Democracy, Elections and Voting — Part 3

Winston Churchill’s pithy observation that “the best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter” is unfortunately too accurate to be dismissed lightly. We are often acutely reminded of that by the results of elections, in developed as well as in developing countries. It is a marvel that the myth of the enlightened voter persists against all evidence to the contrary.
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Open Thread: The why of things

“The man who knows how will always have a job. The man who knows why will always be his boss.” Ralph Waldo Emerson was a clever man. Someone else wrote that if we know the why, we can always figure out the how. Perhaps it was I or perhaps it was someone smarter. Anyhow, this is an open thread. Say what you will. I am going to be back in a bit.

Happy Birthday, Gautam Buddha

Gautam, aka Sakyamuni (the sage of the Sakyas), became a buddha around 2,500 years ago. Today, known as Buddha Purnima, the day of the full moon in May, is celebrated as his birthday. So here’s the Chinese singer Imee Ooi singing the Prajna Paramita Hridaya Sutra, aka The Heart Sutra. Listen.
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Railway Track Replacement Machine in Action

Many of you know that I believe that the backbone of India’s transportation system has to be rail-based. I love trains and continue to marvel at how amazing railroads are. This post is about how amazing are the machines that lay, repair and replace railroad tracks in advanced industrialized countries (and I suppose nowadays in China.)
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India’s Much Vaunted Freedom

I think the reports of India’s independence from colonial rule are severely exaggerated. Indians have been under foreign rule for several centuries and have become accustomed to being treated like irresponsible slaves, demanding to be controlled. Sure they do “democratically” determine who will rule them, but in the end, they are still slaves entrusted with the task of electing their masters. And the masters decide what the slaves will hear, read, and write. Let me explain why I hold the slaves with special contempt — because they acquiesce so willingly to their slavery.
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Democracy, Elections and Voting — Part 2

The importance of rules cannot be overestimated. Human societies differ not so much in the physical characteristics of people or their mental capabilities as they do in the rule-sets that define and distinguish them. If we have to understand why some societies prosper and others don’t, we could do worse than to examine their rules. Culture is another term for the collection of rules, and it more than any other factor determines how successful a society is.
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Pricing a Book

The pricing of a book is an interesting economics problem. For economic efficiency, the price should be equal to the marginal cost. But as often happens, marginal costs are sometimes far below average costs (due to fixed costs.) So P=MC leaves a deficit in the recovery of full costs. Therefore P>MC has to be it. For ebooks, the MC=~0. But if you shift some of the deficit by pricing ebooks > 0, you reduce the deficit. I have been thinking about book pricing because we have to attach a price to my book.
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Democracy, Elections and Voting

Of course pretty much everyone knows that democracy, universal franchise, “first past the post” elections, etc, is the best way — if not the only way — to organize our political system. In a country overflowing with religions, that should be considered another religion. And as with other religions, since they have been brought up thinking in a particular way, people accept its articles of faith without question, and anyone doubting its tenets is met with hostility. At the risk of being branded a foreign agent and an enemy of “the people” I invite you to question the conventional wisdom and to seek change.
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