Of Prizes and People

First Prize

We humans instinctively categorize, especially people. We are amateur primitive set-theoreticians. There are infinite ways to categorize people since humans have a humongous number of characteristics.

Consider the categories of people who award prize and people who win prizes. In my view, people who institute prizes belong to the most prestigious set. I order the sets as:

  1. People who institute prizes.
  2. People who win prizes.
  3. People who don’t win prizes.
  4. People who award themselves prizes.

For example, Alfred Nobel belongs to the first set; Einstein to the second set; ordinary grunts like us, who never come within shouting distance of any prestigious award make up the majority of humanity, belong to the third set. We are mostly harmless and generally unimpressive. Continue reading

What is Success?

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Ralph Waldo Emerson

The good life has to be a happy life. I am much in favor of Bertrand Russell’s view on the good life: “The good life, as I conceive it, is a happy life. I do not mean that if you are good you will be happy – I mean that if you are happy you will be good.” The good life also has to be the successful life. But what is a successful life? The definition must vary from person to person. I like the simplicity of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s operational definition:  Continue reading

The Pale Blue Dot

Carl Sagan was a man of extraordinary vision — and what is more, a man who helped others to see more clearly. Here’s Sagan’s meditation on that little speck seen in this image taken from a distance of 6.4 billion kms from earth, the place we call home. The image was taken by Voyager 1 (launched 1977) in 1990 on its way out of the solar system. It shows earth as if it were a “mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.” Sagan had persuaded NASA to command the spacecraft to capture this image. He explained the significance of that picture in his 1994 book, The Pale Blue Dot. See below for a reading of that bit by Sagan.
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Out of the Ruts of Ordinary Perception

“To be shaken out of the ruts of ordinary perception, to be shown for a few timeless hours the outer and inner world, not as they appear to an animal obsessed with survival or to a human being obsessed with words and notions, but as they are apprehended, directly and unconditionally, by Mind at Large — this is an experience of inestimable value to everyone and especially to the intellectual.” Continue reading