Friday, January 31, 2014

A recent discussion on Telangana
Lon. To me it seemed that J.P. Narayan of Loksatta presented reasonable answers. But I am not following the issue carefully since I assumed that there will be separate state at some stage.
(via a comment in Dalel Benbabaali timeline).

Thursday, January 30, 2014

A discussion in Ramarao Kanneganti's timeline on politics of anarchy where I begin to express some opinions. One of my comments there: "While I recognize that many groups are using relatively non-violent methods for their own ends which seem dubious (like Thailand now), I am not sure how the really poor can get justice in the current set ups in various countries. While many of us have done reasonably well, I still see lot of subsistence existence, both in person and in videos and reports (for example brick workers, tribals via Rahul Banerjee who worked with them for several years), whose lot do not seem to have improved since the British left. But how do I know how many of them are worse off and how how the rising tide will not lift them. I look at the reports of people like Jan Bremen or John Harriss and others who worked in India for over forty years. Then there are studies by Gabriel Palma which says that in about 140 countries the top ten percent and the bottom forty percent earn about the same as the rest of the fifty percent. That means that the gains of the top ten percent are at the expense of the bottom forty percent; who are being further pushed to the bottom in spite of the overall gains. Moreover, we have reports like which indicate the stakes against the bottom forty percent. There seem to concerted wars against the poor in countries like US, UK. I do not know the motives. Either they are considered dispensable with the rise of technology or the calculation is that you need some at subsistence level for the comforts of the others (now colonialism etc are passe). We in the fifty percent are coopted in the process. If these perceptions are somewhat correct, I do not seem what options the poor have except unconstitutional protests, since new laws are being passed everyday to make all kinds of protests illegal (one law planned next week in Melbourne). See also this from today's Guardian"

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Bricks of bondage

Vis Dalel Benbabaali timeline.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Revenge effect

is not what I thought it was. From The Ouroboros Effect: "The origin of the Ouroboros symbol (serpent devouring its own tail) can be traced to ancient Egypt and China, Norse mythology, Medieval Europe, and into modern times. It has been interpreted in a variety of ways, but here represents the cyclic and interactive nature of events. More specifically, it reflects how some of our best attempts to solve problems comes back to bite us!
Solutions to problems are usually intended as final fixes, but more often than not, while solving one problem, they generate more problems. In some cases the new problems from the intended solution are bigger, worse, or more complicated than the original problem; in other cases, the intended solution feedsback into the original problem and simply exacerbates it. The German word,verschlimmbessern, can be interpreted as "to fix something more broken," or to worsen through attempts to make better. These unintended consequences have been called "revenge effects" and are largely a function of limited scope in problem strategy conceptualization: most problem solving deals only with the problem (as defined) at hand, and does not consider the long term effects, ripple and spin-off effects (contingencies), or feedback effects in a larger system. The examples I have collected below present a variety of revenge effects that might have been prevented by taking a more systemic view of the situation." \
via Chris Dillow post Revenge Effects  who sees the recent failure of the English team in Ashes as one of those effects.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Happy Republic Day Happy Australia Day

I have spent about 40 years in India and 25 years in Australia and both countries have been overall good to me though I did not get along well with authority figures in either country. My most enjoyable years have been in Bombay learning and starting to do mathematics and my best work has been in Melbourne after the age of fifty. I now support Australia in cricket except when they play India. Home is still the few taluks in Guntur and Krishna districts where I spent my first 15 years and any other place is still a foreign country (except New York once in a while). May both countries and all other countries thrive.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Teaching methods:evidence from Mexico

How a radical new method could unleash a generation of geniuses by Joshua Davis. Excerpts:
"Juárez Correa spent his nights watching education videos. He read polemics by the Mexican cartoonist Eduardo del Río (known as Rius), who argued that kids should be free to explore whatever they want. He was also still impressed by Mitra, who talks about letting children “wander aimlessly around ideas.” Juárez Correa began hosting regular debates in class, and he didn’t shy away from controversial topics. He asked the kids if they thought homosexuality and abortion should be permitted. He asked them to figure out what the Mexican government should do, if anything, about immigration to the US. Once he asked a question, he would stand back and let them engage one another.
A key component in Mitra’s theory was that children could learn by having access to the web, but that wasn’t easy for Juárez Correa’s students. The state paid for a technology instructor who visited each class once a week, but he didn’t have much technology to demonstrate. Instead, he had a batch of posters depicting keyboards, joysticks, and 3.5-inch floppy disks. He would hold the posters up and say things like, “This is a keyboard. You use it to type.”
As a result, Juárez Correa became a slow-motion conduit to the Internet. When the kids wanted to know why we see only one side of the moon, for example, he went home, Googled it, and brought back an explanation the next day. When they asked specific questions about eclipses and the equinox, he told them he’d figure it out and report back."
And the students did very well in Mexico's national achievement examination at the end of the year.
"Juárez Correa had mixed feelings about the test. His students had succeeded because he had employed a new teaching method, one better suited to the way children learn. It was a model that emphasized group work, competition, creativity, and a student-led environment. So it was ironic that the kids had distinguished themselves because of a conventional multiple-choice test. “These exams are like limits for the teachers,” he says. “They test what you know, not what you can do, and I am more interested in what my students can do.”"

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Oxfam report on politics and inequality

Here 'Working for the few' by Ricardo Fluentes and Nick Galasso. Summary by Duncan Green here. From the summary "After the 2008 global meltdown, we have not seen anything like the New Deal, in terms of redistribution or reform. The paper argues that this is because political capture by a small economic elite is much more complete this time around.
The numbers take your breath away – my favourite new killer fact from the report (and there’s a lot of competition): The bottom half of the world’s population owns the same as the richest 85 people in the world."
Another summary in The Guardian. I wonder how a few either 85 people or the top one percent can accure so much without the cooperation of at least a considerable percentage of the rest. An earlier study by Gabriel Palma reported by Duncan Green says that the fifty percent below the top ten percent take away fifty percent of the income in most countries. So it seems to between the top 10 percent and bottom 40 percent. How alliances are formed between various groups in the middle fifty percent with the rest seem worth analysing. From Palma's study there seems to be variation in the alliances in different countries.

Thursday, January 16, 2014


Apparently well known but I was unaware The Citigroup Plutonomy memos
Two articles on Norway. Apparently Norway saved the oil money for its people but the personal debt levels in the country are high one by Aditya Chakrabortty in The Guardian and the second in Bloomberg News
Failing elites threaten our future by Martin Wolf (if the link does not work, searching with the title should be help), mostly about the west.
About Kolmogorov ""Kolmogorov was particularly interested in the deviation of actual rhythms from classical meters. In traditional poetics, the iambic meter is a rhythm consisting of an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable. But in practice, this rule is rarely obeyed. In Pushkin’s Eugene Onegin, the most famous classical iambic poem in the Russian language, almost three-fourths of its 5,300 lines violate the definition of the iambic meter, and more than a fifth of all even syllables are unstressed. Kolmogorov believed that the frequency of stress deviation from the classical meters offered an objective “statistical portrait” of a poet. An unlikely pattern of stresses, he thought, indicated artistic inventiveness and expression. " 
Apparently ADHD incidence among French kids is low
About Bangkok shutdown corrupt but 'pro-poor' against more traditional power groups and a longer article in Asia Times (both and some of the above via Naked Capitalism)
Glenn Davis Stone on Malthus
80-year old snake venom still potent and finally a Asha Bhosle-C.Ramachandra duet

Monday, January 13, 2014

Minai on L.Vijalakshmi

Minai usually likes more classical type dances but she has finally written about one of the favourite film dancers of Andhras L.Vijayalakshmi. I came to know of Vijayalakshmi dances through my grand-daughter Ava and linked to an interview and some of her dances before (some links are not working but cinema chat links are still working). Vijayalakshmi's favourite dance among her dances seems to be
P.S. The comments section of the video links to this post by Lalita Mukherjea which has the lyrics and translation Sex between sects

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Amitava Kumar about his mother

In Indian Express "When I was a child, hanging in our family’s drawing room was a black and white studio photograph. It showed my young mother with her BA degree in Hindi literature from Patna Women’s College. On a small table next to her, the photographer had placed Ma’s gold medal. My mother was the daughter of a policeman; two of her brothers were in the prison bureaucracy. She didn’t grow up in a literary milieu but she wanted to be a writer and a Hindi scholar; I believe she never overcame the bitterness of having her dreams thwarted by marriage and motherhood. As a result, rightly or wrongly, I felt that by writing books I was living her dream. "

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Interview with Anil Kumar Gupta

Trying to see again how Honey Bee Network is doing, I came across this 2009 interview . I find that he is on Facebook (Honey Bee Network too)too and has a blog. Some related links.

Thursday, January 09, 2014

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

'Foibles of power and the melancholy of its abuses'

Links to Karen Knorr's art in 3quarksdaily. See also the article The Photographic Practice of Karen Knorr

VC of University of Hyderabad wonders about the second law of Thermodynamics

Blogger and VC of University of Hyderabad wonders about the Second Law of Thermodynamics. This seems to assume that system is isolated and springs to action when external outputs like visits of UGC arrive. I think that it is more than that. Can we develop excellent institutions which are sustainable isolated from the social conditions outside. Perhaps for short periods if they are lucky enough to have outstanding leaders. Anyway, it is good to see a VC who blogs.

Monday, January 06, 2014

It seems that we still don't know how bicycles work

(via Naked Capitalism)  a recent article here. An older article in Discover Magazine.

Friday, January 03, 2014

Epigenetics in practice

in tackling aggression, the work of Richard Tremblay in Nature News Feature Behaviour and Biology: The Accidental Epigeneticist "This and later work culminated in Tremblay's 'original sin' hypothesis: that physical aggression is the default setting in human behaviour5. It peaks between the ages of two and four, and is usually socialized out of children by the time they enter school (see 'Aggression regression'). “We took the view that violence, and physical aggression, is a part of us as a species,” says Nagin, “so the issue is not how we learn it, but rather how we learn to control it.”
Many criminologists dismissed the findings. They argued not that the idea was wrong, but that it was irrelevant — that chronic childhood aggression is trivial compared with murder and rape in adulthood, and that the former does not explain the latter. Most still focus primarily on delinquency during adolescence, and for good reason, says sociologist Robert Sampson at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. “Early childhood is centrally important, but it's not determinative, because there are still changes [in behaviour] later on.”
Yet the Montreal and similar longitudinal studies show that heightened physical aggression at a young age correlates with serious antisocial behaviour in adolescence and adulthood, says Tremblay. He is fond of citing the view that Saint Augustine offered some 1,600 years ago: “It is not the infant's will that is harmless,” he wrote, “but the weakness of infant limbs.”"
Matt Ridley discussed related New Zealand studies in his book Nature via Nurture and recaps it at Edge. Here is a review of Ridley's book by H.Allen Orr.