What’s in a Name?

Mozart, one of the most famous composers in Classical Music, had an amazing name. His full name was:

Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Gottlieb Amadeus Mozart

Well, that’s one of his names. Having multiple or large names was the tradition back then, based on religious customs and language. Mozart was multilingual. He spoke German (his native), Italian, Latin, French and some English. Because of this, he was free to choose his name! He referred to himself as Wolfgango Amadeo while he was in Italy (around 1770), or as Wolfgang Amadè while he was in Paris or Versailles (around 1777). But here’s the interesting part: Three of his names mean almost exactly the same!

  • Theophilus means loved by God or friend of God (In Greek, philos means fondness or beloved, and theos means God)
  • Gottlieb means love of God (In German, Gott is God, liebe is love)
  • Amadeus again means love of God (In Latin, amor means love, deus means God)
Image

"Wolfie"

One of Mozart’s most famous works was The Marriage of Figaro. The overture is such fun to hear because of its sheer grandeur!

Linus Torvalds Facts

A collection of my favorite Linus Torvalds facts. (If you don’t know what they are, these so called facts show off the purported superhuman strengths of Linus Torvalds, the creator of Linux)

  • Linus Torvalds CAN divide by zero.
  • Linus Torvalds once found a segfault in the universe.
  • Linus Torvalds doesn’t die, he simply returns zero.
  • Linus Torvalds doesn’t need backups. He just uploads his files and lets the world mirror them.
  • Linus’s kernel never panics.
  • Linus Torvalds has counted to infinity. Twice.
  • There are no man pages for Linus Torvalds, only god pages.
  • Linus’ mother typed:

./configure 
make 
make install 

… And there was Linus.

  • It is a known fact that Linus Torvalds doesn’t need anti-virus software, but viruses need anti-Linus software!
  • Linus Torvalds runs Linux on his toaster.
  • Linus Torvalds doesn’t need to mount his drives.
  • Linus Torvalds codes in binary.
  • For Linus Torvalds, 64k RAM is enough.
  • Linus Torvalds doesn’t debug. His programs are always perfect.
  • My favorite: Linus Torvalds’s first words were system calls!

Should Money be Spent on Space Exploration?

One finds so many interesting topic online to write about. I wrote a piece on the above topic. For me, my essay sounds diplomatic, but I liked it 🙂

Man is a curious creature. He always wants to discover new things, new frontiers. One of the most curious aspects ever to strike man is space. Right since the times of the Ancient Indians, Greeks and Chinese, to Galileo, Kepler and Copernicus, to the modern space programs of NASA, Russian Federal Space Agency, ISRO, etc. this curiosity about space has been unstoppable. Since the past 70 years, governments have been actively involved in sending missions to space. This involves large investments of resources such as manpower, education and infrastructure, which in turn, requires huge investments of money.

When ISRO launched its manned moon mission, there were a lot of questions from the people whether a manned moon mission is really necessary, since it has already been done before. The scientific community answered back by saying that space exploration is one of the major means of achieving scientific progress. Scientific progress is one of the major pillars of the nation’s progress. That might be true, since history has shown us that one who wins the space race, wins the game, or at least, stays ahead of the rest. But that is concerned with the political aspects of it, which exists between nations. For the not-so-scientific-and-political, there still exists the question, “Was the money well-spent?”

He has the argument that the money must be spent on other areas where development is urgently needed, such as healthcare, food supply, infrastructure, education. Problems exist in these areas in every country. Healthcare is not provided to everyone, every child cannot afford to go to a school, and every stomach is not fed. This is a very popular, and justified, opinion that exists among the common man. He does not need a man on the moon. He needs a man in the classroom to teach his child her ABCs. And the government needs to understand his lament. It needs to see that the costly affair exploring space is not the need of the hour, according to him.

However, a good government, a smart one, needs to strike a balance in this regard. It needs to invest in space exploration judiciously. A man’s curiosity must not be quenched by achievements on land. Space offers endless possibilities. It could offer answers to the questions about origins of life and matter, the reasons for nature’s laws, the future of mankind. Yes, a space program does require huge investments of capital. But a government needs to educate it people about the importance of space exploration. It also needs to carefully decide on the budget and the procedures to be put on its investment as there is enough room for the spending to go awry. Numerous feasibility studies need to be made regarding any kind of space missions. But it needs to invest equally, if not more, in other areas of development. It needs to invest sufficiently, so that the basic rights of the individual are met. Only then shall the individual decide to understand the need and the importance of space exploration.

“May you find what you are looking for”

That’s a Chinese proverb. Another variant is “May your wishes be granted.”

I found this as an essay topic somewhere online. I had time to kill. So I wrote an essay! This is just whatever came to my mind. First draft, to be specific. The actual question was the proverb followed by, “The Chinese surely didn’t know what they were talking about. Or, did they?”

Here’s my short essay:

Chinese proverbs surely have a way with confusing the reader! From Confucius to fortune cookies, Chinese proverbs deal with the simple things in life, yet sound profound, and mostly are profound.

The adage “May your wishes be granted” deals with the complacent or self-sufficient nature of human beings. People usually wish for things which must either be “granted” as soon as possible, or which are too insignificant in the grand scheme of things. We have a tendency to get adjusted or be satisfied with whatever we have, or can be achieved with minimal effort. True greatness requires huge effort, a great deal of dedication and a yearning for achievement. The proverb can be taken as an advice by people to aspire for things beyond our wishes and assumed capabilities.

The Chinese were one of the most ingenious of the ancients. They had made great strides in every walk of life: philosophy, science, technology, art, medicine and so on. Surely, their proverbs had a definite meaning and purpose behind them. The Chinese, hence, did indeed know what they were talking about!

Death and All Its Metaphors

My mum and I have started compiling a list of all the metaphors and euphemisms for death. She is doing it in Kannada (my native language) and I in English. Don’t we have a morbid curiosity! 😀
I have borrowed some of it from the famous and hilarious Dead Parrot Sketch by Monty Python. Well, here is the list:

English:

  1. He became his ex-self.
  2. He kicked the bucket.
  3. He was.
  4. He used to ‘be’.
  5. He was formerly alive.
  6. He lacks life.
  7. He’s in the ‘Beyond’ aisle.
  8. He is only a carbon compound now.
  9. KA-CHICK… BOOM! (The “gun hand” aimed at self).
  10. He has an ample supply of dead now (OK, that was gruesome!).
  11. He was the deer that was caught in the headlights but didn’t run away 😀
  12. He joined the choir invisible. (Monty Python)
  13. Bereft of life, he rests in peace! (Monty Python)
  14. He sleeps with the fishes. (The Godfather!)
Find the Kannada ones in the next post!
The Dim ReaperThat sketch I was talking about 🙂

Armageddon!

Here’s a “dude’s” summary of the film Armageddon I found online 🙂

So, Billy Bob Thornton is, like, the Boss of NASA or whatever (LOL), and he is like “we have got to f*** up this asteroid,” and some guy is like “we’ll just nuke it,” and Billy Bob Thornton is like “we can’t nuke it because of some made up reason,” and so they decide that the only way to destroy the asteroid and save the Earth is to talk to Bruce Willis, the Best Oil Driller in the World. Oh boy, here we go. Meanwhile, out on the oil rig, Bruce Willis is hitting golf balls at a Greenpeace boat because he is a MAN. It’s hilarious and stupid how you work to make the world a better place based on deeply held personal beliefs when you should be shooting at Ben Affleck with a shotgun because he is having sex with your daughter, Liv Tyler. The army is like “Mr. Bruce Willis, please come with us, asteroid time,” and Bruce Willis is like, “Ben Affleck is fired.” And I don’t even know what the big deal is anyway, because if we learned anything from Deep Impact it’s that when the asteroid hits Earth you just need to run up a tall hill.

So, NASA is going to send a team of astronauts into space to land on the asteroid (sure) and drill a hole in it (yes) and fill the hole with a nuclear device (absolutely). But Bruce Willis is like “you guys are so stupid, the only way to do this is to send me into space.” OH, HOLD ON, WHAT? Nevermind, because it gets so much better a few seconds later when Bruce Willis is like “and I want to take my own team with me.” Take your own team with you? Into space? To land on an asteroid? And drill a hole in the asteroid and put a nuclear bomb in that hole? Better bring Daniel Farraday with you. You don’t want things to get ridiculous.

So, Bruce Willis hires all his pals, and surprise: they are so wacky and out of control! Oh, and he hires Ben Affleck, even though he just fired Ben Affleck? Also, Ben Affleck already has his own oil company but it has been literally 24 hours since he was working for Bruce Willis? How did he get an oil company so fast? These are the types of questions we might have time to wonder if that asteroid wasn’t coming straight for us! Of course, it’s hard to imagine a group this ragtag going into space, but they are the only chance we have. Most astronauts train for years to go into space, but these oilmen will only have 12 days. Insert 45 minute training sequence. Now they are ready to go into space! First stop is the international space station where there is a kooky Russian cosmonaut who has space cabin fever and then there is another 45 minute sequence involving fuel lines and space fires and oh no Ben Affleck almost dies but then he doesn’t die at all phew but then a few minutes later he almost dies again but he still doesn’t die. But some people die. Because his ship (one of two!) gets hit by a meteor and crashes on the asteroid. (You know how things in space are always crashing.)”

 

That’s where the bodies are buried!

An old Italian man lived alone in New Jersey. He wanted to plant his annual tomato garden; but it was very difficult work as the ground was hard. His only son, Vincent, who used to help him, was in prison. The old man wrote a letter to his son and described his predicament:

Dear Vincent,
I am feeling pretty sad, because it looks like I won’t be able to plant my tomato garden this year. I’m just getting too old to be digging up a garden plot. I know if you were here my troubles would be over. I know you would be happy to dig the plot for me, like in the old days.
Love, Papa

A few days later he received this letter from his son:

Dear Pop,
Don’t dig up that garden. That’s where the bodies are buried.
Love, Vinnie

At 6 am the next morning, FBI agents and local police arrived and dug up the entire area without finding any bodies. They apologized to the old man and left. That same day the old man received another letter from his son.

Dear Pop,
Go ahead and plant the tomatoes now. That’s the best I could do under the circumstances.
Love, Vinnie