Recent articles by MICHAEL BACHELARD on Indian students, mostly Punjabis, in Melbourne and the recent visa rule changes Tough times for young Indians who dare to dream
When the dream turns into a nightmare
Underpaid and exploited: 'many try to cheat us'
'Easy' migration, fake certificate lures laid for students
Two recent articles in EPW by people who travelled through Naxalite areas complement the recent articles on the plight of the forest dwellers:
Searching for a Third Way in Dantewada by Smita Gupta
Days and Nights in the Maoist Heartland by Gautam Navlakha
William Darlymple on Bhutto family and politics in Pakistan (via 3quarksdaily), in a review of Songs of Blood and Sword by Fatima Bhutto:
"Behind Pakistan’s swings between military government and democracy lies a surprising continuity of elitist interests: to some extent, Pakistan’s industrial, military and landowning classes are all interrelated, and they look after each other. They do not, however, do much to look after the poor. The government education system barely functions in Pakistan, and for the poor, justice is almost impossible to come by. According to the political scientist Ayesha Siddiqa, “Both the military and the political parties have all failed to create an environment where the poor can get what they need from the state. So the poor have begun to look for alternatives. In the long term, these flaws in the system will create more room for the fundamentalists.”
Many right-wing commentators on the Islamic world tend to see political Islam as an anti-liberal and irrational form of “Islamo-fascism”. Yet much of the success of the Islamists in countries such as Pakistan comes from the Islamists’ ability to portray themselves as champions of social justice, fighting people like Benazir Bhutto from the corrupt Westernised elite that rules most of the Muslim world from Karachi to Riyadh, Ramallah and Algiers."
Discussion of Krugman and Wells: Our Giant Banking Crisis - What to Expect in Economist's View. The article seemed reasonable to me but one of the comments says:
"Robin Wells and her husband provide an establishment review of establishment views. We're watching the manufacture of the "conventional wisdom", something institutions like the IMF must spin out by the boatload. Rogoff and Reinhardt are past masters of the art, and, having done absolutely nothing to prevent catastrophe, are, nevertheless, ready with timely observations for a popular audience."
Carl Zimmer on Why Athletes Are Geniuses:
"These studies are beginning to answer the question of what makes some people great athletes: They are just able to rewire their brains according to certain rules. As neuroscientists decipher those rules, they may find ways to give people better skills. In February 2009 Krakauer and Pablo Celnik of Johns Hopkins offered a glimpse of what those interventions might look like. The scientists had volunteers move a cursor horizontally across a screen by pinching a device called a force transducer between thumb and index finger. The harder each subject squeezed, the faster the cursor moved. Each player was asked to move the cursor back and forth between a series of targets, trying to travel the course as quickly as possible without overshooting. The group trained 45 minutes a day for five days. By the end of training, the players were making far fewer errors.
The scientists also trained another group of people on the same game, but with a twist. They put a battery on top of the head of each subject, sending a small current through the surface of the brain toward a group of neurons in the primary motor cortex. The electric stimulation allowed people to learn the game better. By the end of five days of training, the battery-enhanced players could move the cursor faster and make fewer errors than the control group. And the advantage was not fleeting. For three months Krakauer and Celnik had their subjects come back into the lab from time to time to show off their game-playing skills. Everyone got rusty over time, but at the end of the period, the people who had gotten the electrode boost remained superior to the others."
Jonah Lehrer on Classroom Creativity :
"Eric Barker recently referred me to this interesting study, which looked at how elementary school teachers perceived creativity in their students. While the teachers said they wanted creative kids in their classroom, they actually didn't. In fact, when they were asked to rate their students on a variety of personality measures - the list included everything from "individualistic" to "risk-seeking" to "accepting of authority" - the traits mostly closely aligned with creative thinking were also closely associated with their "least favorite" students. As the researchers note, "Judgments for the favorite student were negatively correlated with creativity; judgments for the least favorite student were positively correlated with creativity.""