Rich-poor divide

Deadly air exposes rich-poor divide, Channel News Asia, March 21, 2019: Delhi’s affluent, who are often better informed about the dangers of pollution, increasingly expect the same safety measures they have in place at home, to be available when they are out. High-end eateries, bars and cinemas are tapping into that demand – installing electronic […]

What will Ashok Khemka find next?

Ashok Khemka, the senior IAS officer famous for having exposed numerous instances of government corruption, perhaps most prominently the DLF land-grab scam, has been transferred again. This time, he had voiced concerns over the Haryana government’s plans to ‘develop’ the Aravalli hills through what it called ‘consolidation projects’. That is just a sanitised way to say […]

A critique of Gaganyaan

Arup Dasgupta’s incisive article about ISRO’s human spaceflight mission, published on The Wire Science yesterday, is drawing a lot of civil, critical engagement from our readers. While this is good news from the newsroom’s perspective – civil engagement is always golden – I’d like to highlight two parts of it. First: Dasgupta’s article is a […]

Driving down the moderated way

There’s a really yucky scene in the really yucky movie based on the half-yucky book Atlas Shrugged. A copper-mining tycoon who blew up his own mines says in a conversation with his railroad-tycoon friend, “They say money is the root of all evil. So I wanted to stop being evil.” As a punchline, its self-confidence […]

Beating pseudoscience at the ISC

The following notes are specifically about VijayRaghavan’s post. My overall reaction to the stupidity on display at the ISC is recorded here. At a conference at the Institute of Mathematical Sciences in August 2018, K. VijayRaghavan said that the media pays disproportionate attention to the pseudoscience that goes down at every Indian Science Congress, more […]

The Print’s list

The Print should not have published its list of “intellectuals pick their successors” at all. Its editors knew that it had no women and were aware of how that was a problem. They also had to have known that the list was predominantly Hindu and upper-caste. But by publishing it, The Print signalled that it […]

Journalism’s ‘stories’

I can think of at least four different words newsrooms use to describe the bundles of content they work with: story, piece, article and copy (‘content’ itself isn’t one of them). With a few exceptions, all four labels are used interchangeably. ‘Copy’ is perhaps the most common, especially since most copy-editors use that name for […]

White-opia

John Horgan asked 15 people – scientists, social psychologists, philosophers – one question, in a seemingly clever effort to mark the end of 2018: Unless you are too stoned or enlightened to care, you are probably dissatisfied with the world as it is. In that case, you should have a vision of the world as […]

Nobel Prizes and traditionalism

James English had a wonderful piece in Public Books recently, discussing how the Nobel Prize for literature: Is a prize that has always struggled to be meaningful, given how its laureates are shortlisted, the capital that incentivises its exercise and the historical Eurocentric elitism of its adjudicators Had been irreversibly diminished by the controversies surrounding Jean-Claude Arnault and […]

On cosmology’s scicomm disaster

Jamie Farnes, a theoretical physicist at Oxford University, recently had a paper published that claimed the effects of dark matter and dark energy could be explained by replacing them with a fluid-like substance that was created spontaneously, had negative mass and disobeyed the general theory of relativity. As fantastic as these claims are, Farnes’s paper made the […]

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