The Fortress of Solitude

 Posted by on March 18, 2013  Modern Fiction
Mar 182013
The Fortress of Solitude

I originally read this book as a book club pick during high school.  Getting started was almost painfully slow.  Jonathan Lethem’s writing style seemed to be defined by an odd compilation of sentences that never quite came together in the end.  In places, the narration seemed like a completely unedited stream of consciousness that had been put to paper in a creative “frenzy” late one night. Once I was a decent way into Part I of the book, however, reading was more bearable, even if I was still irritated by stylistic choices.  I struggled to finish the book, especially as [Read More…]

Religion and the Founding of America

 Posted by on December 23, 2012  Politics
Dec 232012

“I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their ‘legislature’ should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation between church and State […]” – Thomas Jefferson, in an 1802 letter to a Baptist congregation The role of religion in the founding of America is widely debated.  Various pieces of evidence – the religious beliefs of the Founding Fathers, mentions of God or “a Creator” in founding documents, and the text of the Establishment Clause – are all cited in the [Read More…]

Nov 182012
Memorable Moments in Slaughterhouse Five

I recently read Slaughterhouse Five, by Kurt Vonnegut.  It is commonly listed as a great American classic, widely prescribed as required reading in grade school, and often described as an anti-war novel.  My impression of it was slightly different. I found Slaughterhouse Five to be an stark tribute to the confused nature of a human search for meaning in life, and the problems we all have when coping with grief and loss.  The protagonist of the novel, Billy Pilgrim, does not live according to a linear conception of time.  He jumps around, informing the reader of various significant moments in [Read More…]

The Old Man and the Sea

 Posted by on November 4, 2012  Modern Fiction
Nov 042012
The Old Man and the Sea

This short and much-read classic has quite a reputation preceding it.  After reading the book, it is obvious that The Old Man and the Sea has rightfully earned all of the praise bestowed upon it.  On the surface, it is a simple tale of an old sailor’s struggle to bring in the fish he has fought while out at sea.  Yet a closer reading of Hemingway’s prose reveals much more of this novella’s message.  It tells of a man’s ability to overcome adversity, to remain focused on the “prize” despite the odds, and to reap the sweet victory of triumph.  [Read More…]

Nov 012012
Network Analysis: Using Math to Find Criminals

Back in February, I participated in the Interdisciplinary Competition in Mathematics (ICM).  The ICM, which is run every year by the Consortium for Mathematics and its Applications, challenges undergraduate students to devise a solution to a single, multifaceted problem. The 2012 problem focused on dynamic network analysis – using mathematics in an attempt to analyze a network of numerous interconnected nodes, and subsequently drawing a conclusion about the network and its members.  Specifically, the problem asked competitors to analyze a network of 83 employees at a small company.  Each individual was a node in the network, and email communications between [Read More…]