Non-financial: October - December 2009 articles archive home
Economists are funny; Not funny ha-ha but funny uh-oh.
Three econometricians went out hunting, and came across a large deer. The first econometrician fired, but missed by a meter to the left. The second econometrician fired, but missed by a meter to the right. The third econometrician shouted, "We got it! We got it!"
Friday, December 11, 2009 ... more
Why there’s so little common sense about
There are huge efforts that do go into making people, to borrow Adam Smith's phrase, “as stupid and ignorant as it is possible for a human being to be.” A lot of the educational system is designed for that … for obedience and passivity …. to prevent people from being independent and creative. If you're independent-minded in school, you're probably going to get into trouble very early on.
Friday, December 4, 2009 ... more
Careful what you read
Up until the last few decades, our opinion of the press was influenced by a mental picture of the newspaper business that we acquired from old movies. We envisioned a crusty city editor wearing a green eyeshade and chomping on a cigar butt. This blunt spoken editor and his intrepid cub reporter were not afraid to take on [anyone.] They pulled no punches and reported it straight whether above the fold on page one or in an editorial on the editorial page.
Wednesday, December 2, 2009 ... more
Trust cows more than chemists
From the oyster to the eagle, from the swine to the tiger ... animals are the portrayal of our virtues and vices made manifest to our eyes, the visible reflections of our souls. - Victor Hugo.

Behold the turtle. He makes progress only when he sticks his neck out. - James Bryant Conant.
Friday, November 27, 2009 ... more
... nor life on a single hope.
These reasonings are unconnected: "I am richer than you, therefore I am better"; "I am more eloquent than you, therefore I am better." The connection is rather this: "I am richer than you, therefore my property is greater than yours;" "I am more eloquent than you, therefore my style is better than yours." But you, after all, are neither property nor style.
Friday, November 20, 2009 ... more
What constitutes truth?
I know that most men, including those at ease with problems of the greatest complexity, can seldom accept the simplest and most obvious truth if it be such as would oblige them to admit the falsity of conclusions which they have proudly taught to others, and which they have woven, thread by thread, into the fabrics of their life". - Leo Tolstoy
Friday, November 13, 2009 ... more
Is knowledge acquired at the cost of happiness?
Animals have these advantages over man: they never hear the clock strike, they die without any idea of death, they have no theologians to instruct them, their last moments are not disturbed by unwelcome and unpleasant ceremonies, their funerals cost them nothing, and no one starts lawsuits over their wills. - Voltaire
Friday, November 6, 2009 ... more
The 4 hour work day
I want to say, in all seriousness, that a great deal of harm is being done in the modern world by belief in the virtuousness of work, and that the road to happiness and prosperity lies in an organized diminution of work.
Friday, October 30, 2009 ... more
What is a good man?
Is man's sole impulse the securing of his own approval? Surely not! Take the man who lives three miles up-town. It is bitter cold, snowing hard, midnight. He is about to enter the horse-car when a gray and ragged old woman, a touching picture of misery, puts out her lean hand and begs for rescue from hunger and death.
Friday, October 23, 2009 ... more
Doubt tests one's convictions.
There is a class of person to whom by all spiritual affinity I am bought and sold; for them I will go to prison if need be; but [not for] your miscellaneous popular charities; the education at college of fools; the building of meeting-houses to the vain end to which many now stand; alms to sots ... "
Friday, October 16, 2009 ... more
The Argument from Design
You all know the argument from design: everything in the world is made just so that we can manage to live in the world, and if the world was ever so little different, we could not manage to live in it. That is the argument from design. It sometimes takes a rather curious form; for instance, it is argued that rabbits have white tails in order to be easy to shoot. I do not know how rabbits would view that application.
Friday, October 9, 2009 ... more
Insights from the father of modern political theory
Niccolo Machiavelli is one of the most misunderstood, maligned, and yet astute political observers of all time. And whilst he did espouse some trickery as a means to maintain power, he was no less a master of diplomacy and good leadership. There’s much to be learnt, on almost any topic, from his writings.
Friday, October 2, 2009 ... more
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