007-2020 It all adds up

Title: It All Adds Up (The story of People and Mathematics)

Author: Mickael Launay

I’m going to tell you from the start that this is about mathematics. If that scares you off, rather face that monster today and see mathematics how it evolved to what we know it be today.

In fact, after finishing off the book I thought that mathematics taught in school should get a face-lift, by not just teaching how something is done, but include critical thinking and have them ask why is something done that way, or why is it done. Because when you understand how it came to be, rather than only how it works, you understand the background and maybe even appreciate it more.

I actually re-read this book now for the first time, but didn’t write a post before, because I actually thought I had done one already. Just when I scrolled through my list of posted works I noticed it was absent quite by chance. So now I’m making up for past mistakes and getting back into it.

The book is written by a mathematics Phd from what I read in the book, and is about the author walking through the museum (for some of the historical mathematical context) on different occasions and then telling us the historical background and how mathematics came into the picture in that time.

Something as simple as counting the number of sheep was recorded by the Sumerians in Mesopotamia on clay tablets with a picture of the sheep and a figure to represent a quantity. Today known as tokens…… Hmmm, where have we heard that in the modern day before? Video games!

Other topics include friezes, geometry and then we start heading to the first celebrities of mathematics, Thales, Pythogoras and Archimedes. The Greeks were the first to present their works in the form of theorems, whose aim was to present an idea, give proof and then conclude. These would then be attributed as their works, and contributions to the science.

The works of authors include:

Pythagoras’ theorem 5square = 4square + 3square (z2 = x2 + y2)

Archimedes method 3,14 (pie) sequence

Bhaskara I 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 (known as Arabic numbers, but originated in India)

Brahmagupta Description of zero and negative numbers

Arab mathematicians trigonometry (study of the measurement of triangles – i.e. cos, sin, tan)

Muhammad al-Khwarizmi algebra (methods that make it possible to solve mathematical equations)

Leonardo Fibonacci Fibonacci sequence (value is equal to the sum of the two values before it)

Renaissance era Invention of the operations ‘+’, ‘-‘, ‘x’ and ‘./.’

Rene Descartes a, b, c should represent known quantities in equations, whilst x, y, and z should denote unknown quantities

Isaac Newton F = G * (m1*m2 /d square)

Blaise Pascal Probability theory

And so many more…..

If you look at the list above you will note that the mathematics we have today pulls its roots from different ages, and from thinkers of different nations.

The author takes you on a different mathematical trip than you would find on a field trip, because he lists most of the people’s contributions to the science, and how the theorem had been developed, which I thought was also quite interesting, than just learning how to use the method to a given set of facts.

Now, you might not be hyped about the idea about reading about mathematics. However, this is quite a different mathematics text than others you would have encountered. And, the author writes it very well to the audience by not getting lost with jargon that our professors like to talk in when their having a good day at work with like-educated fellows.

Summary:

Quite a different text to what I usually read. Good approach from the author to follow the historic timeline and then gradually introduce the creator of the theorem, and its application in their daily lives. I rate this as a 4.5/5

Give it a try.

006-2020 Aftermath

Title: Aftermath (Seven Secrets of Wealth Preservation the coming Chaos)

Author: James Rickards

Hi there, I know I’ve been absent for a while and I’m a little behind with regards to the volume as I did last year. Last year was my best year i.t.o. the number of books I managed to read, since ever. This year I’m lagging a bit behind, but I’ll definitely try and make it up by jotting down some great reviews.

I have been browsing in the bookstore and on my liked pages for good reading material, and interestingly found some great recommendations in the books I have recently read. These I will keep you posted on once the last sentence was read over.

But, without further ado, let’s get into this book for a starter.

Just before I left my home country to work abroad I picked up a few finance books to accompany me there. Two of them I have already posted about, namely ‘Rich Dad, Poor Dad’, and ‘The Richest Man in Babylon’.

One thing I’d like to make clear from the start is that the book is written for a time-specific moment. Meaning, the wealth preservation tips that are given in this reader relate specifically to the time we find ourselves in right now (before the virus broke out, the print was before then). Some people are arguing that the world economy could be standing in front of another financial bubble. Stocks markets could see a downturn and we could enter a recession.

From the start I’d like to tell you that I’m not an expert in this field to make such a prediction. It may happen soon, not very soon, in the distant future. But right now, the book focuses on that it could be coming soon (and by soon I’m not stipulating a time frame), and that there are some ways which investors can utilize to hedge themselves in order to possibly reduce the impact of a possible bubble burst. Maybe I shouldn’t be using the word bubble burst, given how we react to certain words.

There are so many investment brokers out there, and as many investment products that you may choose from to make an investment for your future. Many of us may not be as financially educated to understand as much of it as we’d like to (specifically because we’re dealing with our hard-earned money), and therefore we don’t know what to invest in.

This book was written by an author, whose work suggests that you should invest in such a way that will best protect your wealth. Other authors will again suggest that the market may experience a bubble burst (here I go again), but that it will recover and that share investing is the way to go.

The one tells you you should preserve your wealth. The other tells you the market will recover, and that when it does, your investment will grow better than the strategy followed by the aforementioned investor, whose strategy will only preserve your wealth, but not grow it.

At the end of the day we’re stuck in-between wanting both.

But to get back to the book, I’ll give you some insight to this wealth-preservation book. As mentioned in the title, he presents you with seven investment tips on how to best preserve your wealth in present-day times when some expect that a bubble burst could be imminent.

The way the chapters are structured is by giving an extract of present-day events, and also past events (past meaning the 20th century). Then after the events are explained, and how the author believes we might be coming back to some of those phases, he ends the chapter with the investment tip he believes is an appropriate response we should follow should a situation as described in the chapter come to pass.

Some of the tips given are 1) reducing exposure to high-volatile stocks, and rather back companies that can weather hard times better, 2) allocating a little more of one’s portfolio to cash, than when the economy is in a growth spurt, 3) allocating your portfolio to include some resources where possible, since they have tangible value. There are a few more, but to get them it would be better to get yourself a copy and read the whole chapter dedicated to the investment tip.

Summary:

Overall, I enjoyed the way the author presented the investment tips with some valuable historic background. I also learnt a few more things, for example how the Gold Standard came around quite unintentionally, and what finally led to its removal. The book is well written, but does require the reader to understand some of the economic terminology (which can be solved with a google definition search or the old Oxford English Dictionary booklet). I therefore give the book a rating of 4.6/5

005-2020 1917

Title: 1917 Russia’s Year of Revolution

Author: Roy Bainton

I must confess, history as a subject didn’t particularly interest me very much in my school days. I thought that the thing that we should think about is the future.

Yet, as I came around to read more and more, i came to learn that one good teacher was to collect your own experience, and another is to learn from other’s mistakes and successes. Thus, my interest in history was sparked.

One important thing I do wish to point out from the start is that with history, it is something that has happened, and written down to be remembered. But the part I want to draw your attention towards is the person that is writing the story. It was generally written by the winners. And the writers were generally clergymen, scholars or other educated people of society.

What makes the story of 1917 interesting is that it is one whose story wasn’t written by the clergymen, or other upper-class men. It was the story written by the people who took the revolution to the streets of the Russian Empire.

There are multiple account of the events that took place in 1917, and most will overlap. But every one of them holds something unique to itself, and not all of them are told or heard. The general account of the important events are recorded and taught to everyone around the world. That’s very good because we all then learn a story of the events that took place. But what sometimes can make it better is when someone who lived through the events tells the story from how they lived it from their perspective.

That’s what I felt was the bonus from this book. The author didn’t just take the story as taught to us, and written it in his style. He made the story a little more personal by including people who lived/had close family ties to someone that lived in the time around the Russian Revolution.

Summary:

Enjoyed the element of writing a historical account by including testimonies from senior citizens that could confirm or deny the history that is taught of the old Russia. The book is a great historical account but history might not be everyone’s agenda at first. Especially not Russia with communism. But all history has a lesson for us. Rated 3.8/5