Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Links, 30th September 2015

Heidi Williams, Macarthur Genius
Another Karthik Chandran
Simple way to make kids more vegetables
A student asking Partha Chatterjee some questions
The majority of the world's chidren are in school. So why aren't they learning?
Children's ability to learn Minimally Invasive Education
Light Electricity Utility Vehicle More from BBC From South Sudan, the world's most important SUV
Chris Blattman Fear, what a century-old theologian can teach the modern scientist :"...Fear, then, becomes the safety device with which the oppressed surround themselves in order to give some measure of protection from complete nervous collapse. How do they achieve this? In the first place, they make their bodies commit to memory ways of behaving that will tend to reduce their exposure to violence."

The education of an economist

Michael Hudson on his education, Long read. More from Michael Hudson here.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Links, 29/9/2015

Top signs Pope Francis is an honest conservative
The New York Times interviews neuorobioligist Cori Bargmann
3quarksdaily top quark winner The fundamental philosophical dilemna of chemistry by Ashutosh Joglekar
I do not believe this 'workers of the world areabout to get their revenge' by Ambrose Evans-Pritchad but not too many demoraphic studies around in spite of the collapse of Soviet Union predicted by Emmanuel Todd base on such studies.
Change Makers: Kumar Ankit of Green Leaf Energy Private Limited
8 must-watch films to understand India's indigenous people via Xavier Dias
Malapati Raja Sekhar on Baobab in 2008
Quartz on Baobab Africa-India connections
A prophet in reverse; A conversation between Jorge Luis Borges and Osvaldo Ferrari
Cash beats stocks,bonds for first time in 25 years from Marketwatch
How to pronounce Narendra Modi


Endometriosis:the hidden suffering of millions of women revealed:
"Endometriosis has existed in the twilight for centuries because of society’s reluctance to discuss what was euphemistically known for so long as “women’s troubles”. 
It occurs when tissue similar to the lining of the womb is found elsewhere – most commonly in the abdomen, ovaries, in the recto-vaginal septum, bladder and bowel. That tissue behaves like the lining of the womb, bleeding every month, and can cause cause severe and chronic pain . Women tell of such acute pain that they pass out."?

Mine is bigger than yours

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Olivier Blanchard Interview

Blanchard: Looking forward, Looking back:
"There is a good chance that we have entered a period of low productivity growth. There is a chance that we have entered a period of structurally weak demand, which will require very low interest rates. And low growth combined with increasing inequality, is not only unacceptable morally, but extremely dangerous politically.
In assessing policies, we cannot just concentrate on short run issues, and we have to address these longer run issues. In doing so, we have to realize two things. First, that this is not our natural expertise, and we have to work with other institutions like the OECD, the World Bank. Second, that there are no magical solutions: We have to be realistic as to what structural reforms are politically feasible, and what they can reasonably achieve."
More in the interview and discussion in Economist's View

Friday, September 25, 2015

Links, 254t September, 2015

Forget 'developing' poor countries. it's time to 'de-develop' rich countries by Jason Hickel in The Guardian
Is this the most effectve development proram in history? by Chris Blattman "It’s a business plan competition for $50,000, and I think it’s a contender.
In 2011 the Nigerian government handed out 60 million dollars to about 1200 entrepreneurs, and three years later there are hundreds more new companies, generating tons of profit, and employing about 7000 new people."
UK, France and Germany lobbied for flawed car emission tests, documents reveal from The Guardian "Leaked documents seen by the Guardian show the three countries lobbied the European commission to keep loopholes in car tests that would increase real world carbon dioxide emissions by 14% above those claimed.
Just four months before the VW emissions scandal broke, the EU’s three biggest nations mounted a push to carry over loopholes from a test devised in 1970 – known as the NEDC – to the World Light Vehicles Test Procedure (WLTP), which is due to replace it in 2017."
(many of the above via Lamber Strether of Naked Capitalism)
The Sanctuary by Elif Batuman (from December 2011) "The idea of a religious monument built by hunter-gatherers contradicts most of what we thought we knew about religious monuments and about hunter-gatherers. Hunter-gatherers are traditionally believed to have lacked complex symbolic systems, social hierarchies, and the division of labor, three things you probably need before you can build a twenty-two-acre megalithic temple. Formal religion, meanwhile, is supposed to have appeared only after agriculture produced such hierarchical social relations as required a cosmic backstory to keep them going and supplied a template for the power relationship between gods and mortals. The findings at Göbekli Tepe suggest that we have the story backward—that it was actually the need to build a sacred site that first obliged hunter-gatherers to organize themselves as a workforce, to spend long periods of time in one place, to secure a stable food supply, and eventually to invent agriculture."
Peter Turchin Complex societies before agriculture and Why become a farmer?. both on the same topic (from 2013)
Is it possible to think without language? "However, while it appears that we can indeed think without language, it is also the case that there are certain kinds of thinking that are made possible by language. Language gives us symbols we can use to fix ideas, reflect on them and hold them up for observation. It allows for a level of abstract reasoning we wouldn't have otherwise. The philosopher Peter Carruthers has argued that there is a type of inner, explicitly linguistic thinking that allows us to bring our own thoughts into conscious awareness. We may be able to think without language, but language lets us know that we are thinking."

Prabhala Bala Ganadhar Tilak from Tenali

was a school teacher I knew in Gudavalli village around 1950. I was probably in sixth or seventh rade at that time. My father was the head master and he used to visit our house. I was never in his class but remember him as a good looking man with thick curly hair, always smiling and we were always varay of the spray when he talked. I do not remember visiting his house. He was meat eater and probably it was not cooked in his housed. My father liked him and used to invite him. We also heard that he played bridge and chess and sometimes won and was probly the state champion once. I did not remember his family name but mentioned him as a bridge player in a thread on Ramaro Kanneganti's wall. One Venkateswara Rao Veluri remembered him:

"Yes! Tilak, I consider as one of the greatest bridge player from Tenali. ( I can easily rate him as good or better than the current greats from USA).His surname was Prabhala. He was a hired player at one time for a Mumbai team at a national meet in early 1960s."

It seems that there was a so much talent around Tenali, some of it forgotten. It was a literary centre when I was growing up (forties and fifties) and there were writers like Tripuranni Ramaswami, Gopichand, humanist Ravipudi Venkatri, G.V.Krishna Rao who wrote on philososphy, Kodavatianti kutumbarao, Sarada, Natarajan, Chakrapani who those days was known for his Sarat translations, many film and drama actors from Tenali and nearby villages. And there was Hindi promotion movement started by Yalamanchili Venkatappiah which influenced some of the writers. Here is a blog post about Tenali (not all the information may be correct. I do not think Chittoor Nagayya was from Tenaqli)

G.T. Murthy

He was senior to us when I was in TIFR (1964-79). We admired him but did not know much of what he was doing as we were in different groups Sanjay Maniktala, who met him later in the 1980s writes about him. Mentors are life changing "But far more important that the creativity that was being fostered there by Doc, was the grooming of the “engineering psyche” which many of us totally abide by today. One of Doc’s famous statements was: “A technical institution is not a king’s court, where the king says it is dark outside, and everyone obediently nods.” He went on to declare that in any technical discussion there is no such thing as a “boss” either. We were encouraged to speak up, but keeping in mind that we are eventually only as good as our facts, data and analyses. Rank does not count, he declared. And so, if you ever came close to proving Doc wrong, he would be very pleased actually. We realized he meant all of it, heart and soul."
I too interacted with G.T.Murthy but in a different way. A photograph from 1974

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

What is the name of The Viriginan?

What is the name of the Virginian in the TV series 'The Virginian'? According to the Wikipedia nobody knows. I watch it often but miss bits of it due to naps. Today in 'The Stranger' Season 7 , Episode 26, after giving the stranger a job, Virginian asks for the strangers name and then introduces himself. It sounded like a name, but it was so unexpected, I missed what he said. I watched it a second time as it comes with a two hour gap on another station. But I napped at the crucial time.

Response to a friend who worries about UK

I certainly do not see any solutions. and today I see this
 I certainly did not see the Arab Spring or the later developments. What little I see is more conflict. We have come to zero interest rates in most developed economies. I think that this means less profits and elites will try to take biger piece of the pie and more misery for the rest. Even Andrew Haldane does not seem to know how to handle this.
So I think that there will be increasing conflict. One hopeful sign is the increase of co-operatives 
"Today the sector is estimated to have around 1 billion members. Co-operatives employ, directly or indirectly, 250 million people around the world. The world's top 300 co-operatives by themselves have an estimated global turnover of 2.2 trillion USD, as revealed by the 2014 World Co-operative Monitor."
from Central governments won't go away and what we may see is growing co-operatve movements and tensions and conflicts between those and states. May be.


Australia's Slow Motion Crisis from Jacobin by Tad Tietze "The most important driver of volatility is the hollowing out of the social base of the political system, and the growing detachment of the political class from the voting public. It’s a process that has been described in many countries, perhaps in most detail by the late Peter Mair in Ruling The Void, which mainly focuses on Western Europe."
Guardian's terrble dilemna over Corbyn from Jonathan Cook "Corbyn’s victory represented a huge failure not just for the political class in all its narrow neoliberal variations, but also for the media class in all its narrow neoliberal variations. It was a sign that the Guardian’s credibility with its own readers is steadily waning. "
Jeremy Corbyn predicted that Euro would lead to 'the imposition of Banker's Europe' But "Today, after striking a moderately eurosceptic position during his leadership campaign, Mr Corbyn has now categorically said Labour would not campaign for EU exit.
He says he wants Britain to work for a "social Europe, a cohesive Europe, a coherent Europe, not a free market Europe".He made the about-face after coming under pressure from Labour MPs, including former shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna and shadow foreign secretary Hilary Benn."

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Decentralised Energy Solutions for Underserved Households and Institutions
Their website
From The Guardian:"ONergy’s business model focuses on three core areas: technology, energy infrastructure and financing. In the technology sector, the company manufactures and distributes a proprietary line of solar-powered products including irrigation pumps and micro cold storage for agriculture, AC and DC micro grids to support livelihoods, TV and computers for digital access and learning. The RECs provide a complete energy infrastructure able to deliver custom-driven solutions to ONergy’s clients. Finally, to make solutions affordable, ONergy facilitates financing by partnering with both banks and micro finance institutions. In addition, with the support of international organisations, ONergy has set up a revolving energy corpus to facilitate low cost credit to monetary financial institutes (MFIs) and rural entrepreneurs.
Founded in 2009, ONergy’s three-pronged business model has already had a positive impact on 250,000 people in the regions where it currently operates. Its solar lighting, home electrification and cooking solutions alone are being used by more than 200,000 people. Solutions for agriculture are helping more than 4,000 farmers. Computers, water heating systems and other products are being used by more than 15,000 people and micro grids are helping another 8,000. The company has trained more than 600 rural entrepreneurs for its Renewable Resource Centres and its products have saved approximately 13,000 tons of CO2 emissions. "

Friday, September 18, 2015

Bandhan, the microfinance institution (MFI) that has become a full-fledged bank

To bond with the poor "In a recent interview to a television channel, Chandra Shekhar Ghosh, the founder of Bandhan, the microfinance institution (MFI) that has become a full-fledged bank, said that the day he quit his low-paying job in a non-governmental organisation (NGO) to start it, his wife cried all night. With an aging mother-in-law and a two-year-old child to care for, Ghosh’s wife could not really be blamed for her apprehension. The next morning his brother-in-law called to dissuade him from his “insane” plan. But Ghosh was not to be dissuaded. Fourteen years later, on August 23, Bandhan Bank, the newest bank in the country and the first to be inaugurated in eastern India in 72 years, commenced operations with 501 branches, 2,022 service centres, 50 automated teller machines (ATMs) and 19,500 permanent employees spread across 24 States. It has 1.43 crore accounts and a loan book of around Rs.10,500 crore. The last bank to start operations in eastern India was UCO Bank, which was established in 1943."
Interview with the CEO Chandra Sekhar Ghosh

P.S. I had a bit of exposure to this sort of thing. I tried to do it from Australia through a friend in India who could only work part ime. It worked well in the beginning on a scale simiar to that in the beginning for Shri Ghosh, and is still limping along. It seems that hard work and full time committment are needed.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

More from India

Are there measurable effects of religion?

There seem to be some in India. I think most are converts from Hinduism and there may be othervfactors like the nature of groups or people that converted, the reasons for conversion. But it is good to see that in one measurable factor, all are improving.
What the cenus tells about having faith in our daughters


The politics of China's anti-corruption campaign by William H. Overholt
Mostly about USA, a review of three books by Josepf Stiglitz Why the rich are so much richer by James Surowiecki
About India Lock up the doors, time for them to depart by Markandey Katju

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

India relared stories and news

23 lakh aspirants for 368 posts in UP secretariat:Phd, post graduates apply (via Madhukar Shukla)
'When Chowkidar is paid more than a lecturer in Kashmir'
India's chaotic lesson in letting go by Eric Weiner (via Madhukar Shukla): "It’s been said that an indication of mental health is whether you can simultaneously retain two contradictory ideas without your head exploding. By that measure, India is the most mentally healthy place in the world."
Similar thoughts in Is there an Indian way of thinking? An informal essay by A.K. Ramanujan. Talking of his father "When I asked him what the discovery of Pluto and Neptune did to his archaic nine-planet astrology, he said, 'You make the necessary corrections, that's all'. Or, in answer to how he could read the Gita religiously, having bathed and painted on his forehead the red and white feet of Vishnu, and later talk appreciatively about Bertrand Russell and even Ingersoll, he said, 'The Gita is part of one's hygiene. Besides, don't you know, the brain has two lobes?'"
We are IT Labor Contractors not IT Superpower says India's Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar
The most powerful Indian technolgists in Silicon Valley from The Guardian
Digital Indians: Five pioneers of technological innovation from BBC
There is a distinct caste-elitism in Carnatic sabha culture in Chennai, says musician T.M. Krishna

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

About theories of everything

There is no theory of everything by Simon Critchley. A very interesting portrait of one of his terachers Frank Cioffi (1928-2012): "His quest was to try and clarify the occasions when a scientific explanation was appropriate and when it was not, and we need instead a humanistic remark. His conviction was that our confusions about science and the humanities had wide-ranging and malign societal consequences.......Frank’s point, which is still hugely important, is that there is no theory of everything, nor should there be. There is a gap between nature and society. The mistake, for which scientism is the name, is the belief that this gap can or should be filled.......What is needed is a clearer overview of the occasions when a scientific remark is appropriate and when we need something else, the kind of elucidation we find in stories, poetry or indeed when we watch a movie or good TV (Frank watched a lot of TV).....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.."

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Bad Loans

Raghuram Rajan last year: 'Rajan slams banks for 'hiding' NPAs'(Non-Performing Assets) ""In India, too many large borrowers insist on their divine right to stay in control despite their unwillingness to put in new money. The firm and its many workers, as well as past bank loans, are the hostages in this game of chicken — the promoter threatens to run the enterprise into the ground unless the government, banks, and regulators make the concessions that are necessary to keep it alive," he said. The governor was delivering the Dr Verghese Kurien Memorial Lecture at IRMA, Anand on Tuesday.

The governor lashed out at banks for joining hands with borrowers in seeking relaxation in classifying some projects as "non-performing assets". "This is short-sighted, especially on the part of the banks. Today, the market does not distinguish much between non-performing loans and restructured loans, preferring to call them both stressed loans and discounting bank value accordingly," Rajan said."
Some names from 3 years ago Dead beat corporate borrowers? Not in India Reuters, June 20, 2012:
"Officially, 3 percent of loans in India are bad. Including restructured or "impaired" loans, for which banks don't have to set aside heavy provisions in case of default, the figure is about 7 percent, according to analysts.
The reality is worse, say some bankers and industry experts, who say many loans are restructured outside official channels, with some banks and borrowers taking advantage of harder-to-track "evergreening" of loans to avoid declaring default. Under evergreening, banks provide additional loans to stressed borrowers, often indirectly, to enable them to repay existing loans. That can keep a loan from going sour, but it ratchets up a bank's exposure to a troubled credit.
It's estimated that at least a tenth of loans to the real estate sector - where restructuring rules are stringent - are stressed, as against the 3-4 percent cited by banks, said Amit Goenka, head of capital markets at UK-based Knight Frank....................
In the best-known recent example of a restructured loan turning sour, liquor baron Vijay Mallya's Kingfisher Airlines(KING.NS) defaulted to most banks on a $1.4 billion loan."
"Basically, over half of the country’s infrastructure is built by firms from Andhra. Close to a third of the country’s power projects and half of its road construction projects are built by Andhra Infra. The leading lights among them are GMR, GVK, Lanco, IVRCL and KSK Energy. This is besides the whole host of smaller companies, including Gayatri, Madhucon, Navayuga, and Ramky.......
First, the involvement and how it came to be. Ever since the Nagarjuna dam was built in the sixties, the predilection of Andhra businessmen for infrastructure was apparent. Aggressive risk taking and the ability to get things done also went with the ability to “manage the environment”. This is a wonderful euphemism for dealing with the hera pheri and “compromises” essential in any interaction with the bureaucracy and the government; and anything to do with infrastructure requires extensive interface of that sort.......
How they got here is an interesting question. Sure, bad decisions were made and there was bad luck involved. But the eagerness of the public sector banking system to lend to them has yet to be explained. One answer may lie in the political economy of rent-seeking. In its second term, the Congress-led UPA was basically in an oxygen tent without the political numbers for survival. Yet the biggest constituent of the UPA came from Andhra Pradesh."
A recent article by Mahesh Nayak Money from Junk June 15 describes some of the recent efforts through ARCs (Asset Reconstruction Companies):
"Several factors are driving this flourishing trade in bad assets. But the biggest trigger came in November 2013 when Reserve Bank of India Governor Raghuram Rajan, in a strongly worded exhortation, asked the banking system to clean up its act. "You can put lipstick on a pig but it doesn't become a princess. So dressing up a loan and showing it as restructured and not provisioning for it when it stops paying, is an issue," he had said. Until then, scared to bell the cat, banks had been ever-greening their bad loans - and slipping deeper into the abyss. ....Under Rajan's stewardship, the RBI has announced a host of measures that have fuelled distressed asset sale business. Early last year, the central bank allowed th"e banks to sell even the loans where the principal or interest was overdue by 60 days rather than 90 days, earlier. In essence, it allowed banks to start selling assets early if they felt the loan was non-redeemable. Other factors are also responsible. ARCs are betting heavily on the proposed new bankruptcy law which will give them a greater leeway (including sale of whole or part of the company and change of management or promoter) to revive the distressed assets.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Friday, September 11, 2015

Robert Fisk on the refugee crisis

Refugee crisis- Thank God for Germany taking resposibility, the rest of Europe appears to have forgotten the age-old lessons of history (via The Automatic Earth) A moving tribute to Angela Merkel with hints of possible problems. I hope that Angela Merkel stays the course. Excerpt:

"And if the rags of our integrity as human beings have been salvaged these past few weeks, this is due to the dour, rather sour Protestant ethics of an east German hausfrau who history may (or may not, for let us remember her people’s grandfathers for whom my Dad was supposed to shoot his own refugees) say has saved our soul."
P.S. Related:
The big myth about refugees:
"But refugees aren't always an economic benefit to countries. The way that refugees affect their host economy depends a lot on how a country deals with them.
It might seem counterintuitive, but the countries that take the longest to process refugees and have the tightest restrictions on them end up paying the most per refugee, says Erik Jones, a professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies who has researched migrants."
" Trade and service companies — from caterers to plumbing firms — are struggling to find new workers, with more than 37,000 trainee positions unfilled, according to the Federal Employment Agency.
Couple that with that fact that many of the asylum seekers — especially Syrians — are highly educated or skilled workers and include doctors, engineers and architects. And suddenly, for Germany, some say, what initially seems like a crisis becomes something else."

Saudis offer to build mosques for Syrians in Germany

Saudi Arabia offers to build 200 mosques for Syrians in Germany:
"It would be unfair to suggest that the Gulf Arab states have done nothing to help the estimated four million Syrians who have fled their country since the start of the conflict in 2011.
Just this week, the al Hayat newspaper reported that 500,000 Syrians had found homes in Saudi Arabia since the civil war began – as workers, not refugees.
There have also been significant contributions from rich individuals towards the upkeep of refugee camps round the Syrian border, estimated by the BBC to total around $900 million (£600 million)."

About Ancient North Indian (ANI)

From the group that coined the term:
"In our data, the hypothesis of mixture emerges naturally from 
PCA (Figure 3), which shows that nearly all the Indo-European and Dravidian speaking groups spread out on a one dimensional gradient in a plot of the first versus the second PC.
Modeling the history of many Indian groups as a mixture of two ancestral populations is an oversimplification. In reality, even if ancient mixture did occur, it is likely to have been between substructured populations instead of homogeneous populations, and it is likely to have occurred at multiple times and at multiple geographic locations. However, approximating the history of many Indian groups as a simple mixture of two homogeneous ancestral populations provides a good fit to the summary statistics of allele frequency differentiation, and we believe that in this sense it is a useful starting point for future analyses that can detect more subtle events."
Razib Khan quotes (the main paper is behind a paywall):
"We warn that ‘models’ in population genetics should be treated with caution. Although they provide an important framework for testing historical hypotheses, they are oversimplifications. For example, the true ancestral populations of India were probably not homogeneous as we assume in our model, but instead were probably formed by clusters of related groups that mixed at different times. However, modelling them as homogeneous fits the data and seems to capture meaningful features of history."

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Apparently a link from Gobekli Tepe to Vedic priests

A discussion between Noam Chomsky and Michel Foucault in 1971

Human Nature: Justice Versus Power
It seems fairly contemporary. Along the way, Chomsky expressd his world view:
   Well, yes, perhaps. Mr. Chomsky, we are all very interested to know your political objectives, especially in relation to your well-known anarcho-syndicalism or, as you formulated it, libertarian socialism. What are the most important goals of your libertarian socialism?
   I'll overcome the urge to answer the earlier very interesting question that you asked me and turn to this one.
   Let me begin by referring to something that we have already discussed, that is, if it is correct, as I believe it is, that a fundamental element of human nature is the need for creative work, for creative inquiry, for free creation without the arbitrary limiting effect of coercive institutions, then, of course, it will follow that a decent society should maximise the possibilities for this fundamental human characteristic to be realised. That means trying to overcome the elements of repression and oppression and destruction and coercion that exist in any existing society, ours for example, as a historical residue.
   Now any form of coercion or repression, any form of autocratic control of some domain of existence, let's say, private ownership of capital or state control of some aspects of human life, any such autocratic restriction on some area of human endeavour, can be justified, if at all, only in terms of the need for subsistence, or the need for survival, or the need for defence against some horrible fate or something of that sort. It cannot be justified intrinsically. Rather it must be overcome and eliminated.
   And I think that, at least in the technologically advanced societies of the West we are now certainly in a position where meaningless drudgery can very largely be eliminated, and to the marginal extent that it's necessary, can be shared among the population; where centralised autocratic control of, in the first place, economic institutions, by which I mean either private capitalism or state totalitarianism or the various mixed forms of state capitalism that exist here and there, has become a destructive vestige of history.
   They are all vestiges that have to be overthrown, eliminated in favour of direct participation in the form of workers' councils or other free associations that individuals will constitute themselves for the purpose of their social existence and their productive labour.
    Now a federated, decentralised system of free associations, incorporating economic as well as other social institutions, would be what I refer to as anarcho-syndicalism; and it seems to me that this is the appropriate form of social organisation for an advanced technological society, in which human beings do not have to be forced into the position of tools, of cogs in the machine. There is no longer any social necessity for human beings to be treated as mechanical elements in the productive process; that can be overcome and we must overcome it by a society of freedom and free association, in which the creative urge that I consider intrinsic to human nature, will in fact be able to realise itself in whatever way it will.
   And again, like Mr. Foucault, I don't see how any human being can fail to be interested in this question. [Foucault laughs.]"
Foucalt was skeptical. As far as I can see he seemed skectical of abstract thinking to explain the countours of historical chages. Earlier he said:
"Let me take a very simple example, which I will not analyse, but which is this: How was it possible that men began, at the end of the eighteenth century, for the first time in the history of Western thought and of Western knowledge, to open up the corpses of people in order to know what was the source, the origin, the anatomical needle, of the particular malady which was responsible for their deaths?
   The idea seems simple enough. Well, four or five thousand years of medicine in the West were needed before we had the idea of looking for the cause of the malady in the lesion of a corpse.
   If you tried to explain this by the personality of Bichat, I believe that would be without interest. If, on the contrary, you tried to establish the place of disease and of death in society at the end of the eighteenth century, and what interest industrial society effectively had in quadrupling the entire population in order to expand and develop itself, as a result of which medical surveys of society were made, big hospitals were opened, etc.; if you tried to find out how medical knowledge became institutionalised in that period, how its relations with other kinds of knowledge were ordered, well, then you could see how the relationship between disease, the hospitalised, ill person, the corpse, and pathological anatomy were made possible."
The discussion, though interesting, is too abstract for me. no where in the discussion of problems with centralization was mentioned the principle of subsidiarity. And evolution does not get much mention. And as far as I can see many big changes seem to come unforseen. But the discussion seems worth a look.
There are videos of the discussion and some comments in (via Lambert Strether)

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

A comment in Michael Pettis blog

I have been reading economics posts with a very partial understanding for the last few years. Once in a while some posts like this seem to make sense. Then I found that I did not understand much of his recent post  "If we don't understand both sides of China's balance sheet, we understand neither". Responding to the frustrations of another commenter, one Deek writes
"I think there are a number of readers/lurkers in your boat (that is, not having a finance/econ background). I count myself in this group. I started reading this site in 2013/2014 – the first thing that I found helpful was reading through the year or two of essays that preceded the first one I read. I’ve read every post since then and the professor’s books in reverse order (finishing Volatility Machine now). The material above seems to dovetail more closely with the Volatility Machine, as compared to the other books. I find it more challenging as well. In any event, if you are really interested in all of this, it would probably do you well to read the Volatility Machine."
I seem to be in a similar situation; still a few more years to go.

I have come to this stage

James Simons interview

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

About families on two dollars a day in USA

A Mahe Jabeen poem in Telugu and translation


ఆకురాలు కాలం

అతనెప్పుడూ అంతే

ఒంటరిగా రమ్మంటే వసంతాన్ని వెంట తెస్తాడు

Burying religion?

"Remains of buried temple may mark point of religious transformation when prehistoric society shifted from worshipping landscape to the Sun."That ia about new discoveries near Stonehenge.
Another instance of burial of a site for unknown reasons is Göbekli Tepe:
"Around the beginning of the 8th millennium BCE Göbekli Tepe ("Potbelly Hill") lost its importance. The advent of agriculture and animal husbandry brought new realities to human life in the area, and the "Stone-age zoo" (Schmidt's phrase applied particularly to Layer III, Enclosure D) apparently lost whatever significance it had had for the region's older, foraging communities. But the complex was not simply abandoned and forgotten to be gradually destroyed by the elements. Instead, each enclosure was deliberately buried under as much as 300 to 500 cubic meters (390 to 650 cu yd) of refuse consisting mainly of small limestone fragments, stone vessels, and stone tools. Many animal, even human, bones have also been identified in the fill.[32] Why the enclosures were buried is unknown, but it preserved them for posterity."

Gandhi's racism

I am an admirer of Gandhi. Gandhi kept changing his view on many topics. perhaps, one has to look at his last comments on any issue to see the transformation. Gandhi did express racist views in his younger days. I do not know his last views on the topic. Here are some links to his early views:
A discussion Was Gandhi a racist?
Gandhi was a racist from Sulekha 8 years ago.
What did Mahatma andhi think of black people? Rama Kalshmi on September 3, 2015 writing about a new book on Gandhi.

Refugees for Charter cities

Paul Romer has been advocating charter cities for a while. Here is a possiblity:
One billionaire's dream to build a refugee utopia

Monday, September 07, 2015

Narayan Swamy on Facebook

Narayana Swamy:"ఏ తెలుగోడి గోడ చూసినా ఏమున్నది గర్వకారణం
ఫార్వాడిన ఫోటోల్ విడియోల్, తను పాటించని నీతుల బోధల్!"
meaning "Nothing much to be proud of on the Faceook wall of many Telugu.It is all forwarded photos, videos and sermons which they do not follow" apparently based on his newsfeed. that may represent the class to which he belogs to.
P.S.Facebook storytellers of India

Marappa searching for his sister Laxmi

Trailer and videos in five parts by Gautam Singh about five minutes each starting with this. The rest here and here.

Gulf countries and refugee crisis

Ajzal Ashraf asks Refugee crisis: Where are the Gulf countries?:
"The Syrian conflict has created over four million refugees. Add to that nearly two million more fleeing persecution in Afghanistan, Iraq and Somalia, and this becomes a crisis that no amount of European generosity can address.
The problem is likely to get worse. The war in Yemen, which resulted in an almost 80 percent of the population needing humanitarian assistance, and the long-running Libyan conflict have yet to release their burden of displaced and desperate people. When they do, it could add millions more to the region's refugee exodus.
Why are some Muslim governments seemingly indifferent to this plight, and why are people from the region fleeing to Europe for safety and prosperity?
It is not because regional countries lack the capacity to cope with the problem. The region has unimaginable wealth. It has constructed the tallest buildings, built lavish palaces, provided spectacular places of worship and created universities so big that they have their own railways.
The region has no shortage of space or jobs. Millions of professionals and labourers are imported from across the world to service the lifestyles, ambitions, and enterprises of these states."

Education Links

Discussions on China

Prasad, Pettis lock horns on China growth prospects from March 2014
Michael Pettis’s Main Arguments:
  A significant part of China’s growth has come from wasteful investment.
 That’s not sustainable as debt has grown faster than debt servicing capacity.
 Fights over who faces the cost of bad loans will add to downward pressure.
 Arithmetic of rebalancing means even if household income growth can be maintained at 5 percent to 7 percent, GDP growth must necessarily be lower.
 China’s limited institutional development makes it difficult to absorb large volumes of capital productively.
 GDP growth of 3 percent to 4 percent, combined with progress on rebalancing, would be a significant achievement.
Michael Pettis blog post on September 1, 2015
From Steve Keen Why China had to crash part 1, part 2
A report from Nikkei Asian Review on September 6, 2015: "Chinese Finance Minister Lou Jiwei told his Group of 20 counterparts that the country's economy is likely to face tough conditions for up to 10 years, sources familiar with the G-20 meeting said Sunday." Via Marginal Revolution

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Chris Blattman's juxtaposition

I still cannot get over Chris Blattman's comment in his links post:
"In the US, subsidies for people to move from poor neighborhoods to better ones had positive long term outcomes (PDF) but Barnhardt, Field, & Pande find in India, taking people away from their social support networks is very disruptive and many people refused or left the program (PDF)."
My experience in Souith India, in a different conext, is somewhat different from the conclusions of the above above paper whose field work was done in U.P. in North India. This concerned an agricultural institue near Hyderabad which trained rural poor students with grade 10 educations. They were trained free of cost in more modern methods of agriculture for an year and it was hoped that they would go back and implement the new methods. Instead all took city jobs in agri-business.
So, what gives. The only thing I can think of is the family systems of Emmanuel Todd. He distinguishes the North and South Indian family systems as Exogamous Community Family and Assymetrical Community Family respectively. Part of the difference, outside Kerala which is more matrilinear, comes from the marriage stem where the children of brother and sister can marry. Apparently, this gives women a bigger role in the society though not as much as in matrilinear societies. I would guess that US would come under Absolute Nuclear Family like England. For Todd, two important causes of 'progress' (from what I could lean from 'The causes of progress') are literacy and status of women.
There have been criticisms that Todd is "grounded as it is in deterministic anthropological categories" as a recent review by Sarah Waters of 'Who is Charlie?'). In her review of 'The Causes of progress', Evelyn Rawski has similar criticism but goes on to say "The great value of Todd's book lies elsewhere: it forces scholars out of the increasingly narrow specializations in which we tend to spend our lives. We may disagree with Todd's interpretation and his facts, but we can learn a great deal from the structural comparisons he makes. If comparative studies are stimulated by books like this, we may eventually achieve a more satisfactory synthesis to explain the demographic, economic, and cultural changes that are central to the early modem and modem historical ages."
When there are such differences in different places coming from modern quantitative research, it may be useful to look at some of the factors that Emmanuel Todd has been pointing to.

Trade 1890 to 1860 B.C in one area

" The traders of Kanesh used financial tools that were remarkably similar to checks, bonds and joint-stock companies. They had something like venture-capital firms that created diversified portfolios of risky trades. And they even had structured financial products: People would buy outstanding debt, sell it to others and use it as collateral to finance new businesses. The 30 years for which we have records appear to have been a time of remarkable financial innovation." from The V.C.s of B.C.

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Germany leading the way on immigrants and refugees

Angela Merkel's humane stance on immigration is a lesson to us all:
"It is not Britain, the alleged “soft touch”, which is the favoured destination for what is emerging as one of the great movements of people in history, fleeing the mayhem of Syria, North Africa, Afghanistan, Eritrea or northern Nigeria aided and abetted by sinister, organised gangs of people traffickers. Instead, they prefer Germany. In the last 12 months alone, it has received some 300,000 asylum claims, 12 times more than Britain, on top of the immigration it receives within the EU under the freedom of movement rules it defends to the last. During 2015, the number of asylum seekers to Germany is set to rise to 800,000. Germany is becoming a country of immigration, the most popular destination for the global dispossessed......
Confronted by forces that would overwhelm British leaders, the woman the Greek left (and many on the British left who should know better) mistakenly accuse of being the leading advocate of conservative neoliberalism has stood up to be counted. Being the country to which so many want to migrate should be a source of pride, she says."
Germany did some thing huge for the Syrian refugeees-and for the future of Europe
"German Chancellor Angela Merkel did something really good this week: Her country will now allow Syrian refugees, who normally would be deported back to wherever they first entered the European Union, to stay and apply for asylum. Thousands of Syrians who would have otherwise faced uncertainty in Europe can now begin the process of rebuilding their lives in Germany.
Germany, with the stroke of a pen, has just given an awful lot of Syrian families the chance to start a new life. But this is even more important than that: In addition to being a blessing for these Syrians, it is also a gift to Europe. Migration has become a crisis so great for Europe that, earlier this month, Merkel called it an even bigger challenge for the EU than the Greek debt crisis. She is now leading by example, showing Europe what it must do to overcome that crisis."

Two on global value chains

Here Tim Taylor gives the background.
In May be this global slowdown is different Justin Fox " Building global supply chains became so fashionable for Western manufacturers that they built them even when it made sense to keep production closer to customers; now they're retrenching and revising their approach."