Hurricanes and Physics


Why do hurricanes or typhoons move counter clock wise in the Northern Hemisphere, and Clockwise direction in the southern hemisphere?

the above is the current state of the two hurricanes as of 1:20 pm EST.

When i was young i never ever understood pseudo forces. It did not make sense to me at all! why would they make up ‘fictitious forces’!

Well, now I know why !! Because the rotation of the earth!

earth rotates from west to east (the sun first rises in the east!, right?) so if you imagine looking down from the north pole: We see it first rises in New Delhi and then in Washington DC. DC has to “catch up” it has to go to New Delhi. So west to east!

Because of this rotation – any wind rising up near the equator (the air is warmer and it is lighter- so it rises up) is “pulled” in the direction of rotation . that is makes like pulled pork! Pulled wind is like pulled pork. Tasty and dangerous!

pulled wind

If Earth did not rotate as it does, we would have high-speed winds of almost 480 km/h (about 300 mph) gusting from the poles to the Equator and back!!

this force is called the Coriolis Force


Brief History of Athens and its application to modern Washington DC Modern Jackass, Fundamentalism, Sectarianism


Richard Sennett wrote the mind threatens continually to subvert the materials with which it works. What I mean by the academic anti-intellectualism evinced in the review of my book is a parade of authorities, a refusal to confront intellectual difficulty, a fear of ambiguity, all of which attempt to ward off that power of mind.

When I had come back from Paris to Washington DC I had felt that I was “returning to the backwaters” of Washington DC. To give an analogy to my friends – I compared Paris to DC vis-à-vis New York city to Huma, Louisiana. Someone got offended! Actually indignant!

Richard Hofstadter tenth book, earned him the Pulitzer Prize in Non-Fiction in 1964.  He calls it a personal book and a critical enquiry.

I have argued here, that Pragmatism is the American pastime; it is the virtue. Hofstadter contends that “mystique of practicality” as spiritually crippling”. The folksy maxim of Calvin Coolidge: “the business of America is business.”  American disinterest to the past–our consistently anti-historical, pro-utilitarian disposition– the secularization of the American mind by way of the “curious cult of religious practicality”.

Reductio ad absurdum, is a form of argument which attempts either to disprove a statement by showing it inevitably leads to a ridiculous, absurd, or impractical conclusion, or to prove one by showing that if it were not true, the result would be absurd or impossible.

And I have encountered more than my share here in Washington DC.

There is a fascinating conversation here – “this American life

Modern Jackass. Of course, there is no Modern Jackass. But ever since I heard that story, I found myself referring to Modern Jackass all the time. It’s incredibly useful, and it could be useful to you, to back out of all kinds of awkward conversational situations.

Nancy Updike

The thing about Modern Jackass is, it’s usually not something about which you know nothing. It’s something about which you know a little bit, enough to sort of get yourself into trouble.

Ira Glass

Like you read an article.

Nancy Updike

Exactly, or something on the web.

Ira Glass

Just last weekend, I was out for breakfast with some friends. And we got into this conversation about these people who do caloric restriction. Have you heard about this? Apparently, there are these people who believe that if you eat a lot less, it can make you live longer. As so we’re talking about this, and somebody’s explaining the cells of your body go through all this wear and tear when you actually digest food. And before you know it, one of my friends– somebody who knows nothing about biology, actually– starts talking about mitochondria. Mitochondria. And maybe he had a little bit of knowledge about this. But it was totally Modern JackassModernJackass, the medical edition, which Nancy says that she finds herself in quite a bit.

Nancy Updike

My mother sends me information about partially hydrogenated oils. And then when somebody says, wait, why is partially hydrogenated oil bad again? I say, well, it’s an unstable compound, which it is. It’s oil to which hydrogen has been added in order to make it solid at room temperature. That I know. That’s a fact.

Ira Glass

And why would that be bad, Nancy?

Nancy Updike

Well, that’s where we get into Modern Jackass territory. It’s unstable in your body. There’s an extra hydrogen atom that can interact with things.

Ira Glass

Oxygen and form water.

Nancy Updike


Eric Weiner wrote

The ancient Athenians enjoyed a deeply intimate relationship with their city. Civic life was not optional, and the Athenians had a word for those who refused to participate in public affairs: idiotes. There was no such thing as an aloof, apathetic Athenian. “The man who took no interest in the affairs of state was not a man who minded his own business,” wrote the ancient historian Thucydides, “but a man who had no business being in Athens at all.” When it came to public projects, the Athenians spent lavishly. (And, if they could help it, with other people’s money—they paid for the construction of the Parthenon, among other things, with funds from the Delian League, an alliance of several Greek city-states formed to fend off the Persians.)

In retrospect, many aspects of Athenian life—including the layout and character of the city itself—were conducive to creative thinking. The ancient Greeks did everything outdoors. A house was less a home than a dormitory, a place where most people spent fewer than 30 waking minutes each day. The rest of the time was spent in the marketplace, or working out at the gymnasium or the wrestling grounds, or perhaps strolling along the rolling hills that surround the city. Unlike today, the Greeks didn’t differentiate between physical and mental activity; Plato’s famous Academy, the progenitor of the modern university, was as much an athletic facility as an intellectual one. The Greeks viewed body and mind as two inseparable parts of a whole: A fit mind not attached to a fit body rendered both incomplete.

The Athenians also hastened their demise by succumbing to what one historian calls “a creeping vanity.” Eventually, they reversed their open-door policy and shunned foreigners. Houses grew larger and more ostentatious. Streets grew wider, the city less intimate. People developed gourmet taste. The gap between rich and poor, citizen and noncitizen, grew wider, while the sophists, hawking their verbal acrobatics, grew more influential. Academics became less about pursuing truth and more about parsing it. The once vibrant urban life degenerated.



Condaleezza Rice

Condaleezza Rice is an excellent story teller

David Rubinstein interviewing her

Carla Hayden, the Librarian of congress, introducing her

Dr. Rice has a fantastic story about growing up in segregated Birmingham, Alabama

Became full professor at 30 at Stanford

Rubinstein is a very gentle interviewer

( Hayden said he was the best interviewer she ever knew )

David Baldacci

Man, what a story teller. Lives near D.C. In Virginia.

Wonderful anecdotes and accolades !

The audience was so supportive and warm and he felt it

I must confess, this is the first time, seeing him and have never read any of his books.

So a die hard fan, the retired Mr. dale suggested ‘the fix’

Now a few questions the audience asked. He elaborated well in each of his answers

Q) hardest book to write

A) the camel club series – because of the ensemble of cast

Q) Outlines and ending

A) he never knows the ending of his novel and very short generic mini outlines.

Keeping up appearances

charles dog 1.jpgcharles dog 2.jpg

Hyacinth Bucket (she insists that it should be pronounced as Bouquet) was the central character in the British comedy of the 1990s shown sometimes here in Washington DC on the public TV. Her main mission is to impress upon others her refinement and social “class” (though she is from a poor working lineage). Her main fear is to be discovered who she really is.

So a good tangent to the end of the week is to think about our pets, especially our dogs.

“One reason a dog can be such a comfort when you’re feeling blue is that he doesn’t try to find out why.”

“A hound will die for you, but never lie to you.” —George R. R. Martin (George Martin is the author of the books on which the game of thrones is based on)


“The dog is a gentleman; I hope to go to his heaven, not man’s.”   — Mark Twain


“When a man’s best friend is his dog, the dog has a problem.” — Edward Abbey


“My husband and I are either going to buy a dog or have a child. We can’t decide whether to ruin our carpet or ruin our lives.” — Rita Rudner

Thurgood Marshall – the lawyer for the “little man.”

Thurgood marshall.jpg

On August 30th, 1967, Thurgood Marshall became the first African American to be confirmed as a Supreme Court justice.

I was speaking with Darron my colleague – He is also African american and had worked somewhere up in the echelons of the pentagon – He recollected names as if he just read them in the morning pages.

Stokely Carmichael – Trinidadian-American who became a prominent figure in the Civil Rights Movement and the global Pan-African movement.

Dorothy Irene Height – the president of the National Council of Negro Women for forty years and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1994 and the Congressional Gold Medal in 2004

Shirley Anita Chisholm – she became the first black woman elected to the United States Congress

Sheila Crump Johnson co-founder of BET, CEO of Salamander Hotels and Resorts, and the first African-American woman to attain a net worth of at least one billion dollars.

Barbara Charline Jordan. The first African American elected to the Texas Senate after Reconstruction, the first Southern African-American woman elected to the United States House of Representatives.

Darron called them the political legal prong of the African American struggle for justice. The Black Intelligentsia

Thurgood Marshall’s parents instilled in him the appreciation for the US Constitution. Local Howard university connection also! After graduating from Lincoln University in 1930, Marshall sought admission to the University of Maryland School of Law, but was turned away because of the school’s segregation policy, which effectively forbade blacks from studying with whites. Instead, Marshall attended Howard University Law School, from which he graduated magna cum laude in 1933. (Marshall later successfully sued Maryland School of Law for their unfair admissions policy.)

Marshall won 29 of the 32 cases he argued in front of the Supreme Court, all of which challenged in some way the ‘separate but equal’ doctrine that had been established by the landmark case Plessy v. Ferguson (1896). The high-water mark of Marshall’s career as a litigator came in 1954 with his victory in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka. In that case, Marshall argued that the ‘separate but equal’ principle was unconstitutional, and designed to keep blacks “as near slavery as possible.”

Awesome Mr. Marshall, sir!



Long-titles, splendid books

Nice one from Armenia – Mr. Saferian from Armenia (letters, Sept 1st, the economist, page 16)

Tudor Rickards observed that book titles are tending to get longer (July 22nd). But that is not a new phenomenon, as any reader of “Travels into Several Remote Nations of the World. In Four Parts. By Lemuel Gulliver, First a Surgeon, and then a Captain of Several Ships” by Jonathan Swift, or “The Personal History, Adventures, Experience and Observation of David Copperfield the Younger of Blunderstone Rookery (Which He Never Meant to Publish on Any Account)” by Charles Dickens would attest.


Yerevan, Armenia