How to solve the malnutrition problem

This report starts with a quote, that I cut and paste below, without comment. Go here for more.

“It is true that too many children die from malnutrition each year in this country. Some of their parents also die from starvation and hunger. But the children are more vulnerable … one of the reasons is the widespread ‘irregularity’ in the state and central government services … the Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh state is a very kind person … the Nutrition Rehabilitation Centres is not a solution for the millions of malnourished children. These centres are not cost effective. But now that the centres are there we must effectively use them. My suggestion is to appoint a Brahmin priest in each of these centres and require the priest to verify the horoscope of every child brought to the centre. After studying a child’s horoscope if the priest is of the opinionthat the child will grow into a good citizen of this country, it must be provided treatment at the centre. For the rest, I would say, let us just leave them to their fate …if not where do we stop? … We cannot spend government money like this…” (Statement  and  opinion  of  Justice  Ms.  Sheela  Khanna,  the  Chairperson  of  Madhya  Pradesh  State  Commission  for  Protection  of  Child  Rights,  made  to  the  AHRC  staff members during a visit to the Commission in October 2010).

But is it art?

Today I was at a talk that pressed all the wrong buttons for me, and I spent a while trying to understand why. The following is the result.

The talk was officially titled “On composing music” and the blurb said the speaker would take the audience through the process of what it means to make music; the speaker was a composer and faculty member of a college in New York. And that was the first problem. The only reference to the process of composing was early on in the talk, when he observed that he couldn’t make his mother understand it, though, he said, it is similar to the process of composing in writing. His effort here was not more successful. He referred to exactly two composers other than himself — namely, Joaquin des Prez and J. S. Bach — and played a few seconds of music from each, to illustrate the notion of polyphony, but did not discuss the larger-scale architecture of those pieces. Other than that, his talk was devoted entirely to his own work, and the accompanying explanations were devoted entirely to associated material — a couple of computer programs, a medieval text — not to the music itself.

As for the music: Tom Lehrer said of a “peculiar hard core” of folk music lovers that they equate “authenticity with artistic merit, and illiteracy with charm.” There are forms of music (and, indeed, other art) that make me feel that aficionados must equate obscurity with artistic merit, and incomprehensibility with talent. And this music was of that sort.

Idle thoughts on galloping coconuts

Yesterday we watched “Shrek the Third” on DVD, and were interested by the varied and very familiar voice-cast that was credited at the end, including Monty Python members Eric Idle and John Cleese.

As is my habit these days, I looked up the film on Wikipedia to learn more about it.  And one of the links there was this:

Happy new year

A day late, but 364 days remain. Wishing all those who read this the best for 2011. For us, 2010 was personally quite good and 2011 may well be better.

But as for the larger picture…

My infrequent blog posts have mostly been rather pessimistic. This post should have been an exception, if the following hadn’t happened in the last week of 2010: