I trust you are well and keeping yourself safe from the Chinese virus. Here’s an old post from four years ago about viruses for your reading pleasure. It’s titled “Viruses, Ideas and their Life Expectancy” which is topical.
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 — ISO 8601 edition”
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 — Is Economics Hard?”
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.
Well, you have to admit that Milton Friedman was the nicest, most gentlemanly economist ever. Even when heckled by his student audience, his smile always accompanied his razor-sharp wit and wisdom. Here’s a sample:
Ask me anything. Maybe I’ll smile. Or maybe not.
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 Bodhidharma 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. Continue reading “Ask me anything — The Elections Edition”
So I am back at home after wandering around in India. I flew Jet Airways between BOM and LHR, and Virgin Atlantic between LHR and IAD. Talking of Jet Airways, an owl had offered to pilot one of their 777s.
I found a nice little poem in the comments to that squawk:
A wise old owl sat on an oak,
The more he saw, the less he spoke,
The less he spoke, the more he heard,
Why can’t we be like that wise old bird?
Recently I got to know about Zoom and even had a zoom webinar a few days ago. I think we should give Zoom a spin and hold an “ask me anything” session. Just generally chat. Particularly we can discuss why Shabana Azmi is a moron. Here are the details: Continue reading “Ask Me Anything — On Zoom”
“Doggie, wait here a sec. I have got this important thing to get done. Then we go on with our walk, okay?”
Doing the important thing is not the difficult part of life. Indeed it’s the fun part. The difficulty lies in figuring out what’s the important thing.
Fortunately, a good many people have thought hard about what’s important and we have access to their writings. The ability to read has to be one of the most rewarding skills we learn. Continue reading “Ask Me Anything – The Important Thing edition”