Saturday, December 28, 2013

Evgeny Morozov on privacy

The Real Privacy Problem A long and thoughtful article. Among his conclusions "First, we must politicize the debate about privacy and information sharing. Articulating the existence—and the profound political consequences—of the invisible barbed wire would be a good start. We must scrutinize data-intensive problem solving and expose its occasionally antidemocratic character. At times we should accept more risk, imperfection, improvisation, and inefficiency in the name of keeping the democratic spirit alive."
A shorter version The Snowdon Saga Heralds a Radical Shift in Capitalism.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Focus on cities

Can cities change the politics of fragile states? Some of the points from the article:
"Despite the many difficult challenges they face, cities are easier to fix than states. The political dynamics of running a city are potentially much more favorable than that of a fragile country for a number of reasons:

First, elections work differently. Whereas national polls pit various ethnic and religious groups against each other, and turn into a mud fight between elites for control of rents earned from natural resource wealth or foreign aid, a city’s compact size, blurring of identities, and daily grind makes elections more a test of competence and pragmatism. There are also many more ways to hold officials accountable in a city than in a huge weakly cohesive country.
Second, the compact size of cities make the creation of mechanisms to promote collective action and to institutionalize negotiation between disparate societal interests easier than at the national level. As Goodfellow, Rodgers and Beall point out, “cities arguably also offer the greatest potential for the development of inclusive institutions for managing political conflict rather than suppressing it. The concentration of diverse actors and state institutions in cities make them, in theory at least, critical spaces for institutionalised forms of political debate and participation that translate into demands on the state rather than violence.”"
And more. The first point is not clear to me. Delhi and Mumbai seem different in the first point above. Nevertheless interesting article.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Fascinating article on the effect of social life on gene expression

 from bees and monkeys to humans and how loneliness may be a killer. May be the NRIs are different as Ramachandra Guha suspectedThe Social Life of Genes byDavid Dobbs via Ed Yong's list of long reads for the year.
"Your DNA is not a blueprint. Day by day, week by week, your genes are in a conversation with your surroundings. Your neighbors, your family, your feelings of loneliness: They don't just get under your skin, they get into the control rooms of your cells. Inside the new social science of genetics."

Monday, December 23, 2013

Unconventional Monetary Policy

From Peter Dorman at EconoSpeak"
"On August 12, damaged by the revelations emanating from the leaked NSA documents by Edward Snowden, President Obama empaneled a commission to make recommendations for reforms of US cyber-surveillance.  On December 12 this group submitted its report, “Liberty and Security in a Changing World”.

One item that has attracted a bit of attention is a proposal, lodged in Recommendation 31, that reads as follows:
We recommend that the United States should support international norms or international agreements for specific measures that will increase confidence in the security of online communications. Among those measures to be considered are:  
(1) Governments should not use surveillance to steal industry secrets to advantage their domestic industry;  
(2) Governments should not use their offensive cyber capabilities to change the amounts held in financial accounts or otherwise manipulate the financial systems.....
This last item is interesting.  No documents have yet been released that suggest that the NSA or its foreign affiliates have altered financial accounts through electronic manipulation, but the commission presumably had access to a wide range of materials without knowledge of which will be made public in the future.  It may be the case, then, that they are acting to preempt a future revelation.  Even if there has actually been no such financial intervention, however, it is clear that there could be and that it would be prudent to consider the implications of such actions."



Watched cricket last night until 3AM. Cricinfo calls it one of the greatest draws. I am not sure whether game highlights or reading about it can completely convey the tension or thrill of the last day. With only four bowlers and the spinner fairly ineffective and all exhausted I am not sure how India will fare in the next test. Talking of Swann Darren Lehmann says " you only have to take one or two of them out of the equation and make their quicks bowl more. That was certainly a plan from us." Similar tactics may be applied to India.
My takeaway from the game "But India also showed huge resilience under wrenching pressure near the end to pull South Africa back from the brink of victory, with the seamer Mohammed Shami outstanding with his three for 107 and his incredible controlled finish. De Villiers was bowled for 103, Duminy was out cheaply and, crucially, Du Plessis was run out by a brilliant direct hit from Ajinkya Rahane with South Africa needing only 16 runs." 

If it is so tense for spectators, I wonder how it is for players. Some possibilities here.

Saturday, December 21, 2013


This happened in the early 70s. I was visiting Calcutta and was wandering around College Street lookin for second hand book. I met somebody who started talking in Hindi which I could not understand. I could gather that he was a truck driver from Bombay and was pleased to see somebody from Bombay in that foreign place. I said I could not really understand him and wandered off. Then I ran into him again and it seemed interesting to me that I was able to communicate with somebody in a language that I did not know and continued to chatting. He said that he wanted to buy a watch, he knew the owner of a shop and wanted my help in buying it. He wanted me with him because he liked the watch I was wearing. On the way to the shop, we stopped for tea. He wanted to check how the watch would look on his hand and I put it on his hand. Suddenly he had a coughing fit, went out to spit and never came back.
No wonder that I am considered naive my many. It has not changed with age. More recently, I have been fascinated by this program of Arunachalam Muruganantham and wanted to initiate it in Guntur-Vijayawada area as a way of employment for some poor and better sanitary condition. Even after an year there is no progress even though a gentleman offered space in his work shop. Finally I wanted to approach Ramakrishna Mission rural development centre in Narendrapur which is doing wonderful work and wrote to a friendly monk. This is the reply " I had a bout of uncontrollable (but forcedly silent) laughter at your idea. this certianly will be HIGHLY INAPPROPRIATE
for Narendrapur. Dont talk to monks (except heretics like yours truly) regarding such outlandish schemes.

The main reason is that they will all be totally unco-operative. Secondly they'll start looking at you as if you were some kind of a NUT
(perhaps not so far from the truth though). Finally, they will be reassured that the natural occupational hazards for mathematicians
involve eccentricity and therefore in future will probably humour mine."

Friday, December 20, 2013

tommydan channels on YouTube

Joshua Greene on common-sense morality

In an interview: "Consider the dilemma philosopher Peter Singer posed four decades ago. You see a child drowning. You could save that child's life but, if you do, you will ruin your fancy $1,000 suit. Singer asked if it was OK to let the child drown. Most people say, of course not, that would be monstrous...........
Psychology can help us answer that question. Jay Musen and I recently did a more controlled version of Singer’s experiment and got very similar results—distance made a difference. What does that mean? When you are thinking about whether you have an obligation to try to save people's lives, you don't usually think, well, how close by are they? Understanding what we are reacting to can change the way we think about the problem.....If, biologically, morality evolved to help us get along with individuals in our community, it makes sense that we have heartstrings that can be tugged—and that they are not going to be tugged very hard from far away. But does that make sense? From a more reflective moral perspective, that may just be a cognitive glitch."

A paper on local public goods

Browsed through Ryan Sheely's paper "Maintaining local public goods: Evidence from rural Kenya" recommended by Chris Blattman.
Abstract: "Political Scientists have produced a substantial body of theory and evidence that explains variation in the availability of local public goods in developing countries. Existing research cannot explain variation in how these goods are maintained over time. 
I develop a theory that explains how the interactions between government and community institutions shape public goods maintenance. I test the implications of this theory using a qualitative case study and a randomized field experiment that assigns communities participating in a waste management program in rural Kenya to three different institutional arrangements. I find that localities with no formal punishments for littering experienced sustained reductions in littering behavior and increases in the frequency of public clean-ups. In contrast, communities in which government administrators or traditional leaders could punish littering experienced short-term reductions in littering behavior that were not sustained over time."
   In the end, he says "I argue that the relative effectiveness of the Collective Action treatment is shaped by the legitimacy of public goods maintenance by civil society organizations in Laikipia, Kenya. As a result, it is incorrect to interpret these findings as stating that punishment of littering (and other actions that harm public goods) by governments or communities is always ineffective. In contexts in which punishment of littering by governments or traditional leaders is more closely matched with local norms and practices, we would expect to see much stronger performance of the Chief and Elders treatments."

Tuesday, December 17, 2013


Blurring Mandela and Neoliberalism (via Naked Capitalism)
One percent holding the economy back
Dean Baker on inequality and unemployment
Illicit financial flows See also GFI site and Tax Justice Network
Disappearing spy  via Moon of Alabama
Peter Higgs :"After I retired it was quite a long time before I went back to my department. I thought I was well out of it. It wasn't my way of doing things any more. Today I wouldn't get an academic job. It's as simple as that. I don't think I would be regarded as productive enough." via The Guardian
MindHacks on marketing a ADHD drug update on mirror neurons
Carl Zimmer in search of first animals

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Two on AAP

From Jacobin India's Post-Ideological Politician " AAP may find the going tough elsewhere But the Obama-Kejriwal analogy can only be taken so far. Unlike Obama, Kejriwal is coming from outside his country’s dominant two parties, and India’s parliamentary political system means that third parties can make a significant impact on both regional and national politics. The success of the AAP in the Delhi Assembly elections has threatened the political mainstream in a way that Obama’s victory hardly could. Congress party officials, sheepish, have admitted that they have much to learn from the AAP. And commentators have made much of the AAP’s penchant for upending conventional political wisdom by refusing to give handouts like cash and booze before elections, and by largely eschewing identity politics.
The party has tapped into an idealism and a genuine desire to build a better political system, and it has shown that these altruistic feelings can translate into strong election results. But this momentum will likely result in a rapid rightward drift if the party continues to cling to its “post-ideological” approach."
Moreover, the AAP may find the going tough in many other places. My own feel that circumstances in Delhi suited AAP at the moment and any political ambitions on a much bigger scale will only result in disappointment. May be they should first try to clean up Delhi as much as possible. That may provide inspiration for local groups elsewhere to do the hard yakka of working locally for better administration and justice and they may one day get lucky and do even better.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Forms to fill, choices to make

From Corey Robin reacting to Obamacare "More important than the politics, that byzantine complexity is a symptom of what the ordinary citizen has to confront when she tries to get health insurance for herself or her family. As anyone who has even good insurance knows, navigating that world of numbers and forms and phone calls can be a daunting proposition. It requires inordinate time, doggedness, savvy, intelligence, and manipulative charm (lest you find yourself on the wrong end of a disgruntled telephone operator). Obamacare fits right in with that world and multiplies it."
And then from an older post "There is a deeper, more substantive, case to be made for a left approach to the economy. In the neoliberal utopia, all of us are forced to spend an inordinate amount of time keeping track of each and every facet of our economic lives. That, in fact, is the openly declared goal: once we are made more cognizant of our money, where it comes from and where it goes, neoliberals believe we’ll be more responsible in spending and investing it. Of course, rich people have accountants, lawyers, personal assistants, and others to do this for them, so the argument doesn’t apply to them, but that’s another story for another day.
The dream is that we’d all have our gazillion individual accounts—one for retirement, one for sickness, one for unemployment, one for the kids, and so on, each connected to our employment, so that we understand that everything good in life depends upon our boss (and not the government)—and every day we’d check in to see how they’re doing, what needs attending to, what can be better invested elsewhere. It’s as if, in the neoliberal dream, we’re all retirees in Boca, with nothing better to do than to check in with our broker, except of course that we’re not. Indeed, if Republicans (and some Democrats) had their way, we’d never retire at all.
In real (or at least our preferred) life, we do have other, better things to do. "

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Some links

Carl Zimmer on vitamins
No, doctors did not "inject HIV into a dying girl" to treat her cancer
The science of hatred (via MindHacks)
An educational experiment
Biggest barrier to inequality "It's not just the wealthiest 1 percent. 
Fully 20 percent of U.S. adults become rich for parts of their lives, wielding outsize influence on America's economy and politics. This little-known group may pose the biggest barrier to reducing the nation's income inequality. "
May be more ""But if you add up the income shares of the 50% of the population just below that rich 10% you find that in almost all countries, they receive about half the national income (see graph 2, below).....‘In Latin America the middle classes seek to defend their share of income with different forms of alliances with the élite (some more successfully than others). This is different to India, for example, where the administrative classes defend their position mostly via alliances with the poor (which gives them the political power to mediate in the different conflicts between the capitalist élite and the state)’. Vintage stuff."

Mandela was never a revolutionary, always a radical

Another ode to capitalism

Capitalism Redefined by Nick Hanauer and Eric Beinhocker. There is no mention of Marx. "This twenty-first-century way to understand economics allows us to understand capitalism as an evolutionary problem-solving system." If " growth must be a measure of the rate at which new solutions to human problems become available" I am sure Marx will come in somewhere.

Another thesis on Kammas

by Dalel (Dalal) Benbabaali (in French)
Conents (in English)
On Facebook
Princeton talk on her thesis
Transcript of the talk.
!988 work by Carl Upadhya The Farmer-Capitalists of Coastal Andhra Pradesh in two parts.
There is another by Y.Keiko in 2008 Politics and representation of caste identity in regional historiography: a case study of Kammas in Andhra which I have not seen.
See also Balagopal's articles at A couple of them The Man and the Times Beyond Media Images.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

More than one percent

A recent press report via Richard Singer
"It's not just the wealthiest 1 percent. 
Fully 20 percent of U.S. adults become rich for parts of their lives, wielding outsize influence on America's economy and politics. This little-known group may pose the biggest barrier to reducing the nation's income inequality. "
From an earlier report of Palma's work
 "But if you add up the income shares of the 50% of the population just below that 

rich 10% you find that in almost all countries, they receive about half the national 

income (see graph 2, below).....‘In Latin America the middle classes seek to defend 

their share of income with different forms of alliances with the élite (some more 

successfully than others). This is different to India, for example, where the 

administrative classes defend their position mostly via alliances with the poor (which

 gives them the political power to mediate in the different conflicts between the 

capitalist élite and the state)’. Vintage stuff." 

Friday, December 06, 2013

Nelson Mandela RIP

There have been a variety of comments from right to left in the comments sections of various posts and also from leftist sites. I do not think he was prefect. My feel is more in line with this short article by J.M.Coetzee:
"With F.W. de Klerk, a man of much smaller moral stature, yet also, in his way, a contributor to the liberation of South Africa, Mandela held a turbulent country together during the dangerous years 1990-94, exercising his great personal charm to persuade whites that they had a place in the new democratic republic while step by step emasculating the separatist white right wing.
By the time he became president in his own right, he was already an old man. His failure to throw himself more energetically into the urgent business of the day – the creation of a just economic order – was understandable if unfortunate. Like the rest of the leadership of the ANC, he was blindsided by the collapse of socialism world-wide; the party had no philosophical resistance to put up against a new, predatory economic rationalism."

Thursday, December 05, 2013

Kathak dancer Monisa Nayak

Interview describing her career and explaining the connections with music, difference between different gharanas.

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Interesting paper on self-decption

The Evolution and psychology of self deception by William von Hippel and Robert Trivers. The paper is about fifteen pages long and after that pen peer commentaries and response by authors. From the abstract: "In this article we argue that self-deception evolved to facilitate interpersonal deception by allowing people to avoid the cues to conscious deception that might reveal deceptive intent. Self-deception has two additional advantages: It eliminates the costly cognitive load that is typically associated with deceiving, and it can minimize retribution if the deception is discovered. Beyond its role in specific acts of deception, self-deceptive self-enhancement also allows people to display more confidence than is warranted,which has a host of social advantages."

Friday, November 29, 2013

A scary article

They're watching you at work "What happens when Big Data meets human resources? The emerging practice of "people analytics" is already transforming how employers hire, fire, and promote." though Chris Dillow seems to believe that it is all luck. Another scary story but more familiar theme Is BP trolling its facebook critics?

Sunday, November 24, 2013

From Jacobin on social democracy

Chris Maisano on Social Democracy's Incomplete Leacy (via 3quarksdaily)" Instead of aspiring to establish public ownership of the commanding heights of the economy, Crosland argued that socialists and social democrats should instead seek to harness the wealth-generating capacities of modern capitalism for social ends. The task of modern social democracy was not to overthrow or transcend capitalism, but to manage it and redistribute the surplus in the interest of social equality. This perspective has attained almost total hegemony on the Western left since Crosland wrote his book,...
The radical energies the Occupiers and indignados have unleashed have been bracing, particularly for those of us who have only ever known defeat and demobilization. To a significant extent, the traditional formations of the social-democratic left deserve their scorn. Still, one cannot and should not lose sight of the fact that, as Harrington remarks somewhere, for all their limitations, the world’s social-democratic parties and movements are responsible for freeing more human beings from political and material deprivation than any other political formation in history. In building the new political movements of the twenty-first century, our impulse should not be to reject the social-democratic legacy, but to build on and complete its unfulfillable promise."

Monday, November 18, 2013

An interview with David Harvey

on struggle over urban spaces (via Chapati Mystery) " can see that production creates surplus value, but you can also see that the value is not necessarily realized at the point where it is produced–the value is realized somewhere else. For example, value can be produced in a Chinese factory, and then realized by Wal-Mart in Columbus, Ohio. So, urbanization is, in many ways, a field of realization of surplus value. There is an inner connectivity in the circulation of capital between production and realization, and struggles in the urban sphere are just as important to value production and realization as are struggles in the workplace.

Now, the workers can struggle for higher wages and better working conditions, and perhaps they succeed in the production process. But, from their standpoint, they then take their extra money, they return home, and they find that they suddenly have to pay it back to the bourgeoisie in the form of higher rents, credit card charges, telephone bills, and so on. So, from the standpoint of the worker, there is a concern not simply with what happens at the point of production, but also with how much housing costs, and how much you pay for goods and services, commodities in the shops, hidden charges from paying interest on mortgages, and all the rest of it.

So, I construe these two forms of class struggle, which in a lot of theories are kept strictly apart, as being a contradictory unity. Therefore, the struggles that go on in cities over daily life are just as important as the struggles going on in workplaces. That unity has always been very important to me, although a lot of people prefer not to acknowledge it."

Sunday, November 17, 2013

New developments about the foundations of mathematics

I kept away from the foundations after seeing Russel's Paradox and his theory of types which at that time seemed an ad hoc band aid.  Apparently iy stayed alive in different forms and one of these is playing a part in the new approaches to the foundations by Vladimir Voevodsky and others. Here is a popular article from Scientific American by Julie Rehmeyer Voedovsky's Mathematical Revolution  A more technical article from Notices of AMS and the book in progress Homotopy Type Theory. So far, I have been struggling with elementary expositionsfrom these sources
There are also a few video lectures from IAS, Princeton has links to other videos.

Some articles about Sachin Tendulkar

I never played cricket but followed it from 1960 onwards after reading Jack Fingleton articles on the West Indies tour of Australia. For reasons that I do not understand, I have been following more avidly since the arrival of Sachin Tendulkar. It seems that he had a similar impact on many of Indian origin. Here are few articles which appeared recently.
Excerpts from his farewell speech
Sachin Tendulkar: The world's 29th best batsman?
Why Indians Love Sachin Tendulkar by Ramachandra Guha
Interview with his mother in law Annabel Mehta
His encounter with Waqar Yunus in 1989

Monday, November 11, 2013

Duncan Green on positive deviance

"The model was taken on and applied by the Vietnamese National Institute of Nutrition, and after this by the government, which scaled it nationally. Over time, the positive deviance approach saw a sustained reduction in malnutrition rates of 65–80 per cent, and reached a population of 2.2 million." from Wikipedia article on positive deviance.

Friday, November 08, 2013

A recent study of NREGA

Via Chris Blattman From the abstract "This paper seeks to answer the question whether the Indian National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, designed as social insurance, can mitigate the effect of income shocks on insurgency violence in India and thus affect the dynamics of conflict. ...I show that the introduction of NREGA has reduced the rainfall dependency of conflict.... I show that NREGA take-up is highly rainfall-dependant; furthermore, I fi nd some evidence that NREGA functions as a stabiliser to agricultural wages, in light of rainfall shocks." 

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Professor E.Annamalai on the Tamil situation

Apparently from an unpublished paper which Suresh Kolichala quotes in a Facebook discussion 

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

A site for music books

This site may be of interest to some. I accidentally found it while looking for a book by Matanga Muni. Check the music library.

On not reading books

There are a number of books that I wanted to read around my bed and on kindle. But I have not read a single book in the last3-4 months and do not seem to feel too bad about it. That may change but meanwhile, I take some consolation from thefollowing quotes of Pankaj Mishra and Keynes. “This is the melancholy awareness that suffuses Lahiri's catalogs of desirable things and people. And so while such obvious underdogs as Nazneen and Chanu arouse pity and indignation, an overprivileged immigrant like Ni-khil leaves one with more disturbing feelings: an intimation, such as the one his father once had, of "all that was irrational, all that was inevitable about the world"; a suspicion that "all men are mild lunatics engaged in pursuits that seem to them very important while an absurdly logical force keeps them at their futile jobs." It is as if we have been given a glimpse not so much of an unjust social or political setup as of what Nabokov, writing about "The Overcoat," called "flaws in the texture of life itself."
in and
" Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influences, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist. Madmen in authority, who hear voices in the air, are distilling their frenzy from some academic scribbler of a few years back. I am sure that the power of vested interests is vastly exaggerated compared with the gradual encroachment of ideas. Not, indeed, immediately, but after a certain interval; for in the field of economic and political philosophy there are not many who are influenced by new theories after they are twenty-five or thirty years of age, so that the ideas which civil servants and politicians and even agitators apply to current events are not likely to be the newest. But, soon or late, it is ideas, not vested interests, which are dangerous for good or evil." from

Monday, November 04, 2013

Links, Novemer 4th

Lant Pritchett's new book on education The Rebirth of Education: Schooling Ain't Learning. From the blurb "Despite great progress around the world in getting more kids into schools, too many leave without even the most basic skills. In India's rural Andhra Pradesh, for instance, only about one in twenty children in fifth grade can perform basic arithmetic.
The problem is that schooling is not the same as learning. InThe Rebirth of Education, Lant Pritchett uses two metaphors from nature to explain why. The first draws on Ori Brafman and Rod Beckstrom's book about the difference between centralized and decentralized organizations, The Starfish and the Spider. Schools systems tend be centralized and suffer from the limitations inherent in top-down designs. The second metaphor is the concept of isomorphic mimicry. Pritchett argues that many developing countries superficially imitate systems that were successful in other nations — much as a nonpoisonous snake mimics the look of a poisonous one."
Dan Little reviews Veblen The Theory of Business Enterprise. One quote from Veblen "Broadly, this class of business men, in so far as they have no ulterior strategic ends to serve, have an interest in making the disturbances of the system large and frequent, since it is in the conjunctures of change that their gain emerges."

Big finance is a problem, not an industry to be nurtured (If the link does not work google the title)

Reshma passed away and the song which first brought her public attention

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Two on cultural differences

Eurekalert report of recent research on 'endowment effect' (via Economist's View)
Ethan Watters, the author of 'Crazy Like Us' writes of some recent research about the (lack of) universals of human mind (via Mindhacks)

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

More on leaks

From a fascinating article published in FP "The deeper threat that leakers such as Manning and Snowden pose is more subtle than a direct assault on U.S. national security: they undermine Washington’s ability to act hypocritically and get away with it. Their danger lies not in the new information that they reveal but in the documented confirmation they provide of what the United States is actually doing and why. When these deeds turn out to clash with the government’s public rhetoric, as they so often do, it becomes harder for U.S. allies to overlook Washington’s covert behavior and easier for U.S. adversaries to justify their own.
Few U.S. officials think of their ability to act hypocritically as a key strategic resource. Indeed, one of the reasons American hypocrisy is so effective is that it stems from sincerity: most U.S. politicians do not recognize just how two-faced their country is. Yet as the United States finds itself less able to deny the gaps between its actions and its words, it will face increasingly difficult choices -- and may ultimately be compelled to start practicing what it preaches."
From another artcle an US official It will be very difficult for the US to dig out of this, although we will over time. The short term costs in credibility and trust are enormous.”
Glen Greenwald wonders " First, note how leaders such as Chancellor Angela Merkel reacted with basic indifference when it was revealed months ago that the NSA was bulk-spying on all German citizens, but suddenly found her indignation only when it turned out that she personally was also targeted. That reaction gives potent insight into the true mindset of many western leaders."

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Tristes Tropiques

A pdf file of the the book is available online (check also this). I read the book a few years ago mainly focussing on his Indian travels. A recent review Suggests that there are interesting speculations in the book. A longer review here and some quotes from the book here.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Variations on the AIR signature tune

The AIR signature tune is usually attributed to Walter Kaufmann and is now confirmed by Zubin Mehta (see the interview from 30 minutes onwards). Apparently, it is based on raga Shivaranjani, possibly with some east European influences. It is recently discussed in tajmahalfoxtrot. In a follow-up Amit Chaudhuri Responds to the Kaufmann story “Now the tune makes a lot of sense, and why, when I would hear East European buskers play in Berlin, I would often want to have them play with me in my version of AIR. The subterranean, tremulous East European, slightly folksy sound of the theme now becomes clearer to my ear.” 
For other interpretations and variations, see Naresh Fernandez post Still in the AIR.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Manna Dey RIP

Manna Dey passed away today. A short write up about him with a link to his autobiography, with the first few chapters on line. One of my favourite Manna Dey songs

Monday, October 21, 2013

A glimpse of the future

I thought that I got glimpses of this kind of future among the children of some Indian colleagues here and in India. Apparently, it is more pronounced in Japan :"A survey earlier this year by the Japan Family Planning Association (JFPA) found that 45% of women aged 16-24 "were not interested in or despised sexual contact". More than a quarter of men felt the same way.....A survey earlier this year by the Japan Family Planning Association (JFPA) found that 45% of women aged 16-24 "were not interested in or despised sexual contact". More than a quarter of men felt the same way............... Is Japan providing a glimpse of all our futures? Many of the shifts there are occurring in other advanced nations, too. Across urban Asia, Europe and America, people are marrying later or not at all, birth rates are falling, single-occupant households are on the rise and, in countries where economic recession is worst, young people are living at home."
P.S. A list of fertility rates. All the developed countries are below 2.8 and all except five below 2. May be the current poor will inherit the earth.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Shaxson's new book on finance curse

(coauthored with John Christrnsen) is available at a nominal price and is also available for free download at some places. More about the book in opendemocracy.
P.S. An index in which Cuba leads the world

Friday, October 18, 2013

About the aid business

Angus Deaton has a new book 'The Great Escape:Health, Wealth and the  origins of Inequality", kindle edition here. An excerpt. Chris Blattman's review here. From NY Times review 'A Surprising Case Against Foreign Aid' "In his considered judgment, global poverty today is no longer a result of lack of resources or opportunity, but of poor institutions, poor government and toxic politics. Though about $134 billion in official aid still flows from donor governments to recipient governments, there is no mystery, he says, as to why foreign aid fails to erase poverty. That is not its mission, he asserts: typically it serves commercial interests at home or buys political allies abroad, too often unsavory ones."
William Easterley tweeted that this review by Clive Crook is a  "Brilliant review of a brilliant book on development: ‘The Great Escape’ " Excerpt "Above all, Deaton argues, rich countries should stop putting obstacles in the path of the development of poor countries. Rich-country trade restrictions and farm subsidies put poor countries at a disadvantage. Rules on intellectual property rights need to be reformed so that they don’t unfairly discriminate against the poor.
Freer immigration may be the best aid policy of all. Migrants from poor to rich countries are better off than before, and their remittances make their families back home better off as well. These flows, which are almost three times bigger than flows of aid, “can empower recipients to demand more from their government, improving governance rather than undermining it.”
“The Great Escape” combines, to a rare degree, technical sophistication, moral urgency, the wisdom of experience, and an engaging and accessible style. It will deepen both your appreciation of the miracle of modern economic growth and your conviction that the benefits can and should be much more widely enjoyed."

On Dulles brothers

From an interview with Stephen Kinzer author of a new book on Dulles brothers: "On the Dulles' ability to overthrow regimes in Iran and Guatemala but not in Cuba or Vietnam
They were able to succeed [at regime change] in Iran and Guatemala because those were democratic societies, they were open societies. They had free press; there were all kinds of independent organizations; there were professional groups; there were labor unions; there were student groups; there were religious organizations. When you have an open society, it's very easy for covert operatives to penetrate that society and corrupt it."
From another part of the interview:
On what's changed in the American mindset since the Dulles era
"Particularly in the reaction to the Syria bombing, I'm beginning to wonder if something profound isn't changing in the minds of at least some Americans.
"People are looking at each other and saying, 'I can't get a job and my leaders are telling me I should be focusing on fixing Syria.' I think the disconnect that that represents is slowly dawning on some Americans. Maybe we finally are burying John Foster Dulles and Allen Dulles."
One reader comments "I wish the last statement of the story resonated with me as there would be nothing better than for the American public to wake up in such a way.. Unfortunately it looks like the main reason for such an aversion to the Syrian bombing was that old "black man in the White House" story. The progressive people are against the war an mass while the war hungry found themselves in a conundrum: they would habitually embrace the war but their main tactic is to oppose ANYTHING Obama does. If the next President is another Republican we will likely see the reverse course of this trend, I am sorry to say."