Saturday, November 10, 2018

Rangoli 2018

The tradition continues!
Previous years.

Wednesday, November 07, 2018


Via dailykos:

Emmanuel Macron has used the first world war armistice centenary commemorations to call for a “real” European army, warning that rising nationalism and populism threaten the fragile peace on the continent.

“We have to protect ourselves with respect to China, Russia and even the United States of America,” Macron said as he visited the sites of the western front battlefields in northern France on Tuesday.

-- As reported in The Guardian (US) by Angelique Chrisafis, Tuesday, 11/6/2018

Friday, October 26, 2018

Collective Blindness

Margaret Talbot, in the New Yorker:
The Myth of Whiteness in Classical Sculpture
Greek and Roman statues were often painted, but assumptions about race and aesthetics have suppressed this truth. Now scholars are making a color correction.

Brinkmann soon realized that his discovery hardly required a special lamp: if you were looking at an ancient Greek or Roman sculpture up close, some of the pigment “was easy to see, even with the naked eye.” Westerners had been engaged in an act of collective blindness. “It turns out that vision is heavily subjective,” he told me. “You need to transform your eye into an objective tool in order to overcome this powerful imprint”—a tendency to equate whiteness with beauty, taste, and classical ideals, and to see color as alien, sensual, and garish.

Balu’s “The Heathen in His Blindness” is about a more difficult to discern collective blindness.

Saturday, September 01, 2018

Media: Tone of global coverage of India and China

Via twitter, Shamika Ravi of Brookings India++ has these. Am looking for the paper.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

What is Myth?

Josh Marshall at writes about the myth of John McCain:
The key point in my mind is that the origin of the McCain myth, his towering figure-ness, is this very particular fact: through his story and his actions he had a profound appeal to a generation of men who had guilty or angry or unresolved experiences with the Vietnam War and who were, at this point in McCain’s career, themselves moving into mid-life.
and explains:
I should note here that when I use the word “myth” I do not mean it as a fairy tale or cover story. To say something is a myth is not to say it is either true or false. Myths are stories we tell to make sense of and give meaning to the unorganized facts of existence, which themselves are mute and have nothing to tell us. As humans, we can only really understand things through stories.

This above is to be understood in conjunction with:

Monday, August 20, 2018

USA: the joys of pot legalization

This was so not unforeseeable.
“Cannabis is potentially a real public-health problem,” said Mark A. R. Kleiman, a professor of public policy at New York University. “It wasn’t obvious to me 25 years ago, when 9 percent of self-reported cannabis users over the last month reported daily or near-daily use. I always was prepared to say, ‘No, it’s not a very abusable drug. Nine percent of anybody will do something stupid.’ But that number is now [something like] 40 percent.”
The Atlantic, America's Invisible Pot Addicts

India: the UPA's unsustainable growth spurt

In 2015, the Government of India adopted a new GDP calculation method with the base year of 2011-12.  (Resetting the baseline year is a routine matter.)   The new method was more comprehensive in the data it used.  Nevertheless, the new series provoked a lot of suspicion especially because the old GDP numbers were not restated in terms of the new series.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

First biomarker evidence of DDT-autism link

Via and

First biomarker evidence of DDT-autism link

National birth cohort study finds DDT metabolites in the blood of pregnant women are associated with elevated odds of autism in offspring
August 16, 2018
Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health
A study of more than 1 million pregnancies in Finland reports that elevated levels of a metabolite of the banned insecticide DDT in the blood of pregnant women are linked to increased risk for autism in the offspring. The study is the first to connect an insecticide with risk for autism using maternal biomarkers of exposure.


Brown's team found no correlation between the PCB by-product and autism. But when they measured DDT by-product levels in the blood samples, they found that mothers with high concentrations of this chemical — those in the top quartile — were 32% more likely than women with lower DDT levels to give birth to children who developed autism. The likelihood that a child with autism accompanied by intellectual disability was twice as high in mothers with elevated DDT levels compared to those with lower levels.
Brown cautions that although there seems to be a link between autism and DDT exposure, the overall risk of having a child with the disorder is low — even among women with high DDT levels. His group plans to look at other organic chemicals in the Finnish database to determine whether they might affect fetuses by interacting with DDT. 
Jonathan Chevrier, an epidemiologist at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, is interested in knowing whether DDT levels are linked to intellectual disability in children who do not have autism. He is currently following more than 700 children in South Africa — where DDT is still used — which could provide hints as to the mechanism by which the pesticide might affect the brain. It’s an important question, he says, given how much DDT persists in the environment, even in places that have banned its use. “At this point, essentially the entire planet is contaminated with DDT,” he says.