Wednesday, May 22, 2019

DK Pattammal following Saigal
Anyway, coming back to the old Devdas, the songs are all great. But one of the reasons why Balam Aye is stuck in my head is because its tune was copied faithfully for the Kalki Krishnamurthy song Poonkuil Koovum Pooncholaiyil Oru Naal! You can hear DK Pattammal sing it in this youtube clip where SS Mani plays the gramophone disc with the song. I wonder when Kalki composed it, though I am quite certain that his song followed the Hindi original. After all, Pattammal began recording only in 1938 or thereabouts.” says the author in Musings on some film songs-1. Another similar story From Thandi Hawayen to Konjum Purave.

Mothers and sons

Bonobo moms play an active role in helping their sons find a mate
Interestingly, bonobo moms did not extend similar help to their daughters, nor were there any observations of daughters receiving assistance in rearing their offspring. "In bonobo , the daughters disperse from the native community and the sons stay," Surbeck says. "And for the few daughters that stay in the community, which we don't have many examples of, we don't see them receiving any help from their mothers."”

social supermarkets

competitive moms

Madhukar’s Shukla on scale in social projects

The "Jetty Project": Is "Scale" necessary for "Social Change"? “Many such small, yet transformational changes, happen because the local social entrepreneurs (as we would call them) are uniquely positioned to do make them happen - they leverage the highly contextual, and often tacit, local knowledge to identify critical social problems, mobilize local resources and develop a solution which is relevant and viable in the local context.”

Bilkis Bano case

Gujarat riots gang-rape survivor receives justice after 17 years “Legal experts and activists say Bano's case is unique, marking a rare instance of justice for a victim of sexual violence during communal riots.”

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Another Nehru interview where he discusses his own article about Nehru

Nehru’s last interview?
Namit Arora who posted this on Facebook says in one of the comments:
“A general comment. Nehru really has a great deal going for him, and I don’t wish to dwell on his flaws here, especially given the monstrosity that currently occupies that office (who is attacking Nehru for all the wrong reasons!). Nehru was a brilliant and reflective statesman, and it's astounding how far we have fallen today.

But, with that caveat, I’d note that Nehru, for all his talk of land reform, including in this interview, did very little on that front. He had regressive views on reservations, had defensive upper-caste attitudes towards the caste system, and did little to annihilate it in his 15 years in office. In the fight between Ambedkar and Gandhi, Nehru remained oddly silent, and didn't stand with Ambedkar. For a socialist country, he didn’t grant universal primary education the urgency it deserved – as did China. He also created the deadly AFSPA, which his great grandson is now trying to dismantle as a campaign promise. He mishandled Kashmir and led the country into a disastrous war with China. Scholars now also attribute some responsibility for Partition to him. Additional aspects of his legacy have been critiqued by later liberals, some of which I covered in the essay ‘No Saints or Miracles’ in my book.”

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Book review by Noah Smith

Book Review: The Revolt of the Public, by Martin Gurri “If you do not read "The Revolt of the Public and the Crisis of Authority in the New Millennium," by Martin Gurri, you will not be sufficiently prepared for the world to come.

Well, you probably won't be anyway. No one will! But this book brings together a startling number of important threads of contemporary politics, geopolitics, public affairs, and media, and weaves them into a coherent, comprehensible, and very plausible narrative. And it does so far better than any other book, blog post, or Twitter thread that I have seen attempt to deal with these issues (including my own modest foray). So buy this book and read it.”
I just bought it.

Books and lectures

Why books don’t work by Andy Matuschak. Well not completely anyway. We know some parts work for some people some of the time. But overall comprehension of how and why they work is lacking. It is important for education to know some more and research seems much needed.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Sectional forest officer P.G. Sudha

Samir Shukla on some Indian academics

Worried Indian scientists and my friend’s sons
As the story of my friend is obviously unique and one of a kind, I hope that it is not linked by my readers with my scientist friends I mentioned in the opening paragraph in any manner.
We all know that most of the academic community toiling in Indian institutes have been constantly engaged in pushing science and technology ahead for benefits of the nation and the result is evident. 
The state of the nation clearly proves that our academic researchers exactly know what are the areas of research that the nation needs them to work on and hence no one should dare ask them what to do, or rather no one should dare ask them what they are doing at all.
It is nothing but sheer misfortune that with so many hard-working researchers toiling in India, we remain the only large sovereign nation not to have won even one Nobel Prize for science. So, let us not start making false assumptions on that irrelevant trivia.
It is also just some dirty trick of fate that, with all these scientists diligently working and solving the problems of the nation for all these decades, we still have billions living below poverty line and enduring a hell of a life, as there is no doubt that scientists have no role to play in the prosperity of a nation.”
My comment: I did not read all the comments but I see this sort of things by some approximate Anna Karenina principles: “All large groups are similar” and “The larger the group, the closer it is to the general populace around”. I think that our views of academics were formed when the group was small with few shining lights highlighted by texts of an earlier period.

Anya Parampil on Ricardo Hausmann and Venezuela

While unknown to most Venezuelans, Hausmann remains a key player in his country’s tumultuous politics. During a talk at the World Affairs Council of Greater Houston in November 2018, he eerily predicted Guaidó’s self-proclaimed presidency, telling the crowd “the international community is now focused on the idea that… January 10th is the end of the presidential period of Nicolás Maduro.”
“On January 11th, Nicolás Maduro will not be recognized as… the legitimate president of Venezuela,” Hausmann anticipated. “I think that’s an important date.”
On January 11th, when Juan Guaidó declared his preparedness to become president of Venezuela, the Harvard professor’s prophecy was fulfilled.
Almost two months later, Guaidó appointed Hausmann to serve as his representative at the Inter-American Development Bank. ” from Ricardo Hausmann’s 'Morning After' for Venezuela: The Neoliberal Brain Behind Juan Guaido’s Economic Agenda
Ricardo Hausmann seems to be a respected economist with a number of interesting ideas

An excerpt from a book by Aatish Taseer

The emperor of destiny
A search in Benares for Brahmins, the twice-born, leads to an encounter with a young member of the aristocracy of the mind”
The Twice-Born: Life and Death on the Ganges | Aatish Taseer

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Natural sequence farming

How weeds help fight climate change
Natural sequence farming has four main elements. First, restore fertility to improve the soil; second, increase groundwater; third, re-establish vegetation, including with weeds if necessary; fourth, understand the unique needs of a particular landscape.”

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Flightlessness of a bird evolved twice

Birds on an island in the Indian Ocean evolved flightlessness twice “The flightless rail is descendent from a species of flying bird known as the white-throated rail (Dryolimnas cuvieri).
In the layers of rock immediately after the last inundation event, Julian found some more fossil bones. 'We found the leg bone of a rail in these deposits,' he says. 'But from that one bone we can see that it is already becoming more robust when compared to the flying rail, showing that the bird is getting heavier and so losing its ability to fly.'
This suggests that once the sea levels dropped again and Aldabra reappeared, the white-throated rail once again recolonised the islands and became flightless, giving rise to the modern birds we see today.
'There is no other case that I can find of this happening,' explains Julian, 'where you have a record of the same species of bird becoming flightless twice. It wasn't as if it were two different species colonising and becoming flightless. This was the very same ancestral bird.'”

Noah Smith on Emi Nakamura


Just noticed the Wikipedia entry on Gudavalli. It has the picture of the library named after my mother Gadde Lalitha Devi. It is in the precinct named after Yalavarthi Nayudamma organised by Koduri brothers and the funds for the building were provided by my brother Gadde Kamalakar. In the days we lived in Gudavalli (1943-50 approximately) my mother used to get lot of books from the public library. Women did not go to the library those days I think. My cousin Gadde Babu Rajendra Prasad (Baburao) used to bring the books for her. It seems appropriate that her name is still associated with books in Gudavalli.,_Guntur_district 

Thursday, May 09, 2019

Tongue twisters from South Indian languages I wonder whether there is some McGurk effect too.

Some hope for treating antibiotic resistance

Teenager recovers from near death in world-first GM virus treatment
Finding the right phages for each patient is a big challenge. In the future, scientists hope it may be possible to conduct automated searches of phage libraries to identify personalised treatments. Some infections, such as the hospital superbug Staphylococcus aureus, are known to be genetically homogeneous enough that a few phages could treat almost all strains of the infection, raising the prospect of phage therapy becoming routine.
“We’re sort of in uncharted territory,” Hatfull said.”

Tuesday, May 07, 2019

Branko Milanovic on democracy

Democracy or dictatorship, which works better? A key quote is Oscar Wilde’s quip that “the trouble with socialism is that it takes up too many evenings”.

Trying to understand

What does one do when one does not understand? Keep staring at it so that it is in the front of your mind most of the time. In due course, after few days or months or years, one gets some feeling of familiarity and understanding. “His peculiar gift was the power of holding continuously in his mind a purely mental problem until he had seen straight through it. “ That was Keynes on Newton.  Well, one may not be able to see through it like Newton, but it seems to help. I was reminded of this when a collaborator used some material of whose basics I did not well and stared it for about six days before convincing myself. There were times when it took months or years. Here is a link to the Keynes article   Newton, the Man.

Sunday, May 05, 2019

Oil again

The US’s inherited mastery of the Gulf has given it a degree of leverage over both rivals and allies probably unparalleled in the history of empire. Washington has established a highly conservative regional order through alliances with successive military dictatorships in Egypt and an ethno-nationalist Israel. Its overwhelming military control of the region ensures that Japan, South Korea, India and even China must deal with the US in the knowledge that it could, if it wished, cut them off from their main source of energy. It is difficult to overstate the role of the Gulf in the way the world is currently run. In recent years, under both Obama and Trump, there has been talk of plans for a US withdrawal from the Middle East and a ‘pivot’ to Asia. If there are indeed such plans, it would suggest that recent US administrations are ignorant of the way the system over which they preside works.”  from What are we there for?, a review of AngloArabia: Why Gulf Wealth Matters to Britain by David Wearing by Tom Stevenson.
Check also Venezuela and binary choice by Craig Murray.

Thursday, May 02, 2019

Sri Sri again

There seem to be quite few posts reminding us of Sr Sri and a video which I have not seen before is making rounds. A classmate says that he has never seen or heard Sri Sri and was touched by that video (See the previous post).
Thinking about the persisting appeal of Sri Sri, I am reminded of these words “We don’t need an answer to the question of life’s meaning, just as we don’t need a theory of everything. What we need are multifarious descriptions of many things, further descriptions of phenomena that change the aspect under which they are seen, that light them up and let us see them anew. “ of Simon Critchley writing about his philosophy teacher Frank Cioffi. And “They allow us to momentarily clarify and focus the bewilderment that is often what passes for our “inner life” and give us an overview on things. We might feel refreshed and illuminated, even slightly transformed, but it doesn’t mean we are going to stop scratching that itch. “  More literary people may look for nuanced thinking and find some cliches in his writings. But for me who finds many ‘faults in the texture of our existence’ Sri Sri has lighted up  many corners more often than many other writers.

Wednesday, May 01, 2019


Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali !han documentary.

Probably around 1964.

Manna Dey

Would have been hundred today. An earlier portrait from Upperstall. Some favourite songs
From Parineeta  1953. The next from Boot Polish 1954
And the next from Devdas 1955,a duet with Greta Roy Dutt: