Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Open Letter to the Electors of the Electoral College

I am taking the extraordinary measure of writing to you today because, as an Elector in the Electoral College, you have the great honor of participating in a solemn Constitutional duty. I am sure you appreciate the awesome power you hold in your hands, no matter how much the rest of us typically take your role for granted.
Frankly, I am afraid. I am afraid for our country, our ideals, our future. I have been observing Donald Trump for years, and his words and actions, especially since the start of the current campaign, are deeply, deeply troubling to me. Please understand, this is my own assessment as an attentive, informed citizen, and this isn’t about ideology. If the candidate who won was Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio or John Kasich or Jeb Bush, I would not be writing this letter.
I know you have been paying as much attention to the campaign as I have, so I won’t rehash it here. Instead, I will just point to several things to consider:
·         Large number of voters for Donald Trump believe he is unqualified, and are scared or concerned about him
·         Lack of action to atone and unify from unprecedented divisive campaign
·         The rash of reports of bigotry incidents in Donald Trump’s name
·         Selection of a prominent white nationalist and anti-Semite as White House Chief Strategist
·         Threats of legal action against those who speak ill of him, and unusually limited press access
·         Russian interference and secret back-channel communications
·         Unnecessary FBI interjection within weeks and days of the election
One of the reasons the Founding Fathers created the Electoral College was to prevent unqualified individuals from reaching office. I urge you to consider, for yourself, for our country: Do you really, truly trust Donald Trump to be President?
If your answer is a resounding yes—then I wish I had your confidence, and I hope that at least you will use whatever weight you have available to make sure that Donald Trump does not become what many of us fear he could be, and to call on him to be a better leader.
If you hesitated at all, then I strongly urge you to vote differently. While I hope that you might look to the strong recommendations of our newspaper editorial boards, conservative thinkers, economists, and national security experts and vote for Hillary Clinton, I do understand if that is a bridge too far for you. In that case, I would urge you to vote for another individual, anyone, who you believe to be better suited for President—perhaps someone who could be a consensus moderate. If Donald Trump’s electoral votes drop below 270, Congress will pick from the top three candidates that the Electors have voted for.
I am aware that asking you to do this may place you at personal risk. I also understand that succeeding may lead to some chaos. I do not take these things lightly. However, I firmly believe that the future of our country is in peril if Donald Trump is inaugurated in two short months, and your vote may be the only chance to stop it from happening.
Thank you for taking the time to read this. I do not envy the decision before you, but I trust you as a fellow American.

Nicholas C. Bauer, PhD

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Tau (τ) > Pi (π): The circle constant you knew is all wrong

Happy Tau Day! What is tau (τ), you ask? Tau is twice the value of the famous mathematical constant pi (π), 6.28... Hence, 6/28 is "Tau Day" in echo of celebration of "Pi Day" on 3/14.

As it turns out, we've been mythologizing exactly the wrong circle constant, and τ is the more natural choice. Of course, the math works out either way, since you just need a factor of two to convert between them. So why would you choose τ over π? Why should you choose τ over π?