Author: VM

  • India’s devious reason to not spend more on culture

    ‘Difficult to allocate public fund to art and culture: Centre’, The Hindu, March 19, 2023: Given the high disparity it experiences in elementary rural infrastructure like health, education and transportation, it might not be “tenable” for a developing nation like India to allocate a considerable proportion of its public fund to the promotion of art […]

  • Nature paper says bad news is good news

    ‘Negativity drives online news consumption’, Claire E. Robertson et al., Nature Human Behaviour, March 16, 2023: Here we analyse the effect of negative words on news consumption using a massive online dataset of viral news stories from—a website that was one of the most successful pioneers of click-bait in the history of the Internet23. […]

  • What’s the anomaly in a Nobel for Modi?

    I’m sure you’ve seen the reports doing the rounds today that some person on some Nobel Prize Committee said Prime Minister Narendra Modi was very deserving of the vaunted peace prize, followed by less widely circulated reports that the person was misquoted (or dysquoted) and in fact that he never said such a thing. I […]

  • A plagiarism incident in Pakistan

    A committee constituted by the Pakistan Higher Education Commission (HEC) concluded last year that Muhammad Suleman Tahir, vice-chancellor of the Khwaja Fareed University of Engineering and Information Technology (KFUEIT), hadn’t been responsible for plagiarising from a master’s thesis in a paper published in February 2021, per Retraction Watch. The HEC is charged with regulating the […]

  • A red-herring about love, weddings, caste, etc.

    ‘Weddings need rituals to be celebrations, but they need not be casteist’, T.M. Krishna, Deccan Chronicle, March 12, 2023: Modern alternatives are dry and boring affairs. Signing a document in a dowdy old building in the presence of an arbitrary government official and exchanging garlands is not everybody’s cup of tea. Neither is a distant and […]

  • The devil’s lassi

    The devil’s lassi

    ‘The Devil’s Milkshake’, Tarence Ray in The Baffler, February 23, 2023: You’ve seen it before. An industrial disaster poisons a town’s food or water supply. Residents get angry. Public officials try to dispel that anger through a public act of self-sacrifice, of reassurance. They convene a press conference, whereupon some hapless courtier brings forth a […]

  • Who are you, chatbot AI?

    Who are you, chatbot AI?

    In case you haven’t been following, and to update my own personal records, here’s a list of notable {AI chatbot + gender}-related articles and commentary on the web over the last few weeks. (While I’ve used “AI” here, I’m yet to be convinced that ChatGPT, Sydney, etc. are anything more than sophisticated word-counters and that […]

  • Some science prizes are only for men

    Some science prizes are only for men

    Say Someone has won the Nobel Prize for physics, perhaps the most prestigious honour (as awards go) for a physicist. What would it mean for all the future awards given to this Someone? One thing that a Nobel Prize does, and which many past laureates have acknowledged, is turn a laureate into an institution. The […]

  • Keep working. Don’t get up.

    Keep working. Don’t get up.

    ‘Inside Meta’s Push to Solve the Noisy Office’, WSJ, February 16, 2023: Coming to the campuses of Facebook parent Meta Platforms Inc. is a contraption that can block sound, shield workers from their peers and allow for heads-down, uninterrupted work. It’s a cubicle. That is, a noise-canceling cubicle designed using some of the same principles […]

  • A vortex in my bucket

    A vortex in my bucket

    One of the taps in my bathroom at home issues water in laminar flow – without any turbulence. Sometimes the flow from the tap to the bucket looks like it’s frozen: there are no disturbances on the water’s surface to indicate that it is flowing through the air; the fact of the flow becomes evident […]