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