Friday, November 30, 2007

Hilarious Essays


The made me laugh till I was breathless, I hope they'll make you smile too.

The following quotes were accounts of history written by kids in their essays. What grade do you think they earned for writing statements like these? Oh, weeping for the future of humanity…

“The Greeks were a highly sculptured people, and without them we wouldn’t have history. The Greeks also had myths. A myth is a female moth.”

“Actually, Homer was not written by Homer but by another man of that name. Socrates was a famous Greek teacher who went around giving people advice. They killed him. Socrates died from an overdose of wedlock. After his death, his career suffered a dramatic decline.”

“In the Olympic games, Greeks ran races, jumped, hurled the biscuits, and threw the java.”

“Eventually, the Romans conquered the Greeks. History calls people Romans because they never stayed in one place for very long.”

“Julius Caesar extinguished himself on the battlefields of Gaul. The Ides of March murdered him because they thought he was going to be made king. Dying, he gasped out: ‘Tee hee, Brutus.’”

“Nero was a cruel tyranny who would torture his subjects by playing the fiddle to them.”

“Joan of Arc was burnt to a steak and was canonized by Bernard Shaw. Finally Magna Carta provided that no man should be hanged twice for the same offense.”

“In midevil times most people were alliterate. The greatest writer of the futile ages was Chaucer, who wrote many poems and verses and also wrote literature.”

“Another story was William Tell, who shot an arrow through an apple while standing on his son’s head.”

“It was an age of great inventions and discoveries. Gutenberg invented removable type and the Bible. Another important invention was the circulation of blood. Sir Walter Raleigh is a historical figure because he invented cigarettes and started smoking. And Sir Francis Drake circumcised the world with a 100 foot clipper.”

“The greatest writer of the Renaissance was William Shakespeare. He was born in the year 1564, supposedly on his birthday. He never made much money and is famous only because of his plays. He wrote tragedies, comedies, and hysterectomies, all in Islamic pentameter. Romeo and Juliet are an example of a heroic couplet. Romeo’s last wish was to be laid by Juliet.”

“Writing at the same time as Shakespeare was Miguel Cervantes. He wrote Donkey Hote. The next great author was John Milton. Milton wrote Paradise Lost. Then his wife died and he wrote Paradise Regained.”

“During the Renaissance America began. Christopher Columbus was a great navigator who discovered America while cursing about the Atlantic. His ships were called the Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Fe.”

“Later, the Pilgrims crossed the ocean, and this was called Pilgrim’s Progress. The winter of 1620 was a hard one for the settlers. Many people died and many babies were born. Captain John Smith was responsible for all this.”

“One of the causes of the Revolutionary War was the English put tacks in their tea. Also, the colonists would send their parcels through the post without stamps. Finally the colonists won the War and no longer had to pay for taxis. Delegates from the original 13 states formed the Contented Congress. Thomas Jefferson, a Virgin, and Benjamin Franklin were two singers of the Declaration of Independence. Franklin discovered electricity by rubbing two cats backwards and declared, “A horse divided against itself cannot stand.” Franklin died in 1790 and is still dead.”

“Soon the Constitution of the United States was adopted to secure domestic hostility. Under the constitution the people enjoyed the right to keep bare arms.”

“Abraham Lincoln became America’s greatest Precedent. His mother died in infancy, and he was born in a log cabin which he built with his own hands. Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves by signing the Emasculation Proclamation. Meanwhile in Europe, the enlightenment was a reasonable time. Voltaire invented electricity and also wrote a book called Candy.”

“Gravity was invented by Issac Walton. It is chiefly noticeable in the autumn when the apples are falling off the trees.”

“Johann Bach wrote a great many musical compositions and had a large number of children. In between he practiced on an old spinster which he kept up in his attic. Bach died from 1750 to the present. Bach was the most famous composer in the world and so was Handel. Handel was half German half Italian and half English. He was very large.”

“Beethoven wrote music even though he was deaf. He was so deaf he wrote loud music. He took long walks in the forest even when everyone was calling for him. Beethoven expired in 1827 and later died for this.”

“The French Revolution was accomplished before it happened and catapulted into Napoleon. Napoleon wanted an heir to inherit his power, but since Josephine was a baroness, she couldn’t have any children.”

“The sun never set on the British Empire because the British Empire is in the East and the sun sets in the West.”

“Queen Victoria was the longest queen. She sat on a thorn for 63 years. She was a moral woman who practiced virtue. Her death was the final event which ended her reign.”

“The nineteenth century was a time of a great many thoughts and inventions. People stopped reproducing by hand and started reproducing by machine. The invention of the steamboat caused a network of rivers to spring up. Cyrus McCormick invented the McCormick raper, which did the work of a hundred men.”

“Louis Pasteur discovered a cure for rabbis. Charles Darwin was a natureist who wrote the Organ of the Species. Madman Curie discovered radio. And Karl Marx became one of the Marx brothers.”

“The First World War, caused by the assignation of the Arch-Duck by an anahist, ushered in a new error in human history.”

[Source: unknown]

Thought of the day - 30th Nov 2007

“There are two kinds of people: those who say to God, ‘Thy will be done,’ and those to whom God says, ‘All right, then, have it your way.’”
- C. S. Lewis

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

A random sher

चाँद सा मीसरा अकेला है मेरे कागज़ पर,
छत पे आ जाओ मेरा शेर मुकम्मल कर दो.

Chaand sa misra akela hai mere kaagaz par,
chhat pe aa jao mera sher mukammal kar do.

I know I am reusing the title but that's exactly what I am doing - posting a random sher. I was listening to the recording of a nashisht (a recital of Urdu poetry) from the time when I was in India, in my friend's village. This sher was quoted in that.

Let me see if I can explain this beautiful thing in English.

A "sher" is a couplet, 2 lines that need to say something meaningful, and a "misra" is one line, so a complete sher needs to have 2 "misra"s. In Indian poetry beauty of a girl is often compared to the beauty of the Moon. So, this sher says, "This single line is lonely on my paper like Moon in the sky. If you come out on the roof my sher will be complete!" Of course, it's about a million times more beautiful in original.

Let's draw swords!

Alright, I'll just come out and say it, "My name is Sunil Goswami and I am a gymphobic.".

Well, it's not like I see a gym sign and run screaming, but I didn't coin the term. I do find gyms quite boring though. I have tried to join a gym and work out regularly quite a few times but never could keep it up. But just like everyone else I also need to keep in shape, (now don't tell me round is a shape, that joke's old now). I recently came across a newspaper article (I must explain before my regular readers accuse me of reading a newspaper, that I was using that as a tablecloth to eat on), "Fun ways for gym-phobics to keep fit", I decided to make that my lunch-time reading. The article was true to its title and there were indeed some half-dozen ways listed to stay fit without going to the gym. The first one that caught my eye (I tend to read an article from the middle) was "Fencing".

The first image that came to my mind was from one of those mythological/medieval Indian movies where the hero is like an Indian Robin Hood fighting the authority, and finale is somewhere like the top of a palace gate, the evil king and the hero fighting the last fight, swords gleaming in the sun, the sound of metal upon metal adding excitment to the action...

The images that followed were not less glamourous at all - James Bond in "Die Another Day", "Mask of Zorro" and a few others.

So, me being a child of the information age and a firm believer in the power of the Internet, I started to research the thing before making a decision.

My research started from YouTube, where I checked out not only the James Bond scene but also some footage of real life fencing. In movies everything is glamorous. But even the RL fencing looked quite interesting. So, next stop was Google Maps where I stuck my post code in and searched for fencing clubs. Luckily, there were a few fencing clubs around my area and I picked one which was the nearest.

Well, long story short (too late!), I have started to fence. So far, I have attended only 3 classes but it's such a fantastic sport. Maybe it's just me but it feels so glamourous. My club provides the whole kit (to use), until you are committed enough to buy your own. There's no time limit or pressure on you to invest a lot of money in it.

Okay, so the story starts with dressing. I had been told on the phone to dress up in loose tracksuit bottoms and trainer shoes. On top of that you wear a shoulder guard, a heavy, thick jacket, a glove in your fencing hand, and don't forget the mask that hides Rosamund Pike's lovely features and you can't tell she's a girl until she takes it off. Then you are ready to pick up the sword, it's called foil, and...oh wait, first you have to ask someone to zip you up. Yes, the jacket zips up in the back, that's why it's necessary to make friends in the club if you are going fencing. Well, so far I have never had to ask, people are so very nice they offer help even before I can bring myself to ask someone.

How cold did you say it is outside? Zero? Minus one? Minus two? well, not inside our club hall. You will see everybody sweating, excuse me, perspiring, even though the heat is turned off. It's not just all those heavy clothes, it's also the physical exercise, the excitement, the rush of adrenalin.

I am a newbie, completely unskilled, clumsy, slow and on top of that I have no stamina to stay in for long. And yet, nobody minds practicing with me. Even people with years of experience agreed to fence with me and some actually asked themselves. As I said, I am new and know nothing but still when I fight, the grip of that metal rod gives me confidence, and I feel all excited. The cling-clang of sword against sword is such a headrush!

Well, that's enough babbling for one post. Rest assured that I'll be writing about it again. I love fencing. (Hmmmm, I wonder if they make bumper stickers for that!). If you can, do try it. It's amazing!

Thought of the day - 28th Nov 2007

It's hard to take over the world when you sleep 20 hours a day.
- Darby Conley, Get Fuzzy, 06-07-04

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Thought of the day - 27th Nov 2007

"Everybody pities the weak; jealousy you have to earn."
- Arnold Schwarzenegger (1947-)

Monday, November 26, 2007

Thought of the day - 26th Nov 2007

The price of greatness is responsibility.
- Sir Winston Churchill (1874 - 1965)

Friday, November 23, 2007

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thought of the day - 22nd Nov 2007

Who is wise? He that learns from every One.
Who is powerful? He that governs his Passions.
Who is rich? He that is content.
Who is that? Nobody.

- Benjamin Franklin (1706 - 1790)

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Borrowing Sorrow

The following 3 links are from a blog I read regularly. It is not an attempt on my part to try and convince you that my way of avoiding news is the right way. It's just that I was impressed by the way this author has detailed his journey into depression and the recovery process. It's a nice case in point to see how much grief we borrow from outside, without any need for it. And since it outlines the path to recovery with well-written comments, I think you'll find it worthwhile to read these 3 posts.

Thought of the day - 21st Nov 2007

"The starting point of achievement is desire. Keep this constantly in mind. Weak desires produce weak results, just as a small amount of fire produces a small amount of heat."
-Napoleon Hill

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Thought of the day - 20th Nov 2007

Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.
-Sir Winston Churchill

Monday, November 19, 2007

Thought of the day - 19th Nov 2007

Everything in excess! To enjoy the flavor of life, take big bites. Moderation is for monks.

-The notebook of Lazarus Long, (Character by Robert Heinlein)

Friday, November 16, 2007

Thought of the day - 16th Nov 2007

"The day you take complete responsibility for yourself, the day you stop making any excuses, that's the day you start to the top."
- O J Simpson

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Just my luck

Those 3 words I am extremely scared of! Just today at work I was trying to trace the power cord of a monitor so I could move it and the cord disappeared somewhere between the desks. I sighed looking at a prospect of wasted time and chasing the elusive cable under desks. But just as I was about to say "Just my luck" I stopped mid-way through and muttered something about "Murphy" and let it go. A minute later I found the other end of the cord easily, it had just turned a loop and came up instead of disappearing in a maze of cables below the desk. I was careful to remember to say, "Now, that's my luck!".

Too small? Trivial? Pointless? Am I trying to fill space on my blog? Not at all! Every time you talk to yourself, you are listening. No, it's not a puzzle nor a play on words. Your subconscious is always receiving whatever you are transmitting, if you say, even think, negative things like "Just my luck!" or "What an Idiot I am!", your subconscious will try to make it a reality. Every word, every thought, every notion, is received and recorded. The more frequent a thought is, the more the chances of it becoming a reality.

That's just the simple fact that positive thinking is based on. The better your thoughts, the better your life. It's that simple! That's why I always watch my words and you should too! Believe me, it's done wonders for me and it's one very effective life-changing technique.

Thought of the day - 15th Nov 2007

All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others.
- George Orwell (1903 - 1950), "Animal Farm"

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Thought of the day - 14th Nov 2007

A goal without a plan is just a wish.
- Antoine de Saint-Exupery (1900 - 1944)

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Thought of the day - 13th Nov 2007

It's long one but do read it to the end. It made a great impact on me and I am sure it'll make sense to you.
After reading this and a couple more quotes from this character, I am thinking of watching this TV series!

“A couple of hundred years ago, Benjamin Franklin shared with the world the secret of his success. Never leave that till tomorrow, he said, which you can do today. This is the man who discovered electricity. You think more people would listen to what he had to say. I don't know why we put things off, but if I had to guess, I'd have to say it has a lot to do with fear. Fear of failure, fear of rejection, sometimes the fear is just of making a decision, because what if you're wrong? What if you're making a mistake you can't undo? The early bird catches the worm. A stitch in time saves nine. He who hesitates is lost. We can't pretend we hadn't been told. We've all heard the proverbs, heard the philosophers, heard our grandparents warning us about wasted time, heard the damn poets urging us to seize the day. Still sometimes we have to see for ourselves. We have to make our own mistakes. We have to learn our own lessons. We have to sweep today's possibility under tomorrow's rug until we can't anymore. Until we finally understand for ourselves what Benjamin Franklin really meant. That knowing is better than wondering, that waking is better than sleeping, and even the biggest failure, even the worst, beat the hell out of never trying.”

- Meredith Grey (American Fictional character, played by actress Ellen Pompeo on the TV series Grey's Anatomy )

Monday, November 12, 2007

Thought of the day - 12th Nov 2007

Failure is instructive. The person who really thinks learns quite as much from his failures as from his successes.
- John Dewey (1859-1952)

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Rules to live by

I have read those rules before and now I read them again on Kitten's blog, they make excellent sense. You should go and read them too. And if you have not done so from the link on my blog, you should really go and check her blog, she has some very nice posts.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Thought of the day - 9th Nov 2007

There are two things to aim at in life; first to get what you want, and after that to enjoy it. Only the wisest of mankind has achieved the second.
- Logan Pearsall Smith

Make sure you try to achieve the second one this weekend! :-)

A Very Happy and Prosperous Diwali to all my readers. (Or the ones who know what it is. :-))

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Quiz 3 - Whew! This is good to know!

You Passed 8th Grade Science

Congratulations, you got 7/8 correct!

Quiz 2 - I knew this already

You Are Destined to Rule the World

You have the makings of a very evil dictator...
Which is both kind of cool and kind of scary!
Will you rule the world? Maybe. Maybe not.
But at least you know that you could.

My quiz results on grammar

You Scored an A

You got 10/10 questions correct.

It's pretty obvious that you don't make basic grammatical errors.
If anything, you're annoyed when people make simple mistakes on their blogs.
As far as people with bad grammar go, you know they're only human.
And it's humanity and its current condition that truly disturb you sometimes.

Thought of the day - 8th Nov 2007

The only difference between a rut and a grave... is in their dimensions.
- Ellen Glasglow

Thought of the day - 8th Nov 2007

The only difference between a rut and a grave... is in their dimensions.
- Ellen Glasglow

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Thought of the day - 7th Nov 2007

“Take a chance! All life is a chance. The man who goes farthest is generally the one who is willing to do and dare.”
- Dale Carnegie (American lecturer, author, 1888-1955)

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Calvin and Hobbes Quotes

Some very funny Calvin & Hobbes quotes are here.

Thought of the day - 6th Nov 07

I have learnt silence from the talkative, toleration from the intolerant, and kindness from the unkind; yet strange, I am ungrateful to these teachers.
- Kahlil Gibran (1883 - 1931)

Monday, November 05, 2007

Thought of the day - 5th Nov 2007

Treat all disasters as if they were trivialities but never treat a triviality as if it were a disaster.
- Quentin Crisp

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Truth be told

Why? why do parents ruin their kids' life, or try, by teaching them things they can't use in life. For example, how many parents try to teach their children to "Always tell the truth!" It's good to always tell the truth, and it's bad to tell a lie - just like that, in black and white.

Why? Why do we do it? When we know perfectly well, that we don't tell the truth all the time ourselves. Do we? If you say you do, that's just another lie.

There is a character named Yudhishthir in Indian (Hindu) mythology, who is reported to be always truthful. Always. But even he, in the mega-war of Mahabharatha had to lie once to gain a strategic advantage. Then there is Lord Krishna who had no such reputation and used anything he could to his advantage. Truth, half-truths, white lies, a blend of truth and lie, he used what he could, based on the situation. But he advocated to his followers, "Do as I say, not as I do!". Fair enough!

There is a book called the Bhagvadgita that is Lord Krishna's discourse in the battleground and provides a kind of code of conduct for the perfect man. It's an excellent book, has been quoted extensively, the principles and ideas are so great that they form a path to enlightenment. Yet, this book, leaves room for 6 occasions to lie. Yes, there are 6 occasions when you may lie without committing a sin.

Still, we want our kids to supersede all of the legendary characters throughout history and be a saint to end all saints. And do they? No! Almost all children learn to lie by the time they learn to speak, if not before.

So what is it that we are gaining by trying to teach them to do something that we ourselves have not been able to do, nobody ever has been able to do, and is not a really prudent course of action in today's society anyway.

So, to recap, parents teach their children something that is impossible and at the same time not useful.

Will it not be more useful, maybe not idealistic but useful, to teach them the difference between truth and different kind of lies? Actually, I wouldn't mind teaching my kids (if and when...) how to lie successfully! It's a skill like other skills and comes in handy. There are a few professions that require good liars (I bet you can name a few), but in today's society, almost all professions need that as an auxilary skill.

Indiscriminate, unnecessary, constant lying will of course be impractical and stupid but the same goes for trying to tell the truth all the time.

In conclusion: There are sooktis (two-liners) in Sanskrit on such topics, one of them says, "If you have to choose between true words and kind words, be kind!"

On my blog, I welcome comments, discussion, debate, even healthy criticism. For this post though, I'd put the same restriction that Christ used, "He who has never told a lie in his life, be the first to say that I am talking through my hat!".

Cheers! :-)

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Thought of the day - 2nd Nov 2007

I never learned from a man who agreed with me.
- Robert Heinlein

Read my new blog at

Advertising in different cultures

I have just been commenting on Robi's blog. A post he had about Indian ads. I ended up saying a few things that I had once planned to use for a post of my own. If you like you can check his post and my comments here.

Also pasting it here so my readers can read it without jumping around.

Hi Robi,
First of all thanks for your comment on my blog.
This is what I had come to say when I saw this post. Struck me as quite interesting. I live in the UK so I don't get to see any Indian ads these days. Both the videos you have posted were hilarious; the first one I didn't watch after 59 seconds, it was kinda distasteful.
On the whole, I think, it is part of a copywriter's basic education to "know his audience" which would mean cultuaralizing (making my own word here for your concept) the ad campaign. I have lived in the US and seen their ad's, now I live in the UK and watch their ads, and of course, I have lived in India the most and seen a whole lot of their ads. I'd rank them, on the basis of personal preference, India then UK then US.
They are ALL tailored to their culture. If you ask me, American ads, 95% of them are just yak-yak, only words, either from an on-screen character (a celeb if possible), or voice over on images of the product or something like that. British ads have a strong weirdness factor in them, do something absurd on screen then relate it to the product with words.
Indian ads cover a lot of ground in variety and creativity. You can watch an ad for all of 59 seconds and not know what it is all about and then just see the name of the product in the last second and you are forced to nod and admit that it "makes sense".
I have been always interested in ads, they are quite fascinating in their novel, creative ways. I miss that living in a western country, here there is too much repetition of the same ads. In India, several new ads are released every week, (I am talking about TV spots), and it's fun to watch the new ones. Believe it or not quite a few ads earn their place in water-cooler chats and such.
So, coming back to your point, I think ads are already tailored to their target cultures - Americans want information as much as possible; if you convince an American with features and benefit you can force him/her to pick up the phone and order the item right away. Hence, the yak-yak ads.
British are nice, polite people with their straightforward mindset, genteel and gentle, always trying to act prim and proper. Hence the weirdness, once you got their attention with the absurd visual, feed them the information needed to make them buy.
Indian, it's simple, so many types of people, so many sub-cultures, so many mindsets, hence, so many styles of ads.
Well, that's my 2 bits, take it or leave it. :-)
Nice post, I think I am going to read some more of your posts. You have an interesting way of picking up on things and I like that.

Thought of the day - 1st Nov 2007

Never hesitate to steal a good idea


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