Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Links, October 5th

From The Hidu news From barren land to rose fields, a success story:
"There are over 1,000 acres of agricultural land in the village and it is mostly rain-fed. With poor access to water, farmers had to be content with a single crop during kharif season. Annual average rainfall here is about 700 mm and during a good monsoon, the excess rainwater used to drain away without serving any purpose.

Pepsico, under its corporate social responsibility activity, in association with the ADI conducted a water resource assessment study in 2009. Check-dams were constructed on three rivulets that pass through the village and over 100 water recharge structures in the locality, to facilitate better water access to the farming community, says Vaishakh Palsodkar of ADI.

With check-dams, the groundwater levels have improved over the last two years. Most 30-40 feet deep wells in the vicinity are now filled to the brim. With adequate water, farmers are now also cultivating sweet lime and other crops in the Rabi season, which was once a rarity, points out the former sarpanch, Laxman Bobade."

From The Hibdu opinion Chinese herbal garden leads the way:
"More than 40 years ago, amidst the upheaval and turmoil of the Cultural Revolution in China, and against the backdrop of the Vietnam war, hundreds of Chinese scientists embarked on an ambitious effort to find a drug that would conquer drug-resistant malaria. The result was the discovery of artemisinin, a compound found in plants, which, with its derivatives, is now widely used around the world to treat the disease.

This year, a highly prestigious Lasker Award went to Youyou Tu, an 81-year-old Chinese scientist who played a key part in that discovery."

Concensus seems to emerge quickly in mathematics.From Big News (via Rajeev Ramachandran's google reader):
"Just to be clear, here: That’s Ed Nelson cheerfully acknowledging that the book-length argument he’s been painstakingly constructing for (probably) years, and which was intended to shake the mathematical world to its foundations, doesn’t work. This says so many good things about the culture of mathematics, and so many good things about the Internet, and so many good things about the way they interact (see here and here for more examples), and it says those things so eloquently, that I see no further need for comment." See also The (in)consistency of PA and consensus in mathematics .

From Darwinian Tax Reform via Adam Smith's Lost Legacy :
"Frank observes a similar pattern of arms race-like competition in the quest to obtain social status through luxury purchases. As the wealthiest acquire status symbols so too do the middle and lower classes race to keep up by spending money in a never ending competition for prestige. The result is a society living beyond its means. Whereas elk “voting” to change their antler size is a fantasy, we can use policy to alter wasteful spending patterns and increase savings by replacing our progressive income tax with a progressive consumption tax. This is not to be confused with a valued added tax, national sales tax or flat tax endorsed by some libertarians, which he recognizes is rightly decried as regressive. Frank’s formula goes like this:

Taxes Paid = (Adjusted Gross Income – Annual Savings) * (Progressive Rate Structure)

The result of implanting this tax structure, Frank writes, would be that the wealthiest would reign in excessive spending on status goods to avoid the consumption tax. This would relax the pressure to “keep up with the Jones,” prompting the middle and lower classes to follow suit. Of course, there would still be competition for prestige expressed in consumer goods, cars, and real estate, but everything would be scaled back. The progressive consumption tax would generate an economic surplus at the household level. It is the tax structure Charles Darwin would have endorsed and Adam Smith never would have thought of."
The point of the review seems to be that robert Frank did not understand Darwin well but not really a critique of Frank's ideas. Ideas similar to 'Frank's weird ideas about social prstige' have been proposed along ago by Fred Hirsch:

No comments: