Vicksburg – well, first, Grant more broadly – (and an amusing time-traveling sidetrack to Gettysburg)

unconditional surrender grant clipped

Grant at Ft. Donelson

So I really want to concentrate on Vicksburg but because Vicksburg was really about long, difficult, and seemingly endless preparation and because in that situation the purely personal relationships are key – and because Steve Knott’s Army War College lecture is so good – I’m going to put it up first so that at least I will have it close by to liven up my swamp digging siege stuff.

Let Steve Knot tell you why Confederate Maj. Gen. J.E.B. Stuart ended up in Carlisle while the rest of the Confederates were converging on Gettysburg. Then we’ll head back to the long slog at Vicksburg.

Actually, you know what, before the terrain heavy, tactical, and brilliant siege Grant laid to Vicksburg, I think, because this is my own damn blog and I can put up any damn thing I want, it is my pleasure to just roll around in the amazingness of Grant in general and this, in my humble opinion, is one of the best takes on him that exists.

The Generalship of Ulysses S. Grant and the American Civil War

by

Dr. Richard J. Sommers

at the

U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center

From the YouTube description:

Ulysses S. Grant was neither a magnetic leader of Soldiers (such as George McClellan or George Patton) nor a military genius (in the mold of Robert E. Lee or Douglas MacArthur). Yet his qualities of command mark him as the best general in the Federal Army and one of the most successful generals in all of American history. Most significantly, he understood how to convert advantages into achievements. Our February program analyzes the generalship of Ulysses S. Grant, identifies his many strengths as a military commander, and yet also acknowledges limitations in his leadership. The presentation proceeds to place his generalship in the overall context of the American Civil War.

 

 

 

Poker (BOO!)

BOO!

InkedStalkedYouEnoughTightRATIO-4.3.jpg_LI.jpg

While I expound on Chess as a analogy for everything it is not at all the analogy in my head. My go-to analogy is always, always, Poker. Poker before it got cool. Poker before TV.

Not just one game over and over and over.

A game that changes with each new pot. Spit in the Ocean. Mexican Sweat. Five Card Stud. Seven Card Stud. Sometimes even Five Card Draw, but not as often. And of course, sometimes, Hold ‘Em. But it should be realized at the outset that Hold ‘Em takes the traditional variables that remove Poker from the traditional realm of the statistically predictable games and makes Poker something odds can once again be placed on, and therefore more easily bet on like a horse race.

Because a statistician watching a game of Seven Card Stud  has as much chance at predicting the winner by using magic as he would using math. Texas Hold ‘Em does, indeed save some secrets in the hole cards, but in a shoe of one deck that is beautifully more illuminated than the solidity of statistical predictions on Blackjack.

And since it appears almost everyone alive dates their entire experience with poker to some time after “Rounders” you wouldn’t understand what an exceptional opening generalization poker really is.

BOO!

 

Key to speeding up carbon sequestration discovered

Key to speeding up carbon sequestration discovered

 

Image_Credit--Adam Subhas-Caltech

Image credit: Adam Subhas/Caltech

 

From EurekAlert.org via Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, comes some very hopeful news for the planet:

Scientists at Caltech and USC have discovered a way to speed up the slow part of the chemical reaction that ultimately helps the earth to safely lock away, or sequester, carbon dioxide into the ocean. Simply adding a common enzyme to the mix, the researchers have found, can make that rate-limiting part of the process go 500 times faster.

A paper about the work appears online the week of July 17 ahead of publication in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

 

 

MIT – Greatest Hits

Kick it up a notch?

Intro to Solid State Chemistry – MIT 3.091

(When MIT makes statements like “introductory level” I don’t think they have a normal concept of the term. Nonetheless, no harm, no foul. And one of their very best courses with one of the very best professors, Prof. Grossman, is also one of the most generous with texts, discussions, and even the actual certificate, which is free.)

do yourself a solid.JPG

One of the very best things about MOOCs is the free textbooks (or portions of textbooks) so often included in them. A gazillion years ago, when I was in school, a science textbook averaged $150.

(And science majors rarely have the luxury of getting to buy a used textbook.)

Again, with MOOCs you can poke around. Visit. See what you like. Sometimes you’ll surprise yourself. Even some subjects with work beyond what you feel you could manage in the strictest sense can still be fascinating.

(So don’t be intimidated just because the first question on the first quiz is this)

Thermite reaction:

The thermite reaction, used to weld rails together in the building of railroads, occurs when iron(III) oxide (Fe2O3) reacts with elemental aluminum to produce aluminum oxide (Al2O3) and elemental iron.
(a) Write a balanced equation for this reaction, using any correct set of coefficients. Depict the reaction arrow (⟶) as ‘->’.

And if you’re not at all intimidated by it, do yourself a solid

Dive in!

MOOC Mania

 

I have become a certified MOOC freak. There are several different platforms for MOOCS – Massive Open Online Courses – such as edX and Coursera, and happily many others are available on YouTube. (Many are available through those platforms as well as on YouTube.)

I prefer the edX platform if I use one. I have never gotten a certificate or worried about that at all, so I ride free, just for the joy of cramming my ever-curious mind.

What’s so amazing is that anyone at all can, for free, peek in at some of the most elite and incredible classes being taught today.

Harvard’s most popular course, Justice,” for instance, taught by Professor Michael Sandel, is a class everyone should at least check out. I am big on “archived” courses, because they are always “self-paced,” but Justice actually just began again for real, so check it out.

Here’s the little course intro video and text below:

Taught by lauded Harvard professor Michael Sandel, Justice explores critical analysis of classical and contemporary theories of justice, including discussion of present-day applications. Topics include affirmative action, income distribution, same-sex marriage, the role of markets, debates about rights (human rights and property rights), arguments for and against equality, dilemmas of loyalty in public and private life. The course invites learners to subject their own views on these controversies to critical examination.
The principal readings for the course are texts by Aristotle, John Locke, Immanuel Kant, John Stuart Mill, and John Rawls. Other assigned readings include writings by contemporary philosophers, court cases, and articles about political controversies that raise philosophical questions.

Other favorites of mine are Boston University’s War for the Greater Middle East taught by the amazing Andrew Bacevich – archived now at edX – and all three of the foremost Lincoln/Civil War Historian’s – (Dr. Eric Foner’s) – courses on Civil War and Reconstruction from Columbia University.

Jump in!