, complications arise when leaders decide to take less than rational methods to either make the puzzle harder to solve for another or try to avoid solving the puzzle altogether.  Additionally, there are externalities as well in many of these situations, which add another layer of complexity. As outside readers and observers of these puzzles, seeing the perspectives of the various solvers of the puzzles helps us solve current issues that have similarities, even if the political climate is completely different. However, if we progress into a society in which everyone is applying the same method to the issue at hand (for example, for the recession, everyone seemed to veer towards austerity), perhaps we’re starting to limit our efficacy and no longer showcasing the creativity our society covets so dearly.

I’m sure there are many other, less redundant (and better) conclusions that can be made from these examples, unbeknownst to me. Let me know what you think.

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