Friday, December 30, 2011

Atul reminiscences his first exposure to Binaca Geetmala

in 1971 Zindagi ek safar hai suhaana. I enjoyed reading this very much since my experiences of villages, towns, cities and travel are similar. My exposure to Binaca Geetmalais less vivid, nor did I know the name of the host Ameen Sayani. I think that it was in the early fifties and if I remember right, the last song would be one by K.L. Saigal. Normally we would leave then but after a while, Saigal's voice grew on me to the stage where he became my favourite singer ( after Ghantasala of course as is common with many Telugus). I left home for college in 1954 and do not remember much more of Binaca Geetmala. It may be one of those programs which contributed a bit to national integration.
P.S. Atul says "The programme where K L Saigal’s song was the last song was a daily programme called “Puraani filmon ke geet” and it was broadcast in the morning between 7-30 AM to 8 AM." See and other posts in the above blog for more informatio on “Puraani filmon ke geet”. See also Unni at Hamara forums and Geethamanian's post with links to several songs and tunes Growing Up With Magical Melodies.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Two articles on transparency

The Destruction of Economic Facts by Hernando de Soto The Real Housewives of Wall Street by Matt Taibbi
(The above two via The Browser's Best of 2011

Steve Waldman has a different take:
Why is finance so complex?

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Improving memory for sea snails

From Science News article Staggered lessons may work better :
"Kandel and others have worked out a lot of the biochemical details of how sea snails learn and form memories. When the creatures start to learn something, two major molecular cascades kick off in nerve cells. Genes jump into action, churning out proteins that then spur other genes into action. One of these cascades happens quickly, and the other one is sluggish, but both need to deliver their products at the same time for a memory to stick.

Byrne and his team used this knowledge to make a mathematical model of how best to deliver this biochemical double-hit. The team asked the computer how to spread out five shocks over a period of several hours. Instead of evenly spacing the five at 20-minute intervals, the model suggested a completely different pattern: Give three doses 10 minutes apart, followed by a fourth dose five minutes later, wait a half hour, and then give a final dose.

“You have these irregular intervals between the treatments,” Byrne says. “That’s the very nonintuitive part of it that you couldn’t have predicted.”

When Byrne and his team tried this training protocol, it worked better than the standard 20-minutes-apart training doses. With the standard protocol, the sea snails forgot what they’d learned after five days. But on the enhanced protocol, the sea snails remembered five days later."

Discussion on India's low scores in Pisa rankings

with relevant links in Tyler Cowen's post Why is India so low in the Pisa rankings?
Edward Berman pointed some of these problems in 1983 "...this emphasis on higher education has led to reduced levels of support for primary education, particularly in rural areas."

Tendulkar sizzles

Tendulkar's brilliance again reflects the Don
If Tendulkar keeps batting like this who cares whether he scores another century or not? Perhaps that is too much to expect.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Kuffir interviews Ambedkar

Imaginary interview What does Dr.Ambedkar say about the Bhagvat Gita? . Having struggled with Rig Veda and some other books before, I found this very reasable and quick introduction to some of the 'mimamsa' systems.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

An interesting Indian dance

Apparently famous but I missed it until I saw it inMinai's post Choreographer/Dancer Jack Cole and "Hindu Swing":
The Creation of Woman
Video here
Bhaskar was the son of Devi Prasad Roy Chowdhury whose sculpture Triumph of labour (also here. A write up about MODERN INDIAN SCULPTURE ), I saw often on the Marina beach in Madras in my student days.
A part of Bhaskar Roy Chowdury's interestin life here.

Two books on education

Just browsing through John Taylor Gatto's The Underground History of American Education which is available online. Apparently a successful teacher "In 1991, he wrote a letter announcing his retirement, titled I Quit, I Think, to the op-ed pages of the Wall Street Journal, saying that he no longer wished to "hurt kids to make a living."". Chapter 1 has three sections about "How Hindu Schooling Came To America". An excerpt:
"In 1797, [Andrew]Bell, now forty-two, published an account of what he had seen and done. Pulling no punches, he praised Hindu drill as an effective impediment to learning writing and ciphering, an efficient controlon reading development. A twenty-year-old Quaker, Joseph Lancaster, read Bell’s pamphlet, thought deeply on the method, and concluded, ironically, it would be a cheap way to awaken intellect in the lower classes, ignoring the Anglican’s observation (and Hindu experience) that it did just the opposite."

Another book which I read in parts is "Against Scooling" again by successful teacher Stanley Aronowitz reviewdin TLS Against Schooling: For an Education that Matters
. Much of the criticism seems justified but the solutions seemed vague to me.

Some science links

From Lessons from Plants in Pain, or What We Talk About When We Talk to Ourselves (via Ed Yong's Sunday Links)
"It was in the early 1980s that a few scientists first began to report on trees that seemed to send each other stress signals. One was a zoologist named David Rhoades, at the time studying Red alder (Alnus rubra) and Sitka willow (Salix sitchensis) defense mechanisms at the University of Washington. Rhoades fed caterpillars leaves from trees their brethren had previously attacked. He found that they began to lose their appetites, and often died prematurely. Presumably this was because of some chemical compound the trees were able to release into their leaves as a form of rapid resistance—precisely the kind of thing he’d been looking for.

But Rhoades was surprised to discover that the very same thing happened to caterpillars fed the leaves of undamaged control trees, planted a little distance away. ......
At this point, the evidence that plants can receive, act on, and benefit from specific signals produced by their distressed coequals is pretty compelling."
The post also links to an article on J.C. Bose Lessons from Plants in Pain, or What We Talk About When We Talk to Ourselves

Carl Zimmer on McGurk Effect and related work The Brain Sewing Audio to Video, and Rubber Hands Onto People

Razib Khan discusses a paper on Promiscuity and vaginal bacterial diversity in mice.

From Science News Uncommitted newbies can foil forceful few

From Science Daily Major Step Forward Towards Drought Tolerance in Crops

Monday, December 19, 2011

On the work of some philanthropic foundations

From David Warsh' review How Business Schools Got to Be the Way They Are of "The Roots, Rituals, and Rhetorics of Change: North American Business Schools after the Second World War" by Mie Augier and James G. March:
"Augier and March begin their account with a chapter on Abraham Flexner. It was Flexner’s 1910 report on medical education in the United States and Canada, Bulletin Number Four, from the Carnegie Foundation, that guided foundations’ investment in medical schools for a crucial twenty years after it appeared. The US was suffering from “a century of overproduction of cheap doctors,” Flexner wrote. Universities, not commercial establishments, should train physicians. Fundamental knowledge of science and medicine, not apprenticeships, should be the basis for their education. Professionalism, meaning peer review, should be the rule.

It worked. Within a decade of Flexner’s prescription, the number of medical schools declined dramatically; the quality of students, faculty and instruction in the remaining schools substantially improved; and science, biochemistry in particular, became pervasive in the curriculum. Not surprisingly, in the 1950s and ’60s, the Flexner Report became a model for foundations wishing to reshape the business schools.
It was RAND Corp. that provided the most stimulating incubator of change in the years after World War Two. An acronym for Research And Development, RAND was a private facility originally chartered by the US Air Force to explore ways of organizing scientific and technological knowledge for military purposes. Its first Pentagon boss was Gen. Curtis LeMay. But RAND’s Southern California headquarters, across the street from the Santa Monica pier, quickly grew into a kind of universal think-tank, spinning out important work on strategic thinking, decision making, organization theory and economics of all sorts, much of which found its way into business school curricula.
None of it would have happened the way it did without the Ford Foundation. Chartered in 1936, the philanthropy in the 1950s supported a number of liberal causes, among them public broadcasting in the United States, nation-building in Asia and support for the social and behavioral sciences. ....And so it was that the Graduate School of Industrial Administration at the Carnegie Institute of Technology in Pittsburgh – a small, unranked, and unaccredited school at a second-tier engineering institute, as the authors put it – became a poster- child of the new management education.
There is, after all, a distinct possibility that the attempt to improve the intellectual environment of the business schools overshot and produced something else instead. In any event, the book ends on a note of disappointment:

"As the scholars and policy makers who grew up during the Great Depression and the Second World War and launched their careers in the 1950s and 1960s were gradually removed from the scene, they were replaced by individuals who grew up in different times and were imbued with different, less academic, and more self-interest-oriented perspectives. The “golden age” was transformed to a significant extent into an era of the glorification of huge fortunes and of those who accumulated them, the anointing of greed as a social virtue, and the substitution of the lessons of experience for the lessons of analysis and research.

But, briefly, there was a Camelot.""
Reading this review, I was reminded of Edward H. Bernan's book The Ideology of Philanthropy: The influence of the Carnegie, Ford, and Rockefeller foundations on American foreign policy which takes a less charitable view of the vision of these foundations. A recent discussion of the book by ichael Barker at 'Dissident Voice' The Ideology of Philanthropy says "Seen through the eyes of their elitist foundation executives, democracy only functions when it is ran by the few for the many. Education thus takes a key place in the successful promotion of elite governance both on domestic and international planes of action; and although not well known, Edward Berman, professor emeritus of the University of Louisville, has written an important book that examines just this subject. By reviewing Berman’s study The Influence of the Carnegie, Ford, and Rockefeller Foundations on American Foreign Policy: The Ideology of Philanthropy (State University of New York Press, 1983), this article aims to publicize his vitally important, though oft neglected, ideas on the anti-democratic nature of liberal philanthropy."

An interview with Edward Berman and an excerpt from the book with references to education in India

A Rafi song

with dance by Asha Parekh Rafi - Nache Man Mora Magan - Meri Surat Teri Ankhen [1963] which I camw across (possibly) only yeasterday. Music by S.D. Burman.
And a Mannay Dey-Kishore Kumar duet from a different film Ek Chatur Nar

Mark Thoma hosts a discussion

FDL Book Salon Welcomes Robert H. Frank, The Darwin Economy: Liberty, Competition, and the Common Good. From the introductory remarks:
"When households engage in an arms race for positional goods, behavior that benefits individuals can be damaging to the group as a whole. Thus, the presence of positional goods gives markets a way to fail over and above the traditional sources of market failure discussed in textbooks. I do have a few questions and mild disagreements, we’ll get to those in the discussion, but the main idea in the book – understanding the relationship between individual maximizing behavior and aggregate outcomes – is essential in determining when and how governments ought to be involved in economic affairs. When individual behavior aggregates into what’s best for the community, there is no need for government to intervene. But when that’s not true – and this book adds to the list or reasons to suspect there are important cases when it’s not – there’s a role for government to play."

An earlier discussion of the book in Savage Minds Darwinian Tax Reform.

The Continuing Relevance of Fred Horsch's Insights on Markets and Morality.
The Role of Public Sector in Development... by Vernon Ruttan
Bombay Plan

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Lyla's take on Ramayana

Via జానుతెనుగు సొగసులు , from a comment of Lyla Yerneni
Re: Some more on the raamaayaNa debate.... :

"Rama simply was looking for a missing wife. Rama did not go looking for his wife, because he is worried what other people may say on CNN, if he doesn't. He went after her because he loved her. It is as simple as that. Is it so hard to believe, :-)if not now, that once there was a man who loved his wife?:-)"

It seems that Lyla's creativity was not stilled by teachers Teachers Don’t Like Creative Students.

Lekhini may be used to convert some of the passages to Telugu.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

How do doctors die?

Having come to that age when old friends are falling one by one or ill and looking for alternative medical treatments and being constantly bombared with advertisements about funeral expenses, it is reassuring to see this artcle How Doctors Die via Ed Yong's Sunday links:

Friday, December 09, 2011

Links, Dec. 9, 2011

From Virender Sehwag's vision of the future, and David Warner:
"And there is something more important here than just a mindshift, than changes in tactics or techniques. The game must always move forwards and renew itself. Essentially it must accelerate to match the speed of the culture in which it exists. Test cricket of the 1950s is as distant now as the rest of that decade, with its housewives and its radio plays and its music hall conservatism. Warner may or may not succeed as a Test match opener – do you want to bet against Viru? – but plenty like him will. At some point or other they will be the norm, and they will be standing on Sehwag's shoulders, the shoulders of a giant. If he is not the best batsman of his time (and he might be), he is the most significant; a genius and a visionary with it."

From The idea of Dev Anand:
"The intellectual rigour of Hollywood has mostly eluded mainstream Indian cinema, which largely depended on capable writers and musicians to sustain the films.
Dev Anand was fortunate to have Sahir Ludhianvi, Majrooh, Shailendra and Sachin Dev Burman to bail him out. Without them, the idea of Dev Anand and the middle classes he wooed would be jostling with real life, just as Urdu has been battling for
survival in today’s cinema halls and outside."

Two discussions on Gita with some interesting and some strange comments:
The Agenda of the Gita by Bhpinder Singh
The Bhagavad Gita Revisited - Part 1 by Namit Arora

From "A Bluesy Road-Novel with a Lot of Economic Theory and Analysis":
"Q: Why teach The Grapes of Wrath and not some other novel?
A: Good question. First and foremost, it’s an incredibly moving novel that—I openly admit—continues to make me laugh and cry. Now laughing and crying are not necessary for good pedagogy. But it seems to me that if a fact-based story about economic history can make a grown man and professor of economics cry, it must have something important to say. The visible hand of class conflict needs to be aired and this novel does it."

Ed yong on Henrik Ehrsson,The master of illusions with a link to Ed Yong's article in Nature Out-of-body experience: Master of illusion. From the Nature article:
"Yet Ehrsson's illusions have shown that such certainties, built on a lifetime of experience, can be disrupted with just ten seconds of visual and tactile deception. This surprising malleability suggests that the brain continuously constructs its feeling of body ownership using information from the senses — a finding that has earned Ehrsson publications in Science and other top journals, along with the attention of other neuroscientists.......
At the time, some scientists and members of the public were openly sceptical that the illusion really worked. But on a trip to Ehrsson's lab this September, I was convinced. The goggles I wore displayed the view from a camera pointing at my back (see 'Out-of-body experience'). Ehrsson tapped my chest with one plastic rod while using a second one to synchronously prod at the camera. I saw and felt my chest being prodded at the same time as I saw a picture of myself from behind. Within ten seconds, I felt as if I was being pulled out of my real body and was floating several feet behind it."

Images of coastal Andhra

in this series Coast Under Attack - Part 1 (Telugu language) by Saraswati Kavula. A write up about her in The Hindu Rooted to the ground. I just came across this videos and was mainly fascinated by the images of an area in which I grew up and thrilled to hear the spoken Telugu from different parts of the region.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Doing nothing helps

sometimes When Nothing Works:
"I'd had tendinitis in my elbow for over a year. Even something as gentle as twisting a doorknob made me wince in pain. I went to see my brother, Bertie, who also happens to be my doctor.

As Bertie examined my elbow, I reminded him of everything I had done to try to fix my problem. When it began to hurt, I used ibuprofen. When that didn't work, we tried two injections of cortisone, six months apart. Meanwhile, I did physical therapy, tried ultrasound, used a brace, performed daily exercises, applied ice, and went to acupuncture and massage. Pushed to the edge, I even did an experimental therapy — a platelet-rich plasma injection, which had gained media attention because some high-profile athletes had used it. The shot was incredibly painful and only made my problem worse.

"Nothing has helped!" I complained.

"I have an idea," Bertie said. "Something we haven't yet tried."

"What?" I hoped it wouldn't be too time-consuming or expensive.

"You just said it yourself," he replied. "Nothing."

He suggested I stop all treatments for the next six months. "All your attempts to fix your elbow might just be agitating it," he told me. "I bet after a few months of doing nothing the pain will just go away."

I was skeptical but game. Sure enough, within a few months, my pain had disappeared."

Possibly related The Evolved Self-Management System by Nicholas Humphrey (via 3quarksdaily)

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Future of small farmers

Chris Blattman has a post Questions more important than you might think: Are small farms in India inefficient? wondering about the efficiency of small farms in India. I remember Katapati Muahari Rao tellings me that future of farming in India is in large farms of the order of 2000-3000 acres, leasing land from small farmers and bringing in technology. It was a brief conversation and the role of the small farmers was not clear to me. There is a model from Latin America 'Grobocopatel' mentioned in an earlier post Agriculture Process Outsourcing by an Argentine Patel ; again the role of small farmers is not explicit in this description. In a brief newspaper report World’s ‘biggest farmer’ says future is in outsourcing Gustavo Grobocopatel says:
“What they (farmers) could possibly do—as my experience in Latin America tells me—is that villages can pool together the land and run it like cooperatives.”

This, according to Grobocopatel, “is agribusiness in the new era of knowledge society” and would further help the farmers do well in times when input costs are swelling, thereby forcing many to quit farming as returns don’t match to the costs.

“You work according to your strengths: you good at driving trucks, be in transportation; you good in getting people on to the fields, be in the harvesting,” he says.
In an interview , Gustavo Grobocopatel talks of vertical as well as horizantal integration. Their organization Grupo Los Grobo uses GM seeds and many of their methods seem to avoid the degradation of land. Most of the articles about Grupo Los Grobo and Gustavo Grobocopatel I could find are in Spanish and I am not able to find any more details. But their methods seem worth looking into.
P.S. On the other hand Vamsi Vakulabharanam and others describe a situation in Andhra Pradesh Understanding the Andhra Crop Holiday movement (the article will be available free online for a month) where any kind of solution seems fraught with political problems.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

A Walk-Out in Harvard

The repost of a Peter Dorman's post with comments by Mark Thoma "Mankiw’s Reply to the Walk-Out". Peter Dorman says
"That’s a bias. ... There is a reason why exposure to economics, and especially the worldview-defining core of microeconomics, tends to shift student views, on average, in a libertarian direction."
with a link to the 1993 article Does Studying Economice Inhibit Cooperation?
Marion Foucarde in The construction of a Global Profession: The Transnationalization of Economics(2006) points to the influence of US trained economists in various developing countries.
A recent post by Jeff Frankel The Hour of Technocrats mentions "Among current heads of state who could be considered technocrats are President Felipe Calderónof Mexico, President Sebastián Piñeraof Chile, and President Ellen Johnson Sirleafof Liberia. Nobody could accuse these three of having led sheltered lives or being unaccustomed to making difficult decisions. But it happens that all three received their ivory tower training at the Harvard."
It seems that what is taught in Harvard concerns all of us.

Songs from Dev Anand films

Dev Anand passed away a few days ago in London. Following the lives and loves of heros like Dev Anand was a part of our growing up. He always struck me as a decent man and I think that he will be remembered for a long time for the songs from his films. He seems to have been extraordinarily lucky in this respect with several singers and music directors contributing to the success of his films. atul's bollywood song a day- with full lyrics has several posts starting with this to several of his popular songs. I will just link to two which are not probably so well known, one with Suraiya and another with Sheila Ramani(?):
Tum Meet Mere Tum Praan Mere
Funtoosh - O G O Humne Aaj Koina

This seems to be from a journalist who knew him for a few years. Noticed in the links in one of Outlook blogs

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Freeman Dyson reviews Kahnenman

in How to Dispel Your Illusions and regrets the omission of Freud and William James:
" Admirers of Freud and James may hope that the time may come when they will stand together with Kahneman as three great explorers of the human psyche, Freud and James as explorers of our deeper emotions, Kahneman as the explorer of our more humdrum cognitive processes. But that time has not yet come. Meanwhile, we must be grateful to Kahneman for giving us in this book a joyful understanding of the practical side of our personalities."

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Some children songs from Hindi films

Now that Jhansi is away in India, I have to do do more baby sitting than usual. IPad seems to be a great help and apart from the games, I plat to Ava (3) and Leila (5) songs like these:
Bolree Kathputli
Chhun Chhun Karti Aayee Chidiya
chali kaun se des Boot Polish
LATA-GEETA DUTT DUET from Toofan Aur Diya (1956).

None of us know Hindi but they seem to like the first two or three and then get bored unless I dance along which causes much amusement if anyobe else is around. I think that dances should be natural like the first few steps Nain so Nain Naahi Milaao but many dances seem to involve too much gymnastics without much gracs. Possibly this 'naturalness' and 'grace' are very subjective depending on one's exposure and may be some naturalness comes only to the well trained.