Monday, June 26, 2017

Peculiar hotel rules

A smidgen of hope

"...history is not stained with blood spilled by animosities between partisans for broccoli versus cauliflower." from
Why your brain hates other people? By Robert Sapolsky with the subheading 'And how to make it think differently'.
But These boys got the same haircut so their teacher 'wouldn't be able to tell them apart.'

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Tyler Cowan interview of Raj Chetty

Here. An excerpt:
"COWEN: If I’m trying to model the Raj Chetty production function and I described it as such, it’s a multiplicative model, so there is getting the data, but that’s not the key point.
CHETTY: That’s not the key point.
COWEN: There’s then some conceptual advance that allows you to see the data can test something that other people hadn’t seen, and then there are numerous stages of execution, and then there’s also recruiting and managing the team. There’s a whole bunch of different steps, and you’re trying to do well at each of them and very few other people can do well at each and every one, and maybe that’s the way to think about your moat. Is that fair to say?
CHETTY: That is our strategy. I think the other thing that’s extremely important is, we spend a lot of time on trying to achieve clarity. There are ways to write papers in economics that are more accessible to the public and thereby have greater impact, and there are ways to write papers that are more technically oriented and narrow the set of readers."

P.S. I thought it was me who gave Raj his first computer. He seems to have forgotten. From an interview with his father, it was a Sinclair and he was three at that time.

Empowerment for the relatively privileged.

The poem 'Chopping Onions' is making rounds and drawing praise from other relatively privileged and successful people. It is one of the poems here. Recitation around 21:00 Here, may give an idea of the groups interested in such things.
The choice for the less privileged "Cut to the the 21st century. The latest census figures list only 32.8 per cent women formally as primary workers in the agricultural sector, in contrast to 81.1 per cent men. But the undeniable fact remains that India’s agricultural industry, which employs 80 to 100 million women, cannot survive without their labour. From preparing the land, selecting seeds, preparing and sowing to transplanting the seedlings, applying manure/fertilisers/pesticides and then harvesting, winnowing and threshing, women work harder and longer than male farmers.
Maintaining the ancillary branches in this sector, like animal husbandry, fisheries and vegetable cultivation, depends almost solely on women. So where are these women while the male farmers and their kakas furiously debate the future of farming, loans, subsidies and irrigation matters? Men get more than their share of visibility on TV, in governmental publicity material and within the banking sectors but millions of women farmers have no spokesperson from their ranks." from
The invisible women farmers

Another on the long term effects in development

"Are you surprised by these results? They fascinate me, honestly. Think through the logic: forced labor (in the surrounding villages) and extractive capital (rail and factories built solely to export a crop in little use domestically) both have positive long-run local effects! They do so by affecting institutions – whether villages have the ability to produce public goods like education – and by affecting incentives – the production of capital used up- and downstream. One can easily imagine cases where forced labor and extractive capital have negative long-run effects, and we have great papers by Daron Acemoglu, Nathan Nunn, Sara Lowes and others on precisely this point. But it is also very easy for societies to get trapped in bad path dependent equilibria, for which outside intervention, even ethically shameful ones, can (perhaps inadvertently) cause useful shifts in incentives and institutions!"

Another quote "But it is also very easy for societies to get trapped in bad path dependent equilibria, for which outside intervention, even ethically shameful ones, can (perhaps inadvertently) cause useful shifts in incentives and institutions! "

Saturday, June 24, 2017

From facebok feed

Image may contain: one or more people and text

Robin Hanson feels his age

I turn 58 soon, and I’m starting to realize that I may not live long enough to finish many of my great life projects. 
His Home page : And I'm not a joiner; I rebel against groups with "our beliefs", especially when members must keep criticisms private, so as not to give ammunition to "them".
Next book The elephant in the brain, its detailed outline 

Friday, June 23, 2017

On religious extremism

Religious extremism: the good, the bad, and the deadly by Lawrence R Iannaccone
  and Eli Berman from 2005-2006
 Abstract: This paper challenges conventional views of violent religious extremism, particularly those that emphasize militant theology. We offer an alternative analysis that helps explain the persistent demand for religion, the different types of religious that naturally arise, and the special attributes of the “sectarian” type. Sects are adept at producing club goods – both spiritual and material. Where governments and economies function poorly, sects often become major suppliers of social services, political action, and coercive force. Their success as providers is much more due to the advantages of their organizational structure than it is to their theology. Religious militancy is most effectively controlled through a combination of policies that raise the direct costs of violence, foster religious competition, improve social services, and encourage private enterprise.
 A recent discussion about British politics which partly uses the above paper
Irrational politics: is it about signalling?

Check also Eli Berman

The age of Trump?

I have been hearing about such incidents since 1953

Two more on democracy

Why do democracies fail? "The most crucial variable predicting the success of a democratic transition is the self-confidence of the incumbent elites. If they feel able to compete under democratic conditions, they will accept democracy. If they do not, they will not."
If you don’t like my govt, don’t take pension, use roads’: Andhra CM to voters

Check also Democracy leads to Islamism by Razib Khan posted earlier.

Two from Bloomberg

Razib Khan again

A commenter says "Razib, I am pleased to see that you have kept your options open. You seem to change your options as soon as new evidence is placed before you. I have seen you flip flopping depending on the strength of the evidence, at that particular moment in time . This shows an agile and very less biased mind without some pre-determined notions ruling your judgement. " from
Indian emetics, the never-ending argument:
"Ultimately the final story will be more complex than we can imagine. R1a is too widespread to be explained by a simple Indo-Aryan migration in my opinion. But we can’t get to these genuine conundrums if we keep having to rebut ideologically motivated salvos."
Another Democracy leads to Islamism:
"Eric Kauffman argues in Shall the Religious Inherit the Earth? that modernization, economic development, and the expansion of political representation, integrates conservative rural populations and uplifts them all the while transforming the norms of urban areas.In other words, the rural bazar melds with the urban shopping mall, and both are changed. The 1979 revolution in Iran and its aftermath has been argued to be a victory of the bazar over the Western oriented gentry. In India the rise of Hindu nationalism is an assertion of the self-confidence of sub-elites from the “cow belt” who arose to challenge the Western oriented ruling class that had dominated since the early 20th century."

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Gomantak Maratha Samaj, interview with Dr. Anjali Arondekar

Complex genealogies of caste and gender
"...our Samaj was financially supported through the labors of artists such as Mogubai Kurdikar, Kesarbai Kerkar, Lata Mangeshkar and Kishori Amonkar. "

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Two on AI


Off and on, I have been trying to understand bitcoin business without much success. This article, possibly a bit dated, seems clearer than many I read.
The great chain of being sure about things
P.S. “The Blockchain Is Going to Revolutionize Central Banking and Monetary Policy” 

The next flash point?.

Different perspectives on possible confrontations between US and Russia in Syria. I will start with Juan Cole though I am no longer convinced of his 'informed comments':
Russo-US dog fights over Syria? By Juan Cole
A bit more to the left Spoiling for a Wider War in Syria by Robert Parry
And even more to the left Syria Summary - U.S. Attack Fails To Disrupt Push To Deir Ezzor from Moon of Alabama and regular reports here.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

complex systems again

Society Is Too Complicated to Have a President, Complex Mathematics Suggest
"Most famously, the institute's director, Yaneer Bar-Yam, predicted the Arab Spring several weeks before it happened. He found that seemingly unrelated policy decisions—ethanol subsidies in the US and the deregulation of commodity markets worldwide—led to skyrocketing food prices in 2008 and 2011. It turns out that there is a very neat correlation between the United Nations food price index and unrest and rioting worldwide that no one but Bar-Yam had picked up......
"We were raised to believe that democracy, and even the democracy that we have, is a system that has somehow inherent good to it," he added. But it's not just democracy that fails. "Hierarchical organizations are failing in the response to decision-making challenges. And this is true whether we're talking about dictatorships, or communism that had very centralized control processes, and for representative democracies today. Representative democracies still focus power in one or few individuals. And that concentration of control and decision-making makes those systems ineffective."
Bar-Yam proposes a more laterally-organized system of governance in which tons of small teams specialize in certain policies, and then those teams work together to ultimately make decisions."
A more recent version here.

Cannabis again

I smoked cannabis for an Year around 1970. But I did not like the after taste and stopped after an Year. May be I should start again. One effect that I remember well is that it slowed down time and listening to music was wonderful, one seemed to hear every note.
Cannabis Reverses Aging Processes in the Brain
"Like any other organ, our brain ages. As a result, cognitive ability also decreases with increasing age. This can be noticed, for instance, in that it becomes more difficult to learn new things or devote attention to several things at the same time. This process is normal, but can also promote dementia. Researchers have long been looking for ways to slow down or even reverse this process.
Scientists at the University of Bonn and The Hebrew University of Jerusalem (Israel) have now achieved this in mice. These animals have a relatively short life expectancy in nature and display pronounced cognitive deficits even at twelve months of age. The researchers administered a small quantity of THC, the active ingredient in the hemp plant (cannabis), to mice aged two, twelve and 18 months over a period of four weeks."