Skip to main content


Passage in search of a story

Recent posts

The Art of News Photography

I read a fascinating Reuters piece recently (one of a genre they call their "backstory" pieces, offering the world glimpses into how news is manufactured.)

This one involved news photography, and the framing of photos, including the photo of the genial gentleman above, which went  viral not long ago.

Without further ado, the link:

Pareto Optimality, Part I

Pareto "optimality" (sometimes also called Pareto "efficiency") is an ideal often discussed in decision theory and related branches of the social sciences and philosophy. My understanding is that the two terms are synonymous, although "optimality" seems in broader use.

The idea at heart is that it is wrong to refuse to do something that would make somebody better off, unless that action would make somebody else worse off.  So any circumstance in which there is an improvement possible for somebody, that does NOT involve a loss for anybody, is a sub-optimal state. Pareto optimality exists, then, when there are no such moves. 
As you might guess, there is somebody named Pareto behind this idea. He is Vilfredo Pareto, an Italian engineer (1848 - 1923) who in midlife turned himself into an economist. Indeed, Benoit Mandelbrot (the famous chaos theorist) has said that it was Pareto more than anyone else who turned economics from a branch of moral philosophy in…