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Quotes From Here And There

Albert Einstein
Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius - and a lot of courage - to move in the opposite direction.
Dylan Thomas
I fell in love – that is the only expression I can think of – at once, and am still at the mercy of words, though sometimes now, knowing a little of their behavior very well, I think I can influence them slightly and have even learned to beat them now and then, which they appear to enjoy.
Eddie Cantor
It takes twenty years to become an overnight success.
Edward Abbey
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds.
e e cummings
To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best night and day to make you like everybody else means to fight the hardest battle any human being can fight and never stop fighting.
Eyler Coates
We've all heard that a million monkeys banging on a million typewriters will eventually produce a masterpiece. Now, thanks to the Internet, we know this is not true.
Friedrich Nietzsche
Without music, life would be a mistake.
Gustave Flaubert
The one way of tolerating existence is to lose oneself in literature as in a perpetual orgy.
Going to the Opera is like making love; we get bored but we come back.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
If I love you, what business is it of yours?
John Steinbeck
Only through imitation do we develop toward originality.
Lady Mary Wortley Montagu
There is no remedy so easy as books, which if they do not give cheerfulness, at least restore quiet to the most troubled mind.
Leonard Cohen
Ring the bells that still can ring;
Forget your perfect offering.
There is a crack in everything;
That's how the light gets in.
The greatest thing in the world is to know how to belong to oneself.
Paul Sweeney
You know you've read a good book when you turn the last page and feel a little as if you have lost a friend.
Peter Altenberg
I never dreamed of being Shakespeare or Goethe, and I never expected to hold the great mirror of truth up before the world; I dreamed only of being a little pocket mirror, the sort that a woman can carry in her purse; one that reflects small blemishes, and some great beauties, when held close enough to the heart.
Robert Frost
In three words, I can sum up everything I've learned about life: it goes on.
There's no money in poetry, but then there's no poetry in money.
Satchel Paige
Work like you don't need the money. Love like you've never been hurt. Dance like nobody's watching.
Thomas Mann
A writer is somebody for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.
V S Naipaul
The writer has only to listen very carefully and with a clear heart to what people say to him, and ask the next question, and the next.

My Personal Library

On the JEE Brouhaha

I shared nanopolitan's parody piece Bombshell from IIT-K: Faculty Recruitment through JEE on Facebook, which led to the following response:

Q. How do you decrease the number of people below poverty line?
A. Simple, decrease the amount below which we call somebody poor.
Q. How do make everyone get into IIT?
A. Simple, ...
Its a clear political agenda where they found a completely wrong solution to a problem. An institute taking a stance in what it believes to be right is nothing to be parodied about and why would you? Are we really all that bored of the poverty line jokes on the government?

I just want to jot down some of my more serious thoughts on this.

1. I have a problem with the idea of a single exam and its numerical results playing so much part in the aspirations of a student. The notion, that the JEE is sacrosanct and that its results can actually tell if a person is intelligent enough or not, is ridiculous. I know many people will cry otherwise. (I have no biases for or against the JEE. I never gave the exam, nor am I greatly familiar with its format.) This is the reason why SAT and GRE are not factored in unilaterally in the admissions process of US universities.

2. The results of a single exam cannot be a better indicator than a result that factors in a student's efforts over a two-year pre-college program. If the method of incorporating grade 12 results is incorrect, biased or political, it should be corrected. But, the idea is correct in principle.

3. With the kind of competition, the winners are not very different from the people who almost made it. If you were to administer the JEE twice to the same bunch of students, there would be major shuffle at the top ranks. It would be better to bring in some more factors to have a holistic admissions procedure similar to US universities.

4. Years of preparation lead to freshmen being burnt-out when they enter the IITs. A question on Quora comparing students from MIT and IITs had answers which basically said that there isn't much difference intellectually; it's just that MIT students are more driven and passionate. See answers to Are IIT students smarter than MIT students? Success and happiness in the real world depends on personal qualities including but certainly not limited to intellect.

5. The fact that it is a decision based on numbers makes people believe that it has to be correct. This leads to disasters. See answers to the question How does it feel like to fail IIT JEE?.

6. It seems to me that the reason for such a furore over the exam is that people know that IITs are good only because they have an intensive admissions procedure and admit the very best students. This reduces the burden of education on the professors considerably. With the due disclaimer before generalizing and apologies to the few fabulous professors I have known at IIT Bombay, professors here do not seem to do as great a job as they are capable of. I suspect this is because it is an easier task to teach a class whose selectivity surpasses that of even the best universities in the developed world, and therefore the effort that makes great teachers is not put in. I am not sure if this is true at other IITs as well.

7. Simply put, out of the two aspects of rigor and possibility that education should impart, IITs focus only on the the former. This perspective spills over into the JEE as well.

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