Brexit — Yes, it is exiting. Good for them!!

brexitYesterday I predicted that Britain will vote to remain in the EU. I also said that it would be better for them to leave. I am thrilled that the popular vote proved me wrong. A little ray of sunshine in the general doom and gloom.

There’s too much news coverage of the decision. So let me point to two excellent voices that were arguing that Britain should and must leave. Watch these, not just for understanding a point of view but also how that point of view was expressed. These are object lessons in persuasion and oratory.
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Prediction: Will Britian Exit? No.

EU So tomorrow (I am writing this on Wednesday at 4 PM Pacific), Thursday, British voters would choose to remain or leave the European Union. I think it should leave. I don’t think it will.

The reason I think it should leave is summed up in this piece over at Britain’s Democracy is a Sham. Reason I think that it will remain is that I don’t hold voters (all voters, not just British) in very high regard. They are generally ignorant, myopic and gullible.

Ignorance, like mortality, is universal. All of us are mortal, all of us are ignorant. We are necessarily ignorant because the amount that is collectively known exceeds the capacity of any individual to know by several orders of magnitude. Each of us probably knows about 10 billionth of what there is to be known. My claim about voters being ignorant, though, has a different emphasis.

I think voters are ignorant about the specific issues that they are usually asked to indicate their preferences through their votes. Some of the smarter voters understand that they don’t understand the issues. That is they are not ignorant of their ignorance.

Richard Dawkins falls into that group. He confessed that he is not qualified to vote on the EU matter: “I don’t have a degree in economics. I’ll try to make up the deficiency by reading. But in a representative democracy we pay MPs to do such detailed homework for us. There may be simple issues for which a plebiscite is appropriate (fox hunting, perhaps). But why does anyone think an issue as complex as membership of EU is one of them?”

So there.

PSA: Use the Wayback Machine, Luke

sz255One of the occasionally useful but not very well known resource on the web is related to the web itself. It’s the Internet Archive Wayback Machine.

As the name indicates, it saves snapshots of the internet content as it appeared at some times in the past. As of now, it has saved 487 billion pages. The wiki has more details, which is definitely worth a read. Where is it physically located? Wiki says:

“The Archive has data centers in three Californian cities, San Francisco, Redwood City, and Richmond. Its collection is mirrored for stability and endurance at both the Bibliotheca Alexandrina in Egypt and at another facility in Amsterdam.”
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California is the 6th Largest Economy

sz234California has overtaken France as the world’s sixth-largest economy, reports Bloomberg.

  • California GDP of $2.5 trillion. Larger than France. Much larger than India.
  • Population (million):
    California       30
    France             66
    India             1300
  • California is home to four of the world’s 10 largest corporations, including Alphabet Inc (Google) and Facebook.

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Squandering India’s Greatest Opportunity

sz191 “There is a tide in the affairs of men. Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune . . .” Shakespeare used a sailing metaphor of tides for what in modern terminology we call “a window of opportunity” or ” an inflection point”. There are inflection points in the affairs of countries too.

India has had a number of those. One was in 1947. Then came another when Nehru died (and not a day too soon.) Then another when Indira Gandhi lost the elections following the imposition of “Emergency” and assuming dictatorial powers. Then another when she paid for her misadventures in Punjab by being shot by her bodyguards. Then another when her son Rajiv was killed by a suicide bomber. All of them were inflection points, amazing opportunities for India to change tack. All were not taken at the flood and India continued to be bound in shallows and miseries.
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Cornering the market for spelling bee championship

Well, what do you know? Once again Indian American kids have won the spelling bee. We’ll come to that in a bit. But first, here’s Akash Vukoti of San Angelo TX, just six years old and was the youngest of 280 contestants of the 2016 Scripps National Spelling Bee finals. He’s been at it since he was 2 years old. He’s pretty amazing. Watch this short video of him on a sneak peak of the NBC primetime show, “Little Big Shots,” which premiered in March. The little guy is full of beans and is an absolute delight.
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Mr Katju, here be dragons

Mr Katju, who is a retired supreme court judge, provided his insights into “abolishing unemployment in India” on social media yesterday. According to him, Soviet Russia solved that problem by “raising the purchasing power of the masses, and thereby rapidly expanding the economy and consequently abolishing unemployment.”

Mr Katju explains in subsequent comments how the scheme is supposed to work. It’s about reducing prices to increase “purchasing power”, he says. I don’t think he understands what prices or purchasing power means.

I have appended at the end of the post a few screen captures of Mr Katju’s submission to facebook and a couple of comments from his readers.

Mr Katju notes the steps the Soviet government took included the steady lowering of commodity prices, stepping up production, and the creation of jobs that abolished unemployment. He further notes that while the US was suffering the Great Depression of 1929, the Soviet economy was “rapidly expanding.” While not endorsing the Soviet method for India, he says that India should do something so “we can raise the purchasing power of the Indian masses and thereby rapidly expand the Indian economy, which is the only way of abolishing unemployment in India.”

He ends by writing, “The central point, and therefore the main problem before India, is how to raise the purchasing power of the masses? Do we follow the method of socialist countries, or some other method?” Continue reading “Mr Katju, here be dragons”

Trump is the Monstrous Crow

Tweedledum and Tweedledee
Agreed to have a battle;
For Tweedledum said Tweedledee
Had spoiled his nice new rattle.

Just then flew down a monstrous crow,
As black as a tar-barrel;
Which frightened both the heroes so,
They quite forgot their quarrel.

Trump is the monstrous crow, as black as a tar-barrel. He will be good for the US. The system needs a bit of shaking up. The Republicans and the Democrats — Tweeledum and Tweeledee — have messed it up with their kabuki. Their staged battles, costumes, flying through the air tricks, etc., is highly entertaining. The details of the stage design are a perfect metaphor for the existing political setup.

A disruption will dislodge the status quo and perhaps push the moribund system to a different (and likely better) equilibrium. Granted that Trump is no visionary leader with wisdom oozing out of him. But he is the mild heart attack that jolts a person to take a serious look at his life and turn things around, if I may introduce another metaphor.

The Wisdom of SS Ravi Shankar

A friend recently quoted SS Ravi Shankar’s profound proclamation. It goes:

“There are people who are married and unhappy and there are people who are unmarried and unhappy. Then there are people who are married and happy and there are people who are unmarried and happy. You better be in the second category. Whether you are married or not, if you are happy, if you are centered, then you are close to enlightenment.”

I read it and I am forced to agree with the German historian Johann Christoph Friedrich von Schiller (1759 – 1805) that against stupidity, even the gods struggle in vain. We mere mortals are powerless to resist such inanities.