Sometimes Being Right is Depressing

I’ve been reading the archives of this blog the last couple of weeks. The goal is to extract and aggregate some useful bits to make some ideas accessible to those who don’t have the time to read a random collection of irregularly posted articles. Continue reading “Sometimes Being Right is Depressing”

The George Burns Syndrome

One time I was asked to explain how Israel, despite being a socialist country, was successful in light of the fact that I keep claiming that socialism is a recipe for disaster. My response was this.

Let me tell you about what I call the “George Burns Syndrome.” Continue reading “The George Burns Syndrome”

Problem with the commenting system

A couple of people have attempted to post comments and somehow the comments are not being accepted. Upon investigation, it appears that if you are logged in on a wordpress account, the comment you post disappears.

The workaround for now is to not be logged in to a wordpress account. Use some fake name and email id to post a comment. That comment  will be held for moderation and I will approve it. I guess this problem is transitory and will get fixed soon.

This administratie post will self-destruct in a few days.

Update: It appears that if you use a gmail address in the email field, then wordpress “disappears” the comment. 

A Policy Question

The question is this. What specific policy change would meet the following criteria:

  • It would immediately start the process of unshackling the Indian economy (or even any backward economy) and put it on a path to reaching its potential
  • It would not involve any public expenditure (that is, it would not impose a burden on public finances)
  • It would be popular with the public (meaning it would be not opposed by any significant segment of the population) almost immediately
  • It would not involve the development of any new technologies
  • It would not be adopted by any politician, political party or the government (because it would hurt their narrow, financial interests)

Continue reading “A Policy Question”

Tom Sargent on a Few Lessons of Economics

Here’s a graduation speech that won’t tax your time and, without taxing your brain, will remind you of what is worth remembering. In 2007, Thomas J. Sargent, one of the two winners of the 2011 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics, delivered a graduation speech to UC Berkeley (my alma mater) undergrads. Here’s the entire speech — just 355 words. Continue reading “Tom Sargent on a Few Lessons of Economics”

Climate Change

Click image to embiggen.

I don’t believe that climate change does not matter at all. It does matter but it is not a yes-no question. It is a matter of trade-offs. The question is: how much does it matter relative to other things that deserve our attention?

Disease, hunger, armed conflict, the Religion of Peace — these global problems demand a systemic response today more than anything that is likely to be a problem in 100 years. How much will it cost to address those pressing problems of today, and how do those costs stack up against the cost of climate change mitigation efforts? Continue reading “Climate Change”

Hauled from the Archive: Cargo for Pakistan

Look here, now, I don’t have all day to sit around writing stuff on this blog, ok. 😉 So here’s what I’m going to do. Haul stuff out of the archive. Good stuff, mind you. Check out Cargo for Pakistan. It’s from December 2007.

Excerpt: Continue reading “Hauled from the Archive: Cargo for Pakistan”

Lysander Spooner

(Click on image for the wiki article on Lysander Spooner.)

The US presidential elections are on the horizon. Which brings to mind what Lysander Spooner said. “The principle that the majority have a right to rule the minority, practically resolves all government into a mere contest between two bodies of men, as to which of them shall be masters, and which of them slaves.”

Lysander Spooner (1808 -1887) was an American political philosopher and abolitionist. This note is an invitation to read a post I’d written about him in August 2018.


Ganesh Chaturthi Greetings

So Sri Ganesh is back in town.

वक्रतुण्ड महाकाय सूर्यकोटि समप्रभ ।
निर्विघ्नं कुरु मे देव सर्वकार्येषु सर्वदा ॥

Vakratunda Mahakaya Suryakoti Samaprabha |
Nirvighnam Kuru Me Deva Sarva-Karyesu Sarvada ||

Translated, the prayer to Ganesh says:

[One with the] curved trunk, immense body, and the splendor of a million suns; O Deva, remove all obstacles from my path, and always bless all my undertakings.

Here’s a Ganesh Sthuthi sung by Uma Mohan:

Let’s hope he does his job of removing obstacles. Happy Ganesh Chaturthi everyone.



The human body (the same goes approximately for most other animals) is composed of 65% oxygen, 18.5% carbon, and 9.5% hydrogen by mass. Although hydrogen is less than 10% of the mass, 62% of the number of atoms in the human body is hydrogen because it is the lightest element in the periodic table of elements.

Most of the hydrogen and oxygen goes into the water that is the primary building blocks of all cells. How much of the human body is water depends on the age and gender of the person. Infants are 75% water, children 65%, adult males  60%, and adult females 55%. Infants are cute, and they are mostly water. Coincidence? I think not. We were all infants once and we like water. Continue reading “CO2”