Wednesday 28 August 2013

Vivian Fernandes on the Food Security Bill

Should the Govt. feed those of its citizens who might otherwise starve? Yes. Absolutely. No question about it.
Should the Govt., as a matter of long term policy, feed people who themselves grow food? No. People who grow food but don't grow enough to feed themselves oughtn't to be in Agriculture. They need to find something else to do. The Government is welcome to feed them while they retrain or relocate. What it shouldn't do is subsidize what is no longer even subsistence farming.
Vivian Fernandes has an excellent article on this topic here.

Monday 26 August 2013

My green saree.

While his wife lived, neither would leave the village. When she died and the land was sold, he moved in with his eldest son- a Doctor in West Delhi. His health improved. He began going out by himself. He became accustomed to riding the Metro. But he had become secretive and miserly.

We didn't speak much on the taxi ride back to his house. My fear was, this old man, who had fainted in the saree shop, was somehow disreputable. Every month he came and bought a green saree- each time a different shade of green. The young Bihari Seth, who owned the shop, had whispered to me this salacious detail.
'Okay,' I  thought to myself,  'So the old man has a mistress. Still, he is South Indian  and virtually my father's age. I'd better see him home even if the daughter-in-law mistakes me for some species of pimp or middle aged roue and gives me an earful.'

Nothing of the sort happened. The grandson of the house opened the door. He was preparing for his IIT entrance. A pahadi servant helped me get the old man up to his room. I sat down with him for a while. We had already established that though he could understand my language, I couldn't understand his. He didn't seem to care. I suppose he spoke some Kannadiga dialect. I think the family belonged to the Gowda caste.

The servant brought nimbu panee. He asked me if I wanted 'peg'. Perhaps the old man's son was a retired Army doctor now in private practice. I felt more at home, sociologically speaking. I graciously accepted the effusion of some Gin in the lime juice and turned to the old man in friendlier fashion.
These were hospitable people. Clearly rescuing the grand-father entitled me to a re-fill. Before leaving, I attempted a roguish reference to the old man's love life. As per village protocol, the old man responded valiantly- I couldn't make out what he was saying but simulated shock and awe at his filthy revelations.

Then, with shaking hands, he went and unlocked the rusty old steel almirah. It was half filled with silk sarees- different shades of green imperceptibly ripening to bridal gold. The old man slowly took his latest and palest purchase out of its package. He started to hang it up but his strength failed. I helped him back to his bed. For a few moments he looked at the sarees in the almirah. He said something to me. He wanted me to look at them as well. My eyes teared up. I took off my glasses. There in the almirah was the green ghost of a woman. His woman. I didn't hear the servant upon the stair. He did. He gestured to me to quickly lock up the almirah and return him the key. I wasn't quite quick enough. The servant saw that I had locked the almirah. Had I also stolen something from it?
I had to go. I was running late already.
But, having been alerted by the servant to what had happened, the family couldn't let me leave. I guessed they wanted to know what was in the almirah.
First, the daughter-in-law spoke to me- a decent enough woman, probably from an Army family- it was she who mentioned the old man's secretiveness. I smiled blandly and she departed defeated but without any real rancor.
Then, more shyly, or slyly- I couldn't make out which- I was spoken to by the old man's son. I didn't like him. Though superficially amiable, I could see he'd make a nasty drunk. He must have been in his late fifties but he treated me as a coeval, which I didn't find at all flattering. There was a sort of whine to his voice which reached a crescendo when he accused his old father of having become miserly.
'You're a Doctor,' I said bluntly, 'Certificate is not difficult to get. He's an old man. No one knows him here in Delhi. Anyway, especially if there is land involved, why risk?'
'No,' he said quickly, 'nothing like that. Land was sold and he divided the money himself not retaining a share. We provide lodgings and my younger brother in America sends money every month.'
I was satisfied.  Still, having drunk too much gin, I had to persist in my persona as a crude and shrewd sort of fellow.
To put his mind at rest without revealing the old man's secret, I began uttering sentimental banalities- women are resilient like water- but without wife what is life?- Old widowers live on the memories of their brides.'
'Hated her.' the son said, draining his glass.'We all did. Greedy grasping bitch. It was she who managed the land. It was the only thing she loved. By God, we were glad to sell.'

So I had been wrong.
There was no ghost in the almirah because there had never been love.
That collection of sarees- each a different shade of green- what was it?
Of course.
In all the Dravidian languages, it is the rice crop ripening.
I have wasted my life.

Friday 23 August 2013

Gowdamma Iyer- Greatest Tam Bram ever?

I met my father's paternal aunt- Smt. Gowdamma Iyer- in the winter of 1968. She told me the story of Bhima and Hanuman. I requested her to repeat the story to me but placing more emphasis on the role played by Tarzan, Lord of the Jungle. Sadly, it was never to be. On the excuse of going to Matunga to buy katrika, she escaped my vigilance and went gallivanting off to become the first female Prime Minister of Israel.
I salute you, Godwdamma Iyer, you are the greatest Tam Bram ever.
Well, you would be if you could kindly stop bombing Lebanon and just fucking kill Subramaniyam Swamy already.
There's a cunt makes us all look bad.

Wednesday 21 August 2013

Borges, Babel and Translation's broken mirror.

 If not of books, then bricks, Babel had once a Tower, bridging Image and pre-image- Heaven and its Earthly double. But, even in that blissful Arcadia, by baleful Translators untroubled, there arose, from Eros' playful confabulations, the invidious Eris of distinguishing the literary from the literal. 

Thenceforth, howsoever fancifully the spume of Language had spun, it but fed as it fled the turbid supervenience of Translation's two way mirror-  a portal of mutual invasion, enslavement and annihilation- such that, through all Time though its tower topple, bricks yet embower books and no bookshelf, however humble or aleatorily arranged, is not the incendiary speculum of Hermetic Alexandria's bibliothetic holocaust; because, though Allah only ordained Alexander's invention of the mirror so it unfold to him, as upon Christ's Lenten lectern, the one kingdom he could never conquer, yet that Book of Sand, bitterly yearning to be read, has ever been before hand in turning books to bricks such that in each is bricked up the enkindled kiln of all its kin's auto da fe. 

For which, of course, blame should be properly affixed on Narendra Modi- vide this letter of mine to the editor of an Indian literary E-zine.
Dear Editor
Receiving an email notification of the latest issue of Phalanx, I eagerly clicked on the link described thus-
 Literary and Literal Translation: The Library of Babel by Jorge Luis Borges: Two different translations, one idiomatic and one literal, of the same story by the great Argentinian author show facets of the story that every critic and translator dealing with Borges appears to have missed.

Intrigued, I read the essay.
It began promisingly enough-
The everywhere present mirrors of the Library of Babel faithfully duplicate appearances: from which circumstance its clerkly men are wont to infer that the Library is not infinite. The narrating librarian seems to demur. Yo prefiero soñar, he records, que las superficies bruñidas figuran y prometen el infinito: literally: I myself prefer to dream that their burnished surfaces figure and promise the infinite
but lapsed thereafter into outright imbecility, commencing with this pearl of wisdom-
A man will prefer one or other between feasible choices; usually at least; and one cannot choose what to dream
WTF?. No man has a preference between the vast majority of feasible choices because no man has a complete information set. On the other hand, every man chooses everything he cares to day-dream about. As for what one dreams in the night, an aficionado of Borges will know of several esoteric oneirological practices and theories which suggest that not only can one choose what to dream (a notion confirmed by Scientific research) but that those dreams can shape reality or actually create it ex nihilo.
Indeed, 'the contamination of Reality by the dream' is a central trope for Borges.
The author, blissfully unaware of any such fact, merrily continues-
But a persevering man may, nonetheless, continue to prefer what he cannot proceed to choose: he may keep wanting what he cannot have. 
From protozoa to Pope, all beings want what they can't have. It is the condition of life. Nothing to do with 'persevering'.
To prefer does not presuppose being able to actually choose then; not strictly considered; and we may rescue 'prefer to dream‟ from mere solecism thus. 
How stupid is the author? What is his major malfunction? Has anybody ever suggested that every living being's preference to enjoy health rather than suffer disease or death PRESUPPOSES the ability to actually choose not to die and instead enjoy felicity? Not even an extreme Existentialism or relationist Occasionalism would qualify its notion of conatus in this way. Why is the author using pompous, learned sounding, language to say something so foolish and utterly without foundation in the philosophical or hermeneutic traditions relevant to Borges's essay?
The author concludes this truly asinine or Unamuno type sample of Saloon bar casuistry with a rhetorical flourish worthy of H.Bustos Domecq- But the effort seems wasted, for the locution remains strange even so: to dream that mirrors figure and promise the infinite would not be to dream mirrors whose surfaces do so figure and promise. So the promiscuously literary version which accompanies the literal transcription here renders the sentence thus: I wish always to dream their burnished faces: which prefigure and promise infinity.
This is rubbish. Cats don't turn into Kapil Sabil. But I can will myself to dream they do. Also a dream cat can turn into Kapil Sabil- indeed, that's exactly what happened the other day when I'd dozed off with NDTV on and the neighbor's cat jumped through the window and came and made itself comfy on my tummy.
Borges's librarian has said something simple- 'there are mirrors in the library. Mirrors make a place look bigger than it is. That's why some people say 'the library must be smaller than it appears'. If the library is infinite, why put in mirrors?'  I don't accept this. I like to day-dream that the superficies (Borges has chosen a word with a highly suggestive mathematical associations) of these mirrors have a certain sort of relationship to infinity. What sort? Well, the librarian's 'burnished superficies' suggests something like Cohen 'forcing'- i.e. expanding the Universe so as to do things that would otherwise violate the continuum hypothesis.

Of course, that is just one possible reading.  Depending on one's depth of Mathematical knowledge or direction of professional specialization, the same poetic phrase or sphota can have different 'models' - i.e. demonstrate the coherence of different axiom systems.

Borges knew Cantor's work on degrees of Infinity. He had some hazy idea (he wasn't a Math maven anymore than I am) about developments in the 30's- Constructivists, Logical Positivists and so on. Further, as Floyd Merrel pointed out in his path-breaking book some twenty years ago, Borges knew Kastner & Newman's classic 'Mathematics and the Imagination'. In any case, Borges was au fait with the Husserl vs Heidegger contretemps- and had the sense to despise Heidegger.

This being the case, In interpreting or translating or commenting on Borges why not extend to him the benefit of the doubt? He may not have been a Godel or Heytig or Kripke. But students of Godel and Brouwer and Cohen and Kripke find much to chew over in Borges. Why heartlessly abandon him to Gallic gobshites, J.N.U jhollawallahs, or Foucault spouting M.F.A types?

Okay, full disclosure, I'm a rank philistine- an Economist by training but not a real smart one- I have to get my own miserable scribbling checked for mistakes by Math guys. Still, purely subjectively, the word 'superficies' with its legal, mathematical, and philosophical associations seems to me to be a rich one and worth highlighting.
My guess is that a mathematically literal, though utterly un-literary, translation which remains faithful to the word Borges has so felicitously used, might read  'the surface of the mirror promises us something like the projective plane of the Reimann sphere whose parallel lines intersect at the vanishing point of the visual cortex- and whose further quality of being burnished suggests that something can occur- like 'forcing'- such that it itself prefigures -or. constructively performs- a sort of Cantor diagonalization.' 

Precisely because Borges writes poetically, both naive reception and metanoiac correction have the quality of immediacy and get me to some concrete open question in Math- i.e. though Borges isn't a Math guy, he has chosen his words so carefully, or has been guided by such native Genius, that a line from him gets us to an open problem whereas many Math mavens from fifty years ago, in their prose, seldom hit on open questions instead of arguing the toss on questions already know to be closed.

It may be that everything that exists is computationally equivalent to an open question, but most things which pop into our heads under the spell of a poetic phrase aren't yet questions at all- they are Indra's winged mountains not yet captured as convenient saliencies by underlying co-ordination problems. For instance, since I'm interested in the influence of Ibn Arabi's concept of barzakh, mediated by Asin Palacios and his commentators, on Borges, the word 'burnished superficies' suggests to me some still hazy notion of 'negative complexity' as linking to apophatic theology such that Blake's leaping tiger tears through its own reflection to fulminate all but the frame of its own immortal symmetry.

Robert Frost's dictum- 'Poetry is what is lost in Translation', though massively confirmed by the cunt-queefery of the last fifty years of American Academic output- yet must be false because poems are but the brick-dust of Babel and so, provided Translation is a Knight's tour through all Language, it's terminus must be apocatastatic. Clearly, I'm assuming something like Liebniz's 'law of continuity' - 'in any supposed continuous transition, ending in any terminus, it is permissible to institute a general reasoning, in which the final terminus may also be included whereby what is true of the finite is true of the infinite'- which begs the question rather. After all, precisely because a poem, or at least every poetic phrase in a poem, is an infinitesimal increment for a given Language's 'poetic', it follows that the Translator first needs to empty out the target language of its native 'poetic' to make space for the Source language's 'poetic'. Following the American Academic path, or just being a cloth eared dolt, is certainly highly efficacious for stripping out what is poetic in your own language. What that can't do is repeat the process for the Source language to recover the infinitesimal increment represented by what is to be translated. Indeed, put this way, the project sounds impossible. Even if you can dissolve everything apart from some tiny atom in one thing; even if you can seize that tiny atom and translate it to exactly the right point in the midst of something else; how can you accomplish this when you have already dissolved the latter in your own mind?

More importantly, even supposing all this could be done, what would be the point? Infinitesimals scarcely exist. Translation can't change anything. Liebniz was wrong. Univocity can at best be National or Racial. Not poetry, what it is possible to have is the slogan; that great unanimous shout, Canetti tells us, of the conjoined horde of the living and the dead.

Yet we know that a Language's literary 'poetic' is almost entirely translation driven and that fact changes much, if not almost entirely all, of what the literary poetic can change.

The truth is, the two way stripping I've described, which sounds a bit like the way you construct a Cantor ternary set, is something we all do all the time. There's a huge amount of Cantor dust floating about. The good news is that it always adds up to the same thing we started with. Univocity of this sort- and Borges was more troubled by this then anybody else- can be both many and the same. The infinitesimals of standard analysis, which always sum to nothing, are resurrected as the hyper-reals of non-standard analysis and can do all the cool things real numbers do. Borges's librarian is vindicated by a Mathematics which permits the enrichment of reality such that Infinity's existence pushes none to oblivion.

Indeed, a straightforward reading of Borges's new refutation of Time cashes out as - if one guy perceives the same thing twice- like stumbling twice on the same clearing while trying to hack your way out of the woods- or if two people perceive the same thing at different times- like if you share a cab with a fellow tourist in a strange city and you go 'whoa dude! I just saw Vivek Iyer drunkenly sodomizing the equestrian statue of the Great Liberator!' ' and the other guy goes 'What? I saw that twenty minutes ago. This fucking cab driver must be taking us round in circles to bump up the fare!'- what is empirically refuted is both Newtonian Time and Kantian Time because, clearly, Time has lost its sovereign succession and legitimacy as Psychopomp.

But that's good news because it proves that with respect to any given School trip, if we are non uniquely perceived as sodomizing equestrian statues rather than having, quite pardonably and that too in a moment of inebriation, mistaken a humongous and marble horse's ass for yo momma's face, then not only is Time refuted but the category of causality has no necessary order. Thus our personal univocity with the Infinite is re-established since, not us, only Time gets wasted and thus what we witness as its walking in circles is to Eternity its linear but equally unavailing approach.

But, it seems, I too have strayed off topic.
Getting back to my Email to that editor, this is how I conclude-

The author of this essay appears to have zero knowledge about the Philosophy of Infinity- surely a prerequisite for the task. What great point is he making? If the translator is stupid, ignorant and out of his depth, then there is no difference between a literal and a literary translation because both are shit.
The author writes-
The literary version will seem wantonly false to the original; and only in the sudden if modest assertion of his last and valedictory sentence does the plausible commentator there show himself kin, at all, to his fictive model. 
Why wantonly false? After which Strange God has the literary version gone whoring? Why this baroque self-regarding punctilio in the context of an exhibition of naked illiteracy?
But just so must I seek excuse: I must hope that the pronounced difference here, between locution literally transcribed and its egregiously literary glossing, will somehow disclose, between them, the strange presence that the speaking voice becomes in the original.
Stupidity is its own excuse and not one far to seek. There is no pronounced difference between the stupid illiterate shite spouted by this author under either rubric. He can't write decent English. How is he going to write literary English? He doesn't understand the first thing about the subject matter- how is he going to give us a faithful literal translation?
As for 'the strange presence that the speaking voice becomes' in the echoing chamber of the gap between the literary and the literal- how strange can that presence be? We are talking about an elderly librarian not fucking Pierre Riviere.
What is uncanny, for Borges, is not what is monstrous or grotesque, nor what is predestined or preternatural, rather it is the baffling fact- which, like Death, no one does not know or care to know- that the secret sealed, by the secret symmetry of all things, is a secret so banal that if, by Banach-Tarski, Unviocity's double is real, it is also double, and thus mimetic rivalry constitutes Satrean seriality not Girardian sacrifice. The Rabbi isn't fulminated by his uncanny Golem, nor the uncanny Golem by the all too common Goyim, though, in a Divine sense, they are all but doppelgangers.

Okay, no doubt, the Golem is a 'P-zombie'- but so what? Only wankers still get worked up about P-Zombies. On the other hand, questions like P=NP are of abiding interest in this context because the Golem and the Rabbi are complexity-wise highly distinguishable to us but not so to God who isn't computationally constrained.

But, surely, for Borges's librarian, all that matters is that his autobiography (which is what he gives us) though, no doubt, already contained in the Library as a 'Vindication' equally applicable to an infinity of men, yet be constructively unique to him as auteur? So what if for le Rêveur- Grothedieck's dream giving God- all operation is unary? It is at least binary for us and as that arity goes to infinity- by reason of our indiscernible, save by spatio-temporal location, difference from others equally subject to that operation- our self-wrought haecceity, or Kolmogorov complexity equally increases precisely because only mortals live in Space-time and that's where we've got God beat.

One consequence of having this justified true belief in our own irreducible complexity is that it permits us to have a rational preference without a corresponding feasible choice such that the Universe- that is the intersubjective information set- is shown to be incomplete. This is the only sort of ontological dysphoria which doesn't cash out as merely an adolescent or romantic sehnsucht which, by the contagion of the World's slow stain, inevitably turns into a corrupt aldermanic, or crackpot revolutionary, schwarmerei

I think Co-evolution- which even Babel can't wholly forbid its books and but breeders- even for Borges or bibliolatry, is always ontologically dysphoric in the good sense- after all, librarians do scribble their dessins d' enfants on the margins of the books they curate, thus practicing a Grothendieck Yoga, and, so long as they don't lift their pencil from the doodle, at every moment they overturn arithmetical invariants as they continue to sketch: thus- for it is an open question as to whether dessins can be distinguished by combinatorial or topological invariants- restoring haecceity to that samadhi which sublates Pascal's atrocious sphere and defeats the atomistic determinism of the Polis by raising up the barricades of that barzakh  which Zeno did not know-  which is interesting because, now for a purely Secular, albeit specular reason (because it is the mirror in our library which is doing all the heavy lifting) we are released from the Humanist duty to be at home in this twilight world maintained by our do-good-nik Golems or spectral Social Welfare Functionaries.

So yah booh, sucks to you Roberto Unger!.

I can always re-read Borges to spark valuable literary insights, like the one presented in that last and lapidary line, and, sure, looking at Borges's Spanish text can help me see something new. In this case 'superficies brunidas' served that purpose. But only because I've taken the trouble, over the last 30 years, to read a little of the philosophy of Math which contributed to shaping and inspiring Borges.

The guy who wrote this has not taken any similar pains.
That's why this essay is a waste of time.
Why, dear Editor, did you publish this?
Who wrote it?
Was it you?
If so, I apologize for any hurt feelings this post may cause you.
Still, do commit suicide to protest something or the other. Blame will properly be affixed on Narendra Modi
Mind it kindly.

Note- in an earlier version of this post I inadvertently suggested that Borges's native country suffered from high levels of machismo fueled domestic violence.
I apologize.
Argentina is in no way related to Tina Turner.
Who knew?

Tuesday 20 August 2013

Barbarik & Backward Induction

Barbarik, son of Ghatotkacha, has 3 arrows which return to his quiver after completing their task. The first picks out and marks all the things he wants to destroy. The second picks out and marks all the things he wants to save and the third destroys everything marked by the first while sparing those picked out by the second.
Barbarik travels to Kurukshetra with the determination to join the weaker side. However, Krishna stops him and persuades him to offer his own head as a sacrifice to sanctify the battle ground.
Why does Barbarik agree to part with his own head? In ancient times it was the practice to offer 'dakshina' as a fee to the Guru who reveals a great truth.
What was this truth?
The argument Krishna uses with Barbarik is similar to what Mathematicians call 'backward induction'. This means first considering the last time a decision might be made and choosing what to do at that time. Using this information, one can then determine what to do at the second-to-last time of decision. This process continues backwards until one has determined the best action for every possible situation (i.e. for every possible information set) at every point in time.
Suppose Barbarik is the only combatant alive on the battlefield. If he does not kill himself he isn't on the weaker side because the weaker side must also be the losing side. So he should kill himself. However, suppose there is one other combatant left on the battlefield. If he is on the same side as Barbarik, then together they constitute the stronger side. If Barbarik kills the other, then Barbarik is still on the stronger side. However, if Barbarik kills himself, the other combatant is victorious and thus proven to be on the stronger side. Thus Barbarik should kill himself to ensure that he has fought on the weaker side. Suppose there are two other combatants other than Barbarik left on the battlefield. If Barbarik kills himself one or other is victorious or both are victorious (if allied)- in either case Barbarik is on the weaker, because losing, side. Suppose there are n combatants, Barbarik should kill himself because otherwise he ends up on the winning side. This is because his arrow kills all enemy combatants present at the time. So Backward induction says Barbarik should kill himself no matter what the number of combatants or relative strength of their respective sides.
However there is another way to look at this. Suppose Barbarik says to the first arrow- I want you mark for death everybody on the stronger side- and to the second arrow- I want you to mark 'safe' everybody on the weaker side- before unleashing the third arrow. What would happen?
Well, anyone marked for death by the first arrow can't be on the stronger side because they are bound to lose and thus will be marked 'safe' by the second arrow. So nobody dies when the third arrow is unleashed.
I'm assuming that only an infinitesimal span of time separates the flight of each arrow and that nothing else changes over the period.
What happens if all combatants are given the choice of switching sides after the flight of the first arrow? Then the third arrow can only have casualties from the weaker side. But if combatants are rational and given the chance to also switch sides before the first arrow then once again no casualties arise.
More generally, if all feasible adversarial coalitions.of combatants can be ranked and this information is publicly available then every combatant who wants to be on the winning side should have a 'nearest possible world' feasible coalition which is stronger than what obtains such that a strategic action on his own part, or that of his sub-coalition, can call it into being. This is a dynamic notion of allegiance which sounds quite realistic for medieval Indian wars where commanders frequently switched sides on the battlefield. 
Consider the set of combatants who want to be on the winning side and aren't particularly bothered whether this is the Pandavas or the Kauravas. Call those who want to be on the stronger side the Hard-heads. Those who want to be on the weaker side are Soft-hearts, .
Suppose the world is divided into Hard-heads and Soft-Hearts.
Can a given number of Hard-heads ever by themselves decide to have a war?
Yes, so long as there are two equally strong feasible adversarial coalitions assuming zero risk aversion. 
Indeed, if coalitions are unstable then there can still be wars between unequal coalitions because there is some chance that sufficient last minute desertions will pull off a big upset with a consequent big pay out for those who bet on the right side.
Similarly a population of Soft-hearts could go to war as could a mixed population of Soft-hearts and Hard-heads.
Call a warrior Hegemonic if he changes any coalition into a strong one by adhering to it.
We have seen that a Hegemonic Soft-heart like Barbarik either kills himself and lets the War proceed or kills all combatants and then himself. But this means only Soft hearts will be killed. Rational Hard-heads will abstain from Combat till Barbarik chops off his own head after which they can fight over the spoils of war.
A Hegemonic Hard-head also only kills Soft hearts but he does not kill himself and thus retains a countervailing power over other hard-heads.

In the Mahabhrarata, Barbarik's decapitated head witnessed the events of the War thanks to a boon from Lord Krishna. 
But this means Barbarik realizes that he could have prevented the great slaughter of the Kurukshetra war- including the killing of his father and uncles- by choosing
1) to mark for destruction, with his first arrow, all those implacably resolved on a war to the death
2) saving all those who would abide by a compromise settlement with his second arrow
3) unleashing his third arrow.

Was Krishna perhaps a tad thoughtless in the boon he granted Barbarik?
Perhaps. But Sacrifice, truly so called, should be a path to truth.
In this sense, Barbarik is a true Martyr, a true Shaheed- both of which words mean Witness. Yet, as the story of Barbarik shows, it is only by hanging around for a while after your death that you get to see the true stupidity of the fucked up principles for which you sacrificed your life and screwed the pooch of eusocial Consilience.

Madhu Kishwar's Modinama

 On 30th May 2008, Delhi Metropolitan Magistrate Manish Yaduvanshi passed an order that an FIR be registered against notorious Feminist Academic, Prof. Madhu Kishwar for attempting to murder members of the Basoya crime family. However, Kishwar- who terrorized senior political leaders like Kapil Sibal, L.K Advani, and even Prime Minister Manmohan Singh into supporting her- has not spent even a day in jail. 

Little surprise that Kishwar- who is widely rumored to be the lynchpin of the dreaded 'Manushi Sangathan' - a secretive cabal of social workers- is now brazenly flaunting her immunity from the law by freely publicizing and distributing an 'e-book' celebrating the most evil man in History- Narendra Modi.

We asked our intrepid roving reporter- Shree Vivek Iyer- to interview this sadistic harridan and pull no punches in exposing her vileness and genocidal tendencies.

Vivek Iyer- Madam, some have called you Durga Ma, because of your habit of wearing a necklace of skulls around your neck, others call you Hilary Clinton, for the same reason. Is it true that you carved the following highly incendiary words into the torso of Teesta Setalvad while laughing maniacally and massacring the Basoya crime family- wait, don't answer- I haven't yet read out the stuff you carved into Teesta Setalvad's living flesh as she writhed in hideous agony- no, I still haven't finished, please don't interrupt me- here it comes- I will read out your words in a hilarious Bengali accent- like the one Arnab Goswami secretly uses when off camera- while my own more measured and mellifluous comments will be voiced in bold by Shahrukh Khan doing his Rajnikanth imitation-
'The Englishmen who came as traders in the 17th century were befuddled at the vast diversity and complexity of Indian society. Englishmen were not fuddled save by drink. They were traders. Diversity and Complexity create arbitrage opportunities. Thus, rather than being befuddled, English traders made money because that's what traders do. Having come from a culture where many aspects of family and community affairs came under the jurisdiction of canonical law, they looked for similar sources of authority in India. After the Reformation, not canon but Common law and King's Equity was what obtained in England. The same was true in each part of India whose administration they took over. They assumed, for example, that just as the European marriage laws were based in part on systematic constructions derived from church interpretations of Biblical tenets, so must the personal laws of various Indian communities similarly draw their legitimacy from some priestly interpretations of fundamental religious texts. Rubbish. If they could turn a profit administering laws, that's what they did. They followed customary law and codified it in a manner that preserved distinctions just the same as what was happening back at home because there was a market for Law and that was the oligopolistic solution that maximized their rent. It is not the case that these Traders had a mania for homogeneity or that they could enforce it even if they wished.
 Scotland had a different law and still does. Similarly in India, some followed Dayabhaga, others Mitakshara and so on. Some non Church forms of marriage were upheld as part of Common Law in England, some were not or fell into desuetude.
In the late 18th century, the British began to study the ancient shastras to develop a set of legal principles that would assist them in adjudicating disputes within Indian civil society. In fact, they found there was no single body of canonical law, no Hindu Pope to legitimize a uniform legal code for all the diverse communities of India, no Shankaracharya whose writ reigned all over the country. Even religious interpretations of popular epics like the Ramayana failed to fit the bill because every community and every age exercised the freedom to recite and write its own version. We have inherited hundreds of recognised and respected versions of this text, and many are still being created. The flourishing of such variation and diversity, however, did not prevent the British from searching for a definitive canon of Hindu law.
To search for something is not the same thing as finding something or imposing it. What you are suggesting- viz. stupid Brits invented Hindu fundamentalism or Manusmriti or whatever- is nonsense. It didn't happen in Britain. It didn't happen in India. Though it is true that in both countries there was a secular trend towards Codification for reasons of Schelling salience.
Perhaps more egregiously, in their search, the British took no steps to understand local or jati based customary law or the way in which every community - no matter how wealthy or poor - regulated its own internal affairs through jati or biradari panchayats, without seeking permission or validation from any higher authority. Nonsense the Brits justified their 'nightwatchman state' by saying the villages and jaat/biradaris were all self-regulating and perfectly harmonious. Thus, for example, collective fines for individual failure to pay the land-tax wasn't a recipe for disaster. The power to introduce a new custom, or change existing practices, rested in large part within each community. Any individual or group respected within that biradari could initiate reforms. This tradition of self-governance is what accounts for the vast diversity of cultural practices within the subcontinent. What fucking diversity? It's the same shite wherever you turn. For example, some communities observe strict purdah for women, whereas others have inherited matrilineal family structures in which women exercise a great deal of freedom and social clout.  Some disapprove of widow remarriage, while others attach no stigma to widowhood and allow women recourse to easy divorce and remarriage. That's because women don't matter unless they stop having babies in which case you get a new evolutionarily stable equilibrium which itself doesn't matter because the stuff that matters- migration and technology- doesn't necessarily change.

You see, Madhjuji, all your writing and campaigning over the last thirty years has been sheer idiocy and a waste of time. First you are against dowry they you see there was an economic rationale for it and backtrack- but the damage has been done. The Black Economy has taken yet stronger root. First you needed black money to buy property, now you also need black money to get a son-in-law. Bravo!
 How does it matter whether Brits understood or did not understand India? A guy selling T.Vs does not need to know how the thing works. He just needs to know it works and sell at a higher price than he buys. Writing articles and getting worked up on T.V programs serves no fucking purpose at all.
Just recently, you've suddenly come out for Modi. Why? You were fed up with the hypocrisy of the anit-Modi camp. But they are getting paid. If they didn't do it, someone else will. Actually, it's a game with homothetic preferences- Modi needed to be painted as a Muslim killer to rein in his own lunatic fringe.
Everyone in India knows that talking nonsense won't change anything. Nor will pointing out that other liars are lying because the money is in preference falsification and Credentialism.
Anyway, I must say, I'm quite surprised that you haven't interrupted me even once or tried to slit my throat or carry out genocide against people of my caste. Are you sure you are a Professor? I mean a proper Indian Professor like Amaresh Mishra who would at least have tweeted some death threats against my mother and rape threats against my father while listening to me. Look, I only agreed to talk to you because I thought you were a genuine Indian academic with a long history sheet and a talent for extortion. The truth is I want some cousins of mine killed. I already asked Prof. Akeel Bilgrami but you know what those Muslims are like- lazy duffers I tell you always pleading excuse of Namaz or Ramadan or Hajj or Burqa Dutt to get out of a spot of work. Anyway, Madhu...OMG! that a huge beard sprouting on your face? aren't Prof. Kishwar at all are you...Aiyayo!
Sanjay Subhramaniyam- Ha ha ha ha, I am the ghost of Vasco da Gama, ha ha ha ha, come to kill you by order of President Obama, ha ha ha ha, that's right dude, your cousins are indeed cunningly disguised as Michelle and Barak, ha ha ha ha

Friday 16 August 2013

Brahminical Central Banking buggers small businesses

The Reserve Bank of India has just tightened Capital Controls in a bid to stem the decline of the Rupee consequent to an end to cheap American money. This won't hurt the big boys but it buggers growing businesses merely for the sake of a short term political objective- viz. showing the sclerotic Center is taking action (however counter-productive) at at time when Modi has Manmohan on the ropes.

The outgoing R.B.I supremo, D.Subbarao,  had spoken of a new 'Holy Trinity' for the Central Banker as opposed to the well known 'Impossible Trinity' of Mundell (originator of optimal currency area theory)
In this context, in an influential paper, Subbarao, introduced a new term to the lexicon of the Central Banker- viz. a 'Brahminical' attitude. What did Subbarao mean?
A Brahmin belongs to the priestly caste. He is concerned with the correct performance of rituals. He has little practical experience of the world. He believes it to be more important to condemn perceived wrong-doing rather than to sort out problems as they arise.
Banking isn't brahminical. It's a business.
If it becomes brahminical then, though it can't fabricate Heaven, it can plunge us into Hell.
How? Why?
Well, Banking is about Credit- belief in the solvency of others. But solvency is a function of ingrained business-like behavior and widely diffused risk-management skills. Clearly there is an element of impredicativity in what we are looking at. This does not matter so longer as there isn't too much noise in the underlying Co-ordination game for the formulation of Muth Rational Expectations.
A more or less market solution to this is the evolution of a price leader who assumes a risk-pooling function which exigent circumstances of State will tend to formalize as a Reserve Bank.
This is fine so long as the Central Banker is still a businessman recruited from and answerable to the Market.
However, if Central Bankers become 'Brahmins' then there is no Muth Rational Schelling Focal point for the
market because 'the correct economic theory' held by the Governor might be a purely normative one. In any case, there is going to be a signal extraction problem because the Market is no longer being governed by one of its own and so a new language has to be learnt.
Given that Mathematicians understand Mathematicians, Musicians, Musicians and so on, we should not be surprised that Bankers understand other Bankers. Why would we ever want to have Central Bankers who aren't actually Bankers?
A simplistic answer is, policy makers think that businessmen are naughty school-boys and since Bankers are businessmen of a bigger kind, it follows that they are likely to be more naughty than most. Thus, perhaps, the Central Bank should function like a monastic order- the Christian Brothers who ran my alma mater come to mind- caning naughty Bankers and generally raising the tone of the School by delivering turgid sermons.
But what is to stop the Monks sodomizing their charges and getting high on their stash? Nothing. Probably do the entitled little shits some good to be buggered senseless from time to time. However, the problem is that not all Monks want to sodomise those in their charge. The non-sodomists among the Monks may well resent their happier colleagues. What, then, is to be done?
The answer, of course, is that the Monks should remain preoccupied with working out their own salvation with respect to the dark mystery of a Triune God. That way they won't notice, or get unduly worked up about, kids topping themselves coz they just can't take no more priestly dick.

Subbarao- himself a 'Heaven Born' Civil Servant, rather than a Banking professional- spoke thus to his fellow Central Bankers a year and a half ago-
'The global financial crisis followed by the euro zone debt crisis has changed the theology of central banking in a fundamental way. The orthodoxy of central banking before the 2008 crisis was: single objective – price stability; single instrument – short-term interest rate. Although most central banks deviated to different extents from this minimalist model, this came increasingly to be considered the holy grail. The crisis came as a powerful rebuke to central banks for having neglected financial stability in their single-minded pursuit of price stability. By the time of our first conference two years ago, a consensus was developing around the view that financial stability has to be within the explicit policy calculus of central banks, although opinion was divided on the precise nature of institutional arrangements for maintaining financial stability.
Fast forward to 2011/12. Even as central banks are grappling with balancing the demands of price stability and financial stability, there is now yet another powerful assault on central bank orthodoxy arising from the big elephant in the room – the euro zone sovereign debt crisis.
The European Central Bank (ECB) is being called upon to bend and stretch its mandate to bail out sovereigns who have forfeited the confidence of markets. Actually that is an understatement. In reality, the ECB is being challenged on why it is, to use an Indian word, being so brahminical about its mandate when the world around it is collapsing. The argument, in its essence, is that if a central bank is committed to financial stability, it cannot ignore the feedback loop between financial stability and sovereign debt  sustainability, and by extension therefore, it has to be mindful of sovereign debt sustainability concerns.
What do these trends engendered by the crisis indicate? In particular, is it the case that the mandate of central banks is set to expand from the single objective of price stability to multiple objectives of price stability, financial stability and sovereign debt sustainability? Can central banks simultaneously support all these three objectives and do so efficiently? That in essence is the new trilemma.'

Fuck off.
This isn't a trilemma and it isn't new and it doesn't have an essence.
Banking is a business. Central Banking is Banking's business.
Our business- and therefore the business of our elected leaders- is to ensure we get a good deal from the Bankers and pay them a declining portion of our Income. That doesn't mean Bankers must necessarily get relatively poorer over time. No. They can add value by giving hair-cuts or manicures while lecturing us on our overdraft. The technology already exists. We are all just one step away from ubiquitous banking.
As for Subbarao's Holy Trinity- fuck price stability, fuck debt default, fuck Demand management. Prices oughtn't to be too stable because the best future we can possibly have isn't the most stable. Debts ought to be defaulted on once it is clear everybody got their predictions wrong. There's no Moral Hazard coz the counterparty believed the same thing as the 'bad' debtor. Fuck Demand Management- Govts. should be figuring out ways to spend money such that voters get a bigger bang for their buck. When they can't think of anything or don't have the will or ability to manage the spending- let them come out and say so. Pretending people in top jobs are smarter than us when they aint don't help nobody.
What's the point of subscribing to a 'Noble Lie' in the age of the internet? Anybody, anywhere, can find out the truth just by tapping a few times on their smart-phone.

Currently, Subbarao, as a parting gift to the Indian Nation, is putting us on the slippery slope back to Capital Controls. The way this is structured creates a rent for 'insiders' and penalizes the much larger class of late-comers who have already taken a hit. This isn't Hicks-Kaldor efficient. Dynamically it's fucking fiscal hara kiri- you are buggering up small businesses and adolescent industries and many of them are gonna top themselves coz they just can't take no more priestly dick.
What's bad for the fiscal deficit medium to long term is still going to be brought forward as downward pressure on the Rupee so it isn't as though there's even a short term, expedient, gain.
I guess, the truth is, good soldier Subbarao is making things easier for his much hyped successor- an Economist, not a Banker, who has already signaled that he's a Deficit hawk- such that what he will call lifting Capital Controls will make a good sound-byte around election time to give the markets a cheap thrill.
Fuck. It will probably work.
The Pope is dead. Long live the Pope.
Small businesses, reinforce your underpants. Brahminical Central Bankers are on the prowl.

Dawkins, Islam & Trinity Coll. Nobel Prize winners

Hindus and Muslims have and have had equal access to Trinity College, Cambridge. Yet though 3 Hindus from there have won Nobel Prizes, no Muslim has. Why?
First four False explanations
1) Hindus were more open to the West whereas the Muslims still resented the Crusades and were further put off by the fact that Europeans didn't wash regularly and used toilet paper- which just smears shit evenly around the arse-hole, instead of sluicing it away- and thus stank to high heaven.
Actually Hindus were less open to the West. They lost caste if they crossed the 'Black Water'. Young Indian Vegetarian males found it very difficult to get nutritious and tasty food in England. Also they were incessantly subjected to intense racial harassment by anyone related to them or from the same agraharam.

2) Hindus were smarter.
Are you fucking kidding me? Have you any idea what them Hindus worship? It's all like gods with monkey heads or elephant heads or big ass Snakes or hot chicks with twelve arms and shit. I had this Hindu bloke live down the road from me once. The day of the eclipse he comes up to me and says we gotta get to Temple pronto coz Rahu or Ketu or some such demon is eating the Sun. Okay, he smoked a lot of ganja and was an English convert- but still.
BTW, 2 of those Hindu Nobel prize winners, both Science nerds, were Tambrams- not Iyengars but just bog standard Iyers. The third was Amartya Sen. 'Nuff said?

3) Hinduism, being territorially delimited, could ditch theology in favour of militant Nationalism of a Modern sort in which, to adapt a phrase from Francis Bacon, not Man but Nature is put on the rack so King's Equity at last achieve univocity as the headless, all devouring Kabandha tyranny of the Demoi.
My answer to this risible thesis comes in two parts
a) Hinduism is NOT territorially delimited. Hindutva is- which is why it poses no threat to us. But, Hinduism? No one's safe while it's prowling around. What if your son or daughter turns vegetarian and, dunno, like marries an elephant or a snake or something? In any case, think of the grand-children. I personally assured my mother-in-law, a censorious Piedmontese Catholic, that I was eating up all the surplus arms and heads baby kept spouting coz his Mom- probably some sort of Calabrian Hindu like her generous Dad, who treated me like a true Carnatic mapillai- worshiped the little poop-producing machine like it was some particularly repellent Deity from out of pillaitamil, Tanjore School of painting, iconography.
b) Fuck off. Seriously dude. I mean it. Listen, I know martial arts. Sumo. What? Well, sure we can have a throwdown sometime but my nappy is in the wash.  BTW my b.f.f on Twitter is Prof. Amaresh Mishra? And he can fuck you up big-time coz like he knows all these 'encounter specialist' U.P cops? So just don't go there Mom is what I'm saying and could you please stop reading my blog? It's so not cool.

4) Hinduism being a 'fossil religion' like Judaism, in which 'Sacred knowledge' had been Credentialised, followed a similar path in over-investing in Secular Science for the same resource rationing Credentialist purpose.
But, for Judaism this followed from a female preference for scholars whereas in Hinduism, female preferences determined nothing. Interestingly, there is less intellectual gender dimorphism amongst Hindus. Both sexes are rabid Credentializing fuckwits. But, that's because Intellectual activity for the Hindu really is a zero-sum game- who gets which Professorship, or, in the West, who gets to pose as the benighted Hindu deserving of Tokenist accolades. Science, for the Jews, however, was positive sum and linked to entrepreneurship in Knowledge based industries not bureaucrato-academic rent seeking. 

What positive arguments can be made in connection with Dawkin's tweet?
1) If we ask why are there 160 Jewish Nobel Prize winners- and there would have been many more but for the Holocaust- one factor stands out, Sexual competition. Initially, Ashkenazi women favored learned Rabbis as grooms- the autobiography of Solomon Maimon shows this. His wife ran a successful Tavern to support the young prodigy. Unfortunately he developed a taste for secular learning and booze- but he still wouldn't give her a 'get' probably because a wife who runs a Tavern is the dream of every true booze-hound. The other factor was that the Sacred obligation to finance Rabbinical studies became Secularized as providing Jewish Free Schools which rapidly developed as centers of Excellence. If one asks why Education is collapsing in many Muslim countries, we find that 
a) Credentialized Education rations rent-seeking opportunities amongst the elite who thus have no incentive to broaden in-take or who do so in a hypocritical manner by creating a two tier system with those trapped in the lower tier condemned to menial work 
b) Cadre based Islamist parties quickly lose any technocratic or meritocratic ethos they might have started out with and thus the educational institutions which they infiltrate or control soon turn into ghettos of paranoid political fantasy in which Physics Professors give lectures about djinns working for Mossad who sabotage their experiments.
c) Women's education is first instrumentalized- 'by educating girls to be true Muslims they will get rid of traditional superstitious practices and become good mothers'- but then demonized because the genie has escaped the bottle! Countries like Iran and Tunisia might have seemed the exception- but this particular battle is by no means over. The fact is traditional societies have a preference for female hypergamy- a man feels insecure if his wife is better educated than him- so the 'educational inflation' amongst, for example, Iranian (middle class) women, leads to a 'basiji' backlash not just against Women's education but also the Liberal Intelligentsia and their Political demands.

The truth is, Educational success goes hand in hand with the Rule of Law. At one time, we thought the Religious parties could check the idiocy of the Leftists but the cure was worse than the disease.

Hindus, speaking generally, have experienced a decline in both Religious belief and Ideological fervor since about the 1920's (with the failure of Mahatma Gandhi's Non-cooperation Movement) whereas Political Islam, after a shaky start, has grown from strength to strength. 

Though many Hindus subscribe to orthopraxy they no longer give theological reasons for so doing- Vegetarianism might be justified as Ethical or even 'Scientific'; Astrology might be justified by some specious argument developed by Nobel laureate Kary Mullis; visiting Temples may be linked to 'bio-rhythms' or crystal vibrations from the surrounding rocks- and this has been a secular trend discernible for over a hundred years now. Indeed, the crack-pot Theosophical Society of Madam Blavatsky and Col. Olcott found eager Hindu converts from its inception. Annie Beasant, who took over, was elected President of the Indian Home Rule League before being roughly shouldered aside by the lithe and limber, loin cloth clad, Mahatma. By contrast, Islamist parties based on the cadre system used by the Communists, were able to function as a vanguard infiltrating Educational institutions so as to mold young minds. Islam benefited greatly from Stalin's decision to back the creation of Israel because Communism languished ever afterwards for contributing to the humiliating 'Nakba' (catastrophe) that still haunts the Muslim mind. Whether we speak of 'Ikhwan' or 'Jamaati' or 'Salafi' or 'Wahhabbi' or now 'Takfiri'- the influence of such cadre based organizations do impact negatively on young people, especially those attending elite Institutions or studying abroad, because they are steered away from 'fundamental' research in favor of technical skills+ activism- with a view to making them more useful to the Party. In one sense, it may appear to be a good thing if smart young people return to their home country (or emigrate to a Muslim country) to work with the young people there, but, sadly, the Sciences don't work like that. Skills degrade quickly, Intellectual curiosity is dampened, and the political horizon overwhelms everything else- you have a recipe for increasing anger and frustration venting itself in quixotic adventurism- including of a terrorist kind. By contrast, Business studies is a safer course and many Muslim countries now have first rate financial services industry manned with 'rocket scientists'- but, this isn't actually a good thing. Intellectual talent is being diverted into an overblown and fundamentally unstable financial system while Technical education gets neglected and politicized. Admirers of Prof. Dawkins book 'the extended phenotype'- a masterpiece of English prose in which the familiar Sufi trope of the moth and the flame is given a new and more beautiful meaning- should take heed. The activities of cadre based Islamist parties- even though they have had a technocratic image and recruited doctors and engineers- now militate against Human Capital formation in Science and Technology not least because of the ignorant and populist denunciation of Evolution. As a case in point, take the Indian Salafi preacher, Dr. Zakir Naik- a medical doctor who denounces Evolution as an unproven hypothesis. When he first emerged, many Indian Muslims welcomed him as an articulate and moderate voice who could inspire the youth. However, if the result of his preaching is that young people lose faith in Medical research and Epidemiology then the very basis of progress and advancement for millions of young Indian Muslims is destroyed.

Thursday 15 August 2013

Landsburg vs Dawkins- a self inflicted debacle.

Steve Landsburg, a man who has made a profession of being cleverer at stupidity than anybody else on call for Fox News, is seeking to square his own extreme Mathematical Platonism with the Creationism of the great unwashed.

With typical fatuity he attempts to take down Richard Dawkins with a wholly specious, seemingly mathematical, argument.
'Here is a quote from Dawkins’s book “The God Delusion”:
Time and again, my theologian friends returned to the point that there had to be a reason why there is something rather than nothing. There must have been a first cause of everything, and we might as well give it the name God. Yes, I  said, but it must have been simple and therefore, whatever else we call it, God is not an appropriate name….The first cause that we seek must have been the simple basis for a self-bootstrapping crane which eventually raised the world as we know it into its present existence.
I could provide additional quotes, but this one should suffice. Dawkins believes, unless I have misunderstood him completely, that he has a quite general argument, not tied in any way to biology (because the above quote, for example, has nothing to do with biology) to establish that complex structures must have simple causes. That argument, whatever it might be, cannot be correct because the natural numbers stand as a counterexample.
Obviously, Landsburg has misunderstood Dawkins completely because that's his metier, it's what he does best, and moreover he has worked hard at it- devoting a whole chapter to doing so in one of his worthless books.

Just to be clear, Dawkins views are summarized thus-
  1. One of the greatest challenges to the human intellect, over the centuries, has been to explain how the complex, improbable appearance of design in the universe arises.
  2. The natural temptation is to attribute the appearance of design to actual design itself. In the case of a man-made artefact such as a watch, the designer really was an intelligent engineer. It is tempting to apply the same logic to an eye or a wing, a spider or a person.
  3. The temptation is a false one, because the designer hypothesis immediately raises the larger problem of who designed the designer. The whole problem we started out with was the problem of explaining statistical improbability. It is obviously no solution to postulate something even more improbable. We need a "crane," not a "skyhook;" for only a crane can do the business of working up gradually and plausibly from simplicity to otherwise improbable complexity.
  4. The most ingenious and powerful crane so far discovered is Darwinian evolution by natural selection. Darwin and his successors have shown how living creatures, with their spectacular statistical improbability and appearance of design, have evolved by slow, gradual degrees from simple beginnings. We can now safely say that the illusion of design in living creatures is just that—an illusion.
  5. We don't yet have an equivalent crane for physics. Some kind of multiverse theory could in principle do for physics the same explanatory work as Darwinism does for biology. This kind of explanation is superficially less satisfying than the biological version of Darwinism, because it makes heavier demands on luck. But the anthropic principle entitles us to postulate far more luck than our limited human intuition is comfortable with.
  6. We should not give up hope of a better crane arising in physics, something as powerful as Darwinism is for biology. But even in the absence of a strongly satisfying crane to match the biological one, the relatively weak cranes we have at present are, when abetted by the anthropic principle, self-evidently better than the self-defeating skyhook hypothesis of an intelligent designer.  

Dawkins doesn't say what philosophy of mathematics he subscribes to. Suppose he is a constructivist. Then the complexity displayed by the natural numbers has evolved along with the minds that do mathematics but otherwise has no independent existence.
Suppose, on the contrary, Dawkins is a Platonist of some sort. Then, since the Platonic idea of Complexity pre-exists, he could scarcely say that 'complex structures must have simple causes'. Thus we know Dawkins isn't a Platonist. It is simply not credible to attribute to him the  belief that  individual horses participate in some Platonic idea of the horse.

Something else we know is that Dawkins is an Evolutionary Biologist. This doesn't force him to be nothing but a Constructivist in the Philosophy of Mathematics. He could be a Piercian Instrumentalist or a Heytig type Intuitionist or even a Formalist of a certain sort. What he can't be is a Mathematical Platonist of an extreme Tegmark type- believing 'All structures that exist mathematically also exist physically'- because that implies 
a) either accepting Godel’s proof of God, because mathematical structures would have what Godel calls ‘positive properties’- i.e. match to real world objects and so a principal ultrafilter of the St. Anselm type exists at least in some possible world- and if we are in the wrong world that’s just tough titty- we’re foredoomed to damnation
b) or denying mathematical structures can have positive properties- but this means minds have no way to ‘match’ with mathematical structures and so the human claim to be able to apodictically differentiate orders of complexity- P, NP, exponential etc- fails as these may be phenomenological artifacts.
What is true of Dawkins is true of each one of us.
In other words- though all the facts about the world don’t change, admitting Tegmark’s proposition alters what we can good faith affirm as being our own rational beliefs arrived at in accordance with best Public Justification practice.
Suppose we lower the bar and limit ourselves to what Quine & Putnam call ‘indispensable arguments’- i.e. stuff it makes sense to believe exists because our technology is based on it- is it unreasonable for Dawkins to a priori reject extreme Tegmarkism in favour of Constructivism (in which case the complexity of mathematical objects co-evolves with the minds that construct them)? Not at all, because currently there’s no way around ‘Beenakker’s boundary’. ( there’s no Instrumental reason to counterbalance this objection.
Indeed, the reverse is the case, and what’s more Tegmark knows it.
What about Landsburg?
In this post, he writes ‘I claim to have explained in The Big Questions exactly how the first cause of our Universe could be a mathematical structure that is far more complex than the Universe itself; of course others, like Max Tegmark, have demonstrated this possibility in far more detail than I have. Whether or not Tegmark and I are correct in our beliefs, I claim we’ve at least demonstrated that (as far as we can tell) those beliefs could be true, which, once again, refutes Dawkins’s position.’

The problem here is that Computability puts a limit on the Complexity of what can be believed, other than by a leap of faith, about a mathematical structure . Either we have to believe things we can never prove or else there is a limit to the complexity only of mathematical but not of physical objects in Tegmark’s world (in which only computable mathematical objects are considered to be as real as physical objects ). Since we know the Red Queen effect drives co-evolved complexity for living things but not for mathematical objects considered as existing outside living minds and since we know some minds can grasp some complex mathematical objects but don’t know if the reverse is the case, it follows that it is impossible to demonstrate that a mathematical structure can be more complex than some currently living thing. Put another way, we know that some complex mathematical objects are ‘reducible’ for living organisms (otherwise we couldn’t say a living brain knows that a given object is complex) but we don’t know that the reverse is also the case- otherwise we’d have a proof that P equals NP.
For Economists, as opposed to philosophers, there is a big penalty involved in failing to grasp the central insight of Complex Adaptive Systems theory- viz. free agents, even with zero intelligence, create the Math that describes their behavior-that’s why we see real time polynomial complexity in price determination but not Walrasian fixed point algorithms running in exponential time (Axtell).
Mathematical Platonism is a bad habit for Econ, because it lets us off the hook for showing real time tractability for fixed point computation (necessary for things like the assumption of Ricardian Equivalence). True, one can adopt an an Austrian praxeology but the risk is of being ignored or sidelined by the mainstream.
The problem with Platonism is that it can cash out as faith in propositions known to be Mathematically unprovable. This is something worse than what Philip Mirowski decries- viz. neo-classical Econ’s tendency to take dis-confirmation as deep confirmation- it is a refusal to update the neo-classical Research Program in line with developments in Maths and computing and thus running the risk of becoming irrelevant.

Returning to Landsburg's post- first he makes a bizarre claim about what Dawkins is saying- viz. Dawkins isn't actually rebutting the Creationist 'argument from design' instead he's a mathematician working in Descriptive Complexity Theory who claims he has a proof that everything mathematicians call complex evolved from something simple. 
 Then Landsburg, by bringing up Tegmark, gives us the ammunition to prove, not Dawkins case (he wasn't talking about Tegmark universes) , but Landsburg's  Strawman-Dawkins case. At the same time, the atheist Landsburg, all unknowingly shows a way to save (or at least not destroy) the Creationist, Michael Behe's 'Irreducible Complexity' thesis. This is like Robin Hood aiming an arrow at the Sheriff of Nottingham and ending up killing Maid Marion and Little John and Good King Richard and Little Bo Peep.  But this is typical of Landsburg. His blog is pure intellectual slapstick.
Time and again we see Landsburg destroy the cause he claims to be defending with his weird logic and general air of illiteracy.  
Landsburg's wish to run with the hares and hunt with the hounds makes him a dangerous friend- in this case, he hasn't helped level the playing field for the Theists- only Narada's veena plucked by many fingered Time can do that- but he is a suicidal enemy. Aiming a blow at Dawkins he cuts off his own Tegmarkian head.

What is the moral of this story?
Survival of the fittest?
No, it is-  'more sex is safer sex when your name is Steven Landsburg and you are pleasuring the one great love of your life while typing up your blog with your other hand.'

Landsburg latest comment is as follows- (my remarks are in bold)
Dawkins makes the statement that everything which is complicated arises from something that is simple. Dawkins does no such thing.  Dawkins doesn't say that Evolution always goes from the simple to the complex. The reverse happens if selection pressure eases up- for e.g. with Spiegelman monsters.  However, he does say that we human beings have evolved from relatively simple life forms. We weren't created by a more perfect, unimaginably more intelligent and complex being in the manner suggested by Genesis. Dawkins fails to define “complicated”, “simple” and “arises from”, so we have to guess what he means. Dawkins is a Public Intellectual writing in English. To find out what he means, you don't HAVE to guess, you can just ask himIn order to construct a potential counterexample to his statement, I have to come up with something that is complicated, but did not arise from a simple precursor, and the thing I have to come up has to satisfy this condition for a broad class of possible interpretations of Dawkins’s language. Dawkin's statement was domain specific. To refute him you have to come up with, not a potential, but an actual counterexample from that very same domain- viz. evolutionary biology. A
I claim that if the set of all true first-order statements about a structure X (in some appropriate formal language) is non-recursive, that’s a pretty good definition of complex — in the sense that no matter what everyday interpretation Dawkins intends of the word “complex”, anything that satisfies this definition will probably also satisfy his. See below
So: Dawkins says that the current state of the universe is complex, hence  must have a simple precursor. I observe that he hasn’t told us what he means by complex, but we can almost surely capture it by the difficulty of axiomatizing the set of true statements about the state of the universe. Therefore the right analogy is: No matter what you mean by complex, the natural numbers are almost surely complex by the same definition, and therefore the natural numbers — not any individual natural number, but the natural numbers, must have a simple precursor.
Landsburg is making two different mistakes
1) A mistake about natural language- He assumes that the conventions determining the truth value of statements in English about a formal language arise from something intrinsic to the formal language and not to customary English usage. This is not true. By English convention, this statement is true-  'Number theory is simple.  Aesthetics is complex.' Arguments in Number Theory get resolved quickly with relatively short papers deciding the issue. Arguments in Aesthetics just run and run and involve vast and expanding universes of discourse. This is an example of a meaning of 'complex' which is in accordance with English convention. It suffices to refute Landsburg. 
2)  A mistake about formal language-  he says ' if the set of all true first-order statements about a structure X (in some appropriate formal language) is non-recursive, that’s a pretty good definition of complex.  A first order formal language includes the Existential Predicate, thus, it can feature impredicativity and hence non-recursivity.  But by the Godel's 'compactness' & the upward Löwenheim–Skolem theorem nothing relevant to complexity can be said in the first order language as opposed to the second order language.
Fagin's theorem is a result in descriptive complexity theory that states that the set of all properties expressible in existential second-order logic is precisely the complexity class NP. Thus Landsburg's claim that he has a 'pretty good' counter-example is refuted because we don't know if it is computable. We don't know if unicorns exist somewhere in the Universe. But referring to something which may or may not exist is not a 'pretty good' counterexample to a theory about what exists.

In any case, something whose descriptive complexity can be proved to be nameable in English by just two capital letters is pretty damn Kolmogorov simple if English is our universal descriptive language. 
In fact, as time goes by we all expect to see increased compressibility in model theory- i.e. proofs will get shorter and have more generality. However,  we don't currently expect to see increased compressibility in real world objects- e.g. I don't expect to see vat grown clones of myself which have the same biological age and memories and tastes and phobias. It may happen but there is no proof that it will happen. The same may be said about Landsburg one day speaking other than through his arse.

Manmohan vs. Modi

Manmohan Singh's difficulty with Hindi is puzzling. I suppose he speaks Punjabi at home. Still, this was pretty dire.

Not Modi's best but a  strong finish.

Who will Congress field to take on Modi to protect themselves in the Hindi belt? Rahul seems to have stalled at the gate. Digvijay is too old, Kapil Sibal too clever. Perhaps it will be Sonia- now the best Hindi orator in the Congress stable.