A new (unwelcome) guest

As if we do not have enough problems with real polio here is possible evidence of a copycat virus. Permanent guests of Hotel California beware!!

The first known case appeared in
2012. Sofia Jarvis in Berkeley began to experience wheezing and
difficulty breathing. The 2-year-old spent days in the intensive care
unit at Children’s Hospital Oakland. Doctors thought she had asthma. On a follow-up visit, her mother Jessica Tomei, 37, realized something else was wrong.

we were leaving the doctor’s office, I noticed that she went to grab
something with her left arm and she stopped, midway,” Tomei said. Eventually
Sofia was brought to Van Haren’s clinic with “a unique set of
symptoms.” She was treated with steroids and intravenous immunoglobulin
therapy, used to reduce the severity of infections by giving the body
antibodies to protect against bacteria and viruses.
“None of it
helped,” said Van Haren, a neurology professor at the Stanford
University School of Medicine.

“We don’t have a final case count, but it’s
probably in the neighborhood of 25 cases, all in California,” said Van
Haren. The median age of those stricken is 12.

The children don’t have
polio, but their symptoms look much like the disease that terrified
generations of parents beginning in the 1890s. Patients lose the
ability to move their arms or legs, which “just dangle, like empty
balloons,” Van Haren said. Because the children can’t move their limbs,
the muscles atrophy and the limb shrivels.

cause of most of these cases is not known. Some clinical and laboratory
features, such as the pattern of inflammation seen in the spinal cord
on MRI, are consistent with a viral process,” said Glaser. Van Haren suspects the culprit is an enterovirus.
That is a family of viruses that includes polio but also the milder
hand, foot and mouth disease, common in infants and children. Unfortunately while there’s a vaccine for the polio virus, “we don’t have vaccines for the other enteroviruses,” Van Haren said.




Kamila Shamsie in her own words. The most thought provoking are these words below:

If you had asked me my feelings about the union jack, I suspect I’d have
said the image with which I associate it most closely is Jessica Ennis smiling her beautiful smile with a flag around her shoulders at the Olympics
– a joyful thing to think about for even those of us who roll our eyes
at all nationalism. But I had spent the last couple of years writing a
novel set during the Raj, and as the camera clicked, I found myself
remembering pictures of the union jack strung along the streets of
Peshawar in the days of empire. It brought about a strange unease, which
wasn’t in any way about my feelings toward Britain, but rather my
feelings towards Pakistan, a nation of which I would continue to be a

I had thought dual citizenship would feel like a gain, not a
loss. Instead, as I took my seat in the chamber I found myself
reflecting on what it means to be from a country in which acquiring a
second passport is regarded across the board as reason for celebration.
Weeks later, I was trying to explain this to British-Libyan writer,
Hisham Matar, who knew exactly what I meant. “In that moment you are
betrayed and betrayer both,” he said. “You’re betraying your country by
seeking another passport, and you’re betrayed by your country which
makes you want to seek another passport”

IMO it is a good thing that India does not permit dual citizenship. Naturally a “best of both worlds,” “cost-free” dual citizenship seems like a perfect choice. But this I firmly believe, citizenship is not an entitlement, nor should it be easy to attain (or buy). Also that your (original) country needs you more than your (adopted) country. Today, in her own words, Pakistan has lost more than Britain has gained.That is a pity.



Eternal youth

the promised land where (rich) people will stay young forever.… as always…Bahamas

Bahamas resident Peter Nygard says he is receiving stem cell therapy
and that a study from the University of Miami suggests he is getting
younger, the Bahamas Tribune

“They are looking at me, and my markers have shown exactly
that I have been actually reversing my ageing and getting younger,” the
70-year-old says.



Gorakh Hill for a quiet time

The highest point of Sindh, due for a major makeover. The views are remarkable and the journey is for the adventurous. Pleasantly surprised by the fact that Sindh has a 5688 ft peak and also by the name (probably since ancient times).

Yet as we climbed up towards the summit of Gorakh Hill, the mountain
hues were stunning. There was grey, ochre, brown and a speckle of green
here and there. The natural sculptures, fashioned by wind and water no
doubt, were a sight to behold. The climb was only punctuated by the
occasional sighting of a lonely shepherd tending his flock or a camel
herder watching over his beasts, or construction workers being hauled to
the top.

The sights as one climbed up the hill were indeed something for sore
eyes, reminiscent of the Grand Canyon in the US. At night, a canopy of
stars was visible in the clear sky above — more stars than one could
count. What is more, the silence was all-encompassing while the air was
crisp and cool.

A VIP rest house exists along with a regular guest house, while staff
quarters and tourist huts are under construction. While the weather in
Dadu and Johi below was pleasant, on Gorakh Hill it was absolutely
nippy. And as the sun came down, the cold started to bite. Late at
night, as load-shedding hit and the wind started howling on the pitch
dark hilltop, the feeling was otherworldly.



The (unsung) mutiny (1946)

A 94 year old recounts his vivid memories of those momentous events 68 years ago when the soldiers raised by the British to keep their own countrymen in chains finally revolted and (as the British saw it) the empire game was suddenly up. As a shameful and terrible consequence the mutineers were never employed by either Indian or Pakistan Navy. As they say, a good act never goes unpunished.

It’s difficult to recall a day 68 years ago when you are 94. But the
RIN mutiny, which many believe was the last nail in the Raj’s coffin,
wasn’t just any other day. And I happened to be a proximate eyewitness
to this momentous event. 

On February 18, 1946, ratings at the HMIS
Talwar, a shore establishment for signals training, went on strike,
protesting against the inedible meals and searing insults to which they
were regularly subjected.
The revolt spread like wildfire. Some
mutineers took up arms; others took to the streets of Bombay. Ratings
famously pulled down the Union Jack on rebel ships, replacing it with
flags of the Congress, the Muslim League and the Communist Party of

Unlike the sepoys of 1857, who were a heterogeneous group, the RIN
ratings were by and large educated, well-trained and well-armed.
British adm­i­nis­tration was not so much perturbed by the peaceful
civil disobedience movement (satyagraha) launched by Maha­tma Gan­dhi as
by the spectre of an insur­rection in the modern Indian armed forces,
which they had themselves trained.

Later that evening, I went to Apollo Bunder—the Gateway of India.
Everything was quiet. Thereafter, I was taken by some friends to the
flat of one of the activist supporters of the mutiny. I learnt that the
morning’s event I witnessed was but a small part of a well-orchestrated
chain of strikes and demonstrations. No wonder the British government
was rattled.  

By February 22, the mutiny had spread to naval units across
the country. Some 20,000 sailors, 20 offshore establishments and over
70 ships are believed to have been involved. That British prime minister
Clement Attlee announced the Cabinet Mission to India just a day after
the mutiny erupted is testimony to the mutiny’s perceived threat.

The revolt was as spectacular as it was short-lived. Nei­ther the
Congress nor the Muslim League supported it; the strike committee
surrendered after talks with Vallabhbhai Patel. Hundreds of mutineers
were jailed or dismissed, never to be reabsorbed by the armed forces of
independent India or Pakistan. Never were the ratings celebrated as

Within a year and a half of that day, India became free and the RIN
became the Indian navy. On the day of independence, I was with my
wife-to-be on a little hillock called Antop Hill. Suddenly, the sky lit
up with fireworks and I knew we had become free.
I owned a small car, a
dkw two-seater. It had seen many owners, and wouldn’t start without
pushing. That day, I had kept it on the slope of the hill so it would
start easily. My wife and I jumped into the car, which dutifully rolled
down the hill. Jubilant, we drove to Marine Drive and joined the stream
of cars going to the secretariat. 



Thorium reactor #1 (only by 2025)

By Brown Pundits Archive 1 Comment
Hopefully the powers that be mean what they say and say what they mean. The dream of a Thorium reactor lives on, even as we get to hear of rumors that the huge thorium reserves in Kerala and elsewhere are being depleted at a rapid scale (sold off to the Chinese?). Since this is India, of course anything is possible.

Design of the world’s first mainly thorium-based nuclear reactor is ready. Indiatoday.in
brings you the first look of the design and prototype of the Advanced
Heavy Water Reactor (AHWR). It is the latest Indian design for a
next-generation nuclear reactor that will burn thorium as its fuel.

design is being developed at Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) in
Mumbai and is an important step towards the third stage of  Indian
nuclear power programme, which envisages use of thorium fuel cycles for
commercial power generation.

The AHWR is a vertical pressure tube
type reactor cooled by boiling light water under natural circulation.
The unique feature of this design is a large tank of water on top of a
primary containment of vessel called gravity-driven water pool (GDWP).
This reservoir is designed to perform several passive safety functions. Dr
R.K. Sinha, chairman, Atomic Energy Commission, in an exclusive
interview to Indiatoday.in said: “This reactor can continue to cool its
core after passive shutdown without an external source of cooling water
and electricity and even without any operator action for nearly 110

The AHWR will be fuelled by a mix of uranium-233 and
plutonium, which will be converted from thorium and uranium-238
respectively by previously deployed and domestically designed fast
breeder reactors. Another version of the AHWR called AHWR-LEU will use
low enriched uranium along with thorium.

Thorium is an element
that is three times more abundant globally than uranium. India’s
reserves of thorium constitute 25 per cent of the world’s total

Earlier, India had set up KAMINI – a 30 kWth
experimental reactor at Kalpakkam which incidentally is the world’s only
reactor fuelled by U-233 derived from thorium.

AHWR, a technology demonstrator, is supposed to be launched during the
12th five-year plan and will take seven to eight years for completing
the construction. Thus generation of electricity from AHWR is expected
to be somewhere in 2025.  



Caste system explained?

By Brown Pundits Archive 3 Comments
We inherit our “social competences.” Social mobility is low in the USA (and everywhere else).The shadow of past poverty/prosperity lingers for 10-15 generations. Your surname says a lot about your prospects (which is a truly surprising conclusion). Gregory Clark does not say it explicitly but his surname test is implicitly a caste test, whereby people are classified by the work they do and the status they carry in society (nobles, artisans, shopkeepers).

….new research from Raj Chetty and Emmanuel Saez indicating that social mobility in the United States is not falling,
offering the not-so-reassuring news that the reason it isn’t falling is
that it’s been low for a long time.


………a different research program, associated with UC–Davis economic historian Gregory Clark, which argues that economic mobility is low almost everywhere. He reaches this conclusion with a different research method that lets
him explore much longer-term trends than most of the research you see
on this. …….if you have a noble surname in Sweden today, we know that
your father’s father’s father’s father’s father’s father’s father (or
whatever) was a member of the Swedish elite more than 300 years ago. By
contrast, if you have the last name “Andersson” then that means that
your great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandfather
wasn’t a nobleman and probably didn’t practice a skilled trade either.
That’s why he wound up with the generic surname. So we can look at the
present-day incomes of people with noble surnames and compare them to
the present-day incomes of people named “Andersson” and get a picture of
the long-term persistence of the noble/Andersson class gap

And it’s all the more striking precisely because this identification
strategy is rather crude. A person with a noble surname could still be
of mostly lower- or middle-class ancestry and vice versa, so the
surname thing should underestimate the long-term persistence of the
class gap in Sweden.


According to a new book, The Son Also Rises, by academic Gregory Clark, our chances of getting on in life are largely down to what our family did 300 years ago. Contrary to brighter estimates, which suggest that
past prosperity or poverty can be erased in three to four generations,
Clark reckons it takes 10 to 15.

“Social mobility rates are similar across societies that vary
dramatically in their institutions and income levels. Cradle-to-grave
socialist Sweden and dog-eat-dog, free-to-lose America have similar
rates. Communist China and capitalist Taiwan have similar rates.




By Brown Pundits Archive 1 Comment
Sorry for the optimistic thoughts. We are back to normal transmission. The ceasefire is but a joke.

At least 11 people were killed and 24 wounded on Monday in a gun and
suicide bomb attack at a court complex in the heavily-guarded Pakistani
capital Islamabad, police said.

death toll was confirmed by other police officials and the spokeswoman
for the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences, Ayesha Isani. Isani
said 20 wounded had been brought to the institute, half of them in
critical condition. The dead included a sessions judge, police said.

around the court, in a prosperous residential sector of the city
popular with foreign residents, were sealed off as police and
paramilitary forces carried out a search.

Lawyer Murad Ali Shah described the dramatic moment the carnage began. “At
9am around 15 armed men surrounded the court compound. They entered the
chamber and started firing,” he told AFP, adding that he had helped
recover several bodies. “The attackers were armed with
Kalashnikovs and hand grenades. They were wearing shalwar kameez and had
long beards and long hair.”

On Sunday the Pakistani government
announced it was halting air strikes against suspected Taliban hideouts
in the country’s restive tribal areas along the Afghan border in
response to the militants’ ceasefire.