Monday, November 20, 2017

Domestication of rice

Rice so nice it was domesticated thrice  “Rice is unique among wild plants for having been domesticated independently on three continents: Asia, Africa, and now South America, researchers have discovered. The New World variety, tamed about 4000 years ago, apparently was abandoned after Europeans arrived. But its genetic legacy could potentially help improve Oryza sativa, the Asian rice species that is now a dietary staple for half the world’s population.”

In Ongole now

I continue to be impressed by the splendid work that Aruna Tella has been doing for the past thirty five years. Eventhough one of my aims is to learn about education, I hope to gather some information of her work over the years. At the moment she is busy with several projects, one of which is running a short stay home for women. Some of them have stayed long, she adopted two of them. One of them is married and another soon. Some of these daughters will probably carry on her work. She runs the only such home in Ongole area ( among several other projects). I hope to collect some stories of her work and write about them off and on. The government only the bare minimum needs of the people in these houses. She provides good food borrowing money and lost a lot of her property by paying interest on these loans. The government grants come after years. Anyway, off and on I will post stories about this lady who is very little known outside Ongole area. She is the main reason for my coming here.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Leaving for Ongole.

After a week in Bengaluru and Hyderabad, leaving for Ongole tonight. The only vague aim is to visit a few schools and villages and learn how things are if possible. The plan is to spend about three months there if health permits.

A nice article on Shyama

From Shyama, the Impish Girl in the Dungarees, Is No More The article has links to some of her popular songs.

Friday, November 10, 2017

The trouble with scientists

The trouble with scientists by Philip Ball
Razib Khan write “.... have come to the conclusion most people are decent, but they’re also craven and intellectually unserious outside of their domain specificity when they are intellectual. Many of our institutions are quite corrupt, and those which are supposedly the torchbearers of the Enlightenment, such as science, are filled with people who are also blind to their own biases or dominated by those who will plainly lie to advance their professional prospects or retain esteem from colleagues.” In
The rising waters of human tribal nature 

Thursday, November 09, 2017

Going on a trip to India


Paradise papers

If you think the Paradise and Panama papers are bad, wait until you hear about Delaware from Yves Smith quote from the above:
In fact, the US is one of the largest recipients of illicit financial flows from developing countries—money often smuggled out by corrupt politicians, drug dealers, or everyday criminals…
Just as small countries tend to breed the political culture that allows corporate secrecy, sparsely populated US states have competed in a race to the bottom to attract corporate investment through lax disclosure requirements. The tiny state of Delaware, called an “on-shore tax haven” by critics, garners more than a quarter of its public revenue—just over a $1 billion—from its business registry.
This probably factors into the World Bank’s assessment of the US as one of the worst offenders (pdf) when it comes to corporate secrecy. In fact, a 2012 academic study reports that it is easier to form a shell company(pdf) in the US than it is in Panama—or indeed, anywhere else but Kenya. At the top of their list? Delaware and Nevada.”
What the Paradise Papers Tell Us About Global Business and Political Elites  from Naked Capitalism

Two on neoliberalism

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

Wastelands vs commons

From Forlorn Wastelands to Thriving Commons in India
“What the villagers think is their land, the government says isn’t,” says Jagdeesh. “What the villagers see as useful land, the government calls wastelands.” This dynamic, common to many agrarian societies, is a holdover from the colonial era. Land that appeared to have little potential to generate revenue for the queen was given this relegated status.
The villagers depend on these marginalized lands for food, water, firewood, timber, and medicine to meet their daily needs. The government has rules and regulations for the land, but it has neither the reach nor the grasp to manage it effectively. “Villagers have no right to this land, so they have little interest in maintaining it,” says Jagdeesh, Chief Executive of Foundation for Ecological Security (2015 Skoll Awardee). “Eventually the land becomes degraded, and that is the tragedy.” The wasteland label becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy—a squandered and valuable resource that falls victim to competing worldviews.”

On revolutions

I am one of those who believe in resistance and not revolutions since according to my limited knowledge, revolutions tend to replace one corrupt regime with another. Still, my heart skipped a beat when my plane once landed in Moscow. I think that I stepped down to touch the ground but am not sure after so many years. Just remembered
100 Years Since the October Revolution Russia's Unloved Anniversary from Der Siegel:
The schoolchildren couldn't tell him who Lenin was. When he asked them if they knew the name of Russia's last Czar they replied: "Putin."”

The charter of the Forest

Why You’ve Never Heard of a Charter as Important as the Magna Carta
Eight hundred years ago this month, after the death of a detested king and the defeat of a French invasion in the Battle of Lincoln, one of the foundation stones of the British constitution was laid down. It was the Charter of the Forest, sealed in St Paul’s on November 6, 1217, alongside a shortened Charter of Liberties from 2 years earlier (which became the Magna Carta).
The Charter of the Forest was the first environmental charter forced on any government. It was the first to assert the rights of the property-less, of the commoners, and of the commons. It also made a modest advance for feminism, as it coincided with recognition of the rights of widows to have access to means of subsistence and to refuse to be remarried.
The Charter has the distinction of having been on the statute books for longer than any other piece of legislation. It was repealed 754 years later, in 1971, by a Tory government.”

Razib Khan on Saudi Arabia

The end of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia links to an article by Peter Turchin on elite overproduction.

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

A very old machine

Hi - I'm reading "A Very Old Machine: The Many Origins of the Cinema in India (SUNY series, Horizons of Cinema)" by Sudhir Mahadevan and wanted to share this quote with you.

"No technology dies a predictable death in India. Nor does it undergo an ordinary birth. Both are evident in the contraption I have just described. This book demonstrates how this axiom applies to the emergence of the cinema in South Asia. The title of the book therefore alludes to the Bioscope as an assemblage that is emblematic of film culture in India and how its history has been shaped. The Bioscope is a combination of past and present. It represents a key symbol of early cinema brushing against new and not so new media. It is the result of the refashioning of an “optical device” of still pictures well pre-dating the cinema in the nineteenth century, into a source of moving images with the help of domestic home viewing technology and digital formats. Finally, the assemblage performs and demands a public space and publicity for its viability. The embedded temporalities of just a single contraption capture I think, the complexity of India’s visual cultures, especially those centered on the cinema.
A Very Old Machine searches for antecedents to—or previous versions of—the imaginaries that have informed the cinema’s place in everyday life and the practices that have sustained its manifestations, both mainstream and idiosyncratic, in India. I investigate the emergence of the cinema in India from a variety of perspectives: as a screen practice that became viable as much through makeshift technologies as through capital intensive practices, as mass culture whose legitimacy was won in the nexus of commerce, culture, and the global traffic in images, as hybrid media that in tandem with photography and print culture registered the experience of modern life and thus established itself as a medium of topical relevance, and finally, as a form of social and cultural memory that has been particularly suited to a cinema whose many origins have made a single archive and a singular narrative impossible to produce and sustain."