Thursday, 10 May 2018

Aardvark to Zyzzyva or Zyzzyzus

It is interesting that the first and the last noun in an English language dictionary can both be names of non-human living creatures.

Wednesday, 2 May 2018

Law enforcement and crime

    Human beings have a combination of goodness and evil proclivities in them. External stimuli and environment elicit certain kind of reactions. Without fear of punishment, we would give free rein to our evil inclinations. Law-enforcing authorities exist to mete out punishment and keep our evil tendencies in check. When law-enforcing authorities and the government condone evil, rather than strongly condemning it and ensuring punishment for the guilty, human beings take it as a licence to indulge in their deepest evil desires.
    Death penalty for child rapists is a good idea. If enforced and executed properly (without falsely implicating innocent people), it should act as a deterrent to human beings in general from committing such crimes. This law applies to other crimes as well.

Thursday, 26 April 2018

Clean-shaven Pope

According to this list, the first clean-shaven Pope was someone called Valentine who was Pope for 40 days from 31st August to 10th October 827.

It was only in the 15th century that all the Popes in a century were clean-shaven. The 16th and the 17th century saw a come-back of the beard but from the beginning of the 18th century, there hasn't been any Pope who wasn't clean-shaven.

This provides a nice way of looking at changing men's fashion in western Europe.

Thursday, 22 March 2018

An earlier example of Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge’s ‘palat’

Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina, trans. Rosamund Bartlett (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014), Chp. 15, p. 487.

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Etymology of Inspector Morse

In season 1 episode 3 ('Service Of All The Dead') of Inspector Morse, the principal of the school in which Lionel Lawson studied, remarks that Morse is a very Oxford name, and the etymology is the same as the French word 'Maurice' which means 'swarthy' or dark. While the etymology of Maurice seems to be correct according to Wiktionary --, the etymology of 'morse' seems to be different according to Wiktionary --

While Maurice is from late Latin Mauricius, derived from Maurus (“Moor; dark, swarthy”), popularised by a 3rd-century Roman soldier martyr, Morse seems to be from middle French 'mors', from Latin morsus (“bite; clasp”), from mordere (“to bite”), such as morse (plural morses), a clasp or fastening used to fasten a cope in the front, usually decorative; or such as Russian морж (morž, “walrus”), Sami morša, Finnish mursu (all attested later), such as morse (plural morses), (now rare) a walrus.

Sunday, 23 July 2017

Books that sell in the early twenty-first century

1. Fantasy (Harry Potter, Game of Thrones, Lord of the Rings, Amish Tripathi's books etc.) (added advantage of associated series of cinematic adaptations)
2. Examination question papers and preparation guides
3. Romance (with sex, without sex)
4. Simple stories written in simple language (Chetan Bhagat, Jeffrey Archer etc.)
5. Crime fiction
6. Picture books for toddlers and those learning to read
7. Books for slightly older kids but with pictures (Diary of a Wimpy Kid)
8. Motivational -- How to be Rich and Succcessful, How to be Happy, How to be Healthy (What to Eat, How to Lose Weight)

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

The four most important Indians of the twentieth century

I am currently of the opinion that the four most important Indians of the twentieth century were

a) Mohandas K Gandhi,
b) a man who followed Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru,
c) a man who funded Gandhi, Ghanshyam Das Birla, and
d) a man who was a Gandhian in his school days, Dhirajlal Ambani.