How the World Works — Part Duh

After the success of the How the World Works – Part Uh, I have been pressured to offer Part Duh of the same. So if you, dear reader, were so unlucky as to have missed the first part, despair not — Part Duh is finally here. Even if you did catch parts of the first offering, you are sure to get a lot more in this new series. But there’s a catch!

This time around you have to pay. This part, unlike the first part, is not free. Why not? you may ask. Because there’s no such thing as a free lunch. Why not? Ah, you’d learn why not if you attend this part of “How the World Works.”

Seriously, you’ll get it. And when you get it, you’d be delighted. And if you’re not delighted, it’d be entirely your fault. Guaranteed or your money back. Promise. So here are the details.

Continue reading

Dhanteras

Dhanteras Greetings. For those who are not familiar with this northern Indian festival, here’s a bit from a 2019 post on Dhanteras.

“The first day of Diwali is called Dhanteras — the thirteenth lunar day of the month of Kartik. On this day, Lord Dhanwantari came out of the ocean with amrut — the nectar of immortality — for the Devas. This day marks the beginning of Diwali celebrations.”

Share lots of sweets with family and friends, and have a wonderful Diwali with fireworks and lights.

Here’s what I am listening to — Roopa Panesar on the sitar, accompanied by Upneet Singh on tabla, and Pirashanna Thevarajah on the mridamgan. Listen. Continue reading

Decline

Thanks to the wonders of socialism and communism, China was either at par with or poorer than India for most of the 20th century CE. However, in 1978 China’s luck changed when Deng Xiaoping took over. Deng was a pragmatist, had the capacity to learn and do what needed to be done — make China great again.

In May 2014, when Modi came to power, I was absolutely delighted. India’s moment has come. Modi will do what Deng Xiaoping did for China.

But in about two months by July 2014, I realized that Modi was not Deng. In the years that followed, Modi showed his true colors: a power-crazed autocrat who was a cross between Nehru and Mao. He combined Nehru’s narcissistic self-obsession and general lack of vision, with Mao’s ruthless authoritarianism and disdain for people.

Modi was the amalgam of the worst that India and China had produced — Nehru and Mao.

It did not matter how duped and betrayed I felt after being an ardent supporter of his; what mattered was that India had missed a golden opportunity to lift hundreds of millions of people who are trapped in extreme poverty.

Back in May of this year, I wrote a bunch of tweets which was provoked by comparing the number of airline passenger-trips in India, China and US. (Click on image above to read the tweets.) I am reproducing them here, for the record. Continue reading

Her Majesty’s Prison Belmarsh

H M P Belmarsh

“Her Majesty’s Government”, also known as the United Kingdom Government, is certainly not all evil but considered comprehensively across the centuries and around the world, it is as evil as governments get.

“Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service” administer civil and criminal justice through the courts of England and Wales (not Scotland and Northern Ireland). As part of that, Her Majesty runs prisons. UK prisons are not the worst in the world but it includes “Her Majesty’s Prison Belmarsh” which has the distinction of being “UK’s Guantanamo Bay”.

Julian Assange has been incarcerated in H M P Belmarsh since April 2019.  His “crime”? Exposing the criminal behavior of those who run the military-industrial complexes like Messrs. Bush and Blair. Which explains why the British government is punishing him by throwing him into Belmarsh and the US wants him extradited to the US.

Belmarsh is for the worst of the worst. Around a third of the inmates are Islamic terrorists.[1] Continue reading

The Belmarsh Tribunal

What’s the Belmarsh Tribunal? Begin quote from Progressive International:

Just after the bombshell revelations about the CIA plot to kidnap and assassinate WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange while he sought political asylum in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, the Progressive International comes to London with the first physical Belmarsh Tribunal. The intervention comes ahead of Assange’s extradition proceedings, which are set to continue in London’s High Court from 27 to 28 October 2021.

Inspired by the famous Russell-Sartre people’s tribunal, the Belmarsh Tribunal places the War on Terror on trial and holds the US government accountable for its war crimes. It is named for the London prison that has held Assange in permanent confinement for the last two years, as he faces extradition to the US, whose government plotted his assassination. The Belmarsh Tribunal will hold its first physical proceedings in London on the 22 of October 2021 at the Convocation Hall, Church House, Westminster, which was used for sittings of parliament during the Second World War. Continue reading

Epictetus the Stoic

Epictetus

Epictetus[1] summarized the Stoic attitude of taking responsibility for what was within one’s control thus: “I must die. If forthwith, I die; and if a little later, I will take lunch now, since the hour for lunch has come, and afterwards I will die at the appointed time.”

Milton Friedman summarized the role of the government thus: Continue reading

Oh! Calcutta!

Billboard on Broadway in 1981

Here I am not referring to the off-Broadway theatrical review Oh! Calcutta! which debuted in 1970 and “ran in London for over 3,900 performances, and in New York … including a Broadway revival that ran for 5,959 performances, making the show the longest-running revue in Broadway history at the time,” (according to the Wikipedia.)

I am referring to a speech ostensibly made by one Adit Jain of IMA in June 2021. No doubt Jain in the title to his talk is cleverly referencing that play but that’s not material here. The fact is that Bengal has descended into disaster because … Wait, let me not get ahead of the story. Continue reading

IRS

Isn't she a beauty?
Airbus A380. Click to embiggen in a new tab.

I love IRS. Not the “Internal Revenue Service” but “increasing returns to scale”.

Understanding the economic concept of “returns to scale” is useful for understanding the tremendous increase in the production of wealth in our modern world.

A bit of vocabulary first. The stuff that goes into production are called “factors of production.” The vocabulary is the same as in basic arithmetic where the product is derived from factors — for instance, the factors 2 and 3 when multiplied yield the product 6.

When you increase the factors, the product increases. That is, the “scale” or the size of the operation increases and therefore the product increases. If the increase in production is proportionate to the increase in the factors, then we have “constant returns to scale.” Continue reading

Morsing

Percussion player from South India, Pirashanna Thevarajah plays ghatam and mridangam exceptionally well. Here he introduces another percussion instrument used in Carnatic classical music — the morsing.[1]

NOTES:

[1] It’s the same as jew’s harp. The wiki entry says:

There are many theories for the origin of the name jew’s harp. The apparent reference to Jews or to the Jewish people, which only exists in the English language word for the instrument, is especially misleading since it “has nothing to do with the Jewish people; neither does it look like a harp in its structure and appearance”