EppsNet Archive: Leo Tolstoy

Happiness is Not . . .

Happiness does not consist of the gratification of your wishes. Anna Karenina, for example, is quite illuminating on this point. Try reading a book once in a while, you’ll pick up on a lot of universal errors like that. Read more →

Teaching Computer Science: Collected Thoughts

If you recognize the person on this next slide, please raise your hand. Don’t yell out the name, just raise your hand. About two-thirds of you recognize Derek Jeter. I thought everyone would recognize him, but still a clear majority. I’m not a Yankees fan or a Derek Jeter fan particularly but the Captain and I are on the same page on this topic. I have to admit I was pretty competitive as a student. I didn’t want anyone to do better than me and I especially didn’t want anyone to do better than me because they worked harder than me. This Jeter quote reminded me of a quote from another notable sports figure . . . This is Bob Knight, college basketball coach, most notably at the University of Indiana. He won 902 games, three NCAA championships, and he coached the 1984 Olympic basketball team to a gold medal.… Read more →

Climate Change is Making People More Stupid

(HealthDay News) — Add another possible woe to the growing list of consequences of climate change: Kidney stones. A new study of American cities suggests that rising temperatures may increase the number of people who develop the painful urinary obstructions. — Will a warmer climate mean more kidney stones? – MSN Healthy Living You have to read all the way down to the second-to-last sentence of the article to find this: The study uncovered a connection between higher temperatures and risk of kidney stones, but didn’t prove cause-and-effect. The article implies cause and effect only to fess up right at the end and admit that there is no cause and effect. In the absence of cause and effect, what exactly is the point? In the epilogue of War and Peace, a peasant notices a “connection” between smoke and locomotives and infers cause and effect: the smoke causes the locomotive to… Read more →

I Already Knew That

The most difficult subjects can be explained to the most slow-witted man if he has not formed any idea of them already; but the simplest thing cannot be made clear to the most intelligent man if he is firmly persuaded that he knows already, without a shadow of doubt, what is laid before him. — Leo Tolstoy Read more →

The Death of Ivan Ilych

It occurred to him that what had seemed perfectly impossible before, namely that he had not spent his life as he should have done, might after all be true. It occurred to him that his scarcely perceptible attempts to struggle against what was considered good by the most highly placed people, those scarcely noticeable impulses which he had immediately suppressed, might have been the real thing, and all the rest false. And his professional duties and the whole arrangement of his life and of his family, and all his social and official interests, might all have been false. He tried to defend all those things to himself and suddenly felt the weakness of what he was defending. There was nothing to defend. “But if that is so,” he said to himself, “and I am leaving this life with the consciousness that I have lost all that was given me and… Read more →

Family Happiness

I was reading a Tolstoy story called “Family Happiness” in bed last night. It was close to midnight when I finished it. “Good story,” I announced to my wife, although she was 90 percent asleep by that time. Without opening her eyes, she asked, “What was it about?” “A man and a woman fall in love and get married. They’re very happy for a while but then the marriage starts to come apart.” “Because the husband spends too much time on Facebook?” she asked. “No, they didn’t have Facebook in 1860. What I didn’t see coming though is that the story turns out to have a happy ending after all.” “Perfect,” she said. “What did you learn from it?” “The past is gone, but you can still find a new life and a different kind of happiness.” “With the same wife?” “Yes.” “Perfect,” she said. Read more →