Licenses

The news item reads, “UP makes it mandatory to obtain license for home bar.” It’s just one more small step on the road to serfdom.

The population should be alarmed at the proliferation of the license mandates and the steady encroachment by unaccountable bureaucrats into the private lives of citizens. The license-permit-quota-control raj continues relentlessly imposing its will on a powerless people. This would not be tolerated by any population that values freedom — which in our case we do not have.

Licenses and permits may be justified only under specific circumstances. For example, if the activity could lead to harm to others, it would be permissible to require that a person is sufficiently skilled in the activity. An untrained operator of heavy construction or transportation equipment could kill innocent people. Pilots of commercial airliners must be certified to fly. Continue reading

Right to Bear Arms

I took a Vistara flight from Mumbai to Bangalore a week ago Sunday. In preparation for the flight, I checked out their website and came across their ‘kirpan’ policy which states:

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Carriage of “Kirpan” by Sikh Passengers

A ‘Kirpan’ with a total maximum length of 9 inches (22.86 cm), but a blade not exceeding 06 inches (15.24 cm), is permitted for carriage by a Sikh Passenger on their person, within India.
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Kirpans[1] serve a function that is motivated by religion. The airline rule permits those who profess the Sikh faith to carry a weapon on board a commercial flight that is not allowed to non-Sikhs. This is discrimination based on religion.
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Hello from Bangalore

I’m visiting my friend KM and his family in Bangalore (aka Bengaluru) after many years. The weather in this city is better than any other major Indian city’s. If I were to live in India, I’d choose this city. I took the picture above from the 15th floor apartment in a development called Brigade Gateway in Malleswaram — it has everything that you’d need: residential towers, school, hotel, mall (Orion), hospital, mega store, parks, gyms, restaurants, office complexes, etc etc. Continue reading

Elon Musk on Laws

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you are prepared to understand why Elon Musk is a remarkably intelligent man.

I’m not saying that you would have become capable of judging his business sense or his rocket designing abilities by reading my blog; what I mean is that you have a pretty good understanding of how governments fail and what should be done to reduce the harm that governments do. Here’s a rough edited transcript of what Elon said in an interview, part of which was published on YouTube on Sept 3rd, a few days ago: Continue reading

AMA – the Ganesh Chaturthi edition

Ganesh Chaturthi greetings. After many years, I find myself in Mumbai during Ganesh puja. It appears very subdued — understandably so.

In the normal course, I usually visit India twice a year. But this time I am back in India after a bit over two years. Nothing much appears to have changed in Mumbai — the streets are mostly dug up and under construction that proceeds at a glacial pace. Ganesh is the Remover of Obstacles. The BMC (the public works corporation of Mumbai) is the Anti-Ganesh: it is the Installer of Obstacles.

It’s been a while since I posted an Ask Me Anything. So ask away. And listen to Kishori-tai. Continue reading

Amazing Internet

These are two remarkable facts about our modern world. One is that it is incredibly amazing, and the other is that we’re incredibly blasé about that amazingness. Our attitude is just boring ho-hum. It takes effort to step back and realize how astonishing our world is — even compared to only a couple of decades ago. I think it would do us good to pause once in a while and admire what humans have been able to achieve in a relatively short period.

Here I will point out a little bit of that amazing stuff that I experienced yesterday. Continue reading

No

I think that the most succinct definition of freedom could be the right to say no to another. This was brought home to me in a recent family situation. Never mind the specifics of the situation, the general point is that if a person doesn’t have the freedom to say no, that person is not free. A person must have the freedom to say no if the concept of being free has to have any content.

Suppose I were to demand that you allow me into your home. If and only if you have the right to deny me entrance into your home does the concept of you owning your home have any content. If you can say, “No, you cannot come into my home”, only then does the concept of you owning your home become meaningful. You must have the right to say no, regardless of the reason why you deny me access to your home. If I could somehow enter your home whether you agree or not, then you clearly don’t have ownership of your home. Continue reading

Superabundance

I have been working on an idea for the last few months. I call it “The Beginning of Superabundance” (the title being a hat-tip to David Deutsch’s book, “The Beginning of Infinity.”) There’s something incredible in the works for the world of only a couple of decades hence. That world will be as different from our world today as our world is different from the world of our stone age ancestors. Our ancestors of even a few hundred years ago could not have imagined the marvels — they really are marvels if you think about it — of our world today. Similarly, it is impossible for us to imagine the world of superabundance in any detail but the broad outlines can be guessed provided one thinks intelligently about it.

The future world is being built by a bunch of very remarkable people. The guy who is the leader of that lot is Elon Musk. There have been extremely rich people, extremely visionary people, extremely intelligent people, extremely diligent people, extremely ambitious people but it’s a rare individual — perhaps one in a billion — who combines all those extreme qualities. Musk is that one in a billion. Continue reading

Navras & Neodämmerung

असतो मा सद्गमय ।
तमसो मा ज्योतिर्गमय ।
मृत्योर्माऽमृतं गमय ॥
asato mā sadgamaya,
tamaso mā jyotirgamaya,
mṛtyormā’mṛtaṃ gamaya.
From falsehood lead me to truth,
From darkness lead me to light,
From death lead me to immortality.
That’s known as the Pavamana Mantra. It is one of the very few mantras I know. Another one I can recite by heart is the Gayatri Mantra. It goes thusly:
ॐ भूर्भुवः स्वः तत्सवितुर्वरेण्यं भर्गो देवस्य धीमहि धियो यो नः प्रचोदयात् ॥

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Total Solar Eclipse

Total solar eclipse is seen on Monday, August 21, 2017 above Madras, Oregon. It swept across a narrow portion of the contiguous United States. Click to go to the NASA site.

The 4th anniversary of the Great American Total Solar Eclipse of Aug 21st, 2017, was two days ago. I had looked forward to it for years, and in August of 2017, on a cross-continent drive from the West coast of the US to the East coast, I got the opportunity to witness that awesome event astronomical event.

I had planned it such that I was in Chicago, IL on Aug 18. Around 4 AM on Aug 21, I drove from Chicago to Carbondale, IL, a distance of around 330 miles (550 kms). I reached around noon and was all set up to catch the totality around 1 PM.

The totality lasted for around 2 minutes and 39 seconds where I was — which was about 3 seconds less than the maximum duration of the totality.

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