Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Cleverlands by Lucy Crehan

Thoughts on 'Cleverlands' by Lucy Crehan
A shorter review from The Economist The lessons from world's swottiest countries : "As a science teacher in London she had read about countries that scored higher in PISA than England, and wanted to see their schools up close. So she taught in Canada, Finland, Japan, Singapore and Shanghai. “Cleverlands”, her first book, is her account of that odyssey."

Monday, August 21, 2017

Update on Gidla Sujatha

"Our neighbours in India have been actively trying to kick my mom out of her apartment. Her (upper) caste colleagues hate the fact that her daughter wrote a successful book. That is the irony; we cannot even celebrate the publication of the book because we are afraid that it will make people around us unhappy. Even fellow untouchables are not posting it on social media for fear of being exposed to their colleagues and (upper) caste friends as untouchables," she elaborated. From 'INDEPENDENCE WAS ONLY TRANSFER OF POWER; TRUE FREEDOM IS EQUAL ACCESS TO EVERYTHING FOR EVERYONE'

A different kind of dystopia

Our technocratic dystopia

“I have a foreboding of an America in my children's or grandchildren's time -- when the United States is a service and information economy; when nearly all the manufacturing industries have slipped away to other countries; when awesome technological powers are in the hands of a very few, and no one representing the public interest can even grasp the issues; when the people have lost the ability to set their own agendas or knowledgeably question those in authority; when, clutching our crystals and nervously consulting our horoscopes, our critical faculties in decline, unable to distinguish between what feels good and what's true, we slide, almost without noticing, back into superstition and darkness.”
As if these words were not ominous enough, Sagan follows up just a page later with another paragraph which is presumably designed to reduce us to a frightened, whimpering mass.

“I worry that, especially as the Millennium edges nearer, pseudoscience and superstition will seem year by year more tempting, the siren song of unreason more sonorous and attractive. Where have we heard it before? Whenever our ethnic or national prejudices are aroused, in times of scarcity, during challenges to national self-esteem or nerve, when we agonize about our diminished cosmic place and purpose, or when fanaticism is bubbling up around us - then, habits of thought familiar from ages past reach for the controls. 

The candle flame gutters. Its little pool of light trembles. Darkness gathers. The demons begin to stir.”

That was Carl Sagan in 1995 from  Carl Sagan's 1995 prediction of our technocratic dystopia by Ashutosh Jagalekar in his excellent post. He asks 
"In terms of people “losing the ability to set their own agendas or question those in power”, consider how many of us, let alone those in power, can grasp the science and technology behind deep learning, climate change, genome editing or even our iPhones? And yet these tools are subtly inserting them in pretty much all aspects of life, and there will soon be a time when no part of our daily existence is untouched by them. "

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Goldman's foray into cryptocurrency

"In plain english that’s the same as throwing cheap dollars at bitcoin, pump it higher (by preventing a dollar squeeze from ever emerging) at the same time as lining up investment funds and passive investors to dump the coins onto later.
If you’re thinking at least with bitcoin there’s no prospect of over-investment leading to the sort of over-production that could stifle the bull case in the long run, you’d be wrong. Every penny diverted from productive investments over to non-productive bitcoin, is a penny diverted from the productive sector to the consumption sector without any compensatory output guaranteed.
When the cost of dollars goes up accordingly to compensate, which it will eventually have to do, the opportunity costs of not being invested in the productive sector will be too great to ignore. Funds will then cash in their bitcoin gains and transfer over. The latter’s gain will be the former’s loss. But unlike the commodity market there won’t be an obvious fundamental floor to stop at on the way down.
If all this, meanwhile, is coupled with a boom in wider cryptocurrency production, the crash might come even quicker." from 
Meanwhile Tim Taylor has a long post Blockchain: new frontiers
Check also the old Post from Economist's View

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Michael Pettis discusses economics via accounting identities

Michael Pettis on current accounts and the Chinese economy transcript of a disucussion and may need registration.
The first part is a general discussion from US to Europe. Excerpts:
"Michael Pettis Right. Again, one of the big problems in this discussion is that we tend to think of savings as something that households do and households are one of three groups that save. And we tend to think of changes of saving as reflecting changes in thriftiness or all that stuff, prudence etc. 
Cardiff Garcia The other two groups by the way in addition to households are the corporate sector and the government.
Michael Pettis Yes, exactly. So if you look for example at Germany, Germany was running current account deficits in the 1990s, quite large. And then after the labour reforms of 2003-2004, they started running huge current account surpluses, the largest in the world. Many people said that was because German households, seeing an uncertain world, became thriftier, more prudent etc, but if you look at the numbers that’s not the case. Their household savings rate was unchanged. 
What happened was that the labour reforms, which is usually a euphemism for reducing wages, caused, and you can see it clearly in the numbers, the household share of German GDP contracted. And because the household share contracted, consumption contracted and savings went up. Who was responsibility for the higher savings? German corporates, because their profitability went up as wages went down, so it was business savings that went up and business savings went up simply because wages went down."
About China:
"Cardiff Garcia Michael, you wrote recently in the Wall Street Journal that a few years ago everybody thought that China was going to have a financial crisis. You said that wasn’t the case. You recently wrote that now everybody is saying that China might even be able to manage 6% or 7% GDP growth into the future for the next ten, 15 years and you said that’s wrong also. Let’s take the first bit: why is it that China will be able to avoid a financial crisis?
Michael Pettis..........Crises are caused by what economists refer to as sudden stops. That is when you have a significant mismatch between assets and liabilities and some event prevents you from rolling over the liabilities. That’s when you have a crisis. Now, if you look at the Chinese balance sheets, they look terrible, particularly the small banks. Not only do they have really awful assets but their funding base is terrible. It’s all purchased money, very little retail deposits. So you would think with these kinds of balance sheets, China should have a crisis. But as long as the banking system is closed and most of the money remains within the banking system and the regulators are credible, then that mismatch disappears because the liabilities can easily be restructured by the regulators. They can force banks to lend among themselves if there’s a run on any one bank......
 I think there’s a consensus on this now, they know what the reforms are, and they involve a transfer of wealth from local governments — from governments, but because of political centralisation it will be local governments — to the household sector. That’s the only way to increase consumption and reduce savings.....
Now, again wearing my banker’s hat, that means among other things you want to re-centralise the credit allocation process. So what I’m expecting to see, what I have been speaking to my students about for a couple of years, is that one of the indications that the President is being successful in his attempts to implement the necessary reforms is we should start to see a change in the credit allocation away from the local governments back towards Beijing. There are many ways this can happen.
For example we all know there are too many banks in China so there are going to be a lot of mergers. The big question is, do you have all of these local banks merged into the big Beijing banks, so you create these huge zombies but run by Beijing, or do they merge among themselves and create alternatives to the Beijing banks? If my model is right it’s going to be the former. That’s what the President will have to do. And what I suggested is that this is related to the fact that interbank interest rates have been extremely high recently. You know how the interbank lending works in China: it’s basically the big four lend to the local provincial and local banks because of their huge retail branch system. So what happens if you raise the interbank rate? Well if you raise the interest rates it’s a transfer of wealth from net borrowers to net lenders. Who are the net borrowers? They’re the small local provincial banks. Who are the net lenders? They’re the big Beijing banks.
So I don’t know if this was their plan but to me it’s very consistent with this whole process of the re-centralisation of power. Basically high interbank rates weaken the local banks tremendously at the expense of the big Beijing banks and that’s what I would want to see if Xi Jinping is going to be successful."

The Columbian exchange

"One of the big problems with both Acemoglu, Johnson, and Robinson's (AJR) work on development, and also with Spolaore and Wacziarg's QJE paper on genetic distance, is that they hadn't actually read, or properly internalized, the teachings of Crosby and Diamond. AJR argued that disease climate was a proxy for institutions and not geography, whereas clearly one might make a case that it's also a good proxy for climatic similarity. Areas of the world where European peoples died are also areas of the world where European crops and cattle also died. This was an insight that AJR missed. If Acemoglu got a John Bate's Clark for his work on institutions, then Crosby certainly deserves a Nobel. 

    Of course, there's more here. The insights of Crosby/Diamond don't end in 1500. First, history casts long shadows. But, aside from that, the world was largely agrarian even long after the Industrial Revolution in 1800. In Malthusian societies, agricultural technologies are very important. If you are a farmer in Angola, those new varieties of wheat, and farming technologies discovered in the American midwest in 1900, or even 1950, are not going to help you. If you live in Australia, the Southern Cone countries, or Europe, they will. " from 
The Wikipedia article Columbian Exchange.

Friday, August 18, 2017

A comprehensive article on Acute Encephalitis Syndrome

The Gorakhpur mystery New research promises to find the causes behind India's annual encephalitis outbreaks by Priyanka Pulla
"John and several other researchers, including Vashishtha, have been calling for a change in the definition of Acute Encephalitis Syndrome. AES is too broad a label, they say, because any illness meeting the criteria of fever, altered mental status and seizures is classified as AES. This means many encephalopathies caused by non-viral agents are also classified as AES by inexperienced doctors who don’t focus on case-definitions. This is harmful, John argues.
The term Acute Encephalitis Syndrome was never meant to be a diagnosis. It was merely a surveillance tool created by WHO so that it would not fail to count cases that could be Japanese encephalitis, but couldn’t be confirmed because of a lack of access to lab testing kits.
“In other words, AES means that Japanese encephalitis is most likely. It is purely a surveillance terminology. It has crept into clinical diagnosis, unfortunately, and now people are using it as a diagnostic category,” he says."
And much more.

Cyril Connolly review of 'Washington's long war on Syria'

Stephen Gowan’s new book, ‘Washington’s Long War on Syria‘:
"The Muslim Brotherhood – ideological precursors to al-Qaeda and ISIS – has been on a mission against the governments of Syria, Libya and Iraq dating back to the 1970s when it declared a ‘war without end’ against Ba’ath Arab Socialism which it viewed as being incompatible with the Quran.
The US found an ally and strange-bedfellow in the Muslim Brotherhood, which could carry out its economic decree by proxy."

Rajiv Malhotra interviews V.S.Ramachandran

One of those things. Many of the remarks seem innocuous, RM planting some ideas but did not really pursue them. There is a sly remark (after 1:09:20) by VSR about people trying to cover their inferiority by being part of a group which has achievers. This of course applies to several group phenonomena. In my extrapolation, I see this element in glorifying our ancestors and their works as well as currently trying to rub shoulders with achievers, not just Hindutva people but various groups. See, for example, Iqbal's pride in his Brahmin ancestry http://www.hvk.org/2002/0202/186.html

Thursday, August 17, 2017

More uses of blockchain technology

Indian women on record

Via http://www.womenonrecord.com, from a post of Rahul Banerjee

Adam Smith on impartial observers

Adam Smith's impartial spectator


Adam Smith claims that humans naturally sympathize with others and seek their approval. The process of matching our sentiments with others’ sentiments forms the basis of our moral judgment. But what do we do when sentiments conflict? Smith saw that we need to move beyond literal impartial spectators to reach some ideal by which we can judge others’ sentiments and our own. That ideal is a category that we develop inductively. The category then allows us to construct imaginary representations of a perfect impartial spectator to arbitrate conflicts between the views of literal impartial spectators and our own.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Indian Express on Gidla Sujatha's book

Ant to elephant, Andhra to New York, writer maps caste "“I still feel caste and it is like an un-get-rid-offable stench when I am visiting India, beginning at the check-in line at the airport.Our experience has been that whenever we have thought we have plumbed the depths of casteism, we find that it is even deeper,” 
The article does ot mention much about her mother Manjula whose story, her relations with her husband apart from caste oppression is a powerful part of the book. Her uncle is sometimes mentioned along with Kalekuri Prasad "Like the eminent Dalit revolutionary thinker K. G. Satyamurthy, who was one of the founders of the People’s War Group, Kalekuri Prasad too was a guile-less individual who never hid anything. There are many other similarities between them; to be honest, neither had any personal life of their own. They were both two great common men who were totally dedicated to society."
Perhaps, the unpublished writings of both of them will come out some day.

A long article on Julian Assange

A man without a country by in the New Yotker. The main claim seems to be that Julian Assangeis not neutral in his treatment of US and Russia and the author presents some circumstantial evidence. The clincher is "James Clapper, the former director of National Intelligence, put the conclusion bluntly to me: “It was done by a cutout, which of course afforded Assange plausible deniability.”"
In any case, if one looks at the conflicts around the world, US is involved in many more places than the Russians. More about James Clapper in the Wikipedia "Following the June 2013 leak of documents detailing NSA practice of collecting telephony metadata on millions of Americans’ telephone calls, two U.S. representatives accused Clapper of perjury for telling a congressional committee that the NSA does not collect any type of data on millions of Americans earlier that year. One senator asked for his resignation, and a group of 26 senators complained about Clapper’s responses under questioning. In November 2016, Clapper resigned as director of national intelligence, effective at the end of President Obama's term. In May 2017, he joined the Washington, D.C.-based think tank the Center for a New American Security (CNAS) as a Distinguished Senior Fellow for Intelligence and National Security."
P.S. What if the DNC Russian “hack” was really a leak after all? A new report raises questions media and Democrats would rather ignore from Salon.com
P.P.S. I knew Julian Assange in the early 2000's. He took a course on Complex Analysis from me. He got mediocre grades (mathematics did not seem to be his main interest) and we chatted off and on about politics. He never asked me for better grades in assignments and generally wanted to know what he did wrong in assignments.

Rahul Banerjee examines shit problems in Rewa

When pigs fly!!
"Rewa Municipal Corporation was given money under the NRCP a couple of years ago. The municipal planners under the direction of the planners of the State Government designed and constructed a Sewage Treatment Plant (STP) from the funds provided which is ready. However, they forgot to lay sewer lines in the town to collect the waste water and direct it to the STP!! So the STP is standing like a monarch of all the shit that it can survey without any of it coming to it!! I have interviewed many people of Rewa town in the past few days but not one of them had heard that the STP had been built and none knew where it was situated. The engineer of the municipal corporation who is supposed to supervise and monitor its construction was evasive as to where this STP was located. Eventually I had to go through the google satellite map of Rewa with a tooth comb to find out where the STP was located!! Belatedly the contract for laying the sewer lines and constructing more STPs has been given to a firm now. The staff of this firm too were evasive about where exactly they are working and refused to give me any details. So STPs and sewerage lines are being built without the citizens knowing anything about this."

M.S. Swaminathan on Indian farming

Why can’t the government provide a higher income for farmers? M.S. Swaminathan
"The government is willing to pay Seventh Pay Commission salaries to insulate government servants from inflation, but they cannot provide a higher income for farmers to improve their lot? If you really look at what is happening now, farm loan waivers are posing a bigger burden on the government exchequer compared to what higher pay for farm produce will incur. But the government is not prepared to give the ₹20,000 crore or so for farmers by way of higher MSP. In 2009, the UPA government gave ₹72,000 crore as farm loan waiver, but no government is prepared to take long-term steps to ensure the economic viability of farming."
"Unfortunately, all policies today are related to corporate powers."

Monday, August 14, 2017

Namit Arora on 'What do we deserve?'

I am now reading this section of Namit Arora's book of essays The lottery of birth
An earlier version from 2011 of the article:
What do we deserve?
 A long video talk by him on the same topic in 2015:

The latest from Neville Maxwell on India-China border disputes

This is India's China war, round two
More about Neville Maxwell:"Shekhar Gupta, editor-in-chief of The Indian Express, who said he had been brainwashed into detesting Maxwell as an India-hater, praised Maxwell as a "relentless journalist and scholar"." I think his book India's China war is banned in India but may be abaialable free online. I suspect that the border problem is mainly due to Nehru's blunders and Neville Maxwell's analysis may be better than most. But I have not read him recently.

Ambedkar and Mandal

Ambedkar and two Mandals
"On November 26, 1949 the Constituent Assembly approved and adopted the final draft of the Constitution. This final draft was the culmination of almost three years of extensive, high quality debate and discussion among the 299 members of the Assembly. The chairman of the Drafting Committee (which had produced the original draft for discussion) made a memorable speech to the Assembly on that final, historic day. That person was Dr B R Ambedkar, who of course, was himself a member of the constituent Assembly.
But, did you know that he almost did not make it to that august Assembly? That's because most major political parties, chiefly the Congress party and most of its senior leaders, did not want him to be elected. Unfortunately, Ambedkar was a hated man. In his own words, uttered on May 21, 1932, he said, "I am the most hated man in Hindu India. I am denounced as a traitor...branded as the greatest enemy of the country." This was because of his insistence that the depressed classes (the word Dalit came into usage much later) be given a separate electorate, just like Muslims, Sikhs and Christians. Mahatma Gandhi was firmly against this. All the animosity against Ambedkar, especially from the senior political class, came to the fore during the elections to various provincial legislatures (what we would later call the Vidhan Sabhas) in July 1946. These legislatures in turn would elect members of the Constituent Assembly, which would then write India's Constitution. Ambedkar was actively sought to be excluded or defeated in the provincial elections by senior leaders from the Congress Party. So he was not able to make it to the Constituent Assembly from his native Maharashtra.
It was thanks to Jogendra Nath Mandal that Ambedkar finally made it to the Assembly from the province of Bengal in 1946. Mandal was the head of the Scheduled Caste Federation of Bengal and Ambedkar was its national head. He persuaded Ambedkar to become a candidate for the Constituent Assembly from Bengal because Ambedkar did not have the requisite support from his home province. To ensure Ambedkar's victory and eventual entry into the Constituent Assembly, the Dalits of Bengal took support from the Muslim League and Anglo Indians. "

Mr. Khanna goes back to Pakistan

Sunday, August 13, 2017

About publishing and children

The problem with children, particularly non-academic ones is that they think that one is brilliant if he or she has published some stuff. They may be even try to publish even unpublished stuff. In my opinion most of the published stuff is rubbish. But it is a process which keeps certain activities alive out of which worthwhile and some dangerous things also come out. Recently one of the children asked me why I am not working on one of the millennium problems. Once I accidentally did for a couple of days and even got my name mentioned in a book ( Poincaré's Prize by George Szpiro) for that effort. Except for exceptioptional people, the way esearch happens is that you may be interested in some general area where you have done well in university and want to do research in that general area. You look around, find schools where such research is done and try to join one of them. Once you join one of them, there are specialists in some of the topics in that area, who tell you what to read to get to what sort of problems in which they may be able to help you. Often it is an industry to publish papers because number of publications are important for survival in the current academic job market. In better places somewhat better things happen but it is very rare to have research places where number of publication do not matter. As usual there are exceptions both among institutions and people. Anyway, the research one does is often determined by this entry point and we often do not get to big problems. But even good places which have entry points to big problems like millennium problems have not really succeeded so far. The one who solved Poincaré conjecture was an outsider.
The reason I looked at PC for a couple of days was this. I did not enter mathematics in a standard fashion. I did not want to be guided and wanted to study topology. In my days there was only one in that area in TIFR and he was abroad. But the institute encouraged me and Raghunathan and Ramanan went out of their way to learn some topology to help me. But their directions were more sophisticated than my interests and I continued my way and Poincaré conjecture was one of the big problems in that area I chose. I did not get any ideas and I knew lot of brilliant people spent years on it without getting anywhere. One of them was C.D. Papakyriakopoulos. He published a long paper on his efforts. One day when I was idly browsing it, I noticed I can reduce it a more accessible one. It did not take much time and I wrote of a short paper and sent it off which was accepted almost immediately. Then I noticed that it could not work. But the paper was accepted , I was young and could do with some publications and I kept quiet. Somebody immediately published a counterexample and since C.D.P. was famous, my name was mentioned as one of those who showed the famous mathematician's attempt did not work. To this day nobody mentioned the absurdity of it that I noticed soon after. That was my one two-day attempt at a big problem.

P.S. The absurdity of CDP's approach as far as I remember: if it worked, it would have shown that a hologram three sphere is a real three sphere which is patently absurd. But to see this, one has to look at his paper and the argument there.

Chabahar and Gwadar ports

Dueling ports underline China-India rivalry from Asia Times

More on Chabahar port from Wikipedia: "Development of the port was first proposed in 1973 by the last Shah of Iran, though development was delayed by the 1979 Iranian Revolution.[2] The first phase of the port was opened in 1983 during the Iran–Iraq War as Iran began shifting seaborne trade east towards the Pakistani border in order to decrease dependency on ports in the Persian Gulf which were vulnerable to attack by the Iraqi Air Force.
India and Iran first agreed to plans to further develop Shahid Beheshti port in 2003, but did not do so on account of sanctions against Iran.[4] As of 2016, the port has ten berths.[1] In May 2016, India and Iran signed a bilateral agreement in which India would refurbish one of the berths at Shahid Beheshti port, and reconstruct a 600 meter long container handling facility at the port.[5] The port is intended to provide an alternative for trade between India and Afghanistan. This port is 800 kilometers closer to Afghanistan than Pakistan's Karachi ."
Check also the Wikipedia article on Gwadar port.


Saturday, August 12, 2017

Some articles related to Bengaluru development

A recent article Bangalore, before the dystopia: The birth, life, and death of India’s most liveable city emindedof the work of Solomon Benjamin which I read years ago. Here is one by him from 2010 :
The aesthetics of the 'ground up' city:
"In this argumentation, one might explore how spaces are created via popular actions and represent an entrepreneurial and resilient spirit to reflect on. While this is useful to consider, the oppositional argumentation remains disciplined squarely within the terms of the planned city. Such disciplining becomes pertinent in our times where the normative intent and zeal around the practices of master planning are burdened by the anxiety of being ‘globally competitive’.

Thus, the popular practice of making a livable ‘place’ would remain subservient to a meta process. Place is thus abdicated and imprisoned within a larger politics. Put simply, such an argument can be narrow in its political project and one can visualize a master planner’s statement such as: ‘…while we appreciate these efforts by the people at building living spaces, we need to make our cities sites to receive "proper" globally connected "economic development"…’ The aesthetics of the popular city remains localized and, in being disciplined by the meta forces of progress and developmentalism, subject to the trajectory of ‘time’.5

Such a disciplining is convenient as also driven in more material ways – by fear. For the elite, anxious to shape and secure property in their own image, this is the fear of the uncertain, the unknown stranger who inhabits and transforms, who occupies, and makes places that were once familiar different. Equally, the ‘stranger’, the immigrant seeking refuge, inhabiting spaces is also marked by fear – of being pushed away, and the need for quieter ways of entry and consolidation. If so, then the aesthetics emerges from complex processes that we witness and experience on a day-to-day basis.
This day-to-day city aesthetics, which includes the street bazaar, the unexpected extensions on terraces, the shop in the front room, and even the roadside temple or shrine, is connected to how we engage with the concept of the ‘middle class’: Are the ‘middle’ class’s amorphous relationships to the city heightened by projections of modernity and reinforced by fearing the ‘lower’ class as an ‘encroaching slum’? Or, are its relationships with ‘the rest of society’ more complicated, making concepts such as ‘the middle class’ redundant and locating them perhaps in a politics of brand consultants that seek to portray India as an emerging market?"
Here is another article which may be a preliminary version of the reference 8 in the above article.
Some of these links come from an earlier post.
Another earlier Post which has links to some other work of Solomon Benjamin.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Dipankar Gupta on India's middle class

Indian middle class incapable of political leadership, says eminent sociologist
P.S. A response on Facebook:
Rahul Banerjee How can the state create a class?!! The state is created and operated by the ruling class and the middle class in independent India has mostly served as a lackey of the ruling class including the likes of academics like Gupta. Its all very well to dismiss social movements as being ephemeral but this just betrays Gupta's own compromised position as a lackey of the global ruling class.

Me:I do not know any thing about the author. His analysis seemed reasonable to though the solution unrealistic as Rahul Banerjee pointed above.

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Reading Namit Arora's book of essays

Many of theses essays have appeared in 3quarksdaily before, I think and I have read some of them. But putting these together gives more coherence. A sample article http://www.3quarksdaily.com/…/the-dance-of-indian-democracy…

Medha Patkar detained

More about my father

Somebody wrote to me saying that he is writing history of Repalle and he wants photographs of my father. I did not get along well with my father but I remember that he loved the poetry of Gurram Jashuva. Once we went to Ponnuru together for Jashua's kanakabhishekam, I remember Joshua riding an elephant. I even stole Jashua's khandakavyam from my father in which smasanasthali is one of my favourite poems. During the last years of his life, his house ( which was named after Gurram Jashuva) was rented to Dalit students and my brother tells me that it was eventually given to Dalits. Perhaps my interest in Dalits and appreciation of Jashuva are inherited from him. Here is a post I wrote about him ten years ago which I posted earlier.
Remembering my father

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Two articles on C.P.Brown 1798-1884

Which seem a bit different but with one of the author's the same in both
Charles Philip Brown by Sitaramayya Ark and Sreenivas Paruchuri
This one in Telugu మనకు తెలియని బ్రౌన్ దొర: ఛాల్స్ ఫిలిప్ బ్రౌన్ by Sreenivas Paruchuri and Velcheru Narayana Rao.
A shorter article: review of a book on C.P.Brown called Telugu resurgence

Monday, August 07, 2017

An article on cultural evolution

Sample :"Even 14-18-month old infants seem to have better recall for actions when they are modelled by three- year-olds than by adults (Ryalls, Gul, & Ryalls, 2000). It is also well established that children have strong same- sex biases in their learning preferences (Rosekrans, 1967; Shutts et al., 2010; Wolf, 1973). Adults, meanwhile, seem more susceptible to social influence by those who share their existing beliefs (Hilmert et al., 2006).
Another important theoretical result is that the existence of an evolving cultural corpus can readily give rise to ethnicitiesi.e., symbolically marked groups (McElreath, Boyd, & Richerson, 2003). Once your fitness depends on culturally transmitted strategies for interaction, and all your peers’ fitnesses do too, local norms can become critically important (Maciej Chudek & Henrich, 2011), and it makes sense to use arbitrary signals (like accent, dress style, tattoos, body mutilation, etc.) to preferentially identify, interact with and learn from co-ethnics." 
Cultural evolution by Maciej Chudek
School of Human Evolution and Social Change Arizona State University
Michael Muthukrishna University of British Columbia Department of Psychology
Joseph Henrich
University of British Columbia Department of Psychology Department of Economics 

Saturday, August 05, 2017

Purpose of sex?

More about Alexey Kondrashov. From the Wikipedia article on  "On August 22, 2012, Kondrashov wrote an article in Nature, describing a link between older fathers and a rise in disorders such as autism. The paper attracted a lot of public attention and Kondrashov was interviewed by The New York TimesThe Los Angeles TimesThe Economist and several television networks.[13] The research investigated the number of spontaneous mutations in humans. It showed that a 40-year-old father transmits nearly two and a half times more mutations to his offspring than a 20-year-old father. As the example, a 20-year-old father can transmit nearly 25 random mutations to the offspring. The number of transmitted mutations is rising on two mutations for every more year. So, a 40-year-old father can transmit nearly 65 mutations to the offspring. The exact reason for it is not well understood, but the collecting of sperm of young men and freezing it for the future can be a clever choice.[14] The brain is usually more effected by these mutations, due the fact that more genes are expressed in the brain than in any other organ.[15]"

Tim Taylor on the digitisation of media industries

Digitisation of media industries: quantity and quality
"But Waldfogel emphasizes another factor that may be even  more important, which is based on the idea that the gatekeepers in traditional media industries had imperfect judgment. Year after year, lots of the content that they approved turned out not to be a hit, or in some cases not to be even remotely popular. Thus, it's not just that additional entry into media industries can cater to niche tastes: in a number of cases, the additional entry into media industries is leading the production and distribution.....
This argument further implies that consumers of media are not finding themselves especially overwhelmed by the range of new choices available. Herbert Simon wrote back in 1971: "What information consumes is rather obvious: it consumes the attention of its recipients. Hence, a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention and a need to allocate that attention efficiently among the overabundance of information resources that might consume it." But it turns out that online reviews and social media offer a gatekeepers for new media products--both for specialized niche products and for those aimed at a mass audience--in a way that lets consumers sort through the options. Indeed,  many consumers seem to find the sorting process through interactive social media to be fun in itself."

Another look at cryptocurrencies

Crptocurrencies: Some lessons from Monetary Economics
"There is an important lesson here: the threat of competition from private monies imposes market discipline on any government that issues currency. If a central bank, for example, does not provide a sufficiently ‘good’ money, then it will have difficulties in implementing allocations. This may be the best feature of cryptocurrencies. In a world in which we can switch to Bitcoin or Ethereum, central banks need to provide, paraphrasing Adam Smith, a tolerable administration of money. Currency competition may have a large upside for human welfare after all."


Another book abThe lottery of birth: on inherited social inequalitiesout Dalits which made some waves a few years ago. Here is a review by Namit Arora Joothan: A Dalit's Life
This article has appeared as the IRS in a collection of essays recently published by Namit Arora
The Lottery of Life: On Inherited Social Inequalities
This excellent autobiographical essay A place called home is not included in the collection.
A review of the book Here in his blog.

A wall for 'Ants among elephants'

Two recent articles by Razib Khan on China

Friday, August 04, 2017

What to expect from Trump

Trump will now be come the war president by Paul Craig Roberts
"As the productive elements of American capitalism fall away, the exploitative elements become its essence. After Venezuela, there will be more South American victims. As reduced tensions with Russia are no longer in prospect, there is no reason for the US to abandon its and Israel’s determination to overthrow the Syrian government and then the Iranian government.
The easy wars against Iraq, Libya, and Somalia are to be followed by far more perilous conflict with Iran, Russia, and China
This is the outcome of John Brennan’s defeat of President Trump." 

The overcoat and other matters

  Vadrevu Ch. Veerabhadrudu has a post on Gogol's 'The Overcoat' linking to Telugu translation which naturally reminds me of my favourite quote:
Nabokov comments in chapter 5 of his book Nikolai Gogol "Russian progressive critics sensed in him [Akaky Akakievich in 'The Overcoat'] the image of the underdog and the whole story impressed them as a social protest. But it is something much more than that. The gaps and black holes in the texture of Gogol’s style imply flaws in the texture of life itself. Something is very wrong and all men are mild lunatics engaged in pursuits that seem to them very important while an absurdly logical force keeps them at their futile jobs–this is the real “message” of the story. In this world of utter futility, of futile humility and futile domination, the highest degree that passion, desire, creative urge can attain is a new cloak which both tailors and customers adore on their knees. I am not speaking of the moral point or the moral lesson. There can be no moral lesson in such a world because there are no pupils and no teachers: the world is and it excludes everything that might destroy it, so that any improvement, any struggle, any moral purpose or endeavor, are as utterly impossible as changing the course of a star.”

Apparently today Sravana Sukravaram is auspicious fo some reason or other. Women were off to the temple, came back and were going to meet again. When I inquired about the reason, Jhansi said chatting and playing games. It seemed only yesterday that they were competing, some would not tell others about good bargains, they surreptiously inquire about the grades of the others' children. Now children have grown up and mostly gone away on jobs, men and women still assemble in different groups in parties and there is time and money and family life somewhat arid. So time for parties and trips. May be even Antarctic and that becomes a norm for others to strive for. Meanwhile girls want to have fun.


Water quality of US waterways worse than expected

New Jersey-Size 'Dead Zone' Is Largest Ever in Gulf of Mexico
"The cause for much of this fertilizer pollution is related to a high demand for meat in the U.S., according to a new report by Mighty Earth, an environmental group. The report blames a small number of businesses for practices that are “contaminating our water and destroying our landscape,” citing areas of native grassland in the Midwest being converted into soy and corn fields to feed livestock."

People in the west seem more open to nondemocratic alternatives

Abstract for this paper

“The citizens of wealthy, established democracies are less satisfied with their governments than they have been at any time since opinion polling began. Most scholars have interpreted this as a sign of dissatisfaction with particular governments rather than with the political system as a whole. Drawing on recent public opinion data, we suggest that this optimistic interpretation is no longer plausible.
“Across a wide sample of countries in North America and Western Europe, citizens of mature democracies have become markedly less satisfied with their form of government and surprisingly open to nondemocratic alternatives. A serious democratic disconnect has emerged. If it widens even further, it may begin to challenge the stability of seemingly consolidated democracies.”