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Celebrating Equations – Pi

March 14, 2018

Celebrating Equations – Pi


Pi (the Greek letter π, pronounced like the word ‘pie’) is the ratio of the circumference of any circle to the diameter of that circle, explains math instructor Steven Bogart in Scientific American. It equals roughly 3.14. No matter what size a circle is, the circumference will always be 3.14 times bigger than the diameter.Over 4,000 years ago, the ancient Egyptians and Babylonians had figured out this constant and were using it to make calculations. In the 18th century, mathematicians gave the number the name ‘pi.

Back in 1988, Larry Shaw of San Francisco’s Exploratorium science museum started observing March 14—get it? 3/14!—which also happens to be Albert Einstein’s birthday, as Pi Day. By 2009, the celebration had grown so big that Congress passed a resolution to make the designation official. The resolution states: ‘The House of Representatives supports the designation of a ‘Pi Day’ and its celebration around the world … and encourages schools and educators to observe the day with appropriate activities that teach students about Pi and engage them about the study of mathematics.’ In another stamp of approval, in 2010, Pi Day got its own Google Doodle.

Pi is an irrational number. It can’t be expressed as a fraction; it doesn’t end with a repeating pattern (like the decimal expression of 1/3, 0.33333…, in which the threes repeat forever), or terminate after a certain number of decimal places (like 3/4, or .75). It just keeps going, going, and going. So far, pi has been calculated to over 22 trillion digits. It took a computer with 24 hard drives, working nonstop for 105 days, to make that calculation. While we know pi to more than a trillion places, we really don’t need them. Scientists can determine the spherical volume of the entire universe using just 39 places past the decimal, according to

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory only uses pi up to 15 decimal places for its robotic space and earth science missions. ‘For JPL’s highest accuracy calculations, which are for interplanetary navigation, we use 3.141592653589793,’ explains engineer Marc Rayman. ‘There are no physically realistic calculations scientists ever perform’ that would require more decimal points than that.

The trillions of digits of pi that have been calculated continue without any discernible pattern. Mathematicians have been looking for those patterns for centuries, but as far back as 1768, a self-taught Swiss-German mathematician and astronomer named Johann Lambert proved that pi is irrational.

If we don’t need all those decimal places in pi, wouldn’t it be easier to just call it 3.2? In 1897, an Indiana doctor decided that the world should go ahead and use 3.2 for any calculations requiring pi. Dr. Edwin Goodwin proposed a bill in the state legislature. He even copyrighted this idea and planned to charge royalty fees for anyone who used it—except for those in the state of Indiana. After some debate, the state senate realized that the idea of using a law to change a mathematical constant was a silly one, and the law failed to pass.

The Guinness Book of World Records recognizes Rajveer Meena as the champion memorizer of digits of pi. On March 21, 2015, at VIT University in Vellore, India, Meena recited pi to 70,000 places past the decimal point. A 21-year-old student at the time, Meena proved his powers of memory by reeling off the numbers while wearing a blindfold. It took him more than nine hours to do it.

How in the world does someone memorize a string of 70,000 random numbers? Most record-holders (or just interested hobbyists) use an association technique. They bunch smaller groups of numbers together and memorize those: 14, then 15, then 92, then 65, and so on. Or they may look at each set of nine digits as a telephone number and memorize them that way. Another strategy is to match each digit or small groups to a word, then make a story out of those words. Yet another method is spatial visualization, in which you picture a familiar place, then assign numbers to different spots in that place. To recall them, you mentally walk through the space and see the numbers as you go.

Aside from Rajveer Meena’s achievement, other Guinness World Records have been awarded to pi-themed accomplishments. In 2014, 589 people at a grammar school in Germany formed the largest human pi symbol. And in 2017, 520 teachers and students in Todi, Italy, formed the longest human representation of pi digits. The city’s mayor held up a sign bearing the number 3, and then each person after him stood in for a digit of pi after the decimal place.

It’s not all fun and games and feats of memory: Scientists use pi every day to make important calculations, such as determining the volume of a sphere, the area of a circle, and the volume of a cylinder. ‘Those relationships form the basis for how stiff a structure is, how it will vibrate, and understanding how a design might fail,’ says Charles Dandino, an engineer at the Jet Propulsion Lab. ‘In my career, pi has allowed me to calculate the size of a shield needed to enter the atmosphere of Venus and the size of a parachute that could safely land the Curiosity rover on the surface of Mars,’ says another JPL engineer, Anita Sengupta.Another handy tool that makes use of pi? The GPS system in your car and smartphone use it to calculate specific locations on Earth.

To try this easy activity known as Buffon’s Needles, you need a large sheet of paper, at least 30 toothpicks, a ruler, and a pen. Using a toothpick to determine the distance between them, draw a series of parallel lines on your paper. Then throw the toothpicks onto the paper at random.Next, take away any toothpicks that are only partially on the paper, or that didn’t land on the paper at all. Count how many are left on the paper. Also, count how many cross a line.Divide the total number of toothpicks by the line-crossing toothpicks. Now multiply by two, and you should get pi!

You can see what pi to one million decimal places looks like, here, at (keep scrolling!). Another way to visualize this super-long number? If you printed out pi to a billion decimal values, in 12-point font, you’d need a piece of paper that stretched halfway across the USA, from Kansas to New York City.

Besides being a nice rhyme, a 5K is pretty close to 3.14 miles in length (it’s 3.10686 miles, to be exact). So schools and communities around the country host 3.14 mile runs on or near Pi Day every year. We found them in Newark, Delaware; Monroe, Connecticut; South Bend, Indiana; Green Bay, Wisconsin; and Tempe, Arizona.

It’s already a Pi Day tradition: pie in all its glory! Pizza pie, pot pie, shepherd’s pie, and of course, dessert pie. Just make sure it’s round! Prefer a no-bake pie?

You can also observe Pi Day with a poem… or a ‘piem’! Pilish unites math enthusiasts and word nerds. To compose in it, you must use words in which the number of letters corresponds, in order, to the numbers in pi’s sequence. So since pi = 3.14159, your poem must start with a three-letter word, then a 1-letter word, then a 4-letter word, another single letter, and so on: ‘Aha, I said, a fancy alligator … ‘


“I get up. I walk. I fall down. Meanwhile, I keep dancing.”
– Rabbi Hillel


A Brief History of TIME STEPHEN HAWKING MURIO a 76 Years of Age

March 14, 2018

Stephen Hawking, modern cosmology’s brightest star, dies at age 76

The physicist and author of A Brief History of Time has died at his home in Cambridge. His children said: ‘We will miss him for ever’

Professor Hawking’s insights shaped modern cosmology and inspired global audiences in the millions.
Professor Hawking’s insights shaped modern cosmology and inspired global audiences in the millions. Photograph: Sarah Lee for the Guardian

Stephen Hawking, the brightest star in the firmament of science, whose insights shaped modern cosmology and inspired global audiences in the millions, has died aged 76.

His family released a statement in the early hours of Wednesday morning confirming his death at his home in Cambridge.

Hawking’s children, Lucy, Robert and Tim said in a statement: “We are deeply saddened that our beloved father passed away today.

“He was a great scientist and an extraordinary man whose work and legacy will live on for many years. His courage and persistence with his brilliance and humour inspired people across the world.

“He once said: ‘It would not be much of a universe if it wasn’t home to the people you love.’ We will miss him for ever.”

For fellow scientists and loved ones, it was Hawking’s intuition and wicked sense of humour that marked him out as much as the broken body and synthetic voice that came to symbolise the unbounded possibilities of the human mind.

Hawking was driven to Wagner, but not the bottle, when he was diagnosed with motor neurone disease in 1963 at the age of 21. Doctors expected him to live for only two more years. But Hawking had a form of the disease that progressed more slowly than usual. He survived for more than half a century and long enough for his disability to define him. His popularity would surely have been diminished without it.

Hawking once estimated he worked only 1,000 hours during his three undergraduate years at Oxford. “You were supposed to be either brilliant without effort, or accept your limitations,” he wrote in his 2013 autobiography, My Brief History. In his finals, Hawking came borderline between a first and second class degree. Convinced that he was seen as a difficult student, he told his viva examiners that if they gave him a first he would move to Cambridge to pursue his PhD. Award a second and he threatened to stay at Oxford. They opted for a first.

Those who live in the shadow of death are often those who live most. For Hawking, the early diagnosis of his terminal disease, and witnessing the death from leukaemia of a boy he knew in hospital, ignited a fresh sense of purpose. “Although there was a cloud hanging over my future, I found, to my surprise, that I was enjoying life in the present more than before. I began to make progress with my research,” he once said. Embarking on his career in earnest, he declared: “My goal is simple. It is a complete understanding of the universe, why it is as it is and why it exists at all.”

He began to use crutches in the 1960s, but long fought the use of a wheelchair. When he finally relented, he became notorious for his wild driving along the streets of Cambridge, not to mention the intentional running over of students’ toes and the occasional spin on the dance floor at college parties.

Hawking’s first major breakthrough came in 1970, when he and Roger Penrose applied the mathematics of black holes to the entire universe and showed that a singularity, a region of infinite curvature in spacetime, lay in our distant past: the point from which came the big bang.

Penrose found he was able to talk with Hawking even as the latter’s speech failed. But the main thing that came across was Hawking’s absolute determination not to let anything get in his way. “He thought he didn’t have long to live, and he really wanted to get as much as he could done at that time,” Penrose said.

In 1974 he drew on quantum theory to declare that black holes should emit heat and eventually pop out of existence. For normal black holes, the process is not a fast one, it taking longer than the age of the universe for a black hole the mass of the sun to evaporate. But near the ends of their lives, mini-black holes release heat at a spectacular rate, eventually exploding with the energy of a million one-megaton hydrogen bombs. Miniature black holes dot the universe, Hawking said, each as heavy as a billion tonnes, but no larger than a proton.

His proposal that black holes radiate heat stirred up one of the most passionate debates in modern cosmology. Hawking argued that if a black hole could evaporate into a bath of radiation, all the information that fell inside over its lifetime would be lost forever. It contradicted one of the most basic laws of quantum mechanics, and plenty of physicists disagreed. Hawking came round to believing the more common, if no less baffling explanation, that information is stored at the black hole’s event horizon, and encoded back into radiation as the black hole radiates.

Marika Taylor, a former student of Hawking’s and now professor of theoretical physics at Southampton University, remembers how Hawking announced his U-turn on the information paradox to his students. He was discussing their work with them in the pub when Taylor noticed he was turning his speech synthesiser up to the max. “I’m coming out!” he bellowed. The whole pub turned around and looked at the group before Hawking turned the volume down and clarified the statement: “I’m coming out and admitting that maybe information loss doesn’t occur.” He had, Taylor said, “a wicked sense of humour.”

Hawking’s run of radical discoveries led to his election in 1974 to the Royal Society at the exceptionally young age of 32. Five years later, he became the Lucasian professor of mathematics at Cambridge, arguably Britain’s most distinguished chair, and one formerly held by Isaac Newton, Charles Babbage and Paul Dirac, the latter one of the founding fathers of quantum mechanics. Hawking held the post for 30 years, then moved to become director of research at the Centre for Theoretical Cosmology.

Hawking’s seminal contributions continued through the 1980s. The theory of cosmic inflation holds that the fledgling universe went through a period of terrific expansion. In 1982, Hawking was among the first to show how quantum fluctuations – tiny variations in the distribution of matter – might give rise through inflation to the spread of galaxies in the universe. In these tiny ripples lay the seeds of stars, planets and life as we know it. “It is one of the most beautiful ideas in the history of science” said Max Tegmark, a physics professor at MIT.

But it was A Brief History of Time that rocketed Hawking to stardom. Published for the first time in 1988, the title made the Guinness Book of Records after it stayed on the Sunday Times bestsellers list for an unprecedented 237 weeks. It sold 10m copies and was translated into 40 different languages. Some credit must go to Hawking’s editor at Bantam, Peter Guzzardi, who took the original title: “From the Big Bang to Black Holes: A Short History of Time”, turned it around, and changed the “Short” to “Brief”. Nevertheless, wags called it the greatest unread book in history.

Hawking married his college sweetheart, Jane Wilde, in 1965, two years after his diagnosis. She first set eyes on him in 1962, lolloping down the street in St Albans, his face down, covered by an unruly mass of brown hair. A friend warned her she was marrying into “a mad, mad family”. With all the innocence of her 21 years, she trusted that Stephen would cherish her, she wrote in her 2013 book, Travelling to Infinity: My Life With Stephen.

In 1985, during a trip to Cern, Hawking was taken to hospital with an infection. He was so ill that doctors asked Jane if they should withdraw life support. She refused, and Hawking was flown back to Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge for a lifesaving tracheotomy. The operation saved his life but destroyed his voice. The couple had three children, but the marriage broke down in 1991. Hawking’s worsening disability, his demands on Jane, and his refusal to discuss his illness, were destructive forces the relationship could not endure. Jane wrote of him being “a child possessed of a massive and fractious ego,” and how husband and wife became “master” and “slave”.

Four years later, Hawking married Elaine Mason, one of the nurses employed to give him round-the-clock care. Mason was the former wife of David Mason, who designed the first wheelchair-mounted speech synthesiser Hawking used. The marriage lasted 11 years, during which Cambridgeshire police investigated a series of alleged assaults on Hawking. The physicist denied that Elaine was involved, and refused to cooperate with police, who dropped the investigation.

Hawking was not, perhaps, the greatest physicist of his time, but in cosmology he was a towering figure. There is no perfect proxy for scientific worth, but Hawking won the Albert Einstein Award, the Wolf Prize, the Copley Medal, and the Fundamental Physics Prize. The Nobel prize, however, eluded him.

He was fond of scientific wagers, despite a knack for losing them. In 1975, he bet the US physicist Kip Thorne a subscription to Penthouse that the cosmic x-ray source Cygnus X-1 was not a black hole. He lost in 1990. In 1997, Hawking and Thorne bet John Preskill an encyclopaedia that information must be lost in black holes. Hawking conceded in 2004. In 2012, Hawking lost $100 to Gordon Kane for betting that the Higgs boson would not be discovered.

He lectured at the White House during the Clinton administration – his oblique references to the Monica Lewinsky episode evidently lost on those who screened his speech – and returned in 2009 to receive the presidential medal of freedom from Barack Obama. His life was played out in biographies and documentaries, most recently The Theory of Everything, in which Eddie Redmayne played him. “At times I thought he was me,” Hawking said on watching the film. He appeared on The Simpsons and played poker with Einstein and Newton on Star Trek: The Next Generation. He delivered gorgeous put-downs on The Big Bang Theory. “What do Sheldon Cooper and a black hole have in common?” Hawking asked the fictional Caltech physicist whose IQ comfortably outstrips his social skills. After a pause, the answer came: “They both suck.”

In 2012, scientists gathered in Cambridge to celebrate the cosmologist’s 70th birthday. It was one of those milestones in life that few expected Hawking to reach. He spent the event at Addenbrooke’s, too ill to attend, but in a recorded message entitled A Brief History of Mine, he called for the continued exploration of space “for the future of humanity.” Without spreading out into space, humans would not “survive another thousand years,” he said.

He later joined Tesla’s Elon Musk and Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak to warn against an artificial intelligence military arms race, and called for a ban on autonomous weapons.

Hawking was happy to court controversy and was accused of being sexist and misogynist. He turned up at Stringfellows lap dancing club in 2003, and years later declared women “a complete mystery”. In 2013, he boycotted a major conference in Israel on the advice of Palestinian academics.

Some of his most outspoken comments offended the religious. In his 2010 book, Grand Design, he declared that God was not needed to set the universe going, and in an interview with the Guardian a year later, dismissed the comforts of religious belief

“I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail. There is no heaven or afterlife for broken down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark,” he said.

He spoke also of death, an eventuality that sat on a more distant horizon than doctors thought. “I have lived with the prospect of an early death for the last 49 years. I’m not afraid of death, but I’m in no hurry to die. I have so much I want to do first,” he said.

What astounded those around him was how much he did achieve. He leaves three children, Robert, Lucy and Timothy, from his first marriage to Jane Wilde, and three grandchildren.

At age 76 on Pi Day Dr. Stephen Hawking Muerte

March 14, 2018


Stephen Hawking has died at the age of 76, his family has said.

The British theoretical physicist was known for his groundbreaking work with black holes and relativity, and was the author of several popular science books including A Brief History of Time.

His children, Lucy, Robert and Tim, said: “We are deeply saddened that our beloved father passed away today.

“He was a great scientist and an extraordinary man whose work and legacy will live on for many years.”

They praised his “courage and persistence” and said his “brilliance and humour” inspired people across the world.

“He once said, ‘It would not be much of a universe if it wasn’t home to the people you love.’ We will miss him forever,” they said.

Factfile: Stephen Hawking

  • Born 8 January 1942 in Oxford, England
  • Earned place at Oxford University to read natural science in 1959, before studying for his PhD at Cambridge
  • By 1963, was diagnosed with motor neurone disease and given two years to live
  • Outlined his theory that black holes emit “Hawking radiation” in 1974
  • Published his book A Brief History of Time in 1988, which has sold more than 10 million copies
  • His life story was the subject of the 2014 film The Theory of Everything, starring Eddie Redmayne

20% of California Residents Live with Grinding Poverty

March 13, 2018

Why is liberal California the poverty capital of America?

Why is liberal California the poverty capital of America?
Demonstrators and homeless advocates rally in solidarity with those experiencing homelessness and Disneyland workers struggling with poverty wages outside the theme park in Anaheim, Calif. on July 14. (Los Angeles Times)

Guess which state has the highest poverty rate in the country? Not Mississippi, New Mexico, or West Virginia, but California, where nearly one out of five residents is poor. That’s according to the Census Bureau’s Supplemental Poverty Measure, which factors in the cost of housing, food, utilities and clothing, and which includes noncash government assistance as a form of income.

Given robust job growth and the prosperity generated by several industries, it’s worth asking why California has fallen behind, especially when the state’s per-capita GDP increased approximately twice as much as the U.S. average over the five years ending in 2016 (12.5%, compared with 6.27%).

It’s not as though California policymakers have neglected to wage war on poverty. Sacramento and local governments have spent massive amounts in the cause. Several state and municipal benefit programs overlap with one another; in some cases, individuals with incomes 200% above the poverty line receive benefits. California state and local governments spent nearly $958 billion from 1992 through 2015 on public welfare programs, including cash-assistance payments, vendor payments and “other public welfare,” according to the Census Bureau. California, with 12% of the American population, is home today to about one in three of the nation’s welfare recipients.

California Democrats have long been free to indulge blue-state ideology while paying little or no political price.


The generous spending, then, has not only failed to decrease poverty; it actually seems to have made it worse.


In the late 1980s and early 1990s, some states — principally Wisconsin, Michigan, and Virginia — initiated welfare reform, as did the federal government under President Clinton and a Republican Congress. Tied together by a common thread of strong work requirements, these overhauls were a big success: Welfare rolls plummeted and millions of former aid recipients entered the labor force.

The state and local bureaucracies that implement California’s antipoverty programs, however, resisted pro-work reforms. In fact, California recipients of state aid receive a disproportionately large share of it in no-strings-attached cash disbursements. It’s as though welfare reform passed California by, leaving a dependency trap in place. Immigrants are falling into it: 55% of immigrant families in the state get some kind of means-tested benefits, compared with just 30% of natives.

Self-interest in the social-services community may be at fault. As economist William A. Niskanen explained back in 1971, public agencies seek to maximize their budgets, through which they acquire increased power, status, comfort and security. To keep growing its budget, and hence its power, a welfare bureaucracy has an incentive to expand its “customer” base. With 883,000 full-time-equivalent state and local employees in 2014, California has an enormous bureaucracy. Many work in social services, and many would lose their jobs if the typical welfare client were to move off the welfare rolls.

Further contributing to the poverty problem is California’s housing crisis. More than four in 10 households spent more than 30% of their income on housing in 2015. A shortage of available units has driven prices ever higher, far above income increases. And that shortage is a direct outgrowth of misguided policies.

“Counties and local governments have imposed restrictive land-use regulations that drove up the price of land and dwellings,” explains analyst Wendell Cox. “Middle-income households have been forced to accept lower standards of living while the less fortunate have been driven into poverty by the high cost of housing.” The California Environmental Quality Act, passed in 1971, is one example; it can add $1 million to the cost of completing a housing development, says Todd Williams, an Oakland attorney who chairs the Wendel Rosen Black & Dean land-use group. CEQA costs have been known to shut down entire homebuilding projects. CEQA reform would help increase housing supply, but there’s no real movement to change the law.

Extensive environmental regulations aimed at reducing carbon dioxide emissions make energy more expensive, also hurting the poor. By some estimates, California energy costs are as much as 50% higher than the national average. Jonathan A. Lesser of Continental Economics, author of a 2015 Manhattan Institute study, “Less Carbon, Higher Prices,” found that “in 2012, nearly 1 million California households faced … energy expenditures exceeding 10% of household income. In certain California counties, the rate of energy poverty was as high as 15% of all households.” A Pacific Research Institute study by Wayne Winegarden found that the rate could exceed 17% of median income in some areas.

Looking to help poor and low-income residents, California lawmakers recently passed a measure raising the minimum wage from $10 an hour to $15 an hour by 2022 — but a higher minimum wage will do nothing for the 60% of Californians who live in poverty and don’t have jobs. And research indicates that it could cause many who do have jobs to lose them. A Harvard University study found evidence that “higher minimum wages increase overall exit rates for restaurants” in the Bay Area, where more than a dozen cities and counties, including San Francisco, have changed their minimum-wage ordinances in the last five years. “Estimates suggest that a one-dollar increase in the minimum wage leads to a 14% increase in the likelihood of exit for a 3.5-star restaurant (which is the median rating),” the report says. These restaurants are a significant source of employment for low-skilled and entry-level workers.

Apparently content with futile poverty policies, Sacramento lawmakers can turn their attention to what historian Victor Davis Hanson aptly describes as a fixation on “remaking the world.” The political class wants to build a costly and needless high-speed rail system; talks of secession from a United States presided over by Donald Trump; hired former attorney general Eric H. Holder Jr. to “resist” Trump’s agenda; enacted the first state-level cap-and-trade regime; established California as a “sanctuary state” for illegal immigrants; banned plastic bags, threatening the jobs of thousands of workers involved in their manufacture; and is consumed by its dedication to “California values.” All this only reinforces the rest of America’s perception of an out-of-touch Left Coast, to the disservice of millions of Californians whose values are more traditional, including many of the state’s poor residents.

With a permanent majority in the state Senate and the Assembly, a prolonged dominance in the executive branch and a weak opposition, California Democrats have long been free to indulge blue-state ideology while paying little or no political price. The state’s poverty problem is unlikely to improve while policymakers remain unwilling to unleash the engines of economic prosperity that drove California to its golden years.

Kerry Jackson is the Pacific Research Institute’s fellow in California studies. This essay was adapted from the winter issue of City Journal.

14,000 empty shoes at the Capitol representing all the children killed by gun violence since Sandy Hook… and still no action from Congress

March 13, 2018

14,000 empty shoes at the Capitol representing all the children killed by gun violence since Sandy Hook… and still no action from Congress

“Tis a gift to be simple, tis a gift to be true, tis a gift that I gladly give to you.” Epiphany

March 13, 2018

“Tis a gift to be simple, tis a gift to be true, tis a gift that I gladly give to you.” Epiphany


“I get up. I walk. I fall down. Meanwhile, I keep dancing.”
– Rabbi Hillel


A manuscript of Mary Hazzard of the New Lebanon, New York, Shaker community records this original   version of the melody of the dance.SimpleGifts.png

The song quite closely resembles several repetitions of the opening measures of William Byrd‘s renaissance composition, “The Barley Break”, which Byrd intended to imitate country children playing a folk game.[citation needed] Similarly, Brackett is claimed to have come up with the song as an imitation of what folk music sounds like.[citation needed]

“Lord of the Dance”


“Simple Gifts” is a Shaker song written and composed in 1848 by Elder Joseph Brackett.

“Tis the gift to be simple, ’tis the gift to be free ‘Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be, And when we find our selves in the place just right Twill be in the valley of love and delight When true simplicity is gained, to bow and to bend we shan’t be ashamed, To turn, turn will be our delight Twill by turning turning we come round right.”


“Simple Gifts” was written by Elder Joseph while he was at the Shaker community in Alfred, Maine. These are the lyrics to his one-verse song:

‘Tis the gift to be simple, ’tis the gift to be free

‘Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,

‘Twill be in the valley of love and delight.
When true simplicity is gained,

To bow and to bend we shan’t be ashamed,
To turn, turn will be our delight,

Till by turning, turning we come ’round right.

Several Shaker manuscripts indicate that this is a “Dancing Song” or a “Quick Dance. “Turning” is a common theme in Christian theology, but the references to “turning” in the last two lines have also been identified as dance instructions. When the traditional dance is performed properly, each dancer ends up where he or she began, “come ’round right.”


Two additional, later non-Shaker verses exist for the song, as follows:

‘Tis the gift to be loved and that love to return,
‘Tis the gift to be taught and a richer gift to learn,
And when we expect of others what we try to live each day,
Then we’ll all live together and we’ll all learn to say,
‘Tis the gift to have friends and a true friend to be,
‘Tis the gift to think of others not to only think of “me”,
And when we hear what others really think and really feel,
Then we’ll all live together with a love that is real.[13]
Tis the gift to be loving, tis the best gift of all
Like a quiet rain it blesses where it falls
And with it we will truly believe
Tis better to give than it is to receive

And an additional alternative:

The Earth is our mother and the fullness thereof,
Her streets, her slums, as well as stars above.
Salvation is here where we laugh, where we cry,
Where we seek and love, where we live and die.
When true liberty is found,
By fear and by hate we will no more be bound.
In love and in light we will find our new birth
And in peace and freedom, redeem the Earth.[14]

Another alternate verse:

’tis a gift to be simple, ’tis a gift to be fair
’tis a gift to wake and breathe the morning air
and each day we walk on the path that we choose
’tis a gift we pray we never shall lose

A Version Broadcast During Music and the Spoken Word

‘Tis the gift to be simple
‘Tis the gift to be free
‘Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be
And when we find ourselves in the place just right
‘Twill be in the valley of love and delight
When true simplicity is gained
To bow and to bend, we shan’t be ashamed
To turn, turn, will be our delight
‘Til by turning, turning, we come round right
‘Tis a gift to be simple
‘Tis a gift to be true
‘Tis a gift to labor ’til the day is through
And when we find ourselves in the place so fine
‘Twill be in the cool of the birch and the pine
‘Tis a gift to be joyful
‘Tis a gift to be free
‘Tis a gift, ’tis a gift, ’tis a simple gift to be
And when you find yourself in the pure delight
The gift to be simple has led you aright
In the place just right
In the place just right
‘Til by turning, turning, we come round right

16 Ways in which People Survived before Social Security — Could You?

March 13, 2018

Savings accounts have always been the lifeblood of earners who want to bank some of their income. Before Social Security, workers who wanted to provide for their future often had to turn to whatever interest banks would pay on their savings accounts. Savings accounts were always considered safe investments, but they weren’t quite as safe before Social Security as they are today because FDIC insurance wasn’t implemented until 1933.

The old expression “cash is king” certainly applied to most Americans before Social Security came into play. Stuffing money under a mattress might seem like an archaic notion, but for some Americans at the turn of the 20th century, it was literally their best option. Banking institutions still didn’t have the level of trust and security they do today, so many Americans preferred to hold on to whatever money they did have.

The Pennsylvania Company for Insurance on Lives and Granting Annuities began offering annuities to the general public in 1812. By the turn of the century, some Americans relied on annuities to fund their retirements. From the 1890s through the 1920s, annuities became more popular as having large, extended families began to diminish in importance. At that point, the guaranteed income an annuity offered began to take on more importance.

The Civil War Pension Program began in 1862 to provide benefits for those injured during military service. The program’s inspiration came from the national pension program for soldiers that started in 1776, before the signing of the Declaration of Independence. In 1906, the Civil War Pension Program evolved to cover those who had served in old age as well. Although the program covered more than 90 percent of remaining Civil War soldiers in 1910, that unfortunately amounted to only 0.6 percent of the entire U.S. population.

For much of the 18th and 19th centuries, those trapped in poverty could turn only to almshouses, also known as poor houses. These institutions were made purposely unpleasant to discourage citizens from “willingly” becoming poor. If you relied on a poor house for support, you probably lost your personal property, your right to vote and your right to move. You might even have been forced to wear a “P” on your clothing.

The sad truth is that before Social Security income became available, one in two seniors were impoverished. Without investments, a pension or support from others, many had nowhere to turn and simply lived their remaining life as best they could. With little-to-no income and a shorter life expectancy in the early 20th century, many poverty-stricken seniors simply couldn’t survive.

The American family unit was much larger — and typically stronger — 100 years ago than today. Without a job, a pension, savings or children to rely on, some Americans had to lean on their extended family to get by in the era before Social Security. Aunt, uncles, cousins and beyond were often tapped to provide assistance for elderly family members with no other means of support.

As you now know, families were larger in the past than today. This is in part due to due conditions prior to the Industrial Revolution, when the American economy was primarily agrarian in nature. One of the ancillary benefits of having a large family was that when the parents got older, they had children to help take care of them and the family business. For many American families before Social Security, this was the best way to ensure survival in old age. With limited access to birth control, however, large families might not have been entirely by choice.

With no other options, many older Americans simply had to continue working before Social Security. This wasn’t an option for all Americans, however, because older workers weren’t necessarily in demand, especially for the highest-paying jobs. As the Depression approached, the job picture became even bleaker.

Churches have long been a source of comfort and support for people from all walks of life. As the Great Depression swept across America, many with nowhere else to turn leaned on their local church, whether they were parishioners or not. Churches were often a place people could get some warmth and food.

The expression “it takes a village” was perhaps never more true than before the advent of Social Security. Communities tended to be closer and stronger at the turn of the century than they are today, and often families in need could feel comfortable turning to neighbors for assistance.

Many Americans with nowhere else to go had to rely on the kindness of strangers to get by. Those with no other options before Social Security had to do what they could, from turning to community groups to panhandling on the street.

Some impoverished Americans turned to sharecropping before Social Security. A sharecropper signed an agreement to farm a portion of land in exchange for some of the crops he raised. Although this didn’t raise any money, at least it was a way to put food on the table. For the elderly, however, this wasn’t much of an option because since farming is such backbreaking work.

Although the vast majority of Americans couldn’t afford investments in the era before Social Security, those who could take advantage of earnings from the stock and bond markets. Of course, many fortunes vanished nearly overnight in the stock market crash of 1929 and the subsequent Great Depression. Many Americans who were counting on their investments to provide them with a comfortable retirement were left in ruins, and many had to turn to one or more of the other options in this list.

Regardless of its issues, Social Security has been a huge boon to America’s senior citizen population. It has provided financial protection for people in the U.S. for more than 80 years. It provides citizens with retirement, disability and survivors benefits, making it the most successful anti-poverty programs the nation has ever seen. You’re no longer alone when you’re a senior because Social Security helps you secure tomorrow.