Thursday, August 30, 2018

George Orwell on freedom of the press

Apparently it was the proposed prefaceto ‘Animal Fam’ The freedom of the press

How big is the middle class?

The world is on the brink of a historic milestone: By 2020, more than half of the world’s population will be “middle class,” according to Brookings Institution scholar Homi Kharas.
Kharas defines the middle class as people who have enough money to cover basics needs, such as food, clothing and shelter, and still have enough left over for a few luxuries, such as fancy food, a television, a motorbike, home improvements or higher education.”
according to a new report.
 This may explain why activists like Rahul Banerjee feel frustrated.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Rahul Banerjee gets some rare seeds

Pearl Diving in Bharia Land  “Subhadra remembered that many years ago when our friend Jacob Nellithanam had been running a campaign to preserve indigenous seeds, he had brought a variety of Bajra that had long whiskers on its seeds when on the plant that prevented the birds from eating it. She said that we should get that variety as only then would we be able to revive Bajra cultivation in Pandutalav. So began our search for the whiskered pearl!”

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Carl Zimmer on the latest hybrid find

Longest train ride through India

From Dibrugarh in Assam to Kanniakumari Early this year, I took this train from Visakhapatnam to Ongole. It came seven and half hours late. But the waiting room was clean and nice, the ladies were constantly cleaning it and making decorations with ‘muggulu’ in front. There were a constant stream of transit passengers. I did not mind.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

David Brin on the Neolithic bottleneck

In Bio-Scientific problems and quandaries David Brin writes among other things:
But are we still evolving? Between 9000 and 7000 years ago, there appears to have been a plummet in genetic diversity among human males, in what’s called the ‘Neolithic bottleneck.’ An undergrad is now credited with coming up with an explanation. Heck the surficial hypothesis is obvious – that across that time, combative males prevented other males from breeding. But apparently this study's methodology for using available data to exclude other hypotheses was very clever.  Zeng surmised that intense warfare between patrilineal clans killed off so many men, only one was left for every 17 women.”

This should come as no surprise. Historical accounts show numerous societies doing this, even in historical times. Polynesia, for example, and the Mayan states. All of the adult males in a valley or on an island might be wiped out and replaced by the invaders who were likely related. (Indeed, I wonder that the authors of this study haven't zeroed in on those more recent episodes.) Nearly all of us are descended from the harems of the fierce men who won these struggles... helping to explain the "quirks" or unpleasant proclivities we see in many modern males, traits that are unsuitable for civilized living. Indeed, if this cycle were allowed to continue, it might help to explain the “Fermi Paradox” of why we don’t see high, alien civilizations.”

From Vinod Mehra’s memoirs

Interview with Jean Dreze

Review of THE TANGLED TREE A Radical New History of Life By David Quammen In NYTimes. And an excerptfrom the book. Despite what the review says, two women scientists are mentioned in the book “Meanwhile, the corn geneticist Barbara McClintock, discovering genes that bounce from one point to another on the chromosomes of her favorite plant, worked with very little support or recognition through the prime years of her career—and then accepted a Nobel Prize at age eighty-one.
Lynn Margul is, a Chicago-educated microbiologist unique in almost every way, shared at least one thing with McClintock: the frustrations BLUES1P_Quammen_TangledTree_KB.indd 13 6/21/18 4:06 PM xiv Three Surprises: An Introduction of being dismissed by some colleagues as an eccentric and obdurate woman. In Margulis’s case, it was for reviving an old idea that had long been considered wacky: endosymbiosis. What she meant by the term was, roughly, the cooperative integration of living creatures within living creatures. That is, not just tiny creatures within the bellies or noses of big creatures, but cells within cells. More specifically, Margulis argued that the cells constituting every creature in the more complex divisions of life—every human, every animal, every plant, every fungus—are chimerical things, assembled with captured bacteria inside nonbacterial receptacles. Those particular bacteria, over vast stretches of time, have become transmogrified into cellular organs. Imagine an oyster, transplanted into a cow, that becomes a functional bovine kidney. This seemed crazy when Margulis proposed it in 1967. But she was right about the matter, mostly.”

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Links, 12, August 2018

  Why do many friendships dissolve as we age?
Laziness helped to lead extinction of Homo erectus
A British photographer captures the Indian phenomenon of men non-romantically holding hands
On belief superiority “Finally and more promisingly, the researchers found some evidence that belief superiority can be dented by feedback. If participants were told that people with beliefs like theirs tended to score poorly on topic knowledge, or if they were directly told that their score on the topic knowledge quiz was low, this not only reduced their belief superiority, it also caused them to seek out the kind of challenging information they had previously neglected in the headlines task (though the evidence for this behavioural effect was mixed).”
Spatial navigation countrywise  “While age most strongly correlated with navigational performance, researchers also found that country wealth, as measured by GDP (gross domestic product), correlated with performance. The researchers say this relationship may be due to associations with education standards, health and ability to travel. They focused on GDP for this analysis as it was a standard metric available for every country, but as part of the ongoing research project they will follow up with further comparisons of other factors.....Comparing the country-level results to the World Economic Forum's Gender Gap Index, the researchers found a correlation between country-wide gender inequality and a larger male advantage in spatial navigation ability. The gender gap in game performance was also smaller in countries with greater economic wealth.”

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Michael Hudson on whether Marx was right or wrong

Fromthree years ago The Paradox of Financialized Industrialization
All three kinds of crisis that Marx described are occurring. But the West is now in a chronic depression – what has been called Debt Deflation. Instead of banking being industrialized as Marx expected, industry is being financialized. Instead of democracy freeing economies from land rent, natural resource rent and monopoly rent, the rentiers have fought back and taken control of Western governments, legal systems and tax policy. The result is that we are seeing a lapse back to the pre-capitalist problems that Marx described in Volumes II and III of Capital and Theories of Surplus Value.
Bertell follows Marx in focusing on the production sector: hiring labor to produce products, but trying to get as much markup as possible – while underselling rivals. This is Marx’s great contribution to the analysis of capitalism and its mode of production – employing wage labor at a profit. I agree with this analysis.
However, my focus is on the causes of today’s crisis that are independent and autonomous from production: rentier claims for economic rent, for income without work – “empty” pricing without value. This focus on rent and interest is where I differ from that of Ollman, and also of course from that of Roemer. Any model of the crisis must tie together finance, real estate (and other rent-seeking) as well as industry and employment.
In retrospect, Marx was too optimistic about the future of industrial capitalism. As noted above, he viewed its historical mission as being to free society from rent and usurious interest. Today’s financial system has generated an overgrowth of credit, while high rents are pricing American labor out of world markets. Wages are stagnating, while the One Percent have monopolized the growth in wealth and income since 1980 – and are not investing in new means of production. So we still have the Volume II and III problems, not just a Volume I problem.“
I wonder whether Michael Hudson is ignoring the reach of technology and our capacity for overproduction which made this inevitable.

An easy method for changing habits?

A Stanford University psychologist’s elegant three-step method for creating new habits via Lambert Strether at Naked Capitalism. I think that I already stumbled upon this in a small way and have been using Fitbit to manage my walks. More at the following which I have not read. 

Thursday, August 09, 2018

Autobiographical sketch from Michael Hudson

Michael Hudson: Life and Thought – An Autobiography it also provides a guide to some of his books, in particular the five volume series edited by him in collaboration with various others. I do not know Economics but generally what Michael Hudson said or says seems sensible to me. About a month ago, I borrowed from the library his five volume series of seminars and started browsing again. This will provide a guide to me while revisiting various books of his. A similar sketch from three years ago. Bibliography and his 

Lougi Zingales on Economics and feminism :
The Columbia Business School faculty proposed an interesting default rule to resolve these power imbalances. In case of disputes between a senior and a junior faculty, the intellectual property right of a joint project should be automatically allocated to the junior faculty, to protect the weaker contracting party. Such a rule should be adopted by all departments.”

Tuesday, August 07, 2018

Moving to cities

About U.S. But seems common in many other countries:
How to keep young people from fleeing small towns to big cities  "Communities also must change the way they train young people. One important thing Carr and Kefalas uncovered in their book about brain drain is that many communities have brought this problem on themselves. "Fueling the out-migration is a regional filtering system pushing some young people to stay and others to go," they write. "Teachers, parents, and other influential adults cherry-pick the young people destined to leave and ignore the ones most likely to stay or return. Civic leaders may lament the rural youth exodus and the accompanying brain drain, but they fail to see how their own actions have helped create the problem.""
Another about US excess Management Is Costing the U.S. $3 Trillion Per Year 

Gulzar Natarajan on Indian agriculture

India’s agriculture paradox- farmers subsidising consumers? “The conventional wisdom would have it that India's agriculture and its farmers are heavily subsidised and therefore inefficient. This is clearly not borne out by data. ”
Earlier Stabilising agriculture markets 

Monday, August 06, 2018

Top revenue collectors

Of the World’s top 100 economic revenue collectors, 29 are states, 71 are corporates And "There are 14 Chinese firms in the top 100, but 27 from the US".

Trump-Putin friendship

Some are optimistic about climate change

Economics How Changing My Economic Model Made Me a Climate Change Optimist:
"Two trends give reason for guarded optimism. The first is that governments have been doing many of the right things all along. Research support has gotten needed technologies invented, ever since NASA gave us photovoltaic cells. For many of these, directed support has overcome the barriers to commercialization. For a small few of these, policies in some places are moving us toward market saturation and fossil fuel prohibition. The EU has been pushing carbon neutral heating systems for buildings, and starting in 2021 this will be the standard for all new construction. ....
The second trend is an historical one. Virtually every technological transition people have studied has passed through a long preparatory phase, where new systems made barely a dent on the old, to an exponential growth phase that became self-reinforcing. I think renewable energy is turning this corner."

A Telugu song which travelled around

This is about the song.Manasaina cheli pilupu from jayamsimha 1955. M.L.Narasimham in his review of the film says "T.V. Raju’s music largely contributed to the movie’s success. He was assisted by the talented Sathyam. ‘Jaya Jaya Sri Rama Raghuvara’ (Ghantasala), ‘Madiloni Madhurabhavam,’ (Ghantasala & Rao Balasaraswati) and P. Susheela’s classical rendition ‘Nadireyi Gadichene cheliya…’ became popular. Some of the hit numbers drew inspiration from Hindi songs. The duet ‘Ee naati ee haayi…’ rendered by Ghantasala and P. Leela was taken from Ghulam Mohammed’s composition, ‘Jindagi dene vale sun…’ (‘Dil- E- Naadan’) and Rao Balasaraswati, A.P. Komala’s rendition, ‘Manasaina cheli pilupu…’ adapted from Shyamsundar’s composition, ‘chori chori aagse dilme…’ ( ‘Dholak’) are examples." AK in a post in Songs of Yore says in comment 113 
"I heard the songs again. Mansaina cheli pilupu uses the interlude music of Chori chori aag si dil mein lagakar chal diye. But the tune of the song is quite different which has been copied by Madan Mahan in Mera chhota sa dekho ye sansar hai and by Ramesh Naidu in Man soona tere bin haaye re, the links of the two Hindi songs have been given by KS Bhatiaji @101."
The links are This and This.
There are also Simhala versions like Mata aloke , this one by Jikki.

Village Reconstruction Organization  
"The Belgian Jesuit Michael A. Windey had served at St. Xavier's College, Ranchi, as a professor and as founding director of the Xavier Institute of Social Service.[4][5] A typhoon on the east coast of India in 1969 with floods that submerged Guntur drew him to Andhra Pradesh, ending his career as a professor as he undertook the task of reconstructing villages.[6] 
The organization assists with the construction of villages as well as facilities within the villages: schools and skills training centers, health clinics,[9] childcare and community centres,[21] and homes for children and homes for the elderly,[22] especially among the dalits.[23] Jesuit novices help with programs such as Bala Mela, construction works in villages, laying of roads, and archeological survey.[24]"

Inspiring persons

Dan Wang on how technology grows

 Long read with interesting points: How Technology Grows (a restatement of definite optimism) via Tyler Cowen.
"The goal of both pieces is to broaden the terms in which we discuss “technology.” Technology should be understood in three distinct forms: as processes embedded into tools (like pots, pans, and stoves); explicit instructions (like recipes); and as process knowledge, or what we can also refer to as tacit knowledge, know-how, and technical experience. Process knowledge is the kind of knowledge that’s hard to write down as an instruction. You can give someone a well-equipped kitchen and an extraordinarily detailed recipe, but unless he already has some cooking experience, we shouldn’t expect him to prepare a great dish."

"What happens when we stop the flow of knowledge up the stack? I think that the weakness of the US industrial robotics sector is instructive. The US has little position in making high-end precision manufacturing equipment. When it comes to factory automation systems, machine tools, robot arms, and other types of production machinery, the most advanced suppliers are in Japan, Germany, and Switzerland. I think the reason that the US has little position can be tied directly to the departure of firms from so many segments of manufacturing. How do engineers work on the design of automation systems if they don’t have exposure to industrial processes?"

"My favorite genre of the Bloomberg column has become Noah Smith dunking on the United Kingdom. Services make up about 80% of the British economy, and that has brought along a host of problems. These include low levels of productivity growth over the last two decades, extraordinary vulnerability to the financial crisis, and low levels of R&D spending by its biggest companies. Matt Klein has put forward a fun claim: “Take out Greater London—the prosperity of which depends to an uncomfortable degree on a willingness to provide services to oligarchs from the Middle East and the former Soviet Union—and the UK is one of the poorest countries in Western Europe.”"

Recent Michael Hudson report