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.”

H. P. Lovecraft: "What a man does for pay is of little significance. What he is, as a sensitive instrument responsive to the world's beauty, is everything!"

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."

Saturday, December 20, 2014

का आतां ही एसी विलेक्ट्रिकीची...the Battle of the Currents and the Terror of Technology

बा सी मर्ढेकर:

"…फलाटदादा, इंजनवाली 
पसंद पहिली भपकेदार?
का आतां ही विलेक्ट्रिकीची 
नक् टी नागिण तल्लख-तार?…"

लोकसत्ता:
"मध्य रेल्वेच्या १६० वर्षांच्या इतिहासातील एक महत्त्वाचा टप्पा येत्या शनिवारी रात्री मध्य रेल्वे ओलांडणार आहे. आतापर्यंत डीसी विद्युतप्रवाहावर (डायरेक्ट करंट) चालणारी मध्य रेल्वे या रविवारी पहिल्यांदाच सीएसटी ते कल्याण यादरम्यान एसी विद्युतप्रवाहावर (अल्टरनेट करंट) धावणार आहे..."

I read in Marathi daily Loksatta on Friday December 19 2014 that Mumbai suburban trains will now run on AC instead of DC.

Human history is replete with not just battles of humans against humans. And even those other battles have been bloody.

This brought to my mind a wonderful book: "Edison and the Electric Chair: A Story of Light and Death" by Mark Essig,  2005:

Its description is self explanatory and knocks great T A Edison off his pedestal:

"Thomas Edison stunned America in 1879 by unveiling a world-changing invention—the light bulb—and then launching the electrification of America's cities. A decade later, despite having been an avowed opponent of the death penalty, Edison threw his laboratory resources and reputation behind the creation of a very different sort of device—the electric chair. Deftly exploring this startling chapter in American history, Edison & the Electric Chair delivers both a vivid portrait of a nation on the cusp of modernity and a provocative new examination of Edison himself. Edison championed the electric chair for reasons that remain controversial to this day. Was Edison genuinely concerned about the suffering of the condemned? Was he waging a campaign to smear his rival George Westinghouse's alternating current and boost his own system?.."

Mark Essig:

"Alternating current triumphed in the battle of the currents for the same reasons that attracted George Westinghouse to it in the first place. It could be produced at relatively low voltages, stepped up to higher voltages with transformers for economical transmission over long distances, and then stepped down to any voltage required. As electricity expanded into every aspect of life, alternating current offered a flexibility that direct current could not hope to match. By 1917 more than 95 percent of the electricity generated in the United States would be alternating current."



illustration which appeared in Judge magazine shortly after telegraph lineman John Feeks's death on October 11 1889

courtesy: Mark Essig's book

The picture caught my attention because Mumbai suburban trains have become so unsafe for commuters  in recent years, for various reasons,  that some of them sure feel like running away from the 'demon' the way the gentleman in the picture above is running away from the demon of  electricity.

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