Author Archives: N.S. Palmer

About N.S. Palmer

N.S. Palmer is an American mathematician.

Why My Father Was Never Sick

In “Unbreakable” (2000), Bruce Willis played a middle-aged man who discovered that he was an invulnerable superhero. Obviously, superhero movies require our suspension of disbelief. In “Unbreakable,” the hardest thing to believe was not that Willis’s character was invulnerable, or … Continue reading

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Making Peace with “the Passions”

“But what about the passions?” It was another philosophy class in college. We were discussing some abstruse intellectual topic. And my classmate Dave was interjecting — again — a lot of irrelevant chatter about “the passions.” The passions were a … Continue reading

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Puzzled About Huawei Arrest

I don’t have the answers. I’m simply puzzled. On behalf of the U.S. government, Canadian officials arrested Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of China-based Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. Reports say that as an executive of Huawei, she is charged with evading … Continue reading

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A Tool’s Got to Know Its Limitations

What do DNA, psychological questionnaires, and my new car have in common? DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) is a molecule in which plants and animals encode the basic characteristics of their bodies. It’s what makes a rose a rose instead of a … Continue reading

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Visit a Foreign Country

“The past is a foreign country,” advised British novelist L.P. Hartley. And it’s true: Most of us have quite enough trouble keeping up with the present. We’re too busy to think much about the past. Of course, there are different … Continue reading

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Abnormal Isn’t Normal, But It’s OK

“Abnormal” is not an insult. And “normal” is not a compliment. People bend over backwards these days to avoid calling anything “abnormal.” Apparently they think it might hurt someone’s feelings. For example, Robert Plomin’s recent book about human DNA argues … Continue reading

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Not Hard To See It Coming

Viewed from 2018, the world of pre-9/11 America looks like a model of peace and sanity. It wasn’t, of course, but compared to what we’ve had since then, it seems that way. As of now, America’s crisis du jour is … Continue reading

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