Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Telagana's future

From a news report "Telangana's future is imbricated with the national elections, now just months away. Andhra Pradesh has 42 parliamentary constituencies. The Congress has calculated that creating a new state will deliver strong returns. But just in case, it's weighing how to graph the geography for maximum electoral ground. "

Lady vanishes

Tom Engelhardt in Now you See Him, Now YouDon't "But here was the curious thing: when Panama sent him north, not east, there wasn’t the slightest ripple of U.S. media curiosity about the act or what lay behind it.  Lady simply disappeared.  While the Italian minister of justice “deeply regretted” Panama’s decision, there was not, as far as I can tell, a single editorial, outraged or otherwise, anywhere in this country questioning the Obama administration's decision not to allow a convicted criminal to be brought to justice in the courts of a democratic ally or even praising Washington’s role in protecting him.  And we're not talking about a media with no interest in trials in Italy.  Who doesn’t remember the wall-to-wall coverage of the murder trial (and retrial) of American studentAmanda Knox there?  For the American media, however, Lady clearly lacked Knox's sex appeal (nor would he make millions off a future account of his Italian sojourn)."

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Ed Yong on cryptic variations

Steve Jones once said " People often think of natural selection as something almost magical. But it isn’t. It’s extraordinarily simple. I first witnessed natural selection taking place in a soap factory in Liverpool in the 1960s, where I worked after leaving school." and goes on to descrie a very neat example of making a nozzle by soap powder manufacturers in http://www.cosmosmagazine.com/features/the-end-evolution/ Not so simple says Ed Yong describing 'cryptic mutations' "Biologists, however, are increasingly realizing that some mutations are important not because they provide immediate benefits but because they enable adaptations to occur in the future. These mutations can build up because natural selection does not remove genetic alterations that have no obvious effects on our proteins, cells or bodies."| inhttp://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=hidden-mutations-seemingly-unimportatnt-mutations-can-foster-disease

A philosopher reviews DSM-5

An excerpt from the review  " The NIMH said it would stop using DSM because it lacked ‘validity’. In fact the DSM-5 has made a great effort to make sure it meets the criteria for what it sees as validity.* That is not my problem. I am making a claim grounded more on logic than on medicine. Sauvages’s dream of classifying mental illness on the model of botany was just as misguided as the plan to classify the chemical elements on the model of botany. There is an amazingly deep organisation of the elements – the periodic table – but it is quite unlike the organisation of plants, which arises ultimately from descent. Linnaean tables of elements (there were plenty) did not represent nature.

The DSM is not a representation of the nature or reality of the varieties of mental illness, and this is a far more radical criticism of it than Insel’s claim that the book lacks ‘validity’. I am saying it is founded on a wrong appreciation of the nature of things. It remains a very useful book for other purposes. It is essential to have something like this for the bureaucratic needs of paying for treatment and assessing prevalence."

At one point Ian Hacking says "More and more kinds of behaviour are now being filed as disorders, opening up vast fields of profit for drug companies. I shall discuss none of these important issues, ..." These aspects are discussed by Ethan Watters in his book 'Crazy Like Us' and the articles like The Americanization of Mental Illness. See also the links in this post.

Friday, July 26, 2013

0n the Penfield map

Carl Zimmer discusses Penfield map http://phenomena.nationalgeographic.com/2013/07/24/mouseunculus-how-the-brain-draws-a-little-you/ and curiously does not discuss V.S Ramachandran's work on phantom limbs and pains http://www.npr.org/2011/02/14/133026897/v-s-ramachandrans-tales-of-the-tell-tale-brain See also the comments, in particular the one by Michael Eastlake where he applied Ramachandran's technique. It seems to me that this is a useful technique not widely practiced except in places like Afghanistan.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Joe Studwell book on how Asia works

is discussed in the blog http://howasiaworks.wordpress.com/ The book discusses mainly the economies of Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Phillipines, Malaysia, Indonesia and China. I am still rteading the book and I am posting some of the bits from the blog since it seems to be very interesting and understandable book to me and though India is not discuused, there seem to me lessons for India. From the Economist review posted on July 11 in the blog"Its heart is a historical account of how smallholder farming, export-led manufacturing and financial repression took root in Asia’s miracle economies, "
"But Mr Studwell’s own manifesto for economic success does resemble the Washington consensus in one respect: it holds that poor economies can prosper by following a short recipe of tried and tested policies. This is now an unfashionable approach among economists, who have turned their attention from policies to “institutions”: the social and political constraints that weigh on ministers, whatever policies they avow. Most authors shy away from prescriptions for success, arguing that every development dish is different.
Mr Studwell has no such inhibitions. Asia’s post-war miracle economies emerged, he argues, by following a recipe with just three ingredients: land reform; export-led, state-backed manufacturing; and financial repression."
Though India is not discussed much in the book, it is mentioned a few times in the discussions. In the second part of the interview with Sam Roggerveen:
"Critically, manufacturing is the way to learn because people learn on the job, in factories, generating the capital to pay for their education. It is affordable in the way that more schooling for everybody would not be because school is just a sunk cost until you leave and get a job. (Indians — don’t get me started — only think about learning through investment in formal education and have no real manufacturing strategy, which is why they are relatively so much poorer than the Chinese.)"
In an interview with Asian Review of Books (ARB):
"ARB: India is noticeably missing from this book, except for a mention that they have delved into IT and service-based industry rather than following the agriculture/manufacturing/finance model. Can you talk about why you didn’t include India here and how it differs?
JS: The media suggests sometimes that India has a different model and it’s based around services. I’m not sure that’s fair. I think it’s just that they don’t have a proper strategy. This is just the place they’ve ended up.
They have a very elitist education system left to them by the British. They have the Indian Institutes of Technology, and they graduate very sophisticated engineers, who work in IT and speak English. They work in software businesses, but in software, the capacity to absorb your human capital isn’t great. You can’t even write a single line of code until you’ve learned software code, whereas if you’re absorbing people into a manufacturing economy, you can put people in a factory and they can start to add a tiny bit of value from day one, because they’re working with and through machines.
This helps to explain why every developed country, with the exception of anomalous offshore financial centers (like Hong Kong and Singapore), everybody’s gone through this manufacturing experience. You can look at agricultural super-specialists like Australia and New Zealand, but even they have some manufacturing related to the agricultural sector."
More may follow as I read the book and the blog.

Atul Gawande on how good ideas spread

mostly aout medicine in Slow Ideas. It is a wonderful article but along the way, there is this discocering piece "Every change requires effort, and the decision to make that effort is a social process.
This is something that salespeople understand well. I once asked a pharmaceutical rep how he persuaded doctors—who are notoriously stubborn—to adopt a new medicine. Evidence is not remotely enough, he said, however strong a case you may have. You must also apply “the rule of seven touches.” Personally “touch” the doctors seven times, and they will come to know you; if they know you, they might trust you; and, if they trust you, they will change. That’s why he stocked doctors’ closets with free drug samples in person. Then he could poke his head around the corner and ask, “So how did your daughter Debbie’s soccer game go?” Eventually, this can become “Have you seen this study on our new drug? How about giving it a try?” As the rep had recognized, human interaction is the key force in overcoming resistance and speeding change."
This is perhaps due to the complexity and pace of modern medicine. For places with resources, Atul Gawande has suggestions in this address Cowboys and Pit Crews.

Monday, July 22, 2013

An article on the falling rupee

It was about three rupees a dollar when I was a kid and I always wondered about why rupee kept falling in the long run. Prabhat Patnaik explains in The Fall of the Rupee
 "It is important first to appreciate a fundamental structural fact. If the prospective rates of return were the same between India and the U.S. then wealth-holders would shift their wealth out of India to the U.S. because the latter is the home base of capitalism where they feel safer compared to India. And even if India offered a higher rate of return that prevented such a shift in normal times, even then occasions might arise when suddenly wealth-holders got sufficiently panic-stricken to take funds out from India, and other economies in the periphery, to the U.S. In other words, there is a basic asymmetry in the world economy, such that wealth-holders never get panic-stricken at the centre of the capitalist world to shift funds to the periphery, while they do feel occasionally panic-stricken at the periphery to shift funds to the centre, which after all is why the centre is the centre and the periphery only the periphery.
It is this incidentally which constitutes the fundamental argument against opening up the economies of the periphery to free capital flows: with such freedom, the movement over time, no doubt through fluctuations, will be for funds to flow out from the periphery. And this means that there is a secular tendency for the exchange rate of peripheral economies to decline in a world of free capital flows, which would ultimately mean that the wealth of the periphery will pass into the hands of wealth-holders from the Centre who hold the strong currency of the Centre. Not that this happens suddenly; there is however an undeniable tendency towards this, which manifests itself sporadically, but in a pronounced fashion, followed again by long periods when the peripheral currency does not depreciate, and everybody begins to think that no such asymmetry ever characterized the world economy."
I am reminded of Keynes quote reproduced in Shaxson's ook on tax havens "Let goods be homespun whenever it is reasonably and conveniently possible. Above all, let finance be primarily national'. 
The book is reviewd herehttp://www.lrb.co.uk/v33/n08/david-runciman/didnt-they-notice

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Misc. links,, July 13, 2013

Collected from my Facebook account from the last few days.
"The boomers who’ve got property wealth and so on should think about how to transfer that to their children. Rather than spending all of that in their own time, they should think about the possibility that their children will need some help and possibly more help than we’ve seen in the past." from Stephen King's Economic Horror Stories
A review of Stephen King's book above and David Boyle's "Broke:Who Killed the Middle Classes"
Another review Cheerleaders of Anarchism (via Chapati Mystery Faceook)
Uncertainity is Hard for Doctors
Why is rich US in such poor health
Towards microbiome-ased medicine
From the Global Corruption Survey and the India case
and a Sheetal Sathe song http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_-BrhyzK8jo

Saturday, July 06, 2013

Vinezi Karim comments in Brown Pundits

I do not know who Vinezi Karim is but he has spiced up the blog 'Brown Pundits' recently. I was going to link to one of his comments in the thread Vinezi Karim vs Brown Pundits Posse but the moderators have already have seperate post with it Roundup of Notable Comments. I have no expertise on these topics and have been struggling to understand some of these topics through blog posts and articles. These comments seem interesting to me.
P.S. VK seems to have some problems at BP 

Thursday, July 04, 2013

Misc. links 4th July 2013

This is probably fiction but compelling
Egypt,Brazil,Turkey: without politics, protest is at the mercy of the elites by Seumas Milne
Power across continents
Corporate power has turned Britain into a corrupt state
" For no man now alive in India better deserves the term ‘public intellectual’ than Ananthamurthy. And maybe only one woman—the similarly ageless and indomitable Mahasweta Devi." says Ramachandra Guha
More on Ananthamurthy via 3quarksdaily