So we just passed a thousand posts. 1001 to be precise. And well over half a million hits.
As is our wont when we reach a milestone the first thing we do is say thank you to you, Dear Reader. After all, you’re the point.
Over more than three years the blog has become an eclectic mixture of politics and popular culture, enlivened with a decent dose of sheer nonsense from time to time, and we’re really quite proud of it. It’s been re-reported all over the world, read in virtually every country in the world, and we have a made a bunch of wonderful and loyal new friends. You know who you are, and how much we appreciate your support.
And as is also our wont, we wanted into the blogosphere to find out the significance of the number we’re celebrating, in this case the palindromic 1001.
So we came across Norway’s submission for the Best Foreign Language Oscar at the 87th Academy Awards. Apparently Bent Hamer’s 1001 Grams is delightfully quirky and gently affecting as it ponders how much a life really weighs, and whether it is possible to truly measure happiness. We’ve never heard of it but apparently it’s “buoyed by trademark deadpan humour and wry observation: a film as restrained – and as slowly illuminating – as the protagonist.” Which sounds pretty good, really, so we might look it out on the worldwideinterwebs to reward ourselves for the effort involved in 1001 posts.
1001 was a special year, of course. It was the first year of not only the eleventh century in the Christian calendar but also the first year in a new millenium. Pretty big. It was a rather disturbed year in Europe. Lots of people called Aeth-something or miscellaneous Viking names were having at it.
And talking of Vikings, it’s also thought to be the year that Leif Eriksson and his band of brothers and sisters established small settlements in and around Vinland in North America, hundreds of years before Columbus found the place accidentally.
Baitoushan volcano on what is now the Chinese-Korean border went pop with one of the biggest explosions in history. It has remined active 9and dangerous) ever since. In other China news, construction began on the Liaodi Pagoda, the tallest pagoda in Chinese history, which was completed 54 years later.
In mathematics, One thousand and one is a sphenic number, a pentagonal number, a pentatope number and the first four-digit palindromic number. We have not the faintest idea what any of those things are, so we’ve left the links in for you to find out.
In The Book of One Thousand and One Nights, harem member Scheherazade tells her husband the king a new story every night for 1,001 nights, thus staving off her execution. From this, 1001 is sometimes used as a generic term for “a very large number”, starting with a large number (1000) and going beyond it, as in:
- 1001 uses for…
- 1001 ways to…
In Arabic, this is usually phrased as “one thousand things and one thing“, e.g.:
- The Book of One Thousand and One Nights, in Arabic Alf layla wa layla (Arabic: ألف ليلة و ليلة), literally “One thousand nights and a night”.
- 1001 thanks is Alf shukran wa shukran (Arabic: ألف شكرا و شكرا): “One thousand thanks and thank you”.
Incidentally, the story of why Scheherazade was in danger of her life is quite interesting.
The main story concerns Shahryar, whom the narrator calls a “Sasanian king” ruling in “India and China”. He is shocked to discover that his brother’s wife is unfaithful; discovering his own wife’s infidelity has been even more flagrant, he has her executed: but in his bitterness and grief he decides that all women are the same.
Shahryar begins to marry a succession of virgins only to execute each one the next morning, before she has a chance to dishonour him. Eventually the vizier, whose duty it is to provide them, cannot find any more virgins. Scheherazade, the vizier’s daughter, offers herself as the next bride and her father reluctantly agrees. On the night of their marriage, Scheherazade begins to tell the king a tale, but does not end it. The king, curious about how the story ends, is thus forced to postpone her execution in order to hear the conclusion. The next night, as soon as she finishes the tale, she begins (and only begins) a new one, and the king, eager to hear the conclusion, postpones her execution once again. And do it goes on for 1,001 nights.
The tales vary widely: they include historical tales, love stories, tragedies, comedies, poems, burlesques and various forms of erotica. Numerous stories depict jinns, ghouls, apes, sorcerers, magicians, and legendary places, which are often intermingled with real people and geography, and not always rationally; common protagonists include the historical Abbasid caliph Harun al-Rashid, his Grand Vizier, Jafar al-Barmaki, and the famous poet Abu Nuwas, despite the fact that these figures lived some 200 years after the fall of the Sassanid Empire in which the tale of Scheherazade is set.
Sometimes a character in Scheherazade’s tale will begin telling other characters a story of his own, and that story may have another one told within it, resulting in a richly layered narrative texture.
The different versions have different individually detailed endings (in some Scheherazade asks for a pardon, in some the king sees their children and decides not to execute his wife, in some other things happen that make the king distracted) but they all end with the king giving his wife a pardon and sparing her life. Phew.
The most immediate reference that occurred to us for 1001 was 1001 detergent, used for various uses, but primarily for carpets.
“1001 cleans a big big carpet, for less than half a crown” was the hugely famous slogan, and I have never forgotten it.
Anyway, the ad is just simply wonderful – just love the accents.
Even better, the product is still available although the ads, sadly, have ceased.
Most people these days wouldn’t even know what half a crown was, more’s the pity. Ah well.
Happy 1001th everyone, and once again, thank you!