Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Links ...

Mark Pilgrim: The day music died:

So what happens on August 31, 2008? On that day, Microsoft will turn off the servers that they maintain for the sole purpose of validating that the songs that people have already “purchased” through MSN Music are still theirs to play. ...

Robert Nadeau: Brother, Can You Spare Me a Planet? Mainstream Economics and the Environmental Crisis. Here's some interesting history:

... The progenitors of neoclassical economics, all of whom were trained as engineers, developed their theories by substituting economic variables derived from classical economics for physical variables in the equations of a soon-to-be outmoded mid–19th century theory in physics. [...]

The strategy used by the creators of neoclassical economics was as simple as it was absurd—the economists copied the physics equations and changed the names of the variables. In the resulting mathematical formalism, utility becomes synonymous with the amorphous field of energy described in the equations taken from the physics, and the sum of utility and expenditure, like the sum of potential and kinetic energy in the physical equations, is conserved. Forces associated with the field of utility (or, in physics, energy) allegedly determine prices, and spatial coordinates correspond with quantities of goods. Because the physical system described in the equations of the theory in physics is closed, the economists were obliged to assume that the market system described in their theory is also closed. And because the sum of energy in the equations that describe the physical system is conserved, the economists were also obliged to assume that the sum of utility in a market system is also conserved.

The Tamil Nadu Board's textbooks for classes I - XII are all available online. [Thanks to U. Veena for the e-mail alert].

Finally, the the mystery link.


  1. Anonymous said...

    From Gary Becker's Nobel acceptance speech :

    "My research uses the economic approach to analyze social issues that range
    beyond those usually considered by economists. This lecture will describe
    the approach, and illustrate it with examples drawn from past and current

    Unlike Marxian analysis, the economic approach I refer to does not
    assume that individuals are motivated solely by selfishness or gain. It is a
    method of analysis, not an assumption about particular motivations. Along
    with others, I have tried to pry economists away from narrow assumptions
    about self interest. Behavior is driven by a much richer set of values and

    The analysis assumes that individuals maximize welfare as they conceive it,
    whether they be selfish, altruistic, loyal, spiteful, or masochistic. Their
    behavior is forward-looking, and it is also consistent over time. In particu-
    lar, they try as best they can to anticipate the uncertain consequences of
    their actions. Forward-looking behavior, however, may still be rooted in the
    past, for the past can exert a long shadow on attitudes and values."

    Above passages must be read and re-read by everyone who is of the opinion that economics is about merely utility maximization by selfish individuals.

    Neo-classical economics - a favorite whipping boy of the 'other' economics uuh.

  2. Rahul Siddharthan said...

    I think the MSN Music thing is a class action suit waiting to happen. MSN Music customers have already been shafted once, by the fact that their "plays for sure" music won't play on Microsoft's own Zune!

    Customers can protect themselves, but most won't know how. One way I read somewhere (not sure whether it works with MSN Music) is to burn the music to a CD and then re-rip it. But in the worst case, you can ALWAYS de-DRM music by feeding it back (via the line in) to a second computer. You will lose some quality (because of the digital-to-analog-to-digital conversion) but it will hardly be noticeable and it's one-time.

    If you can play it, you can copy it. DRM is a scam and thankfully is losing popularity now.

    To protect their own behinds, Microsoft should individually contact all their customers and either offer a free service to do this, or explain in great detail how to do it by themselves without technical knowledge.