93 Replies to “Open Thread, 04/04/2020 Brown Pundits”

  1. Can we talk about manufacturing? Industry 4.0?

    A factory is a room full of equipment. Why are we locating them in China? Low wages? No, the whole point of a factory is to use equipment, not labour.

    So it’s not low wages. Not a lack of raw materials or land or labour in USA. A 3,200 sq ft quonset and the land it’s on go for as little as twenty grand – boom, instant factory. Buy used Rust Belt equipment, just like Tesla did.

    After all, who’s buying Chinese cars? Planes? Excavators? Speedboats?

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    1. I wish there was more talk from people on the ground and not just by economists (who at least in Indian public discourse don’t seem have a good grip on how real markets work and keep parroting some weak understanding of grassroots and jargon they learned in school) about how China is manufacturing so cheaply.

      Case in point: Fountain pen manufacturing. Reason for this product: reasonably easy to manufacture(technically and financially), booming sales, room for profits on quantity as well as quality.

      I spent a few days last year trying to understand fountain pen manufacturing with the imaginary goal of out-engineering, out-performing Lamy, Pilot and others. Looked at manufacturers in India who happen to supply pens for brands like Noodlers. Went through the regulatory/policy issues (read https://www.livemint.com/news/india/the-unmaking-of-india-s-fountain-pens-11578585835963.html for an exhaustive treatment). Scoured/posted/asked around web-forums in India/America. Looked into all kinds of possible products and zeroed in on Inks(doable) and <$25 fountain pens(doable).

      There are already quite a few young Indian guys trying their hands at this in India (shoutout: https://www.fountainpenindia.com/syahi) and churning out pens that have great value. But one look at https://www.alibaba.com/trade/search?fsb=y&IndexArea=product_en&CatId=&SearchText=fountain+pen and all the dreams come to a halt. Chinese are killing everyone in manufacturing. They will sell you an exact (I have used both) copy of Pilot/Parker for a twentieth/fiftieth of the price. The advantage in cost point is so severe that I can't even imagine how they are making stuff so cheaply. Ditto for watches, home appliances, stationery, electronics. You name it, they have it and at prices that are unbelievable.

      I recounted this whole experience to an Indian friend and he said that I was being woolly headed and did not want to put up a fight (which he said was an Indian trait, 'all talk and no action', he said). I would like to hear from others who think that Chinese can be taken on and beaten in manufacturing.

      On Tesla let us see where it goes. Right now they are out-innovating everyone else but the simple truth (I might be very wrong in estimating the value it provides) is that their product is very costly (over-priced). I am certain Future of Vehicle autonomy will be opensource(or at the very least standardised by law) and other companies have already caught up on electric drive train. That leaves the battery Gigafactories as the sole differentiator. Let us see how long this advantage last.

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    2. I wish there was more talk from people on the ground and not just by economists (who at least in Indian public discourse don’t seem have a good grip on how real markets work and keep parroting some weak understanding of grassroots and jargon they learned in school) about how China is manufacturing so cheaply.
      Case in point: Fountain pen manufacturing. Reason for this product: reasonably easy to manufacture(technically and financially), booming sales, room for profits on quantity as well as quality.

      continued…

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    3. I spent a few days last year trying to understand fountain pen manufacturing with the imaginary goal of out-engineering, out-performing Lamy, Pilot and others. Looked at manufacturers in India who happen to supply pens for brands like Noodlers. Went through the regulatory/policy issues (read https://www.livemint.com/news/india/the-unmaking-of-india-s-fountain-pens-11578585835963.html for an exhaustive treatment). Scoured/posted/asked around web-forums in India/America. Looked into all kinds of possible products and zeroed in on Inks(doable) and <$25 fountain pens(doable).

      There are already quite a few young Indian guys (https://www.fountainpenindia.com/) trying their hands at this in India, churning out pens that have great value. But one look at Alibaba and all the dreams come to a halt. Chinese are killing everyone in manufacturing. They will sell you an exact (I have used both) copy of Pilot/Parker for a twentieth/fiftieth of the price. The advantage in cost point is so severe that I can't even imagine how they are making stuff so cheaply. Ditto for watches, home appliances, stationery, electronics. You name it, they have it and at prices that are unbelievable.
      continued…

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    4. I recounted this whole experience to an Indian friend and he said that I was being woolly headed and did not want to put up a fight (which he said was an Indian trait, ‘all talk and no action’, he said). I would like to hear from others who think that Chinese can be taken on and beaten in manufacturing.

      On Tesla let us see where it goes. Right now they are out-innovating everyone else but the simple truth (I might be very wrong in estimating the value it provides) is that their product is very costly (over-priced). I am certain Future of Vehicle autonomy will be opensource(or at the very least standardised by law) and other companies have already caught up on electric drive train. That leaves the battery Gigafactories as the sole differentiator. Let us see how long this advantage last.

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      1. @Bhimrao

        You seem a knowledgeable person. What do you think of India’s electric mobility industry and where it will be in 5 years time?

        I am sort of on a career break. Just shut my startup. Thinking of exploring electric mobility really seriously.
        Is there a chance we could talk in detail elsewhere if this doesn’t seem like the appropriate forum?

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        1. @Prats
          I am flattered but to tell the honest truth I don’t have any expertise/experience when it comes to startups. I am a guidance-navigation-control-estimation, reinforcement learning (SLAM, DDPG) researcher but my (so far) meagre original contributions have all been in academia.

          If I dig enough I might know someone who knows someone in https://www.atherenergy.com/ but it is best if you directly talk to these guys, who knows you might land some OEM opportunity? But being realistic about our ability (both financial and engineering-wise) amongst my friends (who are avid cyclists in Greater Noida), we have discussed electric bicycles and more interestingly electric skateboards. There might be niches in disabled-friendly stuff like electric shopping trikes (with large supermarkets coming up in India). Any product bigger than this requires some serious money and engineering team.

          I have a college senior here in the US who became a multimillionaire with his autonomy related camera-lidar startup. A friend of mine in India was excited about turning those small-tractor sized floor cleaning/scrubbing vehicles into self-driving autonomous ones, bought turtle bot and maybe got a crude prototype to work. We even discussed electric/regular bike-sharing, I remember a Hall (hostel) team in Kgp actually made a self-balancing self-driving autonomous electric-bicycle prototype that you could summon with a phone app. But like most such talk/ideas/projects with friends, no product ever came out of it. A really talented friend of mine worked for a German auto parts OEM’s (think of the largest one) R&D lab in Bangalore on Electric/Autonomous related parts/ subassemblies/ algorithms. The guy ended up disappointed to the point of depression with the lack of engineering talent he saw there. Bosses with PhDs from IISc, Berkley etc throwing around ever more colourful academic jargon on autonomy/systems-engineering without the ability to write 100 lines of code for training even the most basic Neural Network, absent even high school level math/logic skills and no product to show for even after tens of man-years wasted. In conclusion, I can only repeat the most generic advice that e-mobility is an open area and there are a lot of niches to be filled but I have no clue what can be made to work commercially.

          The only way to figure it out is to wade into the whole startup scene and I don’t pursue it because I have no responsibilities/ commitments/desires that require me to be rich and I still enjoy the freedom of academic research. I would be happy to talk to you or be of any help here or any other forum of your choice but I am certain you already know more than me.

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          1. “btw what did you work on in your earlier startup?”

            I built tools to automate data entry, especially from handwritten documents.

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          2. @Prats
            Awesome man! Very cool.
            For a class, we coded(copied and ran from GitHub) some NNs to identify hand-writing. It seems to be a viable product.
            I use an app to read and store my grocery receipts. Always thought that app to read and process bank cheques in India was just around the corner.
            So, what happened to the startup?

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          3. “So, what happened to the startup?”

            We were mainly looking to break into the financial services industry and then upsell on top of it.
            We were a bit naive and didn’t realize that banks and insurance companies move extremely slowly and Indian ones, especially do not prioritize operational efficiency. Although, our experience with a European bank wasn’t that much better.

            This led to very slow sale cycles. When we started a couple of years back the tech had some novelty. Google Vision APIs weren’t available for handwriting for example. It’s getting rapidly commoditized now. So we had a short window of opportunity left and not as fast a growth as we had hoped for.

            Seemed like a better idea to liquidate the IP and move on. Wasn’t that difficult a decision since we were only two people and had not raised outside investment.

            Seems a good decision in hindsight since Corona will most likely accelerate the transition away from paper.

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  2. Dad started showing bit of symptoms now too. Mom’s still spiking fevers and has a bad cough. probably a matter of time before I show them. Hopefully, I just get lucky. Been a few days already since the confirmed test. Hopefully, resolves by next week.

    And that 30% stat in article Razib posted is sad. We S Asians that are educated need to do better and contribute. I mass sent the article to many browns my age.

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    1. Stay strong! Take care.
      May you and your family get well soon.

      What was the 30% stat Razib posted?

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  3. The lockdown is affecting me now. Thinking of “coming out” on twitter. Have been following my fav folks through an anonymous account. Have seen some of my closest friends argue and fight on twitter, so dont want to degenerate into that. Also it seems like in real life people’s IQ is much higher than how they act on twitter.

    Don;t know once stuff returns to “normal” if i would be able to go back to my previous anonymous self, once i make a habit of tweeting . So can’t decide one way or the other.

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    1. “Don;t know once stuff returns to “normal” if i would be able to go back to my previous anonymous self, once i make a habit of tweeting .”

      Better to provide good gyaan from an anonymous (or pseudonymous) account than to come out and set expectations. Be like the {{{ComfortablySmug}}} guy.

      In any case, I have noticed that as long as you don’t follow too many journalists and mute re-tweets, you can avoid the whole “degenerating” thing.

      Outside of politics, Twitter has some really good folks posting on technical and non-technical topics.

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  4. “I wish there was more talk from people on the ground and not just by economists (who at least in Indian public discourse don’t seem have a good grip on how real markets work and keep parroting some weak understanding of grassroots and jargon they learned in school) about how China is manufacturing so cheaply.”

    The reason for that is India’s economic sphere is dominated by S-Indians and Bengalis who are commies anyways.

    Expecting them to understand free market is like expecting Gujjus to become socialist.

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    1. @Saurav

      How are S Indians communists? I mean maybe aside from Kerala, which has communist governments. But TN is a major manufacturing hub, Karnataka is big in tech and startups. Not sure what about AP/Telengana are particularly similar to Bengal rather than other parts of India. Trade has always been a huge part of the South and that continues.

      The South starting pulling ahead in economic and social metrics when economic liberalization started. And that liberalization program itself involved 2 southerners — Narasimha Rao and Chidambaram.

      I would say the South is economically more like the West, and more like Bengal when it comes to social matters / HDI (e.g., literacy, sex ratio, treatment of women). Yes there are programs designed to help the poor, but you can find that in countries that aren’t communist.

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      1. West Bengal is horrible in terms of crime against women which can be verified by easily available statistics (or by just living in Bengal, anyone other than maybe UP people can easily see this). Lechrousness overflows on Kolkata streets (staring, groping etc) and I rank Bengal solidly second just behind UP in the mistreatment of women. Nothing much to show for in HDI, sex ratio, literacy(maybe?) either.

        I was once returning after dropping a female friend at the airport in Kolkata (this was immediately after the Delhi rape case). My taxi driver was a guy in his 50’s with all kinds of Hindu religious statues and decoration in the yellow Ambassador. I started discussing women safety in rural vernacular to open him up and when the guy opened his mouth I shit my pants and shivered. He proudly(and I swear he meant what he said) went on saying stuff like: “Girls coming out late at night are asking for it. And are usually callgirls going to meet clients so it is justified to molest them” “If they make-out with their boyfriends in the backseat of car why can’t cab drivers do them(!) and after having ***(raping them) if the driver does not take the money for cab ride (as payment for having sex) then everything is even.” , “The mothers of these girls are actually prostitutes and fathers are cucks for letting a girl out alone dressed like that…” His horrifying mind was laid bare in front of me and I have never felt safe about females travelling with Indian cab drivers. And this is not just one isolated case, rapes, and even child abuse are quite rampant in Bengal. This imagined Bengali refined culture, education and civility is a lie, a facade. Places like Karnataka, Kerala, TN are heaven compared to West Bengal.

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        1. @Bhimrao

          Fair enough, thanks for the on-the-ground insight into Bengal. Maybe I bought into the facade.

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      2. @Hoju

        Leaving Kerala, there are essentially 4 states in South. The only outlier state is Karnataka which is more “Hindu-fied”. Andhra has been having the longest running Communist insurgency to this present day. While Tamil Nadu in the last election elected the 2nd highest number of communists (after Kerala) to the parliament.

        ” And that liberalization program itself involved 2 southerners — Narasimha Rao and Chidambaram.”

        I don’t put much value on Rajya Sabha-esque leaders. The current Govt has two tamils as Foreign and Finance ministers. Pretty sure BJP is a hit in Tamil Nadu. The liberalization process was due to external factors and not due to some S-Indian connections. Might have put a Bengali communist in charge and would have had the same result.

        On the final point i agree South has moved far ahead of the North economically. But that is due to the head start it always had from Independence. All states (including Gujarat, MH, Delhi) which were doing pretty well during 47, are doing well today , apart from Bengal. They have moved forward or backward only in very relative terms.

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        1. @Saurav

          “On the final point i agree South has moved far ahead of the North economically. But that is due to the head start it always had from Independence.”

          This is largely wrong.

          You should read The Paradox of India’s North–South Divide (https://in.sagepub.com/en-in/sas/the-paradox-of-india%E2%80%99s-north%E2%80%93south-divide/book245542#contents).

          Here’s the description and it’s pretty widely recognized:
          “This book examines the socio-economic and political scenario of India’s southern states vis-à-vis their northern counterparts. Exploring the paradox behind the underlying North–South divide in India, it reveals that the gap was much smaller at the outset, with the North having had a head start in certain areas. It goes on to establish that although the South was somewhat better placed in terms of initial conditions, it was the post-liberalization era that saw it realizing this potential and surging forward.”

          This is even true anecdotally. Before liberalization, most educated southerners who were capable of doing so moved north for opportunity. That’s not the case anymore.

          “I don’t put much value on Rajya Sabha-esque leaders. The current Govt has two tamils as Foreign and Finance ministers. Pretty sure BJP is a hit in Tamil Nadu. The liberalization process was due to external factors and not due to some S-Indian connections. Might have put a Bengali communist in charge and would have had the same result.”

          Fair enough on this point. Liberalization was due to other important factors, not really the southernness of Rao or Chidambaram.

          “While Tamil Nadu in the last election elected the 2nd highest number of communists (after Kerala) to the parliament.”

          Eh, I don’t think that’s a very convincing argument to characterize TN as commies. Yes, there are welfare policies, but even non-communist places have policies intended to help the poor.

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          1. \“While Tamil Nadu in the last election elected the 2nd highest number of communists (after Kerala) to the parliament.”\

            The DMK has bought over CPM. DMK donated 5 Crore Rs to CPM to fight last elections . With that, basically CPM has become handmaiden of DMK. The communists shamelessly mouth the usual drav movement platitudes. The communist ideals , outlook and policies of 50 years ago have been exchanged for playing second fiddle to DMK. DMK has assiduously bought over once independent Tamil media inclduing The Hindu in Tamil edition Globalisation and the casteist and opportunistic politics of the last 40 years have pulverized communists in all but name.

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  5. I’m eating a like a king (well, not really, since I cook for myself). WFH has been surprisingly productive – I’ve never done it. Exercising is a chore because my favourite activities are prohibited by physical distancing.

    Reading a lot.

    I’m loving it so far, but know it’s not sustainable.

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  6. I took a flight so I have been quarantining in the guest room at my parents’ flat for the last two weeks. Will hopefully finally have dinner with family tonight.

    Delhi is awfully quiet and the only noise one hears is sounds of birds or of ambulance sirens. It was really weird the first few days but have been getting used to it.

    Getting time to read and write, which is nice. Volunteering with a bit of online technical help for people who are arranging stuff IRL.

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  7. Hello,
    Lost two coworkers in nyc. Other people from the building have also reported sick. I may have had it too but since the symptoms were not too bad, could not get tested. Sad thing is that I went to the city last on Feb 27th and felt my symptoms start around Mar 8th. Wfh after that. It means that community spread must have been in Feb itself.

    If the world decided to stop buying from China which I believe will start happening, maybe there will be a chance for other companies to come up. A lot of companies are talking about moving manufacturing away from China, after they come out of Covid.

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    1. Sad to hear that.
      The time has come to realise that manufacturing most products (electronics) in “only” one devolping country with history of several outbreakes of zoonotic diseases has cost the world.
      Maybe India cause I am (as most people)are employed.

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    2. There’s definitely going to be a backlash against China. Their period of unfettered growth is over. I would even go as far to say that their ambitions of hegemony are not looking too good anymore. At the very least it’s going to take longer than was previously believed.

      Who will benefit from this backlash remains to be seen. I definitely think Vietnam, Bangladesh and possibly Indonesia will see growth in manufacturing from outsourcing. Ideally India would be able to take advantage of this, but outside of maybe Tamil Nadu picking up a few more industrial plants I’m not terribly optimistic.

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  8. Did anyone see that video where the Chinese ambassador was talking about how India was such a great partner etc etc. It seems very unnatural as far as China is concerned. It reminds me of Hindi- Cheeni bhai bhai slogan.

    The treatment so far I understand that is being pushed is the old malaria medicine. From what I understand people with thalassemia minor have some kind of resistance to malarial infection. I wonder if there is any testing to determine this as well?

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    1. Everyone is just grinding their teeth till the whole thing is over. And China thinks it will be business as usual. Let see who is right.

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      1. Money talks and cheaper goods mean more money for everyone involved. My prediction is that it would be business as usual. Regimented China (just like Japan before it) gets things done efficiently and cost-effectively without all the noise. On the innovation side too, we (Indians) are nowhere near human resource or commitment and investment that China has. This Markov Chain will converge with Chinese victory.

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        1. In an ironic way i think it will be chinese people who perhaps will bear the brunt once its all over. I forsee sort of hidden travel restriction on them in other countries. Of course poor African and Asian countries won’t be able to do so, lest it angers the Chinese Govt. There will rise of casual racism (or even racist attacks) and China-phobia.

          On the Govt level i think countries who were on the edge of going with /supporting China on cutting edge technology (5G) as well as on multilateral forums (UN Bodies) might have a rethink. They will still have to go with China for already continuing supply chain movements and all.

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          1. I had a discussion with a mainland pro-CCP Chinese graduate student in my department. In a very Lee Kuan Yew style realpolitik he coldly stated the facts that if they miss out on 5G in 3-4 years time there would be 6G, then 7G, then 8G, and so on, Chinese will eventually win.
            On travelling I think they now have the highest number of high net worth individuals in the world and money opens doors.
            In a way they have the weight/might to get away with a lot of asshole-ry, a few that I can recount are stealing tech from Intelsat 708, copying MD-80, copying Shinkansen, ripping off hundreds of smaller tech innovations like Segway, the list is endless. The truth is that no one can do jack shit about it and people will keep buying cheaper Chinese stuff.

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          2. Saurav
            In an ironic way i think it will be chinese people who perhaps will bear the brunt once its all over. I forsee sort of hidden travel restriction on them in other countries

            I think it will be the visitors from the West that will have restrictions (at least in Sri Lanka). It will take a long time to get the US etc Virus free. Note that in China it is only a province that was affected. In the US the whole country is afflicted and growing and spreading.

            To me this is personal even from a business/livelihood point. Most of my visitors/tourists are from West Europe, Nederlands etc. I dont see the possibility of allowing them in for at least a years. Even then proof of vaccination, quarantine etc. Much like what South Asians need to do to travel to the West and much more.

            In Sri Lanka non of the Sri Lankan returnees from China or Korea tested positive.
            The biggest group that were infected were returnees from Italy plus one tourist guide infected (recovered) by Italian Tourists. Couple of returnees from India and Indonesia have also been spreading their love.

            And China thinks it will be business as usual.
            I dont think so, I think they are getting ready to step in to a power/business/Manufacturing vacuum.

            if you think about it, it is the US thats following Stalinist mentality the “One death is a tragedy but a million deaths are a statistic”.

            On the other hand the Chinese have gone with every (Chinese) life matters

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  9. Naipaul on Pakistan in 1979: “The idea of the Muslim state as God had never converted into anything less exalted, had never converted into political or economic organization. Pakistan – a thousand miles long from the sea to the Himalayas, and with a population of more than seventy million – was a remittance economy. The property boom in Karachi was sustained in part by the remittances of overseas workers, and they were everywhere, legally and illegally. They were not only in Muslim countries – Arabia, the Gulf states, Libya; they were also in Canada and the United States and in many of the countries of Europe. The business was organized. Like accountants studying tax laws, the manpower-export experts of Pakistan studied the world’s immigration laws and competitively gambled with their emigrant battalions: visitor’s visas overstayable here (most European countries), dependents shippable there (England), student’s visas convertible there (Canada and the United States), political asylum to be asked for there (Austria and West Berlin), still no visas needed here, just below the Arctic Circle (Finland). They went by the planeload. Karachi airport was equipped for this emigrant traffic. Some got through; some were turned back.”

    Once they got there: “. . . the emigrants threw themselves on the mercies of civil-liberties organizations. They sought the protection of the laws of the countries where the planes had brought them. They or their representatives spoke correct words about the difference between poor countries and rich, South and North. They spoke of the crime of racial discrimination and the brotherhood of man. They appealed to the ideals of the alien civilizations whose virtue they denied at home.”

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  10. Naipaul analyzing the protagonist in the novel “Foreigner” by an Iranian American: “She has always been a stranger, solitary in spite of husband and friends, always at a loss sexually and socially; she cannot say why she has done anything, why she has lived the American life. She has worked hard, but now even that work—of experiment and research—seems pointless, work for the sake of work, work for the sake of fitting in. Her time in the United States, in spite of study, work, and husband, has been a time of emptiness. And then the doctor tells Feri that the pain in her stomach comes from an old ulcer. “You brought it with you,” the doctor says. “Now you have no right to be afraid of the hospital, me, or your country. What you have is a Western disease.”

    Feri’s American husband, previously summoned, arrives to take her back. He is seen as a stranger, but fairly (and this fairness is part of the novel’s virtue): a man of work and the intellect, private rather than solitary, self-sufficient, a man made by another civilization, his marriage to an Iranian his single unconventional act. It is impossible for Feri to go back with someone so remote to the American emptiness. She will lose her research job. But she doesn’t mind.
    She will, in fact, lay down that anxious, all-external life of work and the intellect. She will do as the doctor did; she will visit mosques and shrines, and to do that she will put on the chador….

    And—though the novelist doesn’t make the point—it is as if Feri and the doctor, turning away from the life of intellect and endeavour, have come together in an Iranian death pact. In the emotions of their Shia religion, so particular to them, they will rediscover their self-esteem and wholeness, and be inviolate. They will no longer simply have to follow after others, not knowing where the rails are taking them. They will no longer have to be last, or even second. And life will go on. Other people in spiritually barren lands will continue to produce the equipment the doctor is proud of possessing and the medical journals he is proud of reading.

    That expectation—of others continuing to create, of the alien, necessary civilization going on—is implicit in the act of renunciation, and is its great flaw.”

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  11. Rohini

    Manufacturing is not coming back to the US till Wall Street no longer controls businesses. i.e. a Radical change in the system

    eg 1: N95 Masks
    has prioritized working with medical centers that will sign five-year contracts, to reduce the likelihood that the company will have to lay off all its new employees once the pandemic subsides.

    The policy is rooted in history. The last time the country faced a comparable mask shortage was during the 2009 H1N1 outbreak. To meet increased demand, Prestige Ameritech hired hundreds of new employees and expanded its manufacturing capabilities. But after the outbreak died down, Bowen says that most hospitals that had relied on Prestige Ameritech went back to Chinese suppliers, which typically sell masks and respirators for less than it costs him to produce.

    https://www.wired.com/story/surreal-frenzy-inside-us-biggest-mask-maker/

    eg 2

    Care of the sick is not the mission of these companies; their mission is to make outsized profits for the private equity firms and its investors.

    About a third of hospital emergency rooms are staffed by doctors on the payrolls of two physician staffing companies—TeamHealth and Envision Health—owned by Wall Street investment firms. Envision Healthcare employs 69,000 healthcare workers nationwide while TeamHealth employs 20,000. Private equity firm Blackstone Group owns TeamHealth, Kravis Kohlberg Roberts (KKR) owns Envision.

    n the law requires that physician practices must be owned by a licensed medical practitioner. TeamHealth skirts the law by owning all the assets of the physician practices it acquires—the real estate, offices, equipment, supplies, inventory, and even accounts receivable.

    https://www.zerohedge.com/geopolitical/kkr-backed-healthcare-firm-just-slashed-doctors-pay-middle-unprecedented-pandemic?

    https://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2020/04/what-wall-street-doesnt-want-you-to-know-about-hospital-emergency-rooms.html

    Rohini, this is not academic to me. I have friends and loved ones in NYC. One is almost a daughter (her family) at the front lines, a nurse in Bellevue Hospital, Manhattan. The other is a significant other living in the Jackson Heights/Elmhurst border.

    https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=823856121424863&id=100014014474339&__tn__=-R

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    1. @sbarrkum
      Can you please comment on how to bring down the cost to Chinese levels? Maybe cutting the middle-man/money-boss (wall street) helps but I still don’t understand if a manufacturing business like that (i.e. one outside the purview/control of wall street) can be made profitable (or at least sustainable) then why don’t we see any such businesses (with such low-interest rates, transparency, abundant resources etc)? As you mentioned the hospitals themselves went back to Chinese suppliers. People want cheap stuff, China with its regimented society and other advantages(both inherent and created) is beating everyone else at making stuff cheaply.

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      1. Manufacturing isn’t coming back to the United States or the developed world in general, at least not on a self-sufficient level. The only way to move forward is to diversify the supply chain in such a way that the world isn’t dependent on China. Hopefully South and Southeast Asia can jump on this.

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      2. Bhimrao

        Can you please comment on how to bring down the cost to Chinese levels? Maybe cutting the middle-man/money-boss (wall street) helps but I still don’t understand if a manufacturing business like that (i.e. one outside the purview/control of wall street) can be made profitable

        Start with a quote from Matt Stoller (2011)
        Change needs to happen—and it will happen, either through good leadership or through collapse.

        The US has a choice, most other countries dont
        Its not about cutting costs per se. Think the Henry Ford saying, workers should be able to buy what is produced.

        For the US first throw out Free Trade and embrace protectionist. Start Manufacturing and give Price protection to what is manufactured. Same for Oil, the US is self sufficient.

        But all of this means ditching the Petro dollar, and the global monetary power that comes with it.

        So very unlikely those changes will be by choice.

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        1. But Muslims don’t actually drink camel urine.

          Hindus actually drink cow urine and eat cow shit. That’s far more unhygienic than anything Indian Muslims do.

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          1. Pointless discussion but still takes just 1 min to find evidence to rubbish your claim. Very similar to all other claims you make while trolling here.

            From Madina
            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=khjfnYsd7mg

            Africa
            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r-F4yjuWCfs

            Subcontinent
            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hS4UN5xFGLk

            Everyone’s having it man! The Kenyan one writes this in description
            “Did you know that apart from being used to ferry goods and people, pastoralist communities have a high regard for everything derived from the king of the desert –the camel”

            Guess you cant justify one pastoral community’s ideas while fighting another.

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          2. These are very rare instances. 99+% of Muslims have never thought about, much less would engage, in drinking camel urine.

            Drinking cow urine, eating cow shit (and even bathing in it), is fairly common among Hindus.

            Thousands of liters of cow urine are being consumed in Gujarat alone every day. https://m.economictimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/thousands-of-litres-of-cow-urine-consumed-in-gujarat-daily/articleshow/74922747.cms

            Crowds with hundreds engaging in the practice occur. Members of the government tout the restorative powers of cow excrement, as do various Hindu religious bodies. A recent BJP official I think was fined after the latest cow urine party resulted in someone getting quite sick lol.

            This is somewhat similar with open-defecating. Yes some poor Muslims do it, but its most strongly correlated with Hindus. And yet as per usual, Hindus, who have the least room to talk when it comes to poor hygiene, are blaming Muslims for spreading Corona in India.

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          3. You lie through your teeth and you have been called out for it.Your statement that this is not done at all has now changed to some do it. It was featured on TV programs, so looks more widespread than what you claim. And the evidence was there to be seen had you spent a moment to search for it rather than making blanket statements.

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          4. “You are lying through your teeth”

            No, you are being pedantic. An extremely rare phenomenon among Muslims is not the same as a common practice among Hindus.

            “There are videos online”

            There are videos online of Hindus digging up the graves of their relatives and eating their remains as part of religious devotion. This is an anomaly, and is not practiced by the vast majority of Hindus. Consumption of cow excrement is.

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          5. Edit for the last sentence, don’t mean to say cow excrement consumption is practiced by most Hindus, simply that its not an anomalous practice like drinking camel urine is for Muslims, or eating corpses is for Hindus.

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          6. Its you who is being pedantic and splitting hair about how often, how rare or how anomalous who does what. No one tried to whitewash foolish acts done by section of hindu society. Fact is there are plenty of them in all societies including muslims and they are in no way better than anyone.
            The islamist in you got enraged because Tablighis are being blamed. They are responsible for a third of the cases in India and many deaths. You could have simply said blame that congregation not the vast majority of muslims in country and it would have been fine. But you chose as always to engage in defending the worst practices (in this case of tablighis) by making blanket statements about how hindus are worse than muslims as a rule

            2+
    1. Let that not be the last Amit Verma podcast you hear. He is simultaneously respectful, meticulous, challenging, and doesn’t place his guests on pedestals. Everything an interviewer ought to be! Even if you are not a libertarian like he is, you learn a lot from his interviews.

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  12. @sbarrkum,
    Thank you for providing your input! Best wishes to your friends for being in the frontlines at this time.
    I know some.people at Blackrock, not close though. I hope I can discuss this with them and get inputs from them post this epidemic.
    Sarbanes-oxley had major impact on banks post 2008. The only reason that the Banks haven’t melted down so far even with >40% defaults is because of SOX, I hear. SOX was radical too during its time.
    Maybe after this there will be sweeping changes post COVID with respect to epidemic preparedness as well.

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  13. Re- Matkaz bashing

    I have had lots of calls from in ndia where the square blame for India having COVID is being laid at the door of Markaz…
    I have been trying to explain to them that I don’t think it was intentional. It was just ignorance and unawareness. At whose doors will US put its blame at? I think it is a wake up call for all nations to rethink their priorities, their model of development, levels of stupidity and ignorance of its populations.
    In my opinion, India would do well to stop copying US as its model of development and focus on first providing food and healthcare and village levels. I don’t mean capitalism vs communism but ratchet down materialism as the goal in life.
    I haven’t thought this through but what good are the designer brands at this point?

    1+
    1. “In my opinion, India would do well to stop copying US as its model of development and focus on first providing food and healthcare and village levels. I don’t mean capitalism vs communism but ratchet down materialism as the goal in life.”

      but that’s what india did for the first 4 decades of its life after independence, didn’t it? tried to eliminate poverty bottom up. did it work? india was still dirt poor as it entered 90s.

      we indians have derided the unbridled consumerism of west for a long time, but have we shown an alternate model to the world? do we even have any better solution?

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      1. We have uplifted more poor people in the last 2 decades than the preceding 6 precisely because of following the US model.

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      2. @Saurav
        True.
        @Scorpion Eater
        There is just one viable way capitalism-consumerism. A lot of the ‘alternate way to the western decadence’ noise always comes from well off people, even in the face of stunning singular economic growth and prosperity that west(and westernised economies like Korea) achieved.

        My grandfather used to express his distaste and disrespect towards Gandhian self-reliance (Gramodyog, protectionism etc) and Nehruvian socialist welfare ideas. He said it would take weeks to make khadi on charkha for one dhoti, it was a stupid waste of time and energy. Maybe this can be forgiven as it was the only option available in Nehru’s time. He mentioned that India has become infinitely more livable within one and a half decades of liberalisation than it managed in forty years after independence.

        Voice of small towner (D-rung towns like Jhansi, Karnal, Bundi) and village folk whose entire potential was stifled by Nehruvian socialism never finds any mention. No jobs, non-existent healthcare, non-existent infrastructure, infinite bureaucratic red-tape were the reality of the socialist experiment. My family (landless villagers) have amassed more assets and social respect via serving in the IT industry and a liberalised economy in the last 25 years than our ancestors managed in all of history. So any talk of ‘alternative system’ is hogwash and will never be accepted by hundreds of millions of families that have perhaps for the first time in history found money to breathe, to at least do inter-state pilgrimages, get some education, to get a small house, a motorcycle, get health insurance.

        Western capitalism+consumerism is the only right way and Indian ‘intellectuals’ (who btw don’t have much originality to show for in mathematics, design, experiments, business, medicine etc but jump in imagined self-importance to opine about global economics, environmental ethics, non-proliferation, spirituality and other topics where juggling words is mistaken as competence) should stop trying to completely reinvent the single most important subject of all – economics.

        We(SAARC minus Pakistan and Afghanistan) should keep our heads down and keep working like Japan, Taiwan, Korea and China before us and maybe apna time aayega. We are a tiny economy, poorly integrated with global supply chains, without any notable asset other than our (over)population without which (almost) no-one in the world gives two fucks about us. Too much damage has already been done and we should leave these experiments in ‘different’ economics to countries like Pakistan, Argentina, Venezuela and Cuba.

        2+
  14. thewarlock:
    How you and your folks doing? All the best

    Razib/Omar:
    Razib mentioned that BP and Zack parted ways last summer. If you feel comfortable sharing – was it because of his other commitments taken precedence or due to ideological / vision differences?

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        1. it lasts a couple weeks. don’t get complacent. Ebs and flows. Make sure to eat and drink enough, even if you don’t want to. Tyenol works

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  15. to be frank i had some sharp words for Zach because i wasn’t sure his blog posts were good for his mental health..but i think it worked out. he got to focus on his fitness, which seems better.

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  16. I ordinarily do not comment but to provide clarification.

    Razib decided to air his “concerns” in a public whatsapp group full of my friends and contacts, which I found unacceptable.

    I summarily withdrew from BP as I found that to be frankly an unconscionable act after us knowing one another for 18+ years and collaborating for half that.

    At any rate I would have put the matter to rest but since Razib has frankly decided to malign me yet again (and unnecessarily). As I had mentioned at the time whatever concerns he may have had could have been communicated to me in private, it’s extremely poor form to bring such issues to a public forum.

    This hostility is somewhat untoward (also the condescension/patronisation is also not appreciated) and reinforces my earlier decision to step away from BP; I hope this comment will not be deleted.

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  17. “This is somewhat similar with open-defecating. Yes some poor Muslims do it, but its most strongly correlated with Hindus. And yet as per usual, Hindus, who have the least room to talk when it comes to poor hygiene, are blaming Muslims for spreading Corona in India.”

    @Indthings, please stop being so ignorant.
    First, Hindus in India, if they want to eat/drink/bathe in cow urine/gobar, it is their right to do so as long as they don’t hold parties to do so. Then they would be as stupid as the tablighi members.

    Here is a link to animal byproducts used in modern medicine-
    https://fpnotebook.com/mobile/pharm/Adverse/AnmlDrvdPhrmctcls.htm

    Gobar mixture was extensively used in rural India for cleaning and making a kaccha farsh. I bet in rural muslim households too. People may convert but haven’t left their way of living. For whatever reason, it acts as a disinfectant- flies, mosquitoes etc do not enter. I have been to such homes and seen it too. Gobar is also used in our Dushera Puja to make an effigy of Ravan. We substitute now with dough as gobar is not easily available in cities.

    Is this is the only thing that you can come up with to bait Hindus on this forum?

    3+
    1. 1.) All the stories about Hindus consuming cow excrement were in crowds and parties of hundreds of people, like the Tabligis. Please don’t analogize Muslims worshiping God with Hindus eating cow excrement.

      2.) Can somebody who passed 8th grade science class tell this joker that because a medicine uses enzymes derived from an animal’s intestine, it does not justify eating the actual intestine (or in this case the shit in the intestine).

      3.) I didn’t try to “bait Hindus”. I responded to a comment calling Muslims savages, and the general attitude among Hindus blaming Tabligi gatherings for Corona spread. I pointed out Hindus engage in far worse practices, and predictably, instead of condemning all bad practices in all communities, Hindus on this forum doubled down on defending cow excrement consumption 😂.

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      1. @Indthing

        The benefits of drinking camel urine 😋

        https://www.google.com/amp/s/islamqa.info/amp/en/answers/83423

        https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Camel_urine

        Apparently Morarji Desai’s urine therapy had foreign origin 😬

        https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Urine_therapy

        Nobody eats gobar though. It’s misinformation.

        Gomutra is generally used as fertilizer and is also added in a few Ayurvedic medicines. Gomutra from healthy and freely feeding Indian breeds of cows may actually have medicinal properties.

        Mughals drank it. Buddha drank it too.
        Though as a medicine not as a delicacy. 🤣

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    2. I’m not defending INDTHINGS. It’s sad to see the usual descent into Hindu/Muslim nonsense on BP. One would think this would be frankly irrelevant during a global pandemic, but I guess not.

      As for “baiting Hindus”, I hope you speak up as vociferously when the Hindu nationalists on here “bait” Muslims by insulting the Prophet of God (peace be upon him).

      Finally, while the Tabligi Jamaat should not have held a large public gathering during a lockdown, neither should Yogi Adityanath have held a large gathering for “Ram Lalla”. Predictably, Hindu Indians will focus exclusively on Muslim wrongdoings and ignore their own. If one were to go by Indian media, it would seem that the coronavirus is a vast Muslim conspiracy against the world.

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      1. /Finally, while the Tabligi Jamaat should not have held a large public gathering during a lockdown, neither should Yogi Adityanath have held a large gathering for “Ram Lalla”./
        Agree with that. Adityanath is no different than any congregation preacher in terms of his social responsibility or lack thereof

        Rohini has already spoken against exclusive Markaz bashing in this same thread and I would no doubt second her on that.

        1+
        1. He’s not just any preacher though. He’s the Chief Minister of India’s most populous state.

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  18. “we indians have derided the unbridled consumerism of west for a long time, but have we shown an alternate model to the world? do we even have any better solution?”

    @Scorpioneater, The unbridled consumerism of the last 15 years also does not inspire confidence. The poor in India continue to remain poor. I wonder if there are any statistics that can be used to compare poverty between two eras?
    The housemaid in India aspires to buy cornflakes for her children because she has seen the folks that employ her use it. How is this improving anything in India? Delhi metro is amazing, it has brought in far flung areas within commuting distance of Delhi. I wish it had not done so. Now, there is uncontrolled migration, pollution, high rates of crime esp among women.. Instead maybe farflung could have had a quality school, clinic, library and a park each along with electricity and water.. People could have been happy in their self contained units.
    I don’t think the current model is the right answer.

    1+
  19. Ganga has become cleaner. when we were there last month, it was cleaner. the ghats are cleaner and we can actually walk on them from end to end. this was not the case 20 years back.
    i feel gadkari should be made deputy pm and given charge of all major projects. he is capable.

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  20. Ganga has become cleaner. when we were there last month, it was cleaner. the ghats are cleaner and we can actually walk on them from end to end. this was not the case 20 years back.
    i feel gadkari should be made deputy pm and given charge of all major projects. he is capable.

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  21. Most Hindus I know would find the practices of drinking cow urine, eating cow feces, and eating dead human flesh to be disgusting. Jains most definitely find these practices to be so. My family still cracks jokes about how sad it is the first Guju PM, Desai, was a crackpot, in the context of the cow urine stuff.

    The stuff is kept alive by a lot of uneducated people unfortunately following opportunistic, exploitative, and highly misinformed “religious” people. Yogi is a clown. UP needs a tough guy with the mess it is in. Sad it had to be a reactionary extremist type like him.

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  22. @bhimrao and others, I don’t know the correct answer. This consumerism led by US and fed by China and other third world countries come at huge cost to the environment, cost that nobody knows. I do not know the answer too but to be America/China model is not something to aspire to.

    @thewarlock, So did we when we were growing up. Since then, a lot of time has passed and I have learned to treat ancient Indian practices including Ayurveda. When people are desperate, they are ready to try everything and I did too after trying out modern medicine.
    Did you know, that composting that we know of in the west- the knowledge was transferred for the first time in earlier 1900’s.
    We have a saying that do not visit places where owls and bats stay. Did the ancients know something more?

    @Indthings and @Kabir, I do not approve of making fun of your Gods. That is not my culture which is Hindu. I respect your right to worship as you see fit as long it does not interfere in my rights.

    @indthings, Gobar is not eaten by the way, it is used in many ways including fuel, compost and cleaning etc in rural households. Cow Urine is used in ayurvedic medicines.It is not mainstream as @warlock said. However, I respect the right of people to consume it or not without making fun of them. Who knows, without western education and attitude towards it, we may have been consuming it as well.
    See below pic –
    https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/fd/Cow%27s_urine_used_as_a_medical_treatment_in_India_Wellcome_V0041323.jpg

    Interestingly. Earlier muslims don’t seem to be averse to using cow urine as well as per this pic.

    Incidentally, Yogi Adityanath reduced his Ram Navmi puja to 20 people even though he had planned a big event. Also, anyone would be hard pressed to chalk tablighi jamat down to stupidity when reading news like below-

    https://www.google.com/amp/s/wap.business-standard.com/article-amp/news-ani/fir-against-2-tablighi-jamaat-members-for-defecating-in-delhi-quarantine-centre-120040700325_1.html

    https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.ndtv.com/india-news/coronavirus-will-file-cases-against-tablighi-jamaat-evading-covid-19-quarantine-say-delhi-police-2207231%3famp=1&akamai-rum=off

    30% of India’s cases are from Jamaat members. The liberal media seems to have a abandoned the heavy pro-Muslim usual stance i in recent days. Maybe they realize that media itself is at risk because of this jamaat’s actions.

    1+
  23. https://theprint.in/opinion/the-factivist/aap-chronology-samajhiye-did-modi-buckle-under-trump-pressure-hcq-export-covid19/397404/

    Did Modi buckle under Trump’s pressure on HCQ for COVID-19?

    “We woke up to outrage this morning. Trump twisted Modi’s arm and he gave in. India is down on its knees in front of the Americans again. Modi has sold Indian sovereignty and Covid-19 patients’ lives to Trump……

    And surrender to America? What did we call it through the 1960s, when we lived a ship-to-mouth existence? It was also our most anti-American decade. Today, the Americans need an ordinary drug, and we must deny it to them? The reason we call unthinking anti-Americanism our most durable, cast-in-titanium hypocrisy.”

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  24. Writes Mallory in 2013

    http://www.proto-indo-european.ru/ie-cradle/_pdf/clouds-over-ie-homelands-nallory.pdf

    “If there are any lessons to be learned, it is that every model of Indo-European (other the OIT which he ignores for unknown reasons) origins can be found to reveal serious deficiencies as we increase our scrutiny.”

    parenthesis added.

    “The problem here, of course, is that over time we have come to know more and more and that our earlier, simpler and more alluring narratives of Indo-European origins and dispersals are all falling victim to our increasing knowledge. We have obviously moved on from the time when Nikolai Merpert first published his analyses of the role of the steppelands within the context of the Indo-European homeland but it is evident that we still have a very long way to go.”

    And yet grandma Gimbutas could do no wrong.

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