Image for post
Image for post
Life — Painting by Katayun Taraporevala

Greetings! My name is Kai Taraporevala.


The story of military leadership and the future of war

Image for post
Image for post
Alexander The Great: Image by Dimitris Vetsikas, The Future of War: Image by prettysleepy1, Both from Pixabay

John Keegan (1934–2012) was one of the foremost experts in military history and strategy. Due to a childhood illness (orthopedic tuberculosis), he could not follow his dream of joining the army. Instead, he became a military historian and teacher at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst and was a visiting professor at Princeton.

While one might not agree with some of Keegan’s positions (he was in favor of the Vietnam and the second Iraq wars), he superbly analyzed the nature of warfare, the leaders of armies, and the political backgrounds of war. …

Thank you for your excellent and thought-provoking article. Just because some co-opt selective aspects of the classics into their modern prejudices does not make the classics proponents of our many bigotries. The classics are all of our heritage, as are all of mankind's creative endeavors. A scientific-humanist temper of mind is required to enjoy and learn from them.

Getting free of tribal-based intolerances is difficult, no matter which "label" most people attach themselves to. Reading and imbibing wisdom from Epicurus, Seneca, and Marcus Aurelius is both a supreme pleasure and vital for humans' continued survival and peaceful progress. Of course…

Thanks. This is a superb essay on reading.

Francis Bacon wrote:

“Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested; that is, some books are to be read only in parts; others to be read, but not curiously; and some few are to be read wholly, and with diligence and attention.”

It is the books we wrestle with, read with diligence and attention, and digest that are of greatest impact. We then become what we positively think.

I used to read a number of books a year. I have now slowed down and spend much more time in active reading, in the manner you describe, as I find this process helps me reach deeper understandings.

The story of probability as told by gamblers, mathematicians, and investors

Image for post
Image for post
My three favorite books on chance and its impact on our lives.

The mathematician T. W. Körner, addressing the question “why is calculus hard?” wrote, “The basic ideas of calculus are easy (how else would a bunch of apes fresh out of the trees be able to find them?), but calculus requires a lot of work to master (after all, we are just a bunch of apes fresh out of the trees)”! These same observations apply to the understanding of the role of chance and probabilities in the universe, including in our lives.

A well known 19th century author wrote, “There is no chance, no destiny, no fate, that can circumvent or…

The Story of Mercator, Maps, and Laniakea

Image for post
Image for post
Map of the Earth: Image by Hans Braxmeier from Pixabay, Laniakea: Photo by David Monje on Unsplash

State Secrets Uncovered

During the “Age of Discovery” (1450 to 1650), ship captains began exploring the world and its vast oceans. While we now fly around the globe with ease, few had sailed across the large oceans (the Pacific, the Atlantic and Indian oceans) that make up 70 percent of the earth’s surface.

An essential requirement for those explorations were accurate maps. However, maps in those days were state secrets. The former Librarian of Congress, Daniel Boorstin writes that Governments “became obsessed with keeping maps secret. Maps of the world were exclusively for government use. It…

The Story of Dhyan Chand and What Makes Teams Great

Image for post
Image for post
Public Domain Image from Wikimedia Commons

On 19 January, the Indian cricket team triumphed against Australia in the fourth test, at Brisbane. Despite many first-rank players missing and the India captain back home to be with his wife and newborn baby, the team won a remarkable and unexpected victory.

In The Guardian, Scott Heinrich wrote, “This was a win for the ages by India, possibly their greatest in Test history.” Many of the Indian players had little or no test match experience. This was the first time in 32 years that Australia lost a test match…

The story of challenges facing the US today

Image for post
Image for post
Thanks to Luke Stackpoole from Unsplash

On 19 December 2020, in an Oval Office meeting with President Trump and other top officials, Michael Flynn, the disgraced former National Security Advisor, urged the president to impose martial law to overturn the result of the recently held election.

“Appalling, unbelievable, almost certainly without precedent,” is how John Bolton, another former Trump National Security Advisor, described reports of this meeting. Bolton went on to say, “It is important to understand that this is just another day in the office. It’s the same behavior [of Trump] that is repeated over and over again.” …

The Story of John Amos Comenius

Image for post
Image for post
Thanks to Jeremy Zero, Blank Phrom, and Joshua Sortino in Unsplash

To learn about the universe we turn first to what others have said and done. This gives us a tremendous head start. Instead of starting from scratch this allows us, as Isaac Newton said, to stand on the shoulders of those Giants who have already discovered so much. This sharing and discussing of over two and half millennia of thought across generations is at the heart of our education. We rediscover the ideas that others have unearthed and then build further towards answers to key questions of life.

There have been three “hardware” based…

The Story of My 97-year-old Father (Part II)

Image for post
Image for post
Vicaji Taraporevala (Sketch by Katayun Taraporevala)

Vicaji Jivanji Taraporevala, my father, is a sprightly 97-year-old. He is the author of five books on legal topics and another on humorous stories about life in the law courts. A seventh book has just been completed and awaits publication, and he has started work on his eighth book. I remember, as a child, my parents reading a lot. I have clear memories of my father coming home from the office, having visited his favorite book shop, opening his briefcase, and taking out the latest book he had purchased. …

Kai Taraporevala

Search for an understanding of the universe. The roads I am travelling: the scientific method, science, mathematics, humanism, the arts, music and kindness.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store