Friday, June 13, 2003

Spending evenings, the old style
Last year I took a class on the history of modern art, just for fun and enrichment, you know. Once in the class the teacher, a very well known art historian, mentioned that he used to wonder for a long time how a painter like Degas could produce such a huge volume of art works in a life time. Then, as he said, he had realized that in Dega’s time there was no TV.
To me it is TV and Internet that prevents me from doing anything useful. Especially the Internet, and the worst of Internet? WEBLOGS. Last night the Internet was disconnected and in the beginning I was really missing something. Then after wandering around the apartment for sometime while the thunderstorm was creating scary movie scenes outside, I gradually went back to my old style, more fruitful ways of spending a night. First I browsed through a technical paper that I had in my priority list for quite some time (finally!). Then I grabbed Kurt Vonnegut's Jailbird. This guy is such a great novelist. I love his "Slaughterhouse Number 5". That is probably my best favorite novel. I have read it twice in Farsi and once in English. Jailbird is a little boring though. So, I grabbed Jailbird from the bookshelf and continued reading from where I had left a very long time ago. I am telling you it felt much better than reading on the computer screen. From the book:

[Dr. di Sanza's Ponzi scheme was] offering fools enormous rates of interest for the use of their money. ... he would use most of the money to buy himself mansions and ... but returning part of it as the interest he had promised. More and more people would come to him, having heard of him from gloatingly satisfied recipients of his interest checks, and he would use their money to write more checks - and on and on.
I am now convinced that Dr. di Sanza's greatest strength was his stupidity. He was such a successful swindler because he himself could not, even after two convictions, understand what was inevitably catastrophic about a Ponzi scheme.
"I have made many people happy and rich" he said. "Have you done that?"
"No, sir -not yet," I said. "But it's never too late to try."
I am now moved to suppose, with my primitive understanding of economics, that every successful government is of necessity a Ponzi scheme. It accepts enormous loans that can never be repaid ...

Delacorte Press, 1979, ppg. 50, 51


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