Wednesday, 20 May 2020

News Clippings, 11-May-2020 to 17-May-2020

Did India miss a trick in testing? [Mint]
Countries with relatively high testing rates had to impose fewer lockdown restrictions, and have been able to open up far more quicker than India.

KCR-chaired meet favours controlled farming [The Hindu]
Denial of Rythu Bandhu, MSP to farmers not raising crops suggested by government mooted

Plasma therapy trials from today [The Hindu]
15 people, who recovered from COVID, ready to donate their plasma

Sunday, 8 March 2020

Post-truth politics and why the antidote isn’t simply ‘fact-checking’ and truth

Donald Trump posts a link to his very own ‘Real News Update’ on Facebook. Donald J. Trump/Facebook
John Keane, University of Sydney

This article is part of the Revolutions and Counter Revolutions series, curated by Democracy Futuresas a joint global initiative between the Sydney Democracy Network and The Conversation. The project aims to stimulate fresh thinking about the many challenges facing democracies in the 21st century.

It is also part of an ongoing series from the Post-Truth Initiative, a Strategic Research Excellence Initiative at the University of Sydney.

This essay is much longer than most Conversation articles, so will take some time to read. Enjoy!

We live in an unfinished revolutionary age of communicative abundance. Networked digital machines and information flows are slowly but surely shaping practically every institution in which we live our daily lives.

For the first time in history, thanks to built-in cheap microprocessors, these algorithmic devices and information systems integrate texts, sounds and images in compact, easily storable, reproducible and portable digital form.

Sunday, 22 December 2019

Politcial Economy Musings, 21-Dec-2019

Originally posted on Facebook

So far, the Congress party has not clearly stated that it is against NRC. But things may change as an interesting Monday is ahead, when the Jharkhand results will be declared.

Thursday, 1 August 2019

WhatsApp played a big role in the Nigerian election. Not all of it was bad

Supporters of Nigeria’s All Progressives Congress presidential candidate, President Muhammadu Buhari, at a rally earlier this year. EPA-EFE/Stringer
Nic Cheeseman, University of Birmingham

There is growing concern about the potential for the message and media sharing platform WhatsApp to undermine democracy in a number of countries across the world including Brazil and India.

Wednesday, 31 July 2019

Are Robots Coming for Our Jobs? Careful, It's a Trick Question


The robots are coming, and they’ll probably take your job when they get here.

Oh wait—have you heard that recently? As recently as, say, yesterday? In the news, or from a coworker, or in a sinister dystopian movie, maybe?

Sounding the alarm about job losses to automation has become commonplace—in fact, it’s more of a nonstop siren these days. Multiple Democratic presidential candidates are featuring their plans to combat Big Tech and solve technological unemployment as talking points of their campaigns. Dread of a robot-dominated future is mounting.

Friday, 26 July 2019

How ad hominem arguments can demolish appeals to authority

-- Moti Mizrahi

‘In logic, inconsistency is the cardinal sin, and consistency the first of the virtues.’
Patrick Shaw, Logic and Its Limits (1981)

In 2018, the US Surgeon General declared e-cigarette use among young people an epidemic in the United States. As a result, parents were encouraged to talk with their children about smoking. One of the Surgeon General’s tips for parents is to ‘set a positive example by being tobacco-free’. But what if parents are smokers, too? What if children respond to their parents’ plea to refrain from smoking by saying: ‘You use tobacco, so why shouldn’t I?’

This retort is an example of ad hominem argumentation.

Sunday, 10 February 2019

Programming on Windows

During the last four years, until the early part of 2018, I worked on a MacBook. Sometime in the second quarter of last year, I shifted to a Windows 10 laptop. The transition has been quite smooth and delightful.

There were two Rails applications that I had to write and maintain. The first application, let's call it webapp-1, was coded by me in 2016 using Ruby 2.3.1 p112 and Rails 4.2.6. The second application, hereafter referred to as webapp-2, is a new application that I had to write from scratch, so I chose the latest versions: Ruby 2.5.3, Rails 5.2.1.

For both these applications, the database was MySQL, and I decided to install the latest version, i.e., 8 running on Windows. The MySQL installer tools make the installation and configuration very easy and I could bring up MySQL quickly.

I started setting up the Rails environment for webapp-2 first. The installation program for windows that I downloaded was rubyinstaller-devkit-2.5.3-1-x64.exe. I ran it, selected MSYS2 and MINGW development toolchain option and the installation went through smoothly. I installed rails gem with the following command
> gem install rails --version 5.2.1

But then, when I started the rails server, I ran into a library issue. In the browser, I accessed localhost:3000 and I got a nasty looking error:
Authentication plugin 'caching_sha2_password' cannot be loaded: The specified module could not be found.