Weapons and warriors
"I hated war, but I loved the warrior spirit. I hated the sword, but loved the samurai." is what Phil Knight wrote in his autobiography. I smell something fishy there. Without the samurai the samurai sword is a work of art. Without his swords the samurai is nothing.
Let A be the set of your friends and B be the union of C (the set of your friends' friends) and D (the set of your enemies' enemies). Politics is an effective nonmathematical instrument that can easily disprove your naive faith that B is a subset of A.
One flew over the Newton's nest
Giants dislike people standing on their shoulders but enjoy standing on the shoulders of others.
Inventors devote their lives to Simplicity, artists to Beauty, lawyers to Justice and mathematicians to Truth. There is, however, one essential difference: Simplicity, Beauty, and Justice are subjective, Truth is not. Many mathematicians would admit that Euclid's proof of the infinitude of primes is more beautiful than the Pythagoras's proof of the Pythagorean Theorem, but not one would say it is truer.
Market cap: Neither fish nor fowl
Apple's market capitalization has exceeded 2 trillion dollars. Let me remind you that
Market capitalization = number of shares outstanding * share's current market price
Let me remind you one more thing you've probably forgotten. The number of shares outstanding is an objective quantity, and the current market price is an intersubjective quantity (i.e. a non-objective quantity, which is not entirely subjective because it is shared by different subjects).
Mathematics teaches us that Pi and e are irrational and transcendental numbers, but no one knows whether Pi*e is irrational or transcendental. Similarly, no one knows whether the product of objective and intersubjective quantities is objective quantity. In short, people may believe that market capitalization is something real, but they do so at their own peril.
Science is mighty when it deals with small things and weak when it deals with big things. It can accelerate elementary particles, but cannot slow down global warming.
Climate and Mother Nature
"If the climate were a bank, the US would have already saved it," former Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez once said. I have something to say too: "The climate may not be a bank, but Mother Nature is. How can we live if we do not borrow from the deposits of clean air and water somebody else made?"
The magical world of numbers is much better than the real world of ours. In the former, the sum of two irrationals is sometimes rational. For example:
Unfortunately, that does not work with irrational people.
"Man only plays when he is in the fullest sense of the word a human being, and he is fully a human being only when he plays," German poet Schiller wrote. Had he been a man in the fullest sense of the word, he would have played with his name and change it to Spieler (meaning player in German).
There was another German-speaker who was not afraid to play with his name and change it from Alois Schicklgruber to Alois Hitler. You guessed right, I am talking about Adolf Hitler's father. Had Alois chosen to play with himself rather than with Klara Poelzl, he would have done a great service to Humanity. Therefore, my dear Schillers and Phil Knights of the world, just playing is not enough, it greatly matters what you play and who you play with.
Type-1 people say that the world moves forward (evolution). Type-2 people say it goes to the left (to the fastest lane). Type-3 people say it goes down (to hell). Type-4 people say it goes back in time (to barbarism).
The world does not go anywhere, people do. They rush in all directions and think the world obediently follows their lead.
In health and in sickness
All happy families are alike ... No, I am not Leo Tolstoy, let me write about something else.
All healthy people are alike, but all sick people are sick in their own way. You can not find equally sick people. Treated by different combinations of drugs two similar patients, i.e. patients with similar sicknesses, are moving on diverging roads. This is due to the fact that the drugs they take interact not only with them, but also with each other. If you take a lot of different medications, you might get cured of something, but you will definitely get something else.
How many drugs are there? There are different answers available on the net, averaging around 12000. Sounds reasonable, as there are about 12000 diseases in ICD-9 (International Classification of Diseases of the World Health Organization)*. Combinatorics teaches us that the number of possible interactions between 12,000 drugs is 2^12000 (a number with 3613 digits, which is greater than the number of atoms in the visible universe). If you believe that there exists some supernatural being that is able to study all these drug interactions and find all of them health-improving, then you definitely need medication.
Now we know why every sick person is sick in their own way (they use different combinations of drugs to reach unique complaints). But why are the healthy people alike? Because they do not take any medications.
* this is a translation of an old text of mine, now we have ICD-11
Simplify your life
Some people simplify their lives by producing candles at home instead of working somewhere (and for someone) else. Other people simplify their lives by buying home-made candles instead of making them themselves. Buy as many candles as you want dears, but please understand that your homes and lives would be simpler without any candles.
"Stupidity spreads at the speed of light," Nicolás Gómez Dávila wrote. I don't know what he meant, but immediately find several examples confirming his claim (light pollution and television signals).
Knowledge and intuition ...
... can take you on their different wings to the same endpoint. This is what Economics Nobelist Thomas Schelling wrote:
How satisfactorily each individual adapts to his social environment is not he same thing as how satisfactory the social environment thus formed is.
Jidu Krishnamurti needed fewer words to say it:
Being well adapted to a sick society is not a sign of good health.
They say we are imperfect copies of the Almighty. I am sure it is so. Imagine how awful the Almighty would be if we were his perfect copies. Imagine how awful the world would be if we were the templates.
Races and nations
By dividing people into races (based of skin color and other criteria) we foolishly ignore people's genetic and chemical identity. We make the opposite mistake when (based on geographical, historical and linguistic criteria) we unite all (intellectually, economically and culturally) diverse individuals into nations.
Observers and observatories
In 1948, due to the air/light pollution in London, the iconic Royal Observatory in Greenwich was moved to Sussex. 36 years later Sussex was so polluted that the observatory had to be relocated to the Canary Islands.
Instead of observing the mess we are creating now, we are observing what God created billions of years ago.
Sherlock Holmes on politics
WATSON: Why do all states spend tons of money on police, armies, and science?
HOLMES: Elementary, my dear Watson, politicians' only way to keep the "muscles" and the "brains" out of politics is to buy them expensive toys and pay them to play with those toys.
Natural intelligence is a strange bird. It may mock Artificial Intelligence for the latter's inability to make (audio) distinctions between ENCOURAGE EUTHANASIA and ENCOURAGE YOUTH IN ASIA and yet not understand that saying ENCOURAGE YOUTH IN ASIA demonstrates its own inability to make (visual and cultural) distinctions between the youth of Isfahan and the youth of Magadan.
Glasses: Full or Empty
They will try to convince you that the Secret of Life is to see that the glass is half full, not half empty. There may be some truth there, but it is not the whole truth.
What you see in the glass depends on what you do. For the drinker the glass is half empty, for the pourer it is half full. Here is the Secret of Life:
The lives of those who pour are fuller than the lives of those who only drink. If you only drink, what you see doesn't matter - at the end the glass is empty.
Charles de Gaulle's great mistake
How can you govern a nation which has 246 different types of cheese? This famous witticism was produced by the even more famous Charles de Gaulle. He was smart enough to distinguish between the 246 types of cheese, but not smart enough to distinguish between the 50 million French, whom he thought of as one nation.
At the end, a witticism of my own: Sometimes even generals overgeneralize.
Every boss prefers the employees emphasizing that they accept the boss's point of view, over the employees emphasizing that every boss prefers the employees emphasizing that they accept the boss's point of view.
Writer Anne Lamott claimed that with the sword of truth one can not only cut, but also point. It sounds great, but one thing is missing. I'll tell you what it is:
If you use the sword of truth for cutting, you can either cut or not cut. At any given moment, if one of those is the right thing to do, the other one is not. When you use the sword to point, there are many more opportunities to point incorrectly. This is probably one of the things the sages had in mind when they said that the pen is mightier (and more dangerous) than the sword.
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