Company and Time

The pleasure of company

“I want only the pleasure of your company.” How often have you heard that? And did you believe?

The idea that people socialize to ‘do business’ is accepted, even needed. But there are times when with no particular agenda,  time is definitely not money. Time would be more like a ghost of precious moments seeping through the interstices of events we demarcate.

Did prehistoric man with only stones for tools sit around wondering about time and where it went? Did he learn to write because somehow he wanted time to stop? “Carpe diem,” goes the saying, but the thinking  day resists. It passes, and gets rated good, bad, or so-so.  Most days are writer-block days.

And then came the Internet. We’ve now got mail but then it also got filled with spam that we now have to filter. We Google but then Google tracks us. We Facebook, and without us wanting it, advertisers stalk us.  Walt Kelly got it right: We found the enemy, and it is us.

What to do? Can we befriend our collective social selves? Can we carve out human conversations in private digital spaces?  There is something to going back to pen and paper, and the mailman; or to meeting up in cafés that feel like Paris. Better yet, we embrace the idea of organizing a bunch of friends who think of dining as more than just filling up a calorie tank; the venue would be, as Hemingway called it, a moveable feast. Don’t forget to bring manners.

Why write

Why do we have tombstones and obituaries?  Why do we not just talk? Of course, at a funeral, we have eulogies, i. e., we talk.

Still, talk is ephemeral, like time and our memories. The latter, as we age, get scrambled, and writing is a kind of preservative. It’s as though, with some kind of reification, we manage to live beyond the expiration dates on our memories. And certain transitions literally demand a handing over of memories. Institutional memory is ideally a perpetual motion machine.

But what happens when we write and no one reads? Is it the same as if we talk and no one listens?

Whatever did happen to E. F. Hutton? (The one with the slogan: ‘When Hutton talks, people listen.’) My guess is that slogans come and go, sales talk goes only so far, and stock market bubbles don’t last.  I would, for sure, be lucky predicting The Stock Market Crash of 2018. Unlucky speech or writing gets forgotten.

Victor Hugo wrote about revolutions at different levels of perception. In Les Miserables, one such revolution came down to asking, ‘Do you hear the people sing?’

Perhaps change is why songs are written, and the good ones last. When things haven’t really changed, the songs of that era become forgettable.

In sum, we have tombstones because we want to be remembered well. Your tombstone ought to say, ‘She had a style and wrote or sang a good song. You too can sing it, softly. People will hear it and sing it too.’

EC 12. Pointers No. 2

FAQs on Ch. 3 of Backhouse – the 16th Century

1.What historical event, centered in Italy, was of importance to the emergence of modern science? Explain your answer.

2.Copernicus thought that the earth revolved around the sun, instead of the other way around. What objection, in the form of a question, was raised by those who opposed Copernicus? Since Copernicus could not answer this question, who subsequently gave a reasonable answer or answers?

3.What were the two main scientific or philosophical contributions of William of Ockham? (Hint: One of these contributions is not mentioned in Backhouse, but you can try to Google the answer.)

4.In the medieval world view, sovereignty came from God, hence kings ruled by divine right. With the Reformation, what became the basis for the legitimization of sovereignty?

5.Who were the early rulers of nascent nation-states? What did they acquire with their rise to such positions?

6.Summarize the doctrines of mercantilism.

7.What did Machiavelli contribute to political science? Explain.

8.Summarize the economic thought of the School of Salamanca, especially in terms of how it differs from the previous thoughts of Aristotle and Aquinas.

Learning logic

For the autodidact, try this for quick takes.

For the obsessed student, Paul Herrick’s book seems like a good reference.

One day, a brilliant student of mine will give me a memorable quick-and-dirty explanation of : (1) the undistributed middle;  (2) the difference between obverse and converse; and (3) where Karl Popper’s Infinite Regress fits into the philosophy of science.

As to (2), one said that one is a shoe!

McCloskey and Krugman on Friedman – “How do you know?”

This is no doubt a gem, particularly if you want to know about economists up close.

I’m cooking up a list of the ten toughest questions in economics.  How do you know is one.

A die-hard Keynesian has a different take on Friedman.  But lost in the Keynes v Friedman debate are the distinctions about the monetary system then (the gold standard) and now (fiat); or even the quality of democracy, which is why even Keynes shuddered at how his ideas got twisted by the Communists.

I’ll take Deirdre over Paul just about any time.  How do I know?  I don’t but I suspect Paul likes to exaggerate or look only where his Keynesian headlights shine bright.

Star wars log: April 1, 2010 (earth date) – Milton Friedman’s Question

Kirk to Spock:  Can we compare and distinguish –

A1:  “I think I know.”

A2:  “I know that I don’t know.”

A3:  “I don’t know that I don’t know.”

A4: “I don’t need to know; I can assume.”

A5:  “I know because I’m Al Gore.”

Spock to Kirk: Captain, re A5, you must be kidding.

Kirk:  I didn’t know.

Spock:  Aye, aye, Captain.  I will have an answer by earth date April 1, 2010.

What is justice?

The view from the East
The view from the East

A new book is out by Amartya Sen.  In a review, Carlin Romano gives historical context to the justice debate.

In the end, Sen’s idea of justice seems common sense, if not childlike.  It is that which children (presumably still innocent of wily politics) think it is.

I suspect the book is not worth the trees, as Sen seems to be trying to ride on his Nobel in economics.  Romano’s review helps to understand the history of the debate.