Showing posts from May, 2016

An Elephantine Caper

Shanti LBJ - the little big Jumbo

When a few American politicians and bureaucrats, especially the kind who like practical jokes, bored with the goings on in Capitol Hill, get together, what would you think could happen? This is such a story, an incredible one and as I often think about it and smile, I wonder if the offices of Hilary Clinton or Bernie Sanders could ever be home to such mirth. The 60’s was according to Senator Jim Wright, a time when politics was fun. As he put it, in the heady days of the New Frontier and the Great Society, before the Vietnam War split the country into angry camps, political practitioners enjoyed their trade.

The date was the 27th of Dec 1963, and Texas state senator and democrat Don Kennard of Fort Worth was on his way to a pre New Year party in Athens, TX. Kennard later famed for his herculean filibuster efforts, was one of the most vibrant senators of his time, a bear of a man who enjoyed a good story and always one who possessed a hearty laugh (Pau…

Charles Whish At Calicut, and the Madhava School

The man who discovered the medieval Madhava school of Kerala Mathematics

Whish was certainly some character. At an age when many others toyed around with other exciting facets of human life, Whish studied Indian languages, excelled in Sanskrit and Malayalam, wrote and published the very first book ever written on Malayalam grammar, studied various Hindu scriptures, the Malabar Zodiac, their alphabetical notations of numerals and finally perused the complicated works of mathematics scholars. Remember now that we are talking about a person who predated Gundert and Logan, who incidentally spent entire days as an Assistant criminal judge in Calicut, just a few decades after the English (We are now talking about the 1820-1834 time frame) had finally got a foothold in India. He cultivated friendships with the learned people in Calicut and Malabar and understood not only their psyche, but also got close enough to understand the religious scriptures and astronomy and astrological methods. By …