G C Lichtenberg: “It is as if our languages were confounded: when we want a thought, they bring us a word; when we ask for a word, they give us a dash; and when we expect a dash, there comes a piece of bawdy.”

W H Auden: "But in my arms till break of day / Let the living creature lie. / Mortal, guilty, but to me/ The entirely beautiful."

Will Self: “To attempt to write seriously is always, I feel, to fail – the disjunction between my beautifully sonorous, accurate and painfully affecting mental content, and the leaden, halting sentences on the page always seems a dreadful falling short. It is this failure – a ceaseless threnody keening through the writing mind – that dominates my working life, just as an overweening sense of not having loved with enough depth or recklessness or tenderness dominates my personal one.”

John Gray: "Unlike Schopenhauer, who lamented the human lot, Leopardi believed that the best response to life is laughter. What fascinated Schopenhauer, along with many later writers, was Leopardi’s insistence that illusion is necessary to human happiness."

Art Spiegelman: "You know words in a way are hitting you on the left side of your brain, music and visual arts hit on the right side of the brain, so the idea is to pummel you, to send you from left brain to right brain and back until you're as unbalanced as I am."

विलास सारंग: "संदर्भ कुठलेही असोत, संस्कृत, इंग्रजी, बुद्धिवादी, तांत्रिक, इतिहासाचे, खगोलशास्त्राचे, आधुनिक पदार्थविज्ञानाचे, शिवकालीन व पेशवाईतील बखरीचे, अगणित ज्ञानक्षेत्रांचे, अशा वैविध्यपूर्ण ज्ञानावर लेखन- विशेषत: कवितालेखन- उभं राहत."

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Generation N of India

Thomas L. Friedman writes “Generation Q” ( NYT October 10, 2007): “I just spent the past week visiting several colleges — Auburn, the University of Mississippi, Lake Forest and Williams — and I can report that the more I am around this generation of college students, the more I am both baffled and impressed.

I am impressed because they are so much more optimistic and idealistic than they should be. I am baffled because they are so much less radical and politically engaged than they need to be…

It’s for all these reasons that I’ve been calling them “Generation Q” — the Quiet Americans, in the best sense of that term, quietly pursuing their idealism, at home and abroad.

But Generation Q may be too quiet, too online, for its own good, and for the country’s own good. When I think of the huge budget deficit, Social Security deficit and ecological deficit that our generation is leaving this generation, if they are not spitting mad, well, then they’re just not paying attention…

…“Courage.” That is what real activism looks like. There is no substitute. ”

I feel the same about Indian university students. They have turned so conformist. Didn’t J Krishnamurti say: “To be young means to be bold”?

I am too young to forget and too old not to have seen Jayaprakash Narayan’s second independence movement, peopled by university students across the country, during 1975-76.

Today’s youth, at least those in public domain, are largely sons, daughters, nephews and nieces of established, wealthy politicians. How can they rebel? They need to be rebelled against!

In another scathing essay “The Fakebook Generation” ( NYT October 6, 2007), ALICE MATHIAS writes: “…Facebook purports to be a place for human connectivity, but it’s made us more wary of real human confrontation…

...For young people, Facebook is yet another form of escapism; we can turn our lives into stage dramas and relationships into comedy routines….”

Generation pretending to be active but essentially numb!


Artist: Perry Barlow The New Yorker 9 October 1948

To Play Prisoner's Dilemma Effectively Deploy Gandhian TIT FOR TAT

The Economist September 29, 2007 says: “A version of the “prisoner's dilemma” may suggest ways to break through the Kyoto impasse.”

What is Prisoner's Dilemma?

“In it, two prisoners accused of the same crime find themselves in separate cells, unable to communicate. Their jailers try to persuade them to implicate one another. If neither goes along with the guards, they will both receive a sentence of just one year. If one accepts the deal and the other keeps quiet, then the turncoat goes free while the patsy gets ten years. And if they both denounce one another, they both get five years.

If the first prisoner is planning to keep quiet, then the second has an incentive to denounce him, and so get off scot-free rather than spend a year in prison. If the first prisoner were planning to betray the second, then the second would still be better off pointing the finger, and so receive a five-year sentence instead of a ten-year one. In other words, a rational, self-interested person would always betray his fellow prisoner. Yet that leaves them both mouldering in jail for five years, when they could have cut their sentences to a year if they had both kept quiet.

Pessimistic souls assume that the international response to climate change will go the way of the prisoner's dilemma. Rational leaders will always neglect the problem, on the grounds that others will either solve it, allowing their country to become a free-rider, or let it fester, making it a doomed cause anyway. So the world is condemned to a slow roasting, even though global warming could be averted if everyone co-operated…”.

I first read about Prisoner's Dilemma in the essay by Douglas R. Hofstadter (now part of his book “Metamagical Themas, Penguin 1985) for Scientific American (May 1983).

It was an eye opener. I learnt you don’t have to be clever and cunning to be effective

A menacing sounding but actually very simple strategy, translated in a computer program called “TIT FOR TAT”, wins against very complex and cunning strategies.

TIT FOR TAT uses a very simple tactic:
Cooperate on move 1;
thereafter , do whatever the other player did the previous move


Today we are talking of Prisoner's Dilemma for climate change, yesterday it was about cold war and nuclear weapons, tomorrow it will about something else.

For the complex global issues and our every day mundane ones let us never forget elegant and effective TIT FOR TAT.

Let us not waste our time like the “clever prisoners” are doing in Alan Dunn's picture below.


Artist: Alan Dunn The New Yorker 6 Nov 1948