Experts

Thanks to Akshay for his comment. From it, I learned something important (see the end of this post.) I love pushback because then I get off my lazy ass and actually write a post.

Both Carl Sagan and Freeman Dyson are excellent exemplars of people who are both well-informed and well-meaning. I would add that they were not just highly intelligent but were also exceedingly wise. However they differed in their assessment of how critical the climate change issue was. This is not surprising because the matter is one on which reasonable people could disagree. It is important to note their divergent opinions and explain it. Continue reading “Experts”

California

Solace St, San Jose, CA. (Click to embiggen)

Having lived most of my adult life in the San Francisco Bay area, I naturally think of it as home. I’ve been a citizen of California for decades.

I have made life-long friends here, worked here, gone to graduate school here, taught at various universities here, owned a home here, vacationed in the many national parks here. In short, I am a Californian. Therefore seeing what’s happening to it is distressing, to say the least.

Why the decline and fall of California? Questions about complex phenomena that begin with “why” are “over-determined” (as economists are fond of saying.) There are multiple causal factors, none of which are individually sufficient but various different combinations of them could be responsible. These factors could be economic, technological, social, cultural or historical. Analysis of complex phenomena is never entirely settled. In other words, it’s not rocket science; it’s social science. Continue reading “California”

Learn Before We Act

On Fridays once in a while I engage with a few teenagers and a couple of my adult friends. We discuss matters of mutual interest. Lately it’s been about climate change and global warming.

I am persuaded that the young are being systematically misled by a committed group of interested parties that have an agenda to profit from misdirection and misinformation.

The image of a TV meteorological report at the top of this post exemplifies my point about misdirection.The top part is colored green and the bottom part red. They are five years apart. The impression conveyed is that the world is melting due to high temperatures but if you care to notice, you’d see that the temperatures reported are pretty much the same.

This has to be resisted. In the following, I present a bit of what I recently wrote to the group of teenagers I engage with on Fridays. Here it is, for the record. Continue reading “Learn Before We Act”

Across the Universe

NGC 1300 (Click to embiggen)

Images of broken light which dance before me like a million eyes
They call me on and on across the universe …

Words magically conjure images in our minds, especially if they are not reportage but instead are attempted expressions of the ineffable. That is why I like certain songs not just for their musical quality but those with lyrics that evoke mystery and longing.

The words quoted above are from the song “Across the Universe” by the Beatles. They evoke images in my mind that are like the image (at the top of this post) of the barred spiral galaxy discovered by John Herschel in 1835, NGC 1300. It is about 110,000 light-years across and 61 million light-years away. We are unlikely to visit it anytime ever. Continue reading “Across the Universe”

Coronation

Today was the coronation of King Charles III of the UK. Pretty big day for some people — around 130 million of them who have him as the head of 15 countries, including Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Jamaica, etc.

But we’d have to admit not all of them are his loyal subjects. Celtic fans at the Scottish Cup Semi-finals at Hampden Park last week sent a clear message to his royal highness (note the lack of capitalization). They were not pledging their loyalty. Instead they told him what to do with his coronation. Continue reading “Coronation”

Convergence

I concluded the post on well-being with: “The trend of increasing wealth, income and consumption is undeniable. The question is what is the trend in inequality? And what of well-being? While the level of well-being is undoubtedly rising around the world, is it also becoming more unequal?”

The world is unequal in terms of wealth and income for certain. Empirical evidence shows that inequality in wealth and income is increasing monotonically. Since wealth and income are positively correlated with consumption, and are also causally linked, one can conclude that inequality of consumption must be growing as well. It is.

That much is clear. Now let’s talk about well-being. What is it? It’s a feeling of being well. It’s about having our needs — physiological, psychological, emotional — satisfied. These needs are met through consumption. We consume water to meet the physiological need to satisfy thirst, for instance. We need stuff to meet our needs; stuff that may be in short supply relative to demand. Continue reading “Convergence”

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