Something to Read: Ricky Gervais, Wendell Berry

This blog has been having a holiday because, well because it’s the holidays! But seriously, I am busy reading and writing. Reading stuff on a new Kindle. And on the web. Writing a bit on the side and thinking a lot. Here are a few pieces that I particularly liked.
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Ronald Coase and his Theorem

Ronald Coase, the author of “The Nature of the Firm” (1937), turns 100 on December 29th, reports The Economist. Wow! If you have not heard about Coase — which is likely if you are not an economist — you have a treat waiting for you.
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On Cities and my Continued Education

A wonderful side-effect of blogging is that readers help you with your education. Long-time readers know of my obsession with urbanization as an instrument of development. So whenever an article on the importance of cities and urbanization appears in the popular media, I get a dozen emails from people telling me about it. One such piece is the NY Times magazine Dec 17th piece “A Physicist Solves the City” by Jonah Lehrer about Geoffrey West. Thanks to all who send me stuff to read and I sincerely appreciate your help with my continued education. Urbanization and cities matter to me, and so does my education.

Wikileaks is good for the Third World

The other day a friend asked me, “I have often heard about India being a third-world country. What exactly is the third world?” It struck me that most of us are ignorant about what that exactly means. I said to my friend that “third world” was an euphemism for “desperately poor extremely underdeveloped starving nations utterly misgoverned by unimaginably corrupt kleptocrats.”[1] And, I added, as a consequence, the third world is a world of human-created misery.
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Wikileaks Will Make The World A Safer Place Swift, author of the English classic Gulliver’s Travels (1726), had pithily observed that “when a true genius appears, you can know him by this sign: that all the dunces are in a confederacy against him.” I would be going over the top to pass Julian Assange on that genius test but seeing the army of powerful people and institutions arrayed against him, I am getting more convinced that Wikileaks has changed the world in ways that are only dimly understood today. I am careful to distinguish between the man and the institution since confusing the two can lead to the unfortunate mistake of shooting the messenger for delivering an unpalatable message.
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Raghuveer Mukkamalla on Jeopardy!

Raghuveer Mukkamalla
Raghuveer will be on Jeopardy Dec 29th

This is exciting. Jeopardy is a favorite quiz show. Long-time reader of this blog, Raghuveer, will be on Jeopardy Dec 29th. Mark your calendars! (The last time I was in Washington DC in September, I met Raghuveer and his family.)

Does your brain work differently?

Apparently according to this test, my brain works quite like that of the vast majority of humans. Take this quick test to check your thought pattern. Do tell what happened in a comment but please don’t spoil the test for others by revealing your answer. Just say whether you are with the majority or not. It would be interesting to see how the numbers stack up. Thanks much. (Caution: Don’t read the comments if you want to do the test and not prejudice yourself.)
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Avinash Dixit: Indian Economist Par Excellence

It’s funny how India produces world-class economists but is an impoverished third-world country with an economy that languishes at the bottom of the barrel. Not ha-ha funny but ironically funny. Still, as Indians we can hold up our heads with pride that in our tribe we have economists such as Bhagwati, Srinivasan, Dasgupta, Bardhan, Basu — and of course Dixit.
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