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.”

Shel Silverstein : “Talked my head off Worked my tail off Cried my eyes out Walked my feet off Sang my heart out So you see, There’s really not much left of me.” ~

Martin Amis: “Gogol is funny, Tolstoy in his merciless clarity is funny, and Dostoyevsky, funnily enough, is very funny indeed; moreover, the final generation of Russian literature, before it was destroyed by Lenin and Stalin, remained emphatically comic — Bunin, Bely, Bulgakov, Zamyatin. The novel is comic because life is comic (until the inevitable tragedy of the fifth act);...”

Werner Herzog: “We are surrounded by worn-out, banal, useless and exhausted images, limping and dragging themselves behind the rest of our cultural evolution.”

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."

Justin E.H. Smith: “One should of course take seriously serious efforts to improve society. But when these efforts fail, in whole or in part, it is only humor that offers redemption. So far, human expectations have always been strained, and have always come, give or take a bit, to nothing. In this respect reality itself has the form of a joke, and humor the force of truth.”

विलास सारंग: "… . . 1000 नंतर ज्या प्रकारची संस्कृती रुढ झाली , त्यामध्ये साधारणत्व विश्वात्मकता हे गुण प्राय: लुप्त झाले...आपली संस्कृती अकाली विश्वात्मक साधारणतेला मुकली आहे."

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

New Yorker at India's Cabinet Meeting

Because of their own huge Obama/Osama cartoon controversy, New Yorker couldn't attend Indian parliament's recent session for trust vote.

To catch up...


Artist: Lee Lorenz The New Yorker August 4, 2008 cartoon caption contest 155

My proposed caption:

“We indeed are privileged members of the world press. We are about to witness the federal cabinet of world’s largest democracy selecting one of these five as their Prime Minister.”

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Are Table and Chair of Somnath Chatterjee, Speaker of the India's 14th Lok Sabha, Fireproof?



Artist: Drew Dernavich The New Yorker July 28th, 2008 Cartoon Caption Contest 154


Proposed Caption:

"For us Indian communists nothing is unfair against anyone who goes against our groupthink. Remember Trotsky?

Here we are about to burn down the table and chair of comrade Chatterjee on the night of July 21, 2008. Now we”ll see how he chairs the session and tries to save the government."

Sunday, July 20, 2008

I like my Vertigo. More so after reading Francois Truffaut.

Times of India, July 11 2008:
“Incidence of vertigo highest in 36-60 age group…sedentary urban lifestyle, stress and lack of exercise are factors contributing to the growing trend of vertigo in the youth…”

Although “sedentary urban lifestyle, stress and lack of exercise” don’t strictly apply to me, I suffer from mild vertigo/ acrophobia.

In fact, I think I tend to enjoy it.

I wonder if this “perverse” enjoyment has anything to do with my favourite movie Alfred Hitchcock’s “Vertigo”. First time I saw it was in early 1980’s in Mumbai (at Sterling cinema?). I enjoyed every minute of it.

Later I read and keep reading masterly “Hitchcock (revised edition” by Francois Truffaut with the collaboration of Helen G. Scott (first published in 1967).

Books says:

“…To put it plainly, the man (Scottie Ferguson played by James Stewart) wants to go to bed with a woman who’s dead; he is indulging in a form of necrophilia…

When you see Judy (played by Kim Novak) walking on the street, the tawny hair and make-up convey an animal like sensuality. That quality is accentuated, I suppose, by the fact that she wears no brassiere…That’s right, she doesn’t waer a brassiere. As a matter of fact, she’s particularly proud of that!”

I knew part of the reason why I liked the movie so much!


Artist: Sam Gross The New Yorker 11 February 2002

Friday, July 18, 2008

All I want is a Stock that will go up a Little Bit…Else I will Smash the Stock Exchange

This is bubbles and bunges season.

Bloomberg reports on July 17, 2008:

"Pakistan investors stormed out of the Karachi Stock Exchange, smashed windows and cursed regulators after the benchmark index fell for a 15th day, the worst losing streak in at least 18 years...

...Police surrounded the exchange after hundreds of investors stoned the building and shouted anti-government slogans. They directed their ire at the government and Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan, which this week removed a 1 percent daily limit on price declines. The measure was aimed at halting a slide that wiped out $30 billion of Pakistan's market value in three months, threatening to undo a 14-fold rally since 2001...

... Investors were also protesting outside the Lahore and Islamabad stock exchanges, Geo Television reported.

``We demand that all stock prices be frozen at current levels,'' said Kauser Javed, who heads the Small Investors Association. ``People have sold their assets in the last 15 days to meet payments and if things continue this way, you will start hearing of suicides. The regulators always favor big brokers and investors.''
"

I think India is prone to bubbles of all kinds. Fixed deposit schemes of many NBFC's, stock markets from time to time, real estate, plantation companies, pyramid/ ponzi schemes, certain medical treatments, godmen, astrologers, coaching classes, film-stars, ideologies…

However currently for Indian stock markets it’s like February 1637 in Holland . In that one month prices of tulips fell by approximately 90 per cent, bursting tulipmania.

Likes of Daniel Gross have argued that bubbles are good for us.

“The bigger the bubble, the more useful soapsuds it leaves behind when it bursts.”

“Gross believes that America is prone to investment bubbles partly because its government tends to have a laisser faire attitude to innovation, preferring to let private investors fund new technologies, rather than the state. “

I am not sure about the reasons in case of India and Pakistan.

Possibly here is one…


Artist: Helen E. Hokinson The New Yorker 7 August 1948



Angry Pakistani stock brokers demonstrate at the Stock Exchange to protest the decline of stock market in Karachi Photographer: Fareed Khan/AP Photo via Bloomberg News Thursday, July 17, 2008.

p.s. “The final myth is that the crash put the Dutch off tulips. In fact, a form of tulipmania never died…Today the Netherlands has 90 per cent of the international flower trade. Fortunes really are made in tulips.”

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

India, field this Team in Synchronised Swimming at Beijing 2008

(p.s. Mistakenly, I took it as an auction centre instead of a court room! Sorry, LC)



Artist: Leo Cullum The New Yorker 14 July 2008 Caption Contest #153

My proposed caption:

'Why no bidders, even from India? With Olympics so close and almost no prospect of any medal, they could have considered fielding this team in Synchronised Swimming.'

or

'Shouldn't we be including a clause "buyer bears tit tax and other anatomical levies, if any applicable" ?'

(Times of India reported on July 14, 2007 with a suitable picture: "Now, 'tit tax' on plus-size bras"

"Being busty sure comes with a heavy price, and it's not just restricted to ogling eyes, for even bras' prices increase with the growing size, that's what international clothing line 'Marks & Spencer' has to say in defense of its 2 pounds surcharge on women's innerwear.

The chain has slapped 2 pounds as surcharge on bra sizes from 30DD to 42G, saying they needed "more engineering and construction work"." )

Monday, July 14, 2008

Sure We Live Longer but in the same Pile of Dirt?

“…evolution and progress are synonymous, whereas it may well be that evolution will give to insects and bacteria the final victory in their relentless war with man. It is not quite evident that the industrial state is either more pacific or more moral than the “militant” feudalism that preceded it. Athens’ most destructive wars came long after her feudal lords had yielded power to a commercial bourgeoisie…”

( “The Story of Philosophy” Will Durant first published in 1926)

No wonder I often think present day Maharashtra, in many ways, resembles the one ruled by Bajirao II in early 19th century or the one that existed just before Shahaji- Shivaji’s father- came on the scene.


Artist: Johnny Hart “B.C.” (Asian Age July 9, 2008)

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Did Madhukar Sarpotdar Hear the Verdict?

More than 16 years after the alleged act, Mr. Madhukar Sarpotdar was sentenced to 1 year in jail on July 9, 2008.

His case proved once again: good cartoons never fade away, they just re-connect.


Old Lady: “Had you written a leader in 1982? He has come with an arrest warrant. For doing the writing that provoked people’s passions…”

Artist: वसंत सरवटे (1993) "सरवोत्तम सरवटे" संपादक: अवधूत परळकर, लोकवाङ्मय गृह 2008

Vasant Sarwate "The Best of Sarwate" editor: Avadhoot Paralkar, Lokvangmay Gruh 2008

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Does America Have Any Culture? And Urban Middle-class Maharashtra?

After reading what I have quoted below and watching Marathi TV occasionally I am motivated to ask: “Does Urban Middle-class Maharashtra Have Any culture?”

Chuck Klosterman says in Esquire June 30 2008:

“…Since my arrival in Leipzig, I have continually been reminded about the way many Germans view American culture. They essentially feel it does not exist. One grad student only half jokingly told me that an entire semester of American cultural studies "should probably take about twenty-five minutes." But this, of course, is crazy. Now more than ever, I feel certain that the United States is as good at manufacturing culture as the rest of the world combined, probably because we often do so accidentally. A lack of culture is not our problem. The problem is we've become too effective at distributing that culture -- at the same time, in the same way, and with the same velocity. It all ends up feeling interchangeable, which makes it all marginally irrelevant. As it turns out, my initial question was beyond impossible. There are no interesting twentieth-century Americans. There can't be, because they all are…”

Lucy Ellmann:

“What the hell is going on? The country that produced Melville, Twain and James now venerates King, Crichton, Grisham, Sebold and Palahniuk. Their subjects? Porn, crime, pop culture and an endless parade of out-of-body experiences. Their methods? Cliché, caricature and proto-Christian morality. Props? Corn chips, corpses, crucifixes. The agenda? Deceit: a dishonest throwing of the reader to the wolves. And the result? Readymade Hollywood scripts.

So not only has America tried to ruin the rest of the world with its wars, its financial meltdown and its stupid stupid food, it has allowed its own literary culture to implode. Jazz and patchwork quilts are still doing O.K., but books have descended into kitsch. I blame capitalism, Puritanism, philistinism, television and the computer.” (NYT Books Update June 2008)


Artist: Joseph Mirachi The New Yorker December 11, 1954

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Grunting became Music because Tennis was so Great and that fetched the Gods

I am not a tennis fan. But the match between Rafeal Nadal and Roger Federer at Wimbledon 2008 took my breath and sleep away. It was like playing or watching a classical video game, involving humans. Simple, fast, accurate, surreal.

Imagery that came to my mind at the end of it all was from Indian mythology: The gods gathered in the skies over Wimbledon and did a flower-shower on the pair.

Both the champions are so unbelievably well-behaved and humble. Far cry from the days of abusive, ill-mannered Jimmy Connors and John McEnroe.

What is store for us at Beijing 2008 after cracking Euro 2008 and Wimbledon 2008?


published Asian Age July 07 2008 The Spectator

Monday, July 07, 2008

Who Answers Your Phone and How? 'हलो हलो' ला हलकट उत्तर.

One of B S Mardhekar’s बा. सी. मर्ढेकर poems starts with following lines:

त्रुटित जीवनीं सुटी कल्पना,
ट्रिंग ट्रिंग जैसा खोटा नंबर
सलग जमेना एक भावना,
'हलो हलो' ला हलकट उत्तर.

Last two lines read:

“not aligned are feelings,
‘hello, hello’ is answered by an abuse.”

(poem number 28, “मर्ढेकरांची कविता” “Poetry of Mardhekar”, 1959)

Times of India wrote a leader on June 17 2008 “Goodbye Hello”

“A study commissioned by UK's Post Office Telecoms to mark the 130th anniversary of the telephone in that country has found the once standard telephone greeting of "hello" is falling out of favour.

Instead, up to one in three 18 to 24-year-olds prefer answering their mobiles with "hi", "yo" or "wassup". ..

…Today, with caller identification protocols in existence in cellphones, most people — especially the younger set — know exactly who's ringing them up and react accordingly with nobody getting offended in the process.

…However, having acknowledged that technology is the main cause for the cultural shift in creating more informal relationships, it should also be recognised that the use of cellular devices per se is not helping much to maintain basic courtesy levels in society either.

Too many people are starting to complain about mobile phone users. They criticise them for leaving their phones on in movie halls and meetings, for speaking while driving rashly or too slow, for discussing personal matters loudly in public or simply for using hands-free attachments and walking..

Emily Post's well-known book, Etiquette, written in 1922 may read like fuddy-duddy stuff today but its principles remain the same: honesty, respect and consideration for other people…”


Artist: Raymond Thayer The New Yorker 21 May 1932

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Phillips Rodny Associates (and many of us) are now in Bunge

John Kay said: “…what we need is a term for the opposite of a bubble….bubbles are puffed up, not puffed down. That is why we need a phrase to describe the anti-bubble..”, asked readers to try and annouced a prize for the best entry. (FT June 24, 2008)

I participated with an entry ‘elbbub’, produced as al-boob. I lost although Kay says I would have won if Keynes’ rules were applied.

John Kay now has announced the winner:

“…But under Keynes’ rules the runaway winner would have been elbbub – bubble reversed – and that did not quite do it for me. So I decided to seek fundamental value rather than be carried away by market momentum…But the most compelling image is surely the bungee. You are in free fall. You expect that fall will end and reverse before you hit the ground, but you do not know when. And bungee jumping offers the same kind of immature pleasure as blowing bubbles in the air…But bungee is the cord, not the process… And congratulations to Iain Martin for his winning entry – the bunge…” (FT July 1, 2008)



Artist: Arnie Levin The New Yorker 27 August 1990

My caption: "Well, I guess Phillips Rodny Associates are now in bunge."

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Tata’s Nano because they said Oil Price was a Globe Wide Bubble

The New Yorker Caption Contest #152



Artist: Mick Stevens The New Yorker 7 July 2008

proposed caption:

"Oh, no! We bought Tata’s Nano because American Congress and India’s Finance Minister said oil price was only a globe-wide bubble, inflated by commodity speculators. And here we are facing onrushing globe-sized behemoth."

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Reader’s Digest for the Overclass,The Economist, does it again!

Paul Krugman: “Nine years ago The Economist ran a big story on oil, which was then selling for $10 a barrel. The magazine warned that this might not last. Instead, it suggested, oil might well fall to $5 a barrel.

In any case, The Economist asserted, the world faced “the prospect of cheap, plentiful oil for the foreseeable future…” (NYT, April 21, 2008)

The Economist October 6th 2007: “The American presidency is Hillary Clinton’s to lose…Mrs Clinton is clearly a formidable candidate for the presidency. She has the most powerful name in the business now that the Bush brand is tarnished. She has a smoothly working political machine. She has a wealth of experience in both the legislative and the executive branch. And she exudes competence. All told, she looks likely to translate this into both the Democratic nomination and a victory in November 2008…”

Homer Simpson might say: “Suckers!”

When Indian stock markets started falling in calendar 2008, the magazine probably thought they finally got one prediction right.

Did they?

The magazine said on November 17, 2008:

“…India shows dangerous signs of irrational exuberance. It was swept by euphoria last month as the Sensex, India's benchmarket index, hit 20,000 for the first time. India's Economic Times declared, “The first 10,000 took over 20 years. The next came in just 20 months...Superpower 2020?” Instead, India's poor risk-rating should ring alarm bells.

China's economy looks less risky thanks to a small official budget deficit (many reckon that it really has a surplus) and its vast current-account surplus and reserves…

…The p/e for Chinese shares that foreigners can buy is a more modest 22, well below the 40 reached in 2000. In contrast, Indian shares, also with a p/e of 22, have never been so overvalued…

… The riskiest economies, all with current-account deficits and relatively high consumer-price inflation, are India, Turkey and Hungary…”

They risk-rated China 5, Russia 8, Brazil 12 and India at the bottom of the pile 15.

But as the luck would have it, sure Indian stocks have plunged since then but Chinese stocks have suffered worse, both in local currency and dollar terms! See the table below.





'Now the weather, and as usual it's a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.'

The Spectator 2008

My caption:’Now the future according to The Economist, and as usual it’s a tale told by an …’