Colorado Wildfires 2012 | The Huffington Post

“Colorado has at least a half dozen major fires burning throughout the state. Fueled by high winds, record heat and dryness, 2012 has become Colorado’s worst wildfire season in a decade.”

Inter-war Britain: Rare aerial photographs of UK landmarks go online, Guardian

Here’s a selection from thousands of aerial images, dating back to the first half of the 20th century, of some of Britain’s iconic landmarks. Read on:

Corporate control of public education: A U S case study

At the University of Virginia, the Board of Visitors, which is led by a real estate developer, decided that the university should be run like a Fortune 500 company, and forced the resignation of the school’s President, Teresa Sullivan.

Sullivan’s “supporters have rallied to her defence, rocking the campus with massive protests demanding her reinstatement.”


via Venkatesh Athreya

The Death Match, New York Times

Seventy years ago, the Start Stadium in Kiev was the site of one of football’s most infamous games when a group of Ukranian players defeated a German military team.

‘Apple’s Retail Army, Long on Loyalty but Short on Pay’, investigation by NYT in iEconomy series

Apple may be the world’s ‘most valuable’ company, a leader of the world’s ‘fastest growing industry’, with a phenomenally compensated chief executive. The Apple Store, which employs about 30,000 of Apple’s 43,000 employees in the United States, may be ‘a retail phenomenon renowned for impeccable design, deft service and spectacular revenues’ but most of these employees see little of that wealth. This investigation by The New York Times is part of a series on the iEconomy, which sets out to explore ‘the challenges posed by increasingly globalized high-tech industries’.

Weakening Panchayats in West Bengal, Aparajita Bakshi in Review of Agrarian Studies (RAS)

An agrarian counter-reform is under way in West Bengal under the State government led by the Trinamool Congress (TMC). What is happening to the panchayati raj system is part of this thoroughly reactionary socio-economic and political process.

The author argues that panchayati raj in West Bengal is ‘a system that has evolved over the years with the objective of introducing local self-governance that is pro-poor and transparent. Over three decades, new institutions have been created and new regulations framed to devolve greater financial and administrative power to the grassroots level, and to introduce development planning and financial accountability from below’. She points out that ‘in many other parts of India, the panchayat remains a weak body with limited powers, and, very often, is dominated by the socially and economically powerful’. However, ‘the panchayat structure in West Bengal, though not free of all weaknesses, presented a different picture’, with ‘well-functioning panchayats…often able to make a substantial difference to planning and implementation of development programmes, and, more importantly, to the lives of the poor’. It is a matter of great concern that ‘the recent developments in West Bengal undermine this achievement, and may well herald a shift in class alliances and power relations in the State’.

The new Indian cinema: sex, crime, and censorship | Nirpal Dhaliwal in The Guardian

The third edition of the London Indian Film Festival (June 20-July 3, 2012) ‘showcases the controversial new movies that are winning international acclaim but offending the establishment by exposing hypocrisies at home’:

Gangs of Wasseypur, trailer:

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.”

Another entry for ‘The Wayward [Business] Press’: Microsoft’s live-action press release, Ryan Chittum in the Columbia Journalism Review

How to turn ‘a pack of hardened journalists into an infomercial audience’:

Alan Turing’s legacy: how close are we to ‘thinking’ machines? | Technology | The Guardian

Read about the Loebner prize, ‘the annual competition to find a computer that can pass for a human’:

Rajat Gupta, Raj Rajaratnam, and Gupta’s insatiable ‘need for greed’

‘Having fallen from respected insider to convicted inside trader, Mr. Gupta has now exchanged the lofty boardroom for the prospect of a lowly jail cell’ — Preet Bharara, the United States attorney in Manhattan.

‘What did Mr. Gupta get by giving Raj this information? A need for greed’ — Ronnie Sesso, juror

‘A Dirty Business: New York’s top prosecutor [Preet Bharara] takes on Wall Street crime’, George Packer in The New Yorker, June 27, 2011:

Khan Academy founder Salman Khan’s commencement address at MIT, June 2012

The Khan Academy is a splendid concept. Sal Khan could and should have done a better commencement address at his alma mater but here’s the mixture of the banal and the inspirational:



‘The system is failing most of us’, The Price of Inequality, new book by Joseph Stiglitz

Book description-1 (

‘A forceful argument against America’s vicious circle of growing inequality by the Nobel Prize-winning economist.

‘The top 1 percent of Americans control 40 percent of the nation’s wealth. And, as Joseph E. Stiglitz explains, while those at the top enjoy the best health care, education, and benefits of wealth, they fail to realize that “their fate is bound up with how the other 99 percent live”.

‘Stiglitz draws on his deep understanding of economics to show that growing inequality is not inevitable: moneyed interests compound their wealth by stifling true, dynamic capitalism. They have made America the most unequal advanced industrial country while crippling growth, trampling on the rule of law, and undermining democracy. The result: a divided society that cannot tackle its most pressing problems. With characteristic insight, Stiglitz examines our current state, then teases out its implications for democracy, for monetary and budgetary policy, and for globalization. He closes with a plan for a more just and prosperous future.’

Book description-2 (; for the forthcoming Kindle edition):

‘The top 1 percent have the best houses, the best educations, the best doctors, and the best lifestyles, but there is one thing that money doesn’t seem to have bought: an understanding that their fate is bound up with how the other 99 percent live. Throughout history, this is something that the top 1 percent eventually do learn – too late.

‘In this timely book, Joseph Stiglitz identifies three major causes of our predicament: that markets don’t work the way they are supposed to (being neither efficient nor stable); how political systems fail to correct the shortcomings of the market; and how our current economic and political systems are fundamentally unfair. He focuses chiefly on the gross inequality to which these systems give rise, but also explains how inextricably interlinked they are. Providing evidence that investment – not austerity – is vital for productivity, and offering realistic solutions for levelling the playing field and increasing social mobility, Stiglitz argues that reform of our economic and political systems is not just fairer, but is the only way to make markets work as they really should.’


The slog and art of biography: a life with LBJ and the pursuit of power | The Observer

Robert Caro, 76, is not your conventional biographer. His multi-volume, unfinished life of Lyndon Johnson is all about power and how it works.

French Open photos, Roland-Garros 2012

Enjoy this gallery of fine action pictures from Roland-Garros 2012; go full size and even full screen by clicking into each image and moving smoothly sideways across the screen: