In the name of Allah

#Personal

It is too hard for me to start talking to an unknown person. However, it is a way harder to start a conversation with those whom I know I will not become familiar with in the future!

To make a long story short, this weblog will be my first attempt at writing in English. I will try to share my thoughts, analyses, notes and useful articles I found on the internet. I do not know how long would this attempt last, and how frequent I will write on this webpage, but they say: “beginning is always the hardest!”

P.S: It is difficult to have no mistakes when you start writing in a foreign language; it is impossible to have no scientific mistakes when you are a human! Thus, I would appreciate your comments on my grammatical or scientific errors.

 

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Transportation in Utopia​

Since this weblog should contain my reports to Utopia, I thought this TED talk demonstrates how the utopian transportation system will be like. Wanis Kabbaj, director of global strategy for healthcare logistics at UPS, talks about what can we learn from what is going on inside ourselves, especially our cardiovascular system.

Why we pretend to know things

#Article No.5 #CognitiveScience

Why we pretend to know things, explained by a cognitive scientist
An interview with Steven Sloman, a cognitive scientist at Brown University.
In this interview, Dr Steven Sloman explains how we rely on other people for much of our knowledge, and why it is necessary. He also explains why having biases is not that bad. Rather, it is essential to carry biases with us as souvenirs of our previous arguments.

I also enjoyed the way Sean Illing, the interviewer, called the combination of ignorance and confidence: ” Ignorance and confidence is a lethal cocktail. When someone’s confidence scales with their ignorance, there’s really no way to engage them.”

 

Was the Living Standard of Iranians Higher Before the Revolution?

Tyranny of numbers

It is not surprising to hear Iranians say that life was better before the revolution.  Depending on their social class, they could be thinking of a variety of metrics, social and economic.  But to hear economists speak about how life was for the average Iranian was better before the revolution, is surprising, at least to those with access to data.

Two and a half years ago, I addressed this subject in this blog, refuting a claim made by an Iranian economist that in 2013 Iran’s GDP per capita was 42% below its 1976 level. Then a week ago, Masoud Nili, the top economic advisor to President Rouhani, made a similar observation, this time with much wider publicity, saying, according to press reports, that, “income per capita now is 70 percent of its value in 1976.”  So, it’s time to repeat the argument of why this comparison is wrong.

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Knitting

#personal

I started knitting last Wednesday, which was a unique and tranquil experience. Each stitch has its own story, each row has its own personality. For a person like me, who had been busy with electrical and virtual phenomena, grappling with needles and yarns was hard and surprising!

Hard, because knitting is exactly like riding a bike, or like swimming. There is a limit that when you pass it, you feel now you are free and you can do something! However, exactly like swimming and riding a bike, there is no upper limit for your abilities and skills.

Surprising, since knitting is an art and all I had experienced was science. I could feel the differences between these two worlds: left brain and right brain! You need to be patient, you need to take care of your handmade piece of wool. But, there is yet another huge difference: the probability of everything gets ruined! When I write a proof or a note somewhere, I am almost sure that nothing would happen to it. On the other hand, when I’m doing a knitting, there is always the probability of a “knitto” (like type-o) to lose almost everything!

There is a quote from Richard P. Feynman which says: “To develop working ideas efficiently, I try to fail as fast as I can.” Now, more than ever, I need to fail and find my best way to solve them. photo_2018-03-18_09-02-50

 

Think about other Iranians!

#personal

I had a quick quiz this day morning, or it is better to say I “supposed” to have a quick quiz. Unfortunately, I caught cold last day and had to swallow a Coldstop pill, which is designed to cure Common Cold, but actually works like a sleeping pill! So, I could not have come to the class on time and missed the quiz.

When the class was over, I went to explain to the professor why I was late. (Oh! I must have forgotten to say that I am a person who always tries to be on-time and I have missed few classes in the last four years of being a BSc student.) When I reached to her desk, I saw another student has already begun the “explaining” (begging) process. She said no and refused to think about his reasons. She then gave her rationale for this reaction.

She explained when she was a PhD student at the University of Texas at Austin, she had seen this scene all the time at the beginning of sessions that Iranian students always came to the class 5 to 10 minutes after the professor. She said as it was so embarrassing to witness this scene as an Iranian student in a foreign country. Thus, she will never accept any excuses for being late. She then added: “think about other Iranians!”

It hurt. On the one hand, she was right about the importance of being on-time. On the other hand, I always tried hard to be on time, and what happened today was an outlier.

 

Alireza the Teacher

#personal #economics

I had my first experience as a teacher assistant, and it was great! I had taught courses as an astronomy olympiad teacher, but this was unique! I found out that I have a penchant for talking about subjects on economics and social science.

In the beginning, there were only three students in the class, which is a nightmare for a rookie; especially when one of them asked if it is possible to leave the class! Fortunately, that did not last for a long time. At the end, there were about 15 of them in the class.

I could clearly remember last year’s first TA session when Miss TA’s face and palms were covered by sweat. Hence, I was afraid if the same thing will happen to me. But thank God, nothing bad happened and I did the job quite well.