A Mark Zuckerberg Presidency Isn’t Ridiculous—It’s Terrifying


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Another needull on Mark Zuckerberg’s potential run for presidency. I don’t necessarily agree with the article but important issues are to be discussed.

Trump’s hate-mongering and vulgarity are likely to make whoever occupies the White House after him seem innocuous by comparison, but a Zuckerberg presidency would be dangerous in far more subtle ways. The benign public face of the Obama administration masked an unprecedented program of privacy invasion and surveillance, all carried out in the alleged interests of “national security.” Who’s to say whether “innovation” and “fresh thinking” under a Zuckerberg administration wouldn’t serve as euphemisms for an even broader campaign of observation and analysis, implemented not just to protect us from enemies abroad, but to surreptitiously shape and manage our society at home? If we do find Zuckerberg tossing his hat in the ring come 2020, we should take care to remember what he built at Facebook—and, more importantly, how—and ask ourselves whether elevating a quasi-progressive boy genius is worth the significant costs to our privacy and our freedom.

The complete article

Jake Bittle – The Nation

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Tagore and His India


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Today’s needull is rare, very rare. A Noble laureate writing about another laureate. Amartya Sen writes about Rabindranath Tagore, India’s first Nobel laureate.

The profoundly original writer, whose elegant prose and magical poetry Bengali readers know well, is not the sermonizing spiritual guru admired – and then rejected – in London. Tagore was not only an immensely versatile poet; he was also a great short story writer, novelist, playwright, essayist, and composer of songs, as well as a talented painter whose pictures, with their mixture of representation and abstraction, are only now beginning to receive the acclaim that they have long deserved. His essays, moreover, ranged over literature, politics, culture, social change, religious beliefs, philosophical analysis, international relations, and much else. The coincidence of the fiftieth anniversary of Indian independence with the publication of a selection of Tagore’s letters by Cambridge University Press 3, brought Tagore’s ideas and reflections to the fore, which makes it important to examine what kind of leadership in thought and understanding he provided in the Indian subcontinent in the first half of this century.

The complete article

Amartya Sen

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Amanda Knox


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Just finished watching Amanda Knox documentary on Netflix. We are always intrigued about true human stories specially when it is something which does not happen on a usual day. I found the documentary more revealing of the human society.

That extraordinary bit of monologue comes from Amanda Knox, a young, pretty American student who was studying in Perugia, Italy, and leading a carefree life abroad—until the morning in November 2007 when her British roommate, Meredith Kercher, was found in the house they shared, brutally slaughtered, her neck practically severed from her body. The beautiful Renaissance Italian town became, overnight—and in full view of a world panting for more and more details from the media—the venue of three major nightmares: the Kercher family’s, of course, and Amanda’s and Raffaele Sollecito’s, her Italian boyfriend, who were summarily arrested, convicted, and thrown in prison for four years for a murder neither committed, as I reported for Vanity Fair in 2008.

The complete article

Judy  Bacharach — Vanity Fair

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The Ugly Briton


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World War I killed 7 million civilians. The 1943 Bengal Famine killed 3 million people! Beware who you consider as your heroes. Churchill certainly isn’t mine.

In 1943, some 3 million brown-skinned subjects of the Raj died in the Bengal famine, one of history’s worst. Mukerjee delves into official documents and oral accounts of survivors to paint a horrifying portrait of how Churchill, as part of the Western war effort, ordered the diversion of food from starving Indians to already well-supplied British soldiers and stockpiles in Britain and elsewhere in Europe, including Greece and Yugoslavia. And he did so with a churlishness that cannot be excused on grounds of policy: Churchill’s only response to a telegram from the government in Delhi about people perishing in the famine was to ask why Gandhi hadn’t died yet.

The complete article

Shashi Tharoor — Time

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Modi’s actions fail to live up to his words


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A critical piece on Indian PM Modi from The Japan Times.

Modi borrowed the language on Nov. 8 to order a “surgical strike” on black money, removing from legal tender the two highest denomination 500- and 1,000-rupee notes that accounted for 86 percent of India’s currency stock. Demonetization showed Modi confuses impetuous and headstrong for bold and decisive leadership.

In summary, it caused considerable damage and disruption to the economy and adversely impacted the material conditions and rights of the people, without discernible success in meeting the declared goals. However, although dubious as an economic decision, it paid off as a political gamble, proving Modi is a party politician, not a national leader. Modi has been determined to consolidate, expand and centralize state power more than unleash the creative business potential of the Indian innovator, entrepreneur and trader.

The complete article

Ramesh Thakur — The Japan Times

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My Search for Ramanujan


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Another needull on Ramanujan. Ramanujan is an Indian mathematician who continues to fascinate me endlessly.

Using a long and complicated argument, we finally found a way to show that the truth of the generalized Riemann hypothesis implies that every odd number greater than 2719 can be written as x2 + y2 + 10z2 for some integers xy, and z. The fact that almost every mathematician believes in the truth of the generalized Riemann hypothesis and the fact that every odd number greater than 2719 up to a very large number can be represented by Ramanujan’s quadratic form convinced us that we had found the law. But although the law is simple enough to state, it thus far defies a definitive proof. To be sure, if someone manages to prove the generalized Riemann hypothesis, then our conditional proof will at once become a genuine proof. But the generalized Riemann hypothesis is arguably one of the most difficult open problems in mathematics. So Ramanujan was right that the odd numbers do not obey a simple law, in the sense that they are constrained by one of the most difficult unsolved problems in mathematics.

I had no idea that I would see the number 2719 again ten years later, etched on a wall in the very spot where Ramanujan performed some of his first calculations.

The complete article

Ken Ono — IAS

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His Kampf


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Graeme Wood writes a detail profile of his classmate Richard Spencer,who has become an icon for white supremacists.

Spencer must have known that the life he was choosing would get him hated and taunted. But he seemed at most half-aware that it would get him slugged in the face, and completely unaware that it might get him killed. Fifty years ago, George Lincoln Rockwell, the urbane leader of the American Nazi Party, was shot dead in the parking lot of a laundromat, just seven miles from where Spencer lives now. There must be an intellectual thrill in knowing that people might care enough to want to kill you. Spencer seemed unsure whether the thrill would remain worth the risk.

The complete article

Graeme Wood — The Atlantic

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