Friday, February 27, 2009

The Unappreciated Importance of Infrastructure

We take things for granted, things which over time for many people count up. Malcolm Gladwell's new book suggests that Chinese get a leg up on math because the structure of the language in counting is so much more logical than English. (For example, "one two" instead of "twelve"; "two one" instead of "twenty-one".

Another example is the metric system--one of the great Enlightenment ideas which Thomas Jefferson hoped to give to the U.S., but only succeeded in part (i.e., money). See here for some of the friction which results from our failure to adopt it. (The difference between EU metrics and US metrics on airline safety.)

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