A bit from Einstein

I confess that if there is one human whom I come close to worshiping, it is Albert Einstein.

[Picture source.]

“The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing. One cannot help but be in awe when one contemplates the mysteries of eternity… Never lose a holy curiosity.”
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Rajivspeak is getting out of hand

One of my pet peeves is the idiotic mixing of English and Hindi words in advertising copy which is cropping up everywhere on billboards and in print. Perhaps it is considered cool. But it is cool in only the way that displaying abysmal stupidity and illiteracy is cool–which is to say it isn’t. What it advertises is that that both the writer and the readers don’t quite know either of the languages and perhaps don’t even know that they don’t know the distinction between the two. I call it “rajivspeak” in honor of the man who was a master in this regard.

A few years ago, I was lamenting the poor grasp some people have of even one of the basic languages of India to someone. He wrote back saying, “I had the pleasure of watching Rajiv Gandhi give a speech in Hindi to the hapless denizens of Malda district in Bengal. The populace is linguistically challenged, period, at the best of times. And not just with respect to Hindi. They had to face up to Rajiv’s stuff, which if memory serves me right, went along these lines:
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Babbage and Tennyson

Charles Babbage (1791–1871), the English mathematician was the father of the idea of a programmable computer. Babbage built a mechanical computer called “the difference engine.” He once corresponded with Alfred Lord Tennyson.

Sir,

In your otherwise beautiful poem “The Vision of Sin”, there is a verse which reads,

“Every moment dies a man,
Every moment one is born.”

It must be manifest that if this were true, the population of the world would be at a standstill. In truth, the rate of birth is slightly in excess of that of death.

I would suggest that in the next edition of your poem you have it read:

“Every moment dies a man,
Every moment 1,1/16th is born…”

I am, Sir, yours, etc.

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“India’s Great Problem”

The headline in the NY Times article simply says, “INDIA’S GREAT PROBLEM: Nobody Knows How to Educate Her 300,000,000 People.” It begins

For many years past, those who have known India best have recognized that one of her greatest, if not her greatest, problem was that of education.

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Beware the Ides of March

Caesar ignored the soothsayer’s warning to “beware the ides of March” and on March 15th in 44 BCE was assassinated. Cassius was among the attackers. Caesar knew that there was something suspicious about Cassius. He had remarked to Antony:

Let me have men about me that are fat;
Sleek-headed men and such as sleep o’ nights:
Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look;
He thinks too much: such men are dangerous.

Be very wary of people with lean and hungry looks who think too much.

[Here’s Act 1, Scene 2 of The Life and Death of Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare.]

POSTSCRIPT: All sorts of bad things happen on the ides of March. In 1876 on the ides of March, test cricket was born with a match between England and Australia.

Adding Humiliation to Plunder

I used to have a blog at UC Berkeley. It was titled “Life is a Random Draw.” I wrote it for a couple of years and decided to shut it down as it was attracting too much spam. I will re-publish some of the posts from the Berkeley blog depending on relevance. Here’s one from 13th May 2003. This one is related to the recent incident in which an exhibition of some historical records related to Aurangzeb was shut down by the police in Chennai because some people felt that they could not bear to know that Aurangzeb was a vicious tyrant.

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Suicide! Suicide! — Part 2

This is a follow up to the post “Suicide! Suicide!

Of shoes and ships . . .

Let me tell you a story. This happened many years ago on a train journey. A couple of children were running around the compartment playing. The father of one of the kids, busy talking to a fellow traveler, would every now and then stop his son and tie the kid’s shoelaces. He repeatedly retied the laces but in a few minutes they would mysteriously come untied. I watched with growing frustration and anger at the senselessness of what the man was doing. Continue reading “Suicide! Suicide! — Part 2”