Thursday, July 5

so who invented email?


Another very interesting story here...who really invented email? I first used email when I landed in Manchester in 1992, way way way after all this happened. quite interesting, this debate about electronic history.
V.A. Shiva Ayyadurai — the MIT lecturer who invented e-mail — had spent years blasting the struggling United States Postal Service for its failure to embrace the revenue potential of his creation. So when he was recruited to help save the U.S. Mail earlier this year, Ayyadurai made headlines and was suddenly a star. That’s when the trouble started.

Wednesday, July 4

The Philosopher's Beard: The art of business and the science of economics

Dear Kannu

Good to hear that your religious education exam went well. 

I was reminded about the forgotten links between religion and economics. Religion is concerned about the behaviour and actions of the believers. Strangely enough, so is economics. And business. Some of the fundamental aspects of economics such as money,  interest rates, assets, free markets, tax deductibility of some expenses, accounting etc have some fascinating religious links. 

Anyway. Here's an interesting article on the difference between business and economics. It's good that you are studying economics first. It will give you a good picture of the overall world, markets etc etc.

it's surprising how many business people forget the basics of economics. But then people who forget the laws of economics are condemned to keep on violating them and pay for it. Spend less than you earn. Mind your cash flow. Invest in the future. Ensure you make your customers successful. Keep open to new ideas, capital and labour. Don't subsidise things. Etc etc. 



The Philosopher's Beard: The art of business and the science of economics

Business and economics are tied up together in lots of people’s minds. After all, they’re both about money, aren’t they? An awful lot of people seem to believe that economics is Big Business and business is small economics. (Even the generally reliable Economist magazine seems to use this definition in deciding what should go in its business or economics sections.) The failure to keep the two apart leads to some bizarre misconceptions in the popular understanding. For example the idea  that countries are businesses in competition with each other, or that business is about self-serving greed and economics is the soulless science of large scale greed.
Business is the art of commerce. Economics is the study of the production, distribution and consumption of goods and services. Just from the definitions we can immediately see one clear difference. Economics concerns systems and general principles and is therefore a theoretical subject eminently suitable for academic study in a university, while business is a practical discipline that does not belong there. Sure there are skills that are important for successful business life - like managing people well, knowing how to make a spreadsheet, giving great powerpoint - but there’s nothing academic about them. Business schools also make much of their case-studies, analysing a famous or infamous company or manager, usually with a particular theme in mind. This may properly be called biography (or creative writing), and seems as useless to practical business life as the obligatory single course on moral theory. Of course there are real theoretical economics issues associated with business that can be the subject of rigorous academic research, such as the economics of imperfect competition (industrial organisation), the theory of the firm, and logistics. But these can just as well be studied in economics departments.
So why does business studies exist as an independent academic subject? Two main reasons spring to mind: demand from students, and demand from business professionals. First, teaching business studies at universities allows young people who want to pursue a career in commerce to attain a certificate of academic prestige, which is fashionable these days [
previously]. They also seem to have the mistaken idea that university is a good place to learn useful skills (when in fact students of business studies, and other vocational subjects, seem to learn the least from their college experience). In order to meet this lucrative demand, simulacra of academic departments were created, which then, in order to support their legitimacy, had to invent some new field of scientific research or recharacterise an existing area of study as ‘business economics’.

Tuesday, July 3

The True Cost of Commuting

Dear son

I think we have talked about this. I detest driving in the city. Driving in the countryside is marginally better. A more useless exercise I cannot imagine. With all the new technology and facilities to hand, to physically make an effort to transport yourself is frankly silly. Not to mention very expensive. 

I would have lived in the city but it's not a fun place for kids and it's not possible to buy a house in there. I cannot live without a garden and the ability to garden. Hence a compromise. 

Still this economic argument in this article is great. Makes perfect sense. Which is why I'm happy with our old car :)

See if you can come up with a better economic argument or a different one. 



The True Cost of Commuting | Mr. Money Mustache


The True Cost of Commuting

It was a beautiful evening in my neighborhood, and I was enjoying one of my giant homebrews on a deck chair I had placed in the middle of the street, as part of a nearby block’s Annual Street Party.

I was talking to a couple I had just met, and the topic turned to the beauty of the neighborhood. “Wow, I didn’t even realize this area was here”, the guy said, “It’s beautiful and old and the trees are giant and all of the families hang out together outside as if it were still 1950!”. “Yeah”, said his wife, “We should really move here!”.

Then the discussion turned to the comparatively affordable housing, and the other benefits of living in my particular town.  By the end of it, these people were verbally working out the details of a potential move within just a few months.

Except their plan was absurd.

Because these two full-time professional workers currently happen to live and work in “Broomfield”, a city that is about 19 miles and 40 minutes of  high-traffic driving away from here. They brushed off the potential commute, saying “Oh, 40 minutes, that’s not too bad.”

Yes, actually it IS too bad! … But this misconception about what is a reasonable commute is probably the biggest thing that is keeping most people in the US and Canada poor.

Let’s take a typical day’s drive for this self-destructive couple. Adding 38 miles of round-trip driving at the IRS’s estimate of total driving cost of $0.51 per mile, there’s $19 per day of direct driving and car ownership costs. It is possible to drive for less, but these people happen to have fairly new cars, bought on credit, so they are wasting the full amount.

Next is the actual human time wasted. At 80 minutes per day, the self-imposed driving would be adding the equivalent of almost an entire work day to each work week – so they would now effectively be working 6 days per week.

After 10 years, multiplied across two cars since they have different work schedules, this decision would cost them about $125,000 in wealth (if they had for example chosen to put the $19/day into extra payments on their mortgage), and 1.3 working years worth of time, EACH, spent risking their lives daily behind the wheel*.

That’s EVERY ten years. And that’s with a commute that most Americans claim is “not too bad”.

Monday, July 2


One of my friends passed this paper across to me. I am constantly surprised at the usual image of terrorists being from poor families. No, I am afraid not. People who want to commit violence for a political or religious reason are NOT poor or illiterate, you need to be fairly smart to get over the usual threshold of violence, be able to rationalise violence and be intelligent enough to understand that you need to do extraordinary stuff to get out of the way of the law.

Here in the UK, a comparison was done between UK Muslims and UK Muslims convicted of terrorist offences (77). To no surprise, they find that the terrorists are significantly higher educated than the usual population. Curiously and strangely, there is also a statistical significance if you are male, unemployed, married and UK citizen. Go figure. A facetious comment was that your wife is going to make your life so difficult at home when you are unemployed that you take up terrorism? Also, curiously, “

Ethnic origin is also a statistically significant predictor of being convicted, with this most likely if
UK Muslims are of African and mixed Southeast Asia-White ethnic origin

Hmmm, not sure what one can say about this. But one should keep a beady eye out on those universities.