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Assorted links now October 28, 2007

Posted by Sharath Rao in assorted, culture, people.

Here is Chandrahas Choudhury’s review of Shashi Tharoor’s latest book.

…. Shashi Tharoor’s The Elephant, the Tiger and the Cellphone, a ragbag of columns and op-eds in which gassy generalities, second-hand insights and witless witticisms are foisted upon the reader with breathtaking conviction. Tharoor’s unwise (but in some ways perfectly characteristic) decision to gather up his jottings only serves to render more clear his considerable shortcomings in the realm of both thought and expression.

And no, I am certainly not in a minority. From my post of May 27th, 07 where I drew up a little wish-list under the title “Wanted”.

The Shashi Tharoor column replaced by another that deals with, at least once every 2 columns, fresh ideas rather than those that have been beaten to death by other columnists or that which is public knowledge. I can hardly recall one time that his article made me think real hard  or think new thoughts.

There is him and there is Tom Friedman, some of the most over-rated writers of our generation.


Joy links to this very interesting article on “the extravagant overrepresentation of Jews, relative to their numbers, in the top ranks of the arts, sciences, law, medicine, finance, entrepreneurship, and the media.”

For example, only a handful of the scientists of the Middle Ages are mentioned in most histories of science, and none was a Jew. But when George Sarton put a high-powered lens to the Middle Ages in his monumental Introduction to the History of Science (1927-48), he found that 95 of the 626 known scientists working everywhere in the world from 1150 to 1300 were Jews—15 percent of the total, far out of proportion to the Jewish population.

To get a sense of the density of accomplishment these numbers represent, I will focus on 1870 onward, after legal emancipation had been achieved throughout Central and Western Europe. How does the actual number of significant figures compare to what would be expected given the Jewish proportion of the European and North American population? From 1870 to 1950, Jewish representation in literature was four times the number one would expect. In music, five times. In the visual arts, five times. In biology, eight times. In chemistry, six times. In physics, nine times. In mathematics, twelve times. In philosophy, fourteen times.

From my limited experience of watching Jewish families conduct themselves in restaurants and airports, I will not underestimate the role of the family structure/values that influence Jewish upbringing that eventually plays a huge role in what the author calls “Jewish genius.”

Same by reading books like these.




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