Atanu Dey On India's Development

August 2, 2015
by Atanu Dey
2 Comments

The Internet Archive Wayback Machine

One of the best ways to “capture a web page as it appears now for use as a trusted citation in the future” is the Internet Archive Wayback machine. It’s an awesome handy tool. You’ll be glad you know how to use it.

Publications sometimes change their minds and “unpublish” pieces. It is often under government pressure and sometimes under public pressure from special interest groups. When a publication retracts an article or an opinion piece, it is usually because the management (editors and owners) realize that they have published something that on second thoughts they should not have — the equivalent of “oops, did I say that aloud?” The way to do a hurried retraction is to delete the piece from the website. This happens quite frequently in the twitter world. But the incriminating evidence remains if some people do a screen-capture of the relevant tweet.
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July 30, 2015
by Atanu Dey
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Guru Purnima

Of all the Sanskrit sholkas I know, the Guru Mantra resonates most with me. It says —

ॐ Guru Brahma, Guru Vishnu
Guru Devo Maheshwara
Guru Shakshat Parabrahma
Tasmai Shri Guruvey Namaha ॐ

Here it is in Devanagari:

guru-brahma

And my interpretation of the mantra follows.
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July 28, 2015
by Atanu Dey
1 Comment

The Passing of Former President Mr APJ Abdul Kalam

MWSnap0442Former President of India, Mr APJ Abdul Kalam, passed away on 27th July, 2015. He was 83 years old. It is indeed a sad day for India and the millions of Indians who hold him in high regard and genuine affection. He is celebrated for his many professional accomplishments and admired for his character, his sincere dedication to improving India his beloved motherland. He perhaps deserved to be the head of state — a position he held from July 2002 through July 2007 — more than many others who have held or will hold that position. May his soul rest in peace.
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July 24, 2015
by Atanu Dey
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The Only Home We’ve Ever Known

Deep Space Climate Observatory satellite took this picture of earth from 1 million miles away on July 6th.

earth-million-miles-1500-2

(Right click on image above and “Open image in new tab” to see full version.)
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That picture is a lot closer than the photograph of planet Earth taken on February 14, 1990, by the Voyager 1 space probe from a record distance of about 6 billion kilometers (3.7 billion miles, 40.5 AU).
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July 22, 2015
by Atanu Dey
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Constitutions Matter in our Daily Lives

Regular readers of this blog know of my interest in constitutions and how they affect the prosperity, or lack thereof, of nations. A recent conversation with a friend prompted this line of thinking about constitutions and how they matter in our everyday life even though it may appear that constitutions are rather remote and cannot possibly be relevant in our lives.
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July 19, 2015
by Atanu Dey
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We need more Anandamide, not Jihadamide

Ganja, or as it is known in the West, Marijuana is a miracle weed. Hemp is another name. The wiki notes, “Hemp is a commonly used term for high-growing varieties of the Cannabis plant and its products, which include fiber, oil, and seed. Hemp is refined into products such as hemp seed foods, hemp oil, wax, resin, rope, cloth, pulp, paper, and fuel. Other variants of the herb Cannabis are widely used as a drug, commonly known as marijuana. These variants are typically low-growing and have higher content of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), cannabidiol (CBD), and other cannabinoids.”

I came across this National Geographic feature piece on the plant. Interesting tidbit —
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July 17, 2015
by Atanu Dey
18 Comments

Circular Firing Squad of Flying Attack Monkeys Target Rajiv Malhotra

An old legal aphorism advises young lawyers that “If you have the facts on your side, pound the facts. If you have the law on your side, pound the law. If you have neither on your side, pound the table.” When you see someone furiously pounding the table, you’d be justified in thinking that he has taken that advice too seriously, and conclude that neither the facts nor the law are on his side.

The fact is that in any battle — of wits or muscle, figurative or real, defensive or offensive — one leads with the best device at one’s disposal. In desperate situations, clutching at straws may be the best one can do when one is in over one’s head and lifeboats are missing. That cliched image comes to mind seeing the recent charges of plagiarism against Shri Rajiv Malhotra.
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July 16, 2015
by Atanu Dey
1 Comment

The Dreamer and the Dream

“I am not what happened to me, I am what I choose to become.” That’s Carl Jung (1875 – 1961). Wiki says, he “was a Swiss psychiatrist and psychotherapist who founded analytical psychology. His work has been influential not only in psychiatry but also in philosophy, anthropology, archaeology, literature, and religious studies. . . . Jung created some of the best known psychological concepts, including the archetype, the collective unconscious, the complex, and extraversion and introversion.”

A few quotes follow.
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July 12, 2015
by Atanu Dey
11 Comments

Open Thread: Ask me anything

h l mencken_1Long time since we had an open thread. This is an “Ask me anything” post. What’s on your mind?

Apropos nothing, let’s read Mencken. Mencken was insightful. For instance, he noted the “basic delusion that men may be governed and yet be free.”
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July 9, 2015
by Atanu Dey
11 Comments

Socialism, Competition and Politicians

This piece is a brief response to a twitter exchange I had last month.

In his tweet, Mr @falleneconomist questions my assertion that socialism impoverishes countries. He implies that my claim cannot be correct and lists two facts (no doubt limited to only two because of the 140-character twitter limit) to support his contrary position: first, that China is doing well despite it being a socialist country; and second, “most politicians in capitalist USA are fabulously rich.”

It’s true that China is a socialist country. It has been socialist/communist ever since Mao Zedong established the People’s Republic of China in Oct 1949. His Communist Party of China (CPC) undertook “The Great Leap Forward” between 1958 and 1961 to transform China’s agrarian economy into an industrialized one through collectivization. The result was the horror of mass starvation that is known as “The Great Famine.” Chinese government statistics put excess death during that period at 15 million but independent observers estimate the death toll to be between 20 and 43 million.
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July 4, 2015
by Atanu Dey
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Swami Vivekanand: To the 4th of July

My friend Kanchan Banerjee shared this poem by Swami Vivekanand. Kanchan wrote, “In 1898 Swami Vivekananda went to Kashmir, where he stayed on a houseboat on Dal Lake. While travelling in Kashmir with some American and English disciples, Swamiji wrote this poem on 4 July 1898, as a part of a celebration of the anniversary of the United States’ independence and asked it be read aloud during that day’s breakfast.”
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July 4, 2015
by Atanu Dey
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No True Islamic State

I listen to public radio quite regularly for some excellent programs such as Fresh Air, This American Life from WBEZ Chicago, the Commonwealth Club of California, and many many more. I love public radio but as I am not a news junkie, I avoid news programs. However, at the top of the hour, many programs throw in a 4-minute long news update from NPR (National Public Radio produced in Washington DC), or the BBC in some cases. What I have noticed in these news bits is the mealy-mouthed equivocation when it comes to referring to the Islamic State (IS), also known as ISIS, and ISIL. In the news, they never call it “the Islamic State” but qualify it as “the self-proclaimed Islamic state.” Why they indulge in this silly idiocy is revealing.
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July 3, 2015
by Atanu Dey
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PJ O’Rourke: Every government is a parliament of whores

From PJ O’Rourke’s Parliament of Whores:

“Authority has always attracted the lowest elements in the human race. All through history, mankind has been bullied by scum. Those who lord it over their fellows and toss commands in every direction and would boss the grass in the meadow about which way to bend in the wind are the most depraved kind of prostitutes. They will submit to any indignity, perform any vile act, do anything to achieve power. The worst off-sloughings of the planet are the ingredients of sovereignty. Every government is a parliament of whores. The trouble is, in a democracy the whores are us.”

And a bonus quote:

“No drug, not even alcohol, causes the fundamental ills of society. If we’re looking for the source of our troubles, we shouldn’t test people for drugs, we should test them for stupidity, ignorance, greed and love of power.”

I believe that most of those in government today — everywhere, not just in third world countries — would test positive for stupidity, ignorance, greed and love of power.

Happy 4th of July.

June 30, 2015
by Atanu Dey
0 comments

Herbert Simon — Information consumes attention

Herbert Simon (1971) “Designing Organizations for an Information-Rich World”

In an information-rich world, the wealth of information means a dearth of something else: a scarcity of whatever it is that information consumes. What information consumes is rather obvious: it consumes the attention of its recipients. Hence a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention and a need to allocate that attention efficiently among the overabundance of information sources that might consume it.

June 25, 2015
by Atanu Dey
4 Comments

The Amazing Power of Technology

Pondering technology is one of my favorite pastimes. As an economist, I have a professional interest in it. Technology transforms and directly impacts the economy at all levels — from the individual to the global economy. As a user of technology, I am delighted that it gives me enhanced access to the world. I hope to convey some of the thrill I feel about technology in this piece.
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June 8, 2015
by Atanu Dey
16 Comments

Yoga has no Religion

My immediate response to the assertion that “Yoga has no religion” is a flat denial. Because I know Yoga, Yoga is a friend of mine and I can truthfully attest to the fact that Yoga does indeed have a religion. He’s a Hindu. Therefore anyone making the claim that Yoga has no religion is either ignorant or is a liar (maybe both) since it is categorically and emphatically false. Do I make myself clear?

Oh, they mean the practice of yoga, the set of physical and mental exercises that originated in India and is widely used across the world for improving physical and spiritual well-being? Well, well, then let me address that “Yoga has no religion” claim. Spoiler alert: it is a stupid, meaningless statement made by the congenitally ignorant demonstrating a mentally disabling but well-deserved inferiority complex.
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May 28, 2015
by Atanu Dey
5 Comments

Hayek on “The Mirage of Social Justice”

Such is the current state of public debate and understanding that anyone who is against or even questions the presumed desirability of what is known as “social justice” is axiomatically equated with being a monster lacking basic human morality and compassion. Friedrich Hayek (1899 – 1992), one may say, was one such monster. He began by trying to make as good a case in support of the ideal of ‘social justice’ as he could but realized that the concept was meaningless. “I have now become convinced, however, that the people who habitually employ the phrase simply do not know themselves what they mean by it and just use it as an assertion that a claim is justified without giving a reason for it.” That’s from his book The Mirage of Social Justice, the second volume of his magnum opus Law, Legislation and Liberty (1973). Here’s an extended quote from it.
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