Wednesday, May 31, 2017

More on the recent ban on procuring animals from market place or slaughter

Another report on autism

Game changer for autism:
"Suramin was originally developed as a cure for sleeping sickness, a parasitic disease spread by the tsetse fly in sub-Saharan Africa.
First tested on mice in 2013, this is the first time suramin has been administered to children.
For Naviaux, the challenge now is to widen his research to a bigger sample testing size. “This work is new and this type of clinical trial is expensive,” he said. “We did not have enough funding to do a larger study. And even with the funding we were able to raise, we had to go $500,000 in debt to complete the trial.”"
Another report
"Furthermore, all of the children who were administered suramin experienced a rash, an alarming side effect. And although the children showed remarkable positive cognitive and emotional improvements, the effects were only temporary. After three weeks, the children all regressed back to the norm. Even so, the study warrants further research."
See also N of One: Autism Research Foundation Interviews Robert Naviaux, MD PhD on Suramin & Autism Trial May 2017 

Monday, May 29, 2017

Daniel Little on proliferation of hate and violence

with special reference to Hindu-Moslem riots Proliferation of hate and violence. It is partly a review of a recent book The Production of Hindu-Muslim Violence in Contemporary India by Paul R. Brass but also has links to several general studies. One excerpt from the article:
"The presence of a small number of "hot connectors". It appears to be the case that attitudes of intolerance are infectious to some degree. So the presence of a few outspoken bigots in a small community may spread their attitudes to others, and the density of local social networks appears to be an important factor in the spread of hateful attitudes. The broader the social network of these individuals, the more potent the infective effects of their behavior are likely to be. (Here is a recent post on social-network effects on mobilization; link.)

There is a substantial degree of orchestration in most of these mechanisms -- deliberate efforts by organizations and political entrepreneurs to incite and channel the emotions of fear, hostility, and hate among their followers and potential followers. Strategies of recruitment for extremist and hate-based parties deliberately cultivate the mindset of hate among young people and disaffected older people (link). And the motivations seem to be a mix of ideological commitment to a worldview of hate and more prosaic self-interest -- power, income, resources, publicity, and influence. 

But the hard questions remaining are these: how does intolerance become mainstream? Is this a "tipping point" phenomenon? And what mechanisms and forces exist to act as counter-pressures against these mechanisms, and promulgate attitudes of mutual respect and tolerance as affirmative social values?"
Coming back to India, the article links to a 2013 study 
Which says in the conclusion "Since, the riots of 2002 Gujarat, the incidence of Hindu-Muslim violence has decreased drastically, so the question that could really be posed, therefore, is whether the incentives have been changing for the state governments, local political leaders, and even individuals who may once have beneÖted or harmed from the dreadful Hindu- Muslim riots in India or is there any creation of interethnic civic engagements that is actually playing a role in the prevention of violence in a sustained basis."
That was in 2013, it would be interesting to study the results since then. Abstract of the article:
"We utilize a unique data set on Hindu-Muslim riots at the state-level in India to in- vestigate the determinants. We base our estimation on Negative Binomial procedure that controls for the count data characteristic of the dependent variable. Five major Öndings emerge. First, political competition and presence of right-wing Hindu nationalist parties in a given Indian state seems to have a positive and statistically signiÖcant impact on the number of communal riots; second, if the state legislative assembly has a majority of either a coalition government or regional or left-wing parties, it has exactly the opposite e§ect; third, we Önd no evidence of a negative impact of economic development per se on communal violence; fourthly, the greater proportion of the Muslim population, higher is the number of communal riots; lastly, past violence seems to have a positive recurring e§ect on the current events."

Wheat domestication

Changes ahead?

It's Time to Get Rid of Donald Trump from Spiegel "Fifth: the international community wakes up and finds a way to circumvent the White House and free itself of its dependence on the U.S."
Merkel says EU cannot completely rely on US and Britain any more from The Guardian

Sunday, May 28, 2017

American heores

American heroes Taliesin Myrddin Namkai Meche and Ricky John Best died and Micah David-Cole Fletcher recovering. Ricky Best was 53 and left behind four children.
Ricky John Best & Taliesin Myrddin Namkai Meche: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

తాళ్ళపాక వారి పలుకుబళ్ళు

"A society whose intellectual leaders lose the skill to shape, appreciate, and understand the power of language will become the slaves of those who retain it—be they politicians, preachers, copywriters, or newscasters. The public responsibility of poetry has been pointed out repeatedly by modern writers. " Said Dana Ciola long ago. Looking at those who did for Telugu, I think that the foremost name is Tallapaka Annamacharya. Idioms in Tallapaka poets ( more accurately తాళ్ళపాక వారి పలుకుబళ్ళు) by Ramalakshmi Arudra's available online.

Many more books at the same site 

Martin Wolf reviews a book on India

Discussion  in MR India fact of the day Name of the article is 'India's long road to prosperity' review of a book by Vijay Joshi India's Long Road: The Seach for Prosperity one quote from the review "Among the many failures is the waste of state resources on inefficient subsidies that, though often given in the name of the poor, actually go to the better off. Indeed, one of the most original and persuasive aspects of the book is the argument that it would in principle be possible to provide a basic income to all Indians sufficient to lift everybody out of extreme poverty merely by diverting resources wasted on grotesquely costly subsidies."

Saturday, May 27, 2017


Behave and After Piketty   Both are tough going for me. Passageslike this from the first book:

"Collectively these studies show that our dopaminergic system, frontal cortex, amygdala, insula, and other members of the chorus code for differing aspects of reward magnitude, delay, and probability with varying degrees of accuracy, all influencing whether we manage to do the harder, more correct thing. 

 Individual differences among people in the capacity for gratification postponement arise from variation in the volume of these individual neural voices. For example, there are abnormalities in dopamine response profiles during temporal discounting tasks in people with the maladaptive impulsiveness of attention-deficit/ hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Similarly, addictive drugs bias the dopamine system toward impulsiveness.

 Phew.One more complication: These studies of temporal discounting typically involve delays on the order of seconds. Though the dopamine system is similar across numerous species, humans do something utterly novel: we delay gratification for insanely long times. No warthog restricts calories to look good in a bathing suit next summer. No gerbil works hard at school to get good SAT scores to get into a good college to get into a good grad school to get a good job to get into a good nursing home. We do something even beyond this unprecedented gratification delay: we use the dopaminergic power of the happiness of pursuit to motivate us to work for rewards that come after we are dead—depending on your culture,.."

Friday, May 26, 2017

From 'Phir Subha hogi' 1958


The book that uncovered 'wealthfare'
"Their assault on military spending also included this quote from President Dwight Eisenhower: “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.” (In contrast, President Trump wants a new defense budget of $603 billion. That’s a year-over-year $54 billion increase, to be paid for by $54 billion in non-defense cuts.) 
In 23 scathing chapters, Zepezauer and Naiman listed and estimated the costs of everything they considered “wealthfare”—from preferential taxes on capital gains to agribusiness subsidies, from the 30-year savings-and-loan bailout to the Social Security tax break for high incomes. For good measure, they topped it off with a chapter titled “WHAT WE’VE LEFT OUT (untold billions every year).”
Specifics aside, the book’s real finding was the upward flow of income. After decades of shared prosperity in America, the sharing had ended and the prosperity was moving solely toward the already prosperous. “Wealthfare” presciently saw the rich getting richer, the middle class getting more middling, and income inequality rising to record highs."

Future mining?

Goan mangoes

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Intermittent variable rewards.

Stopped reading a book

I do not think that I can go on reading Sapiens. There are some interesting points, one of which Ramarao pointed out, but there is too much rubbish. I will look at reviews for interesting points. Here is one from The Guardian "Much of Sapiens is extremely interesting, and it is often well expressed. As one reads on, however, the attractive features of the book are overwhelmed by carelessness, exaggeration and sensationalism. Never mind his standard and repeated misuse of the saying "the exception proves the rule" (it means that exceptional or rare cases test and confirm the rule, because the rule turns out to apply even in those cases). There's a kind of vandalism in Harari's sweeping judgments, his recklessness about causal connections, his hyper-Procrustean stretchings and loppings of the data. Take his account of the battle of Navarino. Starting from the fact that British investors stood to lose money if the Greeks lost their war of independence, Harari moves fast: "the bond holders' interest was the national interest, so the British organised an international fleet that, in 1827, sank the main Ottoman flotilla in the battle of Navarino. After centuries of subjugation, Greece was finally free." This is wildly distorted – and Greece was not then free. To see how bad it is, it's enough to look at the wikipedia entry on Navarino.
Harari hates "modern liberal culture", but his attack is a caricature and it boomerangs back at him. Liberal humanism, he says, "is a religion". It "does not deny the existence of God"; "all humanists worship humanity"; "a huge gulf is opening between the tenets of liberal humanism and the latest findings of the life sciences". This is silly. It's also sad to see the great Adam Smith drafted in once again as the apostle of greed. Still, Harari is probably right that "only a criminal buys a house … by handing over a suitcase of banknotes" – a point that acquires piquancy when one considers that about 35% of all purchases at the high end of the London housing market are currently being paid in cash."

My next misadventure will be reading 'Behave' by Robert Sapolsky. I have read some very sharp pieces by Sapolsky earlier and they are usually dense, revealing and entertaining. I have doubts whether he can achieve any thing similar in a long book. But Sapolsky is Sapolsky and with prior experience, I do not mind spending some time reading him. Just got the book today. Behave at google books.

Story of a school

i came across Bruce Court School while trying to find about Peter Medawar's cooloborator Leslie (Lothar Baruch) Brent. Peter Medawar said half jokingly "His Ph.D task was to discover immunological tolerance and win me the Nobel Prize for Medicine"

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Troll armies

"“If you accomplish tasks everyday during the month, the total MAVRO growth makes up 100%. You will double up your money,” reads the marketing material.
Tasks include liking a YouTube video, joining a Facebook group, sharing news on Google Plus or creating a Pinterest group. All of these have the capacity to skew online statistics, counters or data and mislead popularity and marketing metrics to the troll army General’s advantage. The tasks are also pyramid self-serving, inasmuch as they help to propagate the scheme itself in the style of a virus." from 
On the economic weaponisation of troll armies by Isabella Kaminska at FTAlphaville ( may need registration)

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

News from India

Karl Marx goes mainstream

The way forward-4?

I came to know of Achyuta  Samanta through a post of Vadrevu Ch. Veerabhadrudu. From a quick browse: At some stage, he became an entrepreneur with a sum of 5000 rupees and started an industrial training institute now known as KIIT. This seems to be for profit institute and there seem to be even investors. But soon after, instead of using the profits for himself, he started a free school for 125 tribal children which now caters about 25, 000 children; this is KISS. There seem to be some subsidies from the government and philonthropphists. But it seems to be mostly the effort of one person. The story also reminded me of Dr. Subbaraju who passed away recently. Is this replicable? Perhaps it depends on the local conditions where you can start some thing which makes a bit of profit so that the profits can be used to help the more underprivileged. Or variations of the model might work. Another takeaway for me, it is kind of integrated local development though attuned to the market. Perhaps some sort of local self sufficiency as well as awareness of the market needs seem at work . More about him herehere  here and here.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Right to repair

Apple Spends Big to Thwart Right to Repair in New York and Elsewhere with Apple India update:
"The bill, called the “Fair Repair Act,” would require electronics companies to sell replacement parts and tools to the general public, would prohibit “software locks” that restrict repairs, and in many cases would require companies to make repair guides available to the public. Apple and other tech giants have been suspected of opposing the legislation in many of the 11 states where similar bills have been introduced, but New York’s robust lobbying disclosure laws have made information about which companies are hiring lobbyists and what bills they’re spending money on public record."
Older article 

Another quote from Harari's Sapiens

""Romanticism tells us that in order to make the most of our human potential we must have as many different experiences as we can. We must open ourselves to a wide spectrum of emotions; we must sample various kinds of relationships; we must try different cuisines; we must learn to appreciate different styles of music. One of the best ways to do all that is to break free from our daily routine, leave behind our familiar setting, and go travelling in distant lands, where we can ‘experience’ the culture, the smells, the tastes and the norms of other people. We hear again and again the romantic myths about ‘how a new experience opened my eyes and changed my life’.
Consumerism tells us that in order to be happy we must consume as many products and services as possible."

A conversation with Ramarao Kanneganti

It started with this post on my wall:
I have been reading Sapiens by Harare against my better judgement since children and others have been recommending it. I am upto 25 percent of the book do far and it seems to be a just so story so far though supported by some sort consensus knowledge. This quote from the book suggests that I am a cynic. 
"It does not take much to provide the objective biological needs of Homo sapiens . After those needs are met, more money can be spent on building pyramids, taking holidays around the world, financing election campaigns, funding your favourite terrorist organisation, or investing in the stock market and making yet more money –all of which are activities that a true cynic would find utterly meaningless. Diogenes, the Greek philosopher who founded the Cynical school, lived in a barrel. When Alexander the Great once visited Diogenes as he was relaxing in the sun, and asked if there were anything he might do for him, the Cynic answered the all-powerful conqueror, ‘Yes, there is something you can do for me. Please move a little to the side. You are blocking the sunlight.’ This is why cynics don’t build empires ....."
Ramarao responded:
Ramarao Kanneganti . That is the perfect example of how lack of shared myth creates incongruence in interactions. If two people do not believe in the sanctity of samethings, how can they reason together? That is what propelled the conquerors to either adapt the existing religion, or force a new religion (or, set of aesthetics or whatever). 

For instance, what do we do with money? In our collective myth, we made a virtue of it -- how we can do things with it: giving it to the poor, the brahmins, children. That created necessity of money, keeping the society tethered. [Not sure if we need it still ...]. If people stopped valuing money, the existing structures collapse -- such is the power of shared myth.

We read dystopian novels, (like say, Night fall). What happens when the civilization falls? There is no shared myth that all the people believe in. It is not immoral, it is not illogical -- but it leads to chaos. People question the shared myths, because they create structures of hegemony. People write books, prophets cite God to change the existing myths. 

I think it is more about what we read into the book. For instance, when he talks about shared myths -- taking a look at your note on education -- don't you think the purpose of education is propagation of such shared myths? Strictly speaking, almost all the arts do not describe physical reality, but shared myths. 

Objectively speaking, there is no poetry -- we are not biologically born liking poetry. But, education makes us like poetry, which creates bonds with other humans, which is "good" for the collective, I suppose. 

For some reason, this book helped me clarify how I would see, moral relativism, purpose of education, arts, and structures of hegemony. I am curious to see how you would interpret it.

My responses:
1) Anandaswarup Gadde Ramarao garu, Your thoughtful comments will make me read the book carefully. My initial reaction is due to my background, or what I think is my background. I remember I was 13 when I finished school and was already suspicious of shared myths. I did not want to go to college, I wanted to be a farmer. One thought I remember that stayed with me since then is that 'ambition is a sin'. Anyway, I was persuaded to attend college and then to study mathematics. Then discovered mathematics and felt that they were teaching rubbish and was thrown out of college since I did not attend classes. I went back home with a couple of mathematics books on modern algebra and Russell's introduction to mathematical philosophy but I found that I was not good enough to do mathematics by myself in a village and went back to college loosing four years in the process. Then on, I studied what I liked choosing a subject in which I could not be guided. So there is this mixture of suspicion of shred myths but at the same time using structures built on shared myths. And similarly with other shared issues like money. I still do not save money but use the pension system to get monthly payments.
2)Anandaswarup Gadde About poetry, my long term view is that education is not really necessary. It works by images, sounds , idioms and shared culture and myths and we have a lot of poetry from folk poets like Vemana to Gorati Venkanna. But I did not really read much Telugu poetry, most of my exposure is through a few books in which Telugu is not difficult or from film songs. At one stage, I took a bit more to English poetry particularly John Donne, Auden and Marianne Moore. That was long ago in the fifties and sixties and some of it stayed with me. But recently I came across a 1995 article by Dana Ciola in which I found this quote which I found stimulating but have not thought through the consequences: "A society whose intellectual leaders lose the skill to shape, appreciate, and understand the power of language will become the slaves of those who retain it—be they politicians, preachers, copywriters, or newscasters. The public responsibility of poetry has been pointed out repeatedly by modern writers. "
Ramarao Kanneganti I agree with you what you said about poetry. My statement is clumsily made. By education, I meant -- training -- either through classroom, or through cultural conditioning. I know that we all are attracted to alliteration and such poetic forms -- is that innate? is that a primal understanding? Or, is it a learned behavior? That is, is liking poetry biological? 

People say that music is innate and liking towards it is biological. I must be inhuman for not resonating to music . But, there is some truth to it. Kids respond to music, not meaning.

I am reminded of a funny book కంఠాభరణం "అర్థ బ్రహ్మం కంటే శబ్ద బ్రహ్మం గొప్పోయ్". Does it mean that we are biologically programmed to respond to music? 

If we find feral children, do they respond to music? I wonder.

Anandaswarup Gadde A quick search shows hat there is no consensus except that Darwin thought it was music first.

Darwin's theory of musical protolanguage

Musical protolanguage: Darwin's theory of language evolution revisited by W. Tecumseh Fish in Language Log 2009
"Darwin also adopted an empirical, data-driven approach to the problem at hand. In particular, Darwin exploited a wide comparative database, exploiting not just his knowledge of nonhuman primate behaviour, but also insights from many other vertebrates. Finally, and most characteristically, he resisted any special pleading about human evolution. He intended his model of human evolution to fit within, and remain consistent with, a broader theory of evolution that applies to beetles, flowers and birds. Unlike Wallace, who remained a human exceptionalist to his death (Wallace, 1905), Darwin aimed to uncover general principles, like sexual selection and shifts of function, to provide explanations of unusual or unique human traits. While gradualistic, his model does not assume any simple continuity of function between nonhuman primate calls and language, and he clearly recognized the uniqueness of language in our species. In many ways, then, Darwin’s model of language evolution finds a natural place in the landscape of contemporary debate concerning language evolution, and it is surprising that his model has received relatively little detailed consideration in the modern literature (for exceptions see Donald, 1991; Fitch, 2006).
In this essay, I aim to redress this neglect by considering Darwin’s model of language evolution in detail. After discussing Darwin’s main points and arguments, I will briefly review additional data supporting Darwin’s model that has appeared since his death. I will also discuss the issue of meaning, about which Darwin had too little to say, but which can be resolved by the addition of a hypothesis due to (Jespersen, 1922). My conclusion is that, suitably modified in the light of contemporary understanding, Darwin’s model of language evolution, based on a “protolanguage” more musical than linguistic, provides one of the most convincing frameworks available for understanding language evolution. The timing of my writing, on the 150th anniversary of the Origin, and the 200th of Darwin’s birth, is also appropriate for a revival of interest in Darwin’s compelling and well-supported hypothesis."

Sunday, May 21, 2017

A quick introduction to algebraic topology l

TIFRsummer school courseAlgebraic Topology byM.S.Narasimhan, S.Ramanan, R.Sridharan, K.Varadarajan available online. One of the quickest introductions to the topic.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Flammable ice from ocean floor

China and Japan are harvesting "combustible ice" from ocean floor "
"Mining this combustible ice will either accidentally release methane gas into the ocean or atmosphere, or it will be burned to produce fuel, whereupon it’ll turn into carbon dioxide. Neither of these options are good, but it seems that the abundance of the fuel is too tempting for either China or Japan to ignore.
Basically, this is fracking, but with a new twist. Natural gas on ice. Ho hum."RT on the prospects of selling along the Maritime Silk Road
Branko Milanovic is enthusiastic about the Maritime Silk Road(OBOR) But many others are not, the principal problem seems to be funding.

Two from Branko Milanovic

Liberation from shackles of space, a book review from last year:"There are several aspects of Baldwin’s book that are worth emphasizing. The first is a novel and persuasive way of defining the three historical eras of globalization as made possible successively by the reduced cost of transporting (i) goods, (ii) information, and (iii) people. "
Is "neo-imperialism" the only path to development?:
"It is directly relevant for the understanding of the rise of new capitalist economies in Asia. Richard Baldwin’s recent book (reviewed here), even if Baldwin does not make any allusions to either the classical Marxist position or to the dependency theory, clearly shows that the economic success of Asia was based on the use of  capitalistic relations of production and inclusion in the global supply chains, that is in active participation in globalization. Not passive—but a participation that was sought after, desired. It is thus no accident that China has become the main champion of globalization today. Therefore, Asian success directly disproves the dependency theories and is in full agreement with the classical Marxist position about the revolutionary impact of capitalism, and by extension of “neo-imperialism”, in less developed societies."

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Noam Chomsky on education and creativity
Related article
  • “Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself.” John Dewey

Noam Chomsky on the purpose of education

Noah Smith on vast literatures

Vast literatures as mud moats "I don't know why academic literatures are so often referred to as "vast" (the phrase goes back well over a century), but it seems like no matter what topic you talk about, someone is always popping up to inform you that there is a "vast literature" on the topic already. This often serves to shut down debate, because it amounts to a demand that before you talk about something, you need to go read voluminous amounts of what others have already written about it. Since vast literatures take many, many hours to read, this represents a significant demand of time and effort. If the vast literature comprises 40 papers, each of which takes an hour to read, that's one week of full-time work equivalent that people are demanding as a cost of entry just to participate in a debate! So the question is: Is it worth it?"
Paul Krugman respond 

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Chennupati Jagadish

i came to know about him when a friend inquired about possibilities for reasearch in nanotechnology in Australia. Dome biographical details about him here and here "My interest in science started during my childhood. I was born in a small village in the state of Andhra Pradesh, India, and studied in front of a kerosene lamp until I completed seventh grade. My father was a school teacher, and he migrated to an even more remote village in the state of Telangana to start farming, as I come from a farming family. High school was about two miles from my village, and my father realized that I couldn't walk every day to school, considering that I used to be weak and often became sick. He mentioned this problem to his high school classmate and mathematics and science teacher in the high school in the neighboring village who suggested, “why don't you ask him to stay with us?” So I ended up living with my mathematics and science teacher during high school and completed 10th grade. This was a turning point in my life.
I had another mathematics teacher who was also a teacher for my father. In addition to my parents, both of these teachers inspired and supported me in childhood. One teacher taught me the importance of hard work, perseverance, and persistence, and the other teacher taught me to be simple, honest, humble, and kind and generous to others by being a positive example."

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Sujata and Asoka
An article by Anu Kumar on the dancers
More videos on the YouTube like this which includes a lesson on wearing a saree.

Monday, May 15, 2017

After Piketty

Marijuana making a comeback

There are a few articles like this Marijuana May Boost, Rather Than Dull, the Elderly Brain
And some news about Stocks here

Telugu readership

Where Have All the Telugu Readers Gone?
A tentative comment to keep the discussion going: coastal Andhra has not been able to keep its writers within its borders for a long time. Prosperity and lack of investment opportunities sent many to Madras first and later Hyderabad with a mixed culture(? I lived in Hyderabad from 1960-62. It was not easy to get by in Telugu. In the market, one had to know a bit of Urdu. The actor Chandrasekhar said that his Telugu was so bad that he was advised to try Bombay. ) And some of the brightest emigrated to other countries and there seems to be a trend to go abroad. Perhaps this lack of resident writers may be one of the problems.Chandralata who was mentioned n the article has sent her son to study in USA and now her daughter who is a doctor married another doctor in USA.

Macron takes charge

Watching porn

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Excerpts from Brian Stoddart's book on Arthur Galletti-1

A people's collector in the British Raj:Arthur Galletti

On Empire Day, May 24, 1918 "Seated near Arthur Galletti during dinner, Mrs. Fischer and Mrs. Thomson asked him to declare that he represented the King alone in these trying times, that he had no other loyalties. Was he not the King’s servant completely? Galletti replied that he served India and its people rather than the King. Scandalised, the two women and others questioned how Galletti drew the King’s pay while holding such outrageous views."

Arthur Galletti who met Vivekananda in 1900 on a ship from Rome to Bombay "Galletti thought him “exceedingly well read” but an ‘awful humbug’."

P.S. Another book by Brian Stoddart which I just finished reading:
Land, language,water & politics in Andhra: Reginal evolution in India since 1850

Apparently Galletti wrote a Telugu dictionary
Galletti' Telugu dictionary

Bhajaré Shrī Rāmam – Bhadrachala Ramadas - BMK Demonstrates how to sing the Rāga - Vakulābharanam
I do not know classical music and did not understand the comments but found listening to this very nice.

Michelin experiment

via Lambert Strether of Naked Capitalism. The link may not work but searching with the title may find a link that works.
Power to the workers: Michelin’s great experiment

On US housing

from NYTimes "Almost a decade removed from the foreclosure crisis that began in 2008, the nation is facing one of the worst affordable-housing shortages in generations. The standard of “affordable” housing is that which costs roughly 30 percent or less of a family’s income. Because of rising housing costs and stagnant wages, slightly more than half of all poor renting families in the country spend more than 50 percent of their income on housing costs, and at least one in four spends more than 70 percent. Yet America’s national housing policy gives affluent homeowners large benefits; middle-class homeowners, smaller benefits; and most renters, who are disproportionately poor, nothing. It is difficult to think of another social policy that more successfully multiplies America’s inequality in such a sweeping fashion." From How Homeownership Became the Engine of American Inequality

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Jack Preger

Meet Jack Preger, the Pavement Doctor Who Serves Kolkata’s Poorest "Instead of going back to the UK he decided to shift to Kolkata, where after an initial period of preparation he started treating homeless and slum-dweller patients on pavements. However, Preger continued to campaign against child trafficking. Soon he found himself in trouble with the West Bengal government. It was at this stage that I first met him.
Apart from reporting about his work as well as his concerns and problems, I also tried to help by taking up the matter with an office of the West Bengal government in Delhi. My hopes rested mainly on the efforts of Safdar Hashmi, the eminent theatre artist who was then also working in this office. Luckily, he was keen to help. But after a while, Hashmi told me that he could not do much in the matter.
Eventually, Preger and his co-workers formed Calcutta Rescue – a formal organisation that could also receive donations. Soon, clinics were set up. The volunteers, nurses, doctors and other workers from Calcutta Rescue are known for their compassion and commitment towards their patients, no matter what the ailment. According to some estimates, Calcutta Rescue has provided treatment to half a million patients over the last 40 years or so."
Kolkata doctor gets Asian award from The Hindu.
The Wikipedia article on Dr. Jack Preger

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Evidence of early life on land

"The oldest fossil evidence of life on land has been discovered in Australian rocks, potentially extending the known era of land-based life by over 500 million years.
Ancient deposits from a hot spring in Western Australia's Pilbara region were found to contain minerals created by microbes, and researchers from the University of NSW were able to show that the deposits were created by land-based hot springs, rather than in the ocean.
The extraordinary finding suggests the earliest life may have actually originated in the hot springs on land, rather than in thermal vents deep in the ocean. It also has implications for the search for evidence of ancient life on Mars, because the Dresser Formation in the Pilbara region where the deposits were found shares some characteristics with Martian rock sites."
From Oldest evidence of life on land discovered in Australia

Soviet science during Stalin's time

Two Mukesh duets buzzing me today Better audios are available but this has a translation of the lyrics. A better version

South Korean elections

Moon Jae-in wins South Korea's presidential election, vows to unify bruised country "He wrote in a book published in January South Korea should learn to say "no to America", and believes better inter-Korean relations are the best way to provide security.
His election could also complicate the deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) system, which the former government in Seoul and the US military agreed to last year.
Mr Moon has said the decision was made too quickly and the next administration should have the final say on whether to deploy the system."
Check also the report in NYTimes. On the whole, a positive development in my opinion.

Tim Taylor discusses economic prospects for Palestine

Gardening advice

It seems that I have been doing it wrong, spending so much time weeding.
Understanding What Makes Plants Happy by Margaret Roach in New York Times:
"So if we think about the way plants grow in the wild, it helps us understand how different our gardens are. In the wild, every square inch of soil is covered with a mosaic of interlocking plants, but in our gardens, we arrange plants as individual objects in a sea of mulch. We place them in solitary confinement.
So if you want to add butterfly weed to your garden, you might drift it in beds several feet apart and tuck some low grasses in as companions, like prairie dropseed, blue grama grass or buffalo grass.
Start by looking for bare soil. It is everywhere in our gardens and landscapes. Even in beds with shrubs in them, there are often large expanses of bare soil underneath. It’s incredibly high-maintenance. It requires multiple applications of bark mulch a year, pre-emergent herbicides and lots and lots of weeding.
The alternative to mulch is green mulch — that is, plants. This includes a wide range of herbaceous plants that cover soil, like clump-forming sedges, rhizomatous strawberries or golden groundsel, and self-seeding columbine or woodland poppies."

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

The way forward-3?

From The Hidden Radicalism of Southern Food Freedom Farms and Pig Banks.
"In the late 1960s, as the civil rights movement shifted to address economic injustice, Ms. Hamer conceived agricultural solutions to the plight of her fellow Americans, including a communal farm and livestock share program in Sunflower County in the Mississippi Delta. That work set the stage for the progressive agricultural policies and practices of today, with their focus."
"Freedom Farm aimed to give farmers land to work and poor families food to eat. This bold promise threatened plantation agriculture and its scions. Conservative whites saw cooperative agriculture as a threat to their political and economic power. Across the region, white banks called in loans, white families fired cooks and night riders torched crosses."
"With the help of Dorothy Height, the president of the National Council of Negro Women, she developed a Pig Bank in Sunflower County in 1969. Conceived as a complement to Freedom Farm, the idea was innovative and, for the moment and place, odd. Beginning with 35 gilts and five boars, she gave pregnant pigs to Delta families who agreed to care for them, return the mother pig to the bank and keep the remaining piglets as dividends. Poor families butchered those dividends once they reached an acceptable weight."
"Even though her work achieved only a short-term success, it presaged our nation’s contemporary focus on food sovereignty as a solution to malnutrition......Today, as Americans agitate for food sovereignty, the bold agricultural ideas conceived in the late 1960s by Fannie Lou Hamer and other radical Southerners suggest paths for us to follow out of our food deserts."

As both the Telugu states called April a ‘cruel month,’ experts warn that May is likely to be even worse

South India’s Drought Part 8: Telangana, Andhra Pradesh reel under heatwave, but petty politics takes centrestage
South India’s Drought Part 9: Rayachoty one of the worst-hit in Rayalaseema; govts play down water scarcity

Here are some tentative thoughts about a query of Purnima Tammireddy about the role of social media in status seeking rather than helping with these problems.

I have been watching news like this. Years ago, I visited Indian Statistical Institute, Bengaluru Centre, and used to go out to drink tea. Nearby there were municipal water taps where water was available for a few hours and many women, who looked like my relatives when I was growing up, were waiting in question to collect water. Inside the centre, we had 24 hour water supply and there were stories that watchmen would sometimes allow outsiders to come in to collect water for undpecifiedfavours. Another time I was visiting Vivekananda University in Belur. Outside a road was being repaired. There were women labourers whose feet were wrapped in clothes to repair the road in hot weather. Some of them would leave their children on the roadside and would go to breastfeed them once in a while. Inside we were comfortable in buildings partly laid in marble with otriums and what not with various comforts and gadgets.
I am one of those who benefited from globalisation, interact with similar people in real life and on social media like Facebook. I find we talk about Macron, Trump..., those that may affect our future prospects of visiting other countries for business or pleasure. Or we talk of April, the beginning of spring in the northern hemisphere, quote from various writers all over the world showing off our learning to increase our status in the blogosphere and interact with similar people. We ignore the water problems outside our own gated communities and how the poor are faring. We think that a job is a job and think that we are earning our money honestly. We are only dimly aware of the institutions or infrastructure that we are using where poor labourers including women with young children toil for the infrastructure that we use. We talk about the latest innovations, entrepreneurship, corruption of politicians forgetting that we are are part of the structures that keep these structures going. It seems to me that there is a disconnect between various groups living nearby and similar to what D.R. Nagaraj called 'intimate enmity', perhaps more like 'intimate neglect' in this context. The result is inequality inexorably increases, as those like us who keep the current systems running are preoccupied with our own prospects and status keep working at our often meaningless jobs. Meanwhile some concerned ones talk of Naxalites revolutions and only such can change the system. Historically, it seems to be true that only violent changes reduced inequality, often the  the new systems are run by people too and end of up with the same problems.
It seems to me that two kinds of programs that may to some extent alleviate these problems are 1) sharing and 2) local cooperation movements like Timbaktu Collective, and the Tetsu Nakamura kind of work in Afghanistan posted earlier.

Two on Macron's win

Monday, May 08, 2017

Edward L. Bernays

A post in 'Toxins of power' says "If you don't know about Bernays, you can't know about American history". Here is the Wikipedia entry on Edward Bernays .

Sunday, May 07, 2017

William Baumol RIP

" I also love his defense of theory, where if he is very lucky, his initial intuition “turn[s] out to be totally wrong. Because when I turn out to be totally wrong, that’s when the best ideas come out. Because if my intuition was right, it’s almost always going to be simple and straightforward. When my intuition turns out to be wrong, then there is something less obvious to explain.” Every theorist knows this: formalization has this nasty habit of refining our intuition and convincing us our initial thoughts actually contain logical fallacies or rely on special cases! " from William Baumal: A truly productive entrepreneurship The article is a bit obtuse. One of his contributions 'cost disease' more clearly explained in William Baumol, whose famous economic theory explains the modern world, has died. Several Posts in MR about William Baumol

Saturday, May 06, 2017

The way forward-2?

The way forward-1?

Chenchus in Nallamala forests

Getting force out
"For the Chenchus, the Nallamala forest is their home. Not any longer after a National Tiger Conservation Authority order stripped them of their rights in a bid to fortify India’s largest tiger reserve. K. Venkateshwarlu and S. Murali report"

India may shine

Peacock dance video by Dr. U. Subbaraju

U.Subbaraju RIP

"U Subbaraju, a long time member of the Timbaktu Collective is worth more than a mere mention. His life is a rare Indian cameo. He was born in Tirupati. His father could not feed his family by farming his unproductive land. He became an itinerant coolie in various towns, sending small sums of money home. He died when Subbaraju was five. His mother sent him to the Tirupati Tirumala Devasthanam [TTD] schools. He stood out in academics. He entered the prestigious IIT and then went on to do his Masters in Energy Systems. In 1990, Subbaraju,son of a coolie, earned his PhD. Such stories are infrequent in India. In 1995, Dr Subbaraju joined the Timbaktu Collective to educate children of the countryside. Such personal choices, alas, are even more infrequent."
From No stops anywhere, after Gandhi
 Another travelogue by Joy Merwin Moneiro describes some of Subbaraju's work.
IITian takes a different path from The Hindu 2008
There s not much noise on Facebook walls. Reminded of these lines of Auden:

"But in the importance and noise of tomorrow,
When the brokers are roaring like beasts on the floor of the Bourse,
And the poor have the sufferings to which they are fairly accustomed,
And each in the cell of himself is almost convinced of his freedom,
A few thousand will think of this day,
As one thinks of a day when one did something slightly unusual."
Check also