Ramadan activities tend to switch between highly focused and absorbed technical activities, and reactive “quiz taking” ones. It’s too hot for long summer explorations (without water), or really any exercise during the day, so I have put on a couple of pounds. Also, I tend to eat longer acting foods with more fat and protein (cheese) in them when eating is allowed. I’ll try to readjust to a more active lifestyle later this week when it ends. Changing pace and activities for a month is insightful.
Algebra involves learning and remembering some rules that one can apply to solve problems. The process does not always immediately tell one how to apply the rules to get a solution. In order for this to happen, it sometimes involves creative insight or art: the ability to be both rigid in application, and quickly creative/flexible in approach. So, if one is having problems with math, it is generally because either: 1) one cannot follow or remember rules, or 2) one cannot follow rules and be creative at the same time, or sometimes 3) there is great resistance to being forced to go to a solution. For many women, I think it requires dissociating from the emotive/people-oriented part of their brain. They may have more of these receptors on the average than most men do. I don’t know if this is born out scientifically, but it is a possible source of dislike for the subject. It sometimes helps to know where the problem is. Anyway, algebra is half of what descends from ancient Arabic. The other half comes in the form of algorithms, in fact this aspect later developing to be applied to the problem of ascertaining whether given a certain set of logical statements, it is possible to deduce a final logical conclusion, or determine whether a problem is in fact solvable. The algorithmic part originated in Arabic from a Persian.
This in itself is worthy of a little exploration. Farsi (modern Persian) is not Arabic. Its first known remaining expression is the Behistun inscription commemorating the Persian king Darius around 500 BC in modern day Iran. Old Persian had 38 alphabetic letters, but looks nothing like the modern Farsi script which uses Arabic script and is right to left (originating around the 9th century). Probably blocks containing the specific parts of the letters were used to transfer ink to parchment and form a letter. The same parts of letters were used by Babylonians and Elamites, although the letters themselves were different. All 3 old languages were left to right. The middle variant of Persian, originating around 350 BCE is right to left and uses Aramaic derived letters. So, even though modern Farsi uses the Arabic alphabet, very few words, and even less grammar, translate from Arabic. I guess that Mūsā al-Khwārizm (from the House of Wisdom in Baghdad), the Moses of algorithms, wrote in Arabic because it was the language of the Qu’ran, and that of the most elite learned class of the time.
Modern applications of algorithms tend to fall into computer science competitions for handling massive amounts of data. In the end, given that, for me, personal data collection has become an invasion, I decided to go French with the idea, which approaches the subject through the less-threatening application of games. So, a short little lecture here to start off and see what the subject is all about…
And a reminder that today, a new government was inaugurated in Iran. This country, beleaguered with economic sanctions, and often, silence from much of the world, deserves acknowledgment. Although I certainly don’t want to see nuclear weapons in volatile areas of the world, I don’t see that economic sanctions are proper either. They hurt people, and fill those that have to watch their children starve, with hatred. I’m still on good terms with my Iranian friends (from school). I keep good faith in them, and our common memories. This little clip kind of reminds me of the male Iranians I knew (they were adolescent, intense, multicultural, and often funny to the point of being giddy).
A little map quiz that I scored a 1:26.1 on with a bit of work.
Interesting rhythms – what makes Persian music sound Persian?
And this little documentary I found quite nice because it integrated many cultural details of Iran with what is otherwise a pretty global problem: kids complaining about cafeteria food at school. I found some vegetarian recipes to try.
In the context of Ramadan soon coming to an end, I thought a quiz on the differences between Sunni and Shiite Islam would be interesting. Iran is predominantly Shiite. One would like to see them find more peace.
I found this quiz on aspects of the Muslim faith (75% the first time, 100% after 3 tries).
Oh, and today, I tried my prayers in Farsi. Most of them still have a pretty strong Arabic component that is recognizable.