Authors

The end of analogue film: Rage, rage against the dying of the dark | The Economist

The end of analogue film: Rage, rage against the dying of the dark | The Economist.

The Disappearance of Darkness“, is a book full of poignant insights, both visual and literary, into a bygone technological era.

What’s wrong with putting a price on nature? | Environment | guardian.co.uk

What’s wrong with putting a price on nature? | Environment | guardian.co.uk.

“Ecosystem services is not exactly a phrase to stir the human imagination. But over the past few years, it has managed to dazzle both diehard conservationists and bottom-line business types as the best answer to global environmental decline……..

But the rising tide of enthusiasm for PES (or payment for ecosystem services) is now also eliciting alarm and criticism. The rhetoric is at times heated, particularly in Britain, where a government plan to sell off national forests had to be abandoned in the face of fierce public opposition. ….

Sian Sullivan, a University of London anthropologist, warns….we are seeing “a major new wave of capture and enclosure of Nature by capital.”

An excellent, balanced piece from the Guardian Environment Network.

In contrast, a superficial editorial from the Hindu:

The Economics of Nature

James Meek · How We Happened to Sell Off Our Electricity · LRB 13 September 2012

James Meek · How We Happened to Sell Off Our Electricity · LRB 13 September 2012.

“Does it matter that the power Britain relies on to make the country glow and hum no longer belongs to Britain? After all, the lights still shine. The phones still charge.”

An article that assesses the Thatcher legacy of privatisation of the power industry almost thirty years later.

Footwear for the blind: Bluetooth shoes | The Economist

Footwear for the blind: Bluetooth shoes | The Economist.

Well, it’s one for the money,
Two for the show,
Three to get ready,
Now go, cat, go.

But don’t you step on my blue suede shoes.
You can do anything but lay off of my blue suede shoes.

(From “Blue Suede Shoes” by Carl Perkins)

“Anirudh Sharma’s “innovation, dubbed “Le Chal” (“take me along” in Hindi) pairs a smartphone app with a small actuator sewn inside the sole of one shoe via Bluetooth. The user tells the phone his desired destination, which is translated into electronic commands using voice-recognition software. The app, which can be programmed to run in the background, fetches the local map of the area. The phone’s Global Positioning System (GPS) tracks the person’s location in real-time, telling the actuator to vibrate when it is time to turn. The side of the shoe where the vibration is felt indicates which way to go”

What in the World Is a Higgs Boson? – NYTimes.com

A somewhat belated post, but this ain’t going away anytime soon!

What in the World Is a Higgs Boson? – NYTimes.com.

A short piece with a slew of links to interesting background material.

 

Higgs boson discovery: Why scientist Stephen Wolfram feels bittersweet | Mail Online.

Some interesting pictures, including one of Peter Higgs wiping his eyes during the CERN seminar.

The Hindu : Today’s Paper / OPINION : The enigma of Indian engineering

The Hindu : Today’s Paper / OPINION : The enigma of Indian engineering

“In South Asia, hierarchical organisations, language differences, and deep social chasms disrupt the performance. For instance, artisans will only speak when asked, and will keep silent if speaking means loss of face for superiors.

It turns out that engineering education, around the world, is almost blind to the realities of practice. We found 40 other critical aspects that educators inadvertently miss or misrepresent. As a result, young engineers seem oblivious to the subtleties needed to coordinate people and their education seems to impair their ability to learn. It turns out that skills like this distinguish the few truly expert engineers.”…….

“I think the next engineering revolution will be based on understanding people. We have come quite far with rather little understanding among engineers: just a little more could lead to large improvements. A new engineering revolution could consign poverty to history, and also enable us to live within the capacity of this planet to support human civilisation. It needs to come soon.”

Of Dalits and Cartoons

Kushinagar by Joe Sacco | NYRblog | The New York Review of Books.

This story is drawn from “Kushinagar,” which appeared originally in French in XXI, no. 13, January/February/March 2011, and will appear in English in Joe Sacco’s new collectionJournalism, to be published by Metropolitan Books on June 19. As Sacco writes, explaining how he came to draw a comic based on his travels in Kushinagar, a district in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh:

The extraordinarily successful French magazine XXI is the publishing industry’s greatest champion of comics reportage. It has regularly sent cartoonists out into the world and given them a good deal of magazine space. Editor Patrick de Saint-Exupery, a seasoned journalist himself, was open to any idea I had and supportive at every step of the way. The author Pankaj Mishra passed me along to Indian journalist Piyush Srivastava, who suggested I visit Kushinagar and who graciously agreed to be my guide. We met in Lucknow, where he is based, and drove for a day to reach the district, where many of the dalits—“untouchables”—are experiencing not just abject poverty but real hunger. After three visits to the same hamlet, Piyush and I were essentially chased out of the area by higher caste individuals who did not like us snooping around. We decided to visit other villages, but briefly, for no more than a couple hours each, to avoid the same result.

Utah woman faces likely deportation after losing appeal | The Salt Lake Tribune

Utah woman faces likely deportation after losing appeal | The Salt Lake Tribune.

“Kairi Shepherd was an orphan living in India when a Utah woman adopted her in 1982 — a seemingly good turn of luck for the 3-month-old, which included her obtaining legal permanent resident status in the United States.

But when she was 8, her adoptive mother died of cancer. When she was 17, she was arrested and convicted of felony check forgery to fuel a drug habit. Now 30, she is facing likely deportation after a 10th Circuit Court ruling Tuesday that upheld the federal government’s right to remove her from the country.”

The sad tale of Kairi Shepherd, still unfolding, a hapless victim of an insensitive and increasingly brutal US immigration and penal system, first reported in 2008 in The Salt Lake Tribune. The original story is here, hosted on the site Pound Pup Legacy , devoted to the “dark side of adoption”,  which has some more information on the case.

Some coverage from the Indian media, at the Hindustan Times for instance, US: Adopted Indian faces deportation . Fortunately, it appears that the Govt. of India may intervene to help Kairi ( Govt may help Kairi Shepherd ).

What Makes Countries Rich or Poor? by Jared Diamond | The New York Review of Books

What Makes Countries Rich or Poor? by Jared Diamond | The New York Review of Books.

Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty
by Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson 
Crown, 529 pp., $30.00                                                  

Reviewing this book, Jared Diamond returns to his theme of environmental variations as the key to answering the question posed in the title of the book. Reading the review, one is left with the impression that the viewpoint of the book is far more interesting than the views of the reviewer.

The Hindu : Opinion / Lead : Treaties that gave away the store

The Hindu : Opinion / Lead : Treaties that gave away the store.

As India grapples with the Vodafone and 2G fallout, the Bilateral Investment Treaties it signed a few years ago are coming back to haunt it.

A very readable piece on a subject that is usually off the radar of even those who closely follow globalization and liberalization related issues.

Washing enzymes: Please rinse and return | The Economist

Washing enzymes: Please rinse and return | The Economist.

An interesting “Made in India” innovation, of global significance, under way?

“WHEN industrialists use enzymes to speed up chemical reactions, they generally take care to attach those enzymes to solid surfaces and run the chemicals past them. Enzymes are expensive, and not to be thrown away lightly. Yet millions of householders do precisely that whenever they wash their clothes. Lots of washing powders contain enzymes, but these never get recycled. Instead, they are just flushed down the drain.

Chandra Pundir and Nidhi Chauhan, biochemists at Maharshi Dayanand university in Haryana, India, propose to do something about that. They see no reason why washing enzymes should suffer this ignominious fate and, as they report in Industrial and Engineering Chemistry Research, they have found there is no reason why they should.”

The Crisis of Big Science by Steven Weinberg | The New York Review of Books

The Crisis of Big Science by Steven Weinberg | The New York Review of Books.

“Without adequate funding, in the next decade we may see the search for the laws of nature slow to a halt, not to be resumed again in our lifetimes.”

And from the concluding paragraph:
“It seems to me that what is really needed is not more special pleading for one or another particular public good, but for all the people who care about these things to unite in restoring higher and more progressive tax rates, especially on investment income. I am not an economist, but I talk to economists, and I gather that dollar for dollar, government spending stimulates the economy more than tax cuts. It is simply a fallacy to say that we cannot afford increased government spending. But given the anti-tax mania that seems to be gripping the public, views like these are political poison. This is the real crisis, and not just for science.”

Academic Journals and Corporate Interests: Reed Elsevier and ALEC

Academic Journals and Corporate Interests: Reed Elsevier and ALEC | PSC CUNY.

What do prestigious scientific journals like Cell and The Lancet have to do with union-busting, cutting corporate taxes, or denial of global warming?

The publishing company that owns these journals, Reed Elsevier, has supported all of these goals through its contributions to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).

[UPDATE: On April 12, Reed Elsevier announced that it had resigned from ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council. It joined a growing list of corporations that are quitting ALEC in response to increased public scrutiny.]

(via Rammanohar Reddy)

The Hindu : Opinion / Op-Ed : For friends of Bangladesh, a walk down memory lane

The Hindu : Opinion / Op-Ed : For friends of Bangladesh, a walk down memory lane.

“India’s eastern neighbour had a difficult birth but there were many who gallantly played midwife, including Indira Gandhi and the Indian Army. They deservedly took the top honours in recent ceremonies in Dhaka.”

The list of those who were honored, though incomplete in this news report, nevertheless makes for fascinating reading.

Academic spring: how an angry maths blog sparked a scientific revolution | Science | The Guardian

Academic spring: how an angry maths blog sparked a scientific revolution | Science | The Guardian.

“It began with a frustrated blogpost by a distinguished mathematician.Tim Gowers and his colleagues had been grumbling among themselves for several years about the rising costs of academic journals…..

So, in January this year, Gowers wrote an article on his blog declaring that he would henceforth decline to submit to or review papers for any academic journal published by Elsevier, the largest publisher of scientific journals in the world.

He was not expecting what happened next. Thousands of people read the post and hundreds left supportive comments. Within a day, one of his readers had set up a website, The Cost of Knowledge, which allowed academics to register their protest against Elsevier.

The site now has almost 9,000 signatories, all of whom have committed themselves to refuse to either peer review, submit to or undertake editorial work for Elsevier journals.”