Tuesday, January 31, 2012

A letter of note

From a former slave to his former master. Read through and enjoy the grim humor.
Say howdy to George Carter, and thank him for taking the pistol from you when you were shooting at me.

Monday, January 30, 2012


1. Arizona Governor Jan Brewer
“They are awful,” she said. “Knowing that my father died fighting the Nazi regime in Germany, that I lost him when I was 11 because of that…and then to have them call me Hitler’s daughter. It hurts. It’s ugliness beyond anything I’ve ever experienced.”....Brewer’s father had in fact died of lung disease in California in 1955, a decade after WWII ended.
2. Claremont McKenna College
Claremont McKenna College, a small, prestigious California school, said Monday that for the past six years, it has submitted false SAT scores to publications like U.S. News & World Report that use the data in widely followed college rankings.
3. Former Yale football coach Tom Williams
...Tom Williams, had invented parts of his résumé, including a supposed Rhodes candidacy that he had dropped two decades earlier in favor of a chance at a professional football career ...

Finnair goes Bollywood!

(Via S.M.) Finnair surprised passengers with a Bollywood number:

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Better than any Hedge Fund!

A stint in the Senate produces better returns than any hedge fund.
Mitch McConnell (R-Ky)
2004: Net Worth: From $1,734,029 to $4,410,999
Rank: 41st in Senate

2010: Net Worth: From $9,839,049 to $44,587,000
Rank: 10th in Senate

Some Money is Greener than Others

Over on CIP's blog, Cynthia points out:
Our tax code is custom made for wealthy people. Earned income vs. investment income is the crux of the issue. Consider a bright middle class kid whose family scrimps and saves all their after tax income to give the kid a good education. Then the kid goes on to benefit society, maybe a doctor, teacher, scientist, etc. The investment made by his family in his education is taxed at earned income rates: fed income, state tax, local tax, payroll tax. The kid pays 40-50% when all is totaled up, for benefiting society.

Then, take a rich kid who drinks his way through school, his family realizes he’s a loser, so they buy him some Brazilian government bonds paying 10% interest, maybe with money that’s never been taxed in a trust or an offshore account, and he leads the idle rich lifestyle of tennis, golf and vacationing year round. His income is taxed at 15%.

So I guess our system favors loafers over people who benefit society.
(via dailykos) Eugene Robinson writes in the Washington Post:

“The issue I think that’s going to play out this election is that question of Warren Buffett’s secretary,” House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., said Wednesday on CNN. “We want her to make more money, we want her to have more hope for the future. . . . [But] this notion that somehow the income that Warren Buffett makes is the same as a wage income for his secretary, we know that’s not the same.”

In other words, it’s not just that the rich are better than the rest of us but also that their money is better than our money.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Japanese Snow Song

This Japanese song about the snow seems to be very popular in schools from the US to Macedonia. (Thanks to A for telling me about it.)



Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Food for thought

Just how many digital crumbs should you leave for a Google to follow?
Sara Marie Watson in The Atlantic.
Bradley Horowitz, Google's Vice President of Product for Google+:
Until now, every single Google property acted like a separate company. Due to the way we grew, through various acquisitions and the fierce independence of each division within Google, each product sort of veered off in its own direction. That was dizzying. But Google+ is Google itself. We're extending it across all that we do -- search, ads, Chrome, Android, Maps, YouTube -- so that each of those services contributes to our understanding of who you are.
Sara Marie Watson writes:
“To me, the result of this consolidation that gives me cause for concern is the fundamental integration of my entire digital life. When you start pulling together email data with browser data, that really begins to paint a near-complete picture of a life lived on the internet. It's not just search terms, not just circles of friends. It's every last digital scrap of me.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Industrial Ecology

A free market can fail to maintain the ecology needed for a manufacturing firm to thrive. At least, that is what I understand from this.

Krugman: Manufacturing firms often stand or fall not just on their own merits, but because they do or don’t have a surrounding cluster of related firms that are suppliers or customers, provide a ready pool of suitable labor, and so on.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Vintage Glenn Greenwald

The scary thing is that he is right!

"The U.S. really is a society that simply no longer believes in due process: once the defining feature of American freedom that is now scorned as some sort of fringe, radical, academic doctrine. That is not hyperbole."

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Epicurious Cake

Recipe for Pineapple Upside Down Cake adapted from Epicurious.

Shri Dakshinamurti

@Arsha Vidya Gurukulam, Saylorburg, PA.


Saturday, January 21, 2012

Sky at 600mm

300mm + x2

I think this is Jupiter.

Nutcases are everywhere

Will the Secret Service arrest this guy? Send him to Gitmo?  Or is that reserved for Musalmans only?


NEW YORK - The owner and publisher of the Atlanta Jewish Times, Andrew Adler, has suggested that Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu consider ordering a Mossad hit team to assassinate U.S. President Barack Obama so that his successor will defend Israel against Iran.

Adler, who has since apologized for his article, listed three options for Israel to counter Iran’s nuclear weapons in an article published in his newspaper last Friday. The first is to launch a pre-emptive strike against Hamas and Hezbollah, the second is to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities and the third is to “give the go-ahead for U.S.-based Mossad agents to take out a president deemed unfriendly to Israel in order for the current vice president to take his place and forcefully dictate that the United States’ policy includes its helping the Jewish state obliterate its enemies.”

Adler goes on to write: “Yes, you read “three correctly.” Order a hit on a president in order to preserve Israel’s existence. Think about it. If have thought of this Tom-Clancy-type scenario, don’t you think that this almost unfathomable idea has been discussed in Israel’s most inner circles?” 
 PS: My great sympathy for Israel from my younger years has been slowly eroding, and lately, much more rapidly. If Israel drags us willy-nilly into a war against Iran, then I too will start viewing Israel as a dangerous threat to world peace that must be defanged, and if that can't be done, then it needs to be abolished - become a UN protectorate or something, but it must lose its sovereignty.   I don't think any Islamist government, even a nuclear Iran, presents such a threat to world peace.

PPS: Chemi Shalev spells out the damage.

Strange Planet

Our wondrous universe.  (Discover magazine blogs).

How not to feed your kids in Norway

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


Google today:
Google Protest of SOPA

Many websites today are engaging in an awareness campaign about two pieces of pending U.S. anti-piracy legislation -- SOPA (The Stop Online Piracy Act) and PIPA (The Protect IP Act). The problem with these acts is that if this legislation passes, the primary requirement on the World Wide Web will be censorship-compliance.

Read more here.

See Daily Kos, too.

PS: Read Glenn Greenwald, too, the corruption of America's political class is on clear display.

PPS: Just how bad SOPA is:
The provision in question would force search engines, advertisers, banking and financial firms and even Internet service providers  to de-list websites accused - not proven, but simply accused - of copyright infringement. The provision even includes language that would allow the Justice Department to force ISPs to falsify DNS records so as to prevent users from being able to even locate a suspect site. That's bad... particularly for Internet users who are completely uninitiated. But for the rest of us who aren't members of Congress, two brilliant Firefox add-ons provide ingenious workarounds.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


Dailykos story on the ancient university at Nalanda.

Hergé : Tintin in America - 1931-32

Commentary by Hergé on the US of A, around 1931-32, beneath the fold.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

India's crisis of malnutrition

Shankkar Aiyar.

There is more shame. With four of 10 children under-5 underweight, India does worse than much maligned sub-Saharan Africa where only 22 per cent of the kids are underweight. India also has a higher proportion of children under five who are underweight, who suffer from wasting and who are stunted due to malnourishment, than in the dark region of Africa. And this has been the case for some time now. Consider the names of some of the countries (UNICEF data) who score better than India: Albania, Algeria, Bhutan, Cameroon, China (if you thought this was about scale), Congo, Ethiopia, Guinea, Haiti, Indonesia, Kazakhstan and even Myanmar!

The co-relation between poverty, malnourishment, primary school enrolment and school drop-outs had been recognised way back in the seventies. It was also very clear as early as in the eighties that state intervention in the form of income and food support was critical. Soon after MGR introduced the mid-day meals scheme for school children in 1982, it was clear (and later certified by the World Bank) that the intervention helped curb malnutrition and encouraged enrolment. Indeed, the first calls for a national scheme came up at the meeting of the National Development Council in 1985. And Manmohan Singh would remember this because he was then the deputy chairman of the Planning Commission and Rajiv Gandhi the chairman. Yet it took till 1995 for the Centre to announce a national scheme and another 10 years for the scheme to be universalised finally in 2004 for all students. And that also happened only after the intervention of the Supreme Court.

Mind you, this is not about spending or resources. Countries with lesser resources, but a more committed bureaucracy have done it. And as early as in the eighties, the World Bank and UNICEF had concluded that it cost less than $10 per child per year to address malnutrition. Consider the arithmetic of costs for required intervention. Assuming India has currently 160 million children in the 0-6 age group, what would it cost to feed all of them? Do the math and think. Is the cost beyond the capacity of a trillion-dollar economy?

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Catching on to the scam

Concluding a very negative review of a horrid Turkish play, running in the "Under the Radar" international festival in New York, Claudia La Rocco notes:

According to Under the Radar’s Web site, the play “was only performed once in Istanbul, due to protests by a fundamentalist newspaper.” It’s interesting to note just how often such tales of suppression are used in marketing materials at international festivals, as if they were badges of honor. (This work was too controversial for its narrow-minded native land, but you, sophisticated audience member, can support censored art!)

Wednesday, January 11, 2012


Sis. has a sort-of-theory about the unhinged nature of Pakistani public life - "they do not eat enough veggies".

Today, about the American Midwest, A. G. Sulzberger writes of his difficult experience of being vegetarian there (NYTimes)
Even though the region boasts some of the finest farmland in the world, there is a startling lack of fresh produce here. This is a part of the country — and there’s no polite way to put this — where the most common vegetable you’ll see on dinner plates is iceberg lettuce.

So those worrying about "What's Wrong with Kansas?" have their answer :)

In another NYTimes article, Mark Bittman notes that Americans are eating much less meat.

The department of agriculture projects that our meat and poultry consumption will fall again this year, to about 12.2 percent less in 2012 than it was in 2007. Beef consumption has been in decline for about 20 years; the drop in chicken is even more dramatic, over the last five years or so; pork also has been steadily slipping for about five years.

and notes:

We still eat way more meat than is good for us or the environment, not to mention the animals. But a 12 percent reduction in just five years is significant, and if that decline were to continue for the next five years — well, that’s something few would have imagined five years ago. It’s something only the industry could get upset about. The rest of us should celebrate. Rice and beans, anyone?

All I can say is - three cheers!

Monday, January 09, 2012

Anything is better than Fox News

Jonathan Levine,a lecturer in American studies and English at Tsinghua University in Beijing, has an Op-Ed in today's New York Times in which he advises unemployed or underemployed Americans to find a career in China. He talks about how he finds life in China, and among other things has this to say:

There are problems here, of course. China is a nation that unapologetically rejects Western democracy — and yet I am surprised to find that Chinese citizens and the news media have as much freedom as they do. For my money, CCTV News English, a channel offered by China’s major state television broadcaster, is more fair and balanced than Fox News.

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Tintin - the movie

Tintin the movie is true to Tintin the comic. Steven Spielberg has done a great job. Tintin fans, enjoy!

Thursday, January 05, 2012

What IQ Tests Test

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

TEDx talk by Michael Wall

TEDxHONOLULU - Michael Wall - Groovin' Together: Adventures in Interactive Creativity

One reason why this talk is featured here is because it uses (towards the end of the second minute) a picture from this blog.

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Three legs of the stool - Liberty, Equality, Fraternity

Consider this to be a continuing reply to libertarians:

During the Indian Constitutional Debates, B.R. Ambedkar said something like this (this source contains obvious typos)
The third thing we must do is not to be content with mere political democracy. We must make our political democracy a social democracy as well. Political democracy cannot last unless there lies at the base of it social democracy. What does social democracy mean? It means a way of life which recognises liberty, equality and fraternity as the principles of life. These principles of liberty, equality and fraternity are not to be treated as separate items in a trinity. They form a union of trinity in the sense that to divorce one from the other is to defeat the very purpose of democracy. Liberty cannot be divorced from equality; equality cannot be divorced from liberty. Nor can liberty and equality be divorced from fraternity. Without equality, liberty would produce the supremacy of the few over the many. Equality without liberty would kill individual initiative. Without fraternity, liberty and equality could not become a natural course of things. It would require a constable to enforce them.
Libertarians focus only on liberty. The last clause is also often overlooked. The fact is that there can be the rule of law only if most people voluntarily follow the law. (As the experience of the Prohibition in the US showed, there is no police force, no justice system that keep a law which a large number of people don't want to follow.)