Weather Report

Weather reports a few days ago predicted severe rainfall and flooding in Northern and Central California but it turned out to be a storm in a teacup.

After a few weeks in San Jose CA at a friend’s home, I was in Palo Alto CA at another friend’s home for a few days. Being in Palo Alto was interesting for two unrelated events. First, the mega-fraudster Sam Bankman-Fried of the FTX and Alameda Research fame was/is confined at his parents’ home in Palo Alto. So “SBF” was a neighbor of sorts for a bit.

As it happens, SBF was at a New York court on Jan 3rd for his arraignment and pleaded not guilty to all the charges. We’re sure to hear more about his embezzlement in the coming months. Continue reading “Weather Report”

Technology

Iron Pillar in Delhi

The iron pillar in Delhi is an amazing object. At over 7 meters in length and weighing over three tonnes, it was made about 16 centuries ago from forge-welded wrought iron pieces. It is so corrosion resistant that it has survived the ravages of nature, and is strong enough that it even withstood destruction by cannon fire by Nadir Shah’s army about three centuries ago.

The people who cast that pillar had the technology to make that pillar. Which means that they knew how to make an iron pillar which resists corrosion for over a millennium and a half. The operative phrase in the previous sentence is “knew how to” — which is the definition of technology that we focus on. Continue reading “Technology”

A Mudumalai Bear

Click on image to embiggen

Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity. That adage is known as Hanlon’s Razor.

I wondered about the mentality of the people who decided that disallowing photos at nature preserves is a great idea. Were they merely stupid or was something else motivating them? They have those signs at the Tiger Reserves at Bandipur and Mudumalai. Continue reading “A Mudumalai Bear”

Twitter

The good news is that Elon Musk bought twitter. The better news is that Musk fired the CEO Parag Agrawal, and the CFO Ned Segal. Best of all, he fired Vijaya Gadde, head of legal policy. She had made the decision to permanently suspend Donald Trump.

Musk sent a message to twitter advertisers. In it, he lays out his reason for taking total control of twitter. Here it is: Continue reading “Twitter”

Progress in Life Expectancy

It’s important for us to realize the great progress humanity has made in the last 200 or so years. Life expectancy at birth is a summary measure of human wellbeing.

For nearly all of human history, life expectancy at birth was around 30 years in all regions of the world. Then around 200 years ago, global health inequality became a reality. The website, Our World in Data, presents data extraordinarily well. Continue reading “Progress in Life Expectancy”

All India Radio Signature Tune

Before the advent of television in India, people who could afford a radio were definitely familiar with the signature tune of “All India Radio”, the government run public radio channel.

We had a radio at home when I was growing up. I remember with great fondness the AIR signature tune. I post it below. First a bit about AIR, also known as Akashvani (literally “voice from the sky.”) The wiki says: Continue reading “All India Radio Signature Tune”

Reagan’s Final Speech

Ronald Reagan was arguably one of the best presidents that the US has had in the modern age. He understood the value of freedom and liberalism. Here’s his last speech as the president of the US.

I found this on twitter. I use twdown.net to download twitter videos. Right click on a video on twitter, copy the video link, and paste it to twdown. Then “save link as” and you are done.

Greetings from India.

Money

David Deutsch tweeted the following:

David is right. The exchange of money for a painting is just a trade that does not alter the total amount of goods and services (resources) available in an economy. Person buying the painting acquires property rights over the painting, and the seller has the money–which represents claims on resources. The seller of the painting can do whatever he wants, including giving it to charity. The buyer could have given the money to charity instead of acquiring the rights to the painting. Continue reading “Money”

Lessons from Economics

Too ignorant to know that planning fails
The Road to Hell

The fundamentals of economics is fun to learn. They are also somewhat counter-intuitive, until you internalize them and then it becomes part of your intuition.

Friedrich von Hayek held that “The curious task of economics is to demonstrate to men how little they really know about what they imagine they can design.”

Social engineering and economic planning fails precisely when social scientists, instead of being students, presume to be able to intervene into things that are not amenable to design. The worst offenders in this regard are ignorant politicians. They push the country into needless poverty. Continue reading “Lessons from Economics”

The Imminent Energy Shock

The biological world presented a mystery to people for millennia. The variety of life forms on earth was clearly immense. It was also clear to some observers of the biological world of life on land and in water that they were the result of evolution that led to the formation of new species of plants and animals. It was well understood that the various life forms evolved from earlier life forms, and that all life was related to all others. The difficulty lay in explaining the mechanism for evolution.

Some other observers held a different view. They argued that the variety of life forms on earth were created by an act of creation. That implied that there was a creator who designed and seeded earth with the all kinds of life we see on earth. They are called “creationists” and are distinct from “evolutionists” who believed in evolution. Continue reading “The Imminent Energy Shock”

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