Monday, January 31, 2011

A couple of long term studies

Ed Yong post Self-control in childhood predicts health and wealth in adulthood describes a long term study by Terrie Moffitt and colloborators.
There are interesting comments and links to other research Don’t!
The secret of self-control
From an earlier report in Nature News (about a different study, also started in 1972, by Moffitt and others)
Lighter sentence for murderer with 'bad genes':
"A 2002 study led by Terrie Moffitt, a geneticist at the Institute of Psychiatry, King's College, London, had found low levels of MAOA expression to be associated with aggressiveness and criminal conduct of young boys raised in abusive environments1......
One problem is that the effects of the MAOA gene are known to vary between different ethnic groups, Moffit says. A 2006 study in the United States found that former victims of child abuse with high levels of MAOA were less likely to commit violent crimes — but only if they were white. The effect was not evident in non-white children2.

"If the defendant has any African ancestry, this could bring up a question of how well the genotype of that particular gene could relate to his personal behaviour," Moffitt says."
In THE GENOME CHANGES EVERYTHING Matt Ridley describes among other things Terrie Moffit's studies on MAOA.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Another old Hindi film song

Hum tujhse mohabbat - Awaara from a film which I saw in 1952 and still remember the scene vividly. Those days we were in the twin villages Pedapulivarru-Guttavaripalem with the school in Guttavaripalem and living in a rewnted house in Pedapulivarru ( it was the village of Samudrala Sr, the famous writer of film songs and scripts. I saw the legendary Ghantasala Venkateswara Rao too in that village when he came to visit his in-laws. There were no lavatories those days and like everybody else, he was walking to the outskirts of the village with a small pail of water. I think that he was already famous and some of the children including me followed him for a while. It could not have been comfortable walk since off and on he was stopped by the villagers who wanted to know about his welfare. The only things I remember are his big stomach ( Iassumed that was the reason for the wonderful voice) and his eyes. Anyway, we were being trained by a school teacher in Guttavaripalem and used to go to his house in the nights to study and sleep. One of those nighta we waited until he slept and ran about 6 miles to Repalle to watch Awara. Some of the friends supplied cigarettes so that we could keep awake. We watched the movie and ran back before the teacher got up and slept a bit. Many of the songs ans scenes of the movies are stll very vivid including the above.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Observations on big governments by Dani Rodrik

as reported by Andrew Leonard in How the U.S. screwed up globalization:
"In Chapter 1, "Markets and States," Rodrik discusses the "amazing fact" that the richest countries also have the biggest governments: "with very few exceptions, the more developed an economy, the greater the share of its resources that is consumed by the public sector." His explanation: efficiently functioning markets require strong government institutions and oversight and intervention.

But there's another correlation that's even more interesting. Rodrik found himself befuddled by the work of Yale political scientist David Cameron, who had discovered that the economies with the largest governments were also those that "were the most exposed to international markets." "

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Fascinating article on cities

A Physicist Solves the Cityby Jonah Lehrer via MindHacks postThe urban formula. Excerpts:
"In essence, they arrive at the sensible conclusion that cities are valuable because they facilitate human interactions, as people crammed into a few square miles exchange ideas and start collaborations. “If you ask people why they move to the city, they always give the same reasons,” West says. “They’ve come to get a job or follow their friends or to be at the center of a scene. That’s why we pay the high rent. Cities are all about the people, not the infrastructure.
It’s when West switches the conversation from infrastructure to people that he brings up the work of Jane Jacobs, the urban activist and author of “The Death and Life of Great American Cities.” Jacobs was a fierce advocate for the preservation of small-scale neighborhoods, like Greenwich Village and the North End in Boston. The value of such urban areas, she said, is that they facilitate the free flow of information between city dwellers. To illustrate her point, Jacobs described her local stretch of Hudson Street in the Village. She compared the crowded sidewalk to a spontaneous “ballet,” filled with people from different walks of life. School kids on the stoops, gossiping homemakers, “business lunchers” on their way back to the office. While urban planners had long derided such neighborhoods for their inefficiencies — that’s why Robert Moses, the “master builder” of New York, wanted to build an eight-lane elevated highway through SoHo and the Village — Jacobs insisted that these casual exchanges were essential. She saw the city not as a mass of buildings but rather as a vessel of empty spaces, in which people interacted with other people. The city wasn’t a skyline — it was a dance.

If West’s basic idea was familiar, however, the evidence he provided for it was anything but. ”
Much more in the article including a comparison between corporations and cities:
"For West, the impermanence of the corporation illuminates the real strength of the metropolis. Unlike companies, which are managed in a top-down fashion by a team of highly paid executives, cities are unruly places, largely immune to the desires of politicians and planners."
P.S. See also the earlier article by Julie Rehmeyer Outstanding, superlinear cities

Muhammad Yunus going the Binayak Sen way?

Rant against politicians lands Nobel laureate in court in Bangladesh

Friday, January 21, 2011

Mathematical history?

Apparently, there is a new journal called "Cliodynamics: The Journal of Theoretical and Mathematical History". Rajob Khan discusses a paper from that journal in the post The rise and fall of great powers is stochastic. Rajib also links to two review of his which I missed. Both are from 2008, the first a review of Peter Turchin's 'War Peace and War'Cliodynamics, the rise & fall of empires and asabiya and the second of Peter Turchin's 'Historical Dynamics: Why States Rise and Fall' Historical Dynamics and contingent conditions of religion .

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Best of the microfinance posts

CGAP has a listBest of the Microfinance Blog 2010 from their blog. My choice as a layman is Rohini Mohan's article
Money for nothing. And misery for free in Tehelka.
P.S. 'Interest cap' for Indian small loans reports BBC and the Reserve Bank report here.
Comment from Financial Times Small microfinance institutions fear for survival

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Muhammad Yunus on the microfinance collapse in A.P.

Along with commercialization of credit, lack of savings accounts with the organizations may be one the reason for the failure; see Sacrificing Microcredit for Megaprofits :
"Grameen Bank, where I am managing director, has 2,500 branches in Bangladesh. It lends out more than $100 million a month, from loans of less than $10 for beggars in our “Struggling Members” program, to micro-enterprise loans of about $1,000. Most branches are financially self-reliant, dependent only on deposits from ordinary Bangladeshis. When borrowers join the bank, they open a savings account. All borrowers have savings accounts at the bank, many with balances larger than their loans. And every year, the bank’s profits are returned to the borrowers — 97 percent of them poor women — in the form of dividends.

More microcredit institutions should adopt this model. The community needs to reaffirm the original definition of microcredit, abandon commercialization and turn back to serving the poor. "
He also has suggestions about regulation.
P.S. There is some criticism of the above By David Roodman in Professor Yunus’s Opinion :
"So if all the microcreditors could raise all their capital from their clients then, I agree, that is the way to go.

But almost none has—not even the Grameen Bank.

Yunus’s achievements should not be slighted. In its pioneer days, the way forward for the Grameen Bank was far tougher and more uncertain than for those that followed. That said, thanks to his pioneering status and his abilities as a salesman, Yunus had help: a couple hundred million dollars from the Ford Foundation, the United Nations, Japan, and Western donors. As Vijay Mahajan, the father of commercial microfinance in India, has pointed out, microcreditors today cannot expect the same help, whether because of limited funds among private and public donors or the donors’ sense that microcredit has graduated from grants. If microcreditors today want such big chunks of capital from outsiders, they will have to buy it.

In particular, while it is true that Grameen members hold legal claim to 97% of the Grameen Bank’s net worth, they only contributed about $7.5 million in capital, at 100 taka ($1.40) per member. The Grameen Bank has not shown that microfinance can grow large purely through cooperative ownership.

In fact, as I wrote last summer, an irony in Yunus’s criticism of for-profit microlenders for going to the capital markets is that Grameen Bank is itself running low on capital, by which I mean risk-absorbing, profit sharing funds that banks are required to keep on hand in case of losses. And it is not clear (to me at least) how Grameen will get more. Maybe the government will step in…"

Mahahan said in Vijay Mahajan speaks about new economics and micro-finance
"Microcredit is a necessary but not a sufficient condition for microenterprise promotion. Other inputs are required, such as identification of livelihood opportunities, selection and motivation of the micro-entrepreneurs, business and technical training, establishing of market linkages for inputs and outputs, common infrastructure and some times regulatory approvals. In the absence of these, microcredit by itself, works only for a limited set of activities – small farming, livestock rearing and petty trading, and even those where market linkages are in place.
Moreover, there is serious evidence that like all other “single” interventions, microcredit works less well for the poorer clients. As David Hulme and Paul Mosley have shown in their important work Finance Against Poverty (Routledge, London, 1996), the increase in income of micro-credit borrowers is directly proportional to their starting level of income - the poorer they were to start with, the less the impact of the loan. One could live with this finding in an imperfect world, but what is really troubling is that a vast majority of those whose starting income was below the poverty line actually ended up with less incremental income after getting a micro-loan, as compared to a control group which did not get the loan. This should stop recent converts from offering microcredit as the solution for poverty eradication, since it can do more harm than good to the poorest."

The other interventions that Mahajan spoke of seem to depend on the context. From Profile of Social Entrepreneurs:
"BASIX, the brainchild of Mr. Mahajan aimed at livelihood promotion, rather than microfinance (microfinance being only one tool he uses to reduce poverty and create economic opportunities for the poor). His organization, BASIX, assists a third of poor rural households directly using micro-loans and importantly, companion savings programs, insurance plans, and agricultural and business development services. The other beneficiaries are supported by over 100 citizen organizations (COs) or community based microfinance institutions to which BASIX provides assistance in funding, training, development, and operations."
The reasons of scale of operations seem to have made Mahajan convert from NGO to a company. From Vijay Mahajan on the Risk of a Microfinance Bubble
"I ran BASIX for almost ten years as an NGO. But as an NGO you have a lot of limitations in terms of how much money you can raise, what scale you can achieve - and banks don’t lend to NGOs easily. And so we decided to run BASIX as a company and be financially sustainable and indeed, then we also applied for a banking license and part of BASIX is also a bank now. So, it all evolved in pursuit of the goal. But the goal remains to help poor people to achieve a life of dignity and a higher quality of life."
In the same interview Mahajan said "We need to distinguish between investors and microfinance entrepreneurs. And in both categories, there are those who are doing it for a social motivation and those who are doing it because it’s a good business proposition. So, the sector is a mixture of these two. You will simultaneouly have MFIs which barely make a small profit and their investors make no return. And you’ll have other MFIs which are making a lot of profits and therefore are able to reward their investors. But the sector will settle down to a middle path because if you make too little profits, you cannot grow and will have a problem with capital and attracting loans. If you make too much profit, almost usurious, then eventually someone will raise their voice against you and you will have to stop that."
Mahajan's advice for avoiding the bubble have not been heeded "To avert a bubble, lenders and equity investors should be careful not to ask for growth rates which are unrealistically high. Demand is very large. But the supply should be limited to the institutional capability to do it well. You can’t increase that capability by 150 or 200 percent per annum. You can do that in the early years but you can’t do it later. So, investors have a role in saying “okay, cool it. Whatever the locally appropriate growth rates are, just stay with that”. Then regulators have a role. And then the managers in those MFIs have a role in ensuring that the incentive structures for the field staff are designed in such a way that they engage in prudential lending and are not just throwing the money away. They should be incentivized under recovery rate and not just on how much they disburse. Through all these means together, the chances of a bubble can be significantly avoided." And added to that are competetion between MFIs, multiple lendings piggybacking on the existing SHGs. It seems that only that many players did not have the original mission of helping the poor in mind but entered a period of disaster economics as in the case of subprime lending. Finally Mahajan says in the first interview quoted above:
"Recent studies by CGAP show that only about a 100 of the 10000 odd MFIs round the world are financially self-sufficient. Thus the dual promise that microcredit is able to serve the very poor, and in a financially sustainable manner, is not borne out in practice. Experience shows that either one of these two mutually contradictory goals can be achieved, but not both together."

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Priviliged information

What is holding back information on black money, asks court :
"The Supreme Court on Friday asked the Centre to consider revealing the names of those who have deposited their black money in the Liechtenstein Bank in Germany now that the German government had furnished the details.
Justice B. Sudershan Reddy, heading a Bench with Justice S.S. Nijjar, did not agree with Solicitor-General Gopal Subramaniam's submissions that being privileged information, it could not be disclosed. When the S-G said the government had got the details but did not want to reveal them, Justice Reddy asked him: “Why are you [Centre] reluctant to disclose the names. What is the difficulty in disclosing the information? What is the privilege you are claiming for not disclosing? Issues involved in this case are serious and of larger dimension. It is not only about tax avoidance but other issues are also involved.”
Earlier, senior counsel Anil Divan, appearing for the petitioners, questioned the government taking shelter under the Double Tax Avoidance Agreement (DTAA) for not probing the money deposited with the Liechtenstein Bank. He contended that the DTAA did not apply to Indians having accounts in the foreign bank. He said the government was not serious about pursuing the issue, and despite the German authorities providing all the information, it had done nothing for the last two years."

Friday, January 14, 2011

On Indians and Hinduism

India, largely a country of immigrants says a Bench of the Supreme Court of India:
"A Supreme Court judgment projects the historical thesis that India is largely a country of old immigrants and that pre-Dravidian aborigines, ancestors of the present Adivasis, rather than Dravidians, were the original inhabitants of India."
Full Text of the judgement here.

Valerian Rodrigues describes Gandhi's version of Hinduism in Reading Texts and Traditions: The Ambedkar-Gandhi Debate . Just one passage from the very interesting article:
"Generally, Gandhi argued, reason and enlightened conscience remained the sine qua non for any understanding of the sacred scriptures. In 1920, he had clashed in this regard with the Vaishnava Maharajashri, to whom the adherents of the sect had gone demanding that a directive be issued that Antyajas (untouchables)cannot attend the school with their children. Against the argument of the Maharajashri that in the interpretation of the shastras reason, has no scope (a reiteration of Manu’s injunction) Gandhi argued that which reason could not understand and that which the heart does not accept can be no shastras and anybody who wanted to follow Dharma cannot but admit this principle. Otherwise, one would get into endorsing violence in instances, such as, “Rama killing Ravana”, or considering eating meat as sanctioned
by the shastras (Navjivan, 12 December 1920), positions which, according to him, went against the very fundamentals of Hinduism. In fact from the traditional criteria of authoritative understanding based on Sruti, Smruti, Achara and the understanding of Sadvipra, Gandhi eliminates the first three, by the law of lapse, and retains only the last in the form of enlightened conscience. The former are now internal to the latter as informing and constituting it and not independent of it or prior to it. Ambedkar did not contest the criteria that Gandhi employed directly. But he said that they could be merely formal. How does one know that a conscience is
enlightened? It could be highly prejudiced. In such a case we will be left with nothing but personal testimony without any objective criteria of validation. Ambedkar thought that there were few believing Hindus who were prepared to give up the textual authority of the shastras just because a “mahatma” tells them that religious authority rests in the mode of one’s life. Besides, in a context like that of India there were many who hailed from traditional strata and claimed good reason and enlightened conscience for their stances, although they were refurbished versions of orthodoxy."

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

On the destruction of Nalanda University

In a sppech reported in 'The Hindu' Amartya Sen: Nalanda stood for the passion of propagating knowledge and understanding Amaratya Sen says:
"Recalling that the university was “violently destroyed” in an Afghan attack led by Bakhtiyar Khilji in 1193, Prof. Sen, who addressed the Indian Science Congress at SRM University in Kattankulathur near here on Tuesday, said it was being re-established through an Asian initiative, involving India, China, Singapore, Japan and Thailand."
Similar stories of the destruction are in several places including the wikipedia. But a recent book Buddhism and Islam on the Silk Road By Johan Elverskog says that this is not correct (see pages 1 and 2 available in the previe and wonders why it is not better known. There is also a podcast by him on this topic at UPenn podcast site.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

On Srikrishna Committee report

from 'The Hindu' The complex way forward:

"The Srikrishna Committee has accomplished its assignment with competence and professionalism as claimed, but the road ahead for the Congress is riddled with political landmines. Exercising the option to keep the State united may mean erosion of its already weak base in Telangana. Dividing the State will not enhance its popularity as it has to contend with competition from N. Chandrababu Naidu's Telugu Desam Party and from former Kadapa MP Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy in the ‘Seemandhra' region."

Salmaan Taseer

There have been several posts about Salman Taseer and his assassination; here are two in ALL THINGS PAKISTAN and Accidental Blogger. The is post in 'The Guardian' seems to explain his personality Salmaan Taseer, Aasia Bibi and Pakistan's struggle with extremism:
"In death Taseer has been deified as the fountainhead of liberal Pakistan. The reality was more complex. Sharp, brash and undiplomatic, Taseer was a political bruiser who devoted much of his energies as governor to frustrating his old political enemies, the Sharif family, in Lahore. Although an instinctive liberal, he had also taken a job under the military ruler, Pervez Musharraf. And in person he could be profane and brusque as well as charming.

But he was unafraid to take a principled stand against the froth-mouthed mullahs and their violent supporters – a rare quality in Pakistani politics. "He was a larger than life figure, with all the faults and qualities of any human being," said writer Ahmed Rashid. "But during his last stint in politics he took up human-rights issues in a way he had never done before. I think he matured a lot.""

Articles about him and his son Aatish Taseer by Khushwant Singh and Shimaila Matri Dawood.

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Two posts on bacteria coopting viruses

Carl Zimmer in 'The Loom" post Mouth War describes a neat process:
"Once the microbe has captured this viral DNA, it can use it as a template for making a molecular probe. When the virus invades again, the probe latches onto it and quickly guides the microbe’s virus-killing proteins to their target. And in a bit of Lamarckian wizardry, the microbe can pass this acquired defense down to its offspring, making them resistant too.

The prisons for these captured pieces of virus DNA are called CRISPRs–an abbreviation for clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats. Mutant viruses that don’t match a host’s CRISPRs enjoy an evolutionary edge, and so microbes are constantly revising their collection of CRISPRs to fight an ever-evolving enemy."
Ed Yong in 'Not Exactly Rocket Science' post The prophages weren’t essential by any means. Without them, the bacteria survived quite reasonably, although they grew more slowly than normal strains. But they proved to be wimps when challenged with difficult conditions. They became up to 400 times more sensitive to antibiotics. They succumbed more readily to extremely salty or acidic conditions. And they were almost completely unable to form biofilms – fortified ‘cities’ where the microbes gather under the shelter of substances that they themselves secrete.

In many of these cases, Wang could weaken the bacteria by removing a single prophage, which suggests that many of the genes are active parts of the host. The cryptic prophages are no longer selfish parasites, nor are they truly passive fossils. Rather, they have been domesticated to serve their host.describes a different type of capture:
"Once phages have injected their genes into a bacterium, they can make copies of themselves in two ways. The first is a brutish approach. The genes commandeer the host, using it to manufacture new viruses that eventually burst out of the cell – this is the lytic cycle. Alternatively, the phage DNA can infiltrate the bacterium’s genome, becoming part of it. When the bacterium divides in two, it copies the phage’s genes along well as its own. This is the lysogenic cycle, an altogether stealthier approach to making more phages.

Within the bacterial genome, the viral DNA is called a prophage. After being copied many times over in these new surroundings, it can pop out again to create a new phage. The prophage is little more than a genetic parasite. But sometimes, a prophage gets trapped by a crippling mutation. Unable to pop out, it becomes a genetic fossil, forever stuck within its host and destined only to preserve a trace of a past infection.

These captives are called cryptic prophages and they can make up a fifth of a bacterium’s DNA. Their existence is puzzling. Bacteria are known for having small, streamlined genomes, yet in they have foreign and potentially harmful viral DNA loitering among their genes. Why?

The prophages weren’t essential by any means. Without them, the bacteria survived quite reasonably, although they grew more slowly than normal strains. But they proved to be wimps when challenged with difficult conditions. They became up to 400 times more sensitive to antibiotics. They succumbed more readily to extremely salty or acidic conditions. And they were almost completely unable to form biofilms – fortified ‘cities’ where the microbes gather under the shelter of substances that they themselves secrete.

In many of these cases, Wang could weaken the bacteria by removing a single prophage, which suggests that many of the genes are active parts of the host. The cryptic prophages are no longer selfish parasites, nor are they truly passive fossils. Rather, they have been domesticated to serve their host."

The prophages weren’t essential by any means. Without them, the bacteria survived quite reasonably, although they grew more slowly than normal strains. But they proved to be wimps when challenged with difficult conditions. They became up to 400 times more sensitive to antibiotics. They succumbed more readily to extremely salty or acidic conditions. And they were almost completely unable to form biofilms – fortified ‘cities’ where the microbes gather under the shelter of substances that they themselves secrete.

In many of these cases, Wang could weaken the bacteria by removing a single prophage, which suggests that many of the genes are active parts of the host. The cryptic prophages are no longer selfish parasites, nor are they truly passive fossils. Rather, they have been domesticated to serve their host."

The process by which the antibiotic resistance is developed is not clear and seems to be different from the four processes described in Antibiotic resistance. It is not clear to me whether there is any (perhaps technical)relationship between 'cryptic prophages' and 'CRISPRs'.

Friday, January 07, 2011

Quiz from Prajasakti

ప్రపంచంలోనే మొట్టమొదటి విశ్వవిద్యాలయం?
I failed miserably in the quiz but pleased note that Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan (Frontier Gandhi) was the first 'foreign' person to be awarded Bharat Ratna.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Future of agriculture?

From World's biggest farmer says future is in outsourcing :
"This economist-turned-farmer owes his success to the Indian IT companies’ back office model. Although Grobocopatel set up Los Grobo in 1984, the company remained a small player for the first 15 years until he outsourced all farming operations, including planting, fertiliser spraying, harvesting, storage and even transportation. His company enters into lease agreements with land owners, thereby allowing him to use capital to farm scientifically by satellite mapping.Grobocopatel now wants to export pulses and is now scouting for companies interested in strategic partnership with his company.

The future of farming is in outsourcing, he says.

“You do not have to own land to farm,” Grobocopatel told DNA in Mumbai, in a conference organised by United Phosphorous, the country’s largest pesticide maker. “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.”"

More by R.Viswanathan in Financial Express: Agriculture Process Outsourcing by an Argentine Patel
See also Viswanathan's post on Simmar Pal Singh in one of his blogs "Business with Latin America"

Short background of Mr Gustavo Grobocopatel,President Grupo Los Grobo

Two screams

MindHachs has a short post on Edvard Munch’s classic painting 'The Scream' :Words about The Scream.
The painting I remember more is 'Echo of a Scream' by David Alfaro Siqueiros.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Two fascinating cricket tests

One in Cape Town Steyn, Tendulkar star on intense day and the other in Sydney England hold the edge despite Johnson's efforts. Normally I watch cricket matches in bits and read the reports the next day. But these days, I have been watching the Sydney match from 10 AM to 6 PM and then the Cape Town match from 7PM to 2 or 3 AM. Both fascinating and highlighting the intricacies of test cricket for non-experts like me. I still do know how Tendulakar missed and edged so many balls and survived. It is not the Tendulkar of 'Desert Storm' but a more mature Tendulkar knowing his limtations and playing with courage and equanimity. Perhaps he was defending his off stump until the very end and letting many difficult balls to go and if there were edges they were mostly soft edges.
P.S. Both fizzled out. In terms of preparation, plans and execution English team seems to be the best at the moment.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

GM in WikiLeaks

WikiLeaks: US targets EU over GM crops:
"In response to moves by France to ban a Monsanto GM corn variety in late 2007, the ambassador, Craig Stapleton, a friend and business partner of former US president George Bush, asked Washington to penalise the EU and particularly countries which did not support the use of GM crops.
But in a setback, the US embassy found that its closest ally on GM, Cardinal Renato Martino, head of the powerful Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and the man who mostly represents the pope at the United Nations, had withdrawn his support for the US.

"A Martino deputy told us recently that the cardinal had co-operated with embassy Vatican on biotech over the past two years in part to compensate for his vocal disapproval of the Iraq war and its aftermath – to keep relations with the USG [US government] smooth. According to our source, Martino no longer feels the need to take this approach," says the cable.

In addition, the cables show US diplomats working directly for GM companies such as Monsanto. "In response to recent urgent requests by [Spanish rural affairs ministry] state secretary Josep Puxeu and Monsanto, post requests renewed US government support of Spain's science-based agricultural biotechnology position through high-level US government intervention.""

See also WikiLeaks cables: McDonald's used US to put pressure on El Salvador

Andrew Gelman in the 5Books series

Andrew Gelman on Statistics via the post 5 books:
"So here goes. Five books, going from the most to the least statistical, but all brilliant, thought-provoking, and both fun and challenging to read (a rare combination)."

Monday, January 03, 2011

A few highlights from last year

Lapata's writings, some of which are mentioned here Postcards from the Archive: Goodbye 2010
I have been reading science books and articles and books from the days of Jeans, Eddington and Gamow. For topics related to evolution, I think that Carl Zimmer is one of the best writers. The following list is only a pale representation of some of his writings last year The Loom’s Top Ten of 2010
For more science stories Discover's Top 100 Stories of 2010
And it was only recently, I found Atul Gawande's writings.
In Telugu, I seem to be out of tune with much of the writing, but a few like Suresh Kolichala, Chandra Latha I am able to follow and some old masters like Gurajada.