Saturday, October 31, 2009

Dyson vs Wienberg

Freeman Dyson is an eminent physicist and darling of conservatives, when it comes to climate change. While he does believe that the climate is changing due to man, he thinks that projections of the future due to models are questionable. (Personally, I agree with him to an extent - of course there are uncertainties associated with the models for the future, but, since a lot of models seem to be agreeing in trend - I think humans must take them seriously. Things could also be worse than projected!).

Steven Weinberg, an American Atheist, who probably thinks that it is wonderful that Israel kills a gazillions Gazans for each of the pathetic little rockets that they send across the border, said the following:

"With or without religion, good people can behave well and bad people can do evil; but for good people to do evil—that takes religion. "
Mr. Dyson agrees with the statement, but adds another caveat:
"And for bad people to do good things—that takes religion."
Fascinating stuff.

Friday, October 30, 2009

The "green" agenda

I don't personally like calling environmentalism "green". It sounds pompous. But I do think this website has some quotations from really smart people:

Here's one from Paul Elrich at Stanford:

Giving society cheap, abundant energy would be the equivalent of giving an idiot child a machine gun

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Feynman on Teaching

Rechard P Feynman, surely the world's best known physics teacher wrote this. His thoughts on teaching are fairly profound - even though he calls it a pain in the neck.

I find it a very inspiring piece. Especially this paragraph:

If you're teaching a class, you can think about the elementary things that you know very well. These things are kind of fun and delightful. It doesn't do any harm to think them over again. Is there a better way to present them? The elementary things are easy to think about; if you can't think of a new thought, no harm done; what you thought about it before is good enough for the class. If you do think of something new, you're rather pleased that you have a new way of looking at it.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Snakes on a ship: looks like someone's been reading my blog

There's this gentleman in Europe who decided to transport said reptiles/mammals strapped to his body on a cruise ship.
Avid reader(s) of this blog might recall a post that I had made long ago regarding snakes, airplanes and how to ship one onto the other. Looks like this gentleman did something similar. Would have been able get through security to fly with those things taped on to him? We wonder...

Monday, October 26, 2009

This is probably not going to work

Looking at how wonderfully successful cloud seeding has not been in India and other places, I cannot but be skeptical at this megalomaniacal scheme.

The Clean Coal Situation

The moniker 'clean coal' has become a lightning rod for criticism. Liberals (and I am a liberal too) seem to think that clean coal technology is a joke, an obfuscation by greedy energy companies to make profits off warm and eco-friendly sounding names. The airwaves, these days, are saturated by ads (a) advocating clean coal technologies (b) claiming that there's no such thing as clean coal. Even the yes men (whom I usually appreciate) have gone on record claiming that there's no such thing as clean coal.

So, what is clean coal?

Let me summarize. A good place, of course, to start is the wikipedia page talking about clean coal.

Coal is dirty. It is basically carbon in its elemental form. When this carbon burns in oxygen, it forms IR trapping CO2. And that's why coal is dirty in the modern perspective.

Natural gas, on the other hand, is essentially methane. The good thing with methane is that one of the products of combustion is also water. Since methane consists of a significant amount of hydrogen, the amount of CO2 per unit Joule of energy produced is considerably less.

The idea behind clean coal is to use either of the following approaches

(1) Use pulverized coal (as is being done right now). But use a carbon capture mechanism in the flue gases. This can pose some issues, since the flue gases are typically at ambient pressure. This CO2 has to be captured, compressed, liquified, transported and sequestered.

(2) Use a coal gasification scheme, where the chemical energy is transferred from C to nH2 + mCO (a syngas). (A final goal is to make m = 0, converting all the C to CO2.) This CO2 can be concentrated BEFORE combustion itself (the second C in CCS). This is the idea behind the IGCC, and this is where I come in.

The fuel obtained from the coal gasifier contains a lot of hydrogen, and relatively less CO2. This results in a higher concentration of water vapor in the flue gases. Water vapor gas a higher thermal conductivity - and therefore results in a heavier thermal load on the blade. We need more aggressive cooling of the blade - and that's my hope for the future. This gives me a reason to keep on working on better cooling of turbine blades.

Neither of the two methods is economical right now. Things will of course should be different in a cap-n-trade regime. This method of sequestering produced carbon will of course add to costs - and this would never be able to compete with current fossil fuel based energy costs.

Now that you have all the CO2 that you have either sucked from the fuel before or after combustion. The kicker is, what does one do about it? How does one store this captured carbon?

One could do the obvious stuff like grow trees (especially in deserts), bury trees in landfills, create more landfills, have pet algae sucking in CO2... But that's not what I am interested in. I am interested in the more physical ways to sequester the carbon. And here's a few (which I glean from wikipedia...)

1. Put it in spent oil wells
2. Put it in acquifiers
3. Put it in underwater (though this might end up acidifying.the sea, destroying coral reefs and killing the fauna).

Let me agree with Harry Reid here. At this point in time there is indeed nothing called clean coal. There is something called 'cleaner-coal' technology. This technology might sound bad, but it is nothing to scoff at. While we cannot get rid of all CO2 from syngas (making m=0 is very, very tough), we can reduce carbon emissions significantly. We have this sobering reality:

Coal is actually one of the world's easiest fuels. It is available in large quantities in USA, India and China. India and China don't consume much energy per-capita at this point, but they're rapidly growing. Their energy needs are growing. Energy usage will increase in India and China - and that's a human rights necessity. (I expect India and China are representative of the developing world in general). It does not look like the usage of coal will decline on planet earth. It looks all set to increase. So, if we use coal, might as well ensure that the coal technologies under use are cleaner coal technologies rather than the current dirty coal technology.

And here's another point: rather than have politicians decide what works and what does not (an approach that has a success rate in single digit percentages), why not let the market do it? All the politicians have to do is, after all their internal bickering, come up with a Carbon trading scheme - or just a carbon tax - which will make apparent economic savings of clean coal in comparison with dirty coal. And then, the politicians can just take their hands of the wheel as far as climate change is concerned.

In conclusion, while people are right to ridicule current clean coal technologies, the future almost certainly has a place for clean coal, given the relative abundance of coal reserves in comparison with depleting petroleum reserves.

Arundhati Roy on the Maoists

Ms. Roy, who seems to want to fashion herself as India's Noam Chomsky, contends that the government must end its vilification of and arbitrary attacks on the Maoists. She urges unconditional talks with the naxal terror groups.

I can't say I disagree with her. India should negotiate with the maoists - because, at some level, they are people who perceive they have been dispossessed and ripped off by the state apparatus. expect that they have indeed been ripped of by the Indian government - and they have taken to arms as a last resort.

We have two options before us. Declare all out war against these Maoists (like the US had done in Afg. and Iraq) - or negotiate with them and find out what their problem is. Arrest those who murdered policemen - hang them using the judicial apparatus - but just don't create any more entropy by declaring war on them. Nothing good can come of it - as both Iraq and Afghanistan show right now.

I fully agree with Noam Chomsky on Iraq and Afghanistan. It is quite likely that I will fully agree with Ms. Roy here, when I do read a little more about the Maoist struggle in India, which I intend to do almost immediately.

My Journal Tally Has Doubled This Weekend

Nice weekend as weekends go.

Friday evening, I had two journal publications. Monday morning, I have 4.

I had two papers languishing in the recommended-to-journal-by-conference-session-chair-but-hanging-in-balance-waiting-for-journal-editor deadlock.

Looks like the journal editor was working this weekend, clearing up his backlog.

Good stuff.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

What not to do when trains run late.

When trains run late in India, and one has to catch a connecting flight, what options does one have?

One smart gentleman in Delhi decided to try his luck with a bomb hoax on a plate. He is currently, presumably, making friends with an irate cellmate in central delhi jail, one hopes.

Karzai's Humiliation

The western media confirms that even American military interference cannot ensure a fair election in the middle east. Afghanistan elections have allegedly gone the way of the Iranian elections, the west thinks.

And for some reason the Obama administration thinks that humiliating the strongman who runs the country into accepting a runoff would be good for the morale of the very proud Afghan people.

You see, it's all about sustaining political momentum in the US. The American voter is going to hold the US government responsible for screwing up the elections in Afghanistan. So, might as well make sure that the American public is convinced that democracy is doing well in Afghanistan - regardless of the fact that western interference will lead to further deaths in Afg. and now, unfortunately Pakistan also.

This article from the Hindu is a scathing analysis - the sort of analysis you just don't see in the American media, which is busy Manufacturing consent. (The Indian Media is quite reliable when it comes to affairs that do not concern it. But when it comes to Naxal violence, we see the Indian media take the government's side, just like the American media is taking its government's side right now.)

The article also contains this very good sentence towards the end:
All the same, the U.S. officials have begun arguing, the raison d’etre of continued western troop presence in Afghanistan still remains insofar as Pakistan’s stability has now become the new focal point. But then, no one remembers anymore that it was the U.S. occupation of Afghanistan that in the first instance destabilized Pakistan. Thus, the U.S. sidesteps the core issue – a timeline for ending the occupation of Afghanistan.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Who knew?

Who knew that one of the biggest problems in the successful intstallation of wind turbines here, there are everywhere is... radar?

Turns out, wind turbines are getting picked up by radars - and this noise is confusing military and civilian aircraft monitors in densely populated continental europe. (This is not so much a problem in sparsely populated US).

And turns out a British company called qinetiq has developed a way to screen the blades from radar without using a lot of paint on the blade. (Using an absorbent layer on the blade is a non-starter of an idea, considering that these things flex).


Friday, October 23, 2009


The RTI act in India is something that must not be tampered with. The idea of holding government employees accountable will go a long way in stemming corruption in India. Corruption in India is deeply inequitizing in my opinion. It allows the rich to get richer by bribing their way through.

Hope Dr. Singh listens. Putting arbitrary clauses against 'vexatious and frivolous complaints' in the law will present a massive loophole - and can also provide a shield for the guilty. The additional inconvenience caused by looking at frivolous requests will certainly not outweigh the societal costs of making corruption easier.

Dr. Singh is probably the most intellectual PM we have ever had. Would he want to go down in history as the person under whom (a) It was enacted AND (b) It was weakened?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

A Chomsky Interview

This article from the Belfast Telegraph.

I am unable to find a single sentence in this article that I disagree with. From taking issues with America's arrogrant and entropy generating response to 9/11 to optimism about human rights to frustration with inaction regarding climate change.

Most of the people in the world (except 300M odd Americans and 8M odd people from Israel) think of Prof. Chomsky as the most relevant intellectual alive. 6.3B people can't be wrong.

Interestingly, Hardltalk will be interviewing the Man on 29th October, for broadcast in Novermber 2009. Here is the link - one can submit questions.

Population, Contraception and the Like

This is in response to a particularly egregiously underinformed article in the NYTimes. Rush Limbaugh was on to something (of course for the wrong reason, that goes without saying). Here's why:

Population growth is no longer a problem (link to Hans Rosling) in countries like India. India has 2.7 children per woman - and the number is coming down. It is higher than US' 2.05, yes. It is impossible that India's population will double now. The bomb went off long ago when people stopped dying, thanks to modern medicine and better sanitaion. It took some time to adjust to a low birth rate. The same is true for most south Asian countries. Africa, on the other hand, just did not develop. Of course African population will go up this century - it should, because Africans will stop dying because of ill-health.

Since the average American woman adds 2.05 people to this planet, and the average Indian woman adds 2.7, the question is, whose offspring will warm the earth more? With per-capita emissions of CO2 20 times more in the US than in India, it is a no brainer to see that the American woman is 20 times more at fault than the Indian woman.

Alas the best green technology is still the financial derivative, which can destroy economies, start recessions and reduce carbon footprint. Go, Goldman, Go!

Monday, October 19, 2009

A big yes to the yes men

Suppose, back in the 1600s, someone had penetrated into the bastion of orthodoxy that was the church, and accepted (in the name of the Pope) that the solar system was heliocentric, would it have not been a wonderful thing?

One such incident occured today in washington DC, when a very agreeable yes-man posed as a member of America's chamber of commerce, an organization whose anachronistic denial of climate change makes them appear like the modern day flat earth society.

For a few moments, some of the people in DC believed that the powerful chamber of commerce stopped living in denial and had come to accept climate change as a reality. These were just a few minutes. The chamber members finally woke up, but it was fun while it lasted..

Hyderabad's New Flyover

Turns out, Hyderabad is trying to treat the handful of rich people who inhabit it quite well. There's this new 11.6km flyover that they made in the city, which they're banning two wheelers and auto rickshaws from, because some people are more equal than others.

View Larger Map

Basically, the entire region on above map where the road is highlighed (From Mehdipatnam to NH7) is to be a flyover. This flyover, incidentally, is India's largest - proof that India's rich handful are turning their country within a country into a developed oasis.

I find it reprehensible that the government is trying to encourage such elitist behaviour. I am all for building these flyovers (it's good for the economy to transport goods fast and to employ many people while building it), but they MUST allow auto-rickshaws, two wheelers and the like on board.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

I made a discovery today

As implied by the title, I did indeed make a discovery on the internets today. The discovery has something to do with a Swedish professor of Public health, Hans Rosling. Professor Rosling has these incredible presentations on TED. His talks bring statistics to life.

So, it turns out that he has done all the hard work of putting those statistics up on the internets, so that one can bring them to life oneself. His remarkable gapminder website is a wonderful way to kill time and enrich one's understanding of the planet. If one is lazy, one can watch Prof. Rosling himself deliver talks..

I had seen the TED talk by prof. Rosling a few years ago when it first came out. I did not know that the software was up and alive. I stumbled upon an obscure Tyler Cowen post, which linked to gapminder. I've been hooked to it ever since.

Friday, October 16, 2009

On birth rates

This is a wonderful website that I got off Tyler Cowen's Marginal Revolution. There's several possible combinations one can try on the x and y axes.

You can see the population bomb go off in (a) USA (b) India (c) Pakistan (d) China (e) UK in this link. Most fascinating.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

A billion hungry

350M Indians don't know where they will get their next meal from. An America in India does not know if it is going to eat.

This is clearly not acceptable. We really need another Norman Borlaug.

Water Vapor Blues

There's this standard argument that so called 'climate skeptics' like to toss around.

There's so much water vapor in the atmosphere. Since water vapor is a more potent greenhouse gas, surely, the teeny weeny CO2 concentrations (only limited to ppms) can't trap all that radiation! Thus Al-gore is after my bank account.

I'd always assumed that the amount of water vapor was constant, and not growing - therefore it was not to be such a big deal. This is probably incorrect, since an increase in global temperatures will mean more evaporation, and therefore more water vapor at a given point of time. A positive feedback.

However, things, it seems are much more complicated. The atmosphere is so massive that it does not act like a single lumped layer. There's some radiation frequencies that the atmosphere fully absorbs (and starts re-radiating), there's some that go through unscathed.

Apparently, CO2 that's way high up, where no water vapor molecules dare to go. Also CO2 spectral transmittivity differs from that of water vapor. That's why increasing CO2 concentration increasing average global temperatures. This remarkable article from clarifies. I also found this page fun to peruse. Fairly wonkish, I will have to read this in more detail later.

So, I tell you why there's so many skeptics out there. The science is too tough to understand, so people would like to follow their gut. And the gut of the average American conservative is a pretty simple thing. It will follow the mantras of individual responsibility and small government. The American conservative does not think too much of 'ivory tower inhabiting liberal intellectuals'.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

A first post on Music

To readers of the blog, I might come across as someone who is absolutely tuneless. But if one were to consult the wife, the neighbors or even the lab-mates, one would realize that the reality is different. I listen to music almost all the time.

What kind of music am I into?
  • I'm a classic rock fan, who loves Zeppelin, Floyd, Beatles, Dylan, Neil Young and the like.
  • I like my metal heavy. Some tracks by Maiden, Metallica, Priest and Megadeth. The only light metal I like is Lithium by Nirvana.
  • I like western classical music. One of the pieces I really love is Ludwig Van's Ninth. That's why I am hoping that I never fall into the hands of the British government, a-la-Alex from Burgess' 'A clockwork orange'. I like Tchaikovsky and Morzart and Vanessa Mae.
  • I have been listening to a lot of jazz lately, (especially Steely Dan). I also like Prasanna's take on jazz. He's incredible with the guitar - especially when he gets into intricate south Indian raagas.
  • I personally think that I am a philistine of sorts right now, since I do not have ear for south Indian music. One of my goals in life is to develop an understanding of Indian music.
  • One of the genres of music that I have been getting into of late, is essentially inspired by Dad. He's discovered this entire thing called 'alt-country' (sitting in front of his amazon in India). I usually purchase CDs in the US of A, and look for Bakras traveling to India to deposit the same with him. And I must say he's onto something good. The music sounds really good. I've gotten to alt-country all by myself too - liking and disliking songs on Pandora. Bands such as 'Son Volt', 'Band of Horses', 'Fleet Foxes' and 'Slobberbone', the last of which has a remarkable rocker called 'gimme back by dog'.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Eating Meat

My attitudes towards non-vegetarianism are evolving. I shall describe in this post, my current thoughts and ideas.

I no longer hold non vegetarians as barbarians. I no longer see non-vegetarianism as necessarily a bad thing. I no longer reckon that causing pain to animals is evil. Because that's the way of nature; the food chain and the like. The deer in the meadow killed by the lion... you know the standard cliche.

I now have overcome the fear of eating formerly live animals. Confronted with roadkill or free ranging wapeti on a plate, I promise not to wince. I am not philosophically opposed to ingesting a rabbit that I might encounter on a hike. I am not opposed to eating venision in deer season. Since there's no natural predators around, humans will have to fill in the void, to 'thin out the numbers'.

But what I am opposed to is eating cows and goat and chicken and turkeys and the like, unless they've been accidentally killed.

I find the hopelessness of industrial farming deeply unsettling. I feel that lives of sentient, conscious animals spent living in restrictive cages is utterly unacceptable. The ethical carnivore must consume meat which has not been raised industrially. The ethical carnivore must consume meat that has been slain humanely - and eat meat that is in season.

Since these thoughts are just 'works in progress' at this point in time, I urge people not to alter their habits based on what is in this post. Do your own reasearch; I am not trying to preach here.

A world without Nukes

I'm not sure what to make out of this article. This article (appearing in TIME magazine) argues that nuclear weapons are what have kept us safe for the last few decades.

There were 2 world wars in the world without nukes. And the world with nukes has been the most peaceful the planet has ever been. There have been wars, of course, in the last 65 years. But none even close in magnitude to the two horrific world wars. The post war period has been a period of unprecedented prosperity and happiness. Even underdeveloped countries such as India have seen life expectancies shoot up in the post war era.

I think I do agree with the thesis of this article. But I still think America's bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki is among the most shameful moments in human history.

Has global warming stopped?

Our good friend Matt Drudge (a purveyor of cherry picked articles that further his wrong and arrogant view of the world) has been using an obscure story from BBC as evidence that the globe is cooling rather than warming. Of course, a serious analysis proves that Drudge is wrong. Nature also corroborates that the BBC quotes scientists who have zilch credibility.

The globe is warming, still. The idiot who wrote the BBC story, the idiots who are quoted in the story, that idiot Matt Drudge, they all have no idea how to analyze systems that fluctuate. They should all take Statistics 101.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Obama's Nobel: A Joke

Barack Obama is a nice likeable guy. He speaks real well, and speaks with high ideals. He speaks a lot.

While he is yet to implement much of what he says (and some might contend, any of what he says), it seems that five Norwegians who matter have decided to give him the Nobel peace prize.

The credibility of the Nobel peace prize is close to zilich anyway, considering that Kissinger got one in the 70s with blood on his hands. Efforts to retrieve some credibility by giving Nobels to Mohammed Yunus and Al-Gore nothwithstanding, their credibility is a round zilch. [ I support Al-Gore's prize, because he took up an issue which was not getting the needed traction in the western media and made it a talking point.]

President Obama might very well prove to be a decent administrator. He might very well solve the problems Iraq and Afghanistan. He might very well not start a war in his tenure. He holds tremendous promise, because he talks in peace.

But he has not done anything yet. He has not even stopped killing Pakistani citizens using those predator drones (in the name of killing terrorists). And it is for this reason that I feel that the Nobel peace prize should not be given the attention it now gets, in the future. A prize awarded by people who are so distant from reality has no meaning. Norway is a very rich country. The average Norwegian does not face the suffering that the average Pakistani does. Expecting norway to decide who the world's most peaceful man is, is bound to have a bias towards western Liberals - because the Norwegians just don't have the information to make a judgement.

Tell you who deserves the prize? Noam Chomsky. Noam Chomsky has been one of the few voices telling the truth for the last 50 years. He is an intellectual giant, whose love for footnotes is unparalelled in the history of humanity. His arguments (almost always critical of imperialist US foreign policy) are lucid. I have not heard a single cogent non emotional rebuttal of his ideas.

Addendum: This delightful article from Alternet, which contends that Obama's Nobel prize is some sort of futures trading.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

How many Muslims are there in the world?

For all the statistics wonks out there, I have culled the following information from this very informative article in the Hindu.

The current population of Muslims in the world is 1.6B, of which 160M are in India, 202M are in Indonesia and 170M are in Pakistan. India has the third largest Muslim population in the world - though Muslims form only 13% of India's population. 96% of Pakistan is Muslim, BTW.

The world's Shia population is concentrated in Iran, Pak, India and Iraq. They constitute only 13% of all the world's Muslims.


The west is supposed to be the bastion of freedom of speech and expression. But looks like European conservatives value their xenophobia more than their founding principles. This purported ban on the Burqa in Berlusconi's Italy is shameful.

If the Italian people are on board with this arbitrary and racist policy (like the French are), then the question is, do they really believe in the freedom of expression? If a woman wants to wear a Burqa, who are they to stop her?

Thankfully, I am an Indian who right now lives in the USA. Both countries would never ban the Burqa. Not that I would ever like to see anyone wear the Burqa; I feel forcing women to wear the Burqa is barbaric. So is forcing them to not wear it.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Borlaug Memorial

A&M will host a Normal Borlaug memorial today at 11am, which can be streamed off

Among speakers today will be Dr. MS Swaminathan, ( a living legend in India) who recognized the potential of the Mexican Dwarf varieties which Dr. Borlaug had worked on. Dr. Swaminathan's contribution to the green revolution are nothing short of extraordinary. It might well be worth hearing them speak on the live stream if not go to the real thing.

I will be tuning in because I do not have the time to make it to the actual memorial.
This article in Rediff where Dr. MS Swaminathan reminisces about Prof. Borlaug. Quite touching.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Climate Change: Retreating Himalayan Glaciers

This article in CNN in quite scary. It is not beyond the realms of possibility that himalayan glaciers retreat because climate change. This will have severe repurcussions for more than half of humanity (India, B'desh, China, Burma, Mayanmar, Pakistan, Nepal...).

Fears of conflict between china, internal conflicts within India and China..

Have we passed the point of no return? Will a successful carbon trading market reduce the probability of this happening?
The floods in AP are awful. With areas (which were under a severe drought until a few days ago) getting 50cm of rain in a day, the place just flooded like crazy. And with all dams having to discharge water at the same point in time, lots of villages were submerged in a watery grave.

How much of this flooding was caused by excessive damming of these river systems? Had large dams not been built to stem the flow of the river, would these floods still have occured? Or is it just impossible to budget for 50cm of rain on a given day? Cities in the developed workd (US, for instance) suffer immensely when they get 10 inches (25cm) of rain. 50 cm is much higher..
Everybody's favourite prizes, the Ignobels have been awarded this year. Icelandic bank CEOs figure quite prominently on this list - as people who have showed man's ability to toy around with massive economies. And the Zimbabwean reserve bank got the mathematics prize for printing 1 cent denominations and well as one trillion dollar notes. Not to mention one smart gentleman who developed a bra which can be used as two gas masks, should the situation ever call for it.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

An interesting restaurant

I probably would not love to go here, since I am a vegetarian with a revulsion for cauliflowers, broccolis, artichokes and the like. An interesting idea, nevertheless.
The credibility of the NYTimes, when it comes to international affairs, is a round zilch, in my opinion. They are specialists at toeing the official US line. Their recent condescending editorial about India's carbon emissions was so far from reality, that it pretty much confirmed all of my suspicions about them.

But this article, even by their horrendously low standards, signifies a new low. Apparently, Iran has the data to make a bomb. The bomb technology is 60 years old - making one is not a big deal. Did some student take a textbook in quantum mechanics to Iran? Is that what they mean? Did someone derive E=mc^2.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Monsoon blues

The IMD says India has had a 23% deficient monsoon, which is a fairly stark number. Apparently, the last time this happened was in 1972, so yes, there seems to be cause to worry.

But they're talking as if the monsoon is over. (Their cutoff date for the end of the monsoon was Wednesday this week). The monsoon had a late onset this year - more than a couple of weeks late. It might very well withdraw a couple of weeks late. Indications of a late withdrawal have been confirmed in the same article. Perhaps this will improve the statistics of the monsoon? Make it around 15% deficient rather than 23%?

So, it makes for strange reading that the rain deficient state of AP is suffering from "torrential downpours". I hope the IMD recalibrates its start and end dates of the monsoon to account for a late withdrawal before declaring a rainfall deficit.

Of course, another question still lurks. Now that the schedule of the farmers (sowing and reaping) has been offset a bit, will this have any effect on the crop yields?
Today's is Gandhi's birthday. Happy birthday, Gandhi. Your life is proof that resorting to violence is not necessary to solve complex problems. If enough people do follow your methods, the world will become much better place.

Gandhi's legacy unites India and lets it reap the benefits of the economies of scale of being a large, relatively stable nation. Gandhi is an inspiration to all communities, sub-communities in India.

Here' s to the hope that India continues down the path of progress this century - with the primary emphasis on the poorest of the poor. That was Gandhi's message - and is universally accepted by smart economists as the number one priority in the developing world.


Thursday, October 01, 2009

Terror in 2009 Until Now

How big a problem is terrorism in India? Where are all the deaths from terror in India right now?

2009 has been quite peaceful in India until now. There have been only 14 deaths, and all of them are in the east. Assam and West Bengal, probably not because of those LeT militants, but because of another variety of militants, the ULFA.

Pakistan on the other hand, is not so lucky (221, and this does not include the deaths of innocents caused by American drones, because if the American kills, what the victims experience is not terror, but a form of salvation.). So perhaps it is time we treat Pakistanis as victims of terror rather than sponsors of terror.

I note with some relief that jingoism cannot work in India as a political ploy right now as most of the voting Indians are way too preoccupied to keep earning to feed their families.

So, of course, I think the authorities down under are delusional if they think that sending their team to India would be unsafe. India conducted the world's largest elections ever peacefully earlier this year. You think terrorists would target cricket matches when they had the entire electoral exercise?