Saturday, November 30, 2019

Lanka Land Reform and Productivity

This blog post is long reply to a good friends questions (in bold italics).

First: Productivity, Growth.  That is a concept that is used by the rentier classes to maximize profits.  Pay the least and and get the most.  How, does that benefit the avg Joe.  Standard answer is cheaper goods, and you know that does not happen.  (See Box Below)

"in 1973 number of vehicles in Yala were less than 100,trackers were more respected, poaching was minimal, buffer zones had no settlements"

Sri Lanka population was 13.5 million. The country was poor and could not pay its debts. 
Because the price of rubber had collapsed (synthetic rubber production). Almost the whole country (including our family, I was 14) had to stay in long lines to get bread, rice.  Long means long. 4am to 6am to get 2 loaves moldy bread.  Sisters and I took turn to stay on the lines.

Who could afford to go to Yala in the 70's, the 1%.  Even in S Thomas, one of the schools of the 1%. Very few classmates went to Yala in the 70's.  Not my family for sure.  They did pre 1960.

After 2010, population is 21 million. There is peace and many people (including rural/small town) have disposable income and can do affordable trips, specially in large groups.  Yes, they will throw garbage out of the jeep, drinking and Yala and in in other vacation areas.  Sounds familiar, right, you get the same complaints about behavior of low income people in the US national parks, Beaches etc.

Yala 1950: Rippon Gall Teachers trip.
My mother Peace BeeBee, white dress on left

"land in areas not the best for successful cultivation and their usage was no better than slash & burn"
I have no idea where they do slash and burn these days.  This area where I live was one of the poorest because it was border country during the war.  People here had no option but to hunt in Wilpattu to have food on the table.  The Army and LTTE to hunted to have food.   However, when I came in 2012 there was no slash and burn.

"When Mrs, B broke up the estates down to 50 acres,how come these newly acquired land not used for land reform, productive agricultural areas?"

There was no way the hill country estates were going to be given en masse to the Estate Tamils. Racism and Political suicide. So the hill country Tea estates became  Govt/State owned, and run by either the Govt entity, Janawasama or leased to Private companies like Mackwoods.  The land is still owned by the state.

There were exceptions.  An estate in Katul Oya/Gomara, near Knuckles Range .  1/2 acre was given to the workers in lieu of pay.  Beautiful area, a small plain adjoing the Knuckles Reserve. I tried to buy 4 adjoining plots, too expensive for me. 

In the south (Deniyaya, Hiniduma etc)  many of the Tea Estates were broken up and 2 acres was given to villagers.  I personally know two families.  They make about 1-2 lakhs/month.  However, they have to do all the work themselves.  No hired labor on avg or the gains are gone.

70% of our tea comes from small holdings.

To quote from
"Of this, smallholders, often following a multi-crop model on landholdings of less than ten acres, cultivate about 60 per cent of the total tea land and account for more than 70 per cent of  the  total  production. "
"The smallholder subsector is better off than the corporate plantation sector in terms of productivity. "

"All that happen was a land grab by the competing elites, old money to new money."

Thats the the old money elite version.

Old money:  Most made their money because they had patronage of the Brits. I hope you have read "Nobodies to Somebodies",  Big money from selling alchol, legal monopoly of a drug, including the Senanayakes . Thats a story in itself.  Old money is also Land given by the Brits for brown nosing. 

Some of the old money has changed with the times and jumped on the band wagon. One thing for sure, the new money has to spread the money more to all.

"State run enterprises by politicians who lacked business acumen had no business taking over profitable enterprises!

Ha, this comes to productivity.  State run businesses are not profitable because they are over staffed.  But the pay goes to Sri Lankans, may be backside warmers. welfare in another way.  Can privatize and sell and the profits go overseas. Offshoring of US manufactiring ring a bell. (see box again)

Land Ownership and Land Reform
In the US, there are almost no small family farms left. All taken over by big agri business.  The people have moved to large cities to work in Factories.  Now that manufacturing has been offshored, the mid west rust belt has become one large meth and fentanyl fest.

In the UK, there were the Inclosure/Enclosure acts that drove the rural working class out of the countryside.  It was cheap labor for the factories of the biggest richest empire at that time.  However. Life for those in the factory cities was horrible. Read Dickens etc.

Even today half of England is owned by less than 1% of the population.  Average Joe in the UK less than 10%. (

Thank goodness in Sri Lanka we had land reform and ceilings on land ownership.  So no large migrations to cities and slums.

Arrack/Tavern renting
Legalized drug dealing monopoly enforced by the Jack boot.  Prior to the English the Sri Lankan Tamil and Sinhalese tapped their toddy drank it, shared it or sold some. Never was big or even small scale business.  Too much work for lotus eaters.

The English, passed laws that a family could keep only two bottles of tapped toddy.  The rest had to be given to the Toddy Tavern (and later distilleries) at a fixed price set by the English.  They had special police, called Excise police to enforce the laws.  The taverns were rented off to Sinhalese families, prominent among them the Senanayskes, de Soysas for example.

Productivity and Growth
How per Capita Income, Productivity and Growth hides rise in Inequalityand Poverty
Consider country which has only one Farm and Village of 10 people.

In the first year all 10 people work on the farm
Out per year is 10kg.  So productivity is 1kg/person.
Wages are $10/year per person. 
So per capita income is 10/year.

Next year they push people to work harder, less vacation and lay off 3 people.
Output increases to 11kg/year.  Now productivity is 1.57kg/person. (11kg/7)
Eureka, 57% Growth in Productivity

For the 7 remaining Wages are also increased to $14.5
Total wage are now $101.5 (14.5x7). 
Per capita Income is now $10.15
Eureka Per Capita Income Has gone up by 1.5%

Productivity and Growth has gone up 57%. , Wages have gone up and Per Capita income has gone up by 1.5%.
How do these upbeat stats help the three people laid off

Now lets have look at how Govt or Land owner gains
Let the price/kg be $10 and no change between years

Then in the first year
Gross income = $100 (10kg x 10)
Wages=$100 ($10x10)
Net Income=Gross Income-Wages
0= $100-$100
So, first year it is a break even

The second year
Gross Income = $110 (11kg x $11)
Wages=$101.5 (14.5x7).
Net Income=$8.5 ($110-$101.5)

Eureka the Govt/Land owner is making a Profit

As you can see Productivity, Growth, Increase in per Capita Income hide the fact the poor become poorer and the rich become richer.  This is the rise in inequality and wealth transfer from poor to the rich.

Friday, August 30, 2019

Elephant Destruction because of Aruwakkalu / Wilpattu Garbage Landfill

A Garbage Landfill has been started at Aruwakkalu / Wilpattu adjoining the Puttalam Lagoon .  The site is at an old Limestone quarry pit, which had been allowed to become a forest.  A herd of Elephants used to live in this forest and make occasional walks to the flood plains near Gangewadiya.

The Garbage Landfill has destroyed the forest at the old  Limestone quarry pit.  It also prevents the elephants going to the forest between the garbage landfill and the Puttalam Lagoon (see image below).  As a result the herd of elephants are now living in the outskirts of the Eluvamkulama Village and Gangewadiya Village.

The elephant herd now has a limited area to live (habitat) and food sources.  The herd and lone males are coming into the village, destroying crops and trees.  It is just a matter of time for loss of human life.


a) Should the elephants be relocated.  There is not enough area/habitat for elephants to live now that the garbage Landfill and limestone quarry does not allow them to use the forest nearby.

b) Should Landfill operation pay compensation to villagers for crop and tree damage.

Two examples / photos of crop damage below.
a) Raja a 62 year old villager.  He had planted two acres of coconut and bananas.  The coconut trees were just about to start bearing (5 years).  Not a single tree left by the elephant incursion.  His retirement plan has gone to the dogs (elephants).

b) Coconut trees destroyed in my property

Also read

Area Map. Click on Image for Google Maps,79.8500153,4609m/data=!3m1!1e3

Destruction at Rajas
Raja's words on his age (64) and expectation of income
Elephant Damage at Raja's property

Elephant Damage at Raja's property

Elephant Damage at Wilpattu House

Elephant Damage at Wilpattu House

Elephant Damage at Wilpattu House

Elephant Damage at Wilpattu House

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Lessons from Costa Rica

A must read article for Sri Lankans (and others).

Some Excerpts
If growth is a substitute for redistribution, then redistribution can be a substitute for growth.

If we want to have any hope of averting catastrophe, we’re going to have to do something about our addiction to growth. This is tricky, because GDP growth is the main policy objective of virtually every government on the planet.

In fact, the part of Costa Rica where people live the longest, happiest lives – the Nicoya Peninsula – is also the poorest, in terms of GDP per capita. Researchers have concluded that Nicoyans do so well not in spite of their “poverty”, but because of it – because their communities, environment and relationships haven’t been ploughed over by industrial expansion.

With a life expectancy of 79.1 years and levels of wellbeing in the top 7% of the world, Costa Rica matches many Scandinavian nations in these areas and neatly outperforms the United States. And it manages all of this with a GDP per capita of only $10,000 (£7,640), less than one fifth that of the US.

argue that it’s all down to Costa Rica’s commitment to universalism: the principle that everyone – regardless of income – should have equal access to generous, high-quality social services as a basic right. A series of progressive governments started rolling out healthcare, education and social security in the 1940s and expanded these to the whole population from the 50s onward, after abolishing the military and freeing up more resources for social spending.

Monday, October 9, 2017

The All Girl Tuk Tuk Team

The All Girl tuk tuk team on the way to Jaffna, thru Wilpattu National Park, with a stopover here at Wilpattu House.

Therese (Austria), Monika (Poland) and Nadja (Germany) about to leave for Jafna.
 Out Swimming at the nearby Lunu Ela

Friday, October 6, 2017

Using Phone GPS data and Importing into Google Maps

Smartphones all come with a GPS locator. This post will walk you thru the basic steps of getting GPS Lat Long Coordinates  from your phone and then importing the data into a Google My Maps. IMPORTANT: you need a google/gmail account and you should be logged in to use Google My Maps.

You can use this info to create markers, measure distance in My Google Maps. This is a link to the example custom map in Google My Map.

Getting the GPS Coordinates.

1) Turn on the GPS on your phone. Remember to turn it off once you have done taking your measurements. GPS uses up battery and data.

2)You can use Google maps on your phone (iPhone or Android). However, In Sri Lanka in most places the Data Connection is too slow to use Google Maps to get GPS Latitude, Longitude coordinates. So use an App
  • Android : GPS Coordinates (Free)
  • iPhone: Compass
3) email the Lat, Lon coordinate measurements to yourself

Setting up the Data to be Imported in the Map. 

Preferable done on a computer. larger screen is easier to work with.

1) Open email/emails, copy and paste the Lat,Long in a CSV (Comma Separated Values).
    I use notepad (or any basic text editor).

2) Your file/data should look like this. 

    Latitude, Longitude,Location
    8.2684256, 79.86844306, Cadju Tree
    8.26704793, 79.86826721, Entrance Cabin Veranda

3) Save the file as SomeName.csv

Importing the Data into a Map

a) Open and create a new maps

2) On left hand side, under Untitled Layer, click on Import3) When the Choose a File to Import dialog appears, Click on Select a file from your Computer

4) Wait a few seconds while the data loads.

Voila, your basic map has been created.

Setting up the Base Map

Base Map is the view, background you want for your map, Satellite, Terrain or Map

1) On Left side, Menu bottom you will see Base Map.

    Click On pull down Menu, left of Base Map.

2) I have set my map to Satellite View



 Setting Default View

1) On Left side, Menu, toward right will see three Vertical Dots
    Click on the Dots to get Pull Down Menu

2) Click on Set Default View




Customizing the Map

You can change Icons, Colors of the feature that you added 

a) Click on any of the features that you added

b) Click on Style (paint button icon)
    Change color and Icons



Sharing your Map

a) In Top left memu, Click on Share

b) Set sharing type, Public or Private

c) Copy URL to share yuur map with others.


Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Climate Change

First my personal opinion, I think whatever the consequences of increased human activity such as C02 emissions, increased population and deforestation are already baked into whats going to happen in the next 30-40 years. The consequences maybe (and its a big maybe) mitigated by actions now, but it will be 30-40 years before results will be seen. I'll be dead by then, so I have decided not worry my little head over whether mitigating strategies will work or not, but to have exit strategies for probable outcomes.

Anyway regards Climate Change (and thats the correct term not Global Warming, which a possible/probable scenario)

Whats Irrefutable Science
a) CO2 has increased from 280 parts per million in 1850 to about  385ppm  today and its all human.
The increase should really be much more, see missing sink.
b) CO2 increases temperature by long wave radiation attenuation (see Earths Radiation budget ) (for more see Stefan–Boltzmann law)
Long wave radiation gets absorbed by C02 (and other greenhouse gases including H20) and increases troposphere temperature to satisfy the radiation balance.
i.e. If we did not have feedback effects like clouds etc, the increase in temperature due to C02 could be calculated exactly (see here)

So what are the issues with the science

a) Feedback effects
e.g. Clouds. When temperature increases increased evaporation and/or increased humidity (even this sentence has so many feedbacks). That should increase clouds, which in turn can reflect (albedo) incoming solar radiation which in turn can reduce troposphere temperature. Clouds are some of the least understood phenomena in the climate system, i.e. formation, dissipation, albedo (reflection) etc.  Worked in this area for about 6 years, and published too. Worked on a huge atmospheric radiation project as well and published.
b) Missing sink in the carbon budget (maybe its here).
The total amount of human addition of C02 is known. The problem is the totals dont add up. i.e.  All the human output cant be accounted for, there is a missing sink. Terrestial sinks are well understood, and consensus has been the missing sink is in the ocean. This link has a first order numbers what carbon is where (  To further complicate the problem, what will happen to sinks if temperatures increase (increase the amount stored/decrease).  This is not even getting into issues like deforestation etc, draining of marshes and the feedbacks thereof
c) Water holding capacity of Atmosphere (very important)
The Water holding capacity of the Atmosphere, increases dramatically around 30 C. This means that there will be bigger rainfall when atmosphere temperatures approach and pass 30C. No only increased rainfall, the amount of rain will increase exponentially with little changes in changes in Temp after 30C.

The article is an opinion piece, and does not seem like the author has the science background to evaluate the merits of the case.  It could be worse, there are authors who will write stuff that unless one has a deep knowledge of the field it is not possible to evaluate the merits of the research.

Below an article by Baumgardner that appears to infer based on science the Noah flood was real
The shallow water equations, and currents produced are correct. (The shallow water model is one all oceanography grad students get to play with in first year).
So whats the problem (two among many)
a) Tethys Sea and Pangea were 250 million years ago.  Humans have only been around 200K years at most. Right away conclusions of this paper are not appropriate (downright falsehood) for anything during the time of humans (primates and large mammal too for that matter).
b) The Tethys sea was around the equator. So authors are saying if at higher latitudes, then such currents could occur. So if we disregard the human/Noah component and take the paper for its sedimentary transport etc input, even that is very very bad science.

Some questions answered
>how do you support that the increase is all human?
Increase in C02 from 280ppm  to 385ppm is less than all the C02 emitted by humans
(i.e. Theres a sink somewhere for some of the C02 produced by humans).
First order accuracy of human C02 emissions is by coal, petroleum and natural gas combustion.
(Straight forward calculation, no hand waving)
All Fossil fuel combustion CO2 for last 100 years > 385-280 ppm * volume of atmosphere
i.e. All C02 increases in last 100 years is from humans is irrefutable.
>I've heard there is more CO2 in the ocean than the atmosphere and changes there could affect CO2 in the atmosphere.
Yes, please please see these links Missing sink and Carbon Budget
What you are referring to is a feedback, i.e. increase in ocean temperatures will reduce C02 carrying capacity and release C02 into the atmosphere.
>solid work on how much effect water vapor has in comparison to CO2
>I have heard some opinions that the water vapor is a larger effect.

Yes, C02, H20 and Methane are the most important greenhouse gases (i.e. by long wave attenuation).
See here for temperature contribution by each green house gas.
The atmosphere maximum water vapor content is determined by the temperature.
When water vapor reaches 100% humidity it precipitates, so there's a upper limit to water vapor in the atmosphere.
Its pretty clear, only control on water vapor is atmosphere temperature. 
C02 and Methane have no limits at current temperatures.
Methane is also green house gas.  Cows flatulence contains methane and there were some cows arse articles on cow flatulence being more important than CO2See here for a reply to that thinking

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Diabetes and BPH (My experience)

Synopsis: Alleviated BPH (Benign prostatic hyperplasia) by squatting exercises and urinating while squatting. Control Diabetes by lots of (6 hrs) of physical work.  Nno medications for either condition.
In  Apr 2012 I found that I had high sugar (500mg/dl) and BPH (Benign prostatic hyperplasia).

The issue with BPH is that you have to urinate often and very little each time. I could not travel from Colombo to  Puttalam without getting off the bus twice, in a 3 hour ride.

BPH is a nasty little problem, which affects many men over 55, (I was 53 in 2012) specially those who have been sitting at a desk job for many years of their lives.  That said the medication for BPH is readily available in Puttalam. Puttalam is not a town I would associate with a many who do a desk job. So maybe BPH is more common, and just does not affect only those who do a desk job.

When I was diagnosed, with Diabetes (Type 2) and BPH, started taking medication.
      For the Diabetes:  Metformin (2x500mg) and Gliclazide 3 times a day
     For BPH:    Urimax (tamsulosoin) and Finast (Finasteride) twice a day.

Urimax medication was not really a solution.  It kind of solved the urination problem. However made me very thirsty and would drink a liter of water at a time. So still had to pee every hour. i.e. Back to square one.
The even bigger problem was that it made me very lethargic and un motivated.

The Diabetes medication did keep blood sugar down., That said  even so a slight cut/tear in between toes would lead to a painful infection. Even had to resort to circumcision because outer skin would crack
because of urine dribble (now I am truly American/Jewish/Muslim).

So have worked to a relatively medication free solution, by my experience.
Cub Scout: Akela

BPH  (Benign prostatic hyperplasia) is the easy one. 
One word: Squat. If possible urinate in that position.
Obviously urban go getters cannot be peeing in squat position at work or at home. Maybe the home front will make exceptions to watering the the plants/trees in the garden. However,  I doubt the home-front is going to be happy with you wearing a sarong and squatting and watering the front lawn.

Wait: There is a work around:.
Just do squats at work. Try as best to get your buttocks to touch your ankles. I still cant get my buttocks to touch my ankles, just make do with the crouching position.  Hold the heavy desk or door to help getting up.  Just explain to your co-worker you want to develop your thighs (it does).

Fun and Expensive Solution:  Booze and Sex. OK you can cut down cost of sex with self help. You still have to pay for the booze. 
I tried to get around paying for booze.  The cashew apple/fruits apparently can be made into wine. I took that info and made 5 liters of Cashew Wine. Tried, tasting some of the cashew wine I had made.  The cashew wine didnt seem quite right. So tasted a few more sips or maybe it was gulps. I think I woke up two days later, somebody had drunk the whole 5 liters.

For people who care about useful Trivia, Cashew, Poison Ivy etc produce  urushiol, which is generally a allergic reaction for non Sri Lankans (thats a personal experience to be written up another day).

Diabetes Type 2. 
No Easy Answer.
Like I said earlier, I could not walk around (or not walk) because my feet would get infected, even while taking medication.
What has worked for me is just physical work, in the sun, no shirt or hat (bald head).
I think as a dark skinned person I need to be exposed to the Sun for me to be healthy. 
No work around:.
If I stop working for more than a couple of days I start to feel unhealthy. Skin drys up more than the "current" normal.

Fun Solution
Enjoy doing hard labor for at least 4-6 hrs for 4 days a week.
Maybe can cut down on the hard labor with the right diet, and right herbal stuff.
I still drink many beers, not often unhappily, get sozzled drunk once a week smoke too many cigarettes ( all  bad for Diabetes),.

Below, the original notes I made when started making lifestyle changes (I think 2015)

Diabetes 2
About a year back (as of 2015) , drank neeramulli (Artanema fimbriatum) and polpala
very day for about a week. Both grow wild here.

Quick search suggests that diuretics should not be used when having BPH.
The general local thinking its not good to drink every day.
Figured it could not be worse than the Urimax.
Also as often as possible sit and pee.
still working on squatting with both feet flat on ground.

Lots of hard phyiscal work, like cutting grass, trimming trees and moving earth.
From about 7 amd to 10:30 am in the sun without a shirt or hat (I have shaved head)
Then again from 4pm to 6pm.

Slowly Stopped all Meds about a month or two later.
Blood sugar back to normal, dont have to worry about wounds.

No issues about peeing, would not say its as great as when a teenager.
But dont have to get off the bus every hour when travelling.

Other than the physical work and now the occasional neeramulli or polpala no real change in diet/lifestyle. Eat whatever is there rice/stringhoppers/bread and booze about once a week, about 570 ml
(1/2 +1/4 of 750 ml) 33% alchol/Gal and some beer.

I am not sure if the Neeramulli/Polpala made a big difference.
I think just a push.  More likely hard work and sun was the factor.