Thursday, February 26, 2015



I never heard of Jhalkaribai. According to Wikipedia  "Born into a poor Koli family, she started her career as an ordinary soldier in Laxmibai's army, but rose to a position of advising the queen and participating in vital decisions.[3] During the rebellion, at the height of the battle of fort of Jhansi, she disguised herself as the queen and fought on the front to let the queen escape safely out of the fort.[3][4]"
 via roundtableindia.


Do bigha zameen via Madhukar Shukla who has several comments.
Jairam Ramesh comments



Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Illargi wonders about IMF funding to Ukraine and Greece

How far is it from Kiev to Athens? I have been wondering about this myself. The article is also posted in Naked Capitalism where there may be more comments.

P.S. More about the Greek situation from Michael Hudson European Banks vs reek Labour

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Some developments associated with Walter Pitts

in The man who tried to redeem the world with logic. Apparently, one development that discouraged Pitts came at the age of 36 (he died atb the age of 46):
"[Jeorme Lettwin] Together with Pitts, McCulloch and the Chilean biologist and philosopher Humberto Maturana, he subjected the frogs to various visual experiences—brightening and dimming the lights, showing them color photographs of their natural habitat, magnetically dangling artificial flies—and recorded what the eye measured before it sent the information off to the brain. To everyone’s surprise, it didn’t merely record what it saw, but filtered and analyzed information about visual features like contrast, curvature, and movement. “The eye speaks to the brain in a language already highly organized and interpreted,” they reported in the now-seminal paper “What the Frog’s Eye Tells the Frog’s Brain,” published in 1959.
The results shook Pitts’ worldview to its core. Instead of the brain computing information digital neuron by digital neuron using the exacting implement of mathematical logic, messy, analog processes in the eye were doing at least part of the interpretive work. “It was apparent to him after we had done the frog’s eye that even if logic played a part, it didn’t play the important or central part that one would have expected,” Lettvin said. “It disappointed him. He would never admit it, but it seemed to add to his despair at the loss of Wiener’s friendship.”"
Some of the work related to the frog's eye is described here and the break up with Norbert Weiner in this review of a book about Norbert Weiner.
Some more developments of frog vision studies and applications to education are discussed in this 2010 paper of Luis Radford The eye as a theoretician: Seeing structures in generalizing activities.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Links, February 19, 2015

Rahul Banerjee on AAP, Syriza and Pademos: Social Democracy to the fore
Marinaleda A city where everyone works... More on Marinaleda from Wikipedia
Bloomberg vs The Economst: Whence the difference of opinion by David Warsh: "One thing I took away from Planning Armageddon is that military strategists in capitals around the world can be counted on to be doing with computers and present-day financial communication systems what their Edwardian counterparts were doing a hundred years ago – laying plans to disrupt their foes’ economies as thoroughly as possible if it comes to war,.  When Russia’s Kiselev says Putin  will use nuclear weapons if the existence of the Russian state is threatened, economic Armageddon is the kind of thing he’s got in mind – an all-out attempt to starve the Russian government into submission.
The other thing I took away is that, just as market interests swamped the British plan for all-out economic war in 1914, probably they will disrupt the clamor for US proxy war with Russia in 2015.  There’s a reason that Bloomberg View takes a calmer stance towards the Russian bullying of Ukraine than does The Economist. Its subscribers have more skin in the game."

Andrew Haldane reflects on growth

Growth, Fast and Slow
 Growth is a gift. Yet contrary to popular perceptions, it has not always kept on giving. Despite centuries of experience, the raw ingredients of growth remain something of a mystery. As best we can tell historically, they have been a complex mix of the sociological and the technological, typically acting in harmony. All three of the industrial revolutions since 1750 bear these hallmarks.
 Today, the growth picture is foggier. We have fear about secular stagnation at the same time as cheer about secular innovation. The technological tailwinds to growth are strong, but so too are the sociological headwinds. Buffeted by these cross-winds, future growth risks becoming suspended between the mundane and the miraculous."
An amusing take off:  Did Shakespeare make the wrong decision going into liberal arts and not finance?

Erratic Marxist

Impressive article by Yanis Varoufakis How I became an erratic Marxist.  Though impressed by Marx, I have always had some reservations about Marx and Marxists. Yanis Varoufakis explains some of the problems:
"Marx’s first error – the error of omission was that he failed to give sufficient thought to the impact of his own theorising on the world that he was theorising about. His theory is discursively exceptionally powerful, and Marx had a sense of its power. So how come he showed no concern that his disciples, people with a better grasp of these powerful ideas than the average worker, might use the power bestowed upon them, via Marx’s own ideas, in order to abuse other comrades, to build their own power base, to gain positions of influence?
Marx’s second error, the one I ascribe to commission, was worse. It was his assumption that truth about capitalism could be discovered in the mathematics of his models. This was the worst disservice he could have delivered to his own theoretical system. The man who equipped us with human freedom as a first-order economic concept; the scholar who elevated radical indeterminacy to its rightful place within political economics; he was the same person who ended up toying around with simplistic algebraic models, in which labour units were, naturally, fully quantified, hoping against hope to evince from these equations some additional insights about capitalism. After his death, Marxist economists wasted long careers indulging a similar type of scholastic mechanism. Fully immersed in irrelevant debates on “the transformation problem” and what to do about it, they eventually became an almost extinct species, as the neoliberal juggernaut crushed all dissent in its path.
How could Marx be so deluded? Why did he not recognise that no truth about capitalism can ever spring out of any mathematical model, however brilliant the modeller may be? Did he not have the intellectual tools to realise that capitalist dynamics spring from the unquantifiable part of human labour; ie from a variable that can never be well-defined mathematically? Of course he did, since he forged these tools! No, the reason for his error is a little more sinister: just like the vulgar economists that he so brilliantly admonished (and who continue to dominate the departments of economics today), he coveted the power that mathematical “proof” afforded him."

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Global Surpluis Recycling Mechanism (GSRM)

Yanis Varousfakis talks of different aspects of it in his nook 'The Global Minotaur'. One aspect from a recent article in The Guardian "In his recent book The Global Minotaur, Varoufakis claims that the notion of a surplus recycling mechanism is simple in theory and revolutionary in its implications. It was first devised by Keynes while working as an unpaid policy adviser to the British Treasury during the early 1940s. The proposal was an outgrowth of Keynes’s frustration with the limits of the gold standard during the 1920s. At that time there was an outflow of gold from Britain to the US to pay for Britain’s trade deficit. Logically the inflow of gold should have expanded the money supply in the US, increasing the competitiveness of UK exports. But the US adopted policies to offset inflationary pressures. As the economist Marie Christine Duggan has suggested, the harsh lesson for Keynes was that the gold standard was ineffective at forcing creditor nations to increase domestic prices or reinvest their surpluses. Creditor nations were free to hoard as they liked, placing the burden of action on debtor nations who had very little choice but to act in ways that tended to depress their domestic economies.Keynes’s proposal for curbing the problem was to create global rules that would place equal pressure on both creditor and debtor nations to adjust their respective trade imbalances, helping to ease the burden shouldered by debtor nations."
From a post of Michael Pettis, surpluses may not be good even for creditor countries:
" Far more interesting to me is the impact of the indemnity on Germany. From 1871 to 1873 huge amounts of capital flowed from France to Germany. .... As money poured into Germany the German economy boomed, along with German consumption, investment (a growing share of which went into projects at home and abroad that turned out in retrospect to be overly optimistic), and into the Berlin and Viennese stock markets. By early 1873 more experienced German, Austrian and British bankers were quietly warning each other of a speculative mania, and they were right. The stock market frenzy culminated in the 1873 global stock market crisis, which began in Vienna in May, shortly after the beginning of the 1873 World Fair,... "