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.

You know the state is not going the BJP way if hours before the exit poll results are out, RSS member & veteran of the original NDTV psephology gang Seshadri Chari writes in The Print that Jharkhand can be a rude shock to the BJP. The RSS must have surmised Jharkhand is lost.

As the evening grew, India Today - Axis exit polls* clearly put JMM-Congress+ (UPA) alliance coming to power there. After the accuracies in their recent predictions, one would give a lot of weightage to their findings.

But still, one has to wait till Monday. It ain't over until it's over.

A day before, Prashant Kishor told in Hindustan Times & NDTV interviews that Congress has not taken a clear stand against NRC so far. If you want to oppose the NRC, say so and make your position clear, he said.

But it sounded like, hey Congress if you want to put any chance of fight in 2024, you need me and for that you got to be clear cut against NRC. He's putting his side of the deal, presumably confident that he would be able to help both Mamta and Kejriwal retain Bengal & Delhi.

Insofar as Narendra Modi & Amit Shah are concerned, they would be advised and perhaps would follow it, to back off a bit on the NRC. By all means go ahead with it, but let's make it the main election issue of 2024. If BJP wins, you go full blast on NRC as soon as you come to power in 2024. There's no loss in prestige and stature if you currently put a small pause on a policy goal and get the focus back on to the economy.

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.

Friday, 27 October 2017

Easy Image Slider

I needed a image slider for one of my web pages. The bootstrap template that I was using also provided a slider component but needed a lot of tweaking to suit my page.

When I googled, I chanced upon It was simple and very easy to use. All you need to do is select the slider configuration on the screen and with one click, the site will generate the css, js and html files that you can download as a zip file.

The generated slider code stands on its own and does not intrude into the existing style, script and mark up code. You can easily customize the css. For example, I made my own style for the image caption as given below:
#my-slider .ism-caption-3 {
    font-size: 1.75em;
    font-family: sans-serif;
    position: absolute; top: 20%;
    left: 10%;
    border-radius: 4px;
    border: none;
    color:  #FFFFFF;
    text-align: left;
Try it, you will like it.

Friday, 29 September 2017

Daughters Of India

This post is not about feminist movements in India or any such similar topic; rather it's about using Python code for applying basic NLP (Natural Language Processing) techniques on tweets.