Saturday, November 17, 2012

Children's Children

At times, I like to imagine that some relative/relative of friend of mine will, in some time far into the future, "discover" this blog. The familial links over time, place and generational tree will be so immeasurably complex and long winded that any possibility of communicating the existence of this "space" will shrink to negligibility.

In such a situation, then, the "discovery" will be both accidental and probably (hopefully) stimulating. To you, far removed reader, is this dedicated.


Back in the days when I was a jamuna-paar shady day scholar (I hope this phase is not completely alien), we had what is called "slang". Certain words used in certain ways to describe certain opinions, and their meanings diverge from the dictionary definition.

The thing about slang - which is one of my favourite words by the by - is that it possess certain characteristics that make it interesting:
(a) Extremely localized: the same set of words can have varying implications at different places; indeed meaning may vanish altogether.

(b) Extremely quick at changing: over time, words live and die with high velocity.

(c) "Cultural" implications: slang is often a short-form "instrument" for the communication of a set of ideas otherwise hard to express. The fact that such communication is needed may tell us something about the communica-tor and the communica-tee.

What is particularly interesting is how yours truly has himself changed/let go of/taken on slang as and when I've shifted around on this pale blue dot. 


Here are three words, then, that I used to use, or heard being used, while being the shady day-sci. Why three? Because three equals infinity.

  1. "Arbit" - short form for arbitrary. When I first heard it I thought people were saying "Arbid". True story. It could either be form of mild contempt; or just plain wonderment at the mental faculties of the opposite party. Since my mental faculties were in their infancy, I got this a lot. Many years on, I suspect my mental faculties are still struggling out of their pram, the yolk spilling on the sidewalk (not pavement).
  2. "Senti" - short for sentimental. Being "senti" was never a good thing. It meant your emotions were getting the better of you. If a tiny thing like emotion could get the better of me, that better part of me wasn't worth it! In the battle of emotion versus the better of me, I'm proud to say, emotion has always won. If you can marry being "senti" with "cold" logic, the fire-ice dance can be truly magical.
  3. "Giving gyaan" - this usually meant someone talking about something they either knew little about, or the listener could not possibly care less about. Perhaps the last two statements are really saying the same thing. I don't know. I'm not giving gyaan here.
I have not used any of these in the last 5 years.

What about now, that is, the American United States? If you were quick about it, you'd have caught at least one piece of slang in the bulleted list above.

Here's two, then:
  1.   "Shoulda-coulda-woulda" short for "should have been, could have been, would have been". I find this particularly interesting because it has at least two interpretations. Either it means that there is little point in think about what may have happened, since that did not actually take place. This is a very practical sort of thinking. Or it means that attempting to understand what may have happened is the only valid way of understanding what happened. This is even more practical. 
  2. "Have a good one" - does it get any more American? This is technically incorrect English (have a good one what?), is extremely vague in what it means and yet conveys a sense of companionship without any idea of what it would take to be a good companion. Whatever it is you're having, sex, ice cream or a game of football, have a good one. Don't fake it, man, have a good one, go on.
That completes it then, the time capsule can now be closed. 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Get it out quick

If the goal of the economic process is to engage in exchange, then prices and quantities are ways of expressing the language of trade.

But although capable of rich expression, prices and quantities are not rich enough.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Hawk the Eager Young

In the middle of my applications, attempts at convincing people to employ me, I should be doing more of them, but here I am. For the following reasons:

1. I'm feeling the loss of not writing, it's been too many weeks, and I don't much feel like writing any economics.

2. Like someone says on Facebook, "I don't procrastinate, only don't feel motivated to do boring things." ha ha. 

3. This is an "important" time in my life, so it should be duly noted and recorded m'lord.

I maybe shouldn't feel so non-passionate about the job scene, but honestly I'm far too studied up to be out on the corner with begging bowl in hand. As I once politically incorrectly remarked in a seminar two years ago, "if that's what gets published, maybe it isn't so bad if I don't publish!". Kuch toh mil jayega, I tell a friend across the other side of the world.

A minor source of frustration finds itself in:

1. The lack of places looking for someone like me. Seems like most places care not a hoot about some institutional economics person. Who'd have thought it?

2. The incorrectly/poorly informed "mainstream" economists who profess to address the notion that peculiarly is still quite novel in economics: that people talk, such talk is often times an attempt to "gain surplus" (i.e. get more than what you ought to) and therefore ought to be attended to with some careful thought. Thus the profess-ors profess an incorrect profession. Aaargh!

Actually, it's quite good, all this you-guys-are-getting-it-wrong business, there is now "scope" for me to gain surplus, ah ha ha ha!

I ended up watching this English Vinglish movie, and was fairly let down. I simply don't get why the wife goes back to that awful bitchy family, instead of French hunk. Oh, and there had to be a French hunk, right? Why not the other stereotype - the South Indian engineer? (Which hello, but down South, us Indians learn to speak english, we got to, there's no melting pot Hindi to "unite"? ) What further put me off was the unnecessary anti-Amrika jibes, "ab inko hamse darna hain", all that.

What rubbish. Please. When you go for a Visa interview, there are separate lines if you wish your interview to be taken in Hindi, Punjabi, Tamil, Oriya, Bengali, whatever. The US has its source of problems, but come on. "How will you survive without speaking english?". You don't need to speak in English to get a tourist visa! Go to your nearest American embassy if you don't believe me. Cue - Aaargh! - again.

We don't need more disagreement, people! We find it hard enough to get along as it is. Why create all this unnecessary tension, why why why. Sometimes, really, us Indians should take a proper look at ourselves, the xenophobia is truly abnoxious.

See - once again - the costs (and benefits) of talk? Most important principle, I believe, in understanding social behavior.

And, postscript: What the hell is up with Sridevi? How is it possible to look the same 25 years on, who are her doctors, did they lock her up in Michael Jackson's hyperbolic (that can't be right) chamber?

Enough about that. Test cricket is back, and there's nothing better than Test match commentary as background noise while you plead your case - The sum total of our knowledge does not come by a few isolated geniuses, but rather by a far larger crowd who stood on the shoulders of those who came before them to see a bit further. Making students see this will more often than not make them feel as
equal participants.
- it is the very sound of civilization.

Talking to a friend who's trying the arranged marriage thing, and has turned down multiple "suitors", she claims she doesn't feel anything, and "I don't know what it is I should feel, shouldn't I feel something?". I do some silly verbal equivalent of a backrub "there there, let me get on to it, phir dekhna...".

But what strikes me most about this free spirit, now attempting to search for the right man, is how right Axl was.
"Don't you think that you need someone?
Everybody needs somebody, You're not the only one!"

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Leaving Here

It's been quite a ride, said he. It was a dream, and remains one. *snicker*, find more cliches, will you? Was it here, that we ate, laughed, got pissed, got drunk, got sober, wrote exams, wrote papers, sobbed, dreamed, slept, argued, shouted. And does it have to end like this, with the queer, desperate silence of deadlines and definitive statements of intent.

Yeah, gettin' tired (gettin' tired), sick and tired (sick and tired)
Yeah, take a train (take a train), fly by plane (fly by plane)
Yeah, gonna leavin' here, yeah leavin' here
Yeah, leavin' here, ya gonna leave all here now
Baby baby baby, please don't leave here

Been 5 years, a little more, who knew it would play out like this. I am reminded of my first day in this country, a little after 3 in the afternoon on a Monday, wondering at the description of the shrubs outside the main door. From that to this, older, a bit wiser, enough to know there is more to things than meets the eye. I figure why, "underneath it all", people do odd things, and that Tolkien quote, all that is gold does not glitter. Hits you in between the eyes.

In a Wonderland they lie
Dreaming as the days go by,
Dreaming as the summer die

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Yet another joke of questionable impact

What were the grandparents doing on their rocking chairs listening to Van Halen?

Rocking out, perhaps.

: D

Culture wulture

An economist says to a biologist:

"I'm really interested in culture"

and the biologist responds:

"So am I!"

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Good phrases

From an appreciation of Little Richard:

"...wailing with gleeful abandon"

Is there a better way to state what there is to love about rock music? I think not. This also explains why I have only slight patience for folksy music - Paul Simon is an important exception to the general rule, because he seems to be gleeful in his musings.

In related news, Alice Cooper was at Lords talking about cricket and how music companies no longer want to invest in new bands. Best statement: "That Pietersen, he's a bit a of a rock star, I hear." Second best statement: "Lady Gaga is the only real star these days." Third best: "People are afraid to be rock musicians today...if Paul Simon made Sargent Peppers  today, no major music company would want to sell it."