Wednesday, August 31, 2005
Lions and elephants roaming Golden Gate Park
James D Miller wants to give San Francisco what it wants. Heh.
With bridges washed out, highways converted into canals, and power and communications lines inoperable, government officials ordered everyone still remaining out of the city. Officials began planning for the evacuation of the Superdome, where about 10,000 refugees huddled in increasingly grim conditions as water and food were running out and rising water threatened the generators.There's some good coverage on Hurricane Katrina on Instapundit -- particularly this post. CNN has been doing a great job as well, and there are some affecting video clips on their site. And here are reports from the BBC, the Washington Post and Reuters.
Across the region, rescue workers were not even trying to gather up and count the dead, officials said, but pushed them aside for the time being as they tried to find the living.
Pigs are the most misunderstood animals. It’s (sic) not as detached as a cat, but neither will it slobber all over you like a dog, but the fact is that a pig is extremely loyal. I think they are ideal pets and look so very adorable. I don’t mind rolling in the muck like a pig.Well, we wouldn't mind it either, as long as she posted the pics. Meanwhile, her dad, CP Reddy, says:
Pigs symbolise pain and misery. They are dirty and it’s unpleasant to even have its picture at home. I don’t like the idea of Sushama collecting these things.Interestingly, it seems from the article these quotes are from that Sushama doesn't even collect real pigs, but "pig soft toys, wall hangings, soaps, key chains, ceramic and clay pigs in different sizes." Dudette, get a real hog into your life, that's where the action is. Or a real cow.
263 ARGUMENT FROM YOUTH GROUP MINISTERNice. Read them all.
(1) God is awesome!
(2) Like, totally, dude!
(3) Therefore, God, like, exists and stuff.
264 ARGUMENT FROM PERSONAL INABILITY
(1) The Bible says Jesus turned water into wine.
(2) Can you turn water into wine?
(3) No? Well there ya go.
(4) Therefore, God exists.
265 ARGUMENT FROM PERSONAL ABILITY
(1) I prayed to God, and then lifted a car off my trapped puppy.
(2) I couldn't have done that without God.
(3) Therefore, God exists.
[W]hat I've found as a general trend is that the dreams of political liberals tend to have more bizarre, fantastical kinds of elements: more flying, more dead people coming back to life, more weird sexual dreams.Er, but what if "weird sexual" things are "everyday events" for you? You're probably a libertarian then! Libertarians mostly find themselves unable to support either conservatives or liberals (in the American sense; many libertarians would call themselves classical liberals). As I'd stated here, libertarians believe in individual freedom, and end up opposing the left because they are against economic freedom, and the right because they are often against social freedom. So we end up supporting free markets, and the leftists call us right-wingers and "free-market fundamentalists", and we end up supporting abortion rights and gay marriage, while opposing censorship, and the right calls us "woolyheaded liberals" for that. Everybody hates us, and all for sticking to that simple principle of freedom.
Conservatives, by contrast, tend to have more dreams of everyday events, every day settings and interaction.
Consider the statistics about the Total Sanitation Campaign, the centrally sponsored scheme of the ministry of rural development. Of the 138 million rural households, only 23.7 per cent have own toilets. The coverage in a state like Bihar is as low as 6.5 per cent, with BPL (below poverty line) households accounting for a paltry 0.7 per cent! Even in a rich state like Maharashtra, the coverage is only 19 per cent. The percentage of schools having toilets is 43 per cent and many of them are of very poor standards.The solution for problems such as this, in my view, is more likely to come from within communities, and via private enterprise and money (by which I means NGOs more than Nike), than from the government. Read Kulkarni's full piece, it's a valuable update on what is happening in this context, and on what remains to be done.
Is there is a solution? Yes. It has three components: massive public and private investment in sanitation; major efficiency enhancement in the functioning of panchayats, municipal bodies, and government departments; and, above all, large-scale people’s participation through organised voluntary action and penalty for offenders.
If the children were "destined to be killed by their own mother," how is it not possible that the mother was destined to be prosecuted for murder?Nice. Couldn't have put it better myself.
For the greater part of the 20th century, Russia's population suffered from the nightmare of wars, repression and perpetual hunger. There was the famine of the Civil War, the famine of the years of collectivization, and the famine of the Second World War. It almost seems as if the relative prosperity of recent years has engendered a peculiar reaction of the flesh, something almost akin to gratitude. All across the country, a plethora of beautiful girls has sprung up.Read the full thing. Radzinsky, who has written some fascinating books on Russian history, traces the position of women in Russia from the 18th century, when a popular saying went "A chicken's hardly a bird, a woman's hardly a person", to today's post-Soviet Russia, when Russian women "don't want to change the world. They want to conquer it."
Rahul in Kabul is like a bulbul: It flies away just when you think you’ve caught it.That's what "a bandhgala diplomat" remarked about Rahul Gandhi's trip to Afghanistan as part of the prime minister's entourage recently, according to this Telegraph story. Well, whatever.
Conversation between two mothers in a Saudi supermarket:Read the full post here. Good stuff.
Mother 1: Oh hello, haven't seen you for ages*, how's little Abdullah?
Mother 2: Little Abdullah? He's really big now. He went off to Iraq to be a suicide bomber. And little Mohammad?
Mother 1: Same thing. No longer little either. He also went off to be a suicide bomber in Iraq
Mother 2: There you go. Don't children blow up quickly these days?
* (Ironic greeting exchanged between veiled ladies.)
Just as the painful ordeal of childbirth finally ended and Nesam Velankanni waited for a nurse to lay her squalling newborn on her chest, the maternity hospital's ritual of extortion began.Most of us reading this are used to the endemic corruption in India, but I can't help feeling utterly shocked at this story. I can't imagine what goes through the minds of the nurses and attendants who ask a mother for money to allow her to hold her new-born kid. How stone-cold can you be?
Before she even glimpsed her baby, she said, a nurse whisked the infant away and an attendant demanded a bribe. If you want to see your child, families are told, the price is $12 for a boy and $7 for a girl, a lot of money for slum dwellers scraping by on a dollar a day. The practice is common here in the city, surveys confirm.
Mrs. Velankanni was penniless, and her mother-in-law had to pawn gold earrings that had been a precious marriage gift so she could give the money to the attendant, or ayah. Mrs. Velankanni, a migrant to Bangalore who had been unprepared for the demand, wept in frustration.
BJP totally stands by reservations for women in parliament. The only thing it objects to is reservations on the basis of religion. In our country, everyone should be equal under the law. One should not encourage division on the basis of religion, region, caste or creed.I shall offer no comment on that.
A report by The Indian Express this morning on a complaint against Inspector General of Police Sumedh Singh Saini to the state human rights commission brought the might of the Punjab cops to the reporter’s door.Well, at least the Indian Express is an influential newspaper and can slug it out on their man's behalf. Journalists from smaller, local papers would not get such support. And we wouldn't even hear about them.
Throwing all legal norms out of the window, a police team, reporting directly to IGP Saini, stormed into the residence of The Indian Express Principal Correspondent Gautam Dheer and took him away late tonight.
Giving no reason for the arrest, denying him access to a lawyer, police refused to even confirm where they had taken him.
A farmer chopped off both the legs of his wife while she slept, accusing her of being a spendthrift, reports our special correspondent.So do you think that a crime should be condoned just because the victim forgives the criminal? I think not. That's like saying that a rapist should be let off if the rape victim forgives him, or even agrees to marry him, which a lot of people, even judges, seem to think is acceptable. Cases like this set just the wrong precedent.
Syed Fakruddin of Andhra Pradesh, who worked on a sheep farm in Kuwait, returned last week to find that his wife, Sadiquin Begam, had spent all the Rs 4 lakh that he had sent on jewellery and clothes.
A furious Fakruddin bought an axe on Wednesday, while returning to his home in Anantpur district and hacked the legs of his wife while she slept. Fakruddin then rushed Sadiquin to a government hospital, where the limbs had to be amputated.
The police dropped the case registered against the farmer when he surrendered the next day as Sadiquin did not want any action taken.
I fail to understand what the Public Prosecutor does in India. Isn't it his duty to file a case if some crime has happened? What if the lady got killed? In that case, she cannot take any action against her husband. Should, therefore, we not file any case against the criminal?
The fact is that politicians and novelists have a lot in common, even beyond the irresistibly cynical observation that they both lie for a living. Members of both camps seem to believe that they have a lot to say, after all, and both feel compelled to say it at great length. Anyone who has been on a book tour can tell you that it feels a little like a political campaign, if a losing one. Contrary to the image of the lonely artist forging his works in the smithy of his soul, the working novelist must be adept at marshaling the support of agents, editors, booksellers and any number of former and current spouses. And these days so many novelists need to teach writing to supplement their income that an aptitude for academic politics is almost part of the job description.Hmm. Maybe I should aspire to be a politician as well.
Both politics and fiction-writing depend heavily on public approval, which is why both are such essentially narcissistic lines of work. Members of these two egotistical tribes must also find the right balance between following their principles and giving the public what it wants. Each seeks prizes available only to a select few. And in both camps there is considerable fretting about money.
[T]he proponents of intelligent design use a ploy that works something like this. First you misuse or misdescribe some scientist's work. Then you get an angry rebuttal. Then, instead of dealing forthrightly with the charges leveled, you cite the rebuttal as evidence that there is a "controversy" to teach.Read the full piece, good stuff.
Note that the trick is content-free. You can use it on any topic. "Smith's work in geology supports my argument that the earth is flat," you say, misrepresenting Smith's work. When Smith responds with a denunciation of your misuse of her work, you respond, saying something like: "See what a controversy we have here? Professor Smith and I are locked in a titanic scientific debate. We should teach the controversy in the classrooms." And here is the delicious part: you can often exploit the very technicality of the issues to your own advantage, counting on most of us to miss the point in all the difficult details.
William Dembski, one of the most vocal supporters of intelligent design, notes that he provoked Thomas Schneider, a biologist, into a response that Dr. Dembski characterizes as "some hair-splitting that could only look ridiculous to outsider observers." What looks to scientists - and is - a knockout objection by Dr. Schneider is portrayed to most everyone else as ridiculous hair-splitting.
A full-page ad issued by a Congress staff outfit welcoming party chief Sonia Gandhi to Kerala has turned out to be an embarrassment for the party on the day of her arrival.Hmmm.
• "It is a matter of pride that Soniaji heads the NDA Government at the Centre. Even the Left parties can share this pride."
• "At first, Vayalar Ravi may frown at you. Then he will be like a cow...He is a family member of 10 Janpath."
Rebels in India's north-eastern state of Tripura are making pornographic films to raise money for their separatist campaign, officials say.Read the full piece, the account of the sexual abuses carried out by this terrorist group is quite harrowing.
The information has come from surrendered guerrillas of the National Liberation Front of Tripura (NLFT), according to police.
They say the rebels are forcing captured tribal women, and some men, to take part in the films.
A CD called Ganpati Top 15, marketed by Krunal Music has tunes from Amitabh Bachchan-starrer Bunty aur Babli, other Hindi movies and some raunchy Telugu movie numbers. These CDs are flying off the shelves. Kajra re, for instance, has lyrics that go, “Morya re, morya re, Ganpati Bappa morya re.”God: Sigh. Yes, that CD rocked. Especially Morya Re, such a fun song, raunchy in a holy kind of way. But those days are over. Cry. Sob. Weep.
The fear of death is a powerful influence on our thinking, even if we are not often conscious of it. Our society, like all others before it, has a strong need to feel in control of death, even if we must embrace fairy tales and quack cures to gain that sense of control. The idea that we mostly do not understand and cannot control death is just not a message that people want to hear. The message that medical miracles can control death, in contrast, is a message that people do want to hear.It's actually almost reflexive on the part of humans to go into denial about whatever seems too horrible to contemplate, and which we are helpless to do anything about. When the West first heard about the kind of things Hitler was up to, they seemed too horrifying to be true. Much of the world was in similar denial about the brutalities of the Soviet Union, especially under Stalin. Our minds simply cannot handle certain thoughts: best ignore them altogether.
So we now spend 15% of our national income on medicine [US figures], even though half of that spending has been clearly demonstrated to be on average useless, and even though we have good reasons to doubt the value of most of the other half. Furthermore, we seem relatively uninterested in living longer by trying the things that our evidence suggests do work, like gaining high social status, exercising more, smoking less, and living in rural areas. Such apparently effective approaches to increasing lifespan just do not have the magic allure of conquering death via medical miracles.
Telecom operators using CDMA technology have written to the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, seeking intervention in policy matters relating to spectrum allocation, access deficit charge, and interconnection.Hmm. I think I'll stop thinking now.
The operators have also asked the Government to allow market forces to determine the telephone tariffs.
Souad Massi is a North African city planner who lives now in France after she lost her job years ago when all things where up in the air in Algeria. The song title means [My Son]. It is written from the point of view of a mother who is telling her son he should wake up early, to go to school, learn to read and become someone important and later you will abandon us and you will destroy those will stand in your way, but you still have to wake up early.Find more of her MP3s here.
I like to think of it as a funny song about people you support and encourage and then turn on you.
I should tell you that this song is not typical of the album, the rest has a folksier feel with lots of Andalusian influences. There is a song called [Yemma (Mother, I lie to you)] which will break your heart. It’s about a girl calling her mother back home telling her all is OK, I need no money and people don’t insult me on the street. [My link.]
Every day, stop writing just a short while before you really want to quit. The next day you will be very keen to get going again. For most mortals, your real enemy is the number of days when you get nothing written. Getting "not enough" done each day is a lesser problem.And here are some more writing tips from him.
"Since the dawn of rock, there have been individuals, usually young men, of argumentative tendencies who have lorded their encyclopedic musical knowledge over others." So states the introduction of the recent "Rock Snob's Dictionary", compiled by David Kamp and Steven Daly. I like to believe I'm not the insufferable dweeb suggested by this definition. Certainly, much of the dictionary's obscure trivia (former Television bassist Richard Hell is now a novelist; Norwegian death metal stars actually murder one another) is news to me. But I do place an unusual, perhaps irrational, value on rock music. I take considerable pride in my huge collection and carefully refined taste. And I consider bad rock taste--or, worse, no rock taste at all--clear evidence of a fallow soul. I am, in other words, a certified Rock Snob. But I fear that Rock Snobs are in grave danger. We are being ruined by the iPod.Read the rest of the quite excellent piece here.
Senior Police Inspector N V Nikam from the Special Branch, involved with keeping a watch on various Muslim sects in the city, was suspended on Tuesday for playing cards on duty. His colleagues said they played cards to kill time, as there was very little work in the department.This makes me both sympathetic and angry. I feel sympathy for Nikam, because as long as he is discharging the tasks given to him to the satisfaction of his bosses, I don't see why anyone should be concerned with what he does in his spare time. And I feel pissed off at the government that they are not allocating their resources efficiently -- especially when law and order in India is such a cruel joke. That's my money they're spending, and I wish they'd spend it well.
“The branch mainly collects information on Muslim sects in the city when they hold meetings or plan other activities. But when there are no meetings, we have nothing to do but play cards,” said a colleague.
If all goes according to plan, in May 2006, citizens will have the first quantifiable indication on just how the government is spending the money it collects in taxes.This is a fantastic initiative, as this will empower us with the information about what precisely is being done with the money we pay in taxes. In a sense, it's the right to information act applied to the application of the union budget. This information will probably be released in jargonese, but there are enough people around to demystify it for everyone. Great move.
In a first, Finance Minister P Chidambaram today tabled an "Outcome Budget" in Parliament that seeks to pinpoint scheme-wise targets, quarter-to-quarter, on each and every planned expenditure by Central ministries and departments in a financial year.
The annual document lists clearly-defined deliverables for each scheme/programme, its budgetary outlay, processes and timelines, as well as risk factors in meeting the target. Next May, when the second Outcome Budget will be tabled, there should be clear answers to which targets have been met - and those that have not.
Contrary to the assertions of many opponents of immigration, from Capitol Hill to CNN, the size of our foreign workforce is mainly determined by supply and demand, not Benedict Arnold CEOs or a corporate quest for "cheap" labor. As the nearby table shows, since the H-1B quota was first enacted in 1992 there have been several years amid a soft economy in which it hasn't been filled. When U.S. companies can find domestic workers to fill jobs, they prefer to hire them.I am, of course, in favour of completely free movement of goods and labour across the world. But that is an ideal, and politics comes in the way of any ideal being achieved.
And let's not forget that these immigrant professionals create jobs, as the founders of Intel, Google, Sun Microsystems, Oracle, Computer Associates, Yahoo and numerous other successful ventures can attest. The Public Policy Institute of California did a survey of immigrants to Silicon Valley in 2002 and found that 52% of "foreign-born scientists and engineers have been involved in founding or running a start-up company either full-time or part-time."
Moreover, the notion that Indian software writers are being hired by Microsoft at bargain-basement costs and driving down the wages of Americans is also refuted by the evidence. A Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta study conducted in 2003 found no negative impact on U.S. wages. Government fees and related expenses for hiring foreign nationals can exceed $6,000, and additional fees accrue if and when the H-1B status is renewed after three years. The law also requires companies to pay visa holders prevailing wages and benefits, and it forbids hiring them to replace striking Americans.
A central irony here is that opponents of lifting the H-1B cap also tend to be the biggest critics of outsourcing, which is fueled by the arbitrary cap.
The August Bank holiday welcomes an extra special exhibit to London Zoo as a flock of Homo sapiens gather on the world famous Bear Mountain.Nice. I like the pics with the article; the participants seem to be having a good time, presumably because they know that their captivity is contrived, and they'll soon be free again. But if that was to change...
Presented to the public with only fig leaves to protect their modesty, the humans will become an important feature of zoo life as they are cared for by our experienced keepers and kept entertained through various forms of enrichment.
The four day event aims to demonstrate the basic nature of man as an animal and examine the impact that Homo sapiens have on the rest of the animal kingdom.
Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee on Thursday turned down a privilege notice against The Pioneer newspaper for allegedly publishing an article casting aspersions on the Chair saying it was "beneath the dignity of this great institution to take further note of the motivated imputations in the impugned article."Cheez, who teaches them to speak like this?
While closing "this chapter," he added the caveat that "in future, reckless and contumacious conduct indulged in, by whosoever [it] may be, will be dealt with in the appropriate manner so as to preserve and enhance the dignity of the highest public forum in our country."
The animals in the city zoo, (Veermata Jijabai Bhonsale Garden), at Byculla, are being harassed by insensitive visitors.So here's a really tough question: what's going through the minds of those fellows when they pick up rubble and throw it at caged animals? And could there, but for the grace of (a non-existant) God, go we?
The visitors pick stones from heaps of rubble and raw material left behind by the BMC contractor repairing the zoo roads, and pelt them at the animals.
Raj Thackeray, Shiv Sena leader Bal Thackeray’s nephew got director Deepak Balraj Vij to change the name of his forthcoming movie Bombay Godfather to Mumbai Godfather.But, um, shouldn't the same rule apply to the Thackerays, who were originally Thakres?
Said Raj, “You should love the city you live in. If you are in Mumbai, address it by its original name!” Bal Thackeray, incidentally, was instrumental in changing the name of Bombay to Mumbai.
There is a story of a prospective school teacher who was asked during an interview by the principal of a conservative religious school, "Is the earth flat or round?"Indeed. The rest of Basu's piece is about India's stupid labour laws, which, along with the license raj, have stopped India from becoming a manufacturing superpower. How long will we continue to keep ourselves poor in the name of good intentions?
The hapless teacher looked around at the faces of the interviewers for hints and, not finding any, settled for: "I can teach it flat or round."
The trouble with a lot of our economic policy advisers is that they are like the school teacher.
They try to gauge what answers will make them popular with their political bosses and then give them the advice they seek.
This may be good for the advancement of their career but is not good for economics or for the country in question.
A widely respected principal of a private school spent Tuesday evening at a police station stripped down to his underclothes after he was arrested for allegedly taking nude pictures of a girl student and storing them in his personal computer.The report describes how he summoned the girl to the school one evening, and asked her brother, who accompanied her, to wait downstairs while he took her to his office. Then:
The girl stated that Srinivasa Rao showed her his new digital camera and asked her if she would like her pictures taken. She smiled shyly and he clicked some pictures of her in her uniform.After the girl complained, the principal, Srinivasa Rao, was "made to stand in the lock-up in his underpants as a form of vigilante punishment."
Then suddenly he asked her to undress. She obliged uncertainly. He photographed her nude and went on to load the cartridge on his PC.
Mumbai alone suffered losses of around Rs 4,000 crore, including damage to property, in the recent floods due to choking of drains because of plastic bags, which also had its effect on public health.The Maharashtra government has decided to ban plastic bags, which I have no complaints with. But I worry that the authorities will carry out a few such minor measures, and will absolve themselves of all other responsibility -- until the next disaster.
Torrential rains have caused havoc across central and eastern Europe, killing up to 34 people.Meanwhile oil prices are expected to rise above US$66 a barrel because of "a gathering Caribbean storm [that] could knock out crude supplies to the world's biggest consumer." All this as the seductively named Storm Katrina heads towards Florida.
Worst affected is Romania where at least seven elderly people were killed overnight - bringing the deaths to 25.
At least 11 people are reported dead or missing in Switzerland, Austria and Germany where emergency services are struggling to restore basic services
[S]uppose you paid $1000 in taxes, and got a line item bill of exactly what that was spent on. Say $100 on defense, $50 on poverty, $500 on politician's salaries, and so on.That isn't an argument for no taxes. (There are other arguments for that, though none that I think apply to India yet.) But it is an argument for the government getting out of all areas in which the private sector can enter, because the private sector will invariably be more efficient, and the taxpayers' money will invariably be wasted. Remember, everything the government does is paid for by you and me. We have a right to demand that they spend it carefully, and they spend it well.
Here's the thing: you aren't choosing how that money is spent. Some of the things on that list are things -- like food or health care -- that you could have chosen to buy for yourself. For many of those goods, you would get a better price and a better product than the one the government got you... because you know your situation, your tastes, and your needs.
In other words, if you got that tax bill, many people would compare it with the bills they voluntarily incur. And they would find that it was an inefficient use of resources... and if possible, they'd opt out of paying those taxes.
That's really the key point. There's a box on the tax form that you can fill in to send more $ to the government. At any time you have the choice of giving up any amount of your income to the government to spend as they see fit, hopefully on your behalf.
Most people don't fill in that box, because most people know that they will allocate that money more efficiently for their own benefit than some distant third party.
That hypocrite preaches that people should move away from materialism la dee da and he owns a 2.5-million-dollar home in La Jolla and drives a green Jaguar. Bah!MadMan also sends two other links on Chopra: 1 and 2.
I'm sure the Skeptic's Dictionary has something on him.
There is half a truth to the maxim that when a position reflects consensus, it is probably a good reason to oppose it. But, more seriously, the kind of consensus we have suggests that the political space, for all the noise it generates, is relatively closed, ideologically. We often worry about various groups, defined by some criteria of ethnicity, being under-represented in Parliament: minorities, women and so forth. But we should worry more about lack of ideological variation in Parliament. It is amazing that a liberal democracy, with a liberalising economy, has no parliamentarians with a genuine liberal sensibility: a healthy scepticism about the scope of state activity, a reluctance to reproduce invidious group distinctions, a presumption in favour of the people against the paternalism of the state, and a genuine regard for individuality, speaking the truth as one sees it.The immaturity of our political space is a result of the ignorance of the voters: as the cliche goes, we get the leaders we deserve. How long will it be before we start voting in a smarter, more committed class of legislators?
There is something close to an iron law of Indian politics. If government proposes spending on any programme, the only political criticism is that it is not spending more. The usual way a distinction between Left and Right is carved is as follows. The Left wants the government to spend more money, the Right opposes this in all matters — except in defence. In our case, the distinction is between who gets to come up with a spending proposal first and who gets to endorse. Or, if someone even so much as suggests that it might be time to think of a paradigm of justice beyond reservations, they are unlikely to find significant political space.
This is one cry of reform from Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee that is not going to please party chief Prakash Karat and the so-called hardliners in the CPM.The last line of the article will also make smoke come out of Prakash Karat's ears:
The Bengal chief minister would like “100 per cent privatisation” in the building of new ports and airports in India. His party is a known opponent of New Delhi’s attempts to privatise airports and hand them over to even domestic entrepreneurs. But Bhattacharjee struck a dramatically different note today.
He [Bhattacharjee] assured investors that they had nothing to fear from his government just because it was called the Left Front government.Heh. Well, power does bring some sort of responsibility, and Bhattacharjee, being responsible for the well-being of his state, can't ignore the right course of action beyond a point, even it it does go against his party's objectives. At the centre, though, the Left is not part of the government, and is merely supporting it from outside. This gives them power without responsibility, the most dangerous political combination possible.
You’ve got to know that for any regular guy from Ulhasnagar, getting good products at affordable prices is an index of the country being self-sufficient and empowered. The ideology of India has always been to create its own. Maybe we make cheaper versions of cars or mixies but we never look outside.Phew. I can't believe a newspaper -- any newspaper -- could publish such junk. Unless it was planning to run a story headlined "Bollywood star turns out to have brain of seven-year-old", and decided on a demonstration instead of a report.
Things are wonderful in India. The economic structure is rising, technological advancements are making headlines and the social consciousness is also pretty encouraging. We’ve made progress in all spheres. Be it malls in Gurgaon, irrigation in Punjab or computer advancement in Hyderabad: greatness is happening every day. We’re unaware of it but we’re definitely not worse than what we were 50 years ago.
Disinvestment and the removal of Foreign Exchange Regulation Act (FERA) show that all this is an educated process. And we aren’t just following any monkey business. [...]
Personally, I’ve a problem with the power of information. I’m not an authority on it but I think somewhere down the line, information has been a huge downside. We can access information anytime but we don’t know what to do with it. So, information creates bottlenecks. We create a flyover to Nehru Place but forget to connect it to Surya Hotel.
Bloody shame about those high oil and gas prices.After listing out the various positive consequences of the current high prices, he concludes:
They're causing billions of dollars to be invested in petroleum production, which will increase supply. They're discouraging unnecessary driving, encouraging use of public transit and fuel-efficient cars and cueing industry to cut fuel costs, which will decrease demand.
And they're triggering billions more to be invested in new technologies such as solar power and hybrid engines, which will offer alternatives.
I hate to say it, but if this keeps up we might avoid a 1970s-style energy crisis, with its shortages, gas lines, severe recession and petroleum prices a third higher than they are now, adjusted for inflation. We might even set the stage for a new era of low oil prices, like we had in the 1980s and 1990s, or at least new stability.
Maybe higher prices are part of an invisible hand creating economic order, as described by Adam Smith. Maybe $60 oil is beaming signals across the economy that will boost supply, cut demand and eventually lower prices, as described by Friedrich Hayek. Maybe we didn't need the energy bill Congress just passed.It's a fine piece, read the full thing.
What most of these doomsday scenarios have gotten wrong is the fundamental idea of economics: people respond to incentives. If the price of a good goes up, people demand less of it, the companies that make it figure out how to make more of it, and everyone tries to figure out how to produce substitutes for it. Add to that the march of technological innovation (like the green revolution, birth control, etc.). The end result: markets figure out how to deal with problems of supply and demand.In fact, the very worst thing one can do when the price of oil goes up is to artifically bring it down with price controls. That is what the Indian Express correctly argues against in this editorial. They also look at one possible unexpected consequence of it: our oil PSUs going into the red, and our thus being able to privatise them, as the demand of the Left that we do not sell off profit-making PSUs would then no longer apply. Clever, I suppose.
Mainstream literary prize lists reveal a deep paranoia, a grand defence of the literary novel versus whatever oozing horror might try to slide through the gates.It's a fine piece, read the full thing.
Margaret Atwood would make the cut for a Booker shortlist with mediocre science fiction allied to tremendous literary skill, but Nancy Kress (Beggars in Spain), a brilliant writer who can ask classic SFs question with as much literary style as the most dessicated critic might desire—no, she’s out.
The ambitious, sprawling, cluttered epics of Don DeLillo or Salman Rushdie or Peter Carey qualify; but the far more ambitious epics of Neil Gaiman or Stephen King stay outside the gates.
It's just endless what you can learn from a single work of art. You can fill up the crevices of your life, the cracks of your life, the places where the mortar comes out and falls away--you can fill it up with the love of art.Vincent Price, quoted in a nice article in the Wall Street Journal, "Price Was Right" by Terry Teachout.
Officials at JP Morgan Chase have apologized and promised to improve their screening policies, after a credit card solicitation letter sent to a 54-year-old naturalized American citizen came addressed to "Palestinian Bomber."Mr Habbas, naturally irate, called up customer service to complain, and they said to him: "Yes, Mr. Palestinian Bomber, how can we help you?"
The form letter for a Visa Platinum card arrived earlier this month at the home of Sami Habbas, a grocery store manager from Corona, Calif. The words "Palestinian Bomber" appear above his address and the salutation reads, "Dear Palestinian Bomber." The document included the signature of Carter Franke, chief marketing officer for Chase Card Services.
Rural India is in acute distress, which is bound to turn to turmoil if its crisis is not addressed. It is not too late. There is a strong case for a universal employment guarantee and a universal Public Distribution System.This is from the strap of a recent op-ed article by Utsa Patnaik in the Hindu. Well, Aadisht Khanna finds fault with some of her assertions, and takes her on. First, he summarises the points she is making:
All right, so what is actually going on? Basically, Professor Patnaik has made the following assertions:Aadisht goes through the data, some of which he lists, and finds that Patnaik's conclusions are drawn from selective data, and are, thus, simplistic. He writes:* Rural India is facing an employment crisisOkay. Let's take this up.
* This is because of the economic policies pursued in the past fifteen years.
* The proof of this is that people are eating much less grain.
* The assertion that people are eating less grain is borne out by data from the National Sample Survey, which measures consumption and expenditure across India.
There is a decline in rice and wheat consumption, and also in the consumption of dal... But at the same time, the consumption of other stuff has risen- milk, vegetables of all sorts, meat of all sorts (though fish has shown the most dramatic rise), and most notably eggs- the consumption of those has doubled.He examines if the averages are skewed by the rich getting markedly richer, but finds, in other NSS reports, that "the consumption of people in the
And this suggests something that you would expect a Professor of Economics to know- the consumption pattern looks suspiciously like that of Giffen goods.
Normal goods are the ones which you buy more of when you have more money. Giffen goods, on the other hand, are goods which you buy less of when you have less money- because you now cut down on your consumption of that good, and use the savings to buy more of something else.
What's the classical example of Giffen goods used in economics textbooks? That when your income rises, you buy less bread and more meat- exactly what we see happening in rural India from 1988 to 2000.
I'd say that this actually would have no effect on the Long Tail at all. Self-publishing and electronic publishing has been available to all for a while (see lulu.com) and all the services provide an ISBN number, which allows any writer to be available on Amazon. So nothing new there. And the authors Amazon picked are all Head writers, ie, those who have no trouble getting published.
I think the low pricing is quite interesting, however. It should certainly grow the market for short stories.
In February 1983, then as this newspaper’s correspondent in the North-East, I broke the story of the massacre of 3,500 people in the village of Nellie in Assam. On a visit to Delhi subsequently, I was taken by my editors then to meet Ramnathji. "You young fellow, you are doing a good job," said the old man, always parsimonious with praise. And then he added, "I liked that language in of your story...taking a walk across is an act of courage. Must have been tough looking at so many dead and injured?"Well, yes, the media may well have kept issues like Gujarat alive. But the guilty have still not been punished. What will it take for that to change?
Looking back 22 years, yes, it was an act of courage. As it was to drive to Guwahati airport, in a blood-stained white shirt, to hand over the roll of film from my Minolta to a Delhi-bound Indian Airlines pilot and then finding a telex machine in a strike-hit telegraph office to file the story at a time when STD was a luxury and fax not yet invented.
But even today, nobody has been called to account. That massacre, entirely of poor Muslims, has gone un-investigated. Nobody remembers it, nobody complains that everybody got away. Today, if such a thing were to happen again, God Forbid, there is sufficient institutional and political awakening in India to ensure there will not be such an easy forget, if not forgive as this paper’s coverage of the 2002 Gujarat killings (for which it got the International Press Institute award) has shown.
The difference between 1983 and 2005 is, that then information like a Nellie massacre merely shocked you. Today, it empowers you to demand redressal, better governance, better quality of life.
[S]uppose I were to say, "We should abolish the minimum wage. That would increase employment and enable more people to climb out of poverty."This is in the course of an open letter to Paul Krugman in which Kling points out, correctly, that Krugman favours Type M arguments over Type C. It is a pity, in fact, how so much of our public discourse, from both sides of the spectrum, focusses on Type M arguments. They lead nowhere and polarise us further.
There are two types of arguments you might make in response. I call these Type C and Type M.
A hypothetical example of a Type C argument would be, "Well, Arnold, studies actually show that the minimum wage does not cost jobs. If you read the work of Krueger and Card, you would see that the minimum wage probably reduces poverty."
A hypothetical example of a Type M argument would be, "People who want to get rid of the minimum wage are just trying to help the corporate plutocrats."
Do you see any differences between those two types of arguments?
I see differences, and to me they are important. Type C arguments are about the consequences of policies. Type M arguments are about the alleged motives of individuals who advocate policies.
In this example, the type C argument says that the consequences of eliminating the minimum wage would not be those that I expect and desire. We can have a constructive discussion of the Type C argument -- I can cite theory and evidence that contradicts Krueger and Card -- and eventually one of us could change his mind, based on the facts.
Type M arguments deny the legitimacy of one's opponents to even state their case. Type M arguments do not give rise to constructive discussion. They are almost impossible to test empirically. [Emphasis in the original.]