California is the 6th Largest Economy

sz234California has overtaken France as the world’s sixth-largest economy, reports Bloomberg.

  • California GDP of $2.5 trillion. Larger than France. Much larger than India.
  • Population (million):
    California       30
    France             66
    India             1300
  • California is home to four of the world’s 10 largest corporations, including Alphabet Inc (Google) and Facebook.

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Squandering India’s Greatest Opportunity

sz191 “There is a tide in the affairs of men. Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune . . .” Shakespeare used a sailing metaphor of tides for what in modern terminology we call “a window of opportunity” or ” an inflection point”. There are inflection points in the affairs of countries too.

India has had a number of those. One was in 1947. Then came another when Nehru died (and not a day too soon.) Then another when Indira Gandhi lost the elections following the imposition of “Emergency” and assuming dictatorial powers. Then another when she paid for her misadventures in Punjab by being shot by her bodyguards. Then another when her son Rajiv was killed by a suicide bomber. All of them were inflection points, amazing opportunities for India to change tack. All were not taken at the flood and India continued to be bound in shallows and miseries.
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Eddie Izzard on Language

Time for a comic relief from all the seriousness this place has descended to. The typewriter monkeys have been complaining. A bit of levity would do them good. So here’s a bit of humor and silliness. It’s one of my favorite stand-up comics, the incomparable Eddie Izzard. Since I mentioned typewriter monkeys, this excerpt from one of his shows is appropriate. To fully appreciate it, it is good to know a bit of French. I understand only a bit — un peu — of French. Mostly safe for work but he does use the occasional 4-letter word.

“An Eye for an Eye” is Deterrence Against Violence

The concept of deterrence is the credible commitment to retaliation by one party to convince another party to not initiate force. If one party can convincingly persuade another party that any act of unprovoked violence will be met with equal or greater violence, that would constitute effective deterrence. The assumption is that both parties are rational. Here rational is defined as apprehending a situation accurately and acting in one’s own self-interest. Gandhi did not understand this simple idea, being blinded by his admiration of the Christian bilge about “turning the other cheek”.

Gayatri Jayaraman (‏@Gayatri__J) wrote this on twitter:

“an eye for an eye will leave the world blind” – Mahatma Gandhi. Why ahimsa is the only force that can win us our wars

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Guns are Instruments, Not Sentient Volitional Beings

In yesterday’s Ask Me Anything, Abhay Rajan asked what I thought of the Second Amendment, no doubt prompted by the horrific mass shooting in a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, on Saturday night/Sunday morning at 2 AM Eastern. So far there are 50 people dead, and some from the critically injured may push that number up. The dead terrorist has been identified as Omar Mateen, a supporter of the Islamic State.

The 2nd amendment to the US constitution says, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” [See the Cornell University Law School page on the 2nd Amendment for a brief discussion of it.]

My view on “the right of the people to keep and bear arms” is based on the principle that people should have the right to protect themselves against aggression. My ethical and moral position is that initiating aggression or coercion is almost[1] never justified, and one is perfectly justified to resist, violently if necessary, anyone who initiates force against one. The right to bear arms is therefore instrumental in keeping the peace by deterring those who would initiate violence.
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Open Thread — Ask Me Anything

Been a while since the last open thread. Feel free to ask questions, or make suggestions.

Here’s a nice picture. It’s from the 2014 National Geographic Photo Contest. A smoke column billows above the forest fire in Banff National Park, one of Canada’s most beautiful places.

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Update Jun 18th: Responses to the questions asked in the comments below are here.