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”
Sky Map comes with no warranties! If you choose to use it to navigate the high seas and you hit an iceberg, it’s your responsibility. If you tell your kids that the bright thing in the sky is Jupiter and it turns out to be a UFO and you are subsequently kidnapped by aliens – not our responsibility. If your kids subsequently fail their science homework – not our responsibility. If it wipes all the data in your phone, including the photos of the UFO that were going to make you rich – not our responsibility. If it causes your phone to tear a hole in the fabric of space and time, OK – that one is on us. Any other calamities not listed above — not our responsibility. Don’t use it while driving or carrying scissors.
Welcome to 2018. The past year was good but this one is likely to be much better. I think in 2018 I will get a good deal of stuff done. One of the major tasks is the cleaning up of this blog. There’s too much stuff here, some of which needs to be sorted, rewritten, polished up and published.
I will write more frequently. Also, I will post interesting videos, and extended quotes, audio, etc. Here’s a quote from Frank Herbert’s “Chapterhouse: Dune.” (1985):
All governments suffer a recurring problem: Power attracts pathological personalities. It is not that power corrupts but that it is magnetic to the corruptible.
Humans do bad stuff. But not all the time. Sometimes they are good. They become superheros and rescue a brood of ducklings. I wonder how did they fall into the storm drain in the first place, considering the fact that ducklings are precocial — they are born with eyes wide open and are able to fend for themselves within hours of hatching.
Anyway, this is the first ask me anything this year. What’s on your mind? Continue reading “AMA – the Ducklings Rescue Edition”
“At the heart of economics is a scientific mystery: How is it that the pricing system accomplishes the world’s work without anyone being in charge? Like language, no one invented it. None of us could have invented it, and its operation depends in no way on anyone’s comprehension or understanding of it. … The pricing system–How is order produced from freedom of choice?–is a scientific mystery as deep, fundamental and inspiring as that of the expanding universe or the forces that bind matter.”
That’s Vernon Smith, who was awarded the 2002 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences. Continue reading “AMA – Order Out of Freedom of Choice is a Scientific Mystery”