Monday, May 30, 2016

A Simple Advice to Potential Policymakers

The advice to potential policymakers is simple: Learn as much as you can, for most of it will come in useful at some stage of your career; but never forget that identifying what is happening in the economy is essential to your ability to do your job, and for that you need to keep your eyes, your ears, and your mind open, and with regard to your mouth--to use it with caution.
"Reflections on Macroeconomics Then and Now" by Stanley Fischer

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

An Idea Made Architecturally Visible

And there, when the cherry blossom is doing its shameless thing, and the streets of Adams Morgan are warming to the kids on the block, it’s entirely possible to see Washington as not just DC, not just ideology made visible, but as an American community; and a good one at that.
from "Washington DC" by Simon Schama

Stolid Presence and Immobile Features

Xi conveys Napoleonic self-confidence in the importance of his mission and its inevitable success. In person he is said to be affable and relaxed. But his carefully curated public persona follows Mao in displaying a stolid presence and immobile features that seem to convey either stoicism or implacability, depending on whether he is sitting through a boring speech or giving one. The propaganda agencies labor to generate a huggable image of “Daddy Xi,” and Xi appears to be genuinely popular among the public, although this is changing as the economy slows. But his anticorruption campaign affecting a great many people has ground on, leading intellectual and official elites to read his expression as inscrutable and frightening.
from "Who is Xi?" by Andrew J. Nathan

Thursday, May 12, 2016

On Conviction

Ana Pauker was a minister in the infamous Stalinist administration that ruled Romania in the early fifties; she was noted for her unswerving devotion to the orthodoxies of Moscow. A favourite anecdote of the day described how she was seen in the streets of Bucharest on a warm spring day under a large umbrella: why? 'Because', she said, 'it's raining in Moscow.'
from the Chatham Lecture at Trinity College, Oxford - "Convictions, Loyalties and the Secular State" by Archbishop of Canterbury Dr. Rowan Williams

ICYMI

Kubla Khan
by Samuel Taylor Coleridge

In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree:
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea.


Хубилай Хаан
Б.Амарсанаагийн орчуулга

Хүмүүний зүйрлэлд оршил үгүй ангалыг шувтлан
Гэрэл үгүй түнэр тэнгисийг зорих
Буртаг үгүй ариун Альп мөрөн урсах
Шанду нутагт таашаалын асар цогцлуулахаар
Хубилай хаан зарлиг буулгав.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Distinction Between College and Graduate School

I don't think we should have majors. I don't understand what majors are about. Majors are very late in the [inaudible]--I think just post-WWI or during WWI is when they were introduced. I make the distinction in my own thinking between college, which is for education, and graduate school, which is for professional training.
from Mark Mancall on education

Thursday, May 05, 2016

Preëmptive Comment on the Pleasures of Competition

I have played sports (tennis, cricket), I have done a lot of cycling, but in all of this my aspiration has simply been to do as well as I can. Winning or losing—who cares? How I judge whether or not I have done well is a private matter, between myself and what I suppose I would call my conscience.

I don’t like forms of sport that model themselves too closely on warfare, in which all that matters is winning and winning becomes a matter of life and death—sports that lack grace, as war lacks grace. At the back of my mind is some ideal—and perhaps concocted—vision of Japan, in which one refrains from inflicting defeat on an opponent because there is something shameful in defeat and therefore something shameful in imposing defeat.

All the best,

John
The Better Player by Paul Auster and J. M. Coetzee

Klavierkonzert No.5



Glenn Gould's brilliant rendition of Beethoven's Klavierkonzert No.5 (my personal favorite is the second movement; watch from 19:20)