Just last week, I was recommending that you view lectures on Academic Earth if you find TED.com not academic enough; this week we’re recommending just one video for your weekend. It’s going to be pretty intriguing and I’m sure you’d be glad to be an audience. Recently, Michael Sandel, a political philosopher, lectured on ‘Justice’ in Harvard and his lectures are available online at Youtube! Sandel begins his first lecture with the hypothetical scenario involving a moral dilemma that some of you might be familiar with and got his students thinking about moral reasoning. Sandels issued his ‘warning’ for students of Moral/Political Philosophy:
Philosophy teaches us and unsettles us by confronting us with what we already know; there’s an irony, the difficulty of this course consist the fact that it teaches what you already know. It works by taking what we already know from familiar unquestioned settings and making it strange. […] Once the familiar turns strange, it is never quite the same again.
Sandel also gave a good reply to the doctrine of Skepticism, suggesting that we should not give up moral reasoning just because the ancient and modern philosophers are unable to solve them; in fact, the continual emergence of the same old problems require that we constantly revisit these questions. He cites Kant’s remarks about skepticism; Kant describes skepticism as a temporary resting place for the mind from reasoning – that skepticism can never triumph the restlessness of reasoning.
The lectures gives us too much to think about so I strongly suggests that you take a step at a time and limit yourself to just an hour of the video each day.
I guess ERPZ recommends too much readings sometimes and so I think you could try watching more videos. Charles Anderson talks about his work and especially that with globe skimmer dragonflies on TED.com. It is interesting how he made the discovery of the migratory route of the globe skimmer dragonflies just through rather informal research himself; cycling through the island of Maldives and counting dragonflies, calling friends to ask them which time of the year they observed swarms of dragonflies out there. His spirit of inquiry of nature is admirable.
Students of General Paper who are into Science & Tech questions should definitely watch a presentation by Kevin Kelly on the evolution of technology. He asks the question, ‘What does technology wants?‘ in the evolution kind of way; a little like questioning what the genes are trying to achieve and what each organism is trying to do as it lives life. He tries to identify the trends of technology, the direction everything is heading towards, comparing it with biology – where there is increasing complexity, diversity, ubiquity and such. He even defines technology as the seventh kingdom of life, integrating the man-made with nature, reconciling the arguments on man versus nature.
Interestingly, this issue that Kevin Kelly touched on is something I visited in the past on my personal blog. At that time, I was reading Origins of Wealth by Eric D Beinhock and was introduced to the idea of complexity. I was fascinated by it and believed that the idea of evolution as a proliferation of ‘experiments’ had great applicability beyond Biology and Economics. It’s such a pity I loaned out the book and seriously have no idea who it is with.
If TED.com is not enough for you, there’s always Academic Earth, which is way more academic in that it is practically university course lectures.
This boxer day came with reads as well, ERPZ decided not to rest on the day after Christmas so here’s your reads for this holiday weekend, almost all from The Economist’s latest double issue’s Christmas Specials.
We first have Arguing till Death, a lesson for America from history’s greatest Western Philosopher, Socrates’ life. I got introduced to Aristophanes’The Clouds through the article and is pleasantly surprised by the sort of humour ancient Greeks were capable of.
Hi There discusses politeness and courtesy in the English Language and the effect of this spread of English Language on the world today. The other talks about the virtues and motivations of being a foreigner in the world today and on the same issue is an article, A Ponzi scheme that works that looks into the migrant society of America today and the allure of it.
For viewing pleasure, How to make a splash in social media by Alex Ohanian. It’ll only require about 4 plus minutes of your attention; a short time before you dash off to the next party. Ohanian really gives a strong message about how the Internet works and how you might be able to ride on it to help you with a cause, but like what he says in the end, ‘you are not going to be in control’.
We begin this week’s reads with an interview with Paul Samuelson by John Cassidy from The New Yorker. John Cassidy recently published a new book, How Markets Fail, which I’ll read some time soon. It won’t be that soon though – I’m still reading Thinking Strategically and moving on to Art of Strategy after that.
Eric Morris shared something about the cab industry in New York, which eventually concluded with urging for less regulation (ie. raising the supply of cab licenses or “medallions” as they’re called). One of the comments revealed a really humourous story of how the cabbie’s industry in Ireland got deregulated overnight; I shall reproduce it here:
A similar sitution existed in Ireland up to a few years ago. Change was brought about when the government went to issue more wheel chair accessable taxi licenses. The Taxi driver / owners group foolishly sued the government. They claimed that the government didn’t have the right to issue new licenses. They won but the court ruled that the government didn’t have the power to issue any licenses. The taxi ma[r]ket was deregulated overnight.
The current complaint from taxi drivers is that there are too many taxis etc etc. There were clear winners, the consumer and those new taxi drivers who are now free to ply their trade in a vastly increased taxi market.
The fact that GPS navigation on-board cars/cabs are widely available means that the tacit barrier to entry for the cab business have been significantly lowered. Anyone who can drive and have a car with on-board GPS navigation (and perhaps a meter) can technically offer good taxi services. Knowledge of the city and the different landmarks have become less of an advantage or requirement.
The weeks seems to be passing faster as the entries on ERPZ becomes more frequent. The one-entry-per-day rate now is not exactly very sustainable without additional support from guest writers and contributors so I’m once again calling out for interested parties to leave a comment with your emails so I might be able to contact you and get your contribution up.
The linked article mentioned about the ‘paradox of choice’, which is the topic of Barry Schwartz’stalk on TED.com. He explains the disadvantages of being offered too many choices and the problems associated with the implications of having too many choices in the first place on the psyche of the person after making the decision, citing Dan Gilbert’s presentation in the same TED conference.
Barry is another great speaker, mixing humour consistently throughout his talk with a steady flow of cartoons. The point he makes in our escalating expectations is very real and worth pondering over for anyone who wants to exert discipline on their thinking to keep their mind healthy. He claims he wrote the book, The Paradox of Choice to explain to himself why he felt worst when he got a better jeans than he previously did.
Reads for this weekend are here. Farhad Manjoo muses whether anyone would be able to stop facebook. From expanding, that is. The site has really amassed a huge group of user in a short time and people have been wondering if it would be able to generate revenue and such. Truth is, Facebook has really changed the stuff we do online quite very much and helped the Internet leap ahead as a tool for social networking.
Daniel Gross wrote about his tour to China’s most important dam and muses over his inability to find a chocolate bar there. He got Slate.com readers to send in excuses for not being able to find a chocolate bar in China. Examples included:
“Your quest for chocolate at the Three Gorges would be like me looking for Chinese dumplings at the Hoover Dam,” wrote one Beijing resident.
Jokes aside, for your watching pleasure, check out Shashi Tharoor’s recent talk on TED.com about soft power, with particular reference to India.
I almost totally forgot about the package this week! For a start, check out how exactly you should be reading stuff at all in order to be studying effectively. The articles that are linked there serves as good reads for your weekend although they’re all from The Economist. Itay Talgam presented a great talk about leadership of conductors at TED.com.
In addition, I wrote something about choosing stuff to read again. Yea, that’s all for this week. I’m pretty busy you see. Have a great weekend.
This week’s package is a little more on the reading side. The Economist dug up the book review of a 1980s book. And read up about how sometimes, product pricing is all about business and little about economics especially when demand function starts entangling with supply. This is the sort of thing that always happens with super high-class sort of thing – or maybe it’s just high-class because of marketing.
The book itself was recently published and praised by The Economist for its educational value. To be frank I’ve never read Richard Dawkins but from his readings of The Greatest Show on Earth in the video, I reckon I’d enjoy his style of demonstrating his arguments using long analogies that are probably closer to the heart of readers (rather reminiscent of Abraham Lincoln’s speeches).
He compares Creationist to Holocaust Deniers, those who argues that Evolution is full of gaps to a stubborn lawyer who declares that more evidence is less. He questions the plausibility of Marsupials engaged is some sort of migration programme where they emigrate en masse from Mount Ararat to Australia – such was the witty humour that Dawkins use to entertain readers and frustrate those who believed in the literalism of Noah’s Ark. Dawkins is critical and knows clearly what exactly he is out defend in the book.
Next, some readings on the fertility decline around the world in The Economist, something I wrote about previously as well as an article on price wars on The New Yorker by James Surowiecki. There’s a video accompanying the article from The Economist about population.
This week’s package has arrived! It’s pretty heavy so I’m cutting down on the quantity of reads. As always, we begin with a talk from the wonderful conference, TED; by Physicist David Deutsch that attempts to explain the sudden explosive development in our ability to explain the world. Deutsch speaks slowly and refers to his notes frequently but his explanations and knowledge of reality is brilliant. The anecdotes and examples he gave are both apt and interesting enough to compensate for his lack of speaking prowess. In the lecture, Deutsch introduced the Royal Society‘s motto, “Nullius in Verba” (Latin for “take nobody’s word for it”) which I found immensely intriguing.
For those interested to know about economics in the world today can listen to the interview with 2005 Nobel Economics Laureate Joseph Stiglitz. It’s a pity there’s no subtitles available for the interview as well as the TED.com lecture linked above.
Finally, plunge into the long read by Peter York from moreIntelligentLife, How Marketing has got under our skin explores the history, trends and current state of the issue of self-branding or personal branding.