The Man Who Knew Infinity

[3.0 stars] [IMDb Link] [Amazon Link]

A Mrs. Salad pick, and it's not bad!

It is the "based on fact" story of the wonderful collaboration between mathematicians G. H. Hardy (played by Jeremy Irons) and Srinivasa Ramanujan (played by Dev Patel). The as-is truth is pretty good: Ramanujan was largely self-taught in mathematics in India, and took to sending his research notes over to England for the recognition that was hard to come by locally. Hardy invited him to Trinity College, where they bumped noggins on all sorts of thorny problems. But Ramanujan grew ill, and moved back to India, and kicked the bucket shortly thereafter.

There are cameos from Bertrand Russell (Jeremy Northam) and John Littlewood (Toby Jones). World War I took place contemporaneously, and that horror is shown, as is the casual expected racism toward Ramanujan by ordinary folk and some of the Trinity faculty. The loneliness of Ramanujan's child bride in India and the posessiveness of his mother also play roles.

It's sort of by-the-numbers (heh) with very good acting. It's pretty brave to make a movie about mathematicians, I suppose. Once you go through John Nash, Alan Turing, and Ramanujan, … I can't think of a lot of stories ripe for moviemaking. Maybe Emmy Noether?

URLs du Jour

2018-02-05

Proverbs 16:27 is not the greatest. No advice, just assertive description.

27 A scoundrel plots evil,
    and on their lips it is like a scorching fire.

Well of course a scoundrel plots evil. That's what they do.

And—oy—again with the lips. The Proverbialist had a thing about lips. Thanks to the Bible Study Tools website, I can tell you that the word "lips" appears 37 times in the Book of Proverbs alone. "Mouth" appears 20 times. Does this evidence some sort of oral fixation?


■ Like me, Daniel J Mitchell is a sucker for quizzes that purport to identify one's "philosophical/political orientation". And should you be in the same boat, he has a bunch of links to ones you can take: Right Wing and Left Wing in a World Driven by Values, Class, and Culture.

He is bemused by a new one that labels him "Genuinely in the Middle", because it asks zero questions on politics. (For the record, it ranked me "Solidly Right-Wing").

Anyway: Mitchell quotes Peggy Noonan on what's driving current political divides:

There are the protected and the unprotected. The protected make public policy. The unprotected live in it. …The protected are the accomplished, the secure, the successful—those who have power or access to it. They are protected from much of the roughness of the world. …They are figures in government, politics and media. They live in nice neighborhoods, safe ones. Their families function, their kids go to good schools, they’ve got some money. All of these things tend to isolate them, or provide buffers. …They’re insulated from many of the effects of their own decisions. …This is a terrible feature of our age—that we are governed by protected people who don’t seem to care that much about their unprotected fellow citizens.

I think there's something to this.

Also: a lot of political rhetoric exploits the fear people have of losing their perceived "protected" status.

More on this, someday, maybe.


■ A trio of NRO writers (Doug Badger, Marie Fishpaw, Michael Needham) look ahead to The GOP’s Coming Obamacare Capitulation.

Since late last year, GOP leaders have been planning to pump tens of billions of dollars’ worth of new federal spending into the veins of insurance companies that are hemorrhaging red ink on the Obamacare exchanges.

The transfusion is expected to be a concoction of two bills. The first, championed by Sens. Lamar Alexander (R., Tenn.) and Patty Murray (D., Wash.), would appropriate cost-sharing-reduction payments to insurers. The second, sponsored by Sens. Susan Collins (R., Maine) and Bill Nelson (D., Fla.), would give insurers an additional $10 billion (and perhaps more) in federal cash.

Both bills are a distraction and fail to address the real reasons Obamacare is driving up premium costs and reducing Americans’ insurance options. Republicans would be better off focusing on these problems, rather than diverting their attention to side matters.

Well, sure they would. Will they? Not for nothing do they call it the "Stupid Party".


■ At Reason, Nick Gillespie has more on the memo: "Selective Surveillance Outrage" and "Situational Libertarianism" Isn't Good Enough, Congress!

Somehow, Republicans who typically worship at the cult of the surveillance state are now accusing the FBI of being nothing more than an arm of Hillary Clinton's election effort. And Democrats who screamed bloody murder about Bush-era overreaching are now shocked as hell that anyone anywhere would ever question the sagacity of the national surveillance state.

If our pols and their tribal cheerleaders didn't have double standards, they wouldn't have any at all.


■ On a related matter, the WSJ's James Freeman writes on Obama and the FISA Court. A lot there, and it's probably paywalled, sorry, but this stuck out for me:

Readers concerned about the government’s surveillance authority may be interested to know about one current member of the Intelligence committee who began focusing on this issue all the way back in the George W. Bush administration.

In March of 2007, he announced that he was “deeply troubled” by what he called “abuses of authority” by the FBI in acquiring personal information on U.S. citizens. Over the years, he urged various restrictions on the ability of the executive branch to get information on Americans’ phone calls. In order “to protect privacy and increase transparency” he sought in various ways to reform the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court—the very court that approved the electronic surveillance of a Trump associate for reasons that are still not entirely clear.

Way ahead of the news, this particular lawmaker specifically introduced the “Ending Secret Law Act” which according to a press release from his office, “would require the Attorney General to declassify significant Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) opinions, allowing Americans to know how the Court has interpreted” its legal authorities.

This lawmaker said that his legislation “will help ensure we have true checks and balances when it comes to the judges who are given the responsibility of overseeing our most sensitive intelligence gathering and national security programs.”

And that man's name was (drumroll) Adam Schiff.


■ An amusing LTE in the Union Leader from Jeffrey Barnes of Deerfield rang the LFOD bell: New to New Hampshire

Although I've been a resident of this state for less than eight weeks, which makes me a carpetbagger, I wonder why the sale of beer occurs at gas stations.

It may be the "Live Free or Die" a slogan that drew me to this state. I'm no teetotaller and I like the quote "A saint is a sinner who lives his best in a world at its worst." Therefore, I'd ask what is the wisdom in selling beer at gas stations? If there is not much wisdom in this current modality, what can be done to fix this situation?

I'm not a politician. I just hate to see alchohol-induced injuries and deaths, court proceedings, and wrecks. I hope I've not offended on what for some is a touchy issue.

Jeffrey, you haven't noticed the state liquor stores with their own turnpike exits?

Anyway, Google does not find any easy answer to which states allow beer to be sold at gas stations. I'm pretty sure it's not just us. I did find this guide for beer snoots: Your Best Gas Station Beers. (Spoiler: Sierra Nevada if possible; Miller High Life a last resort.)

Also this 2009 story: Brewery Draws Ire for Naming Beers After N.J. Turnpike Exits. Yes, some nanny staters are very quick to take humorless offense. Mindy Lazar, executive director of New Jersey's chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, is quoted:

"The combination of a roadway and advertising for any kind of a beer doesn't make any kind of sense," she said. "This is almost a mockery."

Advice to Mindy: if you want to avoid being mocked, don't be ridiculous.

Note that even though the story is from 2009, the Flying Fish Exit Series is still going strong. (Except that as I type "Exit 1 Bayshore Oyster Stout" is unavailable.)