Monday, December 31, 2012

Somesh Bagchi remembered

I just found out that Somesh Bagchi passed away in October. I was in Kolkata when Somesh was diagnized with cancer and we even smoked together after the diagnosis. He seemed so much a part of Kolkata that I knew, I assumed that he would be there next time I visited Kolkata. I routinely asked a friend to pass on my new year greetings to Somesh when the unexpected response came. He was one of the nicest persons that I met.
Here are responses from some of his friends and colleagues:
Remembering Somesh ...

Landfill Harmonic

Happy New Year
The video is not available any more. Try
An article here.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

"The Economists and the Powerful"

by Norbert Haring and Niall Douglass seems to be drawing positive reviews from left of the centre writers. Here is a  review by Michael Hudson. An older article (before the book was written) from The Economist.

Disease Burden and Economic growth

Economist's view has an interesting discussion Disease Burden Links Ecology to Economic Growthof a paper Disease Ecology, Biodiversity and The Latitudinal Gradient in Income.


"While most of the world is thought to be on long-term economic growth paths, more than one-sixth of the world is roughly as poor today as their ancestors were hundreds of years ago. The majority of the extremely poor live in the tropics. The latitudinal gradient in income is highly suggestive of underlying biophysical drivers, of which disease conditions are an especially salient example. However, conclusions have been confounded by the simultaneous causality between income and disease, in addition to potentially spurious relationships. We use a simultaneous equations model to estimate the relative effects of vector-borne and parasitic diseases (VBPDs) and income on each other, controlling for other factors. Our statistical model indicates that VBPDs have systematically affected economic development, evident in contemporary levels of per capita income. The burden of VBDPs is, in turn, determined by underlying ecological conditions. In particular, the model predicts it to rise as biodiversity falls. Through these positive effects on human health, the model thus identifies measurable economic benefits of biodiversity."
One of the commenters in the Economist's View says "the greatest burden of disease in poor countries are maternal and neonatal, see:"
I wonder whether India during the early days if independence neglected primary health, education.. and went for more glamorous projects.
Another interestiong discussion in Economist's View: Will Macroeconomists Ever Agree?

A song from Aakhri Khat 1966

Finding many Hindi songs that I missed following hints in Atul's blog. I never heard of Aakhri Khat before/ It seems to be an interesting film. Here are links to reviews from The Hindu and memsaab. Above is a song from the film by Bhupinder Singh in which the Goan trumpeter Chic Chocolate makes an appearance. Chic Chocolate seems to be a friend of C.Ramachandra and apparently they influence each other. Atul's blog has a song in which C. Ramachadra sang for Chic Chocolate.

Friday, December 28, 2012

All-round insecicides for vegetables

I am bit worried about using strong pesticides for vegetables and have been using strained lquid from a pate of a mixture of garlic, capsicum, chillies and turmeric. I do not know how well it works but it seems similar to the all-round insecticide described here.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

From 'Gaon Ki Gori' 1945

I remember part of this song well , particularly the part containing 'o ghatta kali ghatta' but  not the film or singer. It seems both Zohrabai and Noor Jehan sang it in 1945.

From 'Jagachya Pathivar', 1960 Marathi film

Naturam Sweetsay in the YouTube comments gives the translation as
" Oh Lord, amazing is thy Reign ! Willful King, blind subjects, Court levitates in clouds ! Here flowers are destined to be mortal, while even stones are immortal ! Weeds lead extended existence, while the Sandal is axed ! Shrewd collect mansions, while virtuous get shacks ! Fidel gets yoke, while slut a pearl necklace ! Vices blossom here, while virtues go sour ! No shelter for Human on this earth ! Amazing is thy reign, oh Lord ! .."
The film has quite few nice songs with dances by Seema Deo.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

A 2010 Marathi song

from Natrang (trailer)
A semi lavani from the same film

A jarring note in a wonderful music program

There is an interesting program Padutha Teeyaga in which young contestants sing songs from Telugu films and SPB seems to be the compere. Recently, I watched bits of it on 24th December (should be available on YouTube in a couple of weeks) since the first part of the contest is rendering songs of Saluri Rajeswara Rao. Rajeswara Rao started as singer but his voice seemed weak and suit only certain type of songs and later on he shone as a music director. One of his famous songs is 'paata paduma krishna'

 Many of the youngsters were good, particularly the one who sang the above song. In the program SPB actively participated, correcting the youngsters, asking them to repeat passages which they performed well, appreciating and instructing. There were anecdotes from Rajeswara Rao's life, repeating some conversations in Rao's accent and some new information I did not know that Balasaraswati Devi used to sing the song earlier but Rao apparently insisted that he should record it. May be, there was some emotional attachment to the song since it was written by his father). On the whole it seemed a wonderful program with a great singer passing on his wisdom and entertaining. But there were also at least one jarring note. It seems that a rich farmer produced one of the films for which Rao was the music director. When the film was still in production, some farmers from the producer visited Madras and the producer brought them to the studio and requested Rao to entertain them with his latest song. Rao obliged and then asked one of the farmers for his opinion. The farmer replied that it was good but not as good as his Malliswari songs. Apparently Rao was upset but instead of showing his disapproval directly waited until the tea-boy came along and asked for his opinion. The suggestion seems to be that the farmer was put in his place by this subtle strategy.  A jarring note in a wonderful program. And caste too does not seem to go away. Some Melbourne ladies watching were rooting for one of the contestants but said that he may not get the prize since the compere seemed to be encouraging one of his caste. No caste was announced in the program and I wonder how they knew.
P.S. Interesting interview with Ilaiyaraja where he asks 'Why classify music?'
P.P.S. Landfill Harmonic (via Duncan Green)
P.S. The comments which I could not appreciate are from 12:35 in
This video as well as parts one and two on December 24th (can be found on the side of tha above video) has many Rajeswara Rao songs, sung by youngsters, snatches of the original songs and many interesting comments.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

A lavani song "Latpat Latpat Tujha Chaalan Ga"

Seems to be from Amar Bhoopali 1951, sung by Lata Mangeshkar and dance by Sandhya

Monday, December 24, 2012

Links 24th December 2012

The 'Mommy Penalty' Around the World
In most of the developed world, women spend more time working each day than men do, if you include unpaid work. both from NYTimes
David Warsh 'Paradigms after Fifty Years'
Miles Kimball 'David Lakoff on Science'
Taleb on 'Understanding a poor substitute for Convexity (Antifragility). I do not understand most of it but will try a few times more.
Duncan Green on a new study 'Small producer Agency in the Global market'. I have not read the study yet, but Duncan Green is very enthusiastic about the study.

NYTimes on the work of Ted Kaptchuk on Placebo phenomenon

From the article by Clara Feinberg
"This was disturbing for Kaptchuk, too; deception played no role in his own success as a healer. But years of considering the question led him to his next clinical experiment: What if he simply told people they were taking placebos? The question ultimately inspired a pilot study, published by the peer-reviewed science and medicine journalPLOS ONE in 2010, that yielded his most famous findings to date. His team again compared two groups of IBS sufferers. One group received no treatment. The other patients were told they’d be taking fake, inert drugs (delivered in bottles labeled “placebo pills”) and told also that placebos often have healing effects.
The study’s results shocked the investigators themselves: even patients who knewthey were taking placebos described real improvement, reporting twice as much symptom relief as the no-treatment group. That’s a difference so significant, says Kaptchuk, it’s comparable to the improvement seen in trials for the best real IBS drugs."
Kaptchuk's response to possible defects in his methodology is also quite exaplary "When Kaptchuk talks about Hrobjartsson’s 2001 paper now, he winces, then nods with acceptance. “At first when I read it, I worried I’d be out of a job,” he says. “But frankly, [Hrobjartsson] was absolutely right.” In order to legitimize his findings to mainstream practitioners, the results must be expertly quantified, he acknowledges. “We have to transform the art of medicine into the science of care.”"
via 3quarksdaily where Dr. Larocca comments "A singurarly well-balanced review of one of the greatest medical conundrums: That of the psychosomatic dualism."

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Another theory of music

Dave Brubeck apparently said "The folk origins of music aren’t far apart anywhere in the world.”
According to Virginia Huighes
"According to a study out yesterday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, our cognitive connection to music may have evolved from an older skill, the ability to glean emotion from motion. People will choose the same combination of spatiotemporal features — a certain speed, rhythm, and smoothness — whether pairing a particular emotion with a melody or with a cartoon animation, the study found. But most surprising, the results held true in people from two starkly different cultures: a rural village in Cambodia and a college campus in New England."
via Ed Yong who has links to several other posts including some lists of the best of the year.

Review of two reviews of Nate Silver's book

and various comments by experts in Two reviews of Nate Silver's new goo... Since I am planning to read this book at some stage, it may be useful to have this handy.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Passages from Michael Mann's first volume

On page 503(first edition):"The comparative method has no solution to these problems, not because of any general logical or epistemological defects it might have but because, in dealing with the problems we simply do not have enough autonomous, analogical cases. Confronted by that empirical reality, we must turn to pragmatically to the second method, of careful historical narrative, attempting to establish "what happened next"to see if it has the "feel" of a pattern, a process, or a series of accidents and contingencies. Here we will need broad concepts and theories about how socities generally work and how human beings behave, but we employ them in a historic narrative, looking for continuity or conjecture, pattern or accident.  Historical not comparative, sociology has been my principal method."
In an earlier chapter on 'Comparative excursus into world religions'(page371), he says " From then on India, China, Islam, and Europe went different ways. Global comparative sociology-always difficult in my view- now becomes too difficult. From now on I chronicle only one case, Christian Europe and its offshoots"
Given this, it is not clear to me how useful these volumes will be in Indian context. Things like caste and status do not play any role in the next part. In any case, I am continuing with Volume 2 and also his book on 'The Darkside of Democracy'.
Several essays on the first two volumes and Mann's response are in 'An Anatomy of Power' edited by J.A. Hall and Ralph Schroeder, available online.

Friday, December 21, 2012

M.C.R. Butler RIP

I just heard that Michael Butler passed away at the age of 84:
"He was admitted into Liverpool Royal Hospital in March with a chest infection, he subsequently became very seriously ill but after a long struggle was discharged to St Michaels in June where he made steady progress until the end of October, he was then able to go out for about 3 hours, shopping, having a meal and walking before getting tired and needing a rest, he became very much his old self. After this point he gradually deteriorated and became very ill eventually dying from Lymphoma. Although very ill at the end he maintained his sense of humour and was mercifully free from pain.

The Funeral details are
4th of January at 3:00 pm
Rosemary Chapel
Springwood Crematorium.
Springwood Avenue
L25 7UN"

I remember fondly fourteen months during 1968-69 spent in Liverpool when Michael and his wife Sheila Brenner were like surrogate parents to foreigners like me.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Michael Mann on the sources of social power

I am just finshing the first volume of the four volume series, the fourth volume is scheduled to come out next January. From an earlier description
"The work begins with the dawn of civilization in Mesopotamia, charting the emergence of four distinct forms of power (ideological, military, economic, and political) that Mr. Mann finds operating throughout recorded history. The second volume, appearing in 1993, extended the analysis up to the outbreak of the First World War. A review in The Journal of Economic History began, simply, "Colossal!" Scholars often mention Max Weber's Economy and Society (1914), another work routinely called monumental, when discussing Mr. Mann's work."
The first chapter of the first edition of Volume 1 is available here and the first chapter of the first edition of the  second volume here. Another article by Mann 'The Autonomous Power of the State:Its Origins, Mechanisms and Results' from 1984. A 2006 interview with Michael Mann and a 2004 interview.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Shankar of S-J on his music making

From an article by Raju Bharatan reproduced here. Excerpts
“They weren’t in Bhairavi, come to think of it. But the total musician never thinks of the raag while composing. He plays in Sur and raag just flows. So I can’t go along with you on the point that Mera joota hai Japani, as it finally emerged, because it was in Bhairavi. I maintain that my first three tunes were good, very good. But then I only looked at the tune Raaj Saab had an exact visual idea of what he wanted. And he just seized that fourth tune from my custody the moment I struck the right note, as he audio-visualised it”.

"Incidentally, I always prepared the tune first and then got words written by Shailendra. Letting the poet write the song first, I had discovered, led to his penning the song-lyrics in the same monotonous metre. No, I don’t agree this, my reverse style of tuning, placed a limitation on Shailendra’s poetry. The Ramaiyya vastavaiyya tune came first, yet did Shailendra’s poetry suffer in any way’ No! the words for me represented the portrait, the tune the frame. Once the framework was ready in the form of my tune, the portrait, the song- lyric, could always be fitted in, exactly to size.”

Saturday, December 15, 2012

An early Roshan song

from Neki Aur Badi (1949)

via which also has the lyrics and translation.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

'The Loom' moving

And also 'Not Exactly Rocket Science'. Both will be publishing with the National Geographic Magazine. I have been regularly reading 'The Loom' for at least five years and Ed Yong more recently. In my opinion, Carl Zimmer is among the best science writers ever and Ed Yong is quite good too.

The apparent lack of caste politics in West Bengal

There are two articles in EPW explaining the anomaly among similar lines. The one by Partha Chatterjee says " The partition of Bengal was ­demanded in 1947 by an overwhelming majority among Hindus who could not imagine a future under permanent Muslim domination......The partition removed the principal political challenge to upper-caste Hindu dominance in West Bengal. " , and describes later developments. The other article is by Sarbani Bandopadhay.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Ravi Shankar RIP

Obituary at The Guardian "Shankar not only transcended culture, race and geography but also had no difficulty with the generation gap and the phenomenon of class."
From The Concert for Bangladesh "On 5 June 1972, in recognition of their “pioneering” fundraising efforts for the refugees of Bangladesh, George Harrison, Ravi Shankar and Allen Klein were jointly honoured by UNICEF with its “Child Is the Father of the Man” award."
P.S. The previous link to Pather Panchali music is not working. Here is a link to improvisations from it:

An early Lalita, Padmini dance with ANR from 'Or Iravu'

A duet from a Dilip Kumar film

That used in the film was by Talat  Mahmood and Shamshad Begum. There is also a version not used in the film by Hemant Kumar and Uma Devi

Monday, December 10, 2012

From the 'Payal Aur Sagam' series

apparently banned during Zia's time

Payal Aur Sargam - Aas Kay Taray Tootay - Part-1 of 2 Episode-1


Payal Aur Sargam - Aas Kay Taray Tootay - Part-2 of 2 Episode-1

and many more like

Payal Aur Sargam - Kahan Gaey Mujhay Chor - Episode-10A

Ramachandra Guha on EPW

EPW is the only journal that I have been subscribing to. Years ago Angus Deaton and Valeri Kozel said
"EPW is a cross between an academic journal (it has equations, and econometrics) and a magazine, such as The Economist. It provides rapid publication and acts as a unique bridge between research, the press, and policymakers, and i tcould well be emulated in other countries, including many rich countries. " Now Ramchandra Guha wtites about Krishna Raj, long time editor of EPW and has an insider view of the journal here (via 3quarksdaily):"The EPW is a unique, three-fold mix of political prejudice, dispassionate reportage, and solid scholarly analysis."

Saturday, December 08, 2012

Melbourne councillors caught in a bind

From The Age:
"MELBOURNE City Council could be denied a say on key building projects, with a majority of councillors unable to vote because of developer donations that bankrolled their election campaigns.
Major city developers, including high-rise apartment pioneer Central Equity, donated to the campaigns of more than half the candidates now on the council.
As a result, so many of the councillors have conflicts of interest - and are therefore obliged to abstain from voting - that there will be insufficient numbers to make up a council quorum to deal with the donors' planning applications
.A Town Hall spokesman said that in such cases where council decision-making is impeded by multiple conflicts of interest, the council may have to apply to the state government to seek a formal exemption from the conflict-of-interest provisions of the Local Government Act.
Another option would be for the council to consciously fail to make a decision, allowing the project applicant to make an appeal to the Victorian Administrative Appeals Tribunal."
Perhaps some understanding will be reached with the state government which is friendly to developers/

Nadeem Paracha's series 'Crazy Diamonds'

From his write up on Waheed Murad about the decline of Pakistani film industry in the 1980s:
"The VCR had arrived and with it Indian films (on video tapes). This machine boded well with what was happening to the film industry’s main audiences: i.e. the urban lower and middle classes.
Ziaul Haq’s reactionary military coup against the Z A. Bhutto regime in 1977 and then the military dictatorship’s strict censor policies, along with its concentrated crackdown on social activities that it deemed ‘un-Islamic’ and ‘immoral,’ began to push the urban middle-classes indoors.
The VCR fitted perfectly in this new, introverted setting. By 1984, Urdu films in Pakistan had already lost almost 50 per cent of its audiences. This was also the period when many cinemas began to close down or be converted into gaudy shopping plazas and wedding halls.
A number of once famous and rich film stars found themselves out of work. Some took to drinking and slipped into obscurity; some compromised their egos (and fee) and began doing teleplays; while others ventured into taking roles in loud, violent Punjabi films whose stock and popularity rose rather bizarrely with the strengthening of the Zia dictatorship."
From the portrait of General Rani:
"For years she played well the role of a good wife, bearing six children and never venturing out of the house without a burqa (veil/abaya).
Then one day in 1963, while holidaying with her husband on the cool hills of Murree, something snapped in her.
Walking with her husband among the tall pine trees of the hills, a gust of wind blew away the burqa from her face.
Enjoying the wind softly breezing across her face, she let the wind to continue making the burqa flap away and expose her face.
Agitated by her callousness, her husband admonished her. She stopped walking. She stared back at him and then casually proceeded to take off the burqa from the rest of her body.
Then after tossing it athim, she walked away, asking him to wear it himself!
It was at a club that was frequented by the country’s top military men in Rawalpindi where Pakistan’s future dictator, General Yahya Khan, fell for her.
A compulsive drinker and womaniser, Yahya began an affair with Aqeel sometime in 1967. But throughout her relationship with Yahya, she kept insisting that they were ‘just friends.’
Nevertheless, when a leftist movement between 1968 and 1969 forced General Ayub Khan to resign as head of state, he installed Yahya Khan as the country’s new Martial Law Administrator.
It was at this point that Aqeel began being called (in the press), ‘General Rani.’ It is believed that apart from looking after Yahya’s ferocious appetite for booze and women, she also began ‘advising’ him on policy and political matters.
Those who met her in those days described her to be far more informed and astute in the field of politics than Yahya." Read also how she helped Noor Jehan/

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

A Holi Song from Pakistan

via Dances on the Footpath
There seem to be two singers Nur Jehan and Irene Parveen. There are more Holi songs in Punjabi from Pakistan and another from Kartar Singh 1959

Monday, December 03, 2012

Two reviews of Malhar 1951

After listening to a song in the film, I googled and found this eulogy in The Hindu:
"On watching “Malhar”, more than six decades after it was released, one cannot but admire the fundamental laws that govern good cinema, which have stood the test of time, proving that they are inviolate and sacrosanct. Despite the considerable time that has elapsed, “Malhar”, directed by Harish, shows no signs of staleness, at least in certain vital areas."And more. Then this mini-review by memsaab "Shammi’s pain and suffering (much of it self-inflicted) is nothing compared to sitting through this movie, I can assure you, and that is saying something." So, I am not going to watch the movie and am not going to trust all film reviews in The Hindu.

Links December 3, 2012

Friday, November 30, 2012

Arunachalam Muruganantham's venture

Arunachalam Muruganantham story has been posted before. The Open magazine story mentioned his aim: "I am now trying to start a low cost sanitary napkin making movement. I think socialist entrepreneurs are the backbone of the future. I supply my machines to women in self-help groups in 14 states, from Uttaranchal and Andhra Pradesh to Bihar, and make them owners of the business." I made enquiries and found that he supplies two types of machines through Jayashree Industries, Coimbatore. The first costs slightly under two lakk rupees and the second over three lakhs. thet install the machines and there is a guarantee of six months. From the blurb
"The salient features of this model are as follows:
·    It converts the elaborate process of manufacturing sanitary napkins into a Gandhian operation. The tools used in this model are as much "machines" as the charkha, the pestle or the grindstone. In other words, this model harnesses technology for the benefit of the masses.

·    It operates on simple tasks that can be mastered within 1 day, and does not require exceptional skills. So anybody can use the model and achieve success.

·    It addresses the issue of sanitary napkins being unaffordable and/or unavailable to around 97% of Indian women –this scenario is same around all under developed countries  these women therefore resort to unhygienic alternatives and occasionally face embarrassing situations in public."
 The site says that the machines are easy to operate and suitable or women self help groups and will employ roughly six to ten women. Further enquiries can be obtained from them ( I got the reply in an hour but the website link given below does not seem to be working at the moment) at:

COIMBATORE 641 108, MOBILE : 92831 55128 / 94422 24069

Thursday, November 29, 2012

A Geeta Dutt-Sudha Malhotra duet

Links. Nov. 29, 2012

R.S. Jennings of United Stated Institute of Peace on Democratic Breakthroughs: The Ingredients of Successful Revolts via Duncan Green who has a summary.There is a coming seminar at CT  on 'The Priority of Democracy' and other books. invites further thoughts on grassroots activism.

Links to two articles on Bal Thackeray in 'Law and Other Things'. I am looking forward to a study of the different trajectories of DMK progeny, Shiv Sena and Telangana state movement.

Discussions why Asians overwhelmingly voted for Obama and Andrew Gelman by Richard Posner. From the second article "According to exit polls in the Nov. 6 election, Asian American voters favored Obama over Romney by a ratio of more than 3-to-1 (76 percent versus 23 percent). This has puzzled a number of Republicans. Asian Americans, more than any other group, including white suburbanites, who are a backbone of Republican support, have demographic characteristics that would seem to make them support low taxes, fiscal austerity, conventional family values, and hostility to affirmative action (especially in higher education)—all policies strongly associated with today’s Republican Party." The profile is similar in Australia and from my limited knowledge of the Indian community, more of them seem to vote the conservative party called the Liberals than the Labour party. 

And a final thought on the persistence of 'traditions' and 'family values'. Recently, we arranged a micro loan for a Dalit christian lady to start a small  business in time for Christmas sales. When we asked her whether she started purchases, she responded that it was magalavaram, not an auspicious day to start. A reasonably well-off Indian friend in Australia says that his brother in India did not make enough money as a banker since he was afraid of displaying disproportionate assets and if only he had sent the money to him, he could have made a fortune for both of them by investing in real estate.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Ela Bhatt's favourite quote

From a profile of Ela Bhatt:
Then she told of her favorite. Freedom, one woman said, was “looking a policeman in the eye.”

Monday, November 26, 2012

NY Times on deep-learning programs

From Scientists See Promise in Deep-Learning Programs:
"Deep learning was given a particularly audacious display at a conference last month in Tianjin, China, when Richard F. Rashid, Microsoft’s top scientist, gave a lecture in a cavernous auditorium while a computer program recognized his words and simultaneously displayed them in English on a large screen above his head.
Then, in a demonstration that led to stunned applause, he paused after each sentence and the words were translated into Mandarin Chinese characters, accompanied by a simulation of his own voice in that language, which Dr. Rashid has never spoken.
One of the most striking aspects of the research led by Dr. Hinton is that it has taken place largely without the patent restrictions and bitter infighting over intellectual property that characterize high-technology fields.
“We decided early on not to make money out of this, but just to sort of spread it to infect everybody,” he said. “These companies are terribly pleased with this.”"
via MindHacks post Advances in Artificial Intelligence: Deep Learning which has more learning.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Self-filling bottle prototype

Ed Yong links to several interesting reports, among them this one:"The Namib Desert beetle lives in an area that only gets half an inch of rainfall per year, and so it draws 12 percent of its weight in water from the air to quench its thirst. NBD Nano co-founder Deckard Sorensen was inspired by the beetle to the point that he conceptualized a self-filling water bottle, which he hopes to bring to the market by 2014.

Every morning, the beetle climbs to the top of a sand dune, faces away from the wind, and ensures that water condenses in hydrophilic areas of its back. The water then flows to a storage area in the beetle.
To mimic nature, Sorenson layered a surface with hydrophilic and hydrophobic coatings, used a fan to pass air over the surface, and managed to get water to condense. This eventually led to the design of a conceptual self-filling water bottle."

Profile of Nadia

in the Open Magazine, Along the way, there is a surprising statement that Jamshed Wadia was inspired by  M.N.Roy and 'his political orientation had a profound effect on his work'. Somje of Nadia films are reviewed in memasabstory, the latest review is here.

Kaushiki Chakrabarty

In a commentpost on 'yaad piya ki aaye', Richard Singer mentioned a version of it by Kaushiki Chakraborty. Here is a different version from a concert in Amsterdam with various links and the continuation. The same thumri by her father Ajoy Chakraba(o)rty. A brief profile at Tehelka.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Many trees a sip away from dehydratiobn

says a report in ScienceNews "In plumbing systems, trees have to make tradeoffs. Capturing carbon dioxide in the air for growth and metabolism is a risky business. A tree sacrifices 400 molecules of water to evaporation to snag one molecule of carbon. The new study, Choat says, reveals that trees are maximizing their carbon capture for food even though it strains the plumbing."

My favourite Kamala dance

via A Clear Copy of Kamala's Tandava Dance in Sivagangai Seemai
Minai, following Randor Guy, gives 1957 as the year when the film was released. From discussions in Tamil blogs I get the impression that it was released in 1959 soon after Shivaji Ganeshsan;s 'Veerapandya Kattabomman' and lost out to the later film in box office.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Best soccer goals

After the recent Ibrahimovic goal, the contest is on again about the best soccer goal ever. One of my favourites is this goal by George Best
I remember at least one more equally impressive goal scored by Best in 1968 County games; may be it was not recorded for posterity. 

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Contesting the "Nature" of Conformity

Contesting the "Nature" of Conformity: What Milgram and Zimbardo Studies Really Show by A.Haslam and S.D. Reicher
"Understanding of the psychology of tyranny is dominated by classic studies from the 1960s and 1970s: Milgram's research on obedience to authority and Zimbardo's Stanford Prison Experiment. Supporting popular notions of the banality of evil, this research has been taken to show that people conform passively and unthinkingly to both the instructions and the roles that authorities provide, however malevolent these may be. Recently, though, this consensus has been challenged by empirical work informed by social identity theorizing. This suggests that individuals' willingness to follow authorities is conditional on identification with the authority in question and an associated belief that the authority is right."
Discussion at ScienceDaily: Human Obedience: The Myth of Blind Conformity

Discussion of a related paper and further links in psychologicalscience blog post:
Not Obedience But Felloship

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

A fascinating article by Anand Vaidya

A subtle Alignment (via 3quarksdaily) which among other things explains the rise of Shiv Sena. Excerpts:
" It’s easy for progressives to forget that collectives exist on both the left and the right, and that the decline of left-wing collectives doesn’t necessarily result in the absence of collectives more generally. History in Mumbai and elsewhere has shown that it doesn’t take long for empty space to be occupied by other groups, often from the political right.
The Sena, which has explicitly invoked European fascist movements from the outset, describes itself in its founding documents as a “volunteer organization” rather than a political party or union; it was created to defend a Marathi claim to Maharashtra and to Mumbai. This claim was initially defended at the expense of South Indians and Communists. Later, as an ideology of Hindu nationalism became ascendant in national politics, the Marathi claim to Maharashtra and Mumbai was made at the expense of Muslim inhabitants. The Sena spread through the city’s neighborhoods, establishing shakhas(neighborhood organizations) in zopadpattis and chawls. For the Marathi-speaking people they represented, the shakhas succeeded in obtaining services from local officials that the state had never before provided: water connections, electricity, even employment. For non-Marathi speakers, the Sena was at best exclusionary; at worst, it boycotted their stores, harassed them on the street, and smashed their windows.
The failure of the 1982 strike killed both the mills and the unions, leaving the city with an even larger unemployed population and base for Thackeray’s Sena. As Mumbai’s economy shifted from manufacturing to real estate, and as mills and slums were cleared for redevelopment, the Shiv Sena emerged as the party with the strongest local organization, the one most able to both represent neighborhoods under threat and profit from their clearance."
Much more in the article, which is supposed to be on Katherine Boo's book  'Behind the Beautiful Forevers'

Monday, November 19, 2012

Links, November 19, 2012

Scientific American article More than child's play: Ability to think scientifically declines as kids grow up "One reason for our failure to capitalize on this scientific intuition we display as toddlers may be that we are pretty good, as children and adults, at reasoning out puzzles that have something to do with real life but flounder when the puzzle is abstract, Goodman suggests—and it is abstract puzzles that educators tend to use when testing the ability to think scientifically. In addition, as we learn more about the world, our knowledge and beliefs trump our powers of scientific reasoning. The message for educators would seem to be to build on the intuition that children bring to science while doing a better job of making the connection between abstract concepts and real-world puzzles. "
Responses linked in Children Are Not "Natural" Scientists  ( via Ed Yong). Actually, I think (from my limited experience)that children also have powers of abstraction, but may be as they start doing many more things, certain aspects of their ability are not developed for many of them.
Mark Changizi: in The colossal pile of jibbersh behind discovery and its implications to science finding (via Ed Yong): "... where we see the everyday-ness of our science minds is in the discovery process itself, that is, in the efforts to find the new idea (hypothesis, theory, whatever) in the first place. Discoveries can be dressed up well, but the way we go about finding our ideas is almost always an embarrassing display of buffoonery."
Ten top myths about Israeli attack on Gaza by Juan Cole
Chapati Mystery discusses Bal Thacheray's 'legacies' See also Wall Street Journal article and Naipaul reference (possibly a reference to his descrption of Shiv Sena work at the grass roots level in 'A million mutinies now').
3quarksdaily's policy on comments, at least the expression of the policy, is causing concern to some respected commentors like Omar

Thursday, November 15, 2012

university of the future

an Australian study. From the introduction:
"Our primary hypothesis is that the dominant university model in Australia — a broad-based teaching and research institution, supported by a large asset base and a large, predominantly in-house back office — will prove unviable in all but a few cases over the next 10-15 years. At a minimum,incumbent universities will need to significantly streamline their operations and asset base, at the same time as incorporating new teaching and learning delivery mechanisms, a diffusion of channels to market, and stakeholder expectations for increased impact. At its extreme, private universities and possibly some incumbent public universities will create new products and markets that merge parts of the education sector with other sectors, such as media, technology, innovation, and venture capital. Exciting times are ahead — and challenges too.
We have summarised the drivers of change of this brave new world into five key trends:

1.Democratisation of knowledge and access — The massive increase in the availability of‘knowledge’ online and the mass expansion of access to university education in developed and developing markets means a fundamental change in the role of universities as originators and keepers of knowledge.
2.Contestability of markets and funding — Competition for students, in Australia and abroad, is reaching new levels of intensity, at the same time as governments globally face tight budgetary environments. Universities will need to compete for students and government funds as never before.

3.Digital technologies — Digital technologies have transformed media, retail, entertainment and many other industries — higher education is next. Campuses will remain, but digital technologies will transform the way education is delivered and accessed, and the way ‘value’ is created by higher
education providers, public and private alike.
4.Global mobility — Global mobility will grow for students, academics, and university brands. This will not only intensify competition, but also create opportunities for much deeper global partnerships and broader access to student and academic talent.
5.Integration with industry — Universities will need to build significantly deeper relationships with industry in the decade ahead — to differentiate teaching and learning programs, support the funding and application of research, and reinforce the role of universities as drivers of innovation
and growth."
According to Timothy Taylor many of the insights of this study apply around the world.
More about online education links here.

'yaad piya ki aaye' by two masters

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Bhimsen Joshi and Manna Dey in 'Basant Bahar'

Bhimsen Joshi

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Telugu idioms and phrases

Padabhhamdha Parijatamu (పదబంధ పారిజాతము), a 1959 publication is available online at
via a message in Telugupadam!topic/telugupadam/7NC3WSmXUEc
P.S. I have been informed that a second volume is also available at DLI under the title "padaban'dha paarijaatamu" and both will be included in the dictionary search of

Monday, November 12, 2012

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Ashutosh Jogalekar reviews Mandelbrot's autobiography

I used to think that Mandelbrot was doing some kind of flaky science. It is only recently I found that he made many interesting discoveries.After seeing Jogalekar's review, I promptly bought the book and so far read the parts about Mandelbrot's year at Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton. It reminded of my wasted year there where the only thing that I did was to learn driving and gave lifts to Michael Freedman.

About identities in Bangladesh

by Prashanta Tripura in Himal. The article partly reviews Richard Eaton's 'The Rise of Islam and the Bengal Frontier,1204-1760' available online. More online books at

Friday, November 09, 2012

Some science links, November 9th

Ed Yong on secret passwords of birds " fairy-wrens have a way of telling their chicks apart from cuckoos. Diane Colombelli-Negrelfrom Flinders University in Australia has shown that mothers sing a special tune to their eggs before they’ve hatched. This “incubation call” contains a special note that acts like a familial password. The embryonic chicks learn it, and when they hatch, they incorporate it into their begging calls. Horsfield’s bronze-cuckoos lay their eggs too late in the breeding cycle for their chicks to pick up the same notes. They can’t learn the password in time, and their identities can be rumbled."

Parrot in captivity manufactures tools, something not seen in the wild

From ScienceNews Trunk in cheek, elephant mimics korean

From ScienceNews An ancient civilization's wet ascent and dry demise

Tom Stafford on Zeigarnik effect and other things: "There’s a textbook psychological phenomenon called the Zeigarnik Effect, named after Russian psychologist Bluma Zeigarnik. In the 1930s, Zeigarnik was in a busy cafe and heard that the waiters had fantastic memories for orders – but only up until the orders had been delivered. They could remember the requests of a party of 12, but once the food and drink had hit the table they forgot about it instantly, and were unable to recall what had been so solid moments before. Zeigarnik gave her name to the whole class of problems where incomplete tasks stick in memory......A plausible explanation for the existence of the Effect is that the mind is designed to reorganise around the pursuit of goals. If those goals are met, then the mind turns to something else."

From ScienceDaily Antibiotics disrupt gut bacteria in infants, According to one of the authors "This research suggests that the merits of administering broad spectrum antibiotics -- those that kill many bacterial species -- in infants should be reassessed, to examine the potential to use more targeted, narrow-spectrum antibiotics, for the shortest period possible".