Airports

SFO

The answer to the post A Simple Puzzle is “the number of airports.” The US has the largest number of airpots in the world: around 20,000 — give or take a few dozens.

It’s not hard to explain why this is so. The US is vast, is rich, and has been the pioneer in aviation since the beginning of powered flight in 1903.

Continue reading “Airports”

August 15th — National Relaxation Day

This day is one of the most important days of my life. But not because it’s National Relaxation Day in the US. Everyday is a relaxation day for me, anyway.

I know that Aug 15th is publicly celebrated across India as “Independence Day” but that, to my mind, is totally idiotic because Indians are not independent even 75 years after India became “independent” of colonial rule. Indians are still under colonial rule — the difference is that instead of foreign colonial rule, now the rule is by domestic colonial rulers. This is actually worse than what it was before 1947. At least the Britishers were foreigners. But now Indians oppress their own. They enslave their own. Pitiable. Continue reading “August 15th — National Relaxation Day”

Restitution Revisited

In a previous post, I laid out a method for the restitution of properties that have been taken by invaders. In it I argued among other things that “all property that have been acquired through plunder should be methodically auctioned, and the proceeds from them be distributed to every citizen, regardless of whether they are the descendants of the plundered or the plunderers.”

That principle of restitution is simple enough to provide guidance in matters that relate to compensation for harm caused by historical events. One commentator to that piece raised a question. His comment outlines a scenario I paraphrase as: Continue reading “Restitution Revisited”

Fun Con

Creativity, innovativeness, inventiveness  — all fine and necessary characteristics of any prosperous and flourishing people. The US has heaps of that good stuff, evidently. But then those same characteristics are also necessary for being a good con artist. The US has also has had loads of them.

One of the best of the lot was portrayed by the superbly talented Leonardo DiCaprio in the 2002 Steven Spielberg movie Catch Me If You Can. It was based on the

I enjoyed the movie. Just recently I came across a June 1978 episode of Johnny Carson’s The Tonight Show in which there’s the real Mr Frank Abagnale telling his story. His story is not fictional — because fiction has to be believable. Only a real story can be this unbelievable. Here’s a prediction: I bet you will have a big smile on your face, or even burst out laughing at the genius of the guy. Here it is. Continue reading “Fun Con”

JWST

The James Webb Space Telescope

Two facts about our modern world: one, human-created technology reveals to us a universe that is beyond human imagining and comprehension; two, nearly all of us are either totally unaware of what we as a collective are discovering or, even if we catch fleeting glimpses of what is being discovered, we are so blasé about it that it does not move most of us.

That attitude of being uninterested in the modern marvels is understandable because we really don’t have the time. We have stuff to get done. However, though getting mundane things done matters, it is also important to take a bit of time to pause and wonder at the the vision of the universe that lies beyond, and which technologies like the James Webb Space Telescope enable us to see. What are we capable of seeing today has not been seen by anyone ever. Of the countless trillions of living things that have ever lived on earth, we — the present around 8 billion humans — are the only ones who have that opportunity. Continue reading “JWST”

US Population Distribution

I am always amazed at how unequally populations are distributed across various regions of the world. India, as one would expect, is immensely densely populated. The US relative to India, averaged across the whole country, is very sparsely populated.

On average, the population numbers per square kilometer in India and the US are 428 and 35 respectively. India is of course very densely populated but Bangladesh takes the cake among 100+ million population countries at a staggering 1,141 people per square kilometer. The US is an order of magnitude less dense than India, and Bangladesh is about three times denser than India. Continue reading “US Population Distribution”

Economists’ Quotes

About quotations, the German-born American actress Marlene Dietrich said, “I love them, because it is a joy to find thoughts one might have, beautifully expressed with much authority by someone recognizedly wiser than oneself.”

I agree with her. I love quotations and collect them assiduously. They are valuable because they encapsulate ideas and thoughts that I have had but expressed better than I ever can.

Since being an economist is my vocation as well as my avocation, I like to keep bits of writings of real economists. Here are a few that I hope you would like. If you find any of them puzzling, or if they lead you to questions, I’d be happy to expand on them. Feel free to ask me anything. Continue reading “Economists’ Quotes”

AMC – Swiss Music

So the last post was about the Swiss. It seems appropriate then to put out this “All Music Considered” post. I think yodeling is particularly Swiss.

For many Indians (which includes me), their introduction to yodeling was through a few Kishor Kumar songs in which he yodeled. We, of course, didn’t know at that time that it was not original to him but was a borrowed tradition. I learned soon enough that he was imitating the Swiss. I don’t say that imitation is bad but only that it is good to know that something is not original.

But whatever. Here are a couple of yodeling songs I like.  Let’s start with a Franzl Lang’s song, shall we? Continue reading “AMC – Swiss Music”

The Swiss and their Trains

“A developed country is not a place where the poor have cars. It’s where the rich use public transportation.”

If you love trains (I most definitely do), then you’ll love this video from the Not Just Bikes channel. It’s truly delightful that places like Switzerland exist on the planet. It demonstrates that it is possible for people to organize a society that is truly civilized. It is an outstanding illustration that humans are capable of arranging their societies to be materially prosperous and peaceful.

I have had the good fortune of visiting Switzerland several times in the early ’90s when I spent a few years traveling around the world. Just getting to Geneva was exciting — on a TGV from Paris. It takes a little of 3 hours to cover the distance of 409 kms, and if you book in advance, you can get a ticket for as little as $10. But enough of that. Here’s the video. I bet you dollars to donuts that you will like it. Continue reading “The Swiss and their Trains”

Restitution of Stolen Property

Does a person have a right to property that was not justly acquired even if the consequences of holding that property promote the general welfare?

Robert Nozick didn’t think so. He wrote, “The justice of a given individual’s possession of and discretionary control over certain economic goods cannot be a function of that possession and control contributing to the general welfare or to any other overall social end-state or pattern. All such consequentialist assessments of holdings are ruled out of court. So, if there is any acceptable account of the justice of individual holdings, it must be a backward-looking account. The justification must depend upon how the holdings in question have arisen.” Continue reading “Restitution of Stolen Property”

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