Saturday, November 28, 2015

Douglass North RIP

Douglass North, an economist's historian by Kevib Bryan
Structure and change in economic history: The ideas of Douglass North by John Joseph Wallis:
"He profoundly appreciated how little we know about how societies actually work and how, as individuals and social scientists, we interpret what we see and experience through the ideas – theories, histories, and frameworks – we construct for ourselves. This appreciation not only gave him a life-long interest in cognition, but it was also a wellspring for his continuing ability to question what he and we believe.
All four of his major contributions came because he probed what we did not understand, obviously important questions for which we had no answers. His unerring sense of what best next question to ask flowed from his awareness of our collective ignorance. Not knowing and a willingness to admit it are personal characteristics rarely in evidence at the level of intellectual accomplishment that Douglass North reached. We all are better for his unique combination of confidence and humility."

Marianne Moore

Long ago I read some of her poems and still remember some of the lines thouh i do not really understand them. I never knew her backgroud. Today I saw this article in LRB What a mother by Mary-Kay Wilmers:" Marianne Moore was born in her mother’s childhood bedroom; grown up, she lived with her mother – most often shared her bed – until her mother died. She was then 59 and her mother 85; she lived another 25 years and died in 1972 a happy spinster, a famous poet and a grande dame."
Some of her poems here and a discussion of one here.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Links, 26 November 2015

How to counter violent extremism by Philip Giraldi (via Chris Blattman:" I began my career in the CIA working against the largely European terrorist groups that were active in the 1970s and 1980s. To be sure, there were Middle Eastern groups like Abu Nidal also prominent at the time, but the best known and most lethal terrorists were Germans, Italians, and Irishmen. They were just as ruthless as anything we are seeing today and, interestingly enough, the same questions that are being raised currently regarding the radicalization of young Muslims were raised back then regarding middle class Europeans, with a similar lack of any kind of satisfactory explanation. This is largely due to the fact that no simple answer exists because the road to radicalization, as the panels noted, can be quite complicated. Any attempt to create a model can result in erroneous conclusions that inevitably lead to the simple expedient of increasing police and governmental powers."
Reading tea leaves: What the women's movement can learn from a victory in India by Devaki Jain:
"These protesters did not allow men to be a part of the protest. “Men don’t do the work that we do,” they said. “We are the ones who pluck the leaves, carry the burden all day and even load it onto trucks.”
They did not allow unions to interfere in their protests either. Despite being in a state that has very influential unions and union leaders, the women did not allow them to become a part of their struggle. The women alleged that union leaders had colluded with the management to keep their bonus down."

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

About Peter Turchin's new book

Just stared reading Ultrasociality:How 10,000 Years of War Made Humans the Greatest Cooperators on Earth by Peter Turchin. The writing is somewhat cavalier, so far I could find several points I could argue with, but the book as a whole may make some sense. Paul Rosenberg writes about some of the ideas in Salon. I may have more to say after I complete reading the book.

One side of Sandy's ashtray sculpted by William Ricketts

Sandy's boomerang


Yesterday, our neighbour of over 20 years was taken to live in an old people's home and we were all in tears. But she raised a ruckus and got back home and called us for a chat today. She showed us a killer boomerang she got from central Australia around 1949 with which she is planning to defend herself. She also showed a ashtray with faces sculpted on both sides by William Ricketts in Alice Springs around 1955-56. Apparently, she used to get Time magazine those days and there was an article on William Ricketts in 1955 and she when she went to visit him she gave the article to him. After a few days, he came to Alice Springs and gave the ashtray to her. First she thought that it was present for giving him the article. But he charged her thirty shillings. It may be worth a couple of thousand dollars now. 

Sunday, November 22, 2015

India blockading Nepal

 "Subsequently, Kathmandu was given a clear indication by New Delhi that it expected Nepal to declare itself a Hindu Rashtra in the new Constitution. Sources said that the message was communicated to the top Nepal leaders before the Constitution was adopted. When Nepal ignored New Delhi’s directive, and decided to opt for a secular, federal Republic instead it created a major stir in New Delhi with the foreign secretary’s visit within 36 hours of the promulgation of the Constitution to basically read the Nepal government the “riot act.” " from Nepal takes first steps to move out of India's shadow, China gains

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Richard Eaton on the destruction of hindu temples

We will never know the number of temples descrated throuh India's history Some quotes not clear to me:
"While premodern Indians were certainly aware of religious difference, not a single communal riot is known to have occurred for almost all of medieval history. "
See for example tales like this.
"Well before Muslim ruling houses arrived on the scene, kings would attack an enemy king’s royal temple as a necessary part of undermining that king’s sovereign rule.  This much is clear both from normative Sanskrit texts and from the inscriptional record. Later on, Muslim kings intending to establish their own rule in India simply followed this tradition."
But there was destruction of various Jewish and Christian worship places before Islam came to India. May be it was not just indian practice.

Friday, November 20, 2015


"Despite the remaining challenges, there is a sense among the practitioners of this field that they have begun to glimpse something real and very important. “I didn’t know what space was made of before,” says Swingle. “It wasn’t clear that question even had meaning.” But now, he says, it is becoming increasingly apparent that the question does make sense. “And the answer is something that we understand,” says Swingle. “It’s made of entanglement.”" says The quantum source of soace-time

Dalit writer Shyamala Gogu

Somtimes I am dubious of the value of books and reading. but they played a large role in her development, particularly translated books, she says in In conversation`. More about her here and in The Sunlatern Sings: "Shyamala is a former activist of the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist)—members of which were branded ‘Naxalites’ in Andhra Pradesh—and a Dalit, feminist and Telangana activist. She grew up in the Madiga quarter of Peddamul village in the Tandur region of western Telangana. Her father, a bonded agricultural labourer, got both her brothers to work in the fields as he was determined to send Shyamala to school, so that she’d be able to decipher complicated land deeds and ensure the family didn’t get cheated out of their small land holdings."

Links, 20th September, 2015

Steven Hsu links to some posts on Microaggression, Moral Cultures and the Culture of Victimhood: "Growing up, I could easily understand that there was a "generation gap" between people my age and our parents and teachers. But I could not imagine what the gap would be like between us and our own children and students. (Gee, I'm hip, and I'll always understand what it's like to be a kid or teenager...) Perhaps this is it."
A new historical data base on world human development
Dalai Lama on recent Paris attacks
Some reaction to IS in different countries Most Pakistanis say not sure
Compared to the problems of refugees these problems seem minor My white neighbours thought that I was breaking into my own apartment. Nineteen cops showed up. via J.K.Mohana Rao who describes his own experiences and I describe mine "We had similar experiences too in Melbourne. I bought a hose in a poor neighborhood in 1988. We were callked 'black dos' and somebody wrote 'black c...s' in front of our house. Once somebody threw stones on our house and in the night water started pouring in due to heavy rains. Luckily, a young neighbour who is familar with construction work, came and put a plastic sheet over the hole and repaired it next day. How did we cope? We temporarily taught children prejudice. We told them their grandfather was a postraduate and most neighbours came from riff-raff of England. I kept telling myself that dalits and brahmins fared worse in the area where i came from. Other Indians were in slightly better areas and claimed that they did not have similar experiences though some admitted in due course that they wetre heckled while waiting for buses. We moved to a middle class area after four years mainly because the schools were bad. It was much better though children were called abos (supposed to be an insult) in school sometimes. We went through various Indian functions, named some houses during functions fter Ashoka, harsha... but not Akbar. Now all are doing well with some children in big bank jobs etc. A gentleman told me that his daughter, a lawyer, is handling a two billion dollar case where a mining company is tryin to get out of the damage it has done which is still causing fires. Another tells me that his son is in some banking job and probably has the biggest salary among Indians in the southern hemisphere. we are all doing well and they tell me that Modi is transforming India."

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Revisiting 'Economic possibilities for our grandchildren'

Chris Dillow Keynes' Error

Keynes proviso in 1930 "The pace at which we can reach our destination of economic bliss will be governed by four things-our power to control population, our determination to avoid wars and civil dissensions, our willingness to entrust to science the direction of those matters which are properly the concern of science, and the rate of accumulation as fixed by the margin between our production and our consumption; of which the last will easily look after itself, given the first three."
Another recent take What are the economic possibilities for our children?

Recent Chennai floods

Chennai floods are not a natural disaster-they've been created by unrestrained construction
An earlier report from India Water Portal Rain rain go away, our cities can't keep the water at bay!: "Instead of introspecting and understanding the reasons for their sources drying up, the cities looked outside. Bangalore turned to the Cauvery, Hyderabad to the Krishna and Delhi to the Ganga and now all the way up to the Giri near Renuka in Himachal Pradesh. "City administration feels that water demand cannot be fulfilled locally. So the city with more political clout goes farther away to get its water. Meanwhile, property rates keep rising and politicians and builders make money by trying to sell off floodplains as prime residential destination," says Anupam Mishra. "But when it comes to monsoon, you can't dictate God that we already have water for our need so please give us only this much rainfall," he says.
These floodplains and lakes in the low-lying parts of a city, did not just fulfil the water needs of a city, but also drained it off the excess rain water that poured there. When construction blocked the path of water, it led to water-logging on the city roads. The blame then fell on the storm water drains which in most cases, were designed very long ago and were not capable of handling the excess water that seeped into the ground. The 'Mumbai Marooned' report says that the city's drainage system was designed in the early 20th century for a maximum rainfall of 25 mm per hour, assuming that half the rain would be absorbed by the soil and only half would flow into the drainage system."