Escape from Elba
Exiles of the New York Times
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Author Topic: American History  (Read 29566 times)
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Dzimas
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« Reply #1860 on: February 14, 2008, 01:05:23 AM »

He was more than a "developer," thanatopsy, he offered a number of pioneering theories on quantum mechanics that as the authors noted laid the ground work for the PC revolution in the 70s. Actually, I'm a little disappointed there isn't more focus on Oppenheimer the physicist.  I think most persons who devote so much of their lives to their work make for lousy spouses and parents.  It seemed that Oppenheimer was hopelessly devoted to Tralock (sp?) and according to the authors had a hard time rebounding emotionally after that relationship, but it seems that much of their study of Oppenheimer's romantic life is based on speculation and conflicting reports.
« Last Edit: February 14, 2008, 09:30:58 AM by Dzimas » Logged
madupont
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« Reply #1861 on: February 14, 2008, 04:13:17 PM »

Dzimas,   I have to agree with you there:" I think most persons who devote so much of their lives to their work make for lousy spouses and parents."

But since your mind was moving from Physics per se to that statement, I have to admit that I had in mind "mathematicians" several of whom I've known and how they relate to things, so that their approach to people and to emotions is quite  different.   I know that instinctively and, when they are in earnest pursuit of me because I'm interesting, I introduce them to somebody quickly.  They adore poetry in person; our group reputation proceeds us. That is the only connection, there is something in common to the construction of a poem and a mathematical problem, as in music, or an algebraic equation, so that I first understood geometry because of a mathematician who liked going to the Opera. Most of the arts interest them.

Therefore, I can chalk one up for a mathematician who married an aquaintance and they become close friends of my husband and myself; but, he was emotionally unexplainable, yes, quirky and his two male offspring took after him.  He went into computers, traveling the world, and in those days the expression was "to take out the bugs","look for the bugs", so he wasn't around much for child raising; since they were raised with computers, they went into other peoples computers. Only natural.

On the other hand, one of my Chinese teachers was a physicist and apparently made an excellent parent of his wife's child by a previous marriage and sent her to school at Princeton. Another Chinese teacher was a biochemist  and more affable and outgoing whereas the physicist had been guarded, perhaps amused. (You may say, well, simply two individuals?) So at about that point, I found two women teachers in a row, which was a blessing as there is information culturally which a male instructor may either overlook or not convey. Here the difference was merely one was a single  young woman and the other married and the mother of two children; no sciences involved whatsoever. (Again,simply two individuals?) But now after looking and considering, I am going for a third teacher, female, who has been living here in the West for a longer period of time, has been teaching longer, and will have insights on a different cultural aspect/period of Chinese history.

Okay, so here's what I think, that the adaptation to communication readily may have to do with whether the science is theoretical or "practical"(aren't those lousy terms).   My father, who was very outgoing and practical as a physician and surgeon, was a very good parent until as the years went by he became more interested in the theoretical aspects in regard to his teaching, at which point he immersed himself in this other world and was less communicative in a casual familial way. Large family, we didn't mind, we had each other and besides we had him psyched out by then.
« Last Edit: February 14, 2008, 04:16:21 PM by madupont » Logged
weezo
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« Reply #1862 on: February 14, 2008, 04:23:49 PM »

Maddie,

My friend, a neuropsychologist would agree with you on your analysis. If the analytical brain is best developed, the emotional brain gets a bit less of the juice. My friend said he used to have horrid problems with social situation until he married his present wife, who is very social and helped him take the steps to come out better. Now, he enjoys ocean cruises and all the sociability that involves, but on his last cruise, he emailed me that that night was "formal dress" night, and he was dredding getting dressed up.

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Lhoffman
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« Reply #1863 on: February 14, 2008, 04:49:55 PM »

Mad...Perhaps the reason you find mathematicians and physicists emotionally unexplainable is because you don't know any of them very well.  Was the Chinese physicist you knew a good father because he was Chinese or because he was a physicist?  Do physicists have to be Chinese to be good fathers?  Would you say ALL chemists are more affable than physicists?  At parties, who drinks white and who drinks red?  or do they all go for imported beer?  Stereotyping is such fun!


By the way, aren't you a divorced liberal woman?  I wonder what inferences we might draw about that.
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weezo
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« Reply #1864 on: February 14, 2008, 06:05:21 PM »

Laurie,

Today I received two new biographies in the mail, both by Walter Isaacson: Einstein and Benjamin Franklin. I opened Einstein to see how it read, and thoroughly enjoyed the beginning chapter, in which the story is told of when Albert's sister Maria was born when he was three, and he, believing she was a new toy for him asked "But, where are the wheels". I have also been corrected on the mistake of believing the Einstein suffered from a learning disability in math - it wasn't that he couldn't learn the rote work, it was just that he didn't like anything rote. I'm sure I will do a Famous Americans on Einstein after the book, but I may have a story to help correct that misperception and to point out that Einstein favored creativity more than rote thinking.
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Lhoffman
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« Reply #1865 on: February 14, 2008, 06:44:03 PM »

Anne....I have the Einstein biography, too.  It looks quite good, but I haven't read the whole thing yet. 

I didn't know Isaacson wrote a bio of Franklin.  I'd be interested to hear your opinion of it.

(BTW....your book arrived in the mail yesterday.  I happened to be babysitting for a seven year old girl who found your pineapple cat quite charming.)
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Bob
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« Reply #1866 on: February 14, 2008, 06:54:53 PM »

While one can go too far with analyzing why people are the way they are (and I'm certaily guilty of that all too often) there does seem to be at least a correlation between what people do with their lives and their personality type. I believe in the right brain/left brain thing. My prime example is myself and the person I work with. I'm essentially left brained--cognative, all too aware of time, precise in things, neat, somewhat compulsive. My office is always neat and clean with only one thing on my desk at a time. I arrive at work at precisely 6:30 AM and leave at precisely 2:35 PM. My friend is an artist, has absolutely no conception of time, shows up at work when she gets there and leaves when she's finished and is very good at what she does. Her office is a holy mess, there's chaos there, she dresses casually and without regard to either neatness or style, and she is very outgoing. I'm very quiet and usually can't be bothered socializing very much.

Why are we the way we are? That's a hard thing to answer, but as I look at the descriptions of Oppenheimer's early persoinality traits, he picked a good profession to fit them. Researchers are generally solitary, cognitive types and are introverted. People seem to choose professions to suit their interests and also their needs.

Earlier it was suggested that the young Oppenheimer was actually maladjusted, which could be inferred from my earlier post. Actually, I agree. I think Oppenheimer was more unadjusted or ill adjusted as he matured, but if you get near the middle of the book, Kie Bird explains that his appointment to head the Manhattan Project's Science division transformed him--led to dramatic changes in his personality. How much of that was due to the appointment, how much was to do with his wife or to Jea Tatlock is hard to tell--but I'd bet it had to do with all three...He was a late bloomer with respect to maturity and generally getting along with people and in  his environment. I have no proof of this--its just an opinion from reading this book and other books which cover him. He was a rather "odd duck" as FDR used to say, but one which waddled an interesting manner.
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Bob
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« Reply #1867 on: February 14, 2008, 06:57:27 PM »

Isaacson's BENJAMIN FRANKLIN  is one of the best biographies I've read on him (and I've read about 7 or 8 of them).
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Bob
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« Reply #1868 on: February 14, 2008, 07:06:58 PM »

Quote
The narrative show that Opp was a genius who was very able in many disciplines.

I think they classify him as an auto-didact, a self learner. I think it was mentioned in the book that he was a very rapid absorber of information and one who thoroughly enjoyed the process of learning. He probably wasn't the best student in school, being too far advanced for his age. Students of his caliber get bored easily in standard schools. I remember Einstein had a problem like that---he thought "out of the box" and it constantly got him in trouble with his teachers. I could see Oppenheimer doing the same thing---questioning current thought and wondering why this or that couldn't be accomplished.

I love the piece in the book on page 64 where Oppenheimer visits Einstein  in Princeton "and came away distinctly unimpressed," writing his brother  that "Einstein is completely cuckoo."
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weezo
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« Reply #1869 on: February 14, 2008, 07:10:03 PM »

Laurie,

I am delighted that your young charge liked the book! Children are great critics! My copy of the book is at the post office. The maillady stuffed the two Isaacson books into the mailbox, but left a note that the other package is at the post office. I will go pick it up tomorrow.

Pharmacy where I picked up the carnations today is going to sell the books. I need to get a small number of them, and see how they go. You may remember my short friendship with Donna Southall cut short by her death a few months ago. Heath (the pharmacist) sold and still sells her books in the pharmacy. He has a shelf just to display children's books. When I go in, I always look to see how the piles are going down or have been replenished. Just a small way that people in rural places help support each other.



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weezo
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« Reply #1870 on: February 14, 2008, 07:19:12 PM »

Bob,

Somehow Oppenheimer didn't interest me, but Einstein does. In the first chapter, along with the other pieces I shared, I learned that Einstein thought with pictures in his head. My friend, (another Bob) who I mentioned to Maddie as a neuropsychologist, taught about the differences in the way people think. Some with pictures in their head, some with words to read, some hear words. Bob Z is a person who cannot form pictures in his head, which struck teachers as absolutely awful when he would talk about it in inservices. I remember one teacher just a-shaking his head, asking how he could understand what he reads if he is unable to see pictures in his head. He doesn't see letter or words either, he sees a big nothing. But he does think in sound words. And, he is at his best at the keyboard.

So far Isaacson is telling me very interesting things about Einstein. I'm sure he will enrich my knowledge of Franklin, who's been a favorite of mine since "Ben and Me" ....

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« Reply #1871 on: February 14, 2008, 08:21:41 PM »


Gintaras,

Thanx for your note - I must have missed where it showed that Opp's work was so influential that it influenced advancements in physics during the 70s.  But considering what a genius he was this comes as no surprise.

As for Jean Tatlock, I found her to be one of the most interesting people in the book.

While Opp said he was initially ''oblivious to politics'', she influenced his new world view because of her left wing beliefs and her strong commitment to social changes during the turbulent 30s. A ''pre-mature anti-fascist'', she was influenced by the CPUSA though she did not become a member of that group. Opp indicated that ''the late 1930s 'were a time of innocence  ... We were animated by candid faith in the efficiency of reason and persuasion, in the operation of democratic processes, and in the ultimate triumph of justice''. This is why New Deal Democrats welcomed ultra leftists even if the latter were not always heartily embraced by them.  ''I did not then regard Communists as dangerous; and some of their declared objectives seemed to me desirable''.

I found Opp's willingness to welcome students into his social gatherings to be commendable. It must have been quite an experience for them.

pp 94-127

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« Reply #1872 on: February 14, 2008, 08:34:01 PM »

``I believe in the right brain/left brain thing.``


RW,


People have gone into near shock when they see that I am partly learning disabled. Despite having an IQ that it well above average, having a law degree, and being a literary scholar and published writer, my ability to do puzzles matches that of the average 5 year old. In my youth I had ambitions of being a biologist or earth scientist and my grades in those subjects ranged from B+ to A+.  But when it came to physics or chemistry, my grades ranged from D+ to C- (well, I had one A but that was because the teacher was far too generous!). With these grades being as low as they were, I did not qualify to major in collegiate sciences.

Learning disability can be quite troubling. It is amazing how many gifted people out there have similar problems!
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« Reply #1873 on: February 14, 2008, 08:44:16 PM »

Thanatopsy.....many people who are learning disabled have quite high IQ's.  There is almost the feeling of a cosmic joke; give a person great intelligence then make him struggle to make the most out of it. 

But, rightbrain/leftbrain/social stereotypes....In my husband's group, there are physicists, chemists, mathematicians, engineers, and at parties, it seems the wives fit more into stereotypes than the husbands.  But I find stereotypes particularly annoying....my husband is funny, social, smart and after thirty years, my family still refers to him as an absent-minded professor.  Truth is, he is far more social than I am. 

One of the things I really liked about the Oppenheimer book was the way Kai Bird portrayed the guys when there would be an exciting new discovery.  He really caught the boyishness that must have been part of the whole scene.
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weezo
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« Reply #1874 on: February 14, 2008, 10:02:37 PM »

Than,

I was a teacher of the learning disabled for much of my teaching career, and I well know that they can be quite intelligent and not show it in the standard ways education expects. So, I would think up unusual assignments to do, and had them, back in the late 80's and early 90's corresponding internationally via the Internet. They left high school, almost the only students in our small rural community who knew what to do with a computer. One went into computer science in college and runs the networks for the schools in my county. One learned to read by reading the fire manuals and is now running the fire department at a sizeable military base. One, who was a complete clown in high school started out in waste management in town, got his certifications, asked for a raise and was told he wasn't worth it, so he moved on, and has moved up in another company a few counties away such that they are asking him to please get a degree. I finally had to tell him that his high school grades were exactly what he asked for, and could easily have been higher if he had not quit working when he got them, so I knew he had the ability to do college. His wife just got her masters, and his daughter will be in college while he takes classes online and at night. These are but a sampling of those who succeeded in spite of a learning disability. They were silly, clownish, and loved doig whatever was NOT standard, but they were also intelligent and creative. Out of several hundred students who passed through my classroom, only two have ended up in the classic expected for black, LD boys back then, in prison. One for a temper never conquered, and one for being an entrepreneur in an illegal business. I don't know what happened to each or all of my students, but those that I hear about or run into, or hear from others about, have all "beat the odds" for what
they were in high school.

There is some indications in the literature, that some students who were labeled LD back when I taught and perhaps when you were in school/college, are actually autistic as asperger's syndrom. You may want to look into whether that explains you any better or worse than learning disabled, especially if you did not have difficulty learning to read, but may be "dyslexic" in speech or thoughts, or had difficulty learning to ride a bike or drive a car (stick shift).

Do you remember a song that was popular for a short time? I think it was a movie theme: A Dyslexic Heart. My students loved that song.
I may still have a copy around somewhere.


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