Saturday, April 27, 2019

Richard Singer on ‘Find Metiabruz’

Some Nice Film and Dance References to the last Nawab of Awadh, Wajid Ali Shah (plus some other things) “The last dance in the lineup on Friday also contained references to Wajid Ali Shah. This dance was performed by the Courtyard Dancers, a dance group out of the Philadelphia area (which now has branches in Pittsburgh and Kolkata too). The title of the dance is “Find Metiabruz,” a reference to the neighborhood in Kolkata where Wajid Ali Shah was exiled by the British. Quoting from the description in the program guide (which also appears on YouTube under the video that I’ve linked to below), “In this dance theater piece, Metiabruz, a forgotten corner of a forgetful city, is a metaphor for the habitations of poetry.””

Water problems for women near Mumbai

Soft enforcements of culture

in a comment on women’ headwear of a particular sect, Ramarao Kanneganti says:
”We may think that women have choice; or underprivileged have choice. But, that choice is illusory. With one choice comes advantages: respect, community, safety, support, and cultural advantages. With other choice, they are left to create their own cultural, social universes. 

We are conditioned to think force means physical or mental. There are soft enforcements of culture. Lot of times they are for good; lot of times they are not. They are the ways societies perpetuate themselves in unwritten ways. 

How societies deal with breaking of these unwritten rules is an interesting study. Usually breaking them is not against the fundmental rules of the society. Progressive societies define a gradual way of making these changes (see: gay marriage etc). The conservative societies started making these unwritten rules as written rules.

Probably too obvious, but I find it fascinating how societies choose to govern themselves.”

Ahmadiyas in Sri Lanka

Muslims in hiding in Sri Lanka as tensions rise after bombings ““The people in Pakistan attacked us and say we’re not Muslims,” Tariq Ahmed, a 58-year-old Ahmadi who fled his home, told the Associated Press. “Then in Sri Lanka, people attack us because they say we are Muslims.””

A version of capitalism?

Pakistan Beats India In Happiness

Pakistan Beats India In Happiness “Pakistan in the 67th position, and India in the 140thposition—near the bottom of the list of the 156 countries ranked.....
“It must be other metrics, like income inequality and poverty,” says Udayan Roy, Professor of Economics at LIU POST. “That’s matters more than per capita GDP when it comes to well-being of the masses.”
Indeed, the rich are getting richer in India while the poor are getting poorer.“

Luz Long letter to Jesse Owens

From the series ‘Letters of Note’
My heart tells me, if I be honest with you, that this is the last letter I shall ever write. If it is so, I ask you something. It is a something so very important to me. It is you go to Germany when this war done, someday find my Karl, and tell him about his father. Tell him, Jesse, what times were like when we not separated by war. I am saying—tell him how things can be between men on this earth. ”
The story at Olympics Great Olympic Friendships: Jesse Owens, Luz Long and a beacon of brotherly love at the Nazi games

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Roland Barthes article

on the death of the author. Here is the Wikipedia article which has a link to the actual article. A short write up from 2008 from The Guardian Signs of the times by Ben Myers who has several more articles on Barthes in The Guardian

John Pilger on Assange arrest

John Pilger: The Assange Arrest Is a Warning From History
In the 1970s, I met Leni Reifenstahl, close friend of Adolf Hitler, whose films helped cast the Nazi spell over Germany.
She told me that the message in her films, the propaganda, was dependent not on “orders from above” but on what she called the “submissive void” of the public.
“Did this submissive void include the liberal, educated bourgeoisie?” I asked her.
“Of course,” she said, “especially the intelligentsia …. When people no longer ask serious questions, they are submissive and malleable. Anything can happen.”
And did.
The rest, she might have added, is history.”

The the healing power of gardens

Underdevelopment of Africa

The Persisting Relevance of Walter Rodney’s “How Europe Underdeveloped Africa” There are several specific ones related to France posted earlier. These from AlJazeera.

Friday, April 19, 2019

A poem by Li-Young Lee

Mnemonic His father was a political prisoner in Indonesia.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Another example of Richard Feynman’s genius

The Day Feynman Worked Out Black-Hole Radiation on My Blackboard
”After a few minutes, Feynman had worked out the process of spontaneous emission, which is what Stephen Hawking became famous for a year later. Feynman had it all on my blackboard. He wasn’t interested in copying down what he’d written. He just wanted to know how nature worked, and he had just learned that isolated black holes are capable of emitting energy when you take into account quantum effects. After he finished working it out, he brushed his hands together to get the chalk dust off them, and walked out of the office.
After Feynman left, Bill and Saul and I were looking at the blackboard. We were thinking it was probably important, not knowing how important. Bill and Saul had to go off to some appointment, and so they left the office. A little bit later, I left. But that night I realized this was a major thing that Feynman had done and I needed to hurry back to my office and copy down the equations. But when I got back to my office in the morning, the cleaning lady had wiped the blackboard clean.”

Hannah Arendt’s unfinished dialogue with Marx

The book on Marxthat Arendt never finished Interesting but does not seem particularly perceptive. “Instead of the means of production, Arendt would have us seize the means of exercising responsibility for the world.”

Amitava Kumar on Kanhaiya and others

Listening to Kanhaiya, Then Looking Back in Anger  Ravish Kumar might have figured in the earlier work of Amitava Kumar The article of Daisy Rockwell mentioned is ‘The flyover country’ which appeared in Chapati Mystery under her pen name at that time Lapata.

Notre Dame disaster

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

A short autobiography of B.R. Ambedkar

The cost of Gothic churches during the High Middle Ages

“During the High Middle Ages, Western Europe was plagued with famine, disease, and dismal economic growth. Population was increasing at a rate faster than the (Maddison, 2003), leaving the average person experiencing declining levels of sustenance every year. However, during the period known as the High Middle Ages, between 1100-1250, the Catholic Church built over 1400 Gothic churches in the Paris Basin alone. The lavish ecclesiastical building campaigns of the Church represented a portion of the GDP for the region, but what percentage of GDP does this building campaign represent? Several scholars have studied the explicit (tangible) costs of the ecclesiastical buildings constructed in the High Middle Ages. However, no scholar has examined the implicit (opportunity) cost of unskilled labor required for their construction, or tried to estimate the total cost of their building as a percentage of regional GDP. This thesis examines the implicit costs of building the Gothic churches of the Paris Basin built between 1100-1250, and attempts to estimate the percentage of the regional economy that was devoted to building them. I estimate that over this 150-year period, on average, 21.5 percent of the regional economy was devoted to the construction of these Gothic churches, 1.5 percent of which is directly related to the implicit cost of labor.” from a thesis “How Much did the Gothic Churches Cost? An Estimate of Ecclesiastical Building Costs in the Paris Basin between 1100-1250” by Amy Denning, via MR.
see also
   Desa Charitralu  (Histories of the Nations)
                  -Sree Sree (Srirangam Srinivasarao)
                 Maha Prasthanam
-*-Translation from Telugu-*-
Whichever country's history you see      [E Desa charitra chusina
what reason is there to be proud?        [ E munnadi, garva karanam?
Entire history of human race             [Nara Jaathi charitra samastham
is exploitation of others                [ Parapeedana parayanatwam
Entire history of human race             [Nara jaathi charitra samastham
is an exercise in mutual destruction     [ Parasparaaharanodyogam
entire history of human race             [nara jaathi charitra samastam
is drenched in the blood of the wars     [ rana raktha pravaha siktham
Terror as its principal                      [Bheebatsa rasa pradhanam
Ghostly herds as its equivalent              [ visacha gana samavakaram
The entire history of human race is          [narajathi charitra samastham
leeching of the penniless                    [ daridrulanu kaalchuku thenadam
The mighty made slaves                       [Balavanthulu durbala jaathini
 out of the meek race                        [ Banisalanu kaavincharu
The murderers became owners of the earth     [narahanthalu dharaadhi patulai
 and climbed to glory in history             [charaitramuna prasiddi kekkiri
A place that is not a battle field           [ranarangam kaani chotu bhu
 cannot be found anywhere on earth           [ sthalamantha vedakina dorakadu
Entire past is wet with blood                [gathamantha thadise rakthamuna
 if not,  with tears                         [ kaakunte kanneelulatho
Extinguished families                        [challarina samsaaralu
decimated populations                        [ maraninchina jana sandoham
cries  of the helpless                       [asahaayula hahakaaram
are echoing history                          [ charitralo moolugu thunnavi
Malice, selfishness                          [Vaishamyam, Swardhaparatwam
connivance, jealousies and conflicts         [ Koutilayam, eershyalu, spardhalu
Armed with tricks and disguises              [maayalatho, maaruperla tho
proved the course of the history             [charatragathi niroopinchinavi

Chengiz Kahn, Thamarlane                       [Chengiz Kahn, thamarlenu
Nadirshaw, Ghajni, Gori                        [ Nadirshaw, Ghajni, Ghori
Sikander--what does it matter who they are?    [Sinkandaro evadaithe nem?
Each one a grand murderer                      [ Okkokkadu maha hantakudu
Vikings, white huns                           [ Vikingulu, swetha hunulu
Sithians, Parsis                              [  sithinlu, paraseekulu
Pindaris and Thugs built                      [ pindarulu, thaggulu kattiri
a bridge of swords to the time                [  Kalaaniki kattula vanthena
In the dark ages of ignorance                 [Agyanapu tandha yugam lo
in hunger and passion--                       [ aakalilo, aavesham lo
guided by unknown  and extreme forces         [Theliyani E theevra sakthulo
marched people-- [thinking]                   [ nadapisthe, nadhichi manushyulu
everything is their own achievement           [antha thama prayojakatvam
they are the lords of the earth               [ thaame bhuvi kadhinaadhulamani
built kingdoms                                [sthapinchina saamrajyalu
made artificial laws [which]                  [ nirminchina kruthrima chattal
with the rise of other forces                 [ Itarethara sakthulu leste
fell down as houses of cards!                 [  padipoyenu peka medalai
from the forces engaged in mutual battle      [ parasparam sangharshinchina
rose the history                              [  sakthulato charitra puttenu
The deception that went on for ever           [ Chirakalam jarigina mosam
the heinous crimes of the mighty              [  balavanthula dowrjanyalu
the schemes of the rich                       [ dhanavanthula pannagalu
even now? can't be allowed from now on        [  Inkaana? ekapai chellavu
A social justice based on exploitation of     [ Oka vyakthini marokka vyakthi
One person by another person                  [  oka jaathini veroka jaathi
one race by a different race                  [ peedinche saanghika dhrmam
even now? can't go from now on                [  Inkaana? ekapai saagadu

The rickshaw-wallah in china                      [cheena lo rickshaw walla
the mine worker of Czech                      [ check desapu gani pani manishi
the ship-cleaner of Ireland                   [irelanduna oda kalaasi
All the down-trodden peoples                  [anagaarina aarthulandaru--
Hotentots, Zulus, Negroes                     [Hotentot, julu, neegro
the different races of all continents         [ khandantara naanaa jaathulu
will broadcast in one voice                   [chaaritraka yadartha tatwam
the true nature of the history                [Chaatista roka gonthukatho
Which battle took place why?                  [E uddham enduku jarigeno
which kingdown lasted how long?               [ E rajyam ennallundo
the dates, and the documents                  [Taareekhulu, dastavejulu
These are not the essence of history,         [ivi kaavoyi, charitra saram
                           my friend!
This queen's love affairs                     [Eee ranee prema puranam
The expenses of that invasion                 [ Aa muttadi kaina kharchulu
schemes, and accounts                         [Matalabulu, Kaifeeyatulu
these are not the essence of history,         [ivi kaavoyi, charitra saram
                        my friend!

The stories hidden under the                  [Ithihaasapu cheekati konam
 the dark corners of the history              [ Attaduguna padi kaanpinchani
are wanted now!                               [kadhalannee kavalippudu
A truth that won't hide by being hidden       [daacheste daagani satyam
In the civilisation of nile river             [Nilu nadee naagarikathalo
 what is the life style of a common man? [sic][ saamanyuni jeevana mettidi?
In the building of Taj Mahal                  [taj mahal nirmananiki
 who are the labourers that lifted the stones?[ rallethina kooli levvaru?
In the invasion of the dynasty                 [Saamrajyapu Dandayatra lo
 what are the braveries of the common people?  [ samaanyula sahasamettidi?
It is not the Palanquin of the king, my friend,[Prabhuvekkina pallaki kaadoyi
 who are the bearers that carried it?          [Adi mosina boyi levvaru?
In takshasila, Pataliputram                   [Taskhasila, Pataliputram
 on the shores of Mediterranean sea           [ Madhyadhara samudra teeram
In Harappa, Mohanjadaro                       [Harappa, Mohanjadaro
 on cro-magnon  cave fronts--                 [Cro-Manyon guha mukhallo
In the twilights of the history               [Chaaritraka Vibhata Sandhyala
 what was the development of human story?     [ Maanava kadha vikasamettidi
What country, in what time                    [E Desham E kalam lo
 achieved what grand truths?                  [ Saadhinde paramardham?
Which sculpture? what literature?             [E Silpam? E Saahityam?
 Which science? what  music?                  [ E Sastram? E Gandharvam?
To which rays is this renunciation?           [E velgulakee prasthanam?
 Which dream? What conquest?                  [ E swapnam? E digvijayam?


Saturday, April 13, 2019

About theories

Long read from Jim Baggot Status anxiety: all ‘throries’ Are not the same via Why trust a theory? Which has many more related links. I read and liked one of Jim Baggot’s books ‘A farewell to reality’. More about Jim Baggot here.

Monday, April 08, 2019

Law education in India

Edward Berman and others have mentioned that the emphasis on higher education soon after independence might not have been beneficial to Indians. It seems to have spawned global elites who seem to me more in touch with foreign things than Indian. This may be partly due to the career opportunities that were available or which seemed attractive. Somehow, law education in India seems to be bit of an exception, perhaps because it is more tied to immediate realities. The following paper was linked nine years ago and I am reading it again
Edward Berman’s book The ideology of philanthropy is not easily available now. Here is a review by Michael Barker and also an interview With Edward Berman.
P.S.  These were linked earlier but posted again since some of the links disappeared when I tried to revisit the topic.

Sunday, April 07, 2019

The great African wall

Africa is building a wall—a wall of trees across the entire continent that's changing the world
An earlier article by Jim Morrison at Smithsonian.
Check also the Wikipedia article Great green wall Which has links to similar efforts from China.

Saturday, April 06, 2019

Two on triangular slave trade

Historians expose early scientists’ debt to the slave trade “In the “triangular trade” of the 16th through 19th centuries, millions of people were shipped to the Americas as slaves, raw materials were transported to Europe, and manufactured goods went to Africa. The three-way trade provided European collectors access to specimens from Africa and the Americas.”
Another related triangular trade posted earlier  “Here is how that form of economic skullduggery went down: molasses was imported from the Caribbean islands to the New England states, and the colonists distilled the molasses into rum. A portion of the rum was sold domestically, but much of it was transported to Africa, where it was traded for slaves. The slaves were packed into the holds of tiny wooden boats and sold into bondage, either in the Caribbean sugar plantations or the American colonies. The profits were used to purchase more molasses, which was then imported back to New England to restart the triangle. While the trade was not terribly efficient, it worked well enough to sustain the many and enrich the few.” from Ground down molasses 

Friday, April 05, 2019

Emmanuel Todd’s new book

“But as T Eliot, top bard, pointed out, humankind cannot bear very much reality. We get protective, especially where our young ones are concerned. And this is where a different kind of family set-up stems from. Emmanuel Todd, who is a demographer as well as anthropologist, hit me with an amazing statistic. In Iraq, 35 per cent of married couples are first-cousins (he reckons that this figure can rise to 50 per cent in Pakistan). He finds that across vast areas of Eurasia, a different kind of kinship system has developed which is patrilineal and communitarian, with fathers transmitting power and property to sons and keen to see close relatives marrying. This leads not just to women being disenfranchised and segregated, but to the subordination of the individual, social stasis and clan wars. The powerful point that he makes, contrary to conventional wisdom, is that the more repressive, controlling, non-nuclear, more centripetal and inward-looking (or “endogamous”) family is not “primitive”, although it may well be medieval. It is the nuclear (and “exogamous”) family that is more primitive, more caveman, more nomad. The cosy-cousins family is a much more recent invention and should, to his way of thinking be deconstructed. We need to go more primitive, not less.” From the review of Lineages of Modernity: A History of Humanity from the Stone Age to Homo Americanus’ in The Independent. Table of contents here.

Tuesday, April 02, 2019

Coexisting with cancer

The great Bengal famine debate continues

Recent study of soil moisture in Bengal indicated that there were reasonable food stocks before the 1943 famine. But studies by others used by Madhusree Mukherjee indicate that there was fungus infection which probably caused depletion of food. Sen claimed the report of the infection was only from two stations. Others contend that the stations were 150 km apart which indicated a widespread infection. But both sides seem to blame the British policies for the disaster. Amartya Sen says in his response to Madhusree Mukherjee, he says “... and in her single-minded, if understandable, attempt to nail down Churchill, she ends up absolving British imperial policy of confusion and callousness, which had disastrous consequences.” This and Some of the links to the discussion Amartya Sen, Churchill and Two Rice Research Stations in Bengal

Monday, April 01, 2019

The end of the dinosaurs

These fossils may capture the day the dinosaurs died. Here's what you should know from National Geographic by Michael Greshko. A longer article in The NewYorker The day the dinosaurs died by Douglas Preston