If you have forgotten about Mikhail Gorbachev and wondered what he is up to, you can find a rich source of information here: ‘Crucify me right here’ The post-presidential life of Mikhail Gorbachev — Meduza.
At 88 he is still alive and active. He’s outlived Reagan and Bush Sr and many other leaders of the era when the Soviet Union was collapsing. He’s led a remarkable life, one worth reading about.
(Photo: Mikhail Svetlov / Getty Images; linked to at the site)
Such a great infographic:
You can see a bigger version here: Histomap: Visualizing the 4,000 Year History of Global Power
It’s hard to say why this interview with Strogatz is so good, other than to say he covers much ground on a variety of interesting topics and speaks lively on them. (Ok, I find game theory, “elegant” math, math education, etc, interesting, but you likely will too).
If you enjoyed this interview, he has a recent book out, “Joy of X: A Guided Tour of Math, from One to Infinity.” Worth a look.
Interview is here: Steven Strogatz interview on math education and other related topics
Is not what you might think. Some are the same, such as the casualties list. But the diseases show their age. (Who dies of an itch?) Fascinating how people saw illness in the 18th century (not that long ago).
The chart is via Naomi Clifford | Bill of Mortality 1743. You can get more details on it at the link.
This is the question reviewed here: Are plagues and wars the only ways to reduce inequality? | Aeon Essays. (It’s a long read but a good one.)
If you are not familiar with this idea, consider this graph:
The higher the red line is, the greater inequality is. Throughout the last 2000+ years, inequality has been reduced only by terrible events like plague and war.
For a time post World War II, inequality was declining in much of the world. Then, around the 1980s, it started to increase and continues to do so. Now we have a race on. Population declines should occur over the next 100 years, leading to greater equality. To counter that, we have greater automation occurring which may boost inequality as those with the means to control the automation make much of the income and increase their wealth. Will this inequality lead to events that once again levels off the distribution of wealth and income? Or will we reach a balance somehow?
I highly recommend the article. Rising inequality will be one of the great strains on the 21st century, and this article helps to provide some context on the subject.
And what a library! Napoleon had asked for it to be as follows:
The Emperor wishes you to form a traveling library of one thousand volumes in small 12mo and printed in handsome type. It is his Majesty’s intention to have these works printed for his special use, and in order to economize space there is to be no margin to them. They should contain from five hundred to six hundred pages, and be bound in covers as flexible as possible and with spring backs. There should be forty works on religion, forty dramatic works, forty volumes of epic and sixty of other poetry, one hundred novels and sixty volumes of history, the remainder being historical memoirs of every period.
Even with slimmed down books, that is a lot of paper to be carrying around as your conquer Europe and other parts of the world. I’m sure he would have loved the Kindle.
For more details on this library, see: Napoleon’s Kindle: See the Miniaturized Traveling Library He Took on Military Campaigns | Open Culture
Before this piece, I had limited knowledge of Woodrow Wilson. Most of that was centered on the work he did at the beginning of the 20th century, and much of that came from Margaret McMillan’s book, “The Peacemakers” (in the UK) / Paris, 1919 (in North America)”. My impression of him was a giant, transforming the old world with his ideas and his actions, and it was a transformation that was much needed. The world transformed after the first World War, leaving behind much that was bad, and a lot of that was Wilson’s doing.
However, Wilson racism was a terrible thing, and there is no overlooking it. There is no way to say Wilson was simply a great man: his racism and the discriminatory actions he took stain him permanently. He is a complex man, though, and there is no one scale to measure him on.
This complexity is true for all American presidents. There is a part of Americans that want to revere their leaders. They build them monuments, they sanctify them, they constantly assess and reassess them, be they Wilson, or Grant, or even Reagan. No doubt this will happen to Obama, too. This desire to sanctify leads to trouble, just as it is leading to trouble in Wilson’s case.
Ideally Americans would spend less time idealizing their past leaders and building them monuments and centers like the one for Wilson. Anything like that should include all the history of the person and the time they lived in. Show the complexity of the person, their strengths and their weaknesses, and highlight both what they achieved and what they failed to achieve. Give a full accounting of the person.
(Image is a link to a photo by Mark Makela for the New York Times)