Friday, June 23, 2017

Two more on democracy

Why do democracies fail? "The most crucial variable predicting the success of a democratic transition is the self-confidence of the incumbent elites. If they feel able to compete under democratic conditions, they will accept democracy. If they do not, they will not."
If you don’t like my govt, don’t take pension, use roads’: Andhra CM to voters

Check also Democracy leads to Islamism by Razib Khan posted earlier.

Two from Bloomberg

Razib Khan again

A commenter says "Razib, I am pleased to see that you have kept your options open. You seem to change your options as soon as new evidence is placed before you. I have seen you flip flopping depending on the strength of the evidence, at that particular moment in time . This shows an agile and very less biased mind without some pre-determined notions ruling your judgement. " from
Indian emetics, the never-ending argument:
"Ultimately the final story will be more complex than we can imagine. R1a is too widespread to be explained by a simple Indo-Aryan migration in my opinion. But we can’t get to these genuine conundrums if we keep having to rebut ideologically motivated salvos."
Another Democracy leads to Islamism:
"Eric Kauffman argues in Shall the Religious Inherit the Earth? that modernization, economic development, and the expansion of political representation, integrates conservative rural populations and uplifts them all the while transforming the norms of urban areas.In other words, the rural bazar melds with the urban shopping mall, and both are changed. The 1979 revolution in Iran and its aftermath has been argued to be a victory of the bazar over the Western oriented gentry. In India the rise of Hindu nationalism is an assertion of the self-confidence of sub-elites from the “cow belt” who arose to challenge the Western oriented ruling class that had dominated since the early 20th century."

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Gomantak Maratha Samaj, interview with Dr. Anjali Arondekar

Complex genealogies of caste and gender
"...our Samaj was financially supported through the labors of artists such as Mogubai Kurdikar, Kesarbai Kerkar, Lata Mangeshkar and Kishori Amonkar. "

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Two on AI


Off and on, I have been trying to understand bitcoin business without much success. This article, possibly a bit dated, seems clearer than many I read.
The great chain of being sure about things
P.S. “The Blockchain Is Going to Revolutionize Central Banking and Monetary Policy” 

The next flash point?.

Different perspectives on possible confrontations between US and Russia in Syria. I will start with Juan Cole though I am no longer convinced of his 'informed comments':
Russo-US dog fights over Syria? By Juan Cole
A bit more to the left Spoiling for a Wider War in Syria by Robert Parry
And even more to the left Syria Summary - U.S. Attack Fails To Disrupt Push To Deir Ezzor from Moon of Alabama and regular reports here.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

complex systems again

Society Is Too Complicated to Have a President, Complex Mathematics Suggest
"Most famously, the institute's director, Yaneer Bar-Yam, predicted the Arab Spring several weeks before it happened. He found that seemingly unrelated policy decisions—ethanol subsidies in the US and the deregulation of commodity markets worldwide—led to skyrocketing food prices in 2008 and 2011. It turns out that there is a very neat correlation between the United Nations food price index and unrest and rioting worldwide that no one but Bar-Yam had picked up......
"We were raised to believe that democracy, and even the democracy that we have, is a system that has somehow inherent good to it," he added. But it's not just democracy that fails. "Hierarchical organizations are failing in the response to decision-making challenges. And this is true whether we're talking about dictatorships, or communism that had very centralized control processes, and for representative democracies today. Representative democracies still focus power in one or few individuals. And that concentration of control and decision-making makes those systems ineffective."
Bar-Yam proposes a more laterally-organized system of governance in which tons of small teams specialize in certain policies, and then those teams work together to ultimately make decisions."
A more recent version here.

Cannabis again

I smoked cannabis for an Year around 1970. But I did not like the after taste and stopped after an Year. May be I should start again. One effect that I remember well is that it slowed down time and listening to music was wonderful, one seemed to hear every note.
Cannabis Reverses Aging Processes in the Brain
"Like any other organ, our brain ages. As a result, cognitive ability also decreases with increasing age. This can be noticed, for instance, in that it becomes more difficult to learn new things or devote attention to several things at the same time. This process is normal, but can also promote dementia. Researchers have long been looking for ways to slow down or even reverse this process.
Scientists at the University of Bonn and The Hebrew University of Jerusalem (Israel) have now achieved this in mice. These animals have a relatively short life expectancy in nature and display pronounced cognitive deficits even at twelve months of age. The researchers administered a small quantity of THC, the active ingredient in the hemp plant (cannabis), to mice aged two, twelve and 18 months over a period of four weeks."

Monday, June 19, 2017

Samsaram (1950) songs

Here Among them a funny song by Relangi ( I do not know who the actual singer is. May be Dakhinamurthy or Relangi) lamenting the loss of his hair: 'nagubatu' The film was remade next year with a different set of actors by Vasan in Tamil and Hindi. Greta Dutt, Talat and others sang in the Hindi version (Sansar 1951) but many tunes are similar to those composed by Susarla Dakshnamurthy in Telugu. One by Talat in the Hindi version:
The Telugu version was possibly the first film of Savitri's and the first line spoken by her seems to be "Nuvvu achu hero Nageswara Rao la vunnave" from Samsaram 1950 M.L. Narasimham.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

A comment by Namit Arora about India

I read only a couple of pieces by Namit Arora. Today, I saw a comment by him on his Wall which seems relevant to me and which jells with my experience in South India, particularly with the Kamma community. This comment is in  cost about the survey More Than Half Of India's Youths Want Military Rule, Ban On Inter-Faith Free Mixing In Public, Survey Finds. In the discussion:
Ali Minai If true, this is interesting in that younger people in most of the wod are becoming MORE liberal and cosmopolitan. Why is India moving in the opposite direction?
LikeShow more reactions
June 10 at 4:51am
Namit Arora Ali, that's a good question. But even if this survey is correct, I’m not so sure that India is moving in the opposite direction.  Civic sense was always terribly weak in India, given its strong historical investment in things like respect for authority, hierarchy, endogamy, nepotism, social conformity, religious taboos, family honor, etc. Add to this its very weak sense of the individual and his/her fundamental equal rights and dignity. In fact, the substrate is still quite feudal, esp. in the north. But having said that, I think it's likely that *on the whole*, Indians have more civic sense now than in the past, except it’s clearly far from enough for this day and age. They're simply coming from a much worse place, and most are still too ill-equipped to be good citizens able to do their part to make a decent modern society.

India’s huge diversity and syncretic culture were once natural bulwarks against fascism / majoritarianism but diversity and syncretism have eroded as new axes of identity mobilization have emerged (nation; a more aggressive Hinduism; etc.). Today’s mass communication, higher per capita incomes (freeing more people from basic struggles to focus on things larger than themselves), a truly shoddy school system severely lacking in critical thinking or civic education, unscrupulous demagogues, and the rise of unmet aspirations and competitive stresses of modern life have transformed Indian society (a million youth enter the job market every month; jobless growth is a big concern in India right now; many traditional sectors of industry have seen massive job losses)—and all this has made a large section of the youth more vulnerable to becoming part of various ‘banalities of evil’. It doesn't help that the country is now run by artful demagogues and unimaginative technocrats singularly ill-equipped to notice anything amiss. 

To your comment right below, I think only a few key Indian leaders and a tiny percentage of citizens stood for a liberal, secular democratic ethos, at least in principle if not always in practice. The masses never had much affinity for a liberal, secular, democratic ethos—that’s very much a product of modernity, to which India is very much a latecomer (modernity is coming on its own slow and imperfect pathways, with all the attendant risks of derailment and massive pain en route; clearly, this is no time to be sanguine).

Visiting Sandy

I visited Sandy ( our neighbour for twenty one years and now in a place for old people) today. She seems to have forgotten her age but knows that she is ninety plus. She remembers much older stuff well and regaled me with stories from the two world wars. The first was when her father went as a soldier to England during the First World War, went to a bank where he had connections and met her mother who was working in the bank. When they came back to Australia men and women were placed in different floors of the ship and could meet only on the deck. Apparently journeys were long and the ship owners did not want too many pregnant women on the ship.
And during the Second World War, her sister's boy friend was shipped off to Middle East. One of his friends offered to take her older sister to pictures. Those days, the tradition was the boy would buy chocolates which they would eat during intermission. Once, they did not come back by midnight, her mother was worried and they phoned the police. The policeman burst out laughing when he heard that a friend of the boy friend took her out and would not take the case seriously. First she thought they went out in his car and that is why the policeman expected them to come back late. But then, she said they came back in a taxi. I asked whether the car broke down and then she was not sure what happened.
And more stories of her cigar smoking and her mother asking not to tell about her smoking to her aunt when she visited England after the Second World War. But Sandy ended up sharing cigars with her uncle who was a representative for some tobacco firm in Holland. Except that Sandy did not really know how to smoke cigars, she only pretended to smoke and did not inhale.

London fire

From Bangla Deshmukh cricket captain

"With corporate money banking heavily on cricket hyper-nationalism, the game is often reduced to war by other means. With cricket stars being elevated to the dubious status of warrior-gods, it’s important that this phenomenon is put in the context of greater society, beyond nationalism and pride. Few do this better than Mashrafe Mortaza, the philosopher-captain-hero of the Bangladesh team.
He says, “I am a cricketer but can I save a life? A doctor can. But no-one claps for the best doctor in the country. Create myths around them. They will save more lives. They are the stars. The labourers are the stars, they build the country. What have we built using cricket? Can we make even a brick using cricket? Does paddy grow on the cricket field? Those who make courtyards using bricks, make things at factories, grow crops in the fields – they are the stars.”" in

Saturday, June 17, 2017

What about poetry?

Ramarao reminds us some lines of poem of Sri Sri on Swinburne
కవీ, నీ గళ గళ న్మంగళ 
కళా కాహళ హళా హళి లో 
కలిసిపోతిని; కరిగిపోతిని 
కానరాకే కదిలిపోతిని
 I have read very little literary stuff. This poem was not even in my syllabus. It was in my cousin's syllabus and was one of the poems he had to memorisze. But I still remember it  
అటజని కాంచె భూమిసురు డంబర చుంబి శిరస్సరజ్ఝరీ
పటల ముహుర్ముహుర్ లుఠ దభంగ తరంగ మృదంగ నిస్వన
స్ఫుట నటనానుకూల పరిఫుల్ల కలాప కలాపి జాలమున్
గటక చరత్కరేణు కర కంపిత సాలము శీతశైలమున్

 But according to Nannechoda From The Arrow and the Poem by David Shulman: 
"An arrow shot by an archer
or a poem made by a poet
should cut through your heart,
jolting the head.
If it doesn't, it's no arrow,

It's no poem."
"The thorniest, most fought-over question in Indian history is slowly but surely getting answered: did Indo-European language speakers, who called themselves Aryans, stream into India sometime around 2,000 BC – 1,500 BC when the Indus Valley civilisation came to an end, bringing with them Sanskrit and a distinctive set of cultural practices? Genetic research based on an avalanche of new DNA evidence is making scientists around the world converge on an unambiguous answer: yes, they did.
So far, we have only looked at the migrations of Indo-European language speakers because that has been the most debated and argued about historical event. But one must not lose the bigger picture: R1a lineages form only about 17.5 % of Indian male lineage, and an even smaller percentage of the female lineage. The vast majority of Indians owe their ancestry mostly to people from other migrations, starting with the original Out of Africa migrations of around 55,000 to 65,000 years ago, or the farming-related migrations from West Asia that probably occurred in multiple waves after 10,000 B.C., or the migrations of Austro-Asiatic speakers such as the Munda from East Asia the dating of which is yet to determined, and the migrations of Tibeto-Burman speakers such as the Garo again from east Asia, the dating of which is also yet to be determined."
From How genetics is settling the Aryan migration debate by Tony Joseph. 
P.S. I think that the origins of caste may also be clearer in a few years. Check the second paper (same as above) In this post by Razib Khan.

An ancient disease

An ancient disease
An earlier link to the efforts of Tata Prakasam Here