Wednesday, April 6, 2022

Sri Lanka: Mob Rule or Color Revolution

It's Mob Rule in Sri Lanka. From its supporters it is a color revolution a la Ukraine Maidan in 2014 (more on that later). There are calls to hang and quarter President Gotabya Rajapakse. who was democratically elected by an overwhelming majority   These are not sentiments of rural folk. It's the call from Western leaning, educated urban affluent folk, plus those comfortably living in western countries. These are the types whose platitudes are about rule of law, democracy, guilty until proven and other trope.

But then the  fruit does not fall from the tree does it. The tree been that beacon of democracy, the US.  Just a few weeks ago there were calls for regime change, including assassination of a world leader, not just by some nonentity but by the leader of the "free" world and one of his senior member in the government.
Then of course there is the history, much to do with oil
Eg 1: Overthrow Assassination of the democratically elected Iranian PM Mosaddegh and the Shah being installed.   When there was a popular revolution and a democratic government kept getting elected under theocratic oversight (no much different from UK monarchy) sanctions against  were done done with the hope of regime change.
Eg 2 : Venezuela. Conspiracy theories of Chavez being murdered. However, very clear the US has continued using sanctions to attempt regime change and install a client Guido (is he from South Jersey). Note: Venezuela and Iran have been able to live with US sanctions because they are energy independent.
Eg 3: Korea the first division a la a possible Ukraine  Vietnam, Kosovo, Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria almost all still occupied by the US/NATO

In Sri Lanka this is a class struggle, which the west oriented urban elite hope to regain power by other means  That is not by democratic vote.   The small vocal (in English) is extremely against the current regime.  Not just against, a visceral hatred of the rural types, (godayas or bumpkins), much like visceral hatred of Russia or the rural Evangelicals and deplorables who support Trump. It is very evident in the language used against them, extremely discourteous to say the least.  The Rajapakses have continued the pro rural people, socialist policies started by the Bandaranaike in 1956..The rural people (80 % of SL) are not happy.   Who likes power cuts and shortages of diesel.  But not to the extent of doing protest.  They just need to cut firewood to cook.

The whole do a little protests and then go for sushi meal sums up the depth of these protests. Urban, affluent and no depth or "deep hunger" for change, so no real staying power or commitment. Much like Occupy Wall Street it will fizzle out.

Now the US connection: It's no coincidence Victoria Nuland the architect of the Ukraine Maidan revolution visited Sri Lanka, India,  Pakistan trying to drum up support for US sanctions against Russia.  India said it was neutral and continued to import Russian crude.  Same with Pakistan and Sri Lanka commenting they were neutral.  Lo and behold a few weeks later a no confidence motion against Imran Khan the Pakistan PM, with rumors his party MP's were bribed.  The hope was that the pro US Pakistan army (they get lots of goodies from the US) would takeover. In Sri Lanka so called grassroots protests by the urban affluent for which none of the opposition parties claim responsibility.

So why the economic crisis in Sri Lanka. Lanka is being hit by a perfect storm.

a) The consequences of 2019 Easter bombing by Islamics and loss of tourism for three years (20% FX)
b) Economic shut down by a 1+ year lockdown because of Covid (30% FX, eg Garments)
c) Loss of mid east remittance for 2 years, as workers were sent back because of COVID fear. (30% FX)
d) And now having to pay for refined fuels and diesel shortages. Our only refinery Sapugaskanda built by the Iranians is to process Iranian crude or Russian crude.

In my opinion, fuel shortages are the biggest problem. 10 hour power cuts in urban areas. Lines to get diesel, petrol, kerosene and LPG if available. Again not too bad in rural areas. i.e. use firewood. I just built an outdoor fireplace.

Mid east workers started going back starting around Dec 2021. About 40 have left so far from the village.

Tourism had picked up in March. I was getting about 2 visitors a week, about a USD 200 income. Pre easter bombing in 2019 it was USD 600+. The rioting and power cuts are going to kill that goose.

Anyway this is democratically elected govt. Mob rule regardless of how urbane or affluent (and NOT representative of greater Sri Lnka) should not be allowed to stage coup or color revolution.

Wednesday, March 9, 2022

US funded Biological Weapons/Research in Ukraine
Self-anointed "fact-checkers” in the U.S. corporate press have spent two weeks mocking as disinformation and a false conspiracy theory the claim that Ukraine has biological weapons labs, either alone or with U.S. support.

But Rubio's clean-up act came too late. When asked whether Ukraine possesses “chemical or biological weapons,” Nuland did not deny this: at all. She instead — with palpable pen-twirling discomfort and in halting speech, a glaring contrast to her normally cocky style of speaking in obfuscatory State Department officialese — acknowledged: “uh, Ukraine has, uh, biological research facilities.” Any hope to depict such "facilities” as benign or banal was immediately destroyed by the warning she quickly added: “we are now in fact quite concerned that Russian troops, Russian forces, may be seeking to, uh, gain control of [those labs], so we are working with the Ukrainiahhhns [sic] on how they can prevent any of those research materials from falling into the hands of Russian forces should they approach”

It also seems very odd, to put it mildly, that Nuland chose to acknowledge and describe the "facilities" in response to a clear, simple question from Sen. Rubio about whether Ukraine possesses chemical and biological weapons. If these labs are merely designed to find a cure for cancer or create safety measures against pathogens, why, in Nuland's mind, would it have anything to do with a biological and chemical weapons program in Ukraine?

These are the real weapons of mass destruction (WMD) unlike the false claims of Colin Powell at the UN to justify attack on Iraq.

Echos of Faucis "Gain of function" funding for Wuhan Labs the probable source of the Covid virus

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Fractional Calculus: Uncharted frontiers of Calculus.

A short note about fractional calculus, mainly because of a Sri Lankan in the forefront.  That is Udita Katugampola who got his Bachelors from Colombo University in 2002.  He has created the Katugampola fractional operators that are integral operators that generalize the Riemann–Liouville and the Hadamard fractional operators into a unique form. 

Why fractional operators matter
. Conventional calculus has its limits when we try to model complex situations. Allows to understand and model the finest details of physical processes with unprecedented precision.  Patient response in anaesthesia is one. Helps solve all manner of problems, from detecting cancer to preventing the spread of pollution to making more efficient batteries.  Recent (2015) developments in Image processing, edge detection, image restoration and fractional differentiation as a tool to reveal faint objects in astronomical images.  
(I can see the potential for Satellite Image processing and wish had this tool when I did Satellite Image processing).

The briefest possible introduction to fractional operators.
(note: Most of it is well beyond my comprehension and pay grade.)

For those who remember their classical calculus, derivatives or integrals are done by integers.  eg d2y/dx2 is the second derivative.  
A fractional derivative would be d(1/2)y/dx(1/2) 

The easiest to understand is the fractional derivatives of exponential functions.




That about the limit of my understanding.  The above and more is explained in A Child's Garden of Fractional Derivatives.  

Some Links

Fractional differentiation based image processing

Udita Katugampola's website, fractional differentiation links page






Saturday, November 6, 2021

Gotabaya Rajapaksa: Education and Experience


There are hearsay and innuendo on Gotabhya Rajapaksa's (current Presidents) purportedly lack of education. So decided to check, thats far from the truth.

Gotabaya served as an army officer for 20 years.

Then after retiring from the army, got himself a Post Graduate Diploma in Information technology from University of Colombo. To do this about turn in career and at the age of 43 shows perseverance, discipline and intelligence.

He then had a 6 year stint as Marketing Manager at Informatics Ltd, one of the biggest Information technology companies in Sri Lanka. With that emigrated to the US in 1998 (Y2K computer job boom ?) and was a Unix System Administrator for Loyola Law School, Los Angeles, CA for 7 years.

For those who dont know what a Unix Sys admin entails, needs very logical thinking and discipline, many times more that a regular programmer. The mission critical backbone of the institution is dependent on the Unix servers and its administration. It pays well too USD 120,000/year.

Anyway a synopsis of Gotabaya's career (More detailed info on LinkedIn and Wiki)

Born: 20 June 1949
1971-1991 (age 22-42) Commissioned Officer, SL Army
1992 (age 43) Post Graduate Diploma in Information technology, University of Colombo
1992-1998 (age 43 -49) Marketing Manager, Informatics Ltd
1998-2005 (age 49-56) System Administrator, Loyola Law School, Los Angeles, CA

Thursday, May 13, 2021

Update: Pandemics, Financial Crash and Gold

All these pandemic stuff is not unexpected.  Those who look at downside risk, i.e. tail risk, predicted the 2008 crash*. After that  they commented the structural issues of US economy are still weak and an pandemic will tear apart globalization.
So obviously we are seeing the pandemic at play.  I thought it would die down by May Jun (2021) at least for Sri Lanka. Is it going to get worse, who knows?. Two more big picture issues in play both linked.
a) A financial crash bigger than 2008 in the US is in play. Is it tomorrow or couple of years down the line, cant say. As they say the market can stay irrational longer than you can say solvent.

b) The price of Gold, still in play to reach 3K/oz.  Has taken a hit because of crypto currencies, and the ability to move it with ease across borders.  The moment there is something like Internet failure, or ability to audit movement goodbye to confidence in crypto currencies.  Very hard to audit gold plastered into your wall. (Remember US made it illegal to own gold and confiscated what was in bank deposit boxes).

Two paragraphs from what I wrote in May 2020

To quote from 2011 article by Matt Stoller: And while this may not be hitting the elite segments of the economy right now, there will be no escape from a flu pandemic or significant food shortage. The re-engineering of our global supply chain needs to happen—and it will happen, either through good leadership or through collapse.

The Virus War: Make no mistake, this is the real war on Terror. The enemy is invisible, insidious and within. Normally wars have some breathing space, bombs fall and then a few days of respite. This war is like water torture a continuous drip drip of sickness and death. Eventually fatigue sets in, and many become immune to the daily numbers of sickness and death. The Stalinist "A single death is a tragedy, a million deaths is a statistic" becomes the reality, with the death of humanity.

*One of the reasons I am out here in jungles, the tail risk was too scary, plus I was getting stressed and burnt out with vacationless US work hours.

Written in May 2020

Monday, December 14, 2020

Dabur Lanka to export 3.36 million litres of Lankan water to India every month

This was a post from 2012, that had got deleted.  Resurrected from waybackmachine.

I got this Letter thru email and the saw that it had been posted on a blog as well
Update: Please read Climate Change, Food Security & Virtual Water an Asymmetric Threat to Sri Lanka which articulates this whole issue in a bigger picture context.

Excerpts from the email from Feisal Mansoor (fmansoor at

Dabur plan to make 280,000 cases (1 litre x 12 per case) of fruit based beverages a month. So we are talking about a minimum of 280,000 x 12 = 3,360,000* litres of liquid per month.
Kamy Melwani of Neo Synthesis Research has made it plain to me that Dabur have done insufficient research because what we have in our region is a rock based rain fed aquifer, which explains why my bore hole dried up so quickly. The Water Engineer who specified and dug the well told me I would get 50,000 litres per day. In fact I got nothing like this and it dried up within two weeks. The National Water Supply and Drainage Board came and tested the well for me and they too told me it was not viable. I had to abandon it.
No EIA (Environmental Impact Assessment) has been conducted on the land and Dabur have easily side stepped the intent and purpose of our legislation.

Basically Dabur is going to use about about 10.5 million gallons a year. That is a 32 foot depletion of groundwater from an acre (See gallons to acre feet) . Anyway you look at it that is a lot of water, which could take decades to replenish /recharge. (more about groundwater depletion here). Groundwater recharge in Sri Lanka is anywhere from 11 mm/year to 80 mm/year according to a study by R.P. de Silva. Based on simplistic assumptions, that means the ground water used by Dabur in one year, can take from 120 years to 1000 years to be recharged.

I have been expecting this from our neighbors, including the eastern Middle east. Dole, the largest multinational is also here with I think 2500 acres in the Buttala Pelwatte region. i.e. we have a resource, water, in the form of rain and groundwater that India and the ME have in increasingly in short supply.
Artificial groundwater recharge is becoming increasingly important in India, where over-pumping of groundwater by farmers has led to underground resources becoming depleted. In 2007, on the recommendations of the International Water Management Institute, the Indian government allocated Rs 1800 crore (US$400million) to fund dug-well recharge projects (a dug-well is a wide, shallow well, often lined with concrete) in 100 districts within seven states where water stored in hard-rock aquifers had been over-exploited.

The benefits of groundwater are obvious. But so are the dangers. Overuse can cause severe problems. On the coast of Gujarat, in west India, for example, farmers benefited hugely from groundwater during the 1960s and 1970s, earning this coastal strip the name ‘the Green Creeper’. But the prosperity was short-lived. Too much freshwater was withdrawn too quickly. This caused salty seawater to be drawn up to 7 km inland, killing the region’s tubewell based economy. The story is similar in Yemen, where overuse caused the levels of the country’s aquifers to drop by up to 40 meters in 9 years. Now many farmers simply can’t drill deep enough to access the resource. (from IWMI Water Policy Briefs please read)
I agree about investment to develop, but increasingly the model seems like the the Middle East in the early 1900's. Till a few decades back all the oil companies in the Middle east (and other Latin American countries) were American/European. The product was extracted, a nominal royalty fee paid, shipped out of the producer country and value added products including refinery/plastics done in Europe/America. Valid arguments for this model are that the technology and the skilled labor only existed in the West at that time.

Our water, including groundwater is becoming an increasingly precious resource, just as much as petroleum became a natural resource with no value to an extremely valuable resource. The arguments that the skills and skilled labor needed for value added products (processed food, bottled water) are unavailable in Sri Lanka hold no water (pun intended). I can only see the possibility that investment is needed to full potential of the resources.

Assuming investment is needed to fully realize the potential of our precious resource, i.e grow food or industrial crops in the country there should be some guidelines, e.g.
a) Land lease time should be minimal,
b) If groundwater is used expected usage and amount of groundwater depletion becomes cost of lease (and compensation to neighbors)
c) Value added production should be done in the country, i.e drying fruit and packaging, bottled water etc, extraction/distillation.
Above are photos of the Dole Entrance, and the banana plantation with paddy fields interspersed. The paddy fields belong to local farmers who have not sold out to Dole. See link from Mongobay on Satellite imagery for the Dole Plantation

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

1918 Pandemic and Covid-19 Parallels

 1918 Pandemic  Infection Dates
Australia   First known infections October 1918.
                 Second more severe in July 1919

Sri Lanka   First Wave in June 1918
                  Second Wave Sept 1918

Just based on pandemic incidence getting lagged, would guesstimate that Aus second wave will be in July 2021.   In Sri Lanka guesstimate the pandemic should be over by February.

Some Excerpts from (National Museum of Australia)

In Australia, while the estimated death toll of 15,000 people was still high, it was less than a quarter of the country’s 62,000 death toll from the First World War. Australia’s death rate of 2.7 per 1000 of population was one of the lowest recorded of any country during the pandemic.

Nevertheless, up to 40 per cent of the population were infected, and some Aboriginal communities recorded a mortality rate of 50 per cent.

Excerpts Ceylon Today Article 

Note: This newspaper article gives mortality rate as 1.1% from the Langford paper.  The more recent Sarathchandra gives mortality at 3 to 5%.

A notable victim of the 1918-1919 pandemic in India was Mahatma Gandhi. But he recovered by going on an all-liquid diet and complete rest. There was no medicine for the flu. By early July in 1918, 230 people were dying of the disease every day in India.

 While COVID-19 has apparently spared women, the 1918-19 flu hit the women hard both in Ceylon and India.   

Districts in the Dry Zone (such as Anuradhapura) suffered more than those in the Wet Zone (because of Malaria and weak health).

In the South, the plantation sector suffered a lot because of the congested living conditions, the unhealthy environment in the "Line Rooms" where the tea workers lived, and the poor health of the estate workers who were poor labourers from impoverished South India.  

In the short term, and in the worst months, the Indian origin Tamils bore the brunt of the pandemic. The Muslims were next in line, and the Sinhalese were third. This position of the Sinhalese may well have reflected the fact that their habitations were much more scattered while other communities tended to live in close proximity.

However, over a longer 15- month period, ethnic differences in morbidity disappeared, the researchers noted. (In SL as of Dec 5th 50% of the dead (124) are Muslims).

Ceylon Today Newspaper Article

Chandra and Sarathchandra (2014)

Langford and Storey (1992)

Australia National Museum