Monday, September 15, 2014

'Men in Dark Times' by Hannah Arendt

is available on line. Read a couple of the portraits including the second one about Rosa Luxemburg. Here is more recent one Red Rosa by Paul Le Blanc. Excerpts
"As suggested above, it can be argued that capitalism is more complex, more
dynamic than Luxemburg allows. Beyond this, there is more truth than
she seems aware in her assertion that ‘the accumulation of capital, as an
historical process, depends upon non-capitalist social strata and forms of
social organization.’ Non-capitalist regions of the globe are certainly the
target of capitalist penetration and degradation for the sake of maximizing
profits – but such penetration is also relentlessly taking place in the
multifaceted non-capitalist aspects of our lives and environment, within
highly developed capitalist countries. "
"Regardless of powerful criticisms leveled at Luxemburg’s
Accumulation of Capital, her discussion of the workings and impacts of
imperialism clearly retain considerable validity. Modern economist Joan
Robinson once commented, after an extremely critical survey of The
Accumulation of Capital, that ‘for all of its confusions and exaggerations,
this book shows more prescience than any orthodox contemporary could
claim’ "

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Low Growth Problems?

Are advanced economies mature enough to handle low growth? by Yves Smith
Ukraine:As economic war escalates, fighting may resume soon from Moon of Alabama
P.S. It seems to be that this is the beginning of another cold war. The earlier one was supposed to be due to ideological differences.. This one seems to be due to low growth particularly in the west and US with Russia a reluctant participant. How it pans out for other counties is not clear with conflicts from Venezuela to Thailand with so much armaments available. I guess that life goes on somehow or other if one is not a refugee.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Two reviews of a book on Walter Benjamin

Walter Benjamin :A Critical Life by Howard Eiland and Michael Jennings
Brains and Sex by a Melbourne academic Justin Clemens
The Naysayers by a music critic Alex Ross

Boris Kagarlitsky on Ukraine

in an interview. These roughly correspond to my impressions

Feroza Begum RIP

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

An Indian film song

Two bee studies

The first In Bees, a Hunt for the Roots of Social Behaviour describes studies of the genome level differences between solitary and social bees as well as diferences between social bees engaged in different tasks. One species 'sweat bees' has both behaviours depending on the region they come from. The second No Glass Ceiling for Worker Bees describes what happens in a hive of honey bees when elite foraging bees which do hlf the work are removed "Then, by removing those top performers, the team found that other bees took their place. It was, said Dr. Robinson, “elitism with a populist streak.”"

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

My first experience with a healer

which I got as a father's day present from one of the children. It consisted of lying down on a table for one hour, most of the time with eyes closed, and her running her hands above the body and sometimes touching the injured parts( in my case left wrist from De Quervain's tenosynovitis and right elbow which seems bruised for unknown reasons). Apparently reactions of earlier visitors were different from fairly active physical reactions to feeling of floating above the table. I did not feel much and was conscious though she said I slept in the middle. Her hands were warm but when she passed her hand a couple of inches over the the forehead, it was distinctly warmer like getting close to a lamp. There were also a couple flashes of light even though my eyes were closed. Later video showed my eye lids moving a bit though my eyes were closed and I was not coscious of moving them. i cannor really say whether some heatin stuff was not used. Others who had stroner reactions had partners or parents present durin the sessions. May be some of the healers have some effect. But I could not keep quiet for an hour and started chatting. She had problems growing chillies and curry leaves and I had some success with them and discussed about those for a while.

MIR Books

From a post three years ago "Mir Publications is a name known to most Indians associated with excellent books in almost all subjects of interest, but especially in science and mathematics. ....
Some of the classics of the Mir books are by Yakov Pereleman, Landau, Kitaigorodosky, Zeldovich, Matveev and the list goes on…
Some notable series were: Science for Every OneWhat is…ABC of…Physics for Everyone…
 I urge and request all the people who owe even a little bit to books by Mir to contribute their knowledge about these books here…"
In the comments that follow (352 so far) there are lot of links to access thoe books.

Michael Hudson on IMF loans to Ukraine

Loosing credibility: The IMF's New Cold War Loan to Ukraine "...on August 29, just as Kiev began losing its attempt at ethnic cleansing against the eastern Donbas region, the IMF signed off on the first loan ever to a side engaged in a civil war, not to mention being rife with insider capital flight and a collapsing balance of payments. Based on fictitiously trouble-free projections of the ability to pay, the loan supported Ukraine’s currency, the hryvnia, long enough to enable the oligarchs’ banks to move the money quickly into Western hard-currency accounts before the hryvnia plunged further and was worth even fewer euros and dollars.
This loan demonstrates the degree to which the IMF is an arm of U.S. Cold War politics. The loan terms imposed the usual budget austerity, as if this would stabilize the war-torn country’s finances. The financings obviously were devoted mainly to rebuilding the army. The war-torn East can expect to receive nothing even nothing even though its basic infrastructure has been destroyed for power generation water, and hospitals. Civilian housing areas that bore the brunt of the attack are also unlikely to profit from the IMF’s uncharacteristic generosity.
A quarter of Ukraine’s exports normally are from eastern provinces and sold mainly to Russia. But Kiev has been bombing Donbas industry and left its coal mines without electricity. Nearly a million civilians are reported to have fled to Russia. Yet the IMF release announced: “The IMF praised the government’s commitment to economic reforms despite the ongoing conflict.” No wonder there was almost no comment in the news or even the business press!"
The article also discusses the privitization plans in Ukraine and strategies to  avoid payin Ukraine's debts to Russia.
On a different note,
A Russian envioronmentalist on The ecology of sanctions

Sunday, September 07, 2014


Mindhacks talks of " an interesting study of a women who started compulsively writing poetry after having brief epileptic amnesia treated with the anti-seizure drug lamotrigine......One of the most interesting implications of these cases is that rhyming, punning and poetic speech, which we normally think of as something that needs specific conscious effort and attention, can appear spontaneously to the point of overwhelming our normal forms of communication."
 From Nursing patterns & mother's milk (via Ed Yong)  "But for breastfeeding mothers, this also means that night milk may have importantly different features from daytime milk for babies. There are hundreds of bioactive hormones in milk that likely vary across the 24 hours of the day. What they do when consumed by the infant remains poorly explored if not TOTALLY UNKNOWN " But some effects known in rats. 
Carl Zimmer on Parasites practicing mind control
Carl Zimmer on the evolution of caffeine
About the composition of the fighters in Eastern Ukraine 
Robert Kagan thinks that America is averse to fight



I find that the number of visitors my blog (I do not know the numbers in Facebook. These numbers vary from time to time but they seem more  than beore) seems to be crossing 300 daily and before I mislead people, it may be good to describe my biases. I grew up during the Dulles days when the US attitude was 'If you are not with us, you are against us' and Russians were friendly to India. So that sort of bias and general suspicion towards the rich seems to be there in my background. I have spent over six years in USA and have many friends there and I do not know any Russians.I think that there is often local self organization but often threatened and washed away by global influences (It is worth pondering how Eastern Ukraine will fare now). What sort of balance can be achieved seems to be the problem. Possibly such a balance can be achieved only if some principle of subsidiarity is adopted in our constitutions. More than that I do not know. I am lost too and am just exploring.

Saturday, September 06, 2014

Peter Turchin on Ukraine

Peter Turchin, author of 'War and Peace and War' has some articles on Ukraine from March this year. One of them Wealth and Democracy in Ukraine is in two parts. In the second part, he compares Ukraine with Russia and Belarus. It suggests that a combination of democracy an oligarchs is bad for economic well bein. Apparently, Belarus which has a dictator but no billionaires is doing better than Ukraine thouh it has lesser resources. Excerpts.
"Russia may not be a good comparison because of its vast mineral wealth in oil and gas. Worse, in some ways, Russia is even more oligarchic than Ukraine – it has a truly remarkable number of billionaires, for a medium-wealth country (I tried to count them in the Forbes’ list, but lost count after 100). Still, there is one important difference between Russia and Ukraine.
The Russian oligarchs, although they came very close to seizing power during the 1990s, ultimately failed to become the ruling class, as it happened in Ukraine. Following a struggle between the economic elites and administrative elites (the ‘State Nobility’), the latter won decisively, thus reverting to the historical pattern that characterized power relations in Russia since at least the fifteenth century. What we have now in Russia is the rule by fairly corrupt state officials working closely with their business cronies. Politically the business elites, unlike in Ukraine, are thoroughly subordinated to the bureaucrats. While the governance of the country is far from optimal, we should also note that, unlike in Ukraine, the Russian system does deliver better results for common people....
Perhaps a better comparison is the one with Belarus, a country that lacks not only the mineral wealth of Russia, but also the excellent climate and rich “black soils” of Ukraine. Nevertheless, Belarus manages a very respectable GDP per capita of $16,100, more than twice as good as the one in Ukraine. Furthermore, Belarus doesn’t sport even a single billionaire in the Forbes list. This means that the median Belorussian income is way above that of Ukraine, and probably better than in Russia (a more equitable division of wealth elevates the median). It’s a remarkable achievement for a country that lacks any oil and gas, and is located in a rather unproductive ecological zone."
"Returning to our comparison of the three East Slavic countries, it is startling to observe that the least democratic, Belarus, is also the most egalitarian, while the people of the most democratic, Ukraine, are the poorest. And don’t forget, the GDP data were for 2013. Today, following the February 2014 Revolution, the GDP has likely declined even more."

Two more on Piketty

Some relief in Ukraine

(Links via Naked Capitalism) From Forbes "...[Putin]  he will keep Crimea and will considerably enhance the ability of Russian-speaking minorities in Ukraine’s eastern provinces to stand up to Kiev. (Even the  Economist magazine, one of Putin’s fiercest critics, concedes as much. Click here for a commentary just posted at the Economist’s site.)"
It is not clear what is happening with IMF loans: Michael Hudson on the conditions for the loans and this report on the lack of transparency about how the money is spent, some of it for war effort and some disappeared off shore.
There were doubts whether US would go along with the Putin initiated peace plans but they have with some sabre rattling about rapid deployment NATO forces.

. an treasury by the IMF at the start of May, $3.1 billion had disappeared offshore by the middle of August.n "
short, of the $3.2 billion disbursed to the Ukrainian trasury by the IMF at the start of May, $3.1 billion had disappeared offshore by the middle of August."