Monday, February 28, 2011

Taxonomy in some Indian classics

Justin Smith from the "Laws of Manu"For Salt, a Cricket: Notes on Folk-Taxonomy and the Hindu System of Reincarnation and
The Rational Fool from Brihadaranyaka Upanishad
From the first
".... For stealing grain, a man becomes a rat; for brass, a goose; for water, an aquatic bird; for honey, a stinging insect; for milk, a crow; for spices, a dog; for ghee, a mongoose; for meat, a vulture; for marrow, a cormorant, for seseme oil, an 'oil-drinker'; for salt, a cricket; and for yogurt, a crane; for stealing silk, a partridge; for linen, a frog; for cotton, a curlew; for a cow, an iguana; for molasses, a bat; for perfumes, a muskrat; for lettuce, a peacock; for cooked foods, a porcupine; for uncooked food, a hedgehog...."

From the second
"VI-iv-14: He who wishes that his son should be born fair, study one Veda and attain a full term of life, should have rice cooked in milk, and he and his wife should eat it with clarified butter. Then they would be able to produce such a son.
VI-iv-15: He who wishes that his son should be born tawny or brown, study two Vedas and attain a full term of life, should have rice cooked in curd, and he and his wife should eat it with clarified butter. Then they would be able to produce such a son.
VI-iv-16: He who wishes that his son should be born dark with red eyes, study three Vedas and attain a full term of life, should have rice cooked in water and he and his wife should eat with clarified butter. Then they would be able to produce such a son.

VI-iv-17: He who wishes that a daughter should be born to him who would be a scholar and attain a full term of life, should have rice cooked with sesame, and he and his wife should eat it with clarified butter. Then they would be able to produce such a daughter.

VI-iv-18: He who wishes that a son should be born to him who would be a reputed scholar, frequenting the assemblies and speaking delightful words, would study all the Vedas and attain a full term of life, should have rice cooked with the meat of a vigorous bull or one more advanced in years, and he and his wife should eat it with clarified butter. Then they would be able to produce such a son."

The first seems unverifiable, the second can probably be tested.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Nick Werle on capital

Adventure Capital: Condos, Groupon, and Big Pharma

In the comments he explains:
"...adapting Harvey's theory would permit an investigation of the structural forces intrinsic to our capitalist economy that create the incentives behind the instances of corporate greed. That is where I see Harvey's arguments about capital's financing of both consumption and production gaining traction..."
The article has also links to another review of David Harvey's work:
How Much Is Too Much? by Benjamin Kunkel.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Man! this girl has farming in her blood

says Lyla in the 'Rachabanda' post "Good Poems for bad Times", She is responding the post రేగడి విత్తులకు ముడిసరుకు by Chandra Latha, author of 'Regadi Vittulu(రేగడి విత్తులు)' in her blog మడత పేజీ.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Felix Salmon raises some doubts about microfinance

in Excepts:
"I’m not saying that bankers shouldn’t profit from serving the poor; I’m just saying that the banks should be local institutions which reinvest their profits in the community. If a microfinance institution is set up so that a substantial flow of money is going out of poor neighborhoods and into the pockets of millionaires, there’s something wrong, and I’m going to be very skeptical that the poor are actually being helped at all.....
My core argument is and has been that for-profit microlenders who don’t take deposits can be bad for the borrowers and also pose a significant systemic risk."

Friday, February 11, 2011

No posts for a while

A colloborator is visting and am trying to do some mathematics after being away from maths for two years. It will be interesting to see how it goes.
P.S. (added on 16th) It seems ok so far, more like riding a bicycle again. Possibly because one is working with a colloborator on problems that one worked on for several years.

P.P.S. One post on Egypt which seems different from most around (See also Fundamentalism in the age of Facebook):
Rajib Khan's Culture differences matter (even within Islam).
Just noticed (19th)at (check also William Dalrymple on India, Ancient and Modern and Roy Moxham on Indian Journeys

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Vijay Mahajan is blogging

at vijaymahajan
via David Roodman's post Soul Searching
P.S. This is the kind of trip that I wanted to make for a long time. Ma be this will give some hints on how to do it. I should do it in the next few years when I can still walk a few hours a day.
P.P.S. Report from 'The Economics Times' MFI Basix boss, Vijay Mahajan goes on 12-state padyatra

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Johann Hari on Egypt

We all helped suppress the Egyptians. So how do we change? via
Accidental Blogger and 3quarksdaily. A commenter in 3quarksdaily says that Hari's statememt "Of the three worst human rights abusers in the Middle East – Saudi Arabia, Israel, and Iran – two are our governments’ closest friends, showered with money, arms and praise." may need some qualifications in view of Freedom House reveals world's worst human rights abusers
"Nine countries and one territory are judged to have the worst human rights conditions, receiving the lowest possible score of 7 (based on a 1 to 7 scale, with 1 representing the most free and 7 representing the least free) on both political rights and civil liberties: Burma, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Sudan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tibet.

An additional 8 countries score only slightly better, with a score of 7 in political rights and a score of 6 in the civil liberties category: Belarus, Chad, China, Cuba, Guinea, Laos, Saudi Arabia, and Syria."

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Cracking some lottery codes

From Toronto man cracked the code to scratch-lottery tickets:
"The call came around 3 a.m. Toronto time, which was midnight in Nevada where Doug Hartzell was sleeping. It was his old friend, Mohan Srivastava, phoning from Canada.

“He called me and said, ‘Man, I think I’m losing it. But I see a pattern in scratch lottery tickets,’ ” said Hartzell, recalling that 2003 conversation.

“My reaction almost instantly was like: I’m sure he’s right.”

Over their three decades of friendship, Hartzell has come to accept that Srivastava is simply smarter than most people. So when the 52-year-old geological statistician told him he could identify a winning scratch lottery ticket — without the use of pennies or fingernails — Hartzell believed him.

“There’s been so many things he’s done that after the fact, people go, ‘Oh yeah, why didn’t I see that?’ ” Hartzell said. “But Mo has one of those rare minds.”

Most people see a random jumble of numbers when they look at a scratch lottery ticket like Ontario’s “Tic Tac Toe” game. But for Srivastava, he saw that certain numbers appeared only once in the grids — and when these “singletons” lined up three in a row, chances were the ticket was a winner.

He calculated this held true 95 per cent of the time and notified the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. Within days, they pulled the game — the first time in OLG history a recall was prompted by a customer-identified flaw.

At the time, Srivastava’s discovery went largely unnoticed but today, the reserved but genial scientist is enjoying a brief moment in the spotlight after appearing in this month’s issue of Wired magazine. In the article, Srivastava discusses what he considers flaws in the lottery industry and, at the magazine’s request, conducts another test of his code-busting logic. He chose 20 tickets currently on sale in Ontario, predicting six would be winners. Four of them had payouts."
From the last part of the article:
"Today, Srivastava says it’s quite likely flawed tickets are still on store shelves. He sees potential for greater consequences —evidence suggests flawed lottery tickets are being exploited for money laundering — and is confused by the lack of will to remedy a problem he helped identify.

“If there are some people that are skimming winners, or more able to skim winners, what that means for everyone else is they’re getting more losers,” he said. “There’s kind of a cruel unfairness for the people left over who weren’t in on the trick.”"

Jonah Lehrer's write up at Cracking the Scratch Lottery Code and Andrew Gelman's comments Statistician cracks Toronto lottery

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Rajib Khan's book reviews

Rajib Khan informs that he has set up a new site Razib Khan on Books of his book reviews in the last 8 years. Many of the topics are new to me and even when I read some of those books, the understanding was partial and often I forgot them completely. These reviews sometimes allow me to pick up the threads of the arguments again and to be able to think a bit about them. Other sites which I found useful to get glimpses of new topics are 3quarksdaily and Rajeev Ramachandran's google reader.

Friday, February 04, 2011

origin of the word అక్రమార్కులు

From (తెలుగుపదం) అక్రమార్కులు. Says Pulikonda Subbachari "ఇది సరైన పదం కాదు. ఈ పదాన్ని సరదాగా మొదట సృష్టించింది డా. సి. నారాయణ రెడ్డి గారు. 1982లో ఉస్మానియా తెలుగు శాఖలో ఒక విద్యార్థుల సమావేశంలో మాట్లాడుతూ అక్రమంగా మార్కులు అడిగే విద్యార్థులను ఆయన నేను అక్రమార్కులు అని అంటాను, అని అన్నారు. తర్వాత తర్వాత ఇది ఆనోటా ఆనోటా పాకి ఇంత అయింది. నేను స్వయంగా ఆయన విద్యార్థిగా అక్కడ ఉన్నాను. అంతకు ముందు ఈ పదం లేదు. దీన్ని ఇప్పటికీ సరదా చూస్తుంటాను. ఇది పత్రికా భాషలో వస్తున్న పోకడలకు కూడా ఉదాహరణగా చెప్పవచ్చు. "

Chris Blattman's

Small answers to the big questions. Other specialists chime in. I would add 'easier migration' to the answers in Question 2: What, in your view, are the best global solutions? See the discussion in The Most Effective Development Intervention We Have Evidence For?

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Politics of microcredit and identities

From Sufia Uddin's 2009 article Engaging with Islamist parties:
"Political Islamists target any and all ‘un-Islamic’ activities, including those that take women outside the home. Journalist Jeremy Seabrook has accurately portrayed the tensions between Islamists and secularist-oriented NGOs, arguing that the secularists no longer effectively protect or represent the poor. Soon after Bangladesh’s independence, many NGOs began to spring up to perform the functions that government was incapable of fulfilling, serving the poor through rural development, micro-credit, and small business programmes.

According to Seabrook, ‘Micro-credit releases people from moneylenders, who enforce interest rates of 10 per cent per month. If people cannot pay, [the lenders] sequester the goods, houses, cattle or labour of the poor. Micro-credit disturbs traditional patterns of hierarchy and dependence. Rural elites, seeing their power diminished, are then ready to ally themselves with fundamentalists to restore their control over the poor. Indeed, this is a significant element in the rise of fundamentalism.’4 The elite and the Islamists create roadblocks that make it difficult for nongovernmental organizations to work with the poor, especially poor women. The effort to make women self-reliant and financially independent threatens traditional power dynamics."
A different type of politics seems to have played a role in A.P. crisis according to Rohini Mohan's article Money for nothing. And misery for free:
"Microcredit is a deeply political weapon in AP. Some 11 million women, and nine in ten rural households are touched by SHGs. For politicians, these already mobilised women are akin to a votebank. “Women love me because I’m associated with the rise of SHGs in AP,” says Naidu.

In 2004, Congress’ late YS Rajasekhara Reddy had robbed Naidu of that claim by his historic paavla vaddi. Banks would now lend to SHGs at 3 percent instead of 12 percent. Women and other similarly mollified groups swept YSR to power. Two times. Naidu is trying to reclaim his votebank. But in trying to rattle the state government, he has done greater damage. He has messed with credit discipline."
SufiaUddin is the author of Constructing Bangladesh ,sample chapter:
Islamic Themes in Premodern Bengali Literature and Life . According to Tapan Raychaudhuri review of the book Constructing Bangladesh: Religion, Ethnicity, and Language in an Islamic Nation "The monograph focuses primarily on the development of the Muslim community in Bengal and is excellent in its treatment of the diverse forces that fed into it and resulted in a persistent diversity. The emphasis is on the cultural dimension of the process. The political processes and their economic foundations are somewhat neglected." and goes on to discuss the underemphasized politics of identity in her book.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Torture by long division

Reflections of an Indian-American Daughter: Amy Chua, Tiger Moms, and Raising the Perfect Kid . On the other hand, I left children to what they liked and now there are complaints that I should have forced them to do some things, should have forced them to learn Telugu and about Indian culture and so on. But they still talk to me.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

From Ramachandra Guha's musings about Dharwar(d)

in 2006 article The greatest Indians :
"The association of Dharwad with music is, at first sight, a puzzle. For one thing, it is in south India, yet it became a home of north Indian classical music. For another, the great gharanas are usually associated with towns that were centres of royalty or commerce. However, Dharwad was a little place with no administrative or political significance and very few wealthy people either. In other words, there was no scope here for the patronage without which great art can scarcely flourish. How then did it become a centre of such ineffably good music?"
In 2011 article MUSIC, FOREVER- Musicians of genius belong to the ages, and to the world :
"How and why Dharwad became a nucleus of shastriya sangeet awaits explanation. It was part of the Bombay Presidency, and thus subject to influences from those two great musical centres, Pune and Mumbai. Even closer were the towns of Kolhapur and Miraj, where some famous (Muslim) teachers of music had settled, at the invitation of princes who were patrons of culture. Since Dharwad falls broadly in the region known as ‘South’ India, perhaps these vocalists also drew to some extent on the Carnatic style of music. We do know for certain that they were deeply influenced by folk traditions and by medieval saints. Both Bhimsen and Mallikarjun liked to sing songs composed by Purandaradasa, whereas Kumar Gandharva reinterpreted Kabir with great feeling and sensitivity for a 20th-century audience."
Many interesting observations in both. From the first article:
"Some years ago, in an interview to this newspaper, the novelist Amitav Ghosh observed (and I quote here from memory) that "classical musicians are the only people in India who strive for perfection, and achieve it." I think the qualifier is crucial — it is not only that they seek perfection, but that they achieve it. Most Indians in public life, and many in business, set their standards very low — one is not certain that they even know what "perfection" means. Indians who are sportsmen, or writers or craftsmen, do seek to attain higher standards of quality and proficiency. However, their respective arts, although difficult to master, are yet not of the order of refinement as classical music. Amitav Ghosh is right — our classical musicians are simply the greatest of Indians."
P.S. See also the discussion in Churumuri How did Dharwad become ground zero of music?