Eta Carinae

https://xkcd.com/2360/

The universe is amazing. The more you learn about it, the more you realize how absolutely, unbelieveably amazing it is. A related amazing thing is that these days you can learn about the universe from the comfort of your living room or study.

This may seem unrelated to what has been a major focus of this blog recently but actually it is related. I will point out the connection later. For now, let’s talk about Eta Carinae, which xkcd notes (click on the image above) is a luminous blue hypergiant with anomalous FeII emission spectra. Continue reading

From the Archives: US Elections are a Sideshow

Kabuki

The dictionary definition of a sideshow is “a minor show offered in addition to a main exhibition (as of a circus); an incidental diversion or spectacle.” I think all elections are sideshows. I used to consider them as mostly innocuous but I have been persuaded that they are actually a significant part of the pernicious scheme that enslaves people.

Elections are used to maintain the illusion that the people are in charge of their lives, that they are involved in their government and therefore the government they elect is legitimate, and consequently whatever the government does is also legitimate. Democracy is a big fat lie that the people have been brainwashed into swallowing. This will naturally stick in the craw of many of my readers (the majority of whom are Indians.)

I wrote the following piece in Oct 2012, just before the US presidential election. Much of what I wrote holds true in this US presidential election season. Please note that the trade figures mentioned in the following must have changed over time. Continue reading

Anatomy of the State

Murray Rothbard (1926-1995) — Austrian school American economist, economic historian and political theorist — was committed to individual liberty. He was dedicated to analysing the nature of the state and why it is always an enemy of freedom. His book Anatomy of the State (free download at Mises.org) is a must-read for anyone interested in understanding how the state functions and why. About the book:

[It] gives a succinct account of Rothbard’s view of the state. Following Franz Oppenheimer and Albert Jay Nock, Rothbard regards the state as a predatory entity. It does not produce anything but rather steals resources from those engaged in production. … How can an organization of this type sustain itself? It must engage in propaganda to induce popular support for its policies. …

Continue reading

This Policy, Alone – Part 5

Centrifuges

There’s something peculiar about the world today that was not true about the world of the past. It’s this: the world of today is about ideas whereas the world of the past before the recent 500 years or so was a world that was about objects. Ideas, and not objects, characterize today’s world. This distinction between ideas and objects lies at the core of the argument of why freeing education from the clutches of the government of India is central to India reaching its potential. Continue reading

Victor Davis Hanson on Immigration

Victor Davis Hanson of the Hoover Institution is one of my favorites. Historian and classicist, he helps make sense of the world. Here’s an audio extract from one of his videos. The video is around 24 minutes long; the excerpt is half as long. In it he addresses the question of why people migrate to the West and not from the West.

As I am an immigrant, I can relate to the topic. After I got to the US, I began to understand that countries differ significantly in what they have to offer. The US is obviously more prosperous than India. At first I did not know nor did I particularly care why the US was so rich. But soon enough the matter intrigued me. Why was India so poor in comparison to the US? Continue reading

This Policy, Alone – Part 4

In this essay I aim to argue that if the education sector is totally deregulated and the free market is allowed to operate in it, then it will bring about a transformation that will enable the Indian economy to reach its potential by liberating the human capital that is the limiting factor now.

(Previously Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.)

For the moment I will leave the matter of why liberalization of education will transform the sector and how the free market will meet the obvious challenges. For now, I will address the point about why the government will not allow the liberalization of education regardless of how urgently necessary that may be or how unimaginably beneficial it could be for the country. Continue reading

This Policy, Alone – Part 3

Part 1
Part 2

The modern world is different from the world of the recent past of, say, just 50 years ago. The nature of manufacturing, agriculture and services — the three broad categories of human enterprise — have been transformed in just a matter of decades. The biggest change has been that labor productivity has increased tremendously because of technological advances. These technological advances have increased the role of capital in the production process. That means every aspect of production, distribution and consumption of goods and services involves more machines and more automation now than it used to be the case. Continue reading

Wildfires in the Western United States

Weather.com reports that nearly 100 wild fires are burning in the western states of California, Oregon and Washington. Here’s a photo taken yesterday around noon without filter somewhere in Oregon. (Image credit: @BuitengebiedenB)

Credit @BuitengebiedenB

Why do the skies appear red and orange? Nasa.gov explains —

The smoke particles from the fires allow sunlight’s longer wavelength colors like red and orange to get through while blocking the shorter wavelengths of yellow, blue and green. Those longer wavelengths give the sky a red or orange tinted appearance. Similarly, during sunrise and sunset times when the sun is near the horizon, sunlight has to travel through more of Earth’s atmosphere to get to you. The additional atmosphere filters out the shorter wavelengths and allows the longer wavelengths to get through, providing reds and oranges during those times.

Here are a couple of videos of the skies. Continue reading

This Policy, Alone – Part 2

The claim in the previous part of this essay was that one of the most important policies changes that India needs is to liberate the education sector from political and bureaucratic control, and that the free market must be allowed to operate in the educational sector.

Why do I stress education? It’s important to me because I have benefited enormously from being educated. It has enabled me to make a net positive contribution to the world — which is reflected in the fact that people voluntarily pay me in exchange for my services.

Education enables a person to do well and achieve his potential. An uneducated person is handicapped. And that handicap is a tragedy if it can be easily avoided. Aside from that pragmatic and utilitarian reason, it increases a person’s capacity to enjoy and appreciate the world around him. Continue reading

This Policy, Alone

And now for the big reveal that is the answer to the post “A Policy Question” I had posed. That policy is simply this: Make the education sector absolutely free-market. I will attempt to justify why this simple policy change meets all the criteria I had listed.

A few people have responded to me privately and some have posted public comments to that post. Reader baransam1 replied “stop funding government schools.” Close but not quite, as it will become clear later. Sri suggested “currency should be pegged.” That may or may not be a positive. I don’t understand monetary policy and don’t have any confidence in macroeconomic policies. Aks rambled for a bit but in some sense came close to the policy I recommend. He wrote, “We need to free education from government.” Good job. My friend APD too reached a similar position. Continue reading