Friday, February 6, 2009

Masterful Illiteracy

It is ruthless how people expect everyone to have an opinion on the economics slowdown. I don't mind humouring cabdrivers and supplying their solid common sense with some jargon armoury. But someone starts a serious conversation I so wish he talked about whether. "You did economics right, so what do you think went wrong ? People say it's going to be say it's going to be dim the next three fiscals.."That's my cue word. From there I know I am in a conversation I should be out of real quick. I try the old but sure trick "look there is Ramalinga Raju" and gently slip out.

Why do they do this ? Do you see me starting polite conversations with electrical engineers on the lines of "suppose you have a solenoid of length n". Is it too much to ask to be extended the same courtesy. But, you may point to a flaw in my argument that electrical engineers will probably smack their lips and relish such conversation. But you see, that is one of the reasons why I am not an electrical engineer.

To quote an alleged luminary of my tribe: "Familiarity with the subject matter of economics breeds contempt for special knowledge about it" - Milton Friedman

I once had aunt ask me for investment advice. Seriously, me ? I am just short of keeping my savings underneath my mattress. The only time I ever got Sensex was when solving Amartya's coitus unknown after perception (6).

My daily dose of The Hindu consists of the sports page, archaeological finds, body counts in Gaza and SriLanka (one inflated and one deflated), then some "woman relieved of chain and youth fatally knocked down" to digest with my breakfast ceral and then I throw the paper away. And for whatever economics I want to understand, the cartoons are always there.


  1. Ha ... maybe it can never be understood.

    My attitude about the s/w thozhil is quite the opposite - I gleefully share the murkier details with auto-drivers and like only to be met with the unintended consequences.Sir, meter-rukku maela ...

  2. I have it on some unfounded authority that "Amartya's coitus" has been acting up a little of late. :)
    And did I hear someone say something a solenoid of length n... (Looks around for a couple of seconds as everyone disappears and then laments) adap pAvigaLA. nAn summA thAnadA irunthEn...kai ellAm veraikkuthu pArungadA!

  3. Compli. it has indeed been acting up. More aware friends of mine say that that's actually nifty.

  4. I think Finance majors have it worse coz everyone asks them for investment advice and predictions on various unrelated funds. I'm sure doctors come in as close-seconds.

    Engineers are safe for the most part, but we do have random people ask us stuff every once in a while. A cabdriver in Virginia once asked my CS student friend if he was better off going with Linux and loading some windows-like environment on it vs going for a dual partitioned hard drive and started arguing against my friend's recommendation. He was just one well informed cabdriver! As a mechanical engineer, I thought I was completely safe until I had to talk a/c settings with a cabdriver, and that extremely smart SOB turned out to be a Nigerian Boiler engineer turned illegal immigrant who was driving a cab for a living!

  5. Welcome IITC. At some level the germ for this post was getting caught peddling gyaan to an Eritrean cabbie. One informed mo-fo who was foaming in the mouth that jobs were being shipped to India and how he was forced to learn new tricks at an old age to survive poor policy environments. Next time I am going to be "I no speak Anglais".