Saturday, July 30, 2011

Better together?

Hugo Mercier in Psychology Today blogs Why So Smart? Why So Dumb? How can reasoning be both so good and so bad? (via 3quarksdaily).
An earlier discussion in Jonah Lehrer's blog The Reason We Reason

The allure of Hindi film songs

Recently a telugu relative aged about 65 came down with acute leukemia during a trip to USA. She is given about an year to live and it is not clear whether she can travel back to India. She wanted to listen to some old hindi songs and I was asked to send a list of sites. I know sites in telugu but for hindi/urdu I usually use YouTube and snd go on from there. So I sent her a list
Apparently she has been using an IPad and listening to those songs and others using the search feauture.
It is not clear to me why Hindi films are poular (I like the songs, and sometimes songdance sequences,but usually do not watch the films). Brian Larkin has written about the popularity of hindi films outside India, particularly in Nigeria in various articles and his book 'Signal and Noise' mentioned before in

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Don Ariely at FiveBooks

FiveBooks Interview Dan Ariely on Behavioural Economics
P.S. Related
Conditions for Intutive Expertise by Daniel Kahneman and Gary Klein, linked in
The Great Divide between Academics and Practitioners by Ashwin Parameswaran (via Rajeev Ramachandran's google reader)

There is no love in most Indian marriages

since they are mostly arranged says a nephew who was born in USA. It is not clear to me what love is and what are the signs with which it can verified though it is proclaimed in the so called 'love marriages'. I assume that may be there is a skip in the hear beat or some sort of thrill when one sees the other whcih is a bit hard to verify after one is married, since one sees the other so often and in expected places. I wonder whether one can test by what happens when one sees each other unexpecedly. That happenned to me today.

D.Balasubramanian reminds us

of the benefits of yoghurt and buttermilk in Curd, buttermilk and the Nobel Prize of 1908
The wikipedia article Yoghurt describes the work of Ilya Ilyich Mechnikov in popularizing yoghurt.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Links July 25, 2011

The big-spending blues by Timothy Garton Ash :
"CALL me Oswald Spengler if you must, but it's hard to avoid the conclusion that United States and the European Union are engaged in competitive decadence. The West's two leading polities seem incapable of tackling the debt and deficit burdens which their versions of liberal democratic capitalism have built up. Their politicians dance like drunkards along the cliff's edge of default."

From SCIENTIFIC american interview with Ducan Watts, the author of Everything is Obvious: Once you Know the Answer The Anti-Predictor: A Chat with Mathematical Sociologist Duncan Watts:
"I started out life in physics and then mathematics, and at some point I switched over to become a sociologist—and in the process of transitioning, I noticed this interesting phenomenon: When people perceived me as a mathematician, and I would describe my research, they would say, "Wow, that's really fascinating. How do you figure these things out? It's complicated and difficult." But when a few years later I was describing the same work in terms of social phenomena and the behavior of people, fads and historical events, success and failure, and so on, people would say, "That sounds kind of obvious. Don't we all know that?""

Andrew Gelman's review of the book here:

Reinvent the toilet challenge from Gates foundation.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

M.N. Roy is now a private club

From M.N.Roy:
"M.N.ROY club in Mexico City

Chic By Accident from the Franco Mexican architect Emmanuel Picault together with the French architect Ludwig Godefroy just completed a private club in Mexico City, called M.N.ROY.
We kept the house as a testimony of what it was, the house where Manabendra Nath Roy founded the first clandestine Mexican communist party."

M.N. Roy on The "Historical Role of Islam" in 3quarksdaily where Robin Verghese points to a readable article by M.N. Roy :
Historical Role of Islam:An Essay on Islamic Culture
P.S. M.N. Roy was also one of the founders of the Communist Party of India

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Cultural habits

I am seventy now of which I have spent first forty years in India and the last twenty three in Australia. Of the countries where I lived I find Australia the most livable (there was and still is a bit of racism but it is no worse than caste stuff in India). I retired five years ago and when I applied for a health card, I found that I can actually get some money from the government since my income was low. There were other benefits as well. I found that for taking care of grand children, one could get some money from the government. Eventhough we have been doing it for the past five years to two to three days a week, I could never bring myself to do that. Looking after grandchildren has been a pleasure and it is something that one does automatically in India. Perhaps the money might have helped for some of the charities that I have been contributing to. But since the governement has been so good with medicare and other benefits (Some extras for the retired), there does nor seem to be any harm in letting the government to keep some of that money.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Telugu On-line Dictionaries Project

I am enclosing part of message from Sri Jampala Chowdary in 'racchabanda' Telugu On-line Dictionaries Project (I have been interested in this sort of projects for a while and an old friend Sri P.P.C.Joshi has kindly allowed one of the dictioaries that he published to be put online and I am planning to contribute to this project too):

"you are probably aware of the efforts of Sri
Vadapalli Seshatalpa Sai and Sri Kalepu Nagabhushanarao in making available
searchable on-line Telugu dictionaries at Already the
following eight dictionaries have been brought on line: #Sabdaratnaakaramu
(bahujanapalli); brauNya te-iM (2nd Ed.); braun^ iM-te; aadhunika
vyavahaarakOSaM; urdoo-telugu; SaMkaranaaraayaNa te-iM; SaMkaranaaraayaNa
iM-te; Sreehari nighaMTuvu # [శబ్దరత్నాకరము
(బహుజనపల్లి); బ్రౌణ్య తె-ఇం
(2nd Ed.); బ్రౌన్ ఇం-తె; ఆధునిక
వ్యవహారకోశం; ఉర్దూ-తెలుగు;
శంకరనారాయణ తె-ఇం;
శంకరనారాయణ ఇం-తె; శ్రీహరి

Efforts are underway to bring more dictionaries on-line in a searchable
format. These include: #telugu paryaayapada nighaMTuvu;
SabdaarthachaMdrika: saMgeetaSabdaarthachaMdrika; puraaNanaamachaMdrika;
telugu nighaMTuvu - vidyaarthulaku (saa.a.); saMskRta-telugu (vaaviLla);
sooryaraayaaMdhra nighaMTuvu (6 volumes); aaMdhravaachaspatyamu;
aaMdhraSabdaratnaakaramu (3 volumes); telugu vyutpatti kOSaM (8 volumes);
vaaviLla nighaMTuvu (4 volumes); Sabdaartha deepika; maaMDalika
vRttipadakOSamulu (9 volumes); brauNya te-iM (1st Ed.); padabaMdha
paarijaatamu (2 volumes); kriyaasvaroopa maNideepika; maaMDalika padakOSamu
(saa.a); maaMDalika padakOSamu (te.a.) # [తెలుగు
పర్యాయపద నిఘంటువు;
పురాణనామచంద్రిక; తెలుగు
నిఘంటువు -
విద్యార్థులకు (సా.అ.);
సంస్కృత-తెలుగు (వావిళ్ల);
సూర్యరాయాంధ్ర నిఘంటువు
(6 volumes); ఆంధ్రవాచస్పత్యము;
ఆంధ్రశబ్దరత్నాకరము (3 volumes);
వ్యుత్పత్తి కోశం (8 volumes);
వావిళ్ల నిఘంటువు (4 volumes);
శబ్దార్థ దీపిక;
మాండలిక వృత్తిపదకోశములు (9 volumes);
బ్రౌణ్య తె-ఇం (1st Ed.); పదబంధ
పారిజాతము (2 volumes); క్రియాస్వరూప
మణిదీపిక; మాండలిక పదకోశము
మాండలిక పదకోశము (తె.అ.)]

Work has already begun on these volumes after obtaining necessary
authorizations and permissions from copyright holders, with more than 15,000
pages already typed and being proof-read; work is continuing on another
25,000 pages of material.

This is a monumental effort requiring a lot of resources. We estimate that
this project may cost more than $20,000 before it is completed.

Telugu Association of North America is pleased to support this very
important Telugu language project. You can support this project by
contributing to TANA Telugu On-line Dictionaries Project.

Please Donate Today. Checks can be written in the name of TANA and mailed to
V. Chowdary Jampala, Chairperson, TANA Publications Committee, 20374
Buckthorn Ct, Mundelein, IL 60060. You can also donate with a credit card
at (please mention the Dictionary Project in
the comments section). Please contact cjampala@... if you need more

Donations to TANA are tax-deductible in US.

Regards -- V Chowdary Jampala, Chair, TANA Publications Committee

PS: This project is both important and resource incentive. I am hoping that
you can make a generous donation to this worthy cause."

Sunday, July 17, 2011

ninu chuudaka neanundaleanu lyrics

here. I particularly like the lines:

"ఏ హరివిల్లు విరబూసినా..
నీ దరహాసమనుకొంటిని..
ఏ చిరుగాలి కదలాడినా..
నీ చరణాల శ్రుతి వింటిని..
నీ ప్రతి రాకలొ ఎన్ని శశి రేఖలో.."

The song on YouTube here but my friend Ganji Nagabhushanam sings it better if there are not too many in the audience.

Interesting version of 'Aye Na Balam '

by Lucknow qawwals- Azimullah and Nusrat.
The famous original version Ka Karoon Sajni Aye Na Baalam - Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan but does not seem as good as the one I heard in a concert of Bade Ghulam Ali Khan in the 60's.

Fascinating book :"Crazy Like Us"

Crazy Like Us by Ethan Watters has been drawing good reviews for over an year. Here are two reviews in Neuroscptic
and in MindHacks .
An article by Ethan Watters outlining some of the ideas:
The Americanization of Mental Illness
One of the points of the book seems that some sort of centralization of the diagnosis and treatment of mental illnesses is taking place through DSM of American Psychiatric Association.
A summary in four parts with the first part here Crazy Like Us, Part 1: Anorexia in Hong Kong

I am reminded of a study of the Economics profession by Marion Foucarde:
The Construction of a global profession; The Transnationalization of Economics

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Tim Lambert asks

"How are scientists supposed to discover whether it is safe to eat if you destroy experiments that would address that question?"
Greenpeace destroy genetically modified wheat experiment

Friday, July 15, 2011

Sakharov's biography

The World of Andrei Sakharov: A Russian Physicist's Path to Freedom by Gennady Gorelik
Boris L. Altshuler report on Sakharov from a recent conference:
Andrei Sakharov as a physicist in all facets of his life


Depression: From Treatment to Diagnosis?:
"A diagnosis is meant to be an objective statement about the nature of your illness; treatments (if any) come afterwards. It would be odd if the treatments on offer influenced what diagnosis you got.

An interesting paper just out suggests that exactly this kind of reverse influence has happened. The authors looked at what happened in the USA in 2003 when antidepressants were slapped with a "black box" warning, cautioning against their use in children and adolescents, due to concerns over suicide in young people."

TheLastPsychiatrist responds " The symptoms were first, and then a cognitive heuristic as to what to call it and what to give:

1998: irritability = depression
2008: irritability = bipolar"

P.S. It is not clear to me whether symptoms to diagnosis is clear cut in many cases. depending on the case relief and 'or stabilization may be important before disgnosis in many cases. the diagnoses and treatments seem vary with time and what were condidered breakthroughs at some stage may become only a part of the treatments later on. This sort of examples abound in Siddhartha Mukherjee's book "The emperor of all Maladies". As TLP says in another place The Decline Effect Is Stupid:
"Medicine is not a science, and despite the white coats and antisocial demeanor doctors are not scientists. Docs and patients both need to get that into their heads and plan accordingly. That why we say doctors 'practice' medicine."

Monday, July 11, 2011

Curious Telugu songs

wine (bhale bhale phalarasam)
and killi (pan)

Two views of why two sexes

Carl Zimmer describes an experiment supporting the traditional view of the evolution of sex. The theory Why is there sex? To fight the parasite army:
"In the 1970s, several researchers built mathematical models of how parasites influenced the evolution of their hosts and vice versa. Their research suggested that both partners go through cycles of boom and bust. Natural selection favors parasites that can infect the most common strain of host. But as they kill off those hosts, another host strain rises to dominate the population. Then a new parasite strain better adapted to the new host strain begins to thrive, leaving the old parasite strain in the dust.

This model of host-parasite coevolution came to be known as the Red Queen hypothesis, after the Red Queen in Lewis Carroll’s book Through the Looking Glass, who takes Alice on a run that never seems to go anywhere. “Now here, you see, it takes all the running you can do to keep in the same place,” the Red Queen explains.

The Red Queen conundrum, some researchers have argued, may give an evolutionary edge to sex. Asexual strains can never beat out sexual strains, because whenever they get too successful, parasites build up and devastate the strain. Sexual organisms, meanwhile, can avoid these dramatic booms and busts because they can shuffle their genes into new combinations that are harder for parasites to adapt to."

Recent paper supporting the view Running with the Red Queen: Host-Parasite Coevolution Selects for Biparental Sex

The contray view reported here Sex Is Not About Promoting Genetic Variation, Researchers Argue:
"Although many scientists have offered answers to this question, most have focused on the benefit of mixing or purifying genes. But by taking the genome theory into account, Heng's findings may have dethroned the queen of problems in evolutionary biology.

According to Heng, the hidden advantage sex has over asexual reproduction is that it constrains macroevolution -- evolution at the genome level -- to allow a species' identity to survive. In other words, it prevents "Species A" from morphing into "Species B." Meanwhile, it also allows for microevolution -- evolution at the gene level -- to allow members of the species to adapt to the environment.

Considering their observations and those of paleontologists, population geneticists and ecologists cited in the article, Heng and Gorelick argue that new research should focus on the genome, not just the individual genes, because the genome serves as both the genetic information unit and selection package for evolution."

The article available here:

Sex Reduces Genetic Variation: A Multidisciplinary Review by Root Gorelick, Henry H. Q. Heng

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Some links, July 7th

Farm Size and Productivity: Understanding the Strengths of Smallholder and Improving Their Livelihoods by Ramesh Chand , P A Lakshmi Prasanna and Aruna Singh

Abstract:"During the 1960s and 1970s there was an intense debate on the observed inverse relationship between farm size and per hectare agricultural productivity in India. It was subsequently argued that the higher productivity of smallholdings would disappear with the adoption of superior technology, modernisation and growth in general. However, close to half a century later, National Sample Survey data from the initial years of the 21st century show that smallholdings in Indian agriculture still exhibit a higher productivity than large holdings. These smallholdings however show lower per capita productivity and the incidence of poverty is widespread. Strategies for Indian agriculture and smallholding households should include reducing the inequality in land distribution and promoting off-farm work in the rural areas itself. The strategy of improving the crop land-man ratio by facilitating migration from rural India has not worked and will not work. The lives of smallholding families can be improved only by building on their higher per acre agricultural productivity and by promoting off-farm rural employment."

Last year: Arsenic life. This year: Chlorine life? by Carl Zimmer. More at A First Step Toward A New Form of Life

Sangakkara's challenge to cricket by Peter Roebuck. The transcript of the speech The Spirit of Sri Lanka's Cricket - A celebration of our uniqueness

In Eyes, a Clock Calibrated by Wavelengths of Light From NY Times "What do these findings mean to everyday life? Some experts believe that any kind of light too late into the evening could have broad health effects, independent of any effect on sleep. For example, a report published last year in the journal PNAS found that mice exposed to light at night gained more weight than those housed in normal light, even though both groups consumed the same number of calories.

Light at night has been examined as a contributor to breast cancer for two decades. While there is still no consensus, enough laboratory and epidemiological studies have supported the idea that in 2007, the World Health Organization declared shift work a probable carcinogen. Body clock disruptions “can alter sleep-activity patterns, suppress melatonin production and disregulate genes involved in tumor development,” the agency concluded."

Aging: To Treat, or Not to Treat? (via 3quarksdaily)

Nutrition advice: The vitamin D-lemma (via 3quarksdaily): "He(Dr. Clifford Rosen) suspects that unbiased, systematic reviews such as this one will increasingly come under fire when they lead to hard recommendations. "This is the beginning of a whole new phase," he says. "In the old days of medicine we believed experts, and now we say, show us the data.""

Monday, July 04, 2011

Mark Ames on V.S. Naipaul

Discussion in Naked Capitalism Mark Ames: Why the American Right Never Liked V.S. Naipaul:
"I’ve often wondered why the American Right has been so quiet about V.S. Naipaul. He’s easily the most talented reactionary writer in the English language–maybe the only living talent left in the right-wing zombiesphere.....

Now that Naipaul could compare the two Eldridge Cleavers–the Black Panther vs. the Republican lackey–the message was clear. If Naipaul wanted to pick up that check from the American Right-Wing, it wasn’t enough to have fought on the front-lines of the ideological battle of the 1970′s against the literary Marxists. He’d have to become a lobotomized, conquered version of himself, an Eldridge Cleaver. He’d have to give up everything interesting about himself.

Instead, Naipaul essentially banished himself to the whispered margins of the American Right by doing what he was always best at: Describing exactly what he saw at the 1984 Convention, without artifice, without pandering."

As thet say, read the whole thing. In the comments section Yves Smith has some comments on Australia "I’ve lived in Australian and done business in Canada. They are so far from libertarian it isn’t funny.

Both are WAY to the left of the US. They have universal health care, much more progressive taxation (and far more cumbersome tax reporting in Oz than here), much higher minimum wages, have laws more favorable to unions, far more aggressive regulation (Australia’s version of the FDA makes the FDA look like pussies; they shut down a major drug maker while I was there and have much tougher policies on food than we do. Similarly Canada, New Zealand, and Australia have more extensive and intrusive bank regulation by a country mile).

Voting is MANDATORY in Australia, for Chrissakes. Paid political advertising on TV is forbidden. People there do not believe CEO of companies they did not build deserve to be paid a lot. Hedge fund manager John Hempton has said flat out no CEO is worth more than $2 million a year, and I’m sure if I asked him he would not object to confiscatory taxation to support that. And he has plenty of company in the top tier in Oz (I know because I met about half the people at that level in Sydney, they are very accessible if you make the effort).

And Australia is also rated as having one of the most intrusive surveillance states in the world, in the same category as the US, the UK, and China. So how libertarian is that?"

Rohiniprasad on Bhairavi

భావతరంగాల సింధువు: భైరవి with lonks to lots of songs( many in Hindi).
P.S. See also the articles by విష్ణుభొట్ల లక్ష్మన్న

Sunday, July 03, 2011

A.K.Ramanujan's famous essay

Is there an Indian Way of Thinking? An Informal Essay online.
Some commentaries:
Attipat Krishnaswami Ramanujan by Candy Wagoner ""Is There an Indian Way of Thinking?" is a cultural essay that appears in social anthropologist, McKim Marriot's India Through Hindu Categories (1990). Ramanujan's ultimate answer to the title question is yes; it is what he calls "context-sensitive" as opposed to "context-free." These terms, he takes from linguistics, in which they refer to different kinds of grammatical rules. In applying them to cultures or ways of thinking, Ramanujan relies primarily on a text-based analysis. He cautions that they are "overall tendencies." "Actual behavior may be more complex, though the rules they think with are a crucial factor guiding the behavior" (47). Context-sensitive is, he suggests, the more appropriate term for what others have taken for an Indian tendency toward inconsistency and hypocrisy, as well as, perhaps tolerance and mimicry. Ramanujan cites Said's Orientalism here, suggesting a European source for these stereotypes created out of a necessity to essentialize and exoticize the Eastern world.

Context-free thinking, which he attributes to Euro-American culture, gives rise to universal testaments of law, such as in the Judeo-Christian tradition and in the European philosophical tradition, e.g. Hegel. Context-sensitive thinking, on the other hand, gives rise to more complicated sets of standards such as the Laws of Manu, by which appropriateness depends on various factors, especially factors of identity and personhood, such as birth, occupation, life stage, karma, dharma, etc. Ramanujan stresses that this difference in philosophical outcome is not a symptom of irrationality, but a different kind of rationale."

In People Of The Grammar, Anil Menon quotes from the article "...And grammar is the central model of thinking in many Hindu texts. As Frits Staal has said, what Euclid is to the European thought, the grammarian Panini is to the Indian. Even the Kama Sutra is literally a grammar of love — which declines and conjugates men and women as one would nouns and verbs in different genders, voices, moods and aspects."

Respective influences of Euclid and Panini have also been discussed by Swiss Samskrit scholar Johannes Bronkhorst in "Panini and Euclid:Reflections on Indian Geometry", which appeared in Journal of Indian Philosophy, 29, pp 43-80. In a discussion forum Aravindhan remarks:
"I think he identifies an important problem, and does it well, but misidentifies its cause. He seems to suggest that the problem could have been that science was influenced by grammatical methodology (though there is no clear evidence for this). In my opinion, it was much deeper than that.

Panini's grammar, from a methodological perspective, embodies two trends. The first is the trend towards the primacy of exegesis in scholarly discourse. For some reason, texts by renowned scholars came to have a very special status, eventually becoming a source of knowledge equal to or superior than observation. The second trend is the increasing importance of inductive reasoning, where you used specific examples to derive generalised rules. Taken together, these are capable of producing devastating errors.

But Panini's grammar did not create these trends, nor were they confined to grammatics. You find them equally in philosophical works of the period which - unlike earlier texts - only try to interpret, expound on and clarify the meanings of existing texts; and even the original work that is done still seeks support in interpretation of existing texts.

We see exactly the same disease in the mathematics of the period. Bhaskara tries to argue mathematics using rules of mimamsa. Mimamsa, for heaven's sake! And proofs - where they are provided - tend to be anecdotal, rather than deductive. Bronkhorst argues that philosophy in that period understood the concept of proof. He's right, technically speaking, but the form of proofs they used lacked rigour and routinely accepted exegetic and anectdotal evidence as "proof". Just as the mathematicians did.

So I don't think Bronkhorst adequately looks at what was happening in other disciplines. I think there is a readily available explanation for why the problems he identifies happened in Ancient India, as I've tried to outline above.

There is also a clear parallel with certain modern trends (not just confined to India), where ancient knowledge is being venerated without much independent inquiry. I would like to quote one passage from Bronkhorst's paper:

"Aryabhatta is wrong where he gives the volume of a pyramid as: "Half the product of the height and the [surface of the triangular base] is the volume called 'pyramid'." The correct volume of a pyramid is a third, not half, of the product here specified... The same is true of Aryabhatta's incorrect rule for the volume of a sphere."
These errors are discussed in greater detail in a 1985 paper published in a French journal. It tends to flabbergast people because the idea that Sanskrit texts might actually be wrong is not something people think about (which is absurd - no human science can ever be wholly right about everything at any point of time).

And that, I think, is the biggest danger in the current trend of constantly exalting ancient works. Science (and any other field of inquiry) progresses best when it is most open and least dogmatic. Which is why (in my opinion) Indian science didn't progress beyond a point - and why even mathematicians as obviously gifted as Aryabhatta and Bhaskara made such glaring errors."

And finally Amit Chaudhuri reviewing a book of poems by A.K. ramanujan in The twin-lobed brahmin quotes extensively from the famous article and says "I quote this passage at length not only because of its intrinsic readability, but also because of the way it embodies some of the most characteristic features of Ramanujan's poetry. First, there is the exploration of an idea, not through metaphor or analogy, but through an "image" of a member of Ramanujan's family, in this case his father."

On China Pakistan Alliance

For Lt Gen Patnaik, “Chinese footprints are too close for comfort”. A worse prospect might be their being too far off."

Amit Menghani

FISA leader Amit Menghani is ‘Young Victorian of the Year 2011′
An earlier opinion piece by him: AMIT MENGHANI: Discrimination and Victoria