A recent selection from the Harvard Book Store…

For the kids…

Lying to children:

(I don’t know how many people over age 50 would agree with “It feels good to be yourself” and certainly many of us would need a week to recover from sitting on the ground in those positions.)

The books popular with shoppers in Cambridge do not suggest a high degree of self-doubt, but just in case:

What about the #1 example of wrongness in our society?

On the unfortunate fact that not every American voter follows the lead of the coastal elite and the required “nonviolent rebellion” that is necessary to erase the illegitimate votes:

A 1973 book on now-discredited second-wave feminism (also known as “equality feminism”):

(In the 50-year interval since this was published, the term “Woman” now needs a definition!)

Without women (assuming the term “women” can be defined), we would not have Mickey Mouse (perhaps the Nine Old Men actually identified as women?):

More gender binarism on parade:

For those who don’t know where to start…

Not one of these books in any way/shape/form threatens Yankee capitalist & military hegemony over the earth.

The reading list of the petit bourgeoisie (or Little Eichmanns?).

Read & reprint the queens of animation to remind us of the good old days when the economy was so bad, it took 2 incomes to feed a family instead of just a man. Suspect in those days, they were in between artists, background painters, & of course secretaries/executive assistants.

Does How to Be Gay come with illustrations? We want pictures! That’s how we learn.

Show us the right place to start, in all its graphic glory. Asking for a high-schooler.

What a world of ideas! For Harvard, I’m surprised: there aren’t enough books on impeachment yet, but I guess there are a bunch more in the pipeline. And Greta’s cartoon rendition isn’t nearly menacing enough (https://phys.org/news/2019-09-climate-striker-greta-thunberg-swedish.html).

Could they sell a book titled “How Not to be Gay?” written by a proud not-gay man, or does the Halperin book cover that by omission? Actually, you don’t have to answer that, I already know. It would have to be: “How Not to be a Gay White Man” written by a lesbian muslim. I read about the book, and I remember some of the controversy from his course at the University of Michigan. He sees gay (male) culture as distinct, culturally and even metaphysically different, and separate from the mainstream. He believes that gays are, in that sense, made as well as they are born and advocates that – for their own self-preservation and the continuation of their unique cultural niche – they need to (and should) train each other to be, well, gay (and male).

https://www.amazon.com/How-Be-Gay-David-Halperin/dp/0674283996

At least we know what the discussion topics are in the Universe that Matters, thanks for the overview.

Bill Gates took Math 55 at Harvard and passed, before he dropped out. Jordan Ellenberg got his Ph.D. in Mathematics from Harvard. You could retitle the book:

“How Not to be Wrong: Go to Harvard!”

Circling back around to female empowerment, Ellenberg twittered a link to a Harvard Crimson article chronicling women’s complaints about the Harvard Math Department, back in 2017. He thought they should eliminate Math 55 to somehow rectify that. How would eliminating the “hardest undergraduate math course in the country” taken and passed by so many successful men make it better for women who want to achieve at that level? It somehow doesn’t seem very smart to respond to lingering unpleasantries associated with “Bro culture” by saying: “Well, some of the men here are execrable, so we’ll respond by not letting you take the same course Bill Gates and Richard Stallman took. Nobody – including you – will ever know if you could have achieved at that level. That’ll show ’em.”

https://twitter.com/JSEllenberg/status/921806533767426048

https://www.thecrimson.com/article/2017/10/20/everyday-struggle-women-math/

More fun facts about Math 55:

https://bestlifeonline.com/math-55-harvard/

“Many more men enroll in the Math 55 courses than women. According to a report in the Harvard Crimson, just 17 women took the course between 1990 and 2006. In 2015, no women completed Math 55a.” So if so few enrolled, is it because they didn’t want to take the class, or because they were discriminated against somehow?

I wonder what books at the top universities in China and Russia are selling?

Looking at Math 55, how hard can a first year math course be?

Did a search and found the following

http://people.math.harvard.edu/~elkies/M55a.10/index.html

http://linear.axler.net/LADRvideos.html

This does not look like first year math, it looks like the mathematical equivalent of water boarding!

A bunch of us should sign up and see if we can keep up with the whipper snappers taking the course 🙂

Although going through Feynman’s Lectures would probably be more fun

https://www.feynmanlectures.caltech.edu/

@Pavel:

Indeed it is. Math 55 is an esoteric, graduate level course for Math Concentrators at Harvard, and the attrition rate and degree of difficulty are fairly described as “abandon all hope ye who enter here” unless this subject comes to them like a water to a duck. It’s proof intensive and definitely not for dilettantes, or even people who consider themselves to be “good at math.” Double-majors need not apply. The course’s reputation is that the instructor can make it arbitrarily difficult to borderline impossible.

From the Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Math_55) entry:

“Though Math 55 bore the official title “Honors Advanced Calculus and Linear Algebra,” advanced topics in complex analysis, point set topology, group theory, and differential geometry could be covered in depth at the discretion of the instructor, in addition to single and multivariable real analysis as well as abstract linear algebra. In 1970, for example, students studied the differential geometry of Banach manifolds in the second semester of Math 55.”

The last time I touched a textbook involving any of those subjects was more than two decades ago. I’m quite sure I wouldn’t make the cut without a miraculous infusion of 20 IQ points, a year of preparation and a trip to the Fountain of Youth. Even then I wouldn’t be as good as anyone who signs up for the course and drops out, irrespective of gender. Way beyond my abilities.

I’ve known three or maybe four people in my entire life that I think could pass Math 55. There was one guy I knew at Johns Hopkins took the equivalent types of courses as an undergraduate math/physics double major, he could probably have handled it. He was the kind of person who was a much smarter when he was drunk than most people will ever be when they’re sober, a real “finish your sentences for you and correct your logic” kind of mind. I once asked him about the textbook for one of his courses, his reply was: “There isn’t one.” He’s an intellectual property lawyer now!