Thursday, January 28, 2016

Ramarao Kanneganti among mathermaticians

Next to him are Peter Scott from The University of Michigan, Hyam Rubinstein a nd Chuck Miller from The University of Melbourne. Ramrao's homepage

Rohith Vemula story

from severtal people Rohith Vemula-An Unfished Portrait
I am enclosing some of the comments I made on different FB walls: Benjamin P Kaila, Pramadahnath Sastry, and J.K. Mohana Rao. I made contacts with some Dalit activists through Benjamin Kaila about ten years ago.
1)I am a bit surprised by this statement in the article "He says that there were only a few casteist elements on campus and most of the teachers were secular at the Hindu College in Guntur." If it is true, there is hope. I used to chat with people of my father's generation who studied in this college. My impressions is that many kammas who studied here in thise days resented the brahmin dominance ( many leaders in political parties , Pattabhi Seetharamaiah, Perepa Mrityijajudu... , were brahhmins) and cut their teeth there for political representation and later dominance. Anyway, my imporession is some of the castes who came up, did that throuh cooperative societies, hostels, entrepreneurs who were helped by their communities to start new enterprises (kammas, Nadars, Iranian chai restaurants..). Most communities have poor people and in our endoamous societies people tend to help their relatives. So one strategy may be somewhat seperate casteist enterprises by dalits.
2) Related thoughts from a few years ao (some of the links do not work now)
3)More recent. For the last ten years, I have been invoved in some dalit struggles but from afar. Two years ao, i met a dalit boy who finished B.Tech. via resrvations , but could not find a job and was working as a agricultural labourer along with his parents. Interestingly a brahmin classmate of his who came up through regular channels did well and immediately ot a job. She liked the boy and wanted to marry him. He did not want to marry until he got a job and helped his parents. I advised him to take training and job-placement courses and forced some money on him He went to Hyderabad but tried to save money on food and got sick. Meanwhile I wrote to several people for advice and placement possibilities. There was no response from any dalit activists I contacted. I saw an advertisement about a dalit placement aency in Vijayawada and could not decide whether it was bogus or not. One brahmin Ph.d. student and another non-dalit IT professional Avineni Bhaskar offered to help. Meanwhile the boy got an apprenticeship in an a government enterprice, just enouh to get by, and is progressing. It seems that dalits are not really using their market power to build enough institutions in which they can help themselves. There should be some focus on building cooperative socities, institutions which help dalit entrepreneurs... And role models are movin away to cities or foreign countries to avoid oppression back home. Some stray thoughts from an outsider.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Death of Dalit student

Rohit Davula: The student who died for Dalit Rights (from BBC News)
A documentary from 2011 I'M DALIT HOW ARE YOU? (via Madhukar Shukla)
Ancient prejudice, modern inequality by Anjaya vajpaye from The Hindu
MHRD's Trail of Letters Hounding Dalit Students of UoH (via Lavanya Kolluri)

From The Hindu 19/01/2016 (via Rahul Siddharthan)

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Sean Rice on Price Equation

Peter Scott has braught me a copy of Sean H. Rice: "Evolutionary Theory:Mathematical and Conceptual Foundations" which is not available in our library. It seems excellent, though, with my weak background in biology, it may take several moths to get some grip on the topics. At the end of Chapter 6, he says:
"In deriving equation 6.4, Price started with only a basic description of the kind of quantities involved in evolution; phenotypes of parents, phenotypes of their offsprings, and numbers of offspring. He then asked mhat mathematical relations must hold between these basic pieices, without imposing any further restrictions.
The resulting equation initially seems so simple that it is hard to seehow it relates to actual evolutionary questions. When we look closely at this result, though, we see that it shows an underlying unity that was obscured by our special case models. It also provides a foundation on which to build new models, a fact that we will use in the following chapters of the book.

Not all fields of science have the kind of foundational analytical results that we have used in this chapter. In many subjects, building special case models is the only approach to theory. It is hardly surprising, though, that evolutionary biology has such foundations. Since the initial work of Darwin and Wallace, it has seemed to many people that at its core evolution has simple and universal principles. What we have seen in this chapter is that phrasing these universal principles mathematically need not narrow them, but rather allows us to see their full significance."

Thursday, January 14, 2016

With Peter Scott

Friend since 1968 and coll;aborator since 1986. Some of the hardest work (and Peter says the same) that I have done is with Peter, mostly on problems that bothered me for a long time. Though it is not popular, that work gave both of us a lot of satisfaction. That is how it goes in research.  Even though, we have not met for three years and I have not done any mathematics for two years, we started working as soon as we met and could find a small mistake in one of our papers to be completed.

Depressing links

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

David Bowie in Australia

David Bowie - Let's Dance (Official Video)
from The Guardian article via Chapati Mystery

Nearly 400,000 people under siege in Syria

Links, January 12, 2016

Bloomberg Business on Bowie Bonds:"The man behind “The Man Who Sold the World” was the first recording artist to go to Wall Street to tap the future earnings of his music, paving the way for a thriving market for esotericsecurities backed by everything from racehorse stud rights to commercial washing machines."

Razib Khan discusses in a thread "The secret of our success" by Joseph Henrich: "I’m done with Joe Henrich’s The Secret of Our Success: How Culture Is Driving Human Evolution, Domesticating Our Species, and Making Us Smarter. I would recommend it to anyone who wants to know more about the field of cultural evolution (the author is one of the major people behind the idea of WEIRD psychology). For myself, one of the main upsides was that the book had a lot of empirical illustrations I wasn’t familiar with. Unfortunately some of the references to genomics are out of date, because he was writing the book in 2014. Also, I found the chapter on language somewhat unsatisfying."

Lot of links on development in this post by Chris Blattman (also in the comments)

MinHacks discussion of an article in The Guardian on CBT vs psuchoanalysis 'Psychotherapies and the space between us' : "There’s an in-depth article at The Guardianrevisiting an old debate about cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) versus psychoanalysis that falls into the trap of asking some rather clich├ęd questions."
Language Log on Spoken Sanskrit. Check also the discussion on Suresh Kolichala's wall

Monday, January 11, 2016

Peter Scott visting

for six weeks. I met him in 1968 (Liverpool. He left for University of Michigan in the mid eighties) and have been actively collaborating with him since 1994 though I have not been active mathematically in the recent years. But we have some work to complete and hope to finish it in the next few weeks. So, there will be very few postings in the next few weeks: most probably things that I find interesting but have not read carefully or done any backround checking (not that I do it all the time).

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Meet Aravinda and Ravi

The inspiration behind Shah Rukh Khan Movie Swades
There have been posts about Ravi Kuchimanchi before. From one of them, this:

P.S. The report seems to be more or less what was reported by Madhukar Shukla in 2008. Internet search has not yielded any further information.

Sharon Lowen's Odissi dance in Swarna kamalam

Sharon Lowen notices Minai's post from 2012 on her dance nd responds to Minai's queries. Minai is pleased.
Found: Sharon Lowen's Odissi dance in Swarnakamalam (Telugu, 1988)

Saturday, January 09, 2016

Status and prestige

While reading 'The secret of our success', I was reminded that status seemed to be particularly important among Indians and started searching. It seems that there are some evolutionary reasons mentioned in a few places. On the otherhand, Joseph Henrich discusses its positive role in learning, imitation and fostering cooperation. It is also in this paper co-written by him: The Big Man Mechanism: How prestige fosters cooperation and creates prosocial leaders
On the otherhand, rembering that status and prestige are not quite the same, it seemed that among many Indians that I met (others too but more intense among Indians), status pursuit seems to be for its own sake. Some of the conversations from Telugu people from coastal Andhra who normally do not read books outside what is needed in their professions: " I have not really met any who is more intelligent than me". " Same in my case". " I have international standing. What do these people think?" The first two were reactions to my statement about some wonderful mathematicians that I met like William Thurston. The third was somebody who resents lack of promotion from a lecturership and has not been treated with great respect and admiration in a Telugu party. 

Savitri's first film

It seems to be Samsaram 1951 (Telugu). She was selected for the role of heroine but too nervous and was replaced and had a small role in the film. In the dubbed (remade ?) Tamil version with the same, she is standing on the extreme left in the back

A dubbed film and a song

In Prema Lekhalu 1953 A. M. Rajah starts the duet. In the Hindi version Lata Mangeshkar. The Telugu version here, video not available
Hindi version by Lata Mangeahkar and Mukesh
In the Tamil version Avan  is similar to the Telugu one, both sung by A.M.Rajah and Jikki. Video

Reading 'The secret of our success'

Just finished reading 'The secret if our success' by Joseph Henrich. Because of the imminent arrival of a collaborator, I rushed through the later parts of this very interesting book. Because of the scope of the book, there are bound to be some discrepancies. I will probably start with chapters 6, 15, and 17 in the next reading. Razib Khan will probably write a detailed review soon. Apart from saying that it is very interesting and that I will read it again, I cannot say any thing concrete now.

Mother and baby wars

Sazanne Sadedin last year in Aeon War in the womb
Carl Zimmer in Sptember this year A pregnancy souveir: Cells that not your own

Thursday, January 07, 2016


From The tale of Idli: "K.T. Acharya, the food historian, speculates that the modern idli might have originated in the region that is now Indonesia (also about what ancient characters ate), which has had a long tradition of fermented food. According to him, cooks employed by the Hindu kings of the local kingdom may have invented the steamed idli there, and brought the recipe to India during the period 800-1200 CE. But this theory is being questioned by modern food historians such as Lizzie Collingham, Kristen Gremillion, Raymond Grew, Makhdoom Al-Salaqi (Syria), Zahiruddin Afiyaab (Lebanon). "
Some information about K.T.Acharya here. Another Indianfood expert Pushpesh Pant
More on what Rama and Sita ate (by D.Balasubramanian, here too) rom K.T. Acharya: "Lords Rama, Lakshmana and Devi Sita ate a vast menu that contained fruits, leafy vegetables, rice and meat. Achaya quotes a book stating that Rama and Lakshmana, while in exile at Dandakaranya, hunted animals for the pot, and that a favourite of Sita was rice cooked with venison, vegetables and spices (the dish called Mamsabhutadana). Of course, Lord Rama enjoyed eating the fruit ber (zizyphus) that Sabari tasted and gave him." Probably more in his book, some quotes here.

Pentagon carbon footprint

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

A passage from "The secret of our success" by Joseph Henrich

From chapter 10, 'Intergroup competetion shapes cultural evolution': "As I discuss intergroup competetion, keep in mind that there are manyu other cultural evolutionary forces that do not favour proscial institutions. When the fotrces of intergroup competetion are spent and weakened, success-biased cultural learning (or purely rational self-interest) will cause individuals to seek out any "cracks" in their roups' institutions to manipulate or exploit for their own benefit or that of their kith and kin.Ovet time, history suiggests that all prosocial institutions age and eventually collapse at the hands of self-interest, unless they are renewed by the dynamics of interroup competetion.That is, although it may take a lon time, individuals and coalitions figure out how to beat or manipulate the system to their own ends, and these techniques spread and corrode any prosocial effects."

Henrich takes great trouble to explain his ideas lucidly and many of the statements are based on research and often he gives references. But there are none for the above. As Razib Khan said "...I think that he wrote at an unfortunate time when it comes to drawing lessons from human genomics, because some of his assertions have been falsified! (he wrote the preface in January of 2015, a year ago)."
I think that it is an excellent book but the statements should be treated cautiously and one should look for reviews and such for comments.

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

Monday, January 04, 2016

Razib Khan on 'The secret of our success'

"I’m about halfway through The Secret of Our Success: How Culture Is Driving Human Evolution, Domesticating Our Species, and Making Us Smarter. Yes, it’s as good as readers have told me. But, I’ll be honest and state that I knew most of it already in the generality, though not the ethnographic details (for example, I did not know that Inuit ate deer feces like “berries”; thanks for that Joe!). Part of this has to due with the fact that I’ve kept up on the author’s research since 2004, when I encountered his models of skill decay in Tasmanian Aboriginals. And, I’m familiar with the fields of cultural evolution more broadly. Additionally, I’ll bring it up in my review, but I think that he wrote at an unfortunate time when it comes to drawing lessons from human genomics, because some of his assertions have been falsified! (he wrote the preface in January of 2015, a year ago)." in the recent post.

Men coping

Woman coping

via Facebook Feed

Voices of women

Rahul Banerjee Here is an invigorating quote from nineteenth century Argentinian feminists to start the year on a revolutionary note - 
“fed up as we are with so many tears and so much misery; fed up with the never ending drudgery of children (dear though they are); fed up with asking and begging; of being a plaything for our infamous exploiters or vile husbands, we have decided to raise our voices in the concert of society and demand, yes, demand our bit of pleasure in the banquet of life.”
- La Voz de la Mujer (The Voice of The Woman, the mouth piece of Argentinian Anarcha-Feminists)

 From Women writing in India, vol1, Songs of the nuns, sixth century BC. Sumangalalatamata, pages 68-69 :
A woman well set free! How free I am
 How wonderfully free from kitchen drudgery.
Free from harsh grip of hunger,
 And from empty cooking pots.
 Free too of that unscrupulous man,
 The weaver of sunshades.
 Calm now, and serene I am,
All lust and hatred purged.
To the shade of the spreading tree I go
 And contemplate my happiness.
And one from Mutta: 
So free I am, so gloriously free,
 Free from three petty things-
 From mortar, from pestle and from my twisted lord,
Freed from rebirth and death I am,
And all that held me down
 Is hurled away.

Sunday, January 03, 2016

Seymour Hersh on military strategies in Syria

Military to Military in LRB. This sort of perception is around for some time but I think Obama is playin a deeper game. He wants continued US economic hegemony and easy solutions in the Middle East may help Russia and China.

Culture driven genetic evolution

Lactase persistence (the ability to of older children, adoloscents, and adults to access milk's nutrition) is apparently 63% in North India and 23% in the South. This is from Chapter 6 of 'The secret of our success' by Joseph  Henrich, where he outlines three best documented cases examples of culture driven genetic evolution, the others being 'blue eyes' and booze-inhibiting genes co-evolving with rice cultivation. Apparently, these evolutions took different routes in different places.
P.S. Another difference between North and South India was mentioned by Emmanuel Todd. He distinguishes the North and South Indian family systems as Exogamous Community Family and Assymetrical Community Family respectively. Part of the difference, outside Kerala which is more matrilinear, comes from the marriage stem where the children of brother and sister can marry. Apparently, this gives women a bigger role in the society though not as much as in matrilinear societies.

Saturday, January 02, 2016

Two posts from Songs of Yore

The latest by Shalan Lal "During the last April I went along with some friends to see the arrival of the New Yorker Hudsonian migratory birds called “Godwit”, who were supposed to be flying back to Canada, just a journey about two hundred miles from New York. But their magnetic field in their heads changed due to too much electrification in New York and they got in a different current of the air (AK also noticed this in his reading of the news and mentioned it in his email to me on another matter) and made a non-stop four thousand miles journey to England. Some say they got unwittingly in another caravan of migratory birds and made off-beam and very wide of the mark journey." Story here.That starts her off on bird songs in Hindi films and some others.
and an old puzzle "Twin songs: A front runner and a laggard" by AK; "If you somehow block the memory of the male versions and listen to the female versions of the above songs, they are technically sound and quite melodious. Then why even Lata versions pale in comparison to their male counterparts seems inexplicable. Perhaps it has to do with something abstract in the way our senses respond to when the same song is sung by a male and a female singer, and we always seem to be favouring the former."
Some theories of music

Friday, January 01, 2016