Famous quotes

"Happiness can be defined, in part at least, as the fruit of the desire and ability to sacrifice what we want now for what we want eventually" - Stephen Covey

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

This is how Team USA prepares for Olympics

I wonder whether our Indian Olympics Team received any speeches like these. Anyone would be motivated by this.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

What makes a Genius

A Nice article on What makes a Genius by "Dominic Lawson" of the Independent. Here is the wonderful and insightful article. When does talent become genius? We all have a view; but when asked to be precise, it’s hard not to sink into the hopelessly circular argument that we know what genius is when we see it. Yet anyone who watched Roger Federer’s forensic dismantling of Andy Murray in the men’s final at Wimbledon would have no problem in identifying the Swiss as a genius, and that simple fact as Murray’s nemesis. Thus a familiar-sounding headline on one report of the match was: ‘‘Only one winner when talent meets genius’’. Familiar sounding, because it repeats what was written the last time the two met in a grand slam final, the 2010 Australian Open: ‘‘Federer’s genius alone beats Andrew Murray’’. Murray cried after that one, too. Well, it must be frustrating when you push yourself to the limits and beyond, and the opponent wins with apparently effortless ease. Except it isn’t like that at all. Although we tend to think of genius as something akin to magic, it is nothing of the sort. A proper investigation of the careers of the supreme achievers, whether in sport or other fields, reveals that they are based above all on monomaniacal diligence and concentration. Constant struggle, in other words. Seen in this light, we might define genius as talent multiplied by effort. In cricket, this would be true of Sachin Tendulkar; in chess, Bobby Fischer. I was at a dinner with that supreme raconteur among philosophers, Isaiah Berlin, when he was asked how he would sum up genius. He immediately recalled the ballet dancer Vaslav Nijinsky, who was questioned about how he managed to leap in the way he did. The Russian replied that most people, when they leapt in the air, would come down at once, but: ‘‘Why should you come down immediately? Stay in the air a little before you return, why not?’’ That effortless ease defined genius, said Berlin. To watch Federer at his greatest is to see something similar to Nijinsky’s description: the movement of his body appears to defy the laws of gravity, as if hovering above the surface of the planet, free of all weight or friction. Yet in logic we know that this cannot be. He is constructed of the same matter as the rest of humanity, with nothing remotely abnormal or other-worldly in his skeleton or musculature. Advertisement In a wonderful 2006 essay entitled ‘‘Federer as Religious Experience’’, David Foster Wallace wrote that ‘‘Roger Federer appears to be exempt from certain physical laws ... a type that one could call genius or mutant or avatar, a creature whose body is both flesh and, somehow, light.’’ Yet this is nothing more than an illusion – one which the performer will be keen to encourage, both to thrill the public and to intimidate his opponents. Nijinsky, for example, must have known very well that his astounding entrechats and grands jetes were the product of thousands upon thousands of hours of excruciating practice, without which his talent could never have evolved beyond dilettantism. By the same token, the greatest talents of our age appreciate that in a brutally competitive world, to skip a day of such rigorous training is to risk decline and even mediocrity. If you saw the film Perlman in Russia – about the supreme violinist Itzhak Perlman’s 1990 tour of that country – you will probably have been struck by his great discomfiture when asked to perform a piece spontaneously on a visit to the Moscow Conservatory. ‘‘But I haven’t practicsed today,’’ Perlman says; and yet when you watch the Israeli play in concert, he can make even the most appallingly difficult pieces seem like a bit of fun, or as easy as drawing breath. It is, as the saying goes, the art that disguises art. Perhaps the idea of the effortless genius is partly born of the need to reassure ourselves in our relative laziness: if genius is simply something innate, God-given and unimprovable, then perhaps we can also do as well as we are able without making extraordinary efforts. Unfortunately, this is not so: and we must recognise that what the greatest musicians and sportsmen have which the rest of us lack is not just an aptitude, but a fierceness of desire and a commitment to self-improvement which we can scarcely begin to comprehend. Nowadays, Federer seems a serene spirit, but as a young, up-and-coming player, he was a noted racquet hurler, with no less of an inner rage to succeed than, for example, John McEnroe. In the purely cerebral sport of chess, the one living player most often described as a genius is the Norwegian Magnus Carlsen – who at 19 became the world’s highest-ranked grandmaster. Yet his father Henrik told me that what had first alerted him to Magnus’s possibilities was the fact that as a toddler he would spend hours doing 50-piece jigsaw puzzles; the very young Magnus had an astonishing capacity for hard work and concentration – which is, after all, the very essence of learning.

Francis Galton, the slightly creepy founder of eugenics, sought to define genius by reference to an inherited form of intelligence, which he thought could be measured via the analysing of a person’s reaction time and sensory acuity: this Galton referred to as ‘‘neurophysiological efficiency’’. You might think that, within sport, the activity most requiring preternaturally quick reactions would be Grand Prix motor-racing. Yet viewers of the BBC series Top Gear might recall Jeremy Clarkson engaging in a competitive test of reaction times with Michael Schumacher: the lumbering Clarkson demonstrated that his reactions in a hand-slapping contest were the equal of the then Formula One champion’s. This is actually what one should expect: we all have the same basic reaction times, which are determined by the nervous system rather than the brain – as evidenced by the fact that we all pull our hand away from a flame with identical suddenness. The difference between us and the champions is that they have trained their minds to process information with astonishing speed in situations requiring complex assessment. Watch how Federer reacts in the less than half a second it takes for a first serve from Murray to reach the opposing baseline and you see just what a special talent honed by obsessive determination and hundreds of thousands of hours of practice can achieve. Conducting the on-court interview after his victory, Sue Barker began: ‘‘Genius tennis?’’ Federer replied, deadpan: ‘‘Yes.’’ If only it were so simple; and the fact that it looks so simple is the strangest thing of all.

Monday, July 02, 2012

Wonderful Brahma Chellaney Post on the failure of Indian Diplomacy

The following article by Mr Brahma Chellaney was published in Japan Times. Such an insightful article about Indian Diplomacy by a reputed India found a place in a Japanese News agency but not in any Indian media outlet.Careful dissection of Indian diplomacy like this article does is sometimes too smart for our Dumb Indian Media. India Losing out on US Diplomacy : Losing more than what we have gained
WASHINGTON — Was the U.S.-India strategic partnership oversold to the extent that it has failed to yield tangible benefits for the United States? Even as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has just held detailed discussions in New Delhi, an increasing number of analysts in Washington have already concluded that the overhyped relationship is losing momentum. The skeptics cite two high-visibility issues in particular: India’s rejection of separate bids by Lockheed Martin Corp. and Boeing Co. to sell 126 fighter-jets, and New Delhi’s reluctance to snap energy ties with Iran. The discussion over these issues, however, obscures key facts. Take the aircraft deal. Despite that setback, U.S. firms have clinched several other multibillion-dollar arms deals in recent years. These contracts have been secured on a government-to-government basis, without any competitive bidding. But in the one case where India invited bids, American firms failed to make it beyond the competition’s first round because they did not match the price and other terms offered by the French manufacturer of the Rafale aircraft and the European consortium that makes the Eurofighter Typhoon. The most-startling yet little-publicized fact is America’s quiet emergence as the largest arms seller to India. In the decade since President George W. Bush launched the vaunted U.S.-Indian strategic partnership, India has fundamentally reoriented its defense procurement, moving away from its traditional reliance on Russia. Indeed, nearly half of all Indian defense deals by value in recent years have been bagged by the U.S. alone, with Israel a distant second and Russia relegated to the third slot. Given that India has become the world’s largest arms importer and the United States remains the biggest exporter, U.S. firms are set to secure more contracts in India, which plans to spend more than $100 billion over the next four years to upgrade its military capabilities, including by buying submarines, heavy lift and attack helicopters, howitzers, and tanks. Now consider the Iran issue. Just as the Indian rejection of the Boeing’s F/A 18 and Lockheed-Martin’s F-16 bids has made big news but the U.S. landing of multiple arms contracts has received little notice, India’s reluctance to publicly support U.S. energy sanctions on Iran has been in the spotlight but not the quiet Indian strategy since the late 1990s to let the share of Iranian oil in India’s energy imports gradually decline — a trend that has seen the importance of Iranian oil supplies for India considerably weaken. Few in India consider Iran a friend. But given India’s troubled neighborhood, with the country wedged in an arc of problematic states, New Delhi is reluctant to rupture its ties with Iran, its gateway to Afghanistan — the top recipient of Indian aid. India already has paid a heavy price for taking America’s side on some critical issues in its long-running battle against Iran, even though Washington doesn’t take India’s side in its disputes with China or Pakistan. The Bush administration persuaded India not to conclude any new long-term energy contracts with Iran, and — in return for a civil nuclear deal with the U.S. — abandon its plan to build a gas pipeline from Iran. New Delhi, by voting against Iran at the International Atomic Energy Agency’s governing board in 2005 and 2006, invited Iranian reprisal in the form of cancellation of a 25-year, $22-billion liquefied natural gas deal which had terms highly favorable to India. That deal’s scrapping alone left India poorer by several billion dollars. Now the U.S. energy embargo against Iran has pushed international oil prices higher, significantly increasing India’s oil bill. The embargo also threatens to undercut India’s import-diversification strategy by making it place most of its eggs in the basket of the Islamist-bankrolling, Saudi Arabia-led oil monarchies that continue to play a role in South Asia detrimental to Indian interests. In fact, thanks to the U.S. embargo against Iran, the swelling coffers of the iron-fisted oil sheikhdoms are set to overflow, increasing their leverage in the region and beyond. Lost in the U.S. public discussion is an important fact — the declining share of Iranian crude in India’s total oil imports as part of a conscious Indian effort to reduce supply-disruption risks linked with the lurking potential for Iran-related conflict. Since 2008 alone, Iranian oil imports have swiftly fallen from 16.4 percent to 10.3 percent. Given India’s soaring oil imports and search for new sources of supply, the Iranian share is set to decline further, even without India’s participation in the U.S. embargo. Make no mistake: India shares U.S. objectives on Iran but the exigencies of its regional situation compel it to toe a more cautious line. The repositioning of the U.S.-India relationship was never intended to be transactional. Rather it was designed as an important geostrategic move to underpin Asian security and serve the long-term U.S. and Indian interests. But even if the relationship were viewed in transactional terms, the U.S. has reaped handsome dividends. On Iran, the right course for U.S. policy would be to encourage India to continue reducing Iranian oil imports by granting it a waiver from American sanctions law — as Washington has to Japan and nine other countries — and by helping to finance the retrofitting of Indian refineries that presently have a technical capacity to process only Iranian oil. More fundamentally, just as the Bush administration exaggerated the importance of a single deal with India, contending that the nuclear deal would be fundamentally transformative, it is an overstatement that the U.S.-India relationship today is losing momentum. The geostrategic direction of the relationship is irreversibly set — toward closer collaboration. Even trade between the countries has continued to grow impressively, from $9 billion in 1995 to $100 billion in 2011. While it is too much to expect a congruence of U.S. and Indian national-security objectives in all spheres, the two countries are likely to deepen their cooperation in areas where their interests converge, such as ensuring Asian power equilibrium. Barack Obama had stroked India’s collective ego by inviting Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for his presidency’s first state dinner, leading to the joke that while China gets a deferential America and Pakistan secures billions of dollars in U.S. aid periodically, India is easily won over with a sumptuous dinner and nice compliments. The mutual optimism and excitement that characterized the blooming U.S.-Indian ties during the Bush years, admittedly, has given way to more realistic assessments as the relationship has matured. Geostrategic and economic forces, however, continue to drive the two countries closer. Indeed, Obama’s recent pivot to Asia has made closer U.S. strategic collaboration with India critical.

SUPER FREAKONOMICS : My thoughts - Part 1

Investing in Books is always more fruitful than any Software or gaming platforms or any other electronic gadget as a book is far more enthralling than any other means of entertainment. Buying Good books is a virtue. I still remember the years in which my entire summer holidays are spent just sitting in bed from mornin till night and reading Archies,Enid Blyton Children series like Nancy Drew,Famous Five etc.... from age 10 till 15. Then i graduated myself to Michael Crichton,John Grisham,Jeffrey Archer, John Hadley Chase,Stephen King and my favorite of all time Sydney Sheldon.This serial reading of novels perhaps made me a couch potato and i never went outside in my childhood but atleast it helped me to have a vivid imagination and create absolute virtual worlds in my mind. When i bought the paperback version of this book from Landmark - I was really excited as i heard good reviews about the first one in the series and how popular it was.the Foreword told me that there is no structure in this book and no two case studies are correlated. You are informed about the business acumen of prostitutes in one page and right to the solution of Global warming by artificial Global cooling in the other page.

The Book shows certain statistics to debunk some of the perceived assumptions of Society like. a)"How Walking drunk is more dangerous than Driving Drunk" b)"How Prostitution is the most lucrative profession for American women" c)"How Airline hijacking is actually the most inefficient forms of Terrorism" d)"How Infants are generally ignored in Car safety" e)"How pumping a pollutant just 10 feet high in the air actually prevents global warming" This book looks at certain innocuous statistics and derive a hypothesis which is not exactly believable.But the Book is quite convincing and will leave you cursing why such simple solutions cant be implemented to solve all our troubles. Then you will probably realize all these hypothesis are simply just solutions in theory and not in practice.

Interesting speech on Economics by Nobel Laureaute Joseph Stiglitz