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Toxic academic mentors

Man of Roma:

Tenure, She Wrote

Magistri Mendaces

καὶ ἐν ὑμῖν ἔσονται ψευδοδιδάσκαλοι
in vobis erunt magistri mendaces
2 Peter 2.1

ψ

Mentors are important for a young person’s mind, in Academia and elsewhere.

Like all of us, made poorer by a fraudulent economy, a youth’s mind can be treated similarly by toxic mentors

This post is about them.

[Courtesy of drmellivora from @Tenure, She wrote]

Originally posted on Tenure, She Wrote:

Unfortunately for potential scientists, professors don’t receive any formal training in mentoring – and a disastrous mentoring situation can derail a trainee’s career.  Although some professors go out of their way to think about mentoring (see Acclimatrix’s post), and many want to be good mentors, the truth is there are some downright awful ones out there.  So what creates a ‘toxic’ mentoring relationship?  To me, the worst relationships happen when the person in power (the mentor) takes advantage of the mentee’s work without sufficient regard for their career and mental health.  Unfortunately, I’ve never been part of a department where there wasn’t at least one professor that “everyone” knew was a toxic mentor.  Some examples include:

  • One who drags out a student’s defense date for years because of limited resources for that type of research (doesn’t want the competition)
  • One who blocks mentee publications or degrees by putting up…

View original 1,592 more words

“As long as I live they too will live inside me and battle, positively and fruitfully, giving me strength.” Dialectics (3)

"Maddening, beautiful, magical, horrible, painful, wonderful, joyous thing": Love

“Maddening, beautiful, magical, horrible, painful, wonderful, joyous thing”: Love. And its ‘fruits’? Click for credits and to enlarge

 

Furious Love’s Children

We have talked about two (human) trees dialectically intertwined in furious love.

Will English philosopher (and Sci-Fi writer) Olaf Stapledon from Seacombe possibly shed light on other species’ (or aliens’) love?

Or Hegel ? Or Darwin?
[tough, I know, though tougher than it seems: pls go on reader]

ψ

In the meanwhile we’ll continue with this ‘maddening love’ thing yet from the view-point of its ‘fruits’.

Children.

What happens to the fruits of struggling lovers?

No output here (am I right?) though maddening non the less

No output here (am I right?) though ‘maddening’ none the less. Click for credits

To Anju (Nomad) & to Reema,
Bengali Sisters

We all have (or have had) parents therefore all readers /writers are ‘children’, figli.

Now, my dear Indian bloggers being the first ones to baptize the Man of Roma I hence feel affection to all of them:

[Ashish the GeekWrestler, the first commentator ever of this blog; Poonam Sharma; Ishmeet; Nita J. Kulkarni; Devinder; Amith; Chandrahas; Falcon;  Destination Infinity; Anshul, Usha; Shefali.. the list is not complete damn. It will be]

ψ

Two Bengali sisters are though important here from a certain angle.

Mario: “Don’t get it. Bengali Indians and NOT all Indians?”
Manius:Sir Rabindranath Tagore is Bengali: a genius polymath shedding light, in his sublime way, on harmonious Love, among the rest. Giovanni btw knows only two Bengali bloggers.”

Exactly.

This post is in fact dedicated to Anju and Reema

[whose parents being ‘harmonious’ were though man and woman, ie different]

Let us start.

Nikos Kazantzakis’
Twin Currents of Blood

nikos kazantzakis

Nikos Kazantzakis, a modern Greek genius. Click for attribution and additional infos

How do children from ‘struggling’ loves react?

In his spiritual autobiography (Report to Greco) Greek Nikos Kazantzakis from Crete (Νίκος Καζαντζάκης, 1883 – 1957) mentions several times this crucial relationship that shaped his life (and work.)

Two quotes.

1. “The influence of this [….] hoax – Kazantzakis writes -, of this delusion (if it is a delusion) that twin currents of blood, Greek from my mother and Arab from my father, run in my veins, has been positive and fruitful, giving me strength, joy and wealth. My struggle to make a synthesis of these two antagonistic impulses has lent purpose and unity to my life.”

2.Both of my parents circulate in my blood, the one fierce, hard, and morose, the other tender, kind, and saintly.

I have carried them all my days; neither has died. As long as I live they too will live inside me and battle in their antithetical ways to govern my thoughts and actions.”

“My lifelong effort is to reconcile them so that one may give me their strength, the other their tenderness to make the discord between them, which breaks out incessantly within me, turn to harmony inside their son’s heart.”

 ψ

Reconcile them … eg the discord which breaks out incessantly turning to harmony. How can one not adore Kazantzakis (also for making dialectics clearer, I hope?)

রবীন্দ্রনাথ ঠাকুর

Tagore

Sir Rabindranath Tagore, Rabīndranātha Thākura, রবীন্দ্রনাথ ঠাকুর. Public domain. Click for source. Majestic and sweet

Now, look at this man, at this polymath.

Who is better than him as for harmony, struggle reconciliation – aka σύνθεσις?

[Another help for fathoming Hegelian dialectic, I do hope]

 

Piercing the Darkness of Time

Here come clips related to Tagore and the Bengali culture.

The above clip, found here, is bit westernized and mixes up Tagore‘s poems Unending Love and My Song.

A few more words on Tagore:

“Tagore (রবীন্দ্রনাথ ঠাকুর) was possibly the greatest writer in modern Indian literature, “Bengali poet, novelist, educator, who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1913. Tagore was awarded the knighthood in 1915, but he surrendered it in 1919 as a protest against the Massacre of Amritsar, where British troops killed some 400 Indian demonstrators protesting colonial laws.”

[quote credits]

ψ

 

Still have to write down a note with bibliography etc.

India's emblem

 

Previous installments:

Love Never Did Run Smooth. Dialectics (1)

WTM?!? …. Dialectics (2)

Love Never Did Run Smooth. Dialectics (1)

HUGUES

“The path of true love never did run smooth” by Talbot Hughes, English Painter (1869–1942). Many paintings from the Victorian era referred to literary quotes, like this one, whose title is from Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, I, 1, 134

“Mai al mondo fu piano e senza ostacoli il sentiero dell’Amore”

[Shakespeare-Talbot Hughes, in Italian]

ψ

Uomo e donna, complementarietà discordante, sopravvivono meglio in perenne dissonanza.

[Magister-διδάσκαλος; see his ikon, if not his face, below]

Olaf Stapledon.
“Like two close trees whose trunks …”

“ONE night when I had tasted bitterness I went out on to the hill … Overhead, obscurity. I distinguished our own house, our islet in the tumultuous and bitter currents of the world. There, for a decade and a half, we two, so different in quality, had grown in and in to one another, for mutual support and nourishment, in intricate symbiosis [...]

True, of course, that as a long-married couple we fitted rather neatly, like two close trees whose trunks have grown upwards together as a single shaft, mutually distorting, but mutually supporting. Coldly I now assessed her as merely a useful, but often infuriating adjunct to my personal life. We were on the whole sensible companions. We left one another a certain freedom, and so we were able to endure our proximity.”

[Olaf Stapledon, Star Maker, Ch. I, The Earth]

ψ

αἴνιγμα (riddle)

How do Darwin and Hegel
Enter into the Equation?

An old sage. Image is not mine but copyrighted. I have bought it

ψ

Note, to be read when despondent :-)

ψ

Tough material (for the writer as well as the reader.)

 

If it’s any consolation: even though thanks to my work with Magister, 40 years ago, I was able to absorb (in only a few months) tiny bits of the essence of Plato, Croce, Gramsci – in other words, various sides of the weird dialectics possibly invented 24 centuries ago in Athens (we’ll need to skip Indian dialectics here) …

… despite I mean this past history of sudden germination – I ran up against “Hegel’s block.”

Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel‘s dialectics proved too hard to me. Well – just the name is hard.

My Mentor kept telling me Hegel was no inferior to Plato and Aristotle. Magister being Magister, I was frustrated.

ψ

In later years I absorbed Hegel a bit by reading some Gramsci and Croce, although I sensed that Hegel’s deep core, plus the capacity (far more important) to have fun reading this Master’s works – I never quite fathomed.

A New διδάσκαλος

Now one year ago it turned (in only a few months, again!) that reading Hegel though still hard was suddenly exhilarating …

Moreover, Hegel plus evolution - eg biological science plus philosophy - were unexpectedly, rocket-like, jostling me around in outer space (from my puffy armchair, I mean) towards infinite cosmos, or κόσμος τὸ πᾶν, should one prefer.

What had happened? Another Μέντωρ-διδάσκαλος had shown himself?

ψ

Well, yes.

A shy, decent (and brilliantly creative) English philosopher from the Wirral Peninsula:

Olaf Stapledon (1886 – 1950)

Olaf Stapledon (1886 – 1950)

Copyrighted image of Olaf Stapledon. Fair use. Click for source file

Locking Horns with a Young Roman

Posted on

Originally posted on Man of Roma:

Locking Horns. Fair use

In an earlier post we had said that our writings are finding free inspiration in the technique of dialectics which involves a dialogue we carry out 1) within our mind, 2) among minds (mostly through books) and 3) with readers.

As far as point 2) since we are not important persons, hence not in a position to recreate at our place a circle with top intellectuals, this virtualSymposium is what is left to us.

Which involves a certain number of virtual guests, a virtual guest being “a quotation or just a reference to a book passage“. The ideas of an author, dead or alive, participate in the discussion thanks to the greatest invention of all time: writing.

ψ

I was trying to explain this whole “Virtual Symposium & Writing” concept to this young (and uncouth) Roman, some time ago.

We locked horns a bit, like…

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Over at Richardus’. Are Men and Women Born Different or Do They Become Such?

Posted on

Who are we, how do we get our gender identity? Click for credits

We were having a conversation over at Richardus’ coffee shop together with Dafna, Geraldine, Sledpress, Cheri, Cyberquill and Paul Costopoulos on several topics, from Alan Turing (his mathematical genius and homosexuality) to ethology – founded by the Austrian Nobel prizes Konrad Lorenz and Karl von Frisch and by the Dutch-born British Nobel prize Nikolaas Tinbergen – and up to studies comparing animal and human behaviour (human ethology).

ψ

At one point, referring to the sad case of Turing, Richardus observed:

“The story certainly taught me to accept wholly those who are harmless but different. This quiet, troubled, self-effacing, honourable genius leaves a great legacy.”

[For the sake of discussion] I replied:

“Most of those who are different are harmless. We often assume a priori that what is different is harmful. An evolutionary defence mechanism I guess. In stone age we lived in small tribes and whenever we stumbled upon someone very different 90% he / she was dangerous. Such behaviours are not easily erased but they can be overcome in some way and they should. … blah blah”.

Alan Turing

Alan Turing. Image via Wikipedia

And I mentioned ethology (a kind of evolutionary psychology.)

Sledpress: “Oh I want to know more. Some of the most enlightening things I have ever read have involved the concept of hard wired brain responses to the environment.”

Dafna: “dear MoR, thank you for the term human ethology. i will research the topic. it may shed some light on my own condition. is it a respected field?”

MoR: “Dafna,‘respected’ is a relative concept. Who is respecting? K. Lorenz and the rest are more studied in Europe than in the US for example.”

I am convinced many clashes between men and women would be avoided (or sort of) if we understood that the two genders are hard-wired differently and if each gender studied the ‘other wiring’ since school.”

K. Lorenz shared the 1973 Nobel Prize with N. Tinbergen and K. von Frisch for their studies on social behaviour patterns in animals

Paul Costopoulos: “You mean men and women are different? Hide MoR, you are in danger.”

Sledpress: “Good Lord we all know men and women are different. Women don’t kick their used underwear under the bed.”

Richardus:

Love, love, love
Is just like a Settlers Powder
Two little packets of different hue
Men in the white
Women in blue
It’s all right if you keep them apart
The only danger is
As soon as you put them together
FZZZZ – they start to fizz.”

Sledpress: “Actually, to be perfectly serious, I think it’s important to remember that we are more alike than we are different. If you want me to throw something, just mention the name of John Gray, that ‘Men Are From Mars Women Are From Venus’ guy. He even seems to know how I like to have sex. He thinks.”

Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir. Via Wikipedia. Click for image source and credits

MoR: “I agree with you Sled. ‘We are more alike than we are different’ as you say. Don’t we belong to the same species??

Let us leave alone those male imbeciles who think they know women better than women themselves: they don’t.

When for ex. Simone de Beauvoir affirms that “one is not born a woman but one becomes one” … as if being feminine (or masculine) were a sheer cultural construct, well, well, well …

[I wanted to add (but didn’t): as if, had I been forced to play with dolls, now I’d chase boys … actually it’s like I were (kinda) forced into dolls, with two sisters and 8 female cousins ALL of us often living together. That is why my next writing will consist of a poem I wrote some time ago in honour of my ‘eldest brother’, ie my best male friend from the age of 4 till 18]

Man and Woman, less different than we think, but different nonetheless. Click for image attribution

I mean, we men have penises, beards, different silhouettes etc… Women have vaginas, swollen breasts, less body hair as a tendency, different silhouettes (God be blessed). Last but not least different DNA chromosome structures (XX-XY).

How can we assume behaviour is unrelated to such physical differences and only culturally determined. We need evidence etc. etc.

Which brings us again to ethology among the rest which by comparing dozens of different species (there including humans) – as Darwin suggested – also as for their sexual behaviours etc. etc. …”

ψ

Ora nel prossimo post la poesia al mio fratello maggiore.

Roba da anni 50s-60s? Certo, ricorda quel periodo. Vedrete però voi.

The Strange Story of Manius, the Last Roman Soldier in Britannia

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Asterix Roman soldier. Click for credits and to enlarge

A silly story I wrote over at The Critical Line, where Richard, a witty lawyer from London, entertains his guests with his vast knowledge and adorable English humour.

Richard though has a problem.

He’s terribly profound in mathematics and so are many of his guests who seem to share the same horrible contagion.

But, it’d be fair to say, I am the one to have a big problem, and, what is this tale but a burst of frustration because of my mathematical ineptitude?

The Tale of Manius

English sheep. Photo by Bernard Durfee (2008). Click for credits and to enlarge

Britannia, 526 CE, in a parallel (and almost identical) universe.

The Western Roman Empire has collapsed. Angles, Saxons and Jutes are invading the Roman province of Britannia from the East. All continental Roman soldiers have gone – but the Romano-Celtic in the West are resisting bravely. Only Manius Papirius Lentulus from Roma has stayed. He lives with the barbarians but risks nothing since he’s considered innocuous by the Angles (or Angli as he says in his language.)

The last Roman soldier has made friends with a few of them: Richard (whom Manius sometimes calls Britannia), Dafna (happened there from a far away land), Cheri, Mr. Crotchety and Phil. In their abstruse language – that Manius understands a bit – they sometimes call him MoR (or, in their weird but cute Latin, Roma.)

A goose has just died for occult reasons MoR isn’t willing to investigate.

A Melodious Sequence, 1,2,3…

Manius felt sorry for the poor goose but also curious about how Cheri might prepare it for lunch.

Approaching Mr. Crotchety he told him he had been so lentus and had forgotten he had something important to tell him.

Dafna was weirdly chanting a melodious sequence of numbers:

“1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8″.

Getting closer in rapture MoR noticed Richard and Phil approaching her as well. Her song seemed the usual diatonic scale kids learn by just pressing the white keys of a keyboard, do-re-mi-fa-sol-la-si-do.

But MoR couldn’t figure out a kinda weirdness in that melody, so a stupid look froze in his face. Richard’s smile became sly instead. Phil was scribbling like crazy on a roll of papyrus.

Britannia finally lost his patience and shoved an elbow into Roma’s ribs.

“Ouch Richard!! Are you crazy??”

Then it finally hit Roma. That devil of a woman!! She was chanting her sequence according to an ancient tuning!

“Yes – said Richard triumphantly – it is the Pythagorean tuning based on a stack of perfect fifths, each tuned in the ratio 3:2. The Babylonian tuning, actually, more than 1 thousand years older than Pythagoras. Starting from D for example, the A is tuned such that the frequency ratio of A and D is 3:2, so if D is tuned to 288 Hz, then the A is tuned to 432 Hz, the E above A is also …..”

Dafna interrupted Richard with an odd smile:

“What he means – she said – is that the Pythagorean love for proportions is evident in this scale’s construction, as all of its tones may be derived from interval frequency ratios based on the first three integers: 1, 2, 3. Isn’t that amazing?”

Surrounded, Outsmarted

Roma felt trapped.

He was surrounded by the Angli and their allies. And they were ALL mathematicians!!

He began to panic. The last Roman soldier in Britannia, outnumbered, outsmarted, began to run wildly uphill and got lost among the sheep never to be seen again.

Sheep in English countryside. Click for credits and to enlarge

The Legend of Roma Continues

A legend says Roma took seven Anglia wives and mixed his blood with the natives.

“Why seven?” asked the Anglia kid to his Anglia grandfather.

The tribe was sitting before a big fire. The summer night was full of stars.

“Because seven is a magic number” replied the Anglia grandfather showily. “The seven hills of Rome, the seven wonders of the world, Jesus saying to Peter to forgive seventy times seven times.”

“But seven – added the Anglia cutie – is also the fourth prime number. It is not only a Mersenne prime (since 23 − 1 = 7) but also a double Mersenne prime since it is itself the exponent for another Mersenne prime, ie 127.”

ψ

The Anglia Grandfather paled.

It’s like he saw all his life fall apart in a second. His mind went back to the time when a Roman soldier had fled wildly uphill and had got lost among the sheep.

Even the Anglia kids!! Even THEM!!

His flight had been useless.

That same feeling of panic, of claustrophobia pervaded him.

He was trapped. Trapped forever.

Do Music and Numbers Pervade the Universe? A Night of Dionysian Revelry

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Pythagoreans celebrate sunrise - Fyodor Bronnikov (1827—1902). Click for a larger picture

 

As you know I have been musing on Pythagoras of Samos recently (Ὁ Πυθαγόρας ὁ Σάμιος). I wrote about him in my blog and in other blogs.

P was a great mathematician. Now it turns almost all bloggers MoR has been discussing with (also on P) have some math capabilities. MoR has instead very little. So he asked his friend Extropian for help.

Extropian is laconic and doesn’t like blogs. So he first sent this movie and just said: “This stuff is Pythagorean.”

He then added: “Here following is the rationale behind the movie.”

He also sent me this paper on Pythagoras & Eugene Wigner that requires a degree in physics to figure out what the hell it means.

Finally he linked to another movie and declared:

“You became a pianist but you’ll always be longing for the strings of a guitar, of a violin or of a lute. Pythagoras started a new world-view with the strings of a lyre. You may like this.”

I hope this will not be the music of the future (only because it sounds too robotic). But the 3d animation intuitively shows better than any book on acoustics the relation between the string lengths and the sounds: ie by pressing the strings the robotic fingers change their lengths which produces a change in pitch.

And my friend is right. From the age of 12 I was a decent guitarist then I turned into a pianist at 18, a big mistake, one out of many.

A Crazy Night of Revel

In the spring of 1995 – I’m only apparently digressing – my wife and I came back home from a party. Oh we had had such fun! She though went straight to bed being tired from a hard day at her office. I remained alone in the living room, feeling weird and restless.

There I saw my electronic keyboard, a Korg 01 WFD – now prehistoric – connected to a Mac and two Protei (Proteus 1 and 2.) Before laying my hands on the glowing keys I knew what I needed that night: fat strings sounds more than just piano sounds.

The result was a dozen improvisations that lead to nowhere and sound now so badly because of analogical worn out tapes and especially when compared to the pro stuff you’ve heard above. They though retain a personal value to me. They ex-press (in the literal meaning of ‘squeeze out’) one of the most authentic musical revelry I ever experienced in my life.

I mean, if Dionysus-Bacchus ever exists I’m pretty sure I met him that night [another mysterious Dionysian experience is described here. And, Pythagoras and the Dionysian experience are tightly connected, so no digression as I said.]

3-4 pieces out of 12 I still like a bit. I’m waiting for my digital DAT recorder to be repaired so I can have better sources of my musical ramblings.

Here are 2 from that night in .mp3 format.

ψ

Related posts:

Two Piano Improvisations

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