Thursday, December 31, 2015

A new book on cultural evolution

I am half way through the book and liked it so far. Some of the flavour of the book can be gleaned from the customer reviews: The secret of our success by Joseph Henrich. Table of contents with a free chapter here. A review by Joe Brewer at Evolution Institute

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Subir Sen RIP

Recalling an article I liked reading this year

There is no theory of everything by Simon Critchley
One quote "There is a gap between nature and society. The mistake, for which scientism is the name, is the belief that this gap can or should be filled.......What is needed is a clearer overview of the occasions when a scientific remark is appropriate and when we need something else, the kind of elucidation we find in stories, poetry or indeed when we watch a movie or good TV (Frank watched a lot of TV).....We don’t need an answer to the question of life’s meaning, just as we don’t need a theory of everything. What we need are multifarious descriptions of many things, further descriptions of phenomena that change the aspect under which they are seen, that light them up and let us see them anew.."
Another: "Some years later, I went back into his office to ask permission to switch from one course to another. “Which courses?” he said indifferently. “I’m meant to be reading Foucault, but I want to do a course on Derrida.” “Man” he replied “that’s like going from horseshit to bullshit.” "

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Piketty Retrospective

at Crooked TimberI have spent a lot of time on Piketty's Capital21 which was fascinating but I got only glimpses of parts of it. In a recent seminar in CT, I came across this article by J.W. Mason It's bargaining power all the way down which seems clearer than most. (I also liked Seth Ackerman's review in Jacobin). Apparently Piketty will respond to the seminar in January next year.
Comments in the CT article with some resonses from J.W. Mason are also worth looking.
Fun part: Comment 39. Re Barbara Solow and family – an article by her on Eric Williams and slavery has one of the all-time great acknowledgements:
“I would like to thank my sons, Andrew R. and John L. Solow, for assistance in producing the mathematical results, and my husband, Robert M. Solow, for assistance in producing the sons”.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

More links on Price Equation

Making some progress.  'Multilevel Selection Processes in Economics: Theory and Methods' by Natalia Zinovyeva ( )has a little example which helped. Another paper 'Understanding microbial cooperation' by James Damore and Jeff Gore (Supplement, to orinial paper a fairly comprehensive discussion and also a discussion of some of the difficulties.

Regimes of perceptibility

Rediscovering the 1%: Economic Expertise sand Inequality Knowledge
In the 2000s, academics and policymakers began to discuss the growth of top incomes in the United States, especially the “top 1%.” Newly analyzed data revealed that top income earners in the 1990s received a larger share of income than at any point since the Great Depression, and that their incomes had begun a dramatic upward climb in the early 1980s. This paper investigates why it took two decades for this increase in top incomes to become politically and academically salient. I argue that experts assembled two “regimes of perceptibility” (Murphy 2006) for producing knowledge about income inequality, and that neither of these regimes was capable of tracking movements in top incomes. Macroeconomists focused on labor’s share of national income, but did not examine the distribution of income between individuals. Labor economists, on the other hand, drew on newly available survey data to explain wage disparities in terms of education, age, work experience, race, and gender. By relying on surveys, these scholars unintentionally eliminated top incomes from view: surveys top-coded high incomes, and thus were incapable of seeing changes in the top 1%. Studies of top incomes that relied on income tax data thus fell by the wayside, creating the conditions under which experts, policymakers, and the public alike could be surprised by the rise of the 1%. This historical narrative o↵ers insights into the political power of economic expertise by clarifying the complex linkages between observations, stylized facts, causal theories, and policy attention.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Still struggling

with stuff related to Price Equation. So postings will be less frequent. When I do not understand stuff, I employ what an old friend used to cal 'glance therapy'.  Stare at it for hours and dream about it. Slowly some names and formulae start appearing like old friends. Of course, it is easier to understand through discussions, but when no one arouind is that interested in the topic, one has to resort to adhoc methods. A collaborator is visiting for six weeks starting January 12, and I think it will take me months to get some grip on Price Equation. Meanwhile, here are some links updating old topics.
Spread of antibiotic-resistance ene does not spell bacterial apocalypse - yet from Natuire News
US bee numbers decline as land is converted for biofuel 
The scientific limits of understanding complex social phenomena from Naked Capitalism
The science myths that will not die from Nature News
A discussion on high economic rents in Economist's View
Military to military by Seymur Hersch
Puncuring myths about India, review of a book by Sanjay Subrahjmanyam and an inrerview with the author
and an old article by George Monbiot Gift of Death

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Standard text books

I was recommended chapter 10 of Sean Rice: 'Evolutionary theory: Mathematical and Conceptual Foundations' for an account of George Prioce's work. apparently it is a standard text book in parts of USA but is not available in our huge Melbourne University library. It is surprising that even these days what is considered standard differs even in developed countries.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Three versions of a song

"AV. Meiyappan has disclosed in his autobiography, ‘ Enadhu Vazhkai Anubhavangal ’ (My Life’s Experiences) that though he launched the movie in Hindi, he later thought that by making it in Telugu and Tamil also, it would become a more commercially viable project. But call-sheet problems delayed the shooting causing production costs to go up. While Ladki was released on October 30, 1953, Penn got released on June 26, 1954 and Sangham on July 10, 1954." from an article in The Hindu Sangham  (1954) by M.L.Narasimham. In one of the popular songs, the Hindi version sounds a bit different from the Tamil and Telugu versions.  Hindi versionby Lata Mangeshkar and Geeta Dutt:

The Tamil version by T.S. Bhagavati and M.S. Rajeshwari
The Telugu version by T.S.Bhagawati and P.Suseela

Update on Foldscope

The $ 1 microscope by Ed Yong:
"At first, Prakash set up a makeshift factory in his lab and printed around 50,000 of the Foldscopes. He and his team members have since shipped 10,000 of those out by hand, as part of a broad beta-test.
Pomerantz was one of the lucky recipients. “It has been so useful for my fieldwork,” he says, having used it to study plant cells, mites, fly larvae, and single-celled parasites. “It feels like holding a piece of paper, because that’s what it sort of is. It’s also really robust. I take really long hikes in the jungle, so it gets dumped on by rain and mud—and it still works.”"
Another from The NewYorker by Carolyn Kormann.

Friend from 1970, Jack Morava

Whenever I am stuck for references, I write to Jack. Even if he does not know about the topic, he always finds somebody who can give useful references.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Two books

A book that I enjoyed very much but forgot to mention is  "Life's greatest secret: The story of the race to crack the genetic bode" ny Matthew Cobb reviewd here.
Another popular book around that time is Nick Lane's The Vital Question" reviewd here. I did not complete it since it seemed a bit speculative.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Year end reading

Nature's Oracle: The Life and Times of W.D.Hamilton by Ullica segerstrale and
The Price of Altruism: George Price and the Search for the Origins of Kindness by Oren Harman, mainly the parts to related to George Price and his work during the London stay. These seem to help a bit with the papers of George Price (1972) and William Hamilton (1975) that i have been strugling with. Perhaps to catch up some of the modern developments, I should add "Unto others..." by Sober and Wilson at some stage.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Links December 14, 2015

About Benidict Anderson's 'Imagined communities' from 2006  In a pomegranate chandelier by T.J. Clark
Why Poland is Turning Away from the west from NY Times.
The article links to an article The Political economy of liberal demcracy by Aharun Mukand and Dani Rodrik which looks promising but I have not read it yet.
Melbourne's anti-vaccine hot spots: Rich suburbs have low immunisation rates
ISIS in Libya from Business Insider
Turkey in Iraq: Turkey misfires in Iraq from Al-Monitor, What are Turkish troops doin in Northern Iraq from The NewYorker. Check also Are Turkey and Iran reviving 16th century conflict?


Still struggling with William Hamilton's 1975 paper on group selection. The 1972 paper of George Price seems a bit easier because it is more mathematical. Since a mathematician collaborator is coming soon and then there is a planned trip to India, it may be months before i get a grip (if at all) on this stuff.


An article on him by Vidya Bhushan Rawat. Another in Swedish with automatic translation. On Facebook.

Vasili Arkhipov

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Some Indian links December 13, 2015

Why is industry fleeing Punjab? by M.Rajshekhar. Along the way, he mentions 'cow cess ' in electricity bill about 1.4% of the power bill. That seems to be recent. From a July 15 report "In a first, the municipal bodies of Punjab will introduce cow cess, to protect cows and rehabilitate them at the ‘gaushalas’ (cow shelters)."
Dr. Brahma Dev Sharma passed away. Two reports about him:
B.D. Sharma, Officer and a revolutionary from Outlook
The hero of Bastar: remembering BD Sharma and his efforts for tribals by Akash Bisht
Rahul Banerjee gets some recognition for his solutions to manage water supply and sanitation issues in his house in Indore
The anti-democratic verdict of the unelected "Earlier this year, the state of Haryana – following the state of Rajasthan –amended its Panchayati Raj Act. Through the Amendment, it introduced certain restrictions upon the right to contest Panchayat elections. These restrictions included the requirement of education (up to a certain level), having a functional toilet in one’s house, and being debt-free. As any student of history knows, educational, property and debt restrictions upon voting and standing for elections, were a standard tool used by regressive States to contain the political power of suppressed constituencies, whether it was the blacks in Jim Crow America, or Indians under the colonial British government. Haryana’s move was promptly challenged in the Supreme Court. In a judgment that came as a surprise to many, on December 10, 2015, the Court rejected the challenge, and upheld the law, disenfranchising a significant number of people."

Friday, December 11, 2015

Suzette Jordan's rapists convicted

Article with a letter from her father and excerpts from an essay by her daughter Rhea
In Memorium by Sandip Roy, March 13, 2015

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Price equation and related topics

Work in progress. I have been trying to understand a bit about altruism via Price Equation. It is not too easy since I do not have background in that type of biology or mathematics. But mathematics seems quite simple and the equation is abstract and does not really require much biology except when it comes to some applications. An overview is two book reviews of different books. The first is a review of book by D.S. Wilson by H.Allen Orr The biology of being good to others. Another a review of book on George Price George Price, The Price equation and cultural group selection by Karthik Panchanathan. The second paper has formulae without proofs but mentions the references where details are available. Many of the details are in Steven A. Frank's papers, in particular this paper. In the section 'Abstract properties: Recursion and Group selection', he says "Essentially all modern discussions of multilevel selection and group selection derive from Price (1972a), as developed by Hamilton (1975). Price and Hamilton noted that the Price equation can be expanded recursively to represent nested levels of analysis, for example, individuals living in groups." The particular paper of W.D. Hamilton  is 'Innate social aptitudes of man: an approach from evolutionary genetics'. I have read about half of both these papers and they seem readable with some work.

Wednesday, December 09, 2015

An overview of Price Equation

Here is a quick overview of the scope of Price Eqation. I am trying to fill in the gaps in my understanding bit by bit and it may take several months.
The Price Equation by Andy Gardner

Tuesday, December 08, 2015

Links, December 8, 2015

Omar Ali (a physician who lives in USA, I think) on San Bernadino Terror Attack
The end of Walking by Antonla Malchik, at the moment in USA but I have seen In Hyderabad people drivin to Brhmananda Reddy park to take walks.
What led to end of Kerala's matrilinear society? from The Caravan
Mathematics for democracy from AMS blogs and Let math save our democracy from NY Times
Two on Kurt Vonnegut:
How Jane Vonnegut made Kurt Vonnegut a writer
Kurt and Bernard

Monday, December 07, 2015

H. Allen Orr on Price equation

H.Allen Orr writes (unfortunately a gated article in The New York Book Review) "Now comes the deep part. Price saw—and it is far from obvious when put into words—that this transmission term can be rewritten mathematically in a way that allows for natural selection at a different biological level. So, to take a simple example, the evolution of height might reflect natural selection between individuals within populations and between populations of individuals. In fact, this mathematical maneuver can be performed recursively, over multiple levels of the biological hierarchy. In the end, the Price Equation allows one to partition evolutionary change in a trait into the possible effects of natural selection acting simultaneously at multiple biological levels, e.g., the species, population, organism, gamete (sperm or egg), and gene.....Crucially, the Price Equation showed that group selection arguments for altruism need not be offered tentatively or apologetically; they could be offered with mathematical precision.....No equation, however elegant, can solve the problem of altruism because the problem, like most in science, is partly empirical. The Price Equation shows that evolutionary change in a trait can be partitioned into the effects of natural selection at different biological levels. But this tells us nothing about the sizes of the effects at these levels." from Is goodness in your genes?

Friday, December 04, 2015

George Price and his equation.

Off and on, I have been trying to get some idea of Price equation but have not been really able to get a handle on it. Does anybody know some readable references? Here are a couple of articles about him.
Death of an altruist by James Schwartz
The homeless scientist who tried to prove that selflessness does not exist by Theo Jolliffe

P.S. (5th December, 2015)
Here is a nice write up of a simple discrete case which seems to give a start.
There is also a book by Oren Harman on George price which has some explanations but as this review says "Harman makes a few attempts to explain the equation and its biological meaning, but in my judgment the explanations are too brief and too vague to be of much help to those who don’t already understand the mathematics."
That is only a beginnin. It may take me an year or two to et some grasp of it and there will be more posts on the topic off and on. 

Thursday, December 03, 2015

Links, December 2, 2015

How the American-style seggreation is feeding division in Europe
Top CO2 polluters and highest per capita
Izabella Kaminska on simulacrum future
Nearly half of India's districts are draught hit as crisis accelerates (via Madhukar Shukla) : "Obsessed with the latest, hyper-emotional social media trend, India’s people and mass media are all but oblivious to Bharat’s emergency situation. The only national newspaper that has consistently followed collapsing farms and failing rains is Mint. As of last week, nine of India’s 29 states had officially declared a drought, and 302 of the 640 districts are living in drought-like conditions. If you ask why none of this is on India’s primetime television shows or splashed on front pages, I will only say that the media, in general, are not interested and neither, dear reader, are we."
Underworld still has stron connections with Bollywood
Zero Hedge on ISIL oil trade

A new type of university

via Madhukar Shukla "What if you walk into a university to find out that there are no classrooms, no teachers, degrees, curriculum, and exams? Above all, you even see people learning joyfully in their own ways, involving their head-heart-hands, doing in their lives what interests them the most. Welcome to this place of learning and unlearning called Swaraj University, which for last 6 years has been providing platform for youth to identify their hearts’ vision and engage them in developing the skills and practices they need to manifest that vision...."
A university with no classrooms, no teachers, degrees, curriculum and exams-Swaraj University

Another article by Peter Turchin

The puzzle of ultrasociality (2013):In this article Peter Turchin discusses Ultrasociality, and along the way Price Eqation (Inequality) in multi level selection. A more popular explanation in Chapter 4 of his recent book Ultrasociety 

Wednesday, December 02, 2015

Peter Turchin's recent book

I just completed my first reading of Ultrasociety: How 10,000 years of war made humans the greatest cooperators on earth. It needs a few more readings. I cannot say that I understood all parts of the book and felt that several parts were locally not quite correct, at least they seem to be against what I learnt from Michael Hudson and others. On the otherhand, that does not seem to matter. It is a theory capable of incorporating change of details and some predictions. It seems worth reading and pondering about. An earlier paper War, space and evolution of old world complex societies by Peter Turchin and colloborators will provide a preview of some of the ideas. Worth a look.

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

Arsenic poisoning in Bihar

UN climate change conference, Paris

The rich world must take greater responsibilty for climate change by Narendra Modi in and comments in
"In effect, the US wants to do away with the old idea that developed nations bear a greater responsibility for a problem that they have created. By doing a bilateral deal with China on climate change, US President Barack Obama has even signaled to the world that he can get the largest and most influential of developing nations on his side. But there are plenty of nations unhappy with this attempt at rejigging the world order, and India is at the forefront."
India unveils global solar alliance of 120 countries at Paris cl;imate summit from The Guardian
The world's climate is in the hands of just three nations from The Guardian which has more links in

COP 21: UN climate change conference | Paris

Monday, November 30, 2015

Geeta Dutt's list of her best songs in 1957

from by Karan Bali. For some reason, may be because C.H. Atma sang it first (?), she did not include this

eye witness account from Rojava

A dream of secular utopia in ISIS' backyard by Wes Enzinna in NY Times

Doug Henwood on Brad DeLong

I often link to Brad DeLong. He is erudite and brilliant but also seems political. Here are some comments by Doug Henwood.
From Doug's wall:
The epigraph to my anti-Hillary book. Neoliberal tool and Clinton administration functionary Brad DeLong, 2003, from a blog post he's now deleted:
My two cents’ worth—and I think it is the two cents’ worth of everybody who worked for the Clinton Administration health care reform effort of 1993–1994—is that Hillary Rodham Clinton needs to be kept very far away from the White House for the rest of her life. Heading up health-care reform was the only major administrative job she has ever tried to do. And she was a complete flop at it. She had neither the grasp of policy substance, the managerial skills, nor the political smarts to do the job she was then given. And she wasn’t smart enough to realize that she was in over her head and had to get out of the Health Care Czar role quickly. . . . Hillary Rodham Clinton has already flopped as a senior administrative offcial in the executive branch—the equivalent of an Undersecretary. Perhaps she will make a good senator. But there is no reason to think that she would be anything but an abysmal president.
From the comments there: But the most amusing thing about this now is that Brad is running away from it. He deleted his blog archives, refused to respond to me about whether he still believes it, and only engages Dan Davies on Twitter about it and not me. Because he probably wants a job.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

The role of Ritual

In a discussion on religion, Ramarao Kanneganti said that I was ignoring the vrole of riual. Apparently, there are systematic studies and data on the topic. I jrecently came across this:
The role of ritual in the evolution of social complexity: Five predictions and a drum roll:
"DMR theory posits two clusters of features pertaining to collective ritual and social morphology in the world’s religious traditions (Whitehouse 1995, 2000, 2004, 2012). One cluster—the imagistic mode of religiosity—is characterized by low-frequency (i.e., rarely performed), high-arousal (typically painful or frightening) rituals and small but intensely cohesive communities. The other cluster—the doctrinal mode of religiosity—is characterized by high-frequency (i.e., routinized) low-arousal (often tedious and repetitive) rituals and large-scale, hierarchical, but more diffusely cohesive communities. The imagistic mode is thought to be adaptive for groups that need to stick together in the face of strong temptations to defect—for example, when engaging enemies on the battlefield or large prey on the hunting ground. The doctrinal mode is thought to be adaptive for groups seeking to pool small amounts of resource from individuals in a much larger population so as to create a large, centralised resource in the form of charitable donations, legacies, tax or tribute – for example, when competing coalitions are organized via categorical ties of caste, race, ethnicity, or belief. These contrasting patterns of ritual and group formation have been studied in a few select religious groups both past and present (e.g., Whitehouse & Laidlaw 2004; Whitehouse and Martin 2004; Whitehouse and McCauley 2005), as well as in military groups that may or may not subscribe to beliefs in supernatural agents or forces (e.g., Whitehouse and McQuinn 2012; Whitehouse 2013). In addition to analysis of case study material from social-cultural anthropology, history, and archaeology, evidence that imagistic and doctrinal modes constitute universal features of group formation comes from the analysis of approximately 100 variables pertaining to 645 rituals from 74 cultures (Atkinson and Whitehouse 2011). This early database, allowing synchronic comparison, generated a number of predictions that will be testable using a longitudinal dataset such as Seshat......Here, we lay out five initial predictions to be tested using Seshat. We also provide an alternative to each of our predictions together with competing rationales (Table 2)."

Al Jazeera discussion on IS oil

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Douglass North RIP

Douglass North, an economist's historian by Kevib Bryan
Structure and change in economic history: The ideas of Douglass North by John Joseph Wallis:
"He profoundly appreciated how little we know about how societies actually work and how, as individuals and social scientists, we interpret what we see and experience through the ideas – theories, histories, and frameworks – we construct for ourselves. This appreciation not only gave him a life-long interest in cognition, but it was also a wellspring for his continuing ability to question what he and we believe.
All four of his major contributions came because he probed what we did not understand, obviously important questions for which we had no answers. His unerring sense of what best next question to ask flowed from his awareness of our collective ignorance. Not knowing and a willingness to admit it are personal characteristics rarely in evidence at the level of intellectual accomplishment that Douglass North reached. We all are better for his unique combination of confidence and humility."

Marianne Moore

Long ago I read some of her poems and still remember some of the lines thouh i do not really understand them. I never knew her backgroud. Today I saw this article in LRB What a mother by Mary-Kay Wilmers:" Marianne Moore was born in her mother’s childhood bedroom; grown up, she lived with her mother – most often shared her bed – until her mother died. She was then 59 and her mother 85; she lived another 25 years and died in 1972 a happy spinster, a famous poet and a grande dame."
Some of her poems here and a discussion of one here.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Links, 26 November 2015

How to counter violent extremism by Philip Giraldi (via Chris Blattman:" I began my career in the CIA working against the largely European terrorist groups that were active in the 1970s and 1980s. To be sure, there were Middle Eastern groups like Abu Nidal also prominent at the time, but the best known and most lethal terrorists were Germans, Italians, and Irishmen. They were just as ruthless as anything we are seeing today and, interestingly enough, the same questions that are being raised currently regarding the radicalization of young Muslims were raised back then regarding middle class Europeans, with a similar lack of any kind of satisfactory explanation. This is largely due to the fact that no simple answer exists because the road to radicalization, as the panels noted, can be quite complicated. Any attempt to create a model can result in erroneous conclusions that inevitably lead to the simple expedient of increasing police and governmental powers."
Reading tea leaves: What the women's movement can learn from a victory in India by Devaki Jain:
"These protesters did not allow men to be a part of the protest. “Men don’t do the work that we do,” they said. “We are the ones who pluck the leaves, carry the burden all day and even load it onto trucks.”
They did not allow unions to interfere in their protests either. Despite being in a state that has very influential unions and union leaders, the women did not allow them to become a part of their struggle. The women alleged that union leaders had colluded with the management to keep their bonus down."

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

About Peter Turchin's new book

Just stared reading Ultrasociality:How 10,000 Years of War Made Humans the Greatest Cooperators on Earth by Peter Turchin. The writing is somewhat cavalier, so far I could find several points I could argue with, but the book as a whole may make some sense. Paul Rosenberg writes about some of the ideas in Salon. I may have more to say after I complete reading the book.

One side of Sandy's ashtray sculpted by William Ricketts

Sandy's boomerang


Yesterday, our neighbour of over 20 years was taken to live in an old people's home and we were all in tears. But she raised a ruckus and got back home and called us for a chat today. She showed us a killer boomerang she got from central Australia around 1949 with which she is planning to defend herself. She also showed a ashtray with faces sculpted on both sides by William Ricketts in Alice Springs around 1955-56. Apparently, she used to get Time magazine those days and there was an article on William Ricketts in 1955 and she when she went to visit him she gave the article to him. After a few days, he came to Alice Springs and gave the ashtray to her. First she thought that it was present for giving him the article. But he charged her thirty shillings. It may be worth a couple of thousand dollars now. 

Sunday, November 22, 2015

India blockading Nepal

 "Subsequently, Kathmandu was given a clear indication by New Delhi that it expected Nepal to declare itself a Hindu Rashtra in the new Constitution. Sources said that the message was communicated to the top Nepal leaders before the Constitution was adopted. When Nepal ignored New Delhi’s directive, and decided to opt for a secular, federal Republic instead it created a major stir in New Delhi with the foreign secretary’s visit within 36 hours of the promulgation of the Constitution to basically read the Nepal government the “riot act.” " from Nepal takes first steps to move out of India's shadow, China gains
P.S. There seems to be more to it than the above article points and

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Richard Eaton on the destruction of hindu temples

We will never know the number of temples descrated throuh India's history Some quotes not clear to me:
"While premodern Indians were certainly aware of religious difference, not a single communal riot is known to have occurred for almost all of medieval history. "
See for example tales like this.
"Well before Muslim ruling houses arrived on the scene, kings would attack an enemy king’s royal temple as a necessary part of undermining that king’s sovereign rule.  This much is clear both from normative Sanskrit texts and from the inscriptional record. Later on, Muslim kings intending to establish their own rule in India simply followed this tradition."
But there was destruction of various Jewish and Christian worship places before Islam came to India. May be it was not just indian practice.

Friday, November 20, 2015


"Despite the remaining challenges, there is a sense among the practitioners of this field that they have begun to glimpse something real and very important. “I didn’t know what space was made of before,” says Swingle. “It wasn’t clear that question even had meaning.” But now, he says, it is becoming increasingly apparent that the question does make sense. “And the answer is something that we understand,” says Swingle. “It’s made of entanglement.”" says The quantum source of soace-time

Dalit writer Shyamala Gogu

Somtimes I am dubious of the value of books and reading. but they played a large role in her development, particularly translated books, she says in In conversation`. More about her here and in The Sunlatern Sings: "Shyamala is a former activist of the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist)—members of which were branded ‘Naxalites’ in Andhra Pradesh—and a Dalit, feminist and Telangana activist. She grew up in the Madiga quarter of Peddamul village in the Tandur region of western Telangana. Her father, a bonded agricultural labourer, got both her brothers to work in the fields as he was determined to send Shyamala to school, so that she’d be able to decipher complicated land deeds and ensure the family didn’t get cheated out of their small land holdings."

Links, 20th September, 2015

Steven Hsu links to some posts on Microaggression, Moral Cultures and the Culture of Victimhood: "Growing up, I could easily understand that there was a "generation gap" between people my age and our parents and teachers. But I could not imagine what the gap would be like between us and our own children and students. (Gee, I'm hip, and I'll always understand what it's like to be a kid or teenager...) Perhaps this is it."
A new historical data base on world human development
Dalai Lama on recent Paris attacks
Some reaction to IS in different countries Most Pakistanis say not sure
Compared to the problems of refugees these problems seem minor My white neighbours thought that I was breaking into my own apartment. Nineteen cops showed up. via J.K.Mohana Rao who describes his own experiences and I describe mine "We had similar experiences too in Melbourne. I bought a hose in a poor neighborhood in 1988. We were callked 'black dos' and somebody wrote 'black c...s' in front of our house. Once somebody threw stones on our house and in the night water started pouring in due to heavy rains. Luckily, a young neighbour who is familar with construction work, came and put a plastic sheet over the hole and repaired it next day. How did we cope? We temporarily taught children prejudice. We told them their grandfather was a postraduate and most neighbours came from riff-raff of England. I kept telling myself that dalits and brahmins fared worse in the area where i came from. Other Indians were in slightly better areas and claimed that they did not have similar experiences though some admitted in due course that they wetre heckled while waiting for buses. We moved to a middle class area after four years mainly because the schools were bad. It was much better though children were called abos (supposed to be an insult) in school sometimes. We went through various Indian functions, named some houses during functions fter Ashoka, harsha... but not Akbar. Now all are doing well with some children in big bank jobs etc. A gentleman told me that his daughter, a lawyer, is handling a two billion dollar case where a mining company is tryin to get out of the damage it has done which is still causing fires. Another tells me that his son is in some banking job and probably has the biggest salary among Indians in the southern hemisphere. we are all doing well and they tell me that Modi is transforming India."

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Revisiting 'Economic possibilities for our grandchildren'

Chris Dillow Keynes' Error

Keynes proviso in 1930 "The pace at which we can reach our destination of economic bliss will be governed by four things-our power to control population, our determination to avoid wars and civil dissensions, our willingness to entrust to science the direction of those matters which are properly the concern of science, and the rate of accumulation as fixed by the margin between our production and our consumption; of which the last will easily look after itself, given the first three."
Another recent take What are the economic possibilities for our children?

Recent Chennai floods

Chennai floods are not a natural disaster-they've been created by unrestrained construction
An earlier report from India Water Portal Rain rain go away, our cities can't keep the water at bay!: "Instead of introspecting and understanding the reasons for their sources drying up, the cities looked outside. Bangalore turned to the Cauvery, Hyderabad to the Krishna and Delhi to the Ganga and now all the way up to the Giri near Renuka in Himachal Pradesh. "City administration feels that water demand cannot be fulfilled locally. So the city with more political clout goes farther away to get its water. Meanwhile, property rates keep rising and politicians and builders make money by trying to sell off floodplains as prime residential destination," says Anupam Mishra. "But when it comes to monsoon, you can't dictate God that we already have water for our need so please give us only this much rainfall," he says.
These floodplains and lakes in the low-lying parts of a city, did not just fulfil the water needs of a city, but also drained it off the excess rain water that poured there. When construction blocked the path of water, it led to water-logging on the city roads. The blame then fell on the storm water drains which in most cases, were designed very long ago and were not capable of handling the excess water that seeped into the ground. The 'Mumbai Marooned' report says that the city's drainage system was designed in the early 20th century for a maximum rainfall of 25 mm per hour, assuming that half the rain would be absorbed by the soil and only half would flow into the drainage system."

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Two more articles related to Paris attacks

"French counterterrorism surveillance data (FSPRT) has identified 11,400 radical Islamists, 25 percent of whom are women and 16 percent minors—among the minors, females are in a majority. Legal proceedings are now underway against 646 people suspected of involvement in terrorist activity. French Prime Minister Manuel Valls conceded after Friday’s attacks that even keeping full track of those suspected of being prone to violent acts is practically impossible: around-the-clock surveillance of a single individual requires ten to twenty security agents, of which there are only 6,500 for all of France." from Paris:The War ISIS Wants. Yhe article goes on to say "France, the United States, and our allies may opt for force of arms, with all of the unforeseen and unintended consequences that are likely to result from all-out war. But even if ISIS is destroyed, its message could still captivate many in coming generations. Until we recognize the passions this message is capable of stirring up among disaffected youth around the world, we risk strengthening them and contributing to the chaos that ISIS cherishes."
Another by Oliver Roy in New York Times says The Attacks in Paris reveal the strategic limits of ISIS

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Mahan Mitra (Maharaj) Infosystem Laureate in Mathematical Sciences 2015

My photograph from March 2009 from this blo. A write up by S.R.S. Varadhan here. He is now in TIFR, Mathematical Sciences section.

Links related to the recent Paris attack

Wahabism to ISIS: how Sauidi Arabia exported the main source of global terrorism by Karen Armstrong: "The Ikhwan spirit and its dream of territorial expansion did not die, but gained new ground in the 1970s, when the kingdom became central to western foreign policy in the region. Washington welcomed the Saudis’ opposition to Nasserism (the pan-Arab socialist ideology of Egypt’s second president, Gamal Abdel Nasser) and to Soviet influence. After the Iranian Revolution, it gave tacit support to the Saudis’ project of countering Shia radicalism by Wahhabising the entire Muslim world."
France shou;ld stop listenin to Saudi Arabia on Syria by Juan Cole
Putin: ISIS financed by 40 countries including G20 members from
Jeremy Corbyn drew attention to recent attacks in Ankara and Beirut and said that “a life is a life” no matter where in the world it was taken.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Blowing in the wind

P.Susheela just turned 80

A tribute with a list of some of her songs
One of my favourites which does not make the above list  చిట్టి పొట్టి వరాల మూట

On pensions

How diruptive technolgy destroys pensions (search the title if the link does not work):
"Beyond those macro trends, the fabric of how we work and how employers and employees relate to each other is changing. A trickle of employers abandoning traditional defined benefit (DB) pension schemes, in which they promise an income to employees in retirement and shoulder the risks that the market might fall, has turned into a flood. Now employees must make their own investment decisions and bear the risks, via defined contribution (DC) pensions, without help from their employers."

Waging nonviolence

8 ways to defend against terror nonvilently "One of my most popular courses at Swarthmore College focused on the challenge of how to defend against terrorism, nonviolently. Events now unfolding in France make our course more relevant than ever. (The syllabus was published in “Peace, Justice, and Security Studies: A Curriculum Guide” in 2009.) In fact, the international post-9/11 “war against terror” has been accompanied by increased actual threats of terror almost everywhere."

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Health Status of Dalits in India

From EPW (usually available online for 4 weeks):
"Despite involving them in the most hazardous job of manual scavenging, the scavengers are not provided with necessary safety items/equipment. The mandated safety items to be provided to them include: (1) three pairs of sarees, blouses and petticoats for women, and three pairs of pants and half-sleeved shirts and a cap or headgear, etc, (2) pair of slippers, (3) masks, (4) hand gloves, (5) an adequate quantity of soaps for bathing and washing their clothes, (6) brooms, (7) a pair of ankle-high rubber shoe and for a sweeper, a pair of slippers every year, (8) in the cold season, they are provided with one pair of woollen clothes as sweaters or jackets every alternate year, (9) raincoat and caps are provided to the scavengers in every rainy and winter season. Every scavenger employed in formal sectors, such as municipal corporations and village panchayats, is entitled to all these safety items. Though it is mandatory for all government offi ces to provide the scavengers with all these safety items, in the Gujarat study it was found that of the 2,456 identifi ed scavengers, only 9.1% (223) affi rmed that they had received at least some of these items. As high as 91% were found to have received no such items to protect themselves from the possible diseases and physical injuries while performing their job (Darokar and Beck 2006: 93)"

Delhi Sweepers to fly to Japan. South Korea

for hygiene lessons. I like it.

Juan Cole on the recent Paris attack

Paris at Midnight: Attempt to push France out of anti ISIL coalition in Syria?" "A radio and television professional who was at the Bataclan and survived reported “I clearly heard them say to the hostages, ‘It is [President Francois] Hollande’s fault, it is the fault of your president, he should not have intervened in Syria.’ They also spoke of Iraq.”

If this report is accurate, then the attackers were likely members of, or sympathizers with Daesh (ISIS, ISIL), which holds territory in Syria and Iraq, and against which France began flying missions in September. Another possible culprit is core al-Qaeda or one of its affiliates, such as the Support Front (al-Jabha al-Nusra) in Syria. The Support Front does not, however, have territory in Iraq, and France has not specifically targeted it in the west of Syria, as opposed to hitting ISIL in the east.
When I was in France in mid-October, I was told by a former diplomat that President Hollande had decided to begin flying missions against ISIL in Raqqa, Syria, last September because French intelligence had learned that ISIL was planning to hit France.........This operation may, then, have been planned even before France was militarily involved in the campaign against ISIL in Syria, and the terrorists’ assertion that it was revenge for that intervention of the past two months has things backward."
P.S. See also

Football fans sing La Marseillaise during stadium evacuation

Death in the family

From my daughter Lalita Gadde Conyers:Farewell Indy. You were the most beautiful and dignified puppy dog for the last 15 years....we will miss you incredibly
From me: Indy stayed with us a few times. Some years ago when he was staying with us he escaped. When Gavin came back, we went around the streets searching and putting up posters. I gave up after two days. But Gavin kept phoning veterinary hospitals and finally found him in one apparently hit by a car near our earlier home. He recovered and has been a pleasure for all around. That was also the first time I saw Gavin crying when we were searching for Indy,  I kept telling everybody what a wonderful son in law we had. I saw him crying again today.

Hajabba builds a school
One man's orange revolution: Harekala Hajabba: "Hajabba says his life took a turn when he encountered a foreign couple while he was selling oranges on a hot afternoon.
The couple asked him, in English, how much the oranges cost. “I could understand only local Tulu and Beary languages, so I simply stared wordlessly at the couple until they walked off. I didn’t want my future generation to suffer or look like me."

Friday, November 13, 2015

Two Hindi film songs from the late forties

Parents and Peers

From the satirical site the onion "A study released by the California Parenting Institute Tuesday shows that every style of parenting inevitably causes children to grow into profoundly unhappy adults. "Our research suggests that while overprotective parenting ultimately produces adults unprepared to contend with life's difficulties, highly permissive parenting leads to feelings of bitterness and isolation throughout adulthood," lead researcher Daniel Porter said. "And, interestingly, we found that anything between those two extremes is equally damaging, always resulting in an adult who suffers from some debilitating combination of unpreparedness and isolation. Despite great variance in parenting styles across populations, the end product is always the same: a profoundly flawed and joyless human being." The study did find, however, that adults often achieve temporary happiness when they have children of their own to perpetuate the cycle of human misery."
From the more 'scientific' studies earlier: Interview with Judith Rich Harris in 2009:
Do Parents matter?
A review of Judth Harris book from 1999 Blame it on the peers
Judith Harris book, updated in 2009 The Nurture Assumption and a discussion in the Wikipedia

Thursday, November 12, 2015

RobertTrivers:Wild Life

Read the autobiography of Robert Trivers: Wild Life. Not particularly recommended. But he is a legend to me and so no regrets.
P.S. A write up about Trivers' work: Social Evolution:Cooperation and Conflict

New antibiotics

Why new antibiotics never come to market :"For any discoveries that Murphy makes, the road ahead is paved with obstacles. Safety testing, animal testing, and then finally, the hope that a drug company and its investors can be persuaded to gamble hundreds of millions on the chemical passing the multiple stages of human clinical trials, before it can be turned into an over-the-counter product.
The odds seem slim, but with the annual global mortality rate from antibiotic resistance predicted to hit 10 million in the next 35 years, scientists remain hopeful that the politicians will come to better agreements on how to finance antibiotic development. The question is, will they get around to doing so before it’s too late?"
The Philanthrophy Hustle: "Increased charitable giving to the world’s wealthiest corporations is simply one novel aspect of a much bigger phenomenon: the growing power and clout of private philanthropic actors over global institutions such as the World Health Organization...." No money from the foundation seems to be goin to antibiotic research.

Smart people

"It's not that I'm so smart, it's just that I stay with problems longer." Einstein is supposed to have said. I was reminded of this yesterday when a couple of NRIs said that they have not really met anybody that much smarter than them. They are not bookish or on Facebook , their self esteem seems to be a result of reasonably successful careers similar to those many other NRIs and perhaps conversations in social gatherings. In research. One is used to seeing the work of others over long periods and of different eras and one percieves hat there are people of different caliber and accomplishment though sometimes luck and location play a role. But one (I) feels that there is room for everybody, that one can contribute if one is interested and works hard. So, it was a bit of a surprise to hear those remarks. I wonder whether we really know the inner lives of others we meet frequently.
P.S. I seem to feel that everybody I meet is smarter than me in some respect or other, but it does not seem to make any difference to what I pursue.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

G.R.K.Murthy about G.V. KrishnaRao

At one time I hoped to be a lecturer in Tenali if I did not complete a Ph.D. In mathematics. It seems I could have been a colleague of G.V. Krishnarao, a familiar name from my school days.

In Telugu here About 'keelubommalu' a novel by Krishnarao, in English here and Bikshāpātra, a Telugu Playlet: Critiquing from a Marxist Perspective