About

The logo of this blog is a diagram of the quadratrix of Hippias.

Quadratrix of Hippias

The name of this blog, Polytropy, is derived from the tagline, Ἄνδρα μοι ἔννεπε, μοῦσα, πολύτροπον, ὃς μάλα πολλὰ πλάγχθη. This is the beginning of Homer’s Odyssey. With some embellishment, Robert Fitzgerald (1961) translates the phrase as,

Sing in me, Muse, and through me tell the story
of that man skilled in all ways of contending,
the wanderer, harried for years on end.

More recently and succinctly, Emily Wilson (2018) has

Tell me about a complicated man.
Muse, tell me how he wandered and was lost…

Of the key adjective πολύτροπος (polytropos) describing Odysseus, the root meaning is “turning many ways.”

My choice of topics in this blog may turn many ways; so may the thread of an individual post. I tend to pursue or suggest tangents, despite the warning I encountered in an essay by Zat Rana called “The Philosopher’s Problem: When and Why Thinking Can Be Harmful” (Medium, February 15, 2017):

Not every tangent we think about is worth exploring. Not every idea that pops up is worth considering. Not every nuance needs to be given its time.

I take this blog as being precisely a place to explore tangents and consider ideas that pop up. Often these ideas are keyed to specific texts; my posts may then be notes on these texts. I do intend for each post to be readable, with a common thread, though it may become tangled.

My name is David Pierce. You can read about me on my Wikipedia page; you can see the ideas with which I started this blog in my first post, “Hello world!” published May 29, 2012.

WordPress provides the facility to “categorize” and “tag” posts. In one metaphor, the categories are the blog’s table of contents; the tags, its index. Categories can have a hierarchy; tags cannot. Since again my posts are often a way to combine disparate ideas, I have been uncertain how to use categories. The ones I have settled on at any moment are in the left column of every page, shown as a hierarchy. An individual post can have many categories. The hierarchy itself is imprecise. My current sense is that if a person or idea is worth tagging in a sufficient number of posts—and that number can be as low as two—then the tag should become a category, so that it can be shown in the hierarchy.

Some key categories are available also from the row at the top of each page, below the tagline. With the links there, I may have provided a page of description, in addition to a list of posts.

Below is a list of all of my posts, in chronological order. In order to number and date them, I have had to break up the entire list; I have done this by year. In WordPress lingo, the “archivesshortcode will list all posts, but without the extra features possible with “display-posts”—which however has a length limit of one hundred.

2012

  1. Hello world! (May 29, 2012)
  2. Basil II (May 30, 2012)
  3. The swift (June 4, 2012)
  4. Aristotle on Heraclitus (June 6, 2012)
  5. Logic (notes on the finger-wagging Cratylus) (June 8, 2012)
  6. Strunk and White (June 19, 2012)
  7. Michael Psellus on learning (November 6, 2012)
  8. Science and anti-science (November 21, 2012)
  9. On reading too much into words (November 22, 2012)
  10. The point of teaching mathematics (December 26, 2012)

2013

  1. Similar images of different saints (March 1, 2013)
  2. The von Neumann natural numbers: a fractal-like image (April 10, 2013)
  3. Self-similarity (April 12, 2013)
  4. Limits (May 4, 2013)
  5. Learning mathematics (May 14, 2013)
  6. Occupy Istanbul Taksim Gezi Parkı (May 30, 2013)
  7. Police against all (May 31, 2013)
  8. May Day One Month Late (June 3, 2013)
  9. Books hung out with (June 25, 2013)
  10. Pairing of paintings (July 9, 2013)
  11. More pairings (July 23, 2013)
  12. Psychology (August 28, 2013)
  13. The Tradition of Western Philosophy (September 10, 2013)

2014

  1. A personal overview of Collingwood’s New Leviathan (January 7, 2014)
  2. NL I: “Body and Mind” (January 13, 2014)
  3. Give childhood back to children (January 15, 2014)
  4. Copyright (January 15, 2014)
  5. Hrant Dink assassination: 7th anniversary (January 19, 2014)
  6. NL II: “The Relation Between Body and Mind” (January 20, 2014)
  7. Self-similarity again (January 21, 2014)
  8. On the NL (New Leviathan) Posts (January 23, 2014)
  9. NL III: “Body As Mind” (January 25, 2014)
  10. Freedom of will (January 26, 2014)
  11. NL IV: “Feeling” (February 3, 2014)
  12. Burgazada (February 14, 2014)
  13. NL V: “The Ambiguity of Feeling” (February 17, 2014)
  14. NL VI: “Language” (February 27, 2014)
  15. Funeral march for Berkin Elvan (March 13, 2014)
  16. NL VI: “Language,” again (March 31, 2014)
  17. An afterbirthday message (March 31, 2014)
  18. Cogito ne demek? (April 11, 2014)
  19. Madness, stupidity, or evil? (May 2, 2014)
  20. NL VII: “Appetite” (May 5, 2014)
  21. June in the New World (June 20, 2014)
  22. NL VIII: “Hunger and Love” (June 30, 2014)
  23. Interconnectedness (June 30, 2014)
  24. Two women (June 30, 2014)
  25. Şirince 2014 (July 19, 2014)
  26. Facts (NL IX, ‘Retrospect,’ first 6 paragraphs) (August 1, 2014)
  27. Istanbul, August 1, 2014 (August 1, 2014)
  28. Freedom (August 4, 2014)
  29. Cosmopolitanism (August 14, 2014)
  30. Precautions (September 8, 2014)
  31. Graffiti grammar (September 15, 2014)
  32. The Parabola (October 8, 2014)
  33. The Hyperbola (October 10, 2014)
  34. Latest rise of the old moon (October 22, 2014)
  35. Hands on ≠ Minds on (November 19, 2014)
  36. Uniformity (November 21, 2014)
  37. The Istanbul Seaside (December 3, 2014)
  38. Mîna Urgan on alphabets & Atatürk (December 9, 2014)
  39. Taksim in Limbo (December 10, 2014)
  40. Istanbul in the Sun (December 12, 2014)
  41. Bosphorus Sky (December 19, 2014)
  42. Interview with Mustafa Kemal (December 26, 2014)

2015

  1. The Peace of Liberal Education (January 13, 2015)
  2. Inurement (January 15, 2015)
  3. Body and Mind (January 20, 2015)
  4. The Academic Battery Cage (January 22, 2015)
  5. Equality Is Not Identity (January 26, 2015)
  6. The Writer and the Persona (January 27, 2015)
  7. Liberation (February 5, 2015)
  8. Art on the Bosphorus (March 9, 2015)
  9. The Facebook Algorithm (March 17, 2015)
  10. Visit to the Garbage Museum (March 23, 2015)
  11. Teos (May 19, 2015)
  12. Impressionism (June 17, 2015)
  13. Joan Baez in Istanbul (July 2, 2015)
  14. Thoreau by the Aegean (August 29, 2015)
  15. Nicole at the Golden Horn (October 7, 2015)
  16. Pictures (October 13, 2015)
  17. Turks of 1071 and Today (December 1, 2015)

2016

  1. Nesin Matematik Köyü, Ocak (January) 2016 (January 26, 2016)
  2. What I loath about Facebook (February 16, 2016)
  3. Art on Büyükada (March 5, 2016)
  4. Early Tulips (March 14, 2016)
  5. Kıvanç fêted in absentia (March 22, 2016)
  6. Academic Freedom (March 25, 2016)
  7. On trial for pacifism (March 30, 2016)
  8. Free Sevan Nişanyan (April 8, 2016)
  9. 35th Istanbul Film Festival, 2016 (April 20, 2016)
  10. 35th Istanbul Film Festival, 2016, part 2 (April 22, 2016)
  11. 35th Istanbul Film Festival, 2016, part 3 (April 25, 2016)
  12. Rock & Roll (June 1, 2016)
  13. Surgery & Recovery (June 13, 2016)
  14. One & Many (June 20, 2016)
  15. Narnia (June 22, 2016)
  16. Life in Wartime (June 29, 2016)
  17. War Continues (July 16, 2016)
  18. Thinking & Feeling (July 20, 2016)
  19. All You Need Is Love (August 2, 2016)
  20. Pyrgos Island (August 12, 2016)
  21. Beykoz, Istanbul (August 16, 2016)
  22. Happiness (November 3, 2016)
  23. What Now (November 12, 2016)
  24. How to Learn about People (November 13, 2016)
  25. Attribution of Fascism (December 11, 2016)
  26. Smarts and Intelligence (December 12, 2016)
  27. Thales of Miletus (December 24, 2016)

2017

  1. The geometry of numbers in Euclid (January 2, 2017)
  2. Confessions (January 4, 2017)
  3. Şirince January 2017 (January 17, 2017)
  4. Writing, Typography, and Nature (January 22, 2017)
  5. NL IX: “Retrospect” (February 8, 2017)
  6. NL X: “Passion” (February 9, 2017)
  7. NL XI: “Desire” (February 10, 2017)
  8. NL XII: “Happiness” (February 11, 2017)
  9. NL XIII: “Choice” (February 12, 2017)
  10. NL XIV: “Reason” (February 13, 2017)
  11. NL XV: “Utility” (February 14, 2017)
  12. NL XVI: “Right” (February 15, 2017)
  13. NL XVII: “Duty” (February 16, 2017)
  14. NL XVIII: “Theoretical Reason” (February 17, 2017)
  15. Freedom to Listen (February 26, 2017)
  16. Duty to Nature (February 28, 2017)
  17. Community (March 9, 2017)
  18. Nature and Death (March 10, 2017)
  19. Feyhaman Duran (March 19, 2017)
  20. Victor Vasarely (March 26, 2017)
  21. The Hands of an Angry Deity (April 2, 2017)
  22. Homer for the Civilian (April 8, 2017)
  23. On Chapman’s Homer’s Iliad, Book I (April 14, 2017)
  24. 36th Istanbul Film Festival, 2017 (April 18, 2017)
  25. Thinking in the age of cyborgs (April 19, 2017)
  26. On Chapman’s Homer’s Iliad, Book II (April 24, 2017)
  27. Edirne (May 6, 2017)
  28. The Private, Unskilled One (May 19, 2017)
  29. On Chapman’s Homer’s Iliad, Book III (June 5, 2017)
  30. War and Talk (June 18, 2017)
  31. Hypomnesis (July 30, 2017)
  32. Ahtamar Island (August 30, 2017)
  33. NL XIX: Two Senses of the Word “Society” (September 1, 2017)
  34. On Chapman’s Homer’s Iliad, Book IV (September 2, 2017)
  35. NL XX: Society and Community (September 5, 2017)
  36. On Chapman’s Homer’s Iliad, Book V (September 7, 2017)
  37. NL XXI: Society as Joint Will (September 9, 2017)
  38. On Chapman’s Homer’s Iliad, Book VI (September 11, 2017)
  39. NL XXII: The Family As a Mixed Community (September 12, 2017)
  40. On Chapman’s Homer’s Iliad, Book VII (September 13, 2017)
  41. NL XXIII: The Family As a Society (September 15, 2017)
  42. On Chapman’s Homer’s Iliad, Book VIII (September 16, 2017)
  43. NL XXIV: The Body Politic, Social and Non-Social (September 17, 2017)
  44. On Chapman’s Homer’s Iliad, Book IX (September 23, 2017)
  45. NL XXV: The Three Laws of Politics (September 28, 2017)
  46. Romance (October 8, 2017)
  47. Fascism As Abetted by Realism (October 10, 2017)
  48. Women and Men (October 11, 2017)
  49. Some Say Poetry (November 6, 2017)
  50. What Philosophy Is (November 21, 2017)

2018

  1. Şirince January 2018 (February 4, 2018)
  2. The Tree of Life (February 12, 2018)
  3. On Knowing Ourselves (March 3, 2018)
  4. Boolean Arithmetic (May 5, 2018)
  5. Effectiveness (May 17, 2018)
  6. What It Takes (May 26, 2018)
  7. Re-enactment (June 4, 2018)
  8. Çarşamba Tour, April 2018 (July 2, 2018)
  9. Samatya Tour, July 2018 (July 5, 2018)
  10. A New Kind of Science (July 10, 2018)
  11. Writing and Inversion (July 14, 2018)
  12. Writing Rules (July 15, 2018)
  13. Şişli Tour, July 2018 (July 19, 2018)
  14. An Indictment (July 20, 2018)
  15. Eastern Black Sea Yayla Tour (August 5, 2018)
  16. On Chapman’s Homer’s Iliad, Book X (August 28, 2018)
  17. NL XXVI: Democracy and Aristocracy (August 29, 2018)
  18. On Chapman’s Homer’s Iliad, Book XI (August 31, 2018)
  19. NL XXVII: Force in Politics (September 1, 2018)
  20. On Chapman’s Homer’s Iliad, Book XII (September 1, 2018)
  21. NL XXVIII: The Forms of Political Action (September 2, 2018)
  22. On Chapman’s Homer’s Iliad, Book XIII (September 3, 2018)
  23. NL XXIX: External Politics (September 4, 2018)
  24. On Chapman’s Homer’s Iliad, Book XIV (September 5, 2018)
  25. NL XXX: War As the Breakdown of Policy (September 6, 2018)
  26. NL XXXI: Classical Physics and Classical Politics (September 8, 2018)
  27. NL XXXII: Society and Nature in the Classical Politics (September 9, 2018)
  28. NL XXXIII: Decline of the Classical Politics (September 10, 2018)
  29. NL XXXIV: What Civilization Means Generically (September 14, 2018)
  30. NL XXXV: What Civilization Means Specifically (September 17, 2018)
  31. NL XXXVI: The Essence of Civilization (September 18, 2018)
  32. NL XXXVII: Civilization As Education (September 20, 2018)
  33. NL XXXVIII: Civilization and Wealth (September 21, 2018)
  34. NL XXXIX: Law and Order (September 23, 2018)
  35. NL XL: Peace and Plenty (September 25, 2018)
  36. NL XLI: What Barbarism Is (September 27, 2018)
  37. NL XLII: The First Barbarism: The Saracens (October 1, 2018)
  38. NL XLIII: The Second Barbarism: The ‘Albigensian Heresy’ (October 13, 2018)
  39. Antitheses (December 13, 2018)
  40. On Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorem (December 15, 2018)

2019

  1. Logic of Elliptic Curves (January 6, 2019)
  2. A Defense (January 12, 2019)
  3. NL XLIV: The Turks (February 20, 2019)
  4. NL XLV: The Germans (February 21, 2019)
  5. Piety (March 14, 2019)
  6. We the Pears of the Wild Coyote Tree (April 15, 2019)
  7. Elliptical Affinity (April 17, 2019)
  8. NL I: “Body and Mind” Again (August 17, 2019)
  9. On Causation (August 20, 2019)
  10. On Being Given to Know (August 24, 2019)
  11. Math, Maugham, and Man (September 1, 2019)
  12. A Final Statement (September 16, 2019)
  13. On Chapman’s Homer’s Iliad, Book XV (September 17, 2019)
  14. On Chapman’s Homer’s Iliad, Book XVI (September 18, 2019)
  15. On Chapman’s Homer’s Iliad, Book XVII (September 19, 2019)

For my own future reference, I give here some information about how I lay out my pages. To increase physical readability, I narrow the text of articles by beginning each one with the code,

<div style="text-align:justify;
            margin-left:10%;
            margin-right:10%;">

and ending with

</div>

Without the end tag, the sidebars don’t display properly. One of the more elaborate WordPress themes would provide the same effect; but as far as I can tell, the theme would also set block quotations in italics, and I do not want this. Italics are already used to emphasize words and phrases within a text; to emphasize that an extended passage is a quotation, well, that it was what the indentation of a “block quotation” is for.

I prefer that block quotations have a smaller font size than the main text. I achieve this with the code,

<blockquote style="font-size:90%;">

In preparing these very notes, I originally had difficulty displaying code as code. First I tried just using the tag

<code>

but then this stopped working as expected. I found some explanation of the problem in an article, “Writing Code in Your Posts,” but following the advice here was not enough either. Finally, from “Posting Source Code,” I learned to replace the angle brackets with square brackets.

For centering poetry horizontally, I have learned to use the code

margin-left:auto;
margin-right:auto;
display:table;

as described at the end of the article “Some Say Poetry.”

2 Comments

  1. Robert Fenton Gary
    Posted December 7, 2012 at 1:33 am | Permalink | Reply

    OK, here I am Fenton visiting your blog. I see that you are a teacher of math, and would be most interested to know in some detail how you feel about my post today on my FB page (6 Dec 2012) about “High Performance Math” as an aspect of Fentonian Education. I’m working on the theory that you start with math that is maximally useful and minimally painful. It’s math that right now today the kid can use to run a small business, or make a bet, or design a product, or decide on a purchase. So, it’s Kid-Centric not Egghead-Centric. It starts with serving the kid. Showing him that math has value to him. After that, and when he gains some real math power, just using painless math, the kid can take a real interest in why Rolle’s Theorem is essential to Cauchy’s Theorem, and whether Hospitalier’s Theorem was ever adequately proved to the satisfaction of Courant and Hilbert. Yes, all that comes (or doesn’t) later, and in the meantime my kids have a happy, positive, skill-building experience in their learning of something that’s a bit like math (but not according to the imbecile Department of Education, who really are fools and dunces, and totally devoid of innovative potential).

  2. Posted December 23, 2014 at 10:32 am | Permalink | Reply

    Hello David…

    Here’s a little message from Türkiye to say “thank you”. I appreciate your recent ‘follow’, knowing how many interesting and entertaining blogs there are out there.

    Blogging since June 2013, my little corner of the world tries to offer an eclectic smattering of posts, from basic amateur photography, to sharing my travel adventures over the decades, as well as day to day happenings here on our fruit farm in southern Turkey. I also throw in a few of my observations on life and lighter-hearted stuff for good measure.

    You are more than welcome to have a look around, stay a while and have a trawl through my small collection. There are plenty of drop-down categories within the menu bar to help in said digging process. Of course, if you have any comments, suggestions or concerns, feel free to let me know – I’m not easily offended 🙂

    Thanks again and hope you have a great day…

    UNCLE SPIKE
    uncle.spikes.adventures1@gmail.com

One Trackback

  1. By A Defense « Polytropy on January 12, 2019 at 1:27 pm

    […] About […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: