Thursday, December 29, 2011

Why Libertarianism doesn't work

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Mahatma Gandhi's laissez-faire!

Alan Campbell Johnson, in "Mission with Mountbatten", reports in his entry for December 26th, 1947:

On the ultimately decisive economic front the Government has added to its own burdens by its blind and bland acceptance of Gandhi's policy towards decontrol.  The Mahatma's approach to economics is unashamedly pre-feudal, and he has converted the doctrine of laissez-faire beyond the dreams of Adam Smith into what is little less than a branch of metaphysics.   We now have the spectacle of a Government trying to create a modern State and depriving itself of the power to tackle food-hoarders and price-ring profiteers save through appeals to their social conscience, the one commodity in which they are totally lacking.   The decontrol policy has been opposed by Mountbatten as well as by all responsible Civil Service advisers without exception.  It is the outcome solely of the Government's awe of Gandhi.  It is causing almost at once a vicious spiral of inflation, and will involve an extra eight crores of rupees on Civil Service salaries alone to meet the rise in prices.  Altogether it is estimated that some one hundred and ten crores of rupees will need to be pumped in to meet the cost of Gandhi's economic ideas.   Sugar and salt have both rocketed up to one rupee eight annas a seer - the rise in the price of salt being no less than five hundred per cent.

Effect of redistricting in New Jersey

After every census, the congressional districts are redrawn to take into account the changes in population.  The 2012-2021 map for New Jersey is here, also displayed below.  As a result, I lose my ex-physicist Democratic representative, Rush Holt (district 12) and instead get Republican Chris Smith (district 4).  Unless there is a chance of getting a decent Democrat elected, there goes my interest in my Congress representative.

Representative Christopher Smith
Liberal Action Score: 22/100

Conservative Action Score: 55/100

Representative Rush Holt
Liberal Action Score: 92/100
Conservative Action Score: 3/100


Dark clouds swirl around the Indian economy

Friday, December 23, 2011

How Ayn Rand Helped Make the US into a greedy, selfish nation

Via Praveen Swami on twitter.
A demagogue, in addition to hypnotic glibness, must also be intellectually inconsistent, sometimes boldly so. This eliminates challenges to authority by weeding out clear-thinking young people from the flock.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Being Different: An Indian Challenge to Western Universalism

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Higgs at last?


PS: Strassler 

PPS: Gibbs  Read this one for sure.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Higgs news

Everyone in the particle physics community is waiting for tomorrow's status report from CERN.
Lots of good blog posts, so am simply linking to them:

PS: Carroll

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

S Gurumurthy on the Indian Retail Sector

Saturday, December 03, 2011

India: Foreign Direct Investment In Retail

A political storm was unleashed in India when the government announced its decision to allow foreign direct investment (FDI) in the retail sector in India (the decision has been put on indefinite hold). This decision would allow Walmart and its equivalents to enter the Indian market.

What struck me is the very poor quality of the debate. Putting aside the ideology of "free markets", it was not clear at all what the problems are, and how FDI will help solve them.  A fact-based presentation of what problems may be solved (and what new problems may be created - I'll provide an example) will be useful in deciding what the right policy is.

Friday, December 02, 2011

Job creation

Nick Hanauer tells us what ought to be obvious - jobs are created by consumers buying from businesses.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Note to the President

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Doctor Reinvents Calculus!

(Hattip Bee).
"Clueless doctor sleeps through math class, reinvents calculus… and names it after herself."

Pepper spray techniques

Cosmic Variance shows us how it is done in University of California, Davis.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Statistical Analysis of the OPERA experiment

This one (sticky) blogpost will serve for accumulating everything related to the statistical analysis of the OPERA experiment (that found faster-than-light neutrinos).

PS: There is a rumor that OPERA has repeated its experiment with very short pulses of protons and the faster-than-light result persists.  If the rumor is true, then everything under the fold is irrelevant to the issue of whether OPERA is right or wrong.

PPS: OPERA confirms its result! See Tommaso Dorigo for a discussion, waiting for the pre-print to show up.

PPPS: the updated pre-print is here.   Almost all the objections that had been raised about the original preprint have been addressed.  If there is an error, it is inaccessible to the remote observer.  The way forward is to repeat the experiment elsewhere.

Unstick-ing this post.

PPPPS: Further comments from Tommaso Dorigo.

{Last update: Nov 18, 1:07 PM}

Monday, November 14, 2011

Ayn Rand

National Public Radio, on the influence of Ayn Rand on current politics.

Excerpting one instance from there:
Recently, House Speaker John Boehner channeled Rand when he said, "Job creators in America basically are on strike."
This idea that Boehner put forth in a recent speech before the Economic Club of Washington, D.C., could have come straight from Atlas Shrugged.

Businesses, Boehner said, need to be set free. Instead, "they've been antagonized by a government that favors bureaucrats over market-based solutions. They've been demoralized by a government that causes despair, when what we really need is to provide reassurance and inspire hope in our economy."
Boehner uses the language of slavery when he says, "We need to liberate our economy from the shackles of Washington."
The problem with Boehner's (and all the other examples in the NPR piece) is that corporations are doing very well.

In other news, the latest figures for corporate profits
Corporate profits in the second quarter grew to $1.467 trillion annualized-up from $1.455 trillion in the fourth quarter (previously $1.476 trillion). Today's report includes annual revisions. Profits in the second quarter rose an annualized 3.3 percent, following a 39.9 percent surge the quarter before (previously 35.2). The upward revision to the first quarter is due to a downward revision to the fourth quarter. Profits are after tax but without inventory valuation and capital consumption adjustments. Corporate profits are unchanged on a year-on-year basis, compared to up 2.8 percent in the first quarter. Growth in profits is extremely volatile over recession/recovery periods and is slowing from the spike in late 2009 and early 2010. The recent peak in year-ago growth was 115.9 percent for the fourth quarter of 2009. 
The new figures indicate that corporate profits accounted for 14 percent of the total national income in 2010, the highest proportion ever recorded. The previous peak, of 13.6 percent, was set in 1942 when the need for war materials filled the order books of companies at the same time as the government imposed wage and price controls, holding down the costs companies had to pay.
There have been 10 years when corporate profits as a share of national income exceeded 13 percent — 1941, ’42, ’43, ’50, ’51, ’55, ’65, ’66, 2006 and 2010. In eight of those years, the economy, as measured by real gross national product, grew at a rate of greater than 6 percent.

The exceptions were 2006, when real growth was just 2.7 percent, and 2010, when it was 3 percent.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Fundamentalism, American style

In today's New York Times, "Will This Election Be the Mormon Breakthrough?", Harold Bloom notes that:
The 19th-century Mormon theologian Orson Pratt, who was close both to Joseph Smith and Brigham Young, stated a principle the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has never repudiated: “Any people attempting to govern themselves by laws of their own making, and by officers of their own appointment, are in direct rebellion against the kingdom of God.” 

Friday, November 11, 2011

Aatish Taseer dissects Arundhati Roy

The man is simply brilliant!

Ida: Sorry! So, we’ve talked about Noon, we’ve talked about Pakistan and your father, what about India? You’ve said some pretty harsh things about a certain writer cum activists on the Left–no names!–who, we in the States, kind of like. She seems, in an environment of rapacious capitalism, to be a friend of the poor and marginalised. What possible objection could you have to her?

Aatish: None except that I don’t think she’s a friend of the poor at all. She would like to doom them to a permanent state of picturesque poverty. They are beautiful to her–the poor–beautiful, benign and faceless. And that is exactly how she wants them to stay. Let me say also that it is not the poor who animate her politics. Oh, no! The people who get her into the streets are the new middle classes. This class, still among the most fragile in India, people who have newly emerged from the most dire conditions, are despicable to her. She mocks their clothes; their trouble with English; she hates their ambitions; when India wins the cricket and she sees them celebrating, her skin crawls; she wants, more than anything, to do these people down. And it is her overwhelming hatred of them that allows her to be a friend of movements that are seemingly far apart. The jihadists, the Maoists, the Kashmir movement, the anti-development people…they’re all her friends. Anyone who can prove a credible threat to the future of India is a friend of that woman. I would go so far as to say she has a prurient fascination with the enemies of India. And where do they love her? In Pakistan, and in the faculty rooms of Europe and America. No surprise there.
Also, this business of pretending she’s a lone voice in the wilderness. What rubbish! At least have the good grace to admit that not one thing she says is provocative or new; it is perfectly banal. And we know how well the universities Europe and America reward this bogus cant!

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

October snow

The storm of October 29 left this snow:

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

The Saudi Menace

Madanjeet Singh

Blurb: Wahabism, with enormous Saudi petrodollars at its disposal, has wrought havoc worldwide. The writer travels back to Kashmir, Kerala, Lahore, and Indonesia of some decades ago to get a measure of the tragic and vicious effects — and hopes resilient, multilayered secular cultures will be able to fight back.

Last words

Last words of Steve Jobs: OH WOW. OH WOW. OH WOW.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Miss USA 2011

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Rangoli 2011

Courtesy my niece:

Rangoli 2011

Full set

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Bergeron on OPERA

Via Tommaso Dorigo,

About Statistical Questions Involved in the Data Analysis of the OPERA Experiment
Authors: H. Bergeron
(Submitted on 24 Oct 2011)

Abstract: The authors of the OPERA experiment [arXiv:1109.4897] claim that "the measurement indicates an early arrival time of CNGS muon neutrinos with respect to the one computed assuming the speed of light in vacuum". In this note we analyze the statistical aspects of the experimental results presented in [arXiv:1109.4897], assuming that no hidden experimental bias exists. Due to statistical constraints, we show (through two different methods) that the experimental data presented in [arXiv:1109.4897] do not permit to conclude unambiguously with the existence of a superluminal behavior of neutrinos. The problem lies essentially in the interpretation of the data and not in their veracity.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Neutrinos on the brain - redux

Readers of this blog may have noticed that ever since the OPERA collaboration announced finding neutrinos that travel faster than light, I have been scratching my head about something.  Here, in the simplest possible terms is what I'm thinking about.

A how-to and a how to?

First - a how-to do something:
Second - a question about how to do something.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Auditors' contribution to the fiscal crisis

Floyd Norris has written in today's New York Times that the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board was harshly critical of 27 of 61 of the Deloitte & Touche's audits that it inspected, over three years ago.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Sneak Peek at Adobe's Image Deblurring

Neutrinos on the brain-12

(PDF) An attempt to understand the statistical error in the time-of-flight estimate in the OPERA experiment.

I'd rather stay up and finish this, but....

Neutrinos on the brain-11

Tommaso Dorigo tells us about the ICARUS collaboration's refutation of the OPERA superluminal neutrino result.

Sunday, October 16, 2011


Neutrinos on the brain-10

C.I.P. points to this article from Technology Review. There is a discussion of a claim by Ronald van Elburg that the motion of GPS satellites is not factored into the time of flight calculations at OPERA.

My reply is that per this note the GPS satellite designers have thought of all of that. A key excerpt:

The concept of coordinate time in a local inertial frame is established for the GPS as follows. In the local Earth-Centered Inertial frame, imagine a network of atomic clocks at rest and synchronized using constancy of c. To each real, moving clock apply corrections to yield a paper clock which then agrees with one of these hypothetical clocks in the underlying inertial frame, with which the moving clock instantaneously coincides. The time resulting from such corrections is then a coordinate time, free from inconsistencies, whose rate is determined by clocks at rest on the earth's rotating geoid.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Neutrinos on the brain-9

Two pieces worth reading:
1. Tommaso Dorigo
2. Matt Strassler

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Neutrinos on the brain-8

From -7.

Saturday, October 08, 2011


CIP reports hearing:
At the end of the last century America had Bob Hope, Johnny Cash, and Steve Jobs. Now we have no Jobs, No Cash, and No Hope.

Friday, October 07, 2011


Thursday, October 06, 2011

RIP, Steve Jobs!


Sunday, October 02, 2011

Neutrinos on the brain-7

OPERA and CERN were kept in sync. by using GPS in the "common view time transfer mode".   The synchronization was verified by using a clock that was moved.  Much is being made of the problem of relativistic corrections to the moving clock.  But perhaps that is not so important.

Neutrinos on the brain-6

Some more curve-fitting.

On hyperaccomplishment

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Neutrinos on the brain-5

There are three main lines of attack on the OPERA "faster-than-light" neutrino measurements:
1. Physics issues
2. Measurement issues
3. Data analysis issues

IMO, the data analysis is the least likely to have mistakes. Measurement issues, are for example, C.R. Contaldi's issues with the synchronization of clocks between CERN and Gran Sasso.  The real killer, however, is the Cohen-Glashow argument, that superluminal neutrinos, weakly interacting though they are, must shed energy rapidly; so much so as to make some OPERA observations impossible.

Peter Woit points out a slew of papers finding exotic ways to justify the OPERA results.
hep-ph is chock-a-block with papers purporting to explain the OPERA results, using theoretical models of varying degrees of absurdity.
Perhaps Sabine Hossenfelder has it right, in her tweet:
Explanation for OPERA result: A 5th force connecting the GPS with the collective physicists' subconsciousness begging for unexplained data.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Neutrinos on the brain-4

New Constraints on Neutrino Velocities

Authors: Andrew G. Cohen, Sheldon L. Glashow
Abstract: The OPERA collaboration has claimed that muon neutrinos with mean energy of 17.5 GeV travel 730 km from CERN to the Gran Sasso at a speed exceeding that of light by about 7.5 km/s or 25 ppm. However, we show that such superluminal neutrinos would lose energy rapidly via the bremsstrahlung of electron-positron pairs ($\nu\rightarrow \nu+e^-+e^+$). For the claimed superluminal neutrino velocity and at the stated mean neutrino energy, we find that most of the neutrinos would have suffered several pair emissions en route, causing the beam to be depleted of higher energy neutrinos. Thus we refute the superluminal interpretation of the OPERA result. Furthermore, we appeal to Super-Kamiokande and IceCube data to establish strong new limits on the superluminal propagation of high-energy neutrinos.

Neutrinos on the brain-3

What I'm trying to do with curve-fitting is to convince myself that the following is plausible, or figure out that it is not.

Neutrinos on the brain-2

My previous post demonstrated that the proton curve was of the form:

y = c * exp( - exp( -a * x + b ))

Specifically, my eyeball fit was

y=exp(3.58)* exp( - exp( -0.0061*x - 2.9201))

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Neutrinos on the brain

The OPERA faster-than-light-neutrinos has become a bit of an obsession. But I have made a little progress.

OPERA numbers

From the OPERA experiment that found faster-than-light neutrinos:

  1. Width of the proton extraction: 10,500 ns
  2. Protons per extraction: 2.4E13
  3. Extractions per cycle: 2
  4. Total neutrino events : 16,111
  5. Total Protons delivered: 9.34E19
  6. CNGS Beam Run 2010 (29 April - 22 Nov): Total 4.04E19 Protons on Target
    CNGS Beam Run 2009 (27 May - 23 Nov): Total 3.52E19 Protons on Target
    CNGS Beam Run 2008 (8 Jun- 3 Nov): Total 1.78E19 Protons on Target
  1. Slide 15/84 
  2. Slide 13/84 
  3. Slide 13/84 
  4. Slide 42/84  
Deduced numbers:

1. Number of extractions: 3.89E6
2. Probability of neutrino event per extraction: 4.14E-3
3. Probability of neutrino event per proton: 1.724E-16
4. Summed up over all extractions, average protons/ns = 8.9E15
5. Summed up over all extractions, the average neutrinos detected/ns = 16111/10500 = 1.5

    Plot from OPERA:(
    Plots from OPERA
    Notice the y-axis is binned as Events/150ns.

    PS: recent comments on OPERA's work
    1. Jon Butterworth
    2. John P. Costella -- confirms the intuition that the edges are what are important. By his eyeballs 919 neutrino events at the leading and trailing edge of the pulse give most of the statistical significance. (If the pulses were perfect square pulses, then only the leading and trailing edges can give timing information.)

    PS: I don't buy Costella's arithmetic, however.

    Friday, September 23, 2011

    Faster than Light Rumors

    If you want to know about superluminal neutrinos, read Tommaso Dorigo.

    Tuesday, September 20, 2011

    The danger of wildlife in my backyard

    The danger of having wildlife around mainly comes from humans. I will explain this in a few easy steps.

    1. The wildlife - there's deer of course, and now turkeys

    Monday, September 19, 2011

    Seeking reparation for 9/11

    The Independent of U.K. reports:

    A Lloyd's insurance syndicate has begun a landmark legal case against Saudi Arabia, accusing the kingdom of indirectly funding al-Qa'ida and demanding the repayment of £136m it paid out to victims of the 9/11 attacks.

    The Brighton-based Lloyd's 3500 syndicate, which paid $215m compensation to companies and individuals involved, alleges that the oil-rich Middle Eastern superpower bears primary responsibility for the atrocity because al-Qa'ida was supported by banks and charities acting as "agents and alter egos" for the Saudi state. 

    The detailed case, which names a number of prominent Saudi charities and banks as well as a leading member of the al-Saud royal family, will cause embarrassment to the Saudi government, which has long denied claims that Osama bin Laden's organisation received official financial and practical support from his native country.

    Sunday, September 18, 2011

    Palestine 1896

    Supposedly the first film shot in Palestine. Whether it is or not, still interesting.

    Darwin and Economics

    Just a week or so ago, I began thinking, in a shallow way, that perhaps the insights from evolution are required for economics. Just as random variation and natural selection can provide the illusion of intelligent design, perhaps it can also produce the illusion of the rational actor, upon which so much of economics depends.

    Anyway, in today's NYT, Robert H. Frank provides yet another way that Darwin lends insight into economics. The insight is understanding the forces that leads individuals in a a group to behaviors that are detrimental to the group, and to themselves. Excerpts beneath the fold.

    TED: Yasheng Huang: Does democracy stifle economic growth?

    Saturday, September 17, 2011

    Grasping at straws...

    It may be that "the major carbon repository in Earth is probably the mantle, rather than the atmosphere or biosphere, but it is the least well understood," Walter told OurAmazingPlanet. "The mantle reservoir might affect the global cycle over Earth's history."
    From here.   The grasping at straws part comes from the wild hope that the solution to our global warming problem somehow lies in harnessing the mantle.


    There apparently is significant variation in which genes express themselves and how and when.


    US Congressional candidates that I support - needless to say, all Democrats.

    1. Rush Holt (incumbent, NJ district 12, my representative)
    2. Bill Foster (seeking the Illinois 11th district seat)
    3. Manan Trivedi (seeking the Pennsylvania 6th district seat)

    Holt and Foster are ex-physicists; Manan Trivedi is a physician and also has the blessings of Arsha Vidya Gurukulam.

    I think this is the extent of my support for the 2012 elections, unless you find me some more ex-physicists. :)

    Trivandrum Rising

    Trump as a counterindicator on gold

    Amusing story.

    Oh, brother.

    When a self-promoter like The Donald jumps on a bandwagon, you know it's getting a little old. For all his big reputation, Trump's career over the past two decades is littered with the wreckage of high-profile deals he cut at the peak of each boom. Think: Trump Taj Mahal casino (bankruptcy, 1991). Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts (2004). Trump Entertainment Resorts (2009).

    Or the "Trump International Hotel & Tower," a luxury condo development in Fort Lauderdale planned and built in… happier times.

    News that Trump is backing gold comes after the metal has already skyrocketed in price. Gold has so far jumped nearly 30% so far this year, and more than 500% in a decade.

    What's next?

    Friday, September 16, 2011

    What goes up...

    What goes up, may come down. Here is the historical real price of gold, as per Paul Krugman:

    Of course, there are some secular trends now that were not there in the 1980s- namely the increasing buying power in the gold-hungry countries of India and China. So when the price of gold eases, it will probably stabilize at a higher real price than the 1985-2006 average. I suppose.

    Wednesday, September 14, 2011

    The Portents

    Republican Bob Turner won a Congressional by-election in a heavily Democratic district in New York, running on the theme that this was a referendum on President Obama.

    This points towards the Republicans gaining the Presidency, retaining the House and perhaps taking the Senate in 2012. There is already a Republican Supreme Court.

    Why this is a bad idea: the short version by CIP, or the long version by Mike Lofgren.

    I predict an overall end to the New Deal, beginning 2013, and another lost decade for the American middle class.

    PS: It is so unstoppable, all I can suggest, is put your head down and work hard to climb out of the middle class. Yes, that is unrealistic; but it is more realistic than trying to divert a hurricane.

    Graeber on the origins of money

    At Delong, or at CIP.

    Crudely: Gifts, credit, debt came first, money and barter followed.

    Friday, September 09, 2011

    In the shadow of Saturn

    NASA picture.

    Thursday, September 08, 2011

    Is our universe asymmetric?

    CIP highlighted a paper just out,< in which the researchers look at how fast the universe is expanding in different directions, and find an asymmetry. How they examine this is by looking at the data from 557 type1A supernovae. These supernovae are well-calibrated "standard candles" which means that we know their intrinsic brightness. Their observed brightness, and their redshifts tell us how far away they are and how fast they are receding from us. Well, they find an asymmetry. The link that CIP provided gives a better description than my two sentences above.

    If Obama purchased a car

    If President Obama were to purchase a car, especially if it were from a dealer who was Republican, Obama's starting bid would be Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price.

    Wednesday, September 07, 2011

    The difference between two Presidents

    It is Thomas Friedman, but on the other hand there is Bush-bashing, who can resist.

    Why has this been a lost decade? An answer can be found in one simple comparison: How Dwight Eisenhower and his successors used the cold war and how George W. Bush used 9/11. America had to face down the Russians in the cold war. America had to respond to 9/11 and the threat of Al Qaeda. But the critical difference between the two was this: Beginning with Eisenhower and continuing to some degree with every cold war president, we used the cold war and the Russian threat as a reason and motivator to do big, hard things together at home — to do nation-building in America. We used it to build the interstate highway system, put a man on the moon, push out the boundaries of science, teach new languages, maintain fiscal discipline and, when needed, raise taxes. We won the cold war with collective action.

    George W. Bush did the opposite. He used 9/11 as an excuse to lower taxes, to start two wars that — for the first time in our history — were not paid for by tax increases, and to create a costly new entitlement in Medicare prescription drugs.

    Monday, September 05, 2011


    Shot at 1/5000 sec, so these look as though their engines have stalled.

    Friday, September 02, 2011

    A World of Hurt

    Tuesday, August 30, 2011

    Thought for the day

    From RJ Lipton's blog (included in the blog list on the left) this quote from Martin Grötschel (2003):
    {\dots} that a benchmark production planning model solved using linear programming would have taken 82 years to solve in 1988, using the computers and the linear programming algorithms of the day. Fifteen years later—in 2003—this same model could be solved in roughly 1 minute, an improvement by a factor of roughly 43 million. Of this, a factor of roughly 1,000 was due to increased processor speed, whereas a factor of roughly 43,000 was due to improvements in algorithms! 

    Monday, August 29, 2011


    Sustained and courageous effort enables man to see Fate turn its back and flee from the field.

    Tuesday, August 23, 2011

    Forbes: Why Amazon can't make the Kindle in America

    Forbes: Well worth reading, thinking about, and acting upon.

    “So the decline of manufacturing in a region sets off a chain reaction. Once manufacturing is outsourced, process-engineering expertise can’t be maintained, since it depends on daily interactions with manufacturing. Without process-engineering capabilities, companies find it increasingly difficult to conduct advanced research on next-generation process technologies. Without the ability to develop such new processes, they find they can no longer develop new products. In the long term, then, an economy that lacks an infrastructure for advanced process engineering and manufacturing will lose its ability to innovate.”

    Monday, August 22, 2011

    Dowd, Obama, Frost

    Maureen Dowd had this in the NYT:

    Obama was truly stung by his budget experience with John Boehner. And now, Senator Tom Coburn, whom Obama called “not only a dear friend, but also a brother in Christ” at February’s National Prayer Breakfast, tells a town hall in Oklahoma that Obama’s views are “goofy and wrong,” and that the president wants to “create dependency” because “as an African-American male,” he had received “tremendous benefit” from government programs.

    There is no way to sell the idea that being a black man in America gives you tremendous benefit.
    How does Obama feel after his brother in Christ painted him as something akin to a welfare queen and an affirmative-action president?

    Let us take today’s lesson from Frost, who deliciously wrote in “The Lesson for Today”:

    I’m liberal. You, you aristocrat,
    Won’t know exactly what I mean by that.
    I mean so altruistically moral
    I never take my own side in a quarrel.

    Sunday, August 21, 2011

    US Health Care

    Thursday, August 18, 2011


    Wednesday, August 17, 2011

    A little puzzle

    Dr. N.K. sent me a little puzzle.

    Construct the Fill of a set of points by drawing all the lines (extending to infinity) using every pair of points in the set.  Thus the Fill of three non-collinear points is the triangle with the 3 points as vertices and the edges extended to infinity.  The Fill * Fill of three non-collinear points is the whole plane.

    The question is: what is the Fill * Fill of four non-coplanar points?  Is it all of space (Euclidean 3D space)?
    Answer beneath the fold.

    Tuesday, August 16, 2011

    Who am I?

    1-10% of me (depending on how you count it) was blown away by this in the New York Times: (emphasis added). No doubt, some large part of me already knew this.

    "As they look beyond the genome, cancer researchers are also awakening to the fact that some 90 percent of the protein-encoding cells in our body are microbes. We evolved with them in a symbiotic relationship, which raises the question of just who is occupying whom."

    “We are massively outnumbered,” said Jeremy K. Nicholson, chairman of biological chemistry and head of the department of surgery and cancer at Imperial College London. Altogether, he said, 99 percent of the functional genes in the body are microbial.

    Murdochs in the dock

    Further revelations.

      Rupert Murdoch, James Murdoch and their former editor Andy Coulson all face embarrassing new allegations of dishonesty and cover-up after the publication of an explosive letter written by the News of the World's disgraced royal correspondent, Clive Goodman. In the letter, which was written four years ago but published only on Tuesday, Goodman claims that phone hacking was "widely discussed" at editorial meetings at the paper until Coulson himself banned further references to it; that Coulson offered to let him keep his job if he agreed not to implicate the paper in hacking when he came to court; and that his own hacking was carried out with "the full knowledge and support" of other senior journalists, whom he named.

    Jared Bernstein on Social Security

    College/Non-College Social Norms

    Yglesias points to some.  In light of Dalrymple's essays on England, pointing out similar issues, this is interesting.  In particular:
    Between 2006 and 2008, among moderately educated women, 44 percent of all births occurred outside marriage, not far off the rate (54 percent) among high-school dropouts; among college-educated women, that proportion was just 6 percent.
    The same pattern—families of middle-class nonprofessionals now resembling those of high-school dropouts more than those of college graduates—emerges with norm after norm: the percentage of 14-year-old girls living with both their mother and father; the percentage of adolescents wanting to attend college “very much”; the percentage of adolescents who say they’d be embarrassed if they got (or got someone) pregnant; the percentage of never-married young adults using birth control all the time.

    Friday, August 12, 2011


    Theodore Dalrymple I know only through his essays (not his books). For instance.

    First and foremost he is a good and interesting writer.   He also comes off as a honest and compassionate person.   Second, he challenges liberal views, and it would be good for liberals to address what he has to say.  Third,  while he writes anecdotally, as a prison doctor and psychiatrist, his anecdotes are backed by many cases.

    I think three good reasons are sufficient for me to provide as to why I follow his writings.   In the idea that culture matters, I agree broadly with him.

    Wednesday, August 10, 2011

    Theodore Dalrymple on the London riots

    In The Australian.

    British youth leads the Western world in almost all aspects of social pathology, from teenage pregnancy to drug taking, from drunkenness to violent criminality. There is no form of bad behaviour that our version of the welfare state has not sought out and subsidised.

    British children are much likelier to have a television in their bedroom than a father living at home. One-third of them never eat a meal at a table with another member of their household -- family is not the word for the social arrangements of the people in the areas from which the rioters mainly come. They are therefore radically unsocialised and deeply egotistical, viewing relations with other human beings in the same way as Lenin: Who whom, who does what to whom. By the time they grow up, they are destined not only for unemployment but unemployability.

    Tuesday, August 09, 2011

    Much less made in China

    Such is the claim (over at Matthew Yglesias):

    A very interesting analysis by Galina Hale and Bart Hobijn of the San Francisco Fed concludes that very little of American personal consumption spending actually ends up in China. When Americans go buy stuff, they’re overwhelmingly buying things that are made in America:

    In part, this reflects the fact that 67 percent of spending is on services rather than goods, and services are 96 percent made in the USA. But even durable goods, which only account for about 10 percent of total spending, are mostly made in America — 66.6 percent to 12 percent for China with the rest coming from the rest of the world. In fact the only category of spending in which Made in the USA doesn’t account for the majority is clothing and shoes. What’s more, even a lot of the spending on imported goods actually reflects the cost of shipping them around the United States:
    Table 1 shows that, of the 11.5% of U.S. consumer spending that goes for goods and services produced abroad, 7.3% reflects the cost of imports. The remaining 4.2% goes for U.S. transportation, wholesale, and retail activities. Thus, 36% of the price U.S. consumers pay for imported goods actually goes to U.S. companies and workers.
    This U.S. fraction is much higher for imports from China. Whereas goods labeled “Made in China” make up 2.7% of U.S. consumer spending, only 1.2% actually reflects the cost of the imported goods. Thus, on average, of every dollar spent on an item labeled “Made in China,” 55 cents go for services produced in the United States. In other words, the U.S. content of “Made in China” is about 55%. The fact that the U.S. content of Chinese goods is much higher than for imports as a whole is mainly due to higher retail and wholesale margins on consumer electronics and clothing than on most other goods and services.

    Sunday, August 07, 2011

    Some understanding for truckers, please!

    Saturday, August 06, 2011

    How not to negotiate

    Kurt Andersen, in the New York Times:

    I had breakfast this week with one of Hollywood’s most ferocious, self-confident and successful doers of deals. He was still steamed about what an unforgivably lousy negotiator his president had been on the debt ceiling agreement.

    Friday, August 05, 2011

    The mendacity that pervades our public discourse

    A small example exposed.

    Thursday, August 04, 2011

    What for?

    And unless we find a way to go interstellar - or at least, not depend on a planetary surface for our survival - this chain of life will eventually end.

    PS: A Hindu story to help reconcile you to all of the above.

    Wednesday, August 03, 2011

    Scott Bateman: Obama on the Debt Deal

    Actual Audio: Obama on the Debt Deal from scottbateman on Vimeo.

    Wednesday, July 27, 2011

    Recession hits the Tooth Fairy

    Kevin Drum
    A survey by Visa says that the recession has caused a drop in the average amount the Tooth Fairy pays for a tooth, from $3 to $2.60.

    Tuesday, July 19, 2011

    Eagle Love Story

    National Public Radio transcript and audio

    Thursday, July 14, 2011

    Finally, he makes his stand

    TPM reports:

    Obama to GOP leaders on debt ceiling: "This may bring my presidency down, but I will not yield on this."

    Wednesday, July 13, 2011


    IBN news video. A Citizen speaks.

    A Lesson

    Posted by Atri on BRF
    क्षमा, दया , ताप , त्याग , मनोबल सबका लिया सहारा
    पर नर व्याघ सुयोधन तुमसे कहो कहाँ कब हारा?
    क्षमाशील हो रिपु समक्ष तुम हुए विनीत जितना ही
    दुष्ट कौरवों ने तुमको कायर समझा उतना ही

    अत्याचार सहन करने का कुफल यही होता है
    पौरुष का आतंक मनुज कोमल होकर खोता है

    क्षमा शोभती उस भुजंग को जिसके पास गरल है
    उसका क्या जो दंतहीन विषरहित विनीत सरल है

    तीन दिवस तक पंथ मांगते रघुपति सिन्धु किनारे
    बैठे पढते रहे छंद अनुनय के प्यारे प्यारे
    उत्तर में जब एक नाद भी उठा नहीं सागर से
    उठी अधीर धधक पौरुष की आग राम के शर से

    सिन्धु देह धर त्राहि-त्राहि करता आ गिरा शरण में
    चरण पूज दासता ग्र्र्हन की बंधा मूढ़ बंधन में
    सच पूछो तो शर में ही बस्ती है दीप्ति विनय की
    संधिवचन संपूज्य उसीका जिसमे शक्ति विजय की

    सहनशीलता, क्षमा, दया को तभी पूजता जग है
    बल का दर्प चमकता उसके पीछे जब जगमग है

    -रामधरी सिंह दिनकर

    Mercy, resolve, tact, tolerance you've tried everything and some
    But o my king of men when did Suyodhan succumb?
    The more forgiving you were In your humane compassion
    The more these rogue Kauravas pegged you as cowardly ashen

    This is the consequence Of tolerating atrocities
    The awe of machismo is lost When one's gentle n kindly

    Forgiveness is becoming of The serpent that's got venom
    None cares for the toothless, Poisonless, kind, gentle one

    For three days Lord Raam kept Asking the ocean for a passage
    Sitting there he petitioned Using the sweetest words to engage
    When in response there was Not a whisper from the sea
    A raging fire of endeavor Rose from Raam's body

    The ocean took human-form 'N supplicated to Raam
    Touched his feet, was subservient A slave he had become
    Truth be told, it's in the quiver That lies the gleam of modesty
    Only his peace-talk is reputable Who is capable of victory

    Tolerance, forgiveness and clemency Are respected by the world
    Only when the glow of strength From behind it is unfurled

    Friday, July 08, 2011

    Rajan Parrikar features on the Singh-Ray Blog!


    Wednesday, July 06, 2011

    Obama and WKKs

    WKKs are "Wagah Kandle Kissers": the group of Indians who obstinately refuse to acknowledge the true nature of Pakistan.   I lump them in with President Obama who seems incapable of understanding the nature of the opposition he faces.

    Ultimately, the willful refusal to face the fact that some people simply cannot be approached with reason is a form of intellectual treason. 

    In the case of the Republicans, it takes a David Frum and a David Brooks to recognize them.

    QOTD: Bill Clinton

    Via TPM and Kevin Drum:

    Bill Clinton compares the GOP's crackdown on voting rights to the days of Jim Crow. 

    Monday, July 04, 2011


    Long Branch fireworks example.

    July 4th Sunset

    At Long Branch, while waiting for the fireworks:
    Larger version below the fold.

    Never throw away anything?

    In 1957, a little girl was abducted and killed. The murder mystery has apparently been solved 54 years later.
    Police suspected McCullough, who lived less than two blocks from the Ridulphs and who fit the description of the man said to have approached the girls, Thomas said Friday. But McCullough seemed to have an alibi, claiming he took the train from Rockford to Chicago the day of the abduction.

    His story fell apart last year after investigators reinterviewed a woman who dated him in 1957 and asked her to search through some personal items, the Seattle Times reported, citing court documents. She found an unused train ticket from Rockford to Chicago dated the day the girl went missing.

    "Once his alibi crumbled, we found about a dozen other facts that helped us build our case," Thomas said.

    Friday, July 01, 2011

    Stephen Colbert finally gets it about Pakistan

    Perhaps a decade late, but finally Stephen Colbert gets it about Pakistan:

    What did he understand? Well, in case you can't watch the video for some reason (e.g., you're on an iPad with no Adobe Flash), it begins with this:

    Thursday, June 30, 2011

    Górecki: Symphony of Sorrowful Songs

    Wednesday, June 29, 2011

    On the danger of glorifying martyrdom

    Rajiv Malhotra.

    Tuesday, June 28, 2011

    Ray Lynch: Celestial Soda Pop


    Jon Stewart on Fox News

    Monday, June 27, 2011

    Old but Good

    Jethro Tull's Weathercock:

    Sunday, June 26, 2011

    Can the United States remain united?

    An interesting post at The Washington Note.

    Saturday, June 25, 2011

    A Real Bargain

    The Triumph of Wall Street and the Decline of America

    Paul Krugman reviews "Age of Greed: The Triumph of Finance and the Decline of America, 1970 to the Present" by Jeff Madrick at the New York Review of Books.

    The US has a recurring pattern since the 1970s, of banks getting into a crisis, getting bailed out by the government, and then bashing government and regulation when the situation stabilizes. The bank busts keep getting bigger.

    Friday, June 24, 2011

    Civil Liberties - the current situation

    Nick Baumann writes that in the debate over whether people arrested on charges of terrorism have the usual constitutional protections, the civil libertarians have lost:
    Civil libertarians have lost that argument. The defeat is total: in the White House, on Capitol Hill, in the courts, and, crucially, in the court of public opinion. Indefinite detention of non-citizen terrorist suspects without charge or trial remains the official policy of the United States, and none of the most infamous non-citizen terrorist suspects will be tried in federal court.

    Wednesday, June 22, 2011

    Battlefield 2011

    2008 Battle of Monmouth reenactment here.
    2011: click here. Many of the photographs are heavy crops.


    Lytro is a company with an exciting new camera technology.

    Tuesday, June 21, 2011

    Don Juan



    Via V., a Gotipua performance:

    Monday, June 20, 2011

    Acne Cure Reaches the Sun

    From before and after:

    The Sun might enter an extended period of low sunspot activity - a "grand minimum" similar to the Maunder Minimum in the 17th century.  Unfortunately, it does not offer us much respite in the matter of reducing climate change.

    Saturday, June 18, 2011

    Greece Isn't Pakistan

    David Rothkopf in Foreign Policy points out that Greece is in a mess because it is not Pakistan:

    The problem isn't the Greek finance ministry. The problem isn't the Greek legislature. The problem isn't the Europeans who are being dragged kicking and screaming toward helping Greece. The problem isn't even Goldman Sachs and the other banks who lent Greece more money than they could afford and even helped them hide a bunch of the financings off the books.

    Nope, the problem is Greek nuclear scientists and radical terror groups affiliated with the Greek intelligence services -- or rather, the lack thereof.

    Because if Greece had nuclear weapons and crazed terrorists hiding in every luxury housing development, you can bet we wouldn't be going through this long drawn-out process of figuring out whether the country was going to default or not.

    We know this because of Pakistan. Pakistan is an absolute financial basket case. It is in many respects in as bad a shape as Greece -- and in some it is even much worse off. But do you hear anyone talking about Pakistan's financial problems? Heck no.

    Of course, talking about Pakistan's financial problems is like talking about whether Anthony Weiner's socks match. It's not exactly the first issue that comes to mind. Having said that, the reason we are not sweating the meltdown of Pakistan's financial markets is that there is no way the United States or the world would let it happen. Because a financial collapse could trigger the kind of unrest that would put Pakistani nukes at risk, and that's just not tolerable. So the United States pumps billions into Pakistan knowing full well that it is this aid that helps keep the ship of state afloat. (And, money being fungible, if it also pays for expanding Pakistan's nuclear arsenal … well, apparently we're willing to look the other way. Again.)

    Once again, one of the main messages of modern international affairs comes through loud and clear: Nukes pay. From Pyongyang to Tehran, enterprising leaders know that the easiest way to boost your country's profile, gain political leverage, and win cash and prizes is to toss a little enriched uranium in the old Cuisinart, let the satellites take a few snaps, and start rattling your radioactive saber.

    The problem with Greece is that if the economy collapsed, if the government collapsed, if the country descended into chaos, no one is worried that a nuclear catastrophe would follow. An ouzo-induced hangover maybe -- which can be a pretty horrific thing -- but it's the specter of a mushroom cloud that really is the attention grabber.

    Friday, June 17, 2011

    Alcohol and murder

    Alcohol played a role in the year-ago murder of Diyyendu Sinha of Old Bridge.
    "The five Old Bridge High School students first convinced someone to buy 10 40-ounce bottles of malt liquor for them and they went to a gathering of other students behind Grissom School, a defendant in a murder case told investigators after the beating death of Divyendu Sinha last June.....After an hour of drinking the teenagers got back into Contreras’ Honda Civic....“They were just trying to get into a fight,” Steven K. Contreras, 18, told investigators from the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office during a taped interview.
    They encountered Sinha and family, who weer out for a walk, and beat Sinha up with fatal consequences.

    Another set of lives ruined possibly by judgement impaired by intoxicants.

    Thursday, June 16, 2011

    B Street Band

    One of the "Thursdays by the Sea" concerts at Pier Village, Long Branch, NJ.


    Wednesday, June 15, 2011

    Vegetarian Dilemma

    If one is a vegetarian, not out of habit or tradition, or religious conviction, but for reasons of dharma [1],  then one cannot eat mass-grown American tomatoes, it appears.

    Sunday, June 12, 2011


    Another shot from that room with a view:

    A Room With A View

    From the twenty-first floor of an apartment building in Brooklyn:

    Pannable version below the fold.
    PS: Not sure how to make it work on the iPad.  On a PC, you can drag the picture around seeing detail in full resolution.

    Monday, June 06, 2011

    Hitchens on Pakistan

    Christopher Hitchens in Vanity Fair:

    Again to quote myself from 2001, if Pakistan were a person, he (and it would have to be a he) would have to be completely humorless, paranoid, insecure, eager to take offense, and suffering from self-righteousness, self-pity, and self-hatred. That last triptych of vices is intimately connected. The self-righteousness comes from the claim to represent a religion: the very name “Pakistan” is an acronym of Punjab, Afghanistan, Kashmir, and so forth, the resulting word in the Urdu language meaning “Land of the Pure.” The self-pity derives from the sad fact that the country has almost nothing else to be proud of: virtually barren of achievements and historically based on the amputation and mutilation of India in 1947 and its own self-mutilation in Bangladesh. The self-hatred is the consequence of being pathetically, permanently mendicant: an abject begging-bowl country that is nonetheless run by a super-rich and hyper-corrupt Punjabi elite. As for paranoia: This not so hypothetical Pakistani would also be a hardened anti-Semite, moaning with pleasure at the butchery of Daniel Pearl and addicted to blaming his self-inflicted woes on the all-powerful Jews.

    Saturday, June 04, 2011

    Garden pics

    Clematis at full bloom (more photos after "Read more")

    Thursday, June 02, 2011

    Javed Akhtar and Two-Nation Theory

    A delightful interview of Javed Akhtar: (it is in English, btw.)

    Monday, May 30, 2011

    Second of two on Pakistan

    Dhruva Jaishankar in The Indian Express:

    Finally, there are those elements that Washington continues to give credence to, or at least leave unquestioned: Pakistan’s insecurities are legitimately propelled by fears of encirclement, India’s growing resource base, its nuclear weapons programme, and its reported “Cold Start” doctrine, thus adequately justify Pakistan’s inordinate military spending, greater investments in its nuclear and missile programmes, and support for terror groups targeting India and Afghanistan. That lasting peace between India and Pakistan and the settlement of the Kashmir dispute to Pakistan’s satisfaction will almost entirely eliminate its insecurities. That the army remains the only secular institution in Pakistan that “works” and is therefore deserving of support. And that Pakistan’s top military and intelligence officials bear little or no responsibility for the actions of their subordinates and affiliates, a claim even less credible given revelations from the ongoing trial of Tahawwur Rana and the testimony of David Coleman Headley. The erroneous conclusion drawn by the Obama administration from such questionable assumptions is that demonstrations of Indian magnanimity will allow Pakistan’s misguided, but not necessarily malevolent, security forces to reallocate resources towards improving the country’s security and economy. 
    Responding to Pakistan’s narrative requires an important cognitive leap, one that most in Washington are still reluctant to take: Pakistan’s purported obsessions and insecurities are self-inflicted, created and consistently advanced to serve important private interests, almost always to the detriment of the country and its people. This applies equally to all the challenges commonly associated with Pakistan, be it the military’s political preponderance, the proliferation of nuclear technology and materials, the cultivation and use of terrorist proxies against both adversaries and nominal allies, the growing radicalisation of the body politic, and periodic India-Pakistan crises. There is also little clarity regarding Pakistani pleas for a long-term strategic relationship, which it professes to desire as a symbol of legitimacy, but also works to undermine through its transactional demands and poorly concealed enthusiasm for a hasty US withdrawal from Afghanistan.

    First of two on Pakistan

    Sushant Shareen writes in Tehelka: (excerpt, but read the whole thing)

    PAKISTAN IS not so much a victim of terrorism as it is a victim of the stupendous success of the indoctrination programme that has replaced the innate pragmatism of the people. Islamism doubles up as nationalism and validates substantially, if not entirely, the concept of Islamofascism. It is this phenomenon that leads a newspaper owner, who is an ideal candidate for a lunatic asylum but in today’s Pakistan is a leading flagbearer of the ‘ideology of Pakistan’, to demand a nuclear strike on India because after a nuclear exchange Pakistan will be able to progress like Japan did after Hiroshima! It is this thinking that leads a top general under Pervez Musharraf, and a man who at one point was touted as a possible successor to Musharraf, to advocate firing “a nuclear warning shot in the Bay of Bengal, across India, demonstrating our circular range capacity” in order to send the message that “you don’t mess with a nuclear power and get away with it”. It is this thinking that makes a former information minister declare that “Pakistan has made nuclear weapons not to keep them in the cupboard but to use them against its enemies”. It is this mindset that makes the so-called ‘civil society’ — news anchors, lawyers, activists — defend the action of the assassin of Punjab governor, Salman Taseer. And it is precisely this mindset that prevents the Pakistan army (its ranks filled with the oxymoronic ‘moderate Taliban’) from ending its double-game in the war on terror. 
    Today, it is not the nukes that protect Pakistan but Pakistan that protects its nukes. 
    This then is the terrible reality of Pakistan. Unfortunately, just as the Pakistanis are in denial, so too are the Indians, or at least the Indian establishment, about the ground reality in Pakistan. India’s Pakistan policy (if at all there is such a thing) is predicated on interactions with what is a fringe group of liberal, moderate, modern, and sensible Pakistanis who are excellent advocates of their country but whose words don’t count for anything in terms of setting their country’s policy or direction. This is a class that doesn’t number more than a couple of thousand.

    Friday, May 27, 2011

    Water on the Moon

    The New York Times reports that apart from the surface water detected by NASA and Indian space probes,
    Now, scientists analyzing tiny fragments of hardened lava from long-ago lunar eruptions report that the fragments contain about as much water as similar magmas on Earth, meaning there is plenty of water inside the Moon too.

    Sunday, May 22, 2011

    Einstein, Feynman, Hopper visit AT&T Labs

    Famed Scientists Richard Feynman, Grace Hopper and Albert Eistein explore AT&T Labs during a mid-2011 visit.

    Originally presented as part of the 2011 AT&T Cyber Security Conference. A complete replay of this video, as well as a live panel session including the scientists and AT&T Chief Security Officer Ed Amoroso, will be available at

    Thursday, May 19, 2011

    India and Organic Farming

    This is a post in 3 parts.

    My point is that we in India seem to recognize the value of our old practices and traditions only when it is blessed by westerners.   Far better that we record our old practices and traditions while they are still extant, and then go through them looking for value, than to lose them altogether, except for fragments recorded by Westerners, because we consider them to be superstition, unscientific, etc., etc.

    An illustration of this point follows:

    1. For context, I'm reproducing part of one of my posts from January 2009:

    Fruitless Fall : The Collapse of the Honey Bee and the Coming Agricultural Crisis

    Rowan Jacobsen examines the recently emerged phenomenon of Colony Collapse Disorder - the mysterious death of honey bee hives, almost all over the world. Science has unable to pin it on any one cause; so there may be a systemic problem and a combination of stresses on honey bees may have crossed a threshold. This is a scientific whodunit narrated in a very engaging style. I'm ordering my own copy as I return this to the library. I strongly recommend it, five stars out of five.

    2. I point you to an excerpt of Rowan Jacobsen's book that I had posted previously, about Kirk Webster, a beekeeper in Vermont.   It is not necessary to read this to understand the third point, except that Webster's bees do not suffer from colony collapse disorder.

    3. Another excerpt from the book:

    Central to Webster's worldview was the work of Sir Albert Howard, the father of the organic farming movement.  Howard, Britain's imperial economic botanist in India in the early 1900s, studied the farming practices of India's peasants and wrote two books based on his observations: An Agricultural Testament and The Soil and Health.   He was knighted for his work in 1935.


    PS: Now in the years to come,  we will take organic farming as a western innovation, and seek to transplant it back to India, when it arose from traditional knowledge in India in the first place.  How much better to instead study, validate or invalidate our practices and then educate the farmer accordingly.  Why is imported knowledge given a place of privilege?  The same argument holds for Ayurveda.   The problem is that most of  past knowledge is in a million mouldering manuscripts that won't last a generation, or in the heads of people whose children scorn their knowledge, and so it won't last a generation either.

    Sunday, May 15, 2011

    Richard Clarke on Pakistan

    Richard Clarke on Pakistan: They are such pathological liars they even don't know when they are lying any more.

    At the very end of this clip from Bill Maher's show:

    Wednesday, May 11, 2011

    OBL cartoons

    Tuesday, May 10, 2011

    Perkovich on Pakistan

    In the NY Times, George Perkovich writes that

    ...aid combined with these other U.S. policies clearly has not changed the Pakistani military’s obsession with contesting India. There is nothing India or the United States can realistically do that will change this self-destructive obsession because the problem is India’s existence itself.

    Monday, May 09, 2011

    Prof. Walter Russell Mead on US-Pakistan relations

    This is a must-read.

    We are going to have to get tough.  The Pakistani security establishment lives to a very large degree in what, to American eyes, looks like a dangerous and delusional imaginary world.  As I’ve written before, Americans (and virtually everyone else in the world who looks at this question) sees Pakistan locked into a profoundly dysfunctional combination of misguided security ideas and comprehensive domestic failure.  Pakistani strategists embrace these seemingly destructive policies out of some very deeply-held beliefs and in response to what they see as existential questions of national identity and cohesion.  They will not be lightly diverted from this long-established and cherished course, however suicidal, and as is often the case with people whose goals are unrealistic, they are accustomed to very high risk strategies and brinkmanship.  Defeat after defeat by India, progressive deterioration of the domestic security climate and the utter collapse of political morality in what passes for the governing class in Pakistan have not forced a reevaluation.  Charm and appeals to sweet reason by American officials and emissaries won’t do it either.  Neither will humanitarian aid: the suffering of ordinary Pakistanis has little impact on the elite, and in the short to medium term public opinion in Pakistan is so anti-American and so politically marginal that we could die of old age waiting for spending however generous to change our image in Pakistan enough to change the politics of the relationship.

    Saturday, May 07, 2011

    MJ Akbar on Pakistan's Army

    Worth a read.

    One story is too priceless to be ignored. Former Afghanistan intelligence chief A. Saleh recalls that when, four years ago, he told Musharraf that Osama was hiding in or around Abbotabad, Musharraf exploded, "Am I President of the Republic of Banana?"

    Monday, May 02, 2011

    A Sigh of Relief

    We were sitting in the left side of the plane; but the winds were from the south west. So our flight from Dallas approached the Newark airport from the north, and I was treated to a view of the magnificent Manhattan skyline.  I shed my usual tear at the absence of the Twin Towers.

    At home, I had had left the radio on, as a thief-deterrent.  As we entered the house, I heard President Obama saying that Osama Bin Laden had been killed.  I normally don't think of any death as an occasion for celebration; but as much joy as is possible on hearing that someone has been killed, I felt.    I think that  the world (a large part of it, anyway) heaves a sigh of relief that such a useless but dangerous man is no more.

    Saturday, April 23, 2011

    The Big Story - how true?

    T. N. Ninan in the Business Standard

    .... people have tended to forget that the big story in India, the truly exciting story, remains rapid economic growth. That was underlined by the Planning Commission formally adopting on Thursday a 9-9.5 per cent annual growth target for the five years beginning next April — building on the average of 7.8 per cent in the preceding 10 years.

    Thursday, April 14, 2011

    The last days of Kasturba

    Controversy is often raised about the fact that Gandhiji disallowed the new drug pencillin to be used on Kasturba when she was in her deathbed. Here is some additional information.

    Sunday, April 10, 2011

    Bhangra Blowout 18

    Here is a photograph from Bhangra Blowout 18:


    Thursday, April 07, 2011

    Arundhati Roy Parody

    I know, it is hard to parody a parody, but Great Bong does just that!

    Tuesday, April 05, 2011

    Vive La Difference!

     Shahid Afridi, Pakistan cricket captain on Indians:
    To recap, here’s an English translation of what Mr. Afridi told Samaa TV, a Pakistani channel, in Urdu at the weekend:

    “If I speak truthfully, they just can’t have the kind of heart a Muslim has or a Pakistani has. I think they don’t have the sort of big hearts, pure hearts, Allah has given us. It is a very difficult thing for us to be together or to have a long-term relationship.”

    Sunday, April 03, 2011

    Capitalism and Slavery

    This, from the Disunion series on the NY Times, argues that capitalism wasn't incompatible with slavery and that the economic causes of the American Civil War are greatly exaggerated.  Because the Northern and Southern economies were so linked, people expected economic disaster as a result of secession.
    Of course, the dire predictions did not come to pass. The northern economy did not collapse without access to Southern markets, a monopoly on cotton did not make the Confederacy invulnerable and economic self-interest did not forestall a bloody conflict. Yet by reminding us of slavery’s importance to the nation as a whole, these prognostications suggest that the Civil War was hardly the result of the inherent hostility of capitalism to slavery.

    Friday, April 01, 2011

    The Beleaguered Revolutionary

    Courtesy Cafe Pyala:  (if you can't follow the whine-fest, Cafe Pyala also has a translation)
    An excerpt:  Sir, look our own police is beating us, how can we bring about a revolution? You tell me, you're from the media. If you're with us, only then will the revolution come about. If the police don't beat us up, only then will the revolution come about.

    Thursday, March 31, 2011

    1.21 billion Indians, and counting

    Good news is that the growth is slowing, but there are 1.21 billion Indians. The really bad news is that the gender ratio continues to get worse.

    A gender breakdown among children showed fewer girls than boys are being born or surviving, with 914 girls for every 1,000 boys under the age of 6, compared to 927 for every 1,000 in the last census.

    Friday, March 25, 2011

    Sudarshan Patnaik - Official Site

    The sand art of Sudarshan Patnaik is celebrated in the official site.

    Tuesday, March 22, 2011

    2011 Isaac Asimov Memorial Debate: The Theory of Everything

    Monday, March 21, 2011

    Happy Holi!


    Police rained on the parade of Hindus in Queens when they seized colored powder central to their religious celebration Sunday, community leaders said.
    For some 25 years, Hindus in Richmond Hill have held a parade to celebrate the ancient religious holiday Holi - the Festival of Colors. Participants traditionally throw colored powder at one another, but Sunday cops seized loads of the powder from paradegoers. "They walked around and started grabbing from anyone they saw," said parade organizer Vishnu Mahadeo, 50, president of the Richmond Hill Economic Development Council. "They said the law said you can't have powder.
    "What law is that?" Mahadeo said the powder was harmless talcum powder. The Police Department declined to comment.
    The Richmond Hill parade is one of the largest Holi celebrations in the country, attracting up to 25,000 people. Held during the last full moon of winter, the holiday celebrates good luck for the spring.