Posts Tagged ‘readers’

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.

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.

baekdu

Looks quiet. Don’t be fooled.

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.

Luckily for her, she talked a good story.

Luckily for her, she talked a good story.

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.

An early manuscript of the One Thousand and One Nights

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!

cead

Overnight, Wellthisiswhatithink smashed triumphantly through the “100,000 articles read barrier”. We can only say we are delighted, heart-warmed, humbled, and excited at this major milestone.

One hundred thousand readings of whatever it is we have been burbling about is an astonishing compliment, Dear Reader, and one that we can only respond to with an increased determination to deliver commentary, thoughts and stories that you will continue to find stimulating, thought-provoking and meaningful.

As is customary at such moments, and in the fading light of a blessedly cool and grey afternoon, we turn to Google to find anything else interesting to say about the figure 100,000.

First and foremost, one hundred thousand (100,000) is the natural number following 99999 and preceding 100001. In scientific notation, it is written as 105. So there.

In South Asia, one hundred thousand is called a lakh. The Thai, Lao, Khmer and Vietnamese languages also have separate words for this number: แสน, ແສນ, សែន [saen] and ức [uc] respectively.

In astronomy, 100,000 metres, (equivalent to 62 miles) is the altitude at which the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) defines spaceflight to begin.

In the Irish Language, Ceád Mile Fáilte (pronounced: KAY-ed MEE-luh FOIL-cha) is a popular greeting meaning “A Hundred Thousand Welcomes”. Which seems a neat way to sum up our gratitude to everyone who has visited the blog.

In piphilology, (wonderful word), one hundred thousand is the current world record for the number of digits of pi memorized by a human being.

Lucinda Drayton

Lucinda Drayton

But by far the most delightful surprise we found when scouring the worldwide resources of the interweb for references to 100,000 was this gorgeous song “100,000 Angels” which was originally by a band called Bliss and has been covered by a variety of singers such as here by Lucinda Drayton, (who toured with Bliss), and more recently by Sinead O’Connor.

The more world-weary amongst you may be surprised that I believe angels walk the earth with us, but if one has any religious belief they are mentioned repeatedly in religious documents of all major faiths, and I believe that if we listen, we can hear their guidance.

As someone said: Our “unseen friends” surround us with their love and light daily. You have to reach out beyond the dark periods in your life. Learn the lesson, act with pure intent and listen to your conscience.”

Reach beyond – yes, one must be active to hear the angels. Especially in times of challenge or grief. Whilst you must acknowledge it, you must reach past current difficulty. Look away from the problems, the sadnesses, and the fear. Look for goodness, search for meaning, and celebrate the possible.

Very often, the joy we seek is all around us, we just don’t notice it.

I also believe, profoundly, that the angels sent to us are often simply the people we meet, often entirely unaware that their steps or actions are being guided to help us, and completely un-knowing of the effect their strength, kindness or advice is having on us.

The music is soothing, and ethereally beautiful. The video is rather exquisite, too. Let it in.

Do you
Hear me calling you?
The voice of a mother, a father and a child
Would you recognize the truth?
Do you feel a love that’s falling from my eyes?

Take just a minute
Come and rest you by my side
Let me tell you your own story
Let me walk you through your lives
Only a second
That’s all it takes to realize
There’s a hundred thousand angels
By your side

Do you
Hear me talk to you?
I whisper through the doorways
And pathways of your mind
Clear like the morning dew
And fresh from my journey
Cross an ocean of blue

Take just a minute
Come and rest you by my side
Let me tell you your own story
Let me walk you through your lives
Only a second
That’s all it takes to realize

There’s a hundred thousand angels by your side
There’s a hundred thousand angels here, tonight

If you need an angel, I hope one is near you.

Here’s to the next 100,000 conversations. With love, Stephen.