India – nationalism, colonialism, history and the future

Narendra Modi, the prime minister, controls the story of Indian nationalism these days, and has little use for the history of the anti-colonial struggle (which his own heroes, the first Hindu nationalists, largely sat out).

The Congress party, now in opposition, would traditionally stoke the embers of the anti-British campaigns, which it led. But it is trying hard to appeal to new voters, desperate for jobs and otherwise far from the memory of the freedom struggle.

— The Economist, in ‘The politics of apologising for Amritsar

Why we centralise control…

Centralising power not only offers a sense of control and order, but it’s a cheaper way to fight a war. Letting commanders decide what to do on the fly requires more training and more troops, which can be expensive and unpredictable.

— From Quartz, ‘A ferocious tank battle taught H.R. McMaster how to prepare for the unexpected

Self improvement needs both solitude and the world

Any self-improvement is impossible if you live constantly in the bustle of the everyday world. But it is even less possible if you live in constant solitude. If you want to improve yourself, the very best approach is to develop and establish your view of things in solitude and then to apply it as you live in the everyday world.

— Tolstoy (from “A Calendar of Wisdom” by Leo Tolstoy, Roger Cockrell)

The modern business model innovation…

Which brings me to the most important point: Lyft and Juno have effectively claimed that being forced to pay their drivers a living wage on each ride would put them at a competitive disadvantage. You can quibble over the details, but when you boil it down, that is the essence of the argument. How even to process that?

In the old days, if you couldn’t afford to pay your workers in compliance with the law, chances were your company went out of business. Today when you can’t afford to pay your workers adequately you hire them as independent contractors through a “technology platform” and pay wages supplemented by just enough gamified incentives to keep workers coming back for more, like gamblers at the slot machines.

The true innovation of Uber was figuring out the labor model that Lyft and Juno and so many other gig companies adopted.

— Ali Griswold, in Oversharing: Lyft sues to avoid paying drivers a living wage