Ask me anything — the quotes edition

I love quotes. I have a very large collection of quotes, some of which I have even published in The Big Page of Quotations on this blog. It’s a work in progress and I update that page intermittently. Here I present to you a few quotes that I had tweeted.

I think the popular belief is that governments are like doctors with respect to economies; doctors heal the sick but are not responsible for the disease, and governments can fix the economy but are not responsible for the economic problems. But governments are not like doctors at all; they cause the economic diseases nations suffer, and their interventions actually make things worse.

It’s like the practise of blood-letting by doctors before the advent of modern medical practices — all it did was only to make the patient sicker. Buddha’s injunction was “First do no harm.” That applies to us all, and especially so when it comes to those in government. The recent indiscriminate Covid-19 lockdowns by governments is the 21st century equivalent of blood-letting. Continue reading

This I Have Learned

Asato ma sadgamaya

Over a life mostly devoted to learning stuff and not much else except goofing off, I have learned quite a few interesting things. Interesting not in some absolute, objective or universal sense but only particular to me given my preferences, my talents and the opportunities I had.

From quite an early age, I recognized that the yoga consistent with my nature was gyan yoga, the way of knowledge and understanding. That was my dharma. Karma yoga is not my path since I don’t get things done. Left to do as I please, I’d do nothing. Neither is bhakti yoga since I am into any spiritual discipline. Continue reading

Open Thread — Ask me Anything

* Molly’s kitchen garden flowers

Been a few days since the last entry on the blog. To jump start this stalled system here’s an open thread. What’s on your mind?

The purple flowers on the left are from a friend’s kitchen garden in Westmont, IL. Click on the image to embiggen in a new tab. Below, just for fun, I’d like to present two quite unrelated videos. I imply nothing by the conjunction. I hope you get a laugh out of them. Continue reading

Ask me anything — ISO 8601 edition

Some standards in the US are really absurdly eccentric and irrational. It’s the only advanced industrialized country that uses the British system of weights and measures. It uses foot, pound, gallon, degrees Fahrenheit instead of meter, kilo, liter, degrees Celsius. (Please stop with the centigrade thing already.)

The other two countries — Liberia and Myanmar –which have the same insanity are not exactly technologically advanced. Even the UK follows the metric system (with a few exceptions such as it is illegal for metric road signs and illegal to sell draught beer in metric.) Continue reading

Ask Me Anything — Is Economics Hard?

There’s a funny story in Robert Heilbroner’s 1953 book The Worldly Philosophers (which has been republished dozens of times):

One evening Keynes was having dinner with Max Planck, the physicist who was responsible for the development of quantum mechanics. Planck turned to Keynes and told him that he had once considered going into economics himself. But he decided against it – it was too hard. Keynes repeated this story with relish to a friend back at Cambridge. “Why, that’s odd,” said the friend. “Bertrand Russell was telling me just the other day that he’d also thought about going into economics. But he decided it was too easy.” Continue reading

Ask me Anything: The Knowledge Edition

Knowledge is power. It’s trite because it is almost trivially true. After all, knowledge is the foundation for technology, and technology gives your power. The  world depends on knowledge, and on so much of it that no single person can know it all; therefore the division of knowledge (which is implied by the division of labor that is at the heart of economic prosperity) becomes critically important.

Continue reading

Ask Me Anything — The Bodhidharma Edition

Porcelain statuette of Bodhidharma from the late Ming dynasty, 17th century

I am partial to Zen stories and koans. Zen is a Japanese tradition but I delight in the fact that its roots are Indian. That great tradition actually started in India as dhyana — which in English roughly translates into meditation. From India, the practice was taken to China. There is a famous Zen koan which says, “Why did Bodhidharma come from the West?” Meaning, why did Bodhidharma go from India to China.

The all knowing wiki quotes some esoteric source:

The Dharma Master was a South Indian of the Western Region. He was the third son of a great Indian king. His ambition lay in the Mahayana path, and so he put aside his white layman’s robe for the black robe of a monk […] Lamenting the decline of the true teaching in the outlands, he subsequently crossed distant mountains and seas, traveling about propagating the teaching in Han and Wei. Continue reading

Ask me anything — The Elections Edition

“The state—or, to make the matter more concrete, the government—consists of a gang of men exactly like you and me. They have, taking one with another, no special talent for the business of government; they have only a talent for getting and holding office. Their principal device to that end is to search out groups who pant and pine for something they can’t get, and to promise to give it to them. Nine times out of ten that promise is worth nothing. The tenth time it is made good by looting A to satisfy B. In other words, government is a broker in pillage, and every election is a sort of advance auction sale of stolen goods.

“Government, of course, has other functions, and some of them are useful and even valuable. It is supposed, in theory, to keep the peace, and also to protect the citizen against acts of God and the public enemy.” — Henry Louis Mencken.[1] Continue reading