Gleanings From The Past #50


Some Poem Extracts

Children dear, was it yesterday
We heard the sweet bells over the bay?
In the caverns where we lay,
Through the surf and through the swell,
The far-off sound of a silver bell?
Sand-strewn caverns, cool and deep,
Where the winds are all asleep;
Where the spent lights quiver and gleam,
Where the salt weed sways in the stream,
Where the sea-beasts, ranged all round,
Feed in the ooze of their pasture-ground;
Where the sea-snakes coil and twine,
Dry their mail and bask in the brine;
Where great whales come sailing by,
Sail and sail, with unshut eye,
Round the world forever and aye?
When did music come this way?
Children dear, was it yesterday?

— Matthew Arnold, “The Forsaken Merman”, Dover Beach and Other Poems, 1867

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Not Lost In Translation: A Curious Language Anecdote


Vladimir Nabokov

Vladimir Nabokov, in his 1962 novel Pale Fire, related a remarkable, albeit probably apocryphal, Russian language anecdote. The story went that a newspaper which covered the coronation ceremony of a Tsar “accidentally” misprinted “корона” (korona) (crown) as “ворона” (vorona) (crow). The following day, the newspaper apologized for the error and promptly “corrected” it. However, the word was misprinted once again as “корова” (korova) (cow).

According to Nabokov, “The artistic correlation between the crown-crow-cow series and the Russian koronavoronakorova series is something that would have, I am sure, enraptured my poet.” He also believed that the probability of having a language coincidence like this is so minuscule that it may as well elude computation.

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Quotable #50: Gradualness

Ivan Pavlov.jpg

“Firstly, gradualness. About this most important condition of fruitful scientific work I never can speak without emotion. Gradualness, gradualness, and gradualness. From the very beginning of your work, school yourselves to severe gradualness in the accumulation of knowledge.” — Ivan Pavlov, his advice to the academic youth, Science, Vol. 83, April 17, 1936

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20 Thought-Provoking Quotes About Reading And Thinking


“He might be a very clever man by nature, for all I know, but he laid so many books upon his head that his brains could not move.” — Robert Hall, when asked whether he thought that Dr. Kippis was clever, The Works of Rev. Robert Hall, Vol. 3, 1860

The bookful blockhead, ignorantly read,
With loads of learned lumber in his head.

— Alexander Pope, “An Essay on Criticism”, 1709, cited in The Poetical Works of Alexander Pope, 1840

“To buy books would be a good thing if we also could buy the time to read them. As it is, the act of purchasing them is often mistaken for the assimilation and mastering of their content.” — Arthur Schopenhauer

“It is not enough to simply teach children to read; we have to give them something worth reading. Something that will stretch their imaginations — something that will help them make sense of their own lives and encourage them to reach out toward people whose lives are quite different from their own.” — Katherine Patterson

“The enormous multiplication of books in every branch of knowledge is one of the greatest evils of this age; since it presents one of the most serious obstacles to the acquisition of correct information, by throwing in the reader’s way piles of lumber, in which he must painfully grope for the scraps of useful matter, peradventure interspersed.” — Edgar Allan Poe, Southern Literary Messenger, Vol 2, October 1836

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Pun Of The Weak: Metallurgy

“Metallurgy is the study of how to keep people from being allergic to metals.” — Anon., Irving Daily News, January 15, 1979

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The Economist’s Blunder


Geoffrey K. Pullum

On March 20, 1997, linguist Geoffrey K. Pullum sent the following letter to The Economist in response to the article regarding the Russian oil pipeline problems the newspaper published a week prior:


“Connections needed” (March 15) reports that Russia’s Transneft pipeline operator is not able to separate crude flows from different oil fields: “they all come out swirled into a single bland blend.” This is quite true. And worse yet, the characterless, light-colored mix thus produced is concocted blindly, without quality oversight, surely a grave mistake. In fact, I do not recall ever encountering a blinder blander blonder blender blunder.

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Obsolete Geographical Knowledge

“You mean there are two Koreas?” — U.S. Ambassador to Singapore Richard Kneip, when questioned about his opinion during a congressional hearing on the conflict between the North and South Korea.

Doctor, a newspaper targeted to general practitioners published once a week, was well received by the doctors due to its excellent content and service. The newspaper published a vaccination chart as one of its sections. The chart showed what vaccines are required in each country and it was depicted using a colorful world map. It was updated weekly so anyone reading it would be sure to find the latest and most relevant information.

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