The Best Laid Schemes

But, Mousie, thou art no thy lane,
In proving foresight may be vain;
The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men
Gang aft agley,
An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,
For promis’d joy!

Still thou art blest, compar’d wi’ me
The present only toucheth thee:
But, Och! I backward cast my e’e.
On prospects drear!
An’ forward, tho’ I canna see,
I guess an’ fear!

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Education Matters — Part 1

Positive Returns on Investment

Education has positive returns. That claim is certainly not the most extravagant generalization about education that one can make. It is true unless of course hundreds of millions of people over centuries have been systematically paying for education and not fully recovering their investment.
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The People Matter

Character and culture determine destiny. Every time our great “democracy” throws up corrupt immoral shortsighted asinine “leaders” — which is happening with sickening regularity — it is important to remind ourselves that it is the “will of the people” expressed unambiguously through the political process. The nature of the leaders and their policies bear a direct relationship to the basic nature of the people. This is my theory and I continually seek facts to support an alternate not so cynical theory. So far I am unsuccessful.

I was reading Tarun Vijay question “Where is the Citizen?” in the Times of India (sorry) and saw the same idea — that we are culpable for the crimes that the politicians commit — repeated. Go read it. And forward a copy to the Prime Minister and to Dr Singh.

BBC World

So last week a producer from BBC World called to say that they are doing a series on India for India’s 60th Independence Day and they would like to interview me. They did not have to twist my arm. I am always willing to express my opinion, as most of you know. Therefore those of you who missed me the last time I was on BBC World (June 2006 when they were doing a special on “China and India: Emerging Giants”), this is your chance once again.

A New Evil

At first it was a good idea. About seven years ago, I had been persuaded to join Ryze, a professional networking site. All fine and dandy. Then like poison weeds these networking sites started blooming. Now there’s Linkedin and Facebook. The evil spreads. I am getting a tad tired of dealing with the invitations to confirm so-and-so as my friend. So I have decided to pull the plug on these networking sites and delete my membership.

The Tangled Web — Part 7

Expectation Matters

George Akerlof’s seminal contribution to economic theory is in the area of information imperfection and how it affects markets. His paper, “The Market for Lemons”, is brilliant and an easy read. Information asymmetry between the buyers and sellers of used cars (very poor quality used cars are the lemons that Akerlof talks about) leads to that specific market failure. The role of expectations is critical in that specific case. In fact, I am persuaded that expectations play a very important role in how human systems behave dynamically.
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Hi-tech Puzzle

I am a big fan of using technology in education. Information and communications technology (ICT) is tailor-made for application in education. What I don’t understand is why some people are going on about the use of “wireless, low-orbiting satellite, fiber-optic” communications in the context of education. Those hi-tech channels are clearly required when the information is dynamic and real-time, such as in the case of market information and sports events. But what does one gain by beaming down static information — say, history or physics content — as opposed to delivering it as a book (if the information is purely text and pictures), as a DVD if it is audio-video-text, or as content on a hard drive (if the content is rich as well as interactive)?
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I Heart Costco

I have been shopping at warehouse retail stores for over 20 years, starting at the Price Club in Sunnyvale. In those days, you had to have some union membership to have access to those stores. I was a member of the HP Credit Union and felt privileged to shop at Price Club. Costco later entered the market as a competitor to Price Club and as it happened Costco bought Price Club to become Price-Costo and then it was simply Costco. I have had a Costco membership since forever.
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