September 2014
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"Towards an Asian century of prosperity," President Xi Jinping’s article in The Hindu

‘As emerging markets, each with its own strengths, we need to become closer development partners who draw upon each other’s strengths and work together for common development. With rich experience in infrastructure building and manufacturing, China is ready to contribute to India’s development in these areas. India is advanced in IT and pharmaceutical industries, and Indian companies are welcome to seek business opportunities in the Chinese market. The combination of the “world’s factory” and the “world’s back office” will produce the most competitive production base and the most attractive consumer market…I am confident that as long as China and India work together, the Asian century of prosperity and renewal will surely arrive at an early date.’

"How the West Caused the Ukraine Crisis," John J. Mearsheimer, Foreign Affairs

“The United States and its European allies now face a choice on Ukraine. They can continue their current policy, which will exacerbate hostilities with Russia and devastate Ukraine in the process — a scenario in which everyone would come out a loser. Or they can switch gears and work to create a prosperous but neutral Ukraine, one that does not threaten Russia and allows the West to repair its relations with Moscow. With that approach, all sides would win.”

Work in the new “sharing economy”

“These are not jobs, jobs that have any future, jobs that have the possibility of upgrading; this is contingent, arbitrary work…It might as well be called wage slavery in which all the cards are held, mediated by technology, by the employer…”

Despite its ambivalent title (“In the Sharing Economy, Workers Find Both Freedom and Uncertainty”), this New York Times article by Natasha Singer gives useful insights into current trends in the labour market in the United States today.

The article is at

From the New Left Review: “Unexpected Cuba”

From the Introduction to an important new article by Emily Morris:

“What is the verdict on Cuba’s economy, nearly a quarter of a century after the collapse of the Soviet bloc? The story generally told is a simple one, with a clear message.…After the dissolution of the Comecon trading bloc, U.S. Cuba watchers were confident that the state-socialist economy faced imminent collapse. “Cuba needs shock therapy—a speedy shift to free markets,’ they declared. The restoration of capitalism on the island was ‘inevitable’; delay would not only hamper economic performance but would inflict grave human costs and discredit Cuba’s social achievements. Given his stubborn refusal to embark on a course of liberalization and privatization, Fidel Castro’s ‘final hour’ had at last arrived.

“The problem with this account is that reality has conspicuously failed to comply with its predictions…”

Read the whole article at

(via Deepak Kumar)

"Vandana Shiva’s Crusade Against Genetically Modified Crops," Michael Specter in The New Yorker

“Much of what…[Vandana Shiva] says resonates with the many people who feel that profit-seeking corporations hold too much power over the food they eat. Theirs is an argument well worth making. But her statements are rarely supported by data, and her positions often seem more like those of an end-of-days mystic than like those of a scientist.”

‘Soul Cycle: David Mitchell’s "The Bone Clocks",’ James Wood in The New Yorker

“Despite Mitchell’s humane gifts as a secular storyteller, The Bone Clocks enforces an ordained hermeticism, in which fictional characters, often bearing names from previous Mitchell fictions, perform unmotivated maneuvers at the behest of mysterious plotters who can do what they want with their victims. Time to redact this particular Script.”

"India’s Foolish Crush on Japan," Pankaj Mishra, Bloomberg View

“…it is hard not to suspect anachronism and naivete in Modi’s plan to model India’s economy on Japan’s postwar achievements of technical innovation and labor-intensive manufacturing.”

"More Workers Are Claiming ‘Wage Theft’," Steven Greenhouse in NYT

Workers across the United States are pushing back against wage theft by major businesses with “a flood of recent cases that accuse employers of violating minimum wage and overtime laws, erasing work hours and wrongfully taking employees’ tips.” And some of these lawsuits seem synchronised with trade union demands for higher wages.

Mary Beard Takes On Her Sexist Detractors, New Yorker

Meet Professor Mary Beard, brilliant classicist, popular writer, lecturer, and blogger who engages coolly with her detractors, and takes on the men behind nuisance and hate trolls, occasionally converting them to decency.

Maryam Mirzakhani: The first woman to win the prestigious Fields Medal prize

Maryam Mirzakhani: ‘The more I spent time on maths, the more excited I got’ | Science |

The first woman to win the prestigious Fields Medal prize discusses her life as a mathematician


Let cricketer Moeen Ali wear his ‘Save Gaza’ wristband | Ally Fogg |

“In times of great humanitarian crisis…there cannot be neutrality. To do nothing, to say nothing is in itself a political act. In declaring which causes are appropriate for sports audiences and which are not, David Boon and the ICC have made a political statement of their own. It is not Moeen Ali’s statement that is in the wrong, but theirs.”

Publishers withdraw more than 120 gibberish papers: Nature News & Comment

Shoddy quality controls by academia are exposed by a large number of spoof papers making it past the gatekeepers into conference proceedings and journals:

"Germany May Be the Best National Soccer Team Ever," Nate Silver, FiveThirtyEight Data Lab

“By the end of the World Cup,” Nate Silver concludes after analysing the relevant data, “Germany left little doubt it is the best team in the world. In fact, it may be the best national soccer team ever assembled [that's a big claim, which needs to be approached with a degree of scepticism -- NR]“:

“Germany didn’t begin the World Cup as the favourite,” notes Nate Silver. “That honor belonged to (ahem) Brazil).” Here are his predictions, which turned out to be way off:

And here are Silver’s apologetics:

Messi had the lowest work rate among non-goalkeepers in 2014 World Cup, FiveThirtyEight Sports analysis

Over the course of the 2014 World Cup, “Messi had the lowest work rate among non-goalkeepers when his team is on defense and the second-lowest among forwards when his team is on offense (among players with 150 minutes on offense/defense combined)…on the other end of the spectrum, Mario Goetze had a great tournament (obviously ) and the highest work rate.” This comes out clearly in Benjamin Morris’s interesting analysis in FiveThirtyEight Sports. But, the writer adds, “the bizarre spectacle of Lionel Messi strolling along lazily shouldn’t be used either to hang him or to excuse him…”

Courtesy: Prannoy Roy

‘After Theater in Brazil, Soccer’s Calloused Cousin Takes the Stage’,

Soccer, that is, real football, governed by FIFA, is much better theatre than the NFL ‘football’. NYT sports columnist William C Rhoden reflects after watching (‘again and again and again’) the vicious blow that put Neymar out of the World Cup with a cracked vertebra, ‘”Now that’s what soccer needs more of” if it wants to occupy a larger space on our [U. S. fans'] palette. Big hits and midair collisions. We like collisions; we like the violence. Cynical, but true.’®ion=bottom-well&WT.nav=bottom-well