u Notes from the Underground: July 2006

Highbrow timepass

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Reviews of books on everything from Cellular Automata to "Market Socialism" to Cognitive Science - by Cosma Shalizi, an Assistant Professor of statistics in CMU and an "egalitarian liberal". Erudite and snarky.

The subtler point about EU subsidies

Thursday, July 27, 2006

If anyone ever mentions the EU Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), its almost always to rant about how the massive subsidies given to European (and US) farmers hurts the exports of poor African farmers. Daniel Davies argues otherwise in The Guardian's blog Comment is Free , saying that the subsidised commodities (sugar, grains etc.) wouldn't have been produced more efficiently by Africans anyway and that these subsidies make food cheaper for the global poor. There's a caveat: cotton subsidies *are* evil, because poor countries like Mali and Ghana *do* have a comparative advantage in cotton production but are unable to capitalise on it because of these subsidies. [Another caveat from me: the said subsidies are good for the African poor, *not* for resident Europeans.]

(Thanks to Crooked Timber, which I am finding more and more interesting.
Update: Daniel Davies also has an interesting post about a paper from the "Maharishi University" that talks about the effects of Rishis meditating on peace in the Middle East.)


Wednesday, July 26, 2006

I have finally removed the verbose and confused sidebar profile I had upto now. I have also decided to put images of the books I am reading - to add some color to the blog. I spent more than two hours yesterday trying to get this right - my idea was to put those Amazon links where hovering the mouse on the link will produce a nifty little intra-window popup which has an image of the book and its price details etc. (If it is not clear what I am talking about, check out this page.) I am still not sure if the links on my page will behave that way. (Apparently Amazon is conducting this controlled experiment and half the visitors to my page will see the nifty little pop up and the rest half won't. Braindead buggers.) BTW, if you see those popups let me know.

Personal trivia: I've quit my previous job and in a month's time I'm leaving India to do my PhD here.

[Did that kind of linking irritate you? Did it, dit it? Huh? It irritates the hell out of me. Always Name What You Are Linking To. (Search for "4. Links".)]